Sarcococca orientalis

We think this is the best Sarcococca or Christmas box. A nice little 2′ x 2′ slow growing evergreen shrub with a formal air. In January to March relatively large white petal free flowers emit a sweet perfume. Best in part shade and rich, well drained soil. Light summer water when established. Always looks good. Can turn yellowish in full sun. Long lived trouble free shrub that delights in winter. Mass for a great perfume effect during the coldest days of the year. Moderate deer resistance.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn7a 5º to 0ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Graceful and formal at the same time. This low arching form of winter box is wonderful with uniform thin, deep green pointed foliage on arching stems. In mid-winter to early spring the undersides of the stems are clad in fine powerfully FRAGRANT white flowers at every leaf axil. The fragrance spreads for quite a distance on mild winter days. Following the flowers are berries that turn black and arrive at red. Handsome low shrub to 2′ tall and 3′ wide suckering to form patches with time. Moderately fast growing and easy to establish shrub in the BUXACEAE which means that this boxwood relative is also deer resistant. Excellent performance in part shade to shade but not low dense shade. Massed it performs as a large scale ground cover. Light consistent summer H20 for the best looks. Takes dry conditions in shade once established- especially if you apply mulch liberally. Unlike the species it does not lose leaves in bloom which is an important difference. Finds a home under dark stairwells and foundation plantings. Impressive relatively new selection. China.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn7a 5º to 0ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Scutellaria suffrutescens

Texas Cherry Skullcap is a wildflower with a mission. To bloom – not just a little but in sheets for all of summer with no supplemental irrigation. And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t do that. Forms lows domes to 5″ high by 1′ wide and is smothered in cherry pink flowers from June well into autumn. Rich to average well drained soil and occasional  summer irrigation. Cut back in spring after new growth has commenced. Full all day sun, reflected heat and not much else. Long lived and virtually carefree. One of the best surprises in my garden of the past 10 years. Excellent perennial that survives, grows and blooms prolifically with no summer water. Even in the drought and heat of 2021. Extraordinarily adapted to baking hellstrips.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure:
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn6a -5º to -10ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Sedum palmeri

One of the very best Sedums that we grow. Trailing stems hold relatively large rosettes of fleshy blue gray leaves. Superficially it resembles a tender echeveria etc. But, its totally hardy and incredibly adaptable. Forming mounded spreading colonies from a dome shape and encompassing an area several feet wide shortly. Adaptable to full sun and no water but also a surprising amount of shade. Its best application is perhaps in containers and specifically winter containers. Excellent winter appearance. In early spring it erupts in clouds of bright yellow flowers. To 6″ tall x 2′ wide in rich to average, well drained soil. Not a fussy succulent by any stretch it persists with just average conditions. Native to the highest elevations of Mexico. Cold hardy (when not saturated) to at least 0ºF. Widely used in seasonal and permanent containers in Europe. Picture a Sempervivum (Hens and chicks) on a slightly trailing stem. Light consistent summer H20 but accepts drought. Very easy to propagate by moving stems from one location to the next. Even share with your neighbors. Easy.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn7a 5º to 0ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Sempervivum ‘Lotus’

OOOMMMMM. Large growing Hens and Chicks with pale lavender gray rosettes to 5″ across. Very showy and multiplies moderately fast. Full sun to part shade in rich, well drained soil. Regular water speeds growth and size of the plants. Otherwise extremely drought tolerant..in really dry conditions the rosette will shrink and go to sleep- awakened by autumn rains. Nice small scale, dense ground cover. Striking in living walls and a natural for containers. 5″ spikes send up pink flowers spring – autumn. Good looking year round. This one is the size of a small Echeveria and would make a good replacement that is actually permanent. Easy.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn5b -10º to -15ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Sempervivum ‘Soft Line’

I’m the one doing the descriptions so I get to choose which is my favorite. And this is my favorite ‘Hens and Chick’. Soft and downy with fine hairs that cover the entire rosette. Dove gray to pink coloration changes little throughout the years. To 3″ across it quickly multiplies to form colonies in rich to average soil in full sun to part shade. Regular summer water enhances the appearance as well as initiates faster growth. Rock walls, slopes, containers. Very easy to grow. Light pink flowers appear at the tips of 6″ stems spring-autumn. Soft and cuddly.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn5b -10º to -15ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Sempervivum ‘Virgil Ford’

Collectively this handsome Hens and chicks is one of our favorites. Soft pink to lavender and tipped with purple in cold weather. Nice. Large rosettes to 5″ across when happy. Boisterous multiplier and forming large colonies quickly. Rich, well drained soil with regular water to keep up appearances. Containers, rock walls, rock gardens, as a small scale weed smothering ground cover. Full sun to light shade. Even dry shade when established. Detach the babies and give them to a friend. Or chuck them at a Trump voter. Pretty plant. High deer resistance.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure: , ,
Biome: , , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn5b -10º to -15ºF
Foliage color: , ,  |  Foliage season:


Sempervivum arachnoides ‘Robin’

RED Robin! Thats how we remember the name of this snappy Hens and Chicks. Tightly growing leaves in a medium sized rosette to 3″ across. The interior of the leaves are bright red with green leaf tips. Multiplies quickly. Retains these bright colors well throughout the year- where as some can become rather dull in winter. Spring – Autumn it may shoot up a 5″ spike bearing pink/red flowers. The rosette then dies but there are so many offsets that you would never know. Move them around the garden like furniture. Easy. Give them to friends, knock squirrels out of the tree with them. Fun to grow. Interact with your sempervivums and all will be good. Full sun and regular summer water to remain vigorous and bright and showy.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn5b -10º to -15ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Seseli gummiferum

Moon carrot Moon carrot. Trendy, cool, avant garde and of course its an UMBEL! Umbels are in, Umbels are in! Full sun and well drained soil of average to rich fertility. The second season a crazy number of tall flowers yield groups of umbels. Umbels upon umbels. Can you dig it?  To 30″ tall and as wide. Moderate deer resistance Great cut flower. Blooms for up to two months. Easy to grow. Dislikes shade intensely. Biennial or short lived perennial.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure:
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn5a -15º to -20ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Sesleria autumnalis ‘Campo Verde’

Crazy cool grass that is handsome year round- not entering dormancy in winter and they bloom on compact plants for several months. This mediterranean native grass forms lose but not unkempt bunches of arching evergreen foliage. The floral spikes rise another several inches above the foliage for a complicated texture. Full sun, well drained soil, little water once established. To 14″ tall and 20″ wide. 1′ tall in bloom. Very drought tolerant and does not really go through a down time remaining the same aesthetically all year. Accepts regular irrigation with excellent drainage.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn6a -5º to -10ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season: