By Karen Chapman of Le jardinet
The froth of pale blue spring flowers is certainly welcome but the real story is all about the evergreen, boldly variegated foliage.
In bright light the leaves are almost golden but become more chartreuse in shadier locations, each leaf splashed irregularly with dark green. Use this as a weed smothering carpet under darker leaved plants to add light to the shade garden.
Groundcovers make excellent candidates for edging containers and 'Diamond Heights' Ceanothus is no exception. Spilling over pots and rock walls, the well branched habit of this shrub is shown off to advantage and adds welcome variety to the more commonly used edging plants.
Cold climate gardeners can enjoy this as a summer container plant where it will also be able to tolerate more direct sun without burning than in its native habitat.
Add deer resistance, low water use and a low maintenance attitude and you can begin to understand why this colorful, prostrate shrub is a true garden jewel. And if you’d like to mix it up a bit, be on the lookout for the exciting new Highlights Ceonothus (Ceanothus griseus horizontalis 'MATCEA01' PPAF) with a narrower lime margin to its leaf.
For a truly bodacious combination, plant a bright orange pot with a multi-colored croton (Codiaeum) flanked with a deep burgundy 'Orange Rocket' Barberry and Black Adder Phormium.
For additional height without bulk add see-through stems of Meteor Shower verbena (Verbena bonariensis ‘Meteor Shower’) whose purple flowers seem to dance above the design. For additional flower power, the long-blooming Mercury Rising tickseed (Coreopsis x 'Mercury Rising') is hard to beat while its feathery foliage adds welcome contrast to its bolder foliage partners. The succulent Desert Rose paddle plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora 'Desert Rose') adds an unexpected focal point while the bright notes from Diamond Heights ceanothus brings the lighter tones of the croton down to the container edge while also highlighting the tickseed flowers and foliage.
This low-water container design will thrive under the dappled canopy of a deciduous tree.
Wake up your shade garden by weaving a low-growing carpet of Diamond Heights ceanothus under the dark green fern-like foliage of 'Soft Caress' Mahonia. When Mahonia is in bloom, its yellow flowers will be perfectly highlighted by the bright groundcover.
To continue the golden theme, the grass-like EverColor® 'Everillo' Carex could be planted in the foreground for contrasting texture.
To add height and introduce contrasting color, the vivid red stems of a Pacific Fire vine maple (Acer circinatum ‘Pacific Fire’) would look at home in the woodland conditions, its modest size being well suited to today’s smaller gardens.