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EVERYDAY LANDSCAPE CHALLENGES often can be solved with the right plant, says landscape designer Doug Kalal of Great Gardens Landscape Design (619-200-7066). Here are some of his go-to problem-solving plants.

Fence Hiders. Mask chain link with ‘Marjorie Channon’ pittosporum, an evergreen shrub with black stems and cream-edged leaves that grows 8 feet or more tall. Or try Fraser’s photinia, equally tall with showy bronze-red new growth and white flowers in spring.

Tropical Look For Dry Gardens. Add a Mexican blue palm (Brahea armata), a drought-tolerant Baja native with silvery blue fronds, and two shrubs with lush, tropical-looking blooms: pink-flowered tree mallow (Lavatera maritima) and rockrose (Cistus spp. and hybrids) with pink or white blooms.

Narrow Nooks. Two slender junipers fill miniscule beds like those flanking garage doors: ‘Tiny Tower’ (18 inches wide and 6 feet tall) or ‘Blue Point’ (2 feet wide by10 feet tall).

Pool Partners. Poolside beds demand plants with no leaf litter, thorns or flowers that bees love. Mirror plant (Coprosma repens) is ideal with its gleaming, variegated foliage. Look for ‘Marble Queen’ (green and cream) or new ‘Taupata Gold’ (gold and green).

Tall Screening. Blot out eyesores with carefree purple hopseed bush (Dodonaea viscosa ‘Purpurea’) with bold bronze-purple leaves. Grows 10 feet tall and almost as wide.

More problem-solving plants and garden tips are on Kalal’s blog (2minutegardener.blogspot.com).

Garden Planner: By Mary James

Readers-Choice 2014

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ArtWalk NTC @ Liberty Station photo by Paul Nestor

The first time I attended an outdoor art festival, I bought a small print. This was long before I could consider myself a collector, but I recall that even making a nominal investment (about $15) provided me with a sense of satisfaction. For the record, it was the Plaza Art Fair in Kansas City, Mo., which marks its 83rd year next month.

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