Tiny treasures of the garden

By Pam Roy, edited by Bruce Gaudette | Apr 27, 2011

One cold, rainy day last week, desperate to escape the gray, I indulged in one of my favorite mood elevators; a trip to a new nursery.  

I was lifted from the gray doldrums by an amazing array of tiny plants perfect for a small bare spot in the landscape or for adding interest to a rock garden.  

The first to catch my eye was Globularia triacantha, a tiny treasure from the Balkan mountains.  This tidy low growing globe daisy sports intense deep blue flowers.

It makes an evergreen patch one foot wide and benefits from occasional shearing.  It prefers mineral soil and would be happy in a rock garden,

Next to that, the bright flowers of Diascia ‘Red Tumbler were doing just that, tumbling over the leaves of this small plant that grows to 5 inches tall by 18 inches wide.  

The vivid, deep rose flowers were hinting at better weather days surely just around the corner. This plant likes to be kept moist.

Golden leaves of Campanula garganica  ‘Dickson’s Gold’, completed the trio.  This variety of campanula has golden, toothed leaves that contrast dramatically with its small lavender-blue flowers that bloom in June and July.  

Doing well in sun and part shade, this plant reaches a height of 6 inches, spreading to 18 inches wide.  

One of my current favorite tiny plants is Armeria maritima rubrifolia.  (A fun benefit of being a landscape designer is the ever-evolving list of new favorite plants.)

This tiny mound of a minuscule plant makes a clump 4 inches high by 3 inches wide.  Pink flowers stand 8 inches tall above the burgundy red foliage.  

Plant this in full sun and let dry between waterings.  I planted a few of these Armeria in a clients garden last summer and was thrilled that they all made it through everything La Nina threw at them this winter.  

A new plant for me is Daphne x Kilmston.  This daphne is a dense growing, low evergreen shrub covering an area 12 inches high by 2 feet wide.    

The promise of reddish purple buds opening to fragrant white flowers during April and again during June through September has put this plant on my list of “ must try” for this spring. (Some of us still have faith that we will have spring this year!)

Chaenorrhinum organifolium 'Summer Skies' (commonly known as Fairy Snapdragon), blooms all summer with blue purple snapdragon like flowers with yellow throats.  Give this perennial sun or part shade. Contrast this with Thymus citriodorus ‘Lemon Frost’.  This tiny thyme grows to a diminutive two inches tall and is a fragrant foreground filler.  Pinch a leaf for a fabulous burst of citrus scent.  

The good news is that with spring stalling in the wings this year, any of these tiny treasures can be tucked into your garden and give you a burst of color when spring finally makes its’ appearance.  

Pam Roy, owner of Planscapes has been a landscape designer and horticulturist for 30 years in the Northwest..  Contact her at 425-252-9469 or view gallery.mac.com/pnw54.

Bruce Gaudette, owner of Land Hoe!, has a degree in horticulture, is an ICPI certified installer of pavers, and is a member of the Executive Board of the state landscape association WALP.  Contact at 425-742-9417 or landhoe.com.

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