Details Landscape Art is a Sonoma Co. landscape designer with projects throughout Sonoma and Napa Counties. We are known for our spectacular planting schemes, and we specialize in colorful, low maintenance gardens that mix heights, textures and bloom seasons. Frequently we encounter special situations that require particular plants or plant groupings to solve a given problem area.

Creek bed with a flagstone bridge

Following is a series of these special situations, and the plants we may use accordingly:

  • Deep shade – in areas under large evergreen trees or darker enclosed areas, there are four plants we use regularly:
  1. Sarcococca ruscifolia – one of our favorite plants, sarcococca is a winter blooming, deer resistant evergreen. The January flowers are extremely fragrant, followed by bright red berries. It can be easily espaliered against a wall.
  2. Aucuba japonica – there are both green leafed and variegated varieties. We especially like the dark green splashed with gold spots. This plant is great for brightening up a dark corner. Requires zero sun (which will burn the leaves)
  3. Camellia – both japonica and sasanqua, there are over three thousand varieties. Some can tolerate a little more weak sun than other; most need shade. Good drainage is essential. Definitely avoid strong sun exposure.
  4. Acer palmatum ‘Viridis’ – though almost all Japanese maples like afternoon shade, we have foung this green leafed variety to do well in full shade. Lime green foliage emerges in spring.
  • Drape over a wall – Sometimes an unsightly concrete or block wall can use a little softening:
  1. Rosemary prostrate – tough, hardy evergreen with light blue flowers, easily trails down over a wallA stone retaining wall with draping plants
  2. Manzanita ‘Emerald Carpet’ – dark green evergreen foliage, with insignificant flowers
  3. Lantana – softer spreading perennial, somewhat frost tender. Available in many colors, but the purple is the hardiest.
  • Grass-like substitute – for the Sonoma Co. landscape designer looking to reduce or eliminate high water use lawns, yet working for a homeowner who wants the general look of a lawn, we love to use myoporum parvifolium ‘Putah Creek’. Spreading aggressively, it reroots as the foliage touches damp soil. Bright green leaves with a profusion of white flowers all summer long. Plant never gets more than six to eight inches high.
  • Longlasting annual – Impatiens – can’t beat the color and flower production of this shade loving annual. Comes in white, red, coral, orchid, fuschia and pink. The show lasts until the first frost.
  • Plants for damp soil and ponds our go to ‘wet area’ plants include:
  1. Juncus (rush) – resembles grasses, with erect upright green stems
  2. Society garlic – whether the standard green or ‘Silver Lace’, spikes of purple flowers appear all summer long. Great plant with many uses if the odor of garlic is acceptable.
  3. Hosta – wonderful perennial for the shade. Many leaf sizes and color. Susceptible to snails and slugs.
  4. Iris – hundreds of varieties are available. Japanese iris and Siberian iris do especially well in damp soil. Other varieties that will work are iris laevigata, iris pseudacorus, iris versacolor and iris virginica.

A good Sonoma Co. landscape designer like Details Landscape Art will have solutions to those unusual planting situations.