There are plants both short and tall that should survive the cold

I’m looking for a foundation plant for the northeast corner of the house. I would like to have a flowering plant or something that will lend some color to our landscape. We live in Cedaredge so it needs to tolerate colder temperatures as well. What would you recommend?

— Alice

There are dozens and dozens of different plants to choose from. The choice will mostly depend upon how tall you’d like the plant to grow. In shorter shrubs (4 feet or less), you could choose from barberry, dwarf forsythia, sunburst hypericum, dwarf mockorange, potentilla, dwarf varieties of shrub roses, dwarf spirea and dwarf weigela.

All of these will tolerate sun. If it’s shady, you could consider some of the different euonymus, holly, some varieties of hydrangea, or compact Oregon grape.

If you need taller things, there are loads of choices there as well. If you get a chance, stop by the nursery. We have books we’ve made up with appropriate descriptions and pictures to give you an idea of what a plant looks like.

When I moved in, I was told the owner had planted a “Rob Roy” and mentioned that I needed to find a “Rob Boy” for it to flower and such. The shrub is basically a holly-like plant (i.e. fleshy, serrated leaves, low-lying, green all year). Any ideas?

— Chris

From the photo you sent it looks like you have a variety of blue holly. This group of hybrids are the common hollies we grow around here. They have the winter hardiness we need plus they’ll tolerate our low humidity better than other types. Even so, we like to plant them where they will get a good bit of shade.

One quirk about these plants is that they’re what’s called dioecious. What that means is that there are separate male flowers and female flowers and these flowers are borne on separate plants. What that means is that there are male plants and female plants. Though the foliage of these hollies is attractive, we really grow them for their bright red berries in the fall and winter. It’s only the female plants that set berries, but you need a male in the vicinity to pollinize the flowers so fruit will develop.

I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the names you were given. The common varieties I’ve seen around are Blue Boy, Blue Girl, Blue Prince, Blue Princess, Blue Maid, China Girl and China Boy.

It’s important to know whether you have a female or a male since two of the same won’t produce berries. Sounds a bit like you have a female and need a “boy” for pollinization. If you’re not absolutely sure what you have, wait until the shrub blooms again next spring and bring a twig with some flowers in. I’ll look at them under a magnifying lens to see whether the flower is male or female. The flowers are small and white and are borne right off the older stems at the base of the leaves.

One sure alternative is to buy a “combination” plant. Some growing nurseries are potting up a male and female plant in the same pot. It’s mostly a female plant with a little sprig of male planted off to the side so you get the effect of a pretty berried holly without having to worry about whether it is a boy or a girl. The common combination sold today goes under the name of Berri-Magic holly.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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