Our speaker for the October meeting, Gwen Odermatt is on the Great Plant Picks (GPP) committee. Gwen gave an engaging talk on suitable plants for small spaces. She included photos of many options. We've put together a small selection of her ideas for developing gardens with big impact.
In choosing plants for small spaces, Gwen suggests looking at those that are attractive as much of the year as possible. The first thing to choose is a tree. It will provide height, shade, and privacy. A deciduous tree is a better choice than an evergreen which can be too dark and closed in, especially in winter, and will not allow as much planting beneath it. The chosen tree should be slow growing and have a winter look, such as interesting bark. Some examples are Acer griseum which has paper bark.
Stewartia pseudocamellia with its
Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ which blooms while still young but has brittle roots so care must be taken when planting beneath it.
Japanese maples are often a good choice with many options in colour, shape, weeping or upright configuration...choose one that pleases you.
An important concept when planting a small area is to plant carefully and deliberately. You can have lots of different plants but look for artistry in your planting so it doesn't become a mishmash. Observe and edit. Try layering, where as one plant fades from prominence another is rising up to take its place. For example, Galanthus appear first,
then things really take off in spring starting with early flowers such as Trillium chloropetalum.
By winter, you are back to colourful bark.
A small water feature has an impact in a small space. Just the trickling sound will attract attention of visitors to the garden, including birds and insects. You can develop a unique planting around it.
Containers, whether empty, containing a single plant for impact, or multiple plants can add interest to the garden. Tender plants would need to be moved to a sheltered spot for the winter. An example of Gwen’s is the blueberry Vaccinium 'Sunshine Blue'. It produces all summer so a container with the plant by the front door provides a constant source of delicious treats.
The plants suggested by Gwen are only a few of the many suitable plants grouped together as Small Spaces – Big Impact! Selections on the Great Plant Picks website. Check out the website for inspiration and growing information.
The GPP program selects plants and trees that are hardy and reliable in the Pacific Northwest, have good ornamental value, and available at least two nurseries on each side of the border. GPP encourages best practices, including ground covers. Information on the characteristics and growing the plants is available on their website.
All images courtesy Great Plant Picks.