Landscapers Share Their Favorite Plants

My Favorite Tree

Northeast / Mid-Atlantic / Midwest

Gingko Biloba (Maidenhair tree)

Believe it or not, the Gingko Biloba is actually a living fossil and can live as long as 3000 years! Its column-like, pyramidal structure; unique, fan shaped leaves; and burst of yellow color in the fall make it an appealing addition
to the landscape. In the winter, its bark and spur shoots also add interest.
I have used the Gingko Biloba in foundation plantings, as a specimen and even as
a topiary. Because it establishes easily and tolerates heat, air pollution and soil salt, the tree works well as a street tree or in urban areas, even in confined spaces.

Bill Flannery
Bill Flannery Garden Design, Marblehead MA
(781) 771-5833 •


Tatarian ‘Hot Wings’ Maple (Acer tataricum)

It’s unusual to find a tree that is drought tolerant and truly interesting in all seasons. The Tatarian ‘Hot Wings’ Maple can be a specimen in winter with its multi-stem branching structure, a stand out in summer with its scarlet red samaras, and showy in fall with its orange, red, and yellow foliage. This ornamental tree makes an excellent focal point as well as a great eye-level privacy buffer. The attractive green palmate leaves provide shade in the heat of the summer. Beautiful and tough, the Tatarian ‘Hot Wings’ Maple deserves a place in your plant palate.

Jennifer Verprauskus
Landscape Architect
Upbeet Landscapes, LLC
Denver, CO
(720) 449-3540 •

My Favorite Shrub

Northeast / Mid-Atlantic / Midwest

Korean Spice Viburnum (Viburnum carlesii ‘Spice girl’)

In my mind, shrubs should have multi-season interest. This ‘Spice girl’ variety has great fall color (bright red), produces berries (with another Carlesii), and has a very fragrant flower. The flower buds as a bright pink, then blooms open to a bright white with a pink underside. A medium sized shrub that reaches 6-7ft. in height and spread, it prefers part to full sun, but can also tolerate shade (very versatile). Did I mention it is deer tolerant? So if you need a shrub for your mixed border planting, or even a specimen – give this shrub a try!

Melissa Blake
Bates Landscaping, West Chester, PA
(484) 887-8678 •


Dark Knight Spirea (Caryopteris x clandonensis)

When addressing a favorite shrub I feel compelled to talk about a combination of plants. The fine leaf and flower structure and the deep blue flower of the Dark Knight Spirea in combination with the broad leaf and yellow flower of the Black Eyed Susan, from mid-summer through fall, is a true favorite. In the winter the seed heads persist on the Spirea, lending some winter interest as does the black “eye” of the Black Eyed Susan on a slender black stem, creating a great texture and color contrast throughout the seasons, especially after a light snow.

Tom Trench
Landscape Systems and Designs LLC
Lakewood, CO
(720) 569-0653 •

My Favorite Groundcover

Northeast / Mid-Atlantic / Midwest

Bugleweed (Ajuga reptens)

Ajuga is a dense, rapidly spreading groundcover that enhances the landscape with its shiny, dark green leaves capped with whorls of tiny, blue-violet flowers in spring. It is easily grown in full sun to part shade and prefers moist soils with good drainage. Ajuga’s dense foliage will choke out weeds but the plants are not particularly tolerant of foot traffic. Several cultivars offer varied foliage color, Catlins Giant being my personal favorite. When in full flower, large clumps of bugleweed produce a striking display, especially planted among naturalizing spring bulbs, such as Snowdrops, Hyacinths or shorter varieties of Daffodils.

Bruce Phillips Jr.
Landscape Designer
Beary Landscape Management, Des Plaines, IL
(847) 768-9800 •


Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides)

Hardy Plumbago is a great groundcover for dry shade areas, but it can take some sun as well. The bloom is unique, with a “fire work” like shape, and provides color from late summer into fall. The progression of leaf color from bright shiny green to burgundy adds appeal and its bloom stalks can be left in place for early winter interest. Plumbago grows into a nice carpet about 10″ tall, but is not an overly aggressive spreader. I tend to use it most as a carpet underneath multi-stem specimen trees or under mature existing trees.

Terry Rudolph, PLA
Landscape Architect and Owner
Alternative Land Design, LLLP
Denver, Colorado
(303) 433-4828 •