By Marianne Binetti
My favorite tree for Northwest gardens is the Japanese maple. Gild this treasure with a framework of golden foliage using ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ euonymus and ‘Little Princess’ spirea, and you’ve got the perfect pairing for year-round color with very little maintenance. Note how the touch of red in the spirea’s leaf tips echoes the burgundy maple foliage.
This front-yard planting space had a grafted Japanese maple. The spirea is to surround the tree, and the lower-growing euonymus fill in around the walkway. I couldn’t resist adding a splash of golden grass as an accent in the very front of the bed.
Planting Tip: The euonymus and spirea act like groundcovers, so space them a few feet apart, as they quickly fill in any open space. The yellow roses add summer color near the entry.
Japanese maple, spirea, and euonymus are available in various colors and sizes. But they have two things in common: colorful foliage, and an adaptable nature that make them easy to grow in Northwest gardens.
I’ve used the white-and-green foliage of Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’ to substitute for a boxwood hedge around a brick courtyard. A quick trim with the string trimmer in early summer has kept this hedge at 18 inches high for the last 25 years.
Spireas outgrow their spaces or look scruffy after a hard winter. You can prune them back hard anytime in spring or early summer. These tough shrubs respond with fresh, new foliage and an abundance of blooms. Now what’s not to love about that?