Xeriscapes are created by pairing drought-tolerant plants with other specimens needing the same amount of sun and moisture. The plants, including bloom-producing perennials, ornamental grasses and succulents, can be tucked
into crevices just as they appear in nature. Mix and match from these top categories depending on your site requirements
Bloom producers: De rigueur for a xeriscape garden are perennials with blooms: My favourites include Agastache ‘Blue Boa’ (a great little Zone 6 specimen with very large form and therefore a great filler plant for the middle or back of a border; its brilliant blue spikes are this summer’s must-have form), Echinacea ‘Burgundy Fireworks’ (unlike many of the new cone-flower introductions, this one, which requires full sun and is also Zone 6, appeals to pollinators, which are important to any garden; its sturdy stems support quill-like blooms in the most glorious shade of burgundy imaginable) and Salvia nemorosa ‘May Night’ (a reliable Zone 3 plant with an indigo-blue flower that’s a magnet for good insects; its nice strong stems grow to 40 centimetres).
(Courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries)
Grasses: Among the best ornamental grasses: Zone 4 wonder Panicum virgatum ‘Cheyenne Sky,’ which grows to 80 centimetres and has a nice, tight clumping habit of blue-green foliage that turns wine-red in early summer; in the autumn, its flower panicles are a brilliant red. Festuca glauca ‘Boulder Blue,’ meanwhile, is small, growing 20 centimetres high to 30 centimetres wide. This grass, a Zone 5, will add serious hits of colour and makes a nice edge or even a filler. Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’ (Zone 4) is a form of our native bluestem, growing 24 centimetres tall and wide. Its leaves turn a bronzy orange in autumn, adding colour as well as movement.
(Courtesy Monrovia Nurseries)
Succulents: There are three main categories: Sempervivum (or hens and chicks) has water reservoirs in its thick, juicy leaves, while the blooms come from the centre of the mother plant. Excellent Sempervivum varieties include S. ‘Clara Noyes,’ S. Joubarbe ‘Blush,’ S. arachnoideum ‘Cobweb’ and S. ‘Belladonna.’ Echeveria is a desert succulent with hairy leaves; the flowers spring from the side of the central rosette. But you will have to treat them as annuals or take them indoors for the winter. Sedums also have dense stalks and leaves. Cut them back in July and they’ll form a good upright clump. They will grow in Zone 4 and often, with some protection, in Zone 3. S. ‘Thundercloud’ offers pink blooms in August, S. ‘Frosty Morn’ features pink blooms over variegated silver-edged foliage and S. ‘Purple Emperor’ boasts dark red blooms over a dramatic, almost black foliage. S. Sunsparkler ‘Cherry Tart’ provides low ground covering with red flushed leaves and pink flowers, S. ‘Angelina’ takes being dry very well and can cope with full sun to part shade, and S. ‘Lime Zinger’ is acid-green with a red edge and serves as a good contrast to Sempervivum.
(Shannon Ross/Judy Inc.)