Two Seldom-Used Plants You Should Consider

Dwarf Chamisa is virtually carefree and forms a perfect rounded mound of foliage.

To a landscape designer, the task is often problem solving. Often I am looking for plants that meet a certain criteria. I’m looking for plants that tolerate deep shade, rabbits, use very little water, or grow to a certain height to screen the neighbors — but not so tall as to block the view of the mountains. It takes extensive plant knowledge to solve some of these problems.

Today I will list two seldom-used plants that can help your landscape in unique ways. The first plant of interest is called Yew Densiformis. First of all, it can grow in shade or full sun. The plant is evergreen with bright foliage. If you’re looking for a plant that gets approximately 3’-4’ tall and 4’-6’ wide, you’ll seldom need to trim this cultivar. The habit is that of a dense, rounded mound. Yew Densiformis has little or no insect or disease issues. There are very few plants that can be used as an individual plant — or even as a hedge — that can be planted to grow in the shade of a tree and extend into full sun. This is a plant that may not be available at most nurseries, but it can be ordered.

The second plant has come into my plant palette only in the last few years. I planted one in my garden and have been very impressed. Keep in mind that I never plant the parent plant because they are so rangy and unkempt looking. Dwarf Chamisa is a winner. It is virtually carefree with green foliage and is deer resistant. The cultivar gets about knee high and 2’ wide. Its habit is totally the opposite of the parent plant in that it forms a perfect rounded mound with very compact foliage. This is a full-to-part-sun plant, not for shady areas. It’s extremely drought tolerant and can survive on rainfall alone if watered for the first two years. Seldom known prior to 2011, Baby Blue is a cultivar of Dwarf Chamisa discovered in isolated areas of the front range in Colorado. Both of these plants deserve special consideration.

Mike Dooley is the designer and owner of Dooley Landscape Designs. Visit his website at He can be reached at 505-400-0257.

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