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  • Amaryllis: Get Big, Beautiful Blooms Indoors

    Amaryllis Red LionAmaryllis Red Lion is a favorite variety for indoor holiday blooms.

    Amaryllis bulbs produce wonderfully showy and long-lasting blooms, with the individual flowers as large as six-to-eight inches across. They are a favorite of gardeners and non-gardeners alike—they’re that easy to grow! Amaryllis make wonderful gifts and will produce showy, magnificent blooms in as little as 6-8 weeks. If you stagger the plantings, you’ll assure yourself weeks and weeks of stunning blooms. If you want blooms for the holidays, plan ahead and get them potted in mid-October.

    Follow these tips for growing amaryllis, and whether you’re a novice or expert gardener, soon you’ll have big, beautiful indoor blooms.

    Growing Amaryllis Indoors

    The Amaryllis bulbs we sell are the largest available, and are similar in size to a very large onion. Our bulbs are likely larger than those you might find in a “big box” store. Our customers prefer the larger bulbs because they produce more stalks and bigger blooms.

    Amaryllis Bulb Blossom Peacock Amaryllis Bulb Blossom Peacock

    When planting your bulb, select a pot that allows about one inch all around, and at least two inches below the bulb. Don’t worry, they don’t mind crowding! You can use a good quality soil-less potting mix or a blend of one part peat moss and one part coarse sand for planting. Make sure to not plant too deep and leave the top of the bulb ("shoulder') just slightly above the soil.

    Water in your newly planted bulbs thoroughly, but don't water again until the new sprout is well out of the bulb. Once you have a sprout a few inches long, water regularly and soon your amaryllis will produce its spectacular, huge flowers. Remember to turn the pot regularly to make sure the stalk grows straight, as these bulbs have a tendency to grow towards the light.

    Planting Amaryllis Outdoors

    In most of North America, amaryllis are only grown indoors in containers. Amaryllis are native to the Southern Hemisphere (South America and southern Africa), and can be grown outdoors in warmer, frost-free zones. If you live in the southern U.S. (zones 9-11), you can plant these bulbs in September or October. If well cared for, the bulbs will continue to flower for years.

    Re-Blooming Amaryllis

    Amaryllis Christmas Gift Amaryllis Christmas Gift is a pure white variety with a light green center.

    Once your amaryllis flowers have faded, cut the flower stalk back to the top of the bulb. Keep watering and fertilize through the spring/summer. You can move the potted bulb outside in a semi-shade spot or grow it indoors in a sunny window. There are two ways of preparing the bulb to re-bloom.

    - Let them continue to grow until them begin to turn yellow (around early fall). Cut the stem and leaves back and dig your bulb up to refrigerate it. Clean the bulb off and store in a cool refrigerated place (ideally 40-50 degrees) for a minimum of 6 weeks. After the 6 weeks bring them out, re-pot and they should bloom again within 8 weeks.

    - Or leave them outside into the fall, but stop watering in early September and cut off the foliage as it dies back. Bring it inside just before the first frost, and repot the bulb if it has grown to fill the old pot using the measurements above. But keep it dry until late October. Then begin watering the bulb in November to bring it back to life and start the winter bloom cycle yet again.

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

  • The Garden in Fall

    Salvia Raspberry Delight contrasts nicely with Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass

    I think fall is often the most overlooked and under-appreciated time in the garden. Maybe it's like downhill skiing in April. People figure the ski season is over and it's time to pull out your hiking boots. Yet, true "powder hounds" (skiers) know that here in the Rockies, the biggest, deepest powder days arrive with water-laden April storms. Well, the analogy is the same for the fall landscape; some of our most incredible and showy ornamentals are at their best after summer has passed when many gardeners have hung up their trowel.

    Summer Rains and Fall Blooming Native Plants

    Fall is a glorious time in the Intermountain West, Great Plains and the Southwestern US. Many of our native plant species are responsive to the mid-summer rains that bring much needed moisture in July and August (affectionately known as the "monsoon season," when cloud bursts dump rain by the inch). Native plants respond to the monsoons with a burst of fall color, some of which are actually re-blooming after their late spring flush.

    Arizona Honeysuckle VineArizona Honeysuckle Vine

    Plants Provide Fall Habitat

    These fall blooming native plants have always been a focus of High Country Gardens perennial selection. Not only do these plants delight us with their brilliant flowers, but they are integral to the habitat garden, providing:

    • Precious nectar and pollen to migrating monarchs and hummingbirds migrating south to their winter habitats in Mexico/southern most Arizona & New Mexico.
    • Seeds and fruits for songbirds.
    • Nectar and pollen for butterflies, native bees, honey bees and bumblebees so necessary to build winter food reserves.

    While the spring garden is full of smaller, compact flowering perennials and bulbs, the fall garden is the realm of big perennials and ornamental grasses that have been growing all summer before coming into flower.

    Perennial Highlights for Fall

    Garden mums and ornamental cabbage/kale have become a fall flowering cliché', a big box store give away for no-thought gardening . Double flowered mums are of no value to pollinators. (If you're going to plant a fall blooming mum, look for heirloom, single flowered varieties which are nectar-rich.) Take a walk on the wild side and put your funds and labor into more sustainable perennials.

    Yellow Twig Rabbit Brush
    Yellow Twig Rabbit Brush

    Text and Photos By David Salman

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

  • A Bad Rap: Garden Plants That are Misunderstood

    Perovskia 'Blue Spires' Perovskia 'Blue Spires'

    Having spent my career gardening in challenging climate and growing conditions here in Santa Fe, at the intersection of the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains and the Colorado Plateau. I have planted, ripped out and killed thousands of different kinds of plants in my quest for gardening success. But my expertise and understanding of what different plants can and can't do, has become extensive. Based on my experiences, I now understand that it's easy to make assumptions about what we expect them to do for us without really knowing their true nature.

    Many years ago, when I first saw some of the first plantings of beautiful Russian Sage (Perovskia) in summer bloom, I was smitten and made the assumption that it could be used where ever I needed a big blue, ever-blooming shrub. I decided that it would be a perfect fit in the corner, right next to my favorite chair on the front portal. But two growing season later, I cursed it because it has suckered and spread, running over my favorite clump of Pineleaf Beardtongue (Penstemon pinifolius).

    I now know that if I'm going to plant Russian Sage, I don't want to place it where it needs to stay compact and confined to a small space. Plant it where it has room to be itself. I also learned that its spread can be controlled by annually digging the suckers out in late spring. I'm also sure to only buy 'Blue Spires' because I know it won't reseed, suckers only mildly and has a great deep blue flower. I have observed other Russian Sage plants that sucker so vigorously that no amount of late spring maintenance will keep it in bounds. So there are garden-friendly selections of Perovskia and there are garden thugs.

    The lesson of this blog is that we don't want to lump all the varieties of an ornamental plant into one basket, assuming that the characteristics of one "bad boy" variety are true for them all. And often the cheap, commonly available generic plant is the weedy one, because it is easy-to-propagate. (An unfortunate occurrence in the nursery industry as a whole.)

    Below is a short list of perennial genera that have good and bad plants. Avoid the "bad boys" and seek out the garden stars.*

    Nepeta faassenii Nepeta faassenii Select Blue

    Nepeta (Catmint):

    • Buy- 'Select Blue', 'Walker's Low', 'Six Hills Giant'
    • Avoid - Nepeta racemosa, N. grandiflora, any seed grown Catmint

    Achillea (Yarrow):

    • Buy - Achillea ageratifolia, 'Moonshine', 'Cornation Gold', 'Terra Cotta', 'Red Velvet'
    • Avoid - Achillea filipendulina 'Parker's Gold' (seed grown), A. millifolium 'Colorado Mix' (seed grown), any seed grown Yarrow

    Perovskia (Russian Sage):

    • Buy - 'Blue Spires' , 'Lacy Blue'
    • Avoid - Many un-named varieties (especially if grown from seed)

    Salvia (Garden Sage):

    • Buy - Salvia nemerosa 'May Night', 'Marcus', 'Blue Hill', 'Caradonna'
    • Avoid - 'East Friesland' (vicious re-seeder that crosses and reseeds with other Salvia too)

    Stachys (Lamb's Ear):

    • Buy - 'Helen von Stein' (sterile)
    • Avoid - Stachys byzantina (seed grown)

    ⃰ Remember that plants will sometimes behave very differently in different parts of the country. One gardener's weed is another gardener's star. But in general, the recommended perennials below are the best of each genus.

    Text and Photos By David Salman

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

  • The Ease and Beauty of Spring Blooming Bulbs

    Easter Joy Hyacinth MixHyacinth bulbs are fragrant and deer resistant. Shown here: Easter Joy Hyacinth Mix.

    Few garden plants give some much delight to the gardener in return for so little care. I consider planting bulbs to be a present to myself; you plant them in the fall and of course by spring you've forgotten about it. Then comes the surprise gift when they awaken and bloom.

    Maximizing the Impact of Your Bulbs

    The key to creating a really great spring show with bulbs is plant lots of them in "drifts" or big groups of the same plant. This is especially important when growing the smaller ones like crocus, miniature daffodils, wildflower tulips and miniature iris. When six are good, 12 or 18 is better. And I find these drifts of bulbs are more visually impactful when you mix the drifts of separate colors rather than mixing the different colors of individual bulbs together in the bag before placing them into the ground. Although this is a personal preference I find that the eye is able to relax and enjoy larger patches of color more readily than trying to visually sort the colors in a mixed planting of random colors.

    Bulb Planting Techniques

    Bulbs are relatively easy-to-plant when you have the right tools. For planting several dozen bulbs, the bulb planter is a good way to go. But if you have hundreds or more of them to plant, I recommend a bulb auger. This special drill bit lets you use a cordless electric drill to dig the hole quickly and easily. (But bulb augers aren't for rocky soil; a small trowel is best in these situations.)

    When using an auger or a planter, be sure the soil is moist (not wet or soggy) as this will help the hole to hold its shape and not fill in right away with dry dirt. I keep a bucket of blended Yum Yum Mix and good quality compost (half and half) alongside me so I can drop a handful of the mix into the bottom of the planting hole. This enriches the soil and gets the bulbs off to a good start.

    Companion Plants For Spring Blooming Bulbs

    Bulbs and perennials are great companion plants. Mixing bulbs in with taller, late spring/early summer blooming perennials will also help to camouflage the bulb's foliage as they go dormant. Groundcovers like Thymus and Veronica are also excellent bulb companions. Imagine a carpet of color with lots of colorful bulbs popping through!

    New and Unusual for This Fall

    Lycoris radiata (Naked Ladies)Lycoris radiata (Naked Ladies)

    Lycoris radiata (Naked Ladies) - This incredible bulb has been cultivated for centuries and originates from China, Korea and Nepal. These deer, rabbit and gopher-proof bulbs require a couple of growing seasons to re-establish themselves and bloom. But the wait is worth it when these spectacular plants come into fall flower. The foliage follows the following spring, hence the common name "naked ladies", blooming without their leaves.

    Hyacinth orientalis (Fragrant Hyacinth) - These fragrant beauties are a mid-spring delight blooming in shades of blue, pink and white. Deer, rabbit and gopher resistant too.

    Fritillaria rubra (Red Crown Imperial) - A impressive specimen in flower, this orange blooming Crown Imperial thrives in rich, well drained soil and blooms in mid-spring. They are deer resistant and a great companion plant with mid-spring daffodils.

    Fritillaria lutea (Yellow Crown Imperial)Fritillaria lutea (Yellow Crown Imperial)

    Fritillaria lutea (Yellow Crown Imperial) - an equally impressive yellow flowered species of Crown Imperial.

    Ipheion (Spring Starflower) - Native to South America, this fabulous genus of spring flowering bulbs is often overlooked in favor of more familiar names. Having enjoyed these care-free, critter resistant spring bloomers in my Mother's garden for the past 25 years, I can recommend them without hesitation. They live forever and bloom for many months beginning in early spring. 'Alberto Castillo' (white) and 'Charlotte Bishop' (pink) are two newer selections that are a "must have" in your garden.

    Tulipa 'Golden Apeldoorn'Tulipa 'Golden Apeldoorn'

    Tulipa 'Golden Apeldoorn' (Darwin hybrid Tulip) - 'Golden Apeldoorn' shines in late spring with its glowing yellow flowers. Because 'Golden Apeldoorn' and the other colorful Darwin cultivars are perennial, there's no need to re-plant them each year like the common annual bedding tulips. Plant them deep (eight inches) for years of enjoyment.

    Text and Photos By David Salman

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

  • 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.

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