Checking in on the 3 New Cultivars I Added to my Garden in 2017

Last summer some large Leyland Cypress trees came down on my neighbor’s property resulting in a lot more light in my front yard, as well as some additional space to fill with plants! As 2017 comes to a close, I’m revisiting some of the plants I decided to add to this space – Teddy Bear Magnolia, Magic Carpet Spirea, and Ruby Slippers Hydrangea.

The Teddy Bear Magnolia was the definite winner for me. This is a plant that I’ve been aware of for several years but for some reason had never used. Little Gem is another dwarf Magnolia cultivar, and for whatever reason it seems to be more readily available in the nursery trade. In any case, I’m now a Teddy Bear fan! In addition to large glossy leaves with velvety undersides this dwarf tree surprised me with its relatively quick growth rate. Typically when you pick a dwarf cultivar for smaller size, you also get a very slow growth rate, so I was pleasantly surprised when this tree put on over a 1.5 feet of growth in 1 year.

Magnolia grandiflora ‘Teddy Bear’ – Teddy Bear Magnolia in my yard

The very close runner up for favorite new plant was the Magic Carpet Spirea. While more of a team player than a specimen, this plant has been an awesome addition. It has tolerated the super dry location without wilting or browning, flowered nicely in the spring, and has a great textural contrast with the juniper planted adjacent to it. Its small size makes it very versatile, and this is definitely a plant I would use again.

Spirea ‘Magic Carpet’ – Magic Carpet Spirea in my yard


Finally, I was a bit disappointed by the Ruby Slippers Hydrangea. I should start by saying that I’m tough on my plants. While I do use my drip irrigation system I probably don’t water as much as I should and I expect my plants to put up with our hot and dry summers without complaining – and my Ruby Slippers Hydrangea decided to complain. Starting in late July/August the flowers that were supposed to be a vibrant pink turned brown, and they’ve been hanging on ever since. I’m hoping that as the plant gets more established (and I get better about providing supplemental water) I’ll get the pink flowers that I was so excited about. We’ll see. As I tell my clients all the time – some plants need a few years in the ground to really take off, so I’ll definitely be giving this plant some more time.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ – Ruby Slippers Oakleaf Hydrangea in my yard

I hope it’s been interesting to see how a landscape designer selects plants to use in her own garden. Interested in adding some new varieties of shrubs and trees to your property? Contact Bright Leaf Landscaping at 919-619-4460 or fill out our online contact form. Design and installation are our expertise, and we are always happy to meet with new clients to discuss potential projects!