Mikl has assembled a collection of some of our most interesting, unusual and hard-to-find woody plants, many of which are just ready for sale now. These include some excellent native trees, shrubs and ground-covers, as well as particularly interesting and worthy non-natives that thrive in Colorado conditions. We’d like to share some descriptive profiles with you here.
Ficus carica ‘Chicago Hardy’ Chicago Hardy Fig Tree
potentially 10-15′ high and wide
This is THE variety known for being productive and cold-hardy in the right spot in the ground, even in Zone 5. The right spot is in a hot, protected location in front of a south-facing foundation or the south face of large boulders that are partially buried. It can also be grown in a large pot and brought indoors for the winter. Chicago Hardy will die back to the ground every winter, but will come back and fruit on new wood. It is heat-loving and self-pollinating. The leaves are dramatic, and though the flowers are insignificant, the small fruits, which start off green and ripen to purple-brown, are delicious!
2-4”h x 2-3’w
This very drought-tolerant ground-hugging foliage mat is evergreen and hardy, and female plants in a mixed population will bear brilliant red berries. It adds a really unique texture to the garden.
Paxistima canbyi – Mountain Lover
8-12”h x 15-20”w
This beautiful, low-growing, glossy evergreen shrub from the eastern US thrives in shade or part sun, and even dry shade. Tiny flowers are inconspicuous. It is easy to grow, and cold-hardy to Zone 4, and was introduced by the Plant Select program.
Philadelphus coronaria ‘Mikl’s Pick’ (Fragrant Mockorange)
10-12’h x 6-8’w
Infusing the garden with the powerful, delicious fragrance of orange-blossoms, Mikl’s special selection of this old-fashioned shrub is very tough, tolerating shade, sun, wind and drought. We grow it on the west-facing side of one of our buildings, where it receives little water or maintenance.
Hesperaloe parviflora – Red Yucca
3-5”h bloom stalks above 2-3’ foliage
Not actually a Yucca, but a related genus, the coral-red flowers are hummingbird magnets, blooming on long, curving, asparagus-like reddish stems in July. The evergreen foliage makes a succulent, grass-like clump. Does best with moderate to low water. Another Plant Select award-winner.
Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ – Black Lace Elderberry
8-10’ high & wide
Sporting dark purple finely-cut foliage a bit reminiscent of Japanese Maple, this highly decorative and adaptable shrub bears large slightly domed clusters of pink buds that open to white flowers and attract many pollinators. To get berries, plant another variety of Sambucus nigra nearby.
Cotoneaster racemiflorus var. soongoricus – Sungari Redbead Cotoneaster
6-8’ high and wide
A gracefully arching larger shrub with dark green leaves above and gray-white beneath. Showy white late-spring flowers are followed by abundant red fruit in early fall. Chosen by Plant Select from the Cheyenne High Plans Horticulture Research Station, where it has survived for 40+ years receiving only natural precipitation. Thought to be one of the hardiest of all the cotoneasters, this shrub is resistant to most pests and diseases and attracts pollinators and feed the birds in fall. Sun-loving, tough, deer-resistant and xeric. Hardy to 7,500’ elevation (Zone 3).
Mahonia aquifolium – Oregon Grape-Holly
4-6’high, spreading slowly in width.
This very tough broad leafed evergreen shrub has attractive glossy, holly-like leaves with prickly points. It’s extremely adaptable to a wide range of soils, exposures and watering regimes, from sand to clay, shade to full sun, and moist to dry conditions. In early spring it bears large clusters of fragrant, bright yellow flowers that are shaped like tiny daffodils, much appreciated by bees. These are followed by blue berries that birds enjoy. Fall and winter foliage color is usually purplish, with some orange and red mixed in. Exceptionally severe winters can desiccate and defoliate the plant, but it always re-leafs.
Jamesia americana – Waxflower
3-5’ high and wide
This is one of our outstandingly beautiful locally-native shrubs, seen in many of our foothills canyons, as well as higher elevations (5,400 to 10,000’). The fragrant white flowers bloom in clusters in late spring and early summer, and attract butterflies and bees. The foliage is attractive and the peeling bark is ornamental. At Boulder and Denver elevations, we recommend planting where it gets morning sun and afternoon shade, or in dappled shade. Full sun can work at high elevation. Start with moderate watering the first few years and water less once established. Planting next to a large rock or rocks that is largely buried in the ground will give it a cooler, moister root-run and help it establish. A Plant Select choice.
Celtis reticulata – Netleaf Hackberry
rarely over 15’ tall but can reach 25-35
A native, slow-growing, dwarf Hackberry with twisted horizontal branches that can give it a ‘bonsai’ look. This tree is very tough and drought-tolerant, and thrives in full sun. In fall small reddish berries are sought-after by the birds. Overlooked and rarely available, but a valuable small tree performing many ecosystem services.
Mahonia repens – Creeping Mahonia
6-12” high, spreading by stolons.
An evergreen Colorado native we’ve all seen in the foothills, looking like a miniature Oregon Grapeholly without the gloss. It sports the same clusters of fragrant yellow flowers, blue berries and attractive fall and winter foliage colors as its larger cousin. Excellent groundcover for dry shade.
Shepherdia argentea ‘Silver Totem’ – Silver Totem Buffaloberry
8-10’ high x 3’ wide
This Plant Select introduction for 2023 keeps a wonderful, narrow columnar form, making it a very useful shrub for a side-yard, for screening or as an accent. As the name implies, the attractive narrow foliage is silvery. Silver Totem is a female selection of our native Silver Buffaloberry, and in the presence of a male plant will bear small, tasty, nutritious berries. Bloom occurs in late winter, and both sexes support honeybees and other early-season pollinators with either pollen or nectar. Plant in full or part sun and give it low to moderate water.