We’re sure you’ll agree that this is the season when time outdoors is best spent avoiding the sun. That would also make it the ideal time to introduce new colors, shapes or textures to the shadier parts of your yard. Here are a few suggestions for ornamentals from Richard Lyons’ Nursery that should pique your interest:
Cast-Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior): As the common name implies, this species — native to the Ryukyu Archipelago of Japan — is tough and dependable. This essentially stemless plant grows 2-3 ft. high and about as wide, with dark green strap-like leaves that reach 18-36 in. in length. Although it spreads by rhizomes, it is not aggressive and consequently won’t require much maintenance. A. elatior can be used to create either a ground cover or a border in low-light settings, and it can withstand the coldest winter nights in southern Florida. It is drought-tolerant once established.
Philodendron ‘Burle Marx’ (Philodendron sp. ‘Burle Marx’): Roberto Burle Marx was a famed Brazilian landscape architect and artist for whom more than 25 plant species have been named. One of the more popular of those species is a member of the aroid family. Philodendron sp. ‘Burle Marx’ is a versatile plant that makes a superb ground cover 12-18 in. high, but will also climb up tree trunks or other means of support. It features highly glossy, dark green leaves in the shape of an arrowhead or elongated heart. New leaves emerge a pink-bronze color that provides additional allure to this drought-tolerant plant.
Mrs. Iceton Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Mrs. Iceton’): In terms of color combinations, crotons, due to their genetic instability, are among the most variable found in the plant world. Even in an individual cultivar, colors change depending on the degree of exposure to sunlight. But Mrs. Iceton is noteworthy for a couple of reasons: (1) It is particularly adaptable to shady locations, and (2) The makeup of its color palette is softer than that of most other crotons. While many of the cultivars that thrive in sunny exposures possess bold, strongly-defined hues, those of Mrs. Iceton are replete with pastels that range from green and yellow in new foliage to tan, pink, red, maroon, burgundy and black. And since the apple-leaf shaped foliage is relatively thin, backlighting adds new dimensions to the plant.
These species are available in containers at Richard Lyons’ Nursery, 20200 SW 134th Ave.
[This feature to be continued next week]