While vacationing in Charleston, S.C., my wife and I fell in love with the beautiful gardens throughout the city. We spent hours walking the streets and peeking though gates to get a glimpse of the hidden gardens tucked away within the city. Even though we are in a completely different cold hardiness zone, several of the same plants that captured our attention in Charleston actually grow in the Evansville area. Different varieties of these plants perform differently, so depending on your yard and what plant you choose, some many grow better than others.
Even though azaleas are a pretty common plant to our area, they are a staple in any Charleston garden. Most people are familiar with the traditional azaleas that flower in the spring, but re-blooming azaleas are plants that flower not only in the spring but also through the summer and early fall. Some varieties have evergreen leaves, making them a wonderful addition to any garden for year-round interest.
Mondo grasses are similar to Liriope, but they are more unique. There are three main types of Mondo grass that make an excellent groundcover for the garden. The main Mondo grass could easily be confused with Liriope, but it has a thinner leaf. The black Mondo grass is a unique, small grass that, as its name says, is black in color. It is great to work into a garden and is a nice alternative if you are looking for something a bit untraditional. Dwarf Mondo grass is a small, evergreen grass that grows about three inches tall. It is slow to spread, but it creates a uniform, deep-green grassy look. It is a wonderful accent along walkways and in smaller areas where you need an extra bit of evergreen groundcover.
Crape myrtles are truly iconic Southern plants that have been in our area for many years. They continue to grow more popular here because they are such versatile plants with a wide range of sizes and colors to choose from. In more southern regions, crape myrtles are grown as small trees. There are several larger ones in our area, but most are shrubs of various sizes including dwarves that grow only to about 12 to 18 inches tall.
I have loved camellias ever since I first saw them years ago. Camellias are a glossy-leaf evergreen shrub with varieties that flower in the spring or in the fall. I have had bright pink camellias blooming in my own yard at the same time that snow is falling outside. They have such an elegant flower with shades of whites, pinks, and reds. Plant your camellia in a protected area before planting them in abundance around your home.
Brian Wildeman is a landscape architect at Landscapes by Dallas Foster Inc., 825 Canal St. He can be reached at 812-882-0719 and dallasfoster.com.