Here Comes the Sun

Plants that can take the heat.

Japanese beauty berry (Callicarpa japonica)

The trick to maintaining a vibrant plantscape in Northern Virginia, according to Ken Duffy, ASLA, of Oakton’s Geoscape Inc., is to choose species that will do well in specific areas of the region’s diverse microclimates. Variations in soil quality and the timing and duration of sun exposure are key elements in this fragile alchemy.

Jennifer Horn, RLA, an Arlington-based landscape architect, recommends different plant combinations, depending on the sun factor. For dry, shady spots, she likes a combination of Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora), a large shrub which attracts Tiger Swallowtail butterflies when they bloom in late spring; a spreading shrub called Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica), particularly the “Grow Low,” variety which turns a fiery red in mid-fall; and a variety of Fothergilla called Blue Shadow, which has dusky blue leaves and white flowers in spring. 

When planting in areas with steady, dry sun, she likes a pairing of an ornamental grass called Little Bluestem (Schiazachyrium scoparium), which turns russet-colored in fall, with a meadow perennial like Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), adding in an American Beautyberry Shrub to the mix. Their magenta berries, which form when summer gives way to fall, are eye-catching, at least until the birds find them. 

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum