I recently took a watercolor class and our instructor, Chris Blevins, taught us that we should view a mistake as an opportunity to take a painting in a different direction. She calls these "swap-portunities." The same goes for gardeners when a landscape plant dies, grows too big for its location or does not perform up to expectations. These problems should be looked at as opportunities to do something different.
For example, I had scraggly aging lavender plants that were crowding my Stella d'Oro daylilies. They were no longer attractive, and I was tired of deadheading them. I dug them out this spring, which gave me space to plant a small landscape rose that will require less attention. My choice was Oso Easy Cherry Pie. It has bright rose flowers and shiny green leaves. It needs little pruning, no deadheading and does not need spraying.
At the other end of the same bed I have Oso Happy Smoothie, another in Proven Winner's Oso landscape rose series. It is a perfect rose for the landscape, and it is thornless. From late spring to frost, it produces hot pink single flowers with white centers. Deadheading and spraying are also not necessary.
I also decided two shrubs in my backyard needed to go. One was the Bloomerang Purple Lilac that I was excited about when it first became available. Except for the flowers, it was not an attractive plant. I also removed a Silver Anniversary abelia that grew well but looked ragged most of the time. Now I have a couple of spots where I can try something new.
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Two shrubs that are staying put are also Proven Winner introductions. They are Lo & Behold Ice Chip, with white flowers and silvery leaves, and Lilac Chip, with lavender-pink blooms and green leaves. They are darling butterfly bushes that fit into a shrub or perennial bed. Both have a mounded growth habit growing about 2 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide, diminutive compared to other butterfly bushes.
Both these shurbs have sterile flowers, so they are not invasive, and deadheading is not needed. These are carefree shrubs, plus they attract butterflies and hummingbirds. They have no major pest problems, and you simply prune them back to the ground in late winter.
-- Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.