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I am always on the lookout for great examples of plants in the desert landscape. In my work as a landscape consultant, I drive through countless neighborhoods, which allows me to see lots of ideas.
A few years ago, I drove by a house that had a beautiful Hop Bush shrub (Dodonaea viscosa).  
 
 
This evergreen, drought tolerant shrub does wonderfully in our southwestern climate, and it is a frequent addition to landscapes I design. 
It’s versatility is one of the reasons it is near the top of my favorite shrub list.
  • Hop Bush is a great substitute for Oleander shrubs.
  • They can grow up to 12 feet tall or be maintained at a shorter height – basically you can decide how large it gets.
  • Their height makes them a great choice to screen out an unattractive view in spaces where a tree won’t fit while providing shade for for windows.
  • Hop Bush can be allowed to grow into their natural shape or pruned more formally.

 

 
Native to the Southwest, Hop Bush is quite versatile and relatively fuss-free, especially if maintained by pruning every 6 months or so, as shown above. Here is another example of a hop bush shrub that has been pruned more formally, which it handles well.
 
 
 Of course, you can always let it grow into its more natural form as a large shrub.
 
For more information on hop bush including what its flowers look like and why it’s becoming a popular substitute for oleanders, you can read my earlier blog post – “Drought Tolerant and Beautiful: Hopbush the Alternative to Oleanders.”

Agave are my favorite succulent of mine in my own garden and also finds itself a prominent addition to many of my landscape designs.


There is so much to love about agave, from the unique, rosette pattern of their succulent leaves to the dramatic flowering stalk that they send up toward the end of their lives.



While I have several species of agave, whale’s tongue is one of my favorites.

This agave first drew my attention when my friend and fellow blogger, Pam Penick, wrote about the one growing in her garden, where it takes center stage in her backyard.

Since then, I have seen several throughout the greater Phoenix landscape as well.  


There is so much to like about this agave including how its blue-green color adds great color contrast to the landscape.


I also happen to like the unique shape of its leaves, that really do resemble a whale’s tongue.

Do you think this lovely agave deserves a place in your landscape?

Learn more about how and where to plant this agave as well as what plants to pair it with for maximum impact in my latest Houzz plant profile.  



Have you ever seen this agave in the landscape?  What would you plant alongside it?

I have been enjoying sharing with you some of my favorite lesser-known plants.  These are plants that are not used enough in the landscape and can brighten up an otherwise boring landscape filled with over-used landscape plants such as Lantana, Dwarf Oleander, etc.  My last post featured the beautiful Valentine shrub.


I am very excited to talk about this lesser known plant.  Let me introduce you to chaparral sage (Salvia clevelandii).

Isn’t it beautiful?

Years ago, I planted the chaparral Sage above along with many others around a golf course.  Their blue-purple flowers were a definite focal point in the spring time landscape.
The striking flowers begin to form in the spring and continue on into early summer.  

This shrub is native to San Diego county and performs well in well-drained soil. 

Like most of my favorite plants, this flowering shrub is low-maintenance.  There are also many other reasons that I think you should definitely try this out in your garden:

Hardy to 10 degrees F.   
And so mine is still green despite temps dipping into the low 20’s this winter.

Has a beautiful, naturally round shape.  Only requires pruning by at least 1/2 its size in February and removal of spent flowers in the summer.
Hummingbirds will be congregating around the beautiful flowers.

Reaches a mature size of approximately 4′ x 4′. 

The foliage is highly fragrant and is attractive even when not covered with flowers.

In the low deserts, it is wise to place the shrubs where they will receive filtered shade in the afternoons.  In high desert locations, they can be set out in full sun.

The foliage is quite fragrant and while most people enjoy its fragrance, some do not.  So, be sure to find a Chaparral Sage plant ahead of time to make sure that you enjoy the fragrance as much as I do before you buy some for your garden.

The fragrance is best enjoyed from a short distance, so I recommend not planting right next to walkways or windows.

Chaparral Sage looks great when planted near yellow, red or pink flowering plants.
I hope you will decide to try this shrub out in your garden.  I absolutely love mine.

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For those of you who are determined to be trendsetters in your garden, try these beautiful, fuss-free plants in your garden.