(1) Dwarf magnolias. I put this one at the top of the list because it has become a very popular choice as an accent "shrub".
Randy Lemmon positively rails against this recent practice of using dwarf magnolias as close to the house as the one shown above, referring to landscapers who do this as "stupid" and "bone-headed". It's simply not worth risking thousands of dollars of damage to your foundation - there are species with less invasive root systems that are more suitable as foundation plantings.
(2) Palms (many species). I'd get howls of protest for scratching this one off my list, but look at these two facts:
- Many palms can't tolerate freezes. This is especially true of the very popular "queen palm" types. Back in February 2011 when we were having rolling blackouts and freezing weather, I wondered whether that resident on Harvard Pointe who had installed an entire back row of queen palms would be able to salvage any of them. They were not. If you look at that yard today, you'll see that all of the large queens were ripped out and replaced with something that looks from a distance like a holly-type tree. That resident's entire investment was lost. Even if your queen palms don't freeze outright, they tend to get damaged by frosts and look very shabby for years at a time.
- Some need maintenance. Other species such as Mexican fan palm, are more resistant to freezes, but correspondingly, they need frequent maintenance, especially removal of lots of dead hanging leaves that look very ugly. If you look at most Mexican fans in our area, mostly you'll see great collections of dead leaves with three or four live fronds at the very top. Furthermore, they don't provide much privacy. My purpose here is to identify low-maintenance, hardy plants, and palms don't make the list.
|Photo from Wikipedia, but most of them don't look anywhere near this nice.|
|Photo from Wikipedia.|
|This is some of the b. malingensis that CayDee has growing in her nursery this past winter. Not sure if ours will grow to look anything like this, but notice how it's neat and colorful and confined to a specific area.|