by David Salman

[caption id="attachment_974" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Sulfur Buckwheat and Beavertail Cactus"][/caption] Being a western gardener my whole life, the brilliant skies and intense sunshine have had a profound influence on my plant choices and the colors I like to use in my gardens. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s the bright, bold, saturated colors that my eyes enjoy the most. I was just up in Denver and Ft. Collins, CO the horticultural epicenter of the intermountian West.  And as I always do, I visited my good friend and fellow nurseryman Kelly Grummons, owner of Timberline Gardens. Here are a couple of photos from Kelly’s display garden that brought a smile to my face and my camera out of its case. The first photo is a simple combination of Sulfur Buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum ‘Shasta Sulfur’) and Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia basilaris ‘Combe’s Winter Gem’). These two native plants make the perfect early summer pairing with their brilliant flowers. You see them here at peak bloom. [caption id="attachment_977" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Bearded Iris and Tall Speedwell "][/caption] The next photo is another simple pairing of Bearded Iris (whose name I forgot) and Tall Speedwell (Veronica ‘Crater Lake Blue’), the original cultivar grown from cuttings, not the paler seed grown plants most common in the trade).  I hadn’t seen this form of ‘Crater Lake Blue’ in years. Kelly has promised to send me a few stock plants. Pale pastels just don’t make the cut. Be daring and light up your garden with some bold combinations. Got some great ones already growing? Please post your photos of your favorite combinations on our Facebook page so we can all enjoy some wonderful eye candy. (Note: We are not presently offering ‘Shasta Sulphur’ Buckwheat or ‘Crater Lake’ Speedwell. We will have unrooted pads of ‘Combe’s Winter Gem’ available in July. The gorgeous orange Bearded Iris ‘Orange Harvest’  is available now for summer shipping.)