By Jennah Watters
Looking for garden inspiration? See what's growing at the local strip mall!
Check out the plants - annuals and perennial - common in industrial landscaping (shopping centers, apartment complexes, pre-fab communities) in your area. These plants are hard workers. They survive, and often even thrive, on neglect. Perennials grow and spread easily, and annuals bloom without deadheading and constant watering. The most attention these plants get is usually a pruning and weeding/mulch job once a year. By combining these tough guys with a few more exotic plants, you're guaranteed to have some green in your garden every year.
If you see something you like, snap off a small branch or snap a picture with your cell phone. Take it with you to the nursery and have a little scavenger hunt to see if you can find the plant (or ask a friendly employee). Before you commit, make sure the plant's light and water requirements fit the bill for your home's garden. Since these plants thrive on neglect in large, open spaces, they may not work if you have a boggy and shady area to fill.
Also be sure to check the space requirements. Many places tend to over prune trees and shrubs to keep them small. Lots of new communities that come with pre-installed gardens plant shrubs that can get quite large very close together so it looks nice for potential homebuyers soon after building. Don't fall into that trap. Allow space for the plant to grow to its full natural size without harmful pruning. If you need to fill space while it's growing to its full size, use annuals or containers.