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  • Enjoying the Tall Grasses of Late Summer and Fall

    Stipa gigantea Stipa gigantea

    The Spring garden usually consists of smaller growing plants; those that wake up early, grow and bloom with the cool conditions of the start of the growing season. The fall is the time for the big plants to take center stage, having had the whole summer to reach flowering size. Many of the most dramatic plants in the late season garden would have to be the ornamental grasses. With their large size and interesting flowering spikes, these grasses have no equal when it comes to reflecting the glow of sunlight late in the day. And the grace of their swaying stems in the slightest breeze brings movement to the landscape.

    The Warm and Cool of It

    All of the ornamental grasses are good candidates for fall planting and you'll get a head start on next spring. Know that the warm season growers won't show a lot of top growth, as their energies will be spent growing roots. The cool season growers will show both above and below ground growth.

    Grasses are loosely divided between cool season growers and warm season growers.
    The cool season clan includes:

    Bouteloua Blonde Ambition Bouteloua Blonde Ambition

    The warm season growers include many of our native prairie grasses like:

    The warm season growers include many of our native prairie grasses like:

    • Prairie Switch Grass (Panicum)
    • Indian Grass (Sorghastrum)
    • Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium)
    • Muhley Grass (Muhlenbergia)
    • Giant Sacaton (Sporobolus wrightii)
    • Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis)
    • Chinese Maiden Hair Grass (Miscanthus gracillimus)

    Combinations with Ornamental Grasses

    When considering the addition of warm season grasses to your landscape, it's nice to know that they are outstanding companion plants to a variety of herbaceous perennials and smaller flowering shrubs. Their presence with perennials immediately captures your attention.

    • I like to pair up Perennial Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliana) with Sorghastrum and Sporobolus.
    • Asters and Goldenrod (Solidago) are a great combination with Schizachyrium and Panicum.
    • Tall Sedum ('Autumn Fire') and Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida) look especially nice with Bouteloua 'Blonde Ambition'.
    • Hummingbird Mint (Agastache) with Muhly grass is always stunning combination.

    Muhlenbergia Pink Flamingo- Muhlenbergia Pink Flamingo

    The warm season growers include many of our native prairie grasses like:

    When planted with smaller growing shrubs such as summer blooming Blue Mist Spirea (Caryopteris) and fall blooming Rabbit Brush (Chysothamnus), Maiden Hair Grass is especially showy. In fact, many of the large growing ornamental grasses are great shrub companions for creating an interesting but very low care landscape. They're a great choice for the casual gardener.

    Care of Ornamental Grasses

    Don't cut them back in the fall! The most common mistake I see with ornamental grasses happens when they're cut back in fall as part of fall garden clean-up. This robs you of their beauty over the fall and winter months which is a big part of their usefulness, especially in climates with long, dreary winters.

    • For warm season growers, wait until mid-spring and cut them back HARD (leaving only 2-4" inches above ground).
    • For cool season growers, trim off the faded seed heads and comb out the foliage to rid it of brown foliage. But whenever possible avoid cutting them back near ground level like their warm season cousins.
    • Fertilize in mid-fall with a top dressing of Yum Yum Mix and compost around the base of the grass. Scratch it in, re-apply some mulch and water thoroughly.

    Text and Photos By David Salman

    © All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republication is prohibited without permission.

  • Sustainable Lawn Giveaway Winner Chosen

    Enter to Win A Sustainable Lawn

    Thanks to everyone who entered our Sustainable Lawn Giveaway. We're happy to report that Carolyn C. of Salt Lake City, UT was chosen at random as the winner! She will receive four flats of low-water grass plugs, plus 10 lbs. of water thrifty grass seed to cover approximately 1200 sq. feet. We'll include Yum Yum Mix fertilizer, Zeba Root Dip, a seed spreader and a plug auger, for a total value of $975.

    Want to know more about replacing your thirsty lawn with a sustainable lawn? Here are step by step instructions: Sustainable Lawns: Step By Step Instructions

  • Rock Garden Enthusiasts Gather

    Santa Fe Chapter hosts Annual Meeting of the North American Rock Garden Association (N.A.R.G.S.)

    Cactus with Agastache Rosita in a rock garden. Agastache cana Rosita offsets the blue of Opuntia basilaris in this rock garden.

    This past weekend, a contingent of nearly 100 serious rock gardeners arrived in Santa Fe as part of the North American Rock Garden Association (N.A.R.G.S.) annual meeting. The event, hosted at a downtown Santa Fe hotel, included a garden tour, plant sale and awards banquet as part of the festivities. Morning hikes to view wildflowers in the nearby Sangre de Cristo mountains were also offered and well attended.

    N.A.R.G.S. is an organization of very dedicated gardeners, many who focus on cultivating the plant kingdoms smallest cold-hardy plants. Members came from all over the US (particularly the East), as well as Canada, to participate. Over many years, this international organization of plant enthusiasts has included many of the world's most accomplished amateur and professional gardeners, plant explorers, authors, botanic garden staff and professional nursery people.

    There were two nights of talks. On Friday evening, myself and Dan Johnson, the Denver Botanic Garden's Curator of Native Plants and Associate Director of Horticulture, were the presenters. Dan gave a fascinating talk on "The Steppe Regions of the World" (where he has traveled to all four) and I spoke on a topic a little closer to home, "Xeric Rock Gardening: Plants and Techniques for Arid Climates".

    The following evening, Saturday's Banquet and Awards Ceremony, Panayoti Kelaidis, Senior Curator and Director of Denver Botanic Gardens Outreach program and one of the world's most accomplished plantsmen and plant explorers, gave a superb presentation on "The Best Native Plants that are Rarely Grown." I was very honored to receive the Society's Marcel Le Piniec Award, given in recognition to those who have made substantial contributions of new and important plants to the rock gardening world. I was thrilled and very humbled to be included with such notable previous winners J.C. Raulston, Panayoti Kelaidis, Roy Davidson and many others.

    Rock Garden PlantsRock garden enthusiasts were treated to a tour of David Salman's Santa Fe garden.

    Plant Sale and Garden Tour

    We had a great plant sale with four different growers, including myself, offering a treasure trove of unusual rock garden plants. Some folks even brought an empty suitcase in anticipation of returning home with as many western treasures as they could fit into their luggage.

    The garden tour was equally well attended with four private gardens and two public gardens included in the event. I even included my garden on the tour, the first time in 30 years I've ever offered to open it to the public. It has been a very tough, dry growing season and I was concerned that my garden was not going to be "up to snuff." But lots of last minute weeding and a great, soaking 2 inch rain several days before the tour made my garden presentable. And of course, all my hummingbirds were in a frenzy. With all the unexpected visitors and their need to feed on the nectar of all my Agastache and Salvia plants, we were dive-bombed all morning!

    Text and Photos By David Salman

    © All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republication is prohibited without permission.

  • Top Ten Clay Loving Plants

    Dealing With a Sticky Situation

    asclepsia_tuberosa Asclepias tuberosa clay form does well in heavy soils.

    What Is Clay Soil and What Do You Do With It?

    Clay can be one of the gardener's biggest challenges. Unless a plant is well-suited for clay conditions, it likely won’t do well. There are many ways to try and deal with clay soils. And some techniques can improve drainage and aeration and increase transplanting survival and long term success.

    Clay is very fine textured with extremely small individual particles that form a highly water absorbent, poorly drained soil. Clay also becomes brick-like when it gets dry becoming very hard and brittle and resistant to re-wetting. Wow, what's a plant to do? Amending clay at planting time with high quality compost, Yum Yum Mix, earthworm castings and granular molasses will help to "fluff up" the soil and improve both water penetration and the oxygen supply to the roots (aeration).

    I also recommend adding earth worms like red wigglers to speed up the soil's conversion. Regular "feeding" of the clay in fall by top dressing with organic matter and Yum Yum Mix, will help to keep the clay softer and more permeable up via the action of the soil's active flora and fauna.

    Blonde Ambition Grass Blonde Ambition Grass is an
    excellent choice for clay.

    Adding Mineral Aerators to Clay Soil

    Mineral aerators like coarse perlite (readily available at indoor grow shops) and small size volcanic scoria (if locally available) and expanded shale can be mixed to the soil to a depth of about 1 foot deep along with the soil amendments listed above. The soil can also be "bermed,” building mounds to plant onto or lifted into terraced and raised beds.

    But the bottom line is that if a plant doesn't have the constitution to deal with this Jekyll and Hyde soil, then no amount of amendments will bring long-term success.

    Nepet faassenii A pollinator favorite, Nepeta faassenii
    (Blue Catmint) is a perfect choice
    for heavy or average soils.

    Here are my Top Ten Picks for Clay Soil

    1. Maximilian's Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliana): 'Santa Fe' and 'Dakota Sunshine'
    2. Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe involucrata)
    3. 'Llano' Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans 'Llano')
    4. 'Blonde Ambition' Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition')
    5. Yellow Yarrow (Achillea fillipendulina): 'Coronation Gold', 'Moonshine'
    6. European Sage (Salvia nemerosa); 'Blue Hill','May Night', 'Caradonna'
    7. Clay-Orange Butterfly Weed (Ascelpias tuberosa)
    8. Cottoncandy Lamb's Ear (Stachys lavandulifolius)
    9. Catmint (Nepeta faasseni ): 'Select Blue', Walker's Low'
    10. Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia uvaria):'Pfitzer's Hybrid', 'Fire Dance', 'Tiffindell Cold Hardy'

    Text and Photos By David Salman

    © All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republication is prohibited without permission.

  • The Role of Silver & Gray in the Garden

    Salvia pachyphylla, Prunus cistina, ChrysothamnusSilvery foliage makes a lovely backdrop for other plants. Shown here: Salvia pachyphylla (foreground), Prunus cistina, Chrysothamnus (rear).

    Plants with silver and gray foliage are unusual enough that they readily attract our attention. They are quite different than the typical green leafed plant we're accustomed to seeing. And it's their strikingly different look that provides us with many visually appealing uses in the garden, as companion and specimen plants.

    Echinacea angustifolia ArtemisiaEchinacea angustifolia shown with silvery Artemisia

    The deserts and arid lands of the world are rich in non-green plants because silver/gray foliage helps to reflect the sunlight and its drying heat. And these same plants often have thin leaves because they lose less water than big, wide leaves. So most of these plants discussed here, have foliage with thin, gray, silver and even white leaves, which makes them exceeding well adapted to hot, dry growing conditions and less-than- ideal soils. They are the perfect choice for xeric landscapes.

    How to Use Silver, White and Gray Plants

    There are three primary ways to show off these silver and gray plants and to help them make other plants look better.

    • Place taller silver/gray plants in the rear of planting beds to serve as a backdrop for shorter flowering plants and plants with green or blue foliage.
    • Place silver/gray groundcovers under taller flowering plants and plants with green or blue foliage.
    • Mixing tall and groundcover silver/gray plants with ornamental grasses.
      • Blue bladed grasses look even more exotic when contrasted with gray or silver. Try Festuca 'Siskiyou Blue' surrounded by Snow-in- Summer (see below)
      • Green bladed grasses look less common when they are next to gray or silver.

    Monarda fistulosa 'Wichita Mountains' Artemisia filofolia
    Monarda fistulosa 'Wichita Mountains' in front of Artemisia filofolia

    Some of my favorites Silver/Gray Perennials:

    Favorite Silver/Gray Groundcovers

    Ratibida columnifera 'Yellow' Artemisia frigida
    The blooms of Ratibida columnifera 'Yellow' stand out
    when blended with Artemisia frigida.

    Favorite Silver/Gray Shrubs

    • Artemisia filifera (Sand Sage) - the ultimate silver shrub with fine foliage to plant in back of flowering perennials.
    • Artemisia tridentata (Big Sage) - aromatic, gray and wonderful.
    • Lavandula 'Silver Frost' (Silver Frost Hybrid Lavender) - the most silver foliage of any Lavender, it blooms all summer long and is powerfully aromatic. One of the very best. Available for spring 2015.
    • Santolina chamaecyparissus (Silver Lavender Cotton) - aromatic gray evergreen foliage and bright yellow button-like flowers. Needs a sandy soil for best results.
    • For more in depth information and wonderful photos showing how to use gray and silver plants, I recommend this excellent book on this subject: "Elegant Silvers: Striking Plants for Every Garden," 2005, by Jo Ann Gardner and Karen Bussolini.

      Text and Photos By David Salman

      © All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republication is prohibited without permission.

  • Salvia x 'Pozo Blue': A Fabulous Native Hybrid Salvia

    Salvia Pozo Blue Salvia x 'Pozo Blue' is an outstanding California native plant.

    I was bitten by the Salvia bug many years ago and have been pursuing a passion for this incredible genus ever since. Salvia are distributed nearly world-wide and their diversity is enormous, being found in some many different climates and growing conditions across the globe. Closer to home, the western US and northern Mexico is the home of a number of highly ornamental species of Salvia. And they are all highly attractive to hummingbirds, making their inclusion in your garden a must.

    California Native Salvia

    California Salvia are beautiful and quite different from those more familiar species such as Salvia greggii, found in AZ, NM and Texas. Many of these Californians are extremely xeric (waterwise), because they must survive in a Mediterranean climate (winter wet and summer dry) and go for half a year without much water. Many species are also coastal in their native habitat making them also tolerant to salt spray and more saline soils.

    Salvia x 'Pozo Blue'

    I have grown many of the CA species over the years. And one of the very best in my experience, is 'Pozo Blue,' a fabulous native hybrid discovered and introduced to the public by Las Palitas Nursery (specialists in CA native plants). A garden hybrid between Salvia clevelandii and Salvia leucophylla, 'Pozo Blue' is breathtakingly beautiful in bloom with tall spires of clear blue flowers held over pewter-gray foliage. A large shrubby plant in the ground, it matures to 3-5' tall x 3-5' wide and is an invaluable plant for attracting numerous species of butterflies, hummingbirds and quail.

    Agastache Desert Solstice,Desert Solstice Hummingbird Mint Agastache Desert Solstice provides striking
    contrast with Salvia x 'Pozo Blue'

    Cold hardy to about USDA zone 7b, it does best in CA, Arizona, Las Vegas, NV and southern NM and west TX. In colder winter climates it is worth definitely worth growing as a perennial container plant, in part, because of its over-the-top attractiveness to hummingbirds and its tolerance to the dry conditions provided by sunny pots. A pair of 'Pozo Blue' plants at the front gate is a nice touch.

    Companion Plants for Salvia 'Pozo Blue'

    In the landscape, 'Pozo Blue' enjoys being planted with:

    - Caryopteris (Blue Mist Spirea) is a shrub that enjoys a Mediterranean climate and maintains the blue theme by blooming later in the summer when 'Pozo Blue' has finished.

    - Agastache (Hummingbird Mint) is also an excellent companion, enjoying the same poor soils and hot, sunny growing conditions that this Salvia prefers.

    Sphaeralcea munroana, Munro's Globe Mallow Munro's Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea munroana)
    enjoys similar growing conditions as Salvia 'Pozo Blue.'

    - Artemisia 'Sea Foam',with its frothy curls of silver, aromatic leaves is a striking ground cover to carpet the ground around the base of 'Pozo Blue'.

    - Sphaeralcea munroana (Orange Globe Mallow) enjoys similar growing conditions and blooms in brilliant orange.

    Text and Photos By David Salman

    © All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republication is prohibited without permission.

  • 2014 Sedona Hummingbird Festival

    Rufous hummingbird
    Rufous hummingbird photo by customer Jeff Guy.

    Great Beauty, Plants and Hummingbirds!

    I was in Sedona, AZ this past weekend participating in the 3rd annual Sedona Hummingbird Festival. High Country Gardens was the Hummingbird Society's first corporate sponsor and remains a committed supporter of this wonderful group. My education about hummingbirds has been a result of this long time association with the Society's founder Ross Hawkins and his wife Beth Kingsley Hawkins.

    Plants To Attract Hummingbirds & Provide Them Nectar

    I like to use the term "natural nectar" when talking about flowering plants that attract hummingbirds. They provide nectar to the hummingbirds in return for having the birds pollinate their flowers. Many people that enjoy hummingbirds, like to hang feeders filled with a 1 to 4 mix of cane sugar and water. But being a life-long naturalist and gardening fanatic, I enjoy seeing the interplay between plants and birds and the incredible color combinations they provide.

    Below is a short list of plants I recommend to attract hummingbirds. You can download a more complete list of recommended hummingbird plants here: Sedona-Hummingbird-Festival-2014-Plant-List.pdf

    Sedona is for Hummingbirds

    Sedona supports a huge population of hummingbirds this time of year, with a combination of full-time resident Anna's hummingbirds and migrating birds that have finished their nesting and are heading south to winter in southern AZ or Mexico. Broad-tail, Rufus and Black Chin hummers represent the majority of the migrating species. Sedona has an extremely favorable environment for hummingbirds with a year-round creek running through the middle of town, sheltered canyons and moderate temperatures. And they show up in huge numbers.

    While I'm accustomed to having a dozen or so birds in my home garden, the hummingbird counts in Sedona are off the charts. One private residence on the garden tour had several dozen feeders that were constantly buzzing with birds. It was estimated that several thousand hummers were staying in the general area of the house!

    Studying Hummingbirds

    Broad-tailed hummingbird
    Broad-tailed hummingbird.
    Photo by Beth Kingsley Hawkins

    A very important part of studying hummingbirds is the practice of banding which helps scientists and bird enthusiasts track the migration of these amazing travelers. And a big part of the Sedona Festival is banding demonstrations where trained ornithologists capture hummingbirds to attach tiny bands to their legs that help to track their movements. Careful records are also collected during the banding process recording the counts and age of each species and banding information from previously banded birds. It's a fascinating process that takes years of training for a person to obtain the skills and knowledge needed to do the work. Feeders are used to attract and trap the birds. And these feeders were constantly filled with multiple birds at each one—an amazing sight to see so much tiny energy and beauty concentrated into one place.

    Learn More About Hummingbirds

    I encourage all my readers to check out the Hummingbird Society's informative website and consider becoming a member.

    Although you don't need to be a member to attend the Sedona Hummingbird Festival, membership dues and money earned from the Festival support the Society's educational and bird conservation activities. And maybe next summer you'll find yourself in gorgeous Sedona, at the side of towering red rock formation, enjoying the cool morning air, watching numerous species of beautiful hummingbirds buzzing around sipping breakfast.

    Bell Rock, Courthouse Rock Sedona, AZ

    Looking north into Sedona's red rock country. (Hell Rock & Courthouse Rock) Photo by David Salman

    Text By David Salman

    © All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republication is prohibited without permission.

  • Mid-summer Beauty in The Intermountain West

    Chatfield Arboretum Denver Botanic Garden The rain garden at the Denver Botanic Garden's Chatfield Arboretum.

    A Visual Treat and Pollinators Paradise at Denver Botanic Garden Chatfield

    I was just up visiting our Denver production greenhouses, checking the fall crop for High Country Gardens. And on my way back to Santa Fe, I stopped to tour the gardens at Denver Botanic Garden at Chatfield. This beautiful location is nestled against the foothills in the south end of the Denver Metro area.

    The area around the main office was recently re-landscaped in 2012 by landscape designers and plant experts Lauren Springer Ogden and her husband Scott Ogden. Lauren and Scott have a wonderful feel for designing with native plants and dealing with challenging planting situations in an aesthetic manner. They designed and planted the large area around the office with an imaginative palette of grasses and wildflowers that have now matured with their third growing season in the ground.

    Chatfield Arboretum Denver Botanic Garden The welcome center features a lush Buffalo grass lawn at the Denver Botanic Garden's Chatfield Arboretum.

    A Visual Treat and Pollinators Paradise at Denver Botanic Garden Chatfield

    The terrain around the office was extensively graded to raise the building above what is considered to be a flood plain. So several of the large bed areas are sunken as a result. Cleverly, a rain garden was part of the plan, making use of a low area to capture and filter the run-off from the building's roof. There aren't a lot of rain gardens in the Front Range of CO, but this one's an inspiration for others to be planted.

    In the middle of July, many gardens are lacking flowering perennials, having their big burst of color concentrated in late May and June. But not so at Chatfield. The Echinacea (Purple coneflower) were in full color as were the Ratibida (Prairie Coneflower), Asclepias (Butterfly Weed), Amorpha (Lead Plant), Zauschneria garrettii Orange Carpet®. As you can imagine, the gardens were buzzing with pollinators such as bumblebees, honeybees and native bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. What a joy!

    Chartield Arboretum's gardens are abuzz with pollinators. Chatfield Arboretum's gardens were buzzing with pollinators.

    Also of note, are the warm season ornamental grasses, which were also coming into flower. Few designers have the knowledge and enthusiasm for ornamental grasses as Lauren and Scott. And this garden is no exception. Bouteloua 'Blonde Ambition' (Blue Grama Grass) has quickly become one of their favorites. And it is used liberally throughout the garden along with Schizachyrium 'Prairie Blues' (Little Bluestem), various Panicum (Prairie Switchgrass), Muhlenbergia reverchonii (Undaunted ™ Ruby Muhly) and Sporobolus wrightii (Giant Sacaton Grass).

    The results are breathtaking and an inspiration for combining herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses. I hope many folks will take these inspiring plant combinations to heart and plant them into their own landscapes.

    Text and Photos By David Salman

    © All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republication is prohibited without permission.

  • New for Fall 2014: Taking Advantage of Fall Planting in your Region

    Fall is a great time to plant.  It's like finding 6 months of low care growing time by getting plants in the ground in fall. It gives them plenty of time to root out before next year's growing season gets under way. And this provides the gardener with bigger, more colorful plants than waiting until spring to plant.

    Here is a short list of some new-for-fall plants that are recommended for fall planting in cold winter areas. For USDA zones 3-6, concentrate on the more cold hardy plants because many of them prefer the cooler weather of fall and early spring to grow and bulk up for next year.

    Gaillardia Mesa PeachMesa Peach Blanket Flower
    (Gaillardia 'Mesa Peach')

    Mesa™ Peach Blanket flower  (Gaillardia grandiflora Mesa™ Peach) - With outstanding vigor, uniform size and summer-long bloom, Mesa™ Peach Blanket Flower is an excellent native plant for parts of your garden where hot, dry, poor soil conditions predominate. The “peach-colored flowers seem to be dipped in golden honey” which makes the blossoms stunningly bright.

    'Gold on Blue' Prairie Zinnia (Zinnia grandiflora 'Gold on Blue') - A superb prairie native that I selected from a wild population in southern Colorado. It blooms for several months beginning in mid-summer, with a profuse display of golden yellow flowers. The decidedly blue, fine textured foliage is a beautiful backdrop for the flowers. A great xeric groundcover plant.

    Calylophus hartwegii
    High Plains Yellow Sundrops
    (Calylophus hartwegii "High Plains Yellow)

    ‘High Plains Yellow’ Sundrops  (Calylophus hartwegii ‘High Plains Yellow’)  -‘High Plains Yellow’ Sundrops is a long-blooming wildflower introduction that I collected from the rugged, high dry plains of eastern New Mexico. This tough little native perennial is well adapted to heat, cold, wind and drought. Colorful, red speckled buds burst open to revel large, brilliant yellow flowers.  It flowers all summer.

    For mild winter/hot summer regions of the country such as the Desert Southwest (southern, lower elevation parts of Utah, Nevada and Arizona), Texas and California, fall is THE best time for planting, not spring.  Here is a short list of some new-for-fall plants that are recommended for fall planting in mild winter areas:

    Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) is a best choice for the Desert Southwest, Texas and other very hot summer regions as it is better adapted to these conditions that often "melt" less heat tolerant English and French hybrid types.

    'Portuguese Giant' - 'Portuguese Giant' is a true wildflower, only recently collected from the foothills of the Pyrenees and selected by Oregon's Lavender maestro AndyVan            Hevelingen. A big robust grower, it blooms in mid-spring with showy deep purple rabbit ear type flowers.

    Lavandula stoechas 'Lutsko's Dwarf' Lutsko's Dwarf Lavender
    (Lavandula stoechas 'Lutsko's Dwarf')

    'Lutsko's Dwarf' - for smaller spaces and containers, this dwarf Spanish lavender has      showy purple flowers held over a compact spreading mat of gray fragrant foliage. I plant it around tall growing, upright Rosemary. A showy, but hard-to-find variety!

    Gazania krebsiana Hantamburg Orange
    Hantamberg Orange African Daisy
    (Gazania krebsiana Hantamburg Orange)

    'Hantamberg Orange'  African Daisy (Gazania krebsiana 'Hantamberg Orange') - “Breathtaking” is the best way to describe ‘Hantamberg Orange’ African Daisy in full flower.  Huge glowing orange daisies bloom over long, thin silver leaves for many months.  I found this spectacular African perennial wildflower growing around the base of the fabulous flat topped mountain known as the Hantamberg in the eastern Cape of South Africa nearly a decade ago.

    'Scarlet Tanager'  African Daisy (Gazania krebsiana 'Scarlet Tanager') - A stunning scarlet flowered perennial Gazania with narrow dark green leaves, it blooms spring and fall. The intensely brilliant color of the flowers is unlike anything else you've grown.

    Giant Stipa Grass, Stipa gigantea Giant Stipa Grass (Stip gigantea)

    Giant Stipa Grass (Stipa gigantea) - A little known ornamental grass native to the Mediterranean of southern Europe, Giant Stipa Grass creates a dramatic, eye-catching presence in the landscape.  This grass blooms in late spring with graceful, sunlight catching six-foot-tall flower spikes.  Out-of-bloom, its mound of bright green foliage is only about 15” tall and wide.

    Text and Photos By David Salman

    © All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republication is prohibited without permission.

  • Best Late Season Blooming Perennials, Grasses and Groundcovers

    Allium Millenium, Callirhoe involucrata, Salvia pachyphylla Allium Millenium and Callirhoe involucrata brighten the landscape with Salvia pachyphylla as a neutral backdrop.

    So many gardens are planted with a predominance of spring blooming perennials. So by the time mid-summer comes around, many landscapes are looking quite green; lots of foliage and not many flowers. In fact, during July and August, it's a good idea to take some walks through your landscape and identify parts of it that could use some summer flowers to brighten it up.

    Here is my short list of favorite summer blooming perennials, ornamental grasses and groundcovers:


    (some lesser known varieties that need to be more widely planted)

    o Millennium Ornamental Onion (Allium 'Millennium') - one of the very best summer blooming perennials, this tough-as-nails beauty comes into flower in July-August with big 3 inch diameter flower heads. The glossy green grassy foliage is very attractive too. Not to be confused with the June blooming Allium that are planted as bulbs in the fall.

    o Gayfeather (Liatris) - Fabulous for attracting butterflies with their long fluffy spikes of pink or rose-pink flowers, Liatris are carefree growers with deep roots. Liatris punctata is best for drier parts of the country. It's roots have been documented to penetrate the soil to a depth of 14 feet!

    o Fame flower (Phemeranthus) - My favorite succulent wildflower, the large quarter sized magenta flowers open in the afternoon. It's a treat to see a big patch in bloom when you get home from work.

    o Native Sage (Salvia greggi and hybrids) - 'Ultra Violet', 'Furman's Red', 'Raspberry Delight' are just a few of the wonderfully long blooming native sages. You like hummingbirds? Plant these beauties to attract them in huge numbers.

    o French hybrid Lavender (Lavandula intermedia) - The English lavender have finished blooming, but the French hybrids are just getting started by July. 'Gros Bleu' is the most colorful and most cold hardy of the many French hybrids I've grown over the years. The flowers are much darker in color and the plant more compact than 'Provence', the best known of this group.

    o Ornamental Oregano (Origanum) - Not the culinary types, these gorgeous perennials are not well known, but are some of our showiest perennials. 'Amethyst Falls' is fantastic with loads of cascading flowers nice for containers and in the ground.

    Agastache Ava, Salvia reptans Agastache Ava in the foreground, stands out
    against the blue of Salvia reptans.

    o Hummingbird Mint (Agastache) - There are no showier perennials than the Hummingbird Mints. Very aromatic flowers and foliage are a nice complement to the long,colorful flower spikes that bloom in colors of orange, pink, blue and lavender-blue. Grow them where there is lots of sun in a well drained, infertile soil for best results.


    o Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe) - Big magenta cupped flowers like a ground hugging hollyhock, Poppy Mallow blooms all summer and attracts loads of butterflies and bumblebees. Tough and long lived. A great re-seeder to naturalize in your landscape.

    o Magenta Iceplant (Delosperma 'Blut') - The best, most cold hardy, longest blooming of the Delosperma, 'Blut' has deep magenta colored flowers and nice evergreen foliage that turns purple in the winter.

    o Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) - Deep blue flowers in August and burgundy-red fall foliage are like no other perennial. Easy-to-grow, Hardy Plumbago grows in full sun or full shade. Amazing!

    o Max Frei Soapwort (Saponaria lempergii 'Max Frei') - A sadly overlooked soapwort that blooms in July and August with thousands of huge quarter sized pink flowers. It lives for many, many years when happy and is excellent to plant around the bases of taller perennials like Echinacea, Solidago and Lavender. Plant it and you'll be amazed.

    Ornamental Grasses

    o Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition') - Unique and eye catching, this native ornamental grass selection is unlike any grass you've grown before. Flag-like flowers / seed heads hold on the plant through winter for months of garden interest.

    o Undaunted Ruby Muhly (Muhlenbergia reverchonii) - outstanding pink misty plumes cover the plant in late summer. One of our showiest cold hardy native ornamental grasses!

    o Mountain Mist Grass (Blepharoneuron tricholepis) - a wonderful Western native species that thrives in sunny, dry sites where the misty bronze seed heads catch the low angled morning and afternoon sunlight. I first saw this beautiful grass growing on west facing slopes in the mountains of northern NM and was smitten. Fantastic!

    o Windbreaker Giant Sacaton Grass (Sporobolus wrightii 'Windbreaker') - The giant of our native grasses, 'Windbreaker' was specifically breed for its huge size. The 7-8 ft. tall flower spikes bloom in shades of pink, bronze and blonde. A great specimen or hedge plant.

    Text and Photos By David Salman

    © All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republication is prohibited without permission.

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