Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna

A superior Christmas box – purple stem Sarcococca is a slight improvement on this useful, fragrant, and durable evergreen shrub. Fine white flowers emit a strong sweet fragrance from late December to March. Slow spreading shrub that travels locally by suckers to form patches. To 2′ tall and up to 4′ wide if soil is rich, well drained and summer irrigation is reliable. Tolerates dense dry shade well. Black/red berries can follow the flowers into spring. Cold hardy to 0ºF. May burn in full sun- best with shade or at least protection from reflected heat- like an open north exposure. A member of the boxwood family that gives it high deer resistance. It can be slow to establish without regular irrigation in the first season. Water well and apply mulch. Though tough it pays to treat this shrub well from the beginning. Cut twigs that are blooming can perfume a room in winter. First and second year stems are deeply blushed purple- very pretty in contrast with the deep green simple leaves. Combines well with native ferns and perennials like Vancouveria and Epimedium. Native to S. central china.

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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.

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Sedum confusum

Useful and pretty evergreen Sedum that thrives in diverse biomes but always looks good. In dry dappled shade it will create a dense spreading deep green colony. To 5″ tall by several feet wide. In full sun it will grow a little slower but regular water will speed things up. The bright green rosettes of leaves are perched atop stems. In early spring the whole plant is awash in gold flowers and attending pollinators. Rich, well drained soil with light but consistent summer water. The more shade the less water is required. Nice ground cover for small areas. Dense and evergreen. Surprisingly cold hardy and amenable to life in our climate. Mexico.

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Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’

Immensely useful, if rambunctious sedum that glows in vivid gold to chartreuse. The needle like leaves are vivid and line trailing stems. The stems root where they hit the ground- good local solution for erosion. Fast growing plant that spreads indefinitely in sun to quite a bit of shade. So easy to grow that I suggest you plant it in AVERAGE well drained soil. No need for amendments because the truth is once you have this plant you will always have it. Evergreen. Easy to remove from unwanted places. Simply pick it up off the ground and dispose. Or move it. I use this plant as a fast low water place holder when I’m deciding what to put in next. To plant simply toss it on the ground and water. You can bury it a little but its really not necessary. Avoid strongly compacted soil. Yellow flowers in early spring. Nice ground cover under trees. Hardy. Oh, so hardy.

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Sedum sediforme ‘Spanish Selection’

A really good Sedum that I got from a friend who collected it on the Iberian Peninsula in the Spanish mountains. Very soft blue gray foliage is shaped like pine needles lining trailing stems. Forms a good ground cover very fast. In summer 10″ vertical stems support clouds of soft off white flowers. Very different from so many other Sedums that bloom yellow. This soft color is very effective in the garden and of course draws pollinators from miles around. When spent the stems remain erect and turn gray- they may easily be collected by simply giving each a soft tug- or a whole a handful and they will break cleanly. Full sun to very light shade. Average to enriched soil that is not compacted. Good looking year round appearance. Not quite as dense or prolific as Sedum reflexum but still good. Slopes, between shrubs, as competition for weeds. Roots along the ground as it grows. Moves with ease and may be used as a temporary place holder while you think of what to plant next. Simply scoop up the foliage and move it to another place. Actual planting is not necessary. Share with friends. Great in seasonal as well as winter containers. To several feet wide. Light summer water or none when established. Easy plant.

Xera Plants Introduction.

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Soleirolia soleirolii ‘Aurea’

God I hate to pronounce this name. Its unpronounceable but its such a good and useful plant. We’ll just call it Golden Baby’s Tears- much easier. Golden tiny dense leaves on a spreading very very low, completely prostrate, just millimeters high ground cover. The golden hue is welcome in the shady, moist but well drained soil that this little baby likes. Don’t try to cover vast amounts of real estate with this plant. I can tell you now that it won’t work. Instead pick a small reasonable area where it can form a happy solid patch- maybe 2′ x 2′. In the part shade to shade that it seeks it will virtually glow. Freezes to the ground in severe cold- returns in spring from root bits and the recovery speeds along with truly warmer weather. Give it regular irrigation. It takes dry conditions in the shade. Terrariums, shade gardens, under bonsai, the floor level of modern containers. Useful pretty plant that is more commonly known as a houseplant.

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Solierolia soleirolii

Baby’s Tears is a useful and surprisingly hardy small scale ground cover. Famous for its role in terrariums its surprisingly hardy to cold as well. Tiny leaves overlap in a perfectly flat deep green ground cover. Part shade to shade but not terrible dry shade or compacted soils. Spreads to several feet wide in several seasons. Rich, moisture retentive soil that drains is ideal. Mist or water once a week to increase humidity which it very much appreciates. Freezes to nothing below 15ºF- resprouts from bits of root vigorously in spring. Do not try to cover the whole planet with this diminuitive plant. Instead isolate it to cool pools of green several feet wide. Excellent in containers or as an easy houseplant.

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Tanecetum densum ‘Amani’

You can’t resist the finely divided feathery nearly white foliage of this great small scale ground cover. Foliage to 4″ tall and spreading to 2′ wide in full sun and well drained soil. Light summer water. Small flowers lacking petals have a center of off white/gold in early summer. Excellent performance on slopes as well as rock gardens.  Evergreen. Loves life in the hellstrip.

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Trachelospermum ‘Ogon’

A cute gold leaved form of asian star jasmine that makes a dainty evergreen vine for a trellis or arbor. Dense layered foliage is bright gold/chartruese and is best with some protection from hot afternoon sun. This is a slower growing Star Jasmine  with a smaller dimension over all. This makes it a great candidate for smaller trelliage that you don’t want to obscure or cover entirely. Bone colored lightly fragrant flowers occasionally occur in late spring on wood from the previous season.  To 9′ tall and 3′ wide in 7 years. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. Part shade to shade or an open north exposure. May be self clinging in wind free situations. Very very cold hardy and drought tolerant when established. Valuable little vine for shade. Lights up dark corners and even makes a handsome ground cover.

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Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Chirofu Chirimen’

Cool little Asian Star Jasmine with tiny variegated leaves that forms dense mounds as a ground cover or in time it can reach up as a cute and not strangling vine. Each leaf is margined and splashed with white. New growth has distinct pink tints for a distinct multicolor effect. Forms a fine textured plant but as a small scale ground cover it will block weeds. To 1′ tall x 30″ wide as a ground cover. To 8′ tall or higher as a self clinging vine in wind free places. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. Definitely double dig the soil before planting to incorporate oxygen as well as assist in absorption of water. Add organic fertilizer as well. Trachelospermums appreciate good drainage and regular summer irrigation to do their best. Otherwise drought tolerant but slow growing. Nice on fences or screens or up the trunk of a Trachycarpus (Windmill Palm). Good deer resistance. Evergreen.

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