By Todd Layt
Fabulous plants with foliage colour, amazing flowers, or simply elegant green plants can make a landscape shine. If you walk into any retail nursery you will find them in abundance, but most are short term home gardening plants that do not stand the test of time. Landscape professionals need plants that are longer lived that perform in the Landscape, and that are strong growers. So what are some landscape plants to die for, which have that wow factor?
Colourful foliage plants provide a landscape with that real wow factor for most of the year, and in the past 5 years there have been some real rippers released.
Little Ruby™ Alternanthera dentata ‘LRU30’ PBR (front)
This plant tops the list, with its amazing deep purple foliage and compact low growing nature. It is more cold tolerant than the common form, working well in Brisbane, Sydney, and Perth, and in Adelaide and Melbourne either near the coast or in sheltered areas with some frost protection.
Variegated Tanika™ Lomandra longifolia ‘NPW3’ PBR (back)
An excellent foliage plant that contrasts amazingly well with Little Ruby™ Alternanthera, or red plants like the new ‘red more often’ Nandinas. It works well in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. It pays to cut this plant back every couple of years or so to keep the foliage vibrant with new growth. In Queensland try Lucky Stripe™ Lomandra hystrix ‘LMV200’ PBR.
‘Red More Often’ Nandinas
Obsession™ Nandina domestica ‘SEIKA’ PBR
Every now and then a revolutionary plant comes along, and Obsession™ Nandina is exactly that. It not only has red foliage in winter, but has vivid fine leaf red new growth in the warmer months. Instead of 3 months of red foliage in winter only, as with the common form, it has an average of 9 months of contrasting red foliage, basically all its new growth is red, whilst normal Nandina has green new growth. (Photo shows Obsession™ Nandinas red new growth in summer compared to Gulf Stream Nandinas green/yellow new growth).
Blush™ Nandina domestica ‘AKA’ PBR
If you like the broader leaf of traditional Nandina, but want red more often with cleaner foliage, Blush™ Nandina is for you. In winter this one is just far more vivid red than other Nandina, with the bonus of red new growth in the warmer months, again making it red more often.
Other Colourful Foliage Plants
Sweet Mist® Phormium tenax ‘PHOS2’ PBR
Phormium tenax is known to be much tougher than cookianum varieties. Sweet Mist® Phormium is the only compact purpurea type in the world. All others are the weaker cookianum type. It does well in Sydney, but if more than 25km from the coast or in the west, it does prefer sheltered positions. It performs very well in Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide. Its size makes it a great landscape plant for smaller gardens or for mass planting in landscapes.
Blaze™ Dianella tasmanica ‘NPW2’ PBR
Now you can get purpurea colour in a Dianella. Blaze™ Dianella is a very tough plant with extreme heat tolerance. It has beautiful deep purple foliage throughout the cooler parts of the year, turning green in summer to cope with Australia’s famous hot summers. Use in sheltered gardens in Western Sydney, and anywhere in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne.
Wyeena® Dianella tasmanica ‘TAS300’ PBR
Wyeena® Dianella has stunning variegated upright arching foliage. It is very frost and cold tolerant. Use in sheltered gardens in Western Sydney, and anywhere in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne.
Silverlawn™ Liriope muscari ‘LIRSS’ PBR
Create a silver lawn ground cover or a great green wall with this spreading low ground cover Liriope. Mow it in late winter every year to keep it really tidy. Silverlawn™ Liriope makes a wonderful contrasting ground cover, and works Australia wide, including very cold regions and very humid areas.
Cassa Blue® Dianella caerulea ‘DBB03’ PBR
For contrasting blue colour foliage all year round, Cassa Blue® Dianella is the go to plant. It is great in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. In Sydney it does better in raised gardens with reasonable drainage which helps it cope better with the humid summers.
Elegant Green Plants
Approximately 80% or more of plants used in landscapes are green, so what are some of the most useful elegant green plants for your landscape.
Tanika® Lomandra longifolia ‘LM300’ PBR
Tanika® Lomandra is the biggest selling Landscape variety in Australia. With its dark green fine leaf evergreen foliage and reliability it has become a staple in large commercial developments and residential landscape gardens in all states except Queensland. In humid Queensland, Shara™ Lomandra fluvialtilis ‘ABU7’ PBR performs better in the wet humid summers.
Tropic Cascade™ Lomandra hystrix ‘LHWP’ PBR / Southern Cascade™ Lomandra hystrix ‘LHWP’ PBR
With its dark green weeping foliage and highly perfumed showy flowers, this plant is quickly becoming very popular in the landscape. It works all over Australia, except in very cold regions such as Canberra. In the north it is known as Tropic Cascade™ Lomandra, and in the south as Southern Cascade™ Lomandra.
Dense Fence™ Viburnum odoratissimum ‘VOC1’ PBR
For a fence sized screen, this plant ticks all the boxes. Viburnum is a very popular screen, but often it can become open without very regular pruning. Dense Fence™ Viburnum is far more dense, having significantly shorter internodes, and requires far less maintenance, yet establishes quick enough to get the job done. It works all over Australia.
Pinnacle™ Syzygium australe ‘AATS’ PBR
For a taller screen in narrow spaces, Pinnacle™ Syzygium is the go to plant. Its dark green foliage and dense habit provides a quick to establish screen, yet it only needs to be pruned yearly to keep it tidy. It is very popular in most states, but avoid cold regions like Canberra.
Just Right® Liriope muscari ‘LIRJ’ PBR
It is the only Liriope that does not burn in the full sun in very hot regions. It is also far more evergreen on the very cold, and is not as large as the weaker Evergreen Giant Liriope.
Flowering plants to die for
Anigozanthos hybrid ‘Gold Velvet‘ PBR
‘Gold Velvet’ is a mid-sized long lived Kangaroo paw that flowers for 6 months or more each year. Its flowers are a vivid yellow, and unlike the smaller types, it is not prone to black spot. The smaller types are also generally annuals in most parts of Australia.
Meema™ Hardenbergia violacea ‘HB1’ PBR
This Hardenbergia flowers more prolifically and for longer than other types. It is also far longer lived, and has cleaner foliage. If pruned yearly after flowering it stays very tidy.
O So Fine™ Gardenia augusta ‘KEN04’ PBR
Compared to Gardenia radicans, O So Fine™ Gardenia has more prolific perfumed flowers, and does not become sparse and open, due to its shorter internodes and denser habit.
Queen Mum™ Agapanthus orientalis ‘PMN06’ PBR
Two colours (blue & white) in one flower is only one of many reasons why Queen Mum™ Agapanthus has become so popular. Other benefits include extremely large flowers, and good reliability.