BY Amanda Strack, CONSERVATION GARDEN PARK
There are a wide variety of plants that come to mind when considering evergreens for landscapes. Mainly those needled trees and shrubs that hail from mountainous areas or spiny plants that thrive in the unforgiving climate of the desert. However, there are some plants that we may not realize are evergreens and that don’t have that barbed texture that we so often associate with evergreen plants. Don’t get me wrong, that texture goes a long way in a landscape and is often a designer’s best friend, but we sometimes need that year-round interest in a soft, round foliage. The plants that follow can fulfill those needs and create diversity in the garden.
Kannah Creek Sulphur Buckwheat – Eriogonum umbellatum v. aureum ‘Kannah Creek’
There are multiple varieties of this plant and all of them are a great addition to the garden. This variety is a soft, matted ground cover that offers season-long interest. Blooms begin in May and create a cloud of yellow that turn to a dusty orange as they age. During fall and winter months, the foliage becomes a purplish-red color, creating a burgundy carpet covering the ground and adding a little blush to the landscape. At maturity, this plant stays between 12 and 15 inches tall and spreads 15-24 inches wide. This plant is drought resistant and attracts pollinators.
Kinnickinnick – Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Bearberry is another common name for this plant and it, like buckwheat, is a low-growing plant that can be used as a ground cover. Bonus: Kinnickinnick is a Utah native plant that uses little water and can be helpful for erosive sites, providing another great function. Not only is it an evergreen, but it is covered in bright red berries during fall and winter that provide food for birds. Kinnickinnick grows well in full sun and partly shady sights. It blooms from April to May with tiny flowers that have an ombre finish, progressing from white to pink at the tips. Kinnickinnick does take some time to spread, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to fill in.
Crimson Curls Coral Bells – Heuchera ‘Crimson Curls’
This is just one variety of a large group of perennials that come in a substantial selection of colors. This plant is slow to establish in low water landscapes, but is commonly grown for its foliage rather than its flowers. Its clump-forming, burgundy to dark-purple leaves curl around the edges, and small white flowers grow on dainty stalks throughout the summer months. It grows well in shady sites, so it is perfect for that north side of the yard that needs some color. This is also a smaller perennial, growing only 12-18 inches in height.
Evergreen plants have a lot to offer in a landscape. They provide year-round interest and desirable characteristics to any garden space. Try using some of these unexpected evergreens to modify the landscape in a way that feels soft. To find more great evergreens and other plants that