When pondering a new year’s landscape resolution this winter, old school plants ran through my mind as something I really wanted to use to revitalize tired and boring landscape design. It’s not that I am sick (or bored) of my plant choices in the landscapes I design, but it is more so the bombardment of unwanted plants available these days that are pretending to be something they are not. After twenty years of trial and error, I am starting to see that big business is just rebranding old plants with new names. I’m trying to stay away from the hype and deception and seeing that it is time to refocus on the classics. I’ve come up with a list of old school plants that are not pretending to be anything other than what all of our Grandma’s used them for. Read on and I’m sure you will recognize many, if not all, of them.
Peony: Sarah Bernhardt, Coral Charm and Festiva Maxima are worthy of anyone’s garden.
Shrub Rose: Champlain, Winnipeg Parks, and Foxi Pavements are cold hardy and ready to go.
Lilac: Common White, Common Purple and Miss Kim are all very fragrant and sure to make even the grumpiest person stop and smell the “Lilac.”
Potentilla: One by itself or many in mass is very effective. Try any of the varieties available.
Bridal’s Wreath Spirea: So underutilized these days. Elegant is the only word to describe this beauty in bloom.
All of these plants are extremely hardy in our climate and, even better, they are very adaptable in a new landscape. I usually recommend watering them daily throughout the summer the first year and, by luck, if we have a normal weather year the next year then it will be rare that you have to water. Even in extreme drought, all of these plants will fare just fine as long as their roots became established the prior year.
To aid in root growth I like to add some fertilizer right away to get the roots elongating. There are several products on the market that promote root growth. I’d hit up the local nursery and ask for something that will get new roots going. They will be able to point you in the right direction. The photo below is one that I really like.
As for pruning new plants, you really will not have to do any of that for at least 5-7 years. I am a regular reader of fine gardening and they are the best at keeping readers in the know about pruning and fertilizing. It is one of the best coffee table magazines available. Give it a shot.