February is too cold and too snowy to do much of anything outside. But, it’s a fabulous time to reassess my garden and make plans for the future. What were my successes or failures? Which plants need to be moved, pruned, divided or removed? Do I need to revise a bed, hide an eyesore or redirect a view? Most of all, I want to focus on my wish list of plants!!!
I’m always inspired when I have an opportunity to visit the gardens of kindred spirits during garden tours. Last summer, I was motivated to make a few changes after seeing several gardens that featured remarkable, new hostas. Some of the new introductions have beautiful, rich-colored, thick leaves that also resist slug damage. I’ll be looking for ‘Gypsy Rose’, a medium-sized hosta with a striking pale yellow center. It forms a nice rounded clump. Also on my list of “must-have hostas” is ‘June Fever’, a bright chartreuse-colored hosta with shiny leaves. It’s sure to get attention.

: ‘Gypsy Rose’ is a dazzling hosta.

‘June Fever’ has leaves that seem to glow.

I’ve always been impressed with maidenhair ferns and in fact, I do have a nice clump growing under a crab apple tree. Unfortunately, this is such a slow growing plant that I hesitate to divide it. I simply must buy more because several, low-lying wet areas in my shade garden would be perfect places for this lacey-leafed plant. This time, I want to introduce a different variety called Himalayan maidenhair fern. It has delicate, light green, small leaves – best for viewing up close.
I also want to add more ‘Citronelle’ heucheras to my shade garden. Chartreuse-colored leaves seem to light up shady areas. I’ll be planting it along the edge of a new rock walkway through a wild area in the back yard.

The lacy leaves of Himalayan maidenhair fern.

‘Citronelle’ heucheras mingles with native plants.

As I get older, I plan to add more conifers to my garden. They’re almost maintenance-free- no dividing, cutting back or deadheading. Most grow very slowly. Conifers are available in many colors and textures that would make a great addition to my garden. One garden I saw on a tour last summer featured different selections of blue spruce. Some were tall and skinny others were short and stubby and many were short and spreading. What an amazing display! It got my attention.
Also in the same garden, was a grouping of several dwarf Japanese larches. They’re deciduous conifers, so I’m not sure what they will look like in winter. But, as you can see in this photo, their mounding habit and dark green needles are very attractive. I can think of the perfect place in my garden where this kind of planting would make a big statement.

Blue spruces are available in so many shapes!

Dwarf Japanese larch is very slow growing.