Design

Plants with 4-Season Interest

Christie’s favorites with 12-month appeal

Issue #200 - June/July

Conifers don’t have to be the only plants you rely on for year-round interest in your garden. The following are a few plants that look great in every season thanks to their color, texture, and/or structure.

‘Ogon’ sweet flag

Ogon sweet flag
Photo: Michelle Gervais

Name: Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’

Zones: 5–9

Size: 6 to 12 inches tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist soil

Native range: Asia

The bright yellow straplike foliage stays true to color and shape all winter long.

 

‘Angelina’ sedum

Angelina sedum
Photo: Michelle Gervais

Name: Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’

Zones: 5–8

Size: 4 to 6 inches tall and 1 to 2 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

Native range: Europe

This is a workhorse ground cover that is bright yellow during the growing season and can take on some apricot hues in winter.

 

‘Goshiki’ false holly

Goshiki false holly
Photo: Danielle Sherry

Name: Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’

Zones: 6–9

Size: 5 to 8 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-drained soil

Native range: Japan

An evergreen dwarf shrub with yellow-and-green variegated foliage, ‘Goshiki’ has pointy holly leaves that offer great texture year-round.

 

Japanese clethra

Japanese clethra
Photo: Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder

Name: Clethra barbinervis

Zones: 5–8

Size: 10 to 20 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Native range: Japan

This multitrunk small tree has mottled and peeling bark, draping white summer flowers, and yellow fall color.

 

‘Ryusen’ Japanese maple

Ryusen Japanese maple
Photo: Nova Photo Graphik/gapphotos.com

Name: Acer palmatum ‘Ryusen’ syn. ‘Ryu sei’)

Zones: 5–9

Size: 4 feet tall and 8 feet wide

Conditions: Partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Native range: Japan

A strongly weeping green leaved maple, this tree has wonderful form in winter and stunning greenish-hued stems.

 

‘Beni hime’ Japanese maple

Beni hime Japanese maple
Photo: Danielle Sherry

Name: Acer palmatum ‘Beni hime’

Zones: 5–9

Size: 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide

Conditions: Partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Native range: Japan

A dwarf variety with a mounded shape, this maple has fabulous red, pink, and apricot spring growth; green leaves with red edges in summer; multiple colors in fall; and a light bluish bark in winter.


Christie Dustman has been a landscape designer for over 20 years. She gardens in Hyde Park, Massachusetts.

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