Every Plant Has Its Place

“I hate that plant” is a statement no experienced gardener will ever make.
Just when you think there is no rhyme or reason for the existence of a certain plant, you see it growing in a spot you never thought about and realize that it does have its place in the plant universe after all.
Take yellow petunias, which hardly make an impression when you first set eyes on them. But then you happen to be stopped in traffic on the corner of San Vicente Boulevard and 26th Street in Brentwood, and look over to some window boxes outside a clothing store. The awnings of the store are golden yellow, and they nicely match up with the yellow petunias in the window boxes below. However, what makes them stand out is the positioning of a few reddish purple petunias to interrupt the solid line of yellow.
One of the ways to hold together a garden is by repeating a single plant, in a single color, as an accent throughout. This is most easily achieved with annuals such as pink petunias, in a sun garden, or pink impatiens in a shade garden. Don’t ask me why, but pink is a color that seems to go well with every other color.
If yellow petunias can only be loved conditionally, yellow impatiens do not need any particular background or context to earn your affection. They are the ideal ground cover to plant around around azaleas and hydrangeas. They are also a trailing plant that make a wonderful subject for hanging baskets and terra cotta pots.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum), like the yellow petunia, is a plant that may want for love. The problem is that when it is planted outdoors – and it will grow quite well in Valley shade gardens – it will take over everything in its path. It is virtually indestructible; it can exist on a few drams of water per month and has been launched as a carefree potted plant in the space shuttle.
The other day, however, I saw a spider plant growing in a shady spot that had to absorb occasional foot traffic. It was doing quite well despite other plants having been flattened by people who had strolled in the area. The green-and-white striped spider plant made a handsome presentation all by itself.
TIP OF THE WEEK: Another indoor plant worthy of outdoor shade-garden planting in the Valley is the Hawaiian elf umbrella plant (Schefflera arboricola), a shrubby plant with sea green foliage that will slowly grow to 6 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide. A variegated variety with gold splashed foliage is also available.

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