Zone 9 has its drawbacks. Obese housing prices, road rage, and paucity of open spaces. But one of the compensations is our year round planting climate and flowering season.
In my garden designs I plan for year round color. When possible the best way to do that is with fall and winter flowering shrubs and perennials, rather than annuals. Here is a recipe for adding rich winter color to your garden.
INGREDIENTS: Add one of each per nine linear feet of planting area.
Leptospermum 'Red Ensign' or 'Burgundy Queen.' The common name is New Zealand Tea Tree. Large, full bush (up to 6 feet but can be pruned to keep smaller) with burgundy needlelike foliage and masses of deep red/pink flowers. Great cutting flower!
Sedum 'Autumn Joy' : Three foot clusters of lime green succulent type foliage and fluffy flowerheads. A real butterfly favorite!
Tagetes lemonii (Mexican Bush Marigold): Tall, full bush with very fragrant, lacy foliage. Flowers all year long. Attracts butterflies.
Metrosideros 'Fiji' : A compact (2 x 2) bush with dark green glossy leaves. Great for coastal gardens as it really can withstand wind.
Erica 'Kramer's Red' or 'Maxwell's Heath.' Low, mounding heather that blooms winter through spring.
Pieris japonica: Commonly known as Lily of the Valley shrub, this medium height (3 to 4 ft) winter flowering shrub offers pink buds and flowers, and russet colored new foliage growth.
Purple Kale. A bright sturdy filler with broadleaf foliage to offset the denser texture of the flowering shrubs around it.
Eranthemum pulchellum 'Winter Blue.' A small (2 foot) shrub, somewhat frost tender. Also very good in containers.
And, last but not least, add winter annuals such as lobelia, snapdragons, pansies, and stock to fill in any bare spots.
Add one of these flowering shrubs for every nine linear feet of garden space (or more, as they are evergreen during the summer) to bring a bright flash of color throughout the garden.
Feed with a high phosphorus (middle number) fertilizer to keep blossoms going. NOTE! Do not feed the New Zealand Tea Trees with high phosphorus, as this will clog their pores.
Deadhead as the flowers die or cut branches for flower arrangements, to keep new blooms coming.
Photo courtesy of Icon Design on Flickr