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 Tough Plants for Tough Places 

Nature Hills Nursery - for live plants and shrubs

 Tough Plants for 25 Types of Gardens

Fringed Iris - Iris tectorum varigataThis section will cover the best plants for 25 different types of gardens. Many of them are designed to solve your garden problem by turning troublesome areas into spots of beauty.  

So whether you have a huge acreage or a postage stamp sized garden, soggy or dry soil, heavy or light soil, ground that is flat as a pancake or a steep bank, you'll find something here! 

We'll look at gardens for shade and for sun, groundcover and container, winter and autumn, wild and tamed, vertical and raised bed, and even some stylized "sculptured" gardens that can grow herbs or to really show off your gardening skills!  If you have a garden problem to solve, or a dream you want to come true, chances are good that the solution is here!

Stay tuned to this page as the types of gardens bloom through the spring.  You'll see the list grow in the nav bar at top left. Included in the types we'll cover are plants for these types of gardens: Courtyard Garden, Bog Garden, Groundcover Garden, Postage Stamp Garden, Ornamental Grass Garden, Garden for a Slope or Bank, Raised Bed Garden, Japanese Garden, Patio Garden, Perennial Cutting Garden, Edge of the Meadow Garden, Native Plant Garden, Vertical Garden, Winter Garden, Wild Garden, Autumn Garden, Rock Garden, Dry Garden, Garden of Bulbs, Shade Garden, Edge of Pond Garden, Shrub and Small Tree Border, Stylized Gardens, English Perennial Border, and Dry Stream Garden


But first, a word about Garden Design.  In the Garden Planning section, you'll find nuts and bolts tips on how to evaluate your yard and produce a garden plan.   This section will deal more with "imagination" and plant selection when it comes to garden design, and of course, using tough as nails plants that just keep on growing.

Hints and Tips:

  • Trust your own aesthetic judgment - it's YOUR garden.

  • While color-coordinating your garden is popular, sometimes it's only practical for very large gardens - and those with a proper staff of gardeners.  Think more in terms of matching intensity or brightness of color, rather than the actual shades.  If you have a favorite shrub or perennial that bears hot-pink flowers, then pair it with other flowering plants with hot, bright colors, not pale pastels.  But if you want to 'cool down' a hot sun-baked section of garden, then being on those pastels!  If you want to brighten up a dark corner, stick with pale, light-reflective blooms and pale and/or variegated foliage.

  • Pay attention to the eventual size of a plant, shrub or tree.  When you plant, space things according to how large they will be in 5 years or more.

  • Unless you have a garden the size of Versailles, avoid many borders with straight lines.  Stick with gentle, sweeping curves which give the illusion of space and are easier to maintain.

  • Purple Smokebush - cotinus royal purpleMatch plants to the conditions they will be in.  Don't put a shrub that requires perfect drainage next to one that needs constant moisture.  Don't put an acid-loving plant in a cactus garden!  It's much more trouble than it's worth to constantly have to rectify the situation so mismatched plants can survive together.

  • Use garden ornaments and accessories that are in scale with your garden.  On a typical lot, a small Japanese lantern type light will always look better than a huge statue.  Scaled down garden decor adds depth to a garden instead of overpowering it.

  • Never take on more garden than you can take care of.  We all tend to have "garden eyes" that are bigger than our stomachs.  So overcome insatiable desires to collect and take time to sit back and enjoy it all.

  • Above all, do make at least a sketch of what you plan to do with your garden, so you can find a stating point as well as save energy, money and grief.


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