Laura Christensen, a Wheaton-based landscape architect and designer took members of the Lombard Garden Club step-by-step as she described transforming her front and backyards into lush garden displays.
The secret, she said, was to select plants that offered "lots of curved lines and seasonal color, including tons of flowering bulbs, great fall color, interesting plant silhouettes and tree bark for winter interest."
Here is a list of her favorite plants, complete with her comments about the bling they offer for the buck:
• Daffodils and grape hyacinth hellebores/Lenten Rose: Burgundy, cream, yellow, or chartreuse flowers in March, hold flowers for months and have evergreen foliage
• Oak leaf hydrangea: Large white flowers, interesting exfoliating bark and gorgeous red and burgundy fall color
• Lamium groundcover: Silver and green leaves and white, pink or purple flowers from mid-spring through summer
• Serviceberry: White flowers in spring, red berries the birds love, nice multi-trunked shape, lavenderish-grey bark, gorgeous orange fall color.
• Incrediball hydrangea: Huge white flowers that hold well into fall; and nice reddish fall color.
• Hostas and heuchera (coral bells): Have great foliage colors.
• Spirea: Magic carpet spirea have chartreuse foliage during the growing season with orangish overtones.
• Bearded iris: Each flower is a work of art. Christensen has them in blues, purples, yellows, white -- and many are fragrant.
• Dwarf little blue stem grass
• Karl Foerster feather reed grass
• Burning bush, also known as dwarf winged euonymus: Gorgeous red fall color.
• Winter River birch: For multi-trunked shape and gorgeous coppery exfoliating bark
• Evergreen trees including black hills spruce: Fast grower, nice shape and great bird habitat.
• Green Giant arborvitate: Grows up to 3 feet a year; nice lacey foliage; good landscape screen
• Boxwood shrubs: Evergreen, nice winter green color, nice size.