Popular and easy to grow is photinia, which is a dense growing shrub of bright green and red leaves that matures to dark green. It blooms summer white flowers and fall berries. Prune to shape the photinia before spring or it can grow out of control.
The common white jasmine (Jasminum) is a fast growing vine and shrub. Very fragrant white flowers bloom all summer. It likes the sun and rich soil, but it can thrive in less than ideal conditions.
Escallonia is a shrub of small leaves and small pink flowers that bloom in summer and fall. It will do well in most soils except high alkaline. It likes water but will grow fine without regular water. Prune it back one-third to shape and to allow the sun to reach inner branches.
The oleander (Nerium oleander) is another fast-grower that can thrive without regular water and in any soil. Note that all parts of the oleander are toxic: keep leaves, flowers, stems and any prunings away from children, pets and livestock.
Dense and compact rhaphiolepis loves the sun and blooms white to almost red frilly flowers from late fall into late spring. The rhaphiolepsis looks particularly stunning with yellow marguerite (Argyranthemum frutescens) that blooms at the same time.
Caroline Jessamine (Gelsemium) is a cascading vine of long branches which blooms bright yellow trumpet flowers. Prune to keep in shape as this will put out runners and get out of control easily.
Ceanothus loves full sun and little to no water. It blooms blue to violet flowers. Prune after the blooms have faded. Be aware during planning that the life span of the ceanothus is only 5 to 10 years.
Camellia can also be used to create a shelter but make sure it is planted in well-drained organically rich soil. Give it acid fertilizer and carefully follow the directions. Prune camellia after flowering or during summer and fall.
Barberry (Berberis) is a dense spiny-stemmed shrub that can tolerate most garden conditions. Prune to shape or all the way to the ground to rejuvenate it. Spring flowers and berries grow on pervious years branches.
Bottlebrush (Callistemon) has bristle-like stamens in the shape of a baby bottle brush. Bottlebrush and evergreen Euonymus are both fast growing shrubs that can take any kind of soil and sunny heat and are easy to train.
The euonymus has glossy leathery yellow leaves with green leaf margins. Group euonymus and bottlebrush together for privacy, but make sure they have enough air circulation to lessen the chance of powdery mildew.
The potato vine (Solanum laxum) can rapidly twine to 30 feet. Cut it back severely to prevent tangling and for new growth. The potato vine has small star-shaped, five-petal blue or white flowers and decorative fruit all year long.
Now, enjoy your beautiful garden retreat.
The public is invited to attend this Saturday’s free Master Gardener Saturday class on Perennials. Perennial plants come back year after year to beautify your garden; they add texture, color and flowers to your landscape.
Learn all about the many perennials that thrive in El Dorado County from Master Gardeners Debbie Hillel and Kathy Pearson. The Sept. 14 class is from 9 a.m. to noon at the Veterans Memorial Building, 130 Placerville Drive in Placerville.
The annual Master Gardener Fall Plant Sale is on Saturday, Sept. 28 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Building parking lot. Cool season veggies and ornamental plants raised by Master Gardeners will be available for purchase. There will be informational displays and more.
Master Gardeners are available to answer home gardening questions Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon by calling 530-621-5512. Walk-ins are welcome. The office is located at 311 Fair Lane in Placerville.
For more information about the public education classes and activities go to the Master Gardener Website at cecentralsierra.ucanr.org/Master_Gardeners/ and facebook.com/pages/El-Dorado-County-Master-Gardeners/164653119129.