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Plant of the Month continued

Marginally-hardy Plants and the New Normal


By Mark Richardson, Adult Education Programs Manager, Brookside Gardens When the USDA released its new Plant Hardiness Zone Map earlier this year, it confirmed what many in our industry had learned from experiencethat our winters arent quite as cold as they used to be. Using average winter temperatures for a 30-year time period from 1976 to 2005, USDA created not only the static map we all are accustomed to using, but also

Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'Ruby' is the perhaps the smallest of all the burgundy Chinese Fringe-flower cultivars available. It has a rounded form to about 3-5'photo by Barbara Katz, London Landscapes LLC

an interactive GIS-based map and a searchable zip-code index. Check http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov for all the handy new tools and download your own high resolution map. Forget for a minute the politically-charged debate over climate change and why weve all moved up a zone (or more). What does this all mean for the horticulture and landscape industry? Frankly, its a license to step outside our typical comfort
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The yellow-green to deep green variegation and glossy foliage of x Fatshedera lizei 'Annemieke' make it an attractive cultivar choicephoto by Barbara Katz, London Landscapes LLC

The variegated foliage of Fatsia japonica 'Spider's Web' looks amazing contrasted against the burgundy foliage of Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'Little Rose Dawn.'photo by Phil Normandy, Brookside Gardens

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Plant of the Month continued

Wednesday June 13, 2012

How the Market and Your Business Have Changed


LCA has gather together leaders from many facets of the landscape industry residential and commercial landscape contractors, installation and maintenance professionals, landscape architects and tree care specialists to share with you the way the market has changed their business and their strategies for success in the future. This is a great opportunity for you to pick up some new ideas and strategies to take your company to the next level. Conrmed Presenters: John Denison, President Denison Landscaping Mark Hjelle, President, Brickman Kevin McHale, President McHale Landscape Design, Inc. Craig Ruppert, President Ruppert Landscape Joan Honeyman, Partner, Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture, LLC Schedule 10:00 am 12:00 Noon: Program 12:00 Noon 1:00 pm: Lunch, networking and chance to visit exhibitors Location Kenwood Golf & Country Club 5601 River Road Bethesda, MD 20816 Early Registration Ends Friday, June 8.

Less available than the species, several red to orange cultivars of Edgeworthia exist. E. chrysantha 'Akabana' (or 'Akebono') is an orange-form cultivar pictured here.photo by Mark Richardson

zone and experiment with marginallyhardy plants. After all, having read and understood this official map, the plants themselves know they now have official government permission to step out of their own comfort zones. Lets look at some plants you might have been reluctant to try, some of which may be related to rock-hardy landscape staples. In this area, were familiar with several species in the Witchhazel Family (Hamamelidaceae). Hamamelis virginiana

and H. x intermedia have long been highlights of the winter garden. Fothergilla gardenii is a striking specimen with three seasons of interest. My personal favorite, Corylopsis Winterthur, impresses with its early show of fragrant, creamy-yellow flowers. But Loropetalum chinense (Chinese fringe-flower) is not as well-known in our region, primarily because, as a zone 7 to 9 plant, its been off-limits for all but the bravest among us. Loropetalum is a medium-sized (610' high) evergreen or semievergreen shrub with a looselyrounded habit and gorgeous flowers in late-winter. Flowers of the species are pale yellow to cream, strap-like, and slightly similar to witch-hazel, although more visible, especially against the backdrop of dark-green foliage. The more recent introduction from China of L. chinense var. rubrum, containing likely dozens of cultivars, has burgundy foliage and light-pink to screaming fuchsia flowers. With its unique, somewhat irregular
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Edgeworthia chrysantha is a great focal point in the winter landscape because of its unusual habit and fragrant, showy blossoms. photo by Ching-Fang Chen, Montgomery Planning Department

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Plant of the Month continued


branching habit, Loropetalum may not be the first choice for a formal clipped hedge, but it can be sheared, trained as an espalier, planted in mass or singly as an accent or specimen. It is an attractive replacement for some of our more common broadleaved evergreens, with the added bonus of early spring bloom. Fatsia japonica, or Japanese fatsia, has broad 610" and deeply-lobed evergreen foliage. A member of the Aralia Family (Araliaceae), fatsia is reliably hardy to zone 8a, but is worth trying in our area for its bold texture and nearly tropical appearance. Very similar in appearance to the castor bean, a non-hardy member of the same family, fatsia can reach about 6-10' high and wide. A great foundation plant, fatsia does best with some protection from the sun and winter winds. Another interesting member of the Aralia Family, x Fatshedera lizei is an intergeneric hybrid of fatsia and English ivy (Hedera helix). Slightly more hardy than fatsia, Fatshedera also is considerably smaller (35') and almost vine-like in habit. Train it as an espalier or let it spread and ramble in a less formal garden bed. Its palmately-lobed foliage is glossy and typically 48" across, providing that same bold, tropical look as fatsia, in a smaller, less rigid package. Another fascinating plant that weve seen more and more in recent years is paperbush, Edgeworthia chrysantha and E. papyrifera, two very similar, and often confused, species. A member of the same family as Daphne (Thymelaceae), one of Edgeworthias best attributes is its floral display in late winter. Opening before any sign of foliage, the silver-fuzzy 2" wide umbels of 2540 individual tube-shaped flowers at the ends of chunky stems are wonderfully fragrant and creamy to light yellow in color. Once its foliage emerges, paperbush exhibits an oddly attractive habit, with naked stems and clusters of narrow blue-green leaves toward the tips of its branches. Although it can sucker and become wider than tall, Ive most often seen it as a medium-sized rounded shrub, to about 6' high and wide. Edgeworthia is best used as a specimen sited where its fragrant and showy blossoms can be appreciated in late winter. The last truly cold winter we experienced in this region was 19931994; for nearly twenty years, our average annual low temperatures have been comfortably above 0F. This new normal for our area means standard landscape plants like Nandina, Photinia and Aucuba are no longer considered marginally hardy. Its time to explore a whole new range of plants once considered off-limits because they werent hardy. Dont be afraid to leave your comfort zoneespecially now that you and your plants have the expressed written consent of the USDA.
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