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Archive for long blooming flowers – Page 3

Summer Heather – Perfect for year round color

'Jimmy Dyce'  Picture from Heath & Heather Nursery

‘Jimmy Dyce’ Picture from Heath & Heather Nursery

Summer flowering heather can be easy care.

I used heather at my vacation house because it’s so easy.  I’m only there once a month, have no irrigation and I have hungry deer.  It’s got to be a tough plant to make it!  I’m sorry to say that with heather you need to know what you are doing.  Lots of people buy heather, plant them and they die quickly.  Once you have proper information these plants are low maintenance.  Without knowledge specific to heathers success is tenuous, with a little knowledge this is a very tough drought tolerant winner of a plant in my book.  It has year-round beauty, is great food for bees and it can be the evergreen plant that holds a summer garden together visually through the winter.

Calluna-vulgaris 'Firefly'  Photo from Great Plant Picks

Calluna Vulgaris ‘Firefly’ Photo from Great Plant Picks

Planting Tips:

Heathers need good drainage but if you have clay soil don’t despair.  Heathers planted on a slightly burmed planting bed or low mound do well.  Heathers are perfect for slopes. Watering well the first year is critical.  If heather plants dry out to the point of wilting, even just a little bit, they will die.  There is no rescuing it with water and having it “perk up” as many other plants will do.   When the tiny fine foliage wilts or dries the plant stops taking in water with its roots.  The best time to plant is fall.  A designer pal plants her heathers in pure barkdust.  I’ve done this and had excellent results as long as it was on a slope.  Don’t try this on a flat landscape.

Pruning Tips:

Pruning is important and easy.  The most important year for pruning is the second spring after you have planted the plant.  Prune before new growth starts.  You must trim to just above the previous years wood; trim too much and you will have ugly holes in your plants that may never fill in.  Avoid pruning late in fall or winter.

Calluna 'Varities'

Calluna Varities

Trim too little or not at all and you will have an okay plant for a few years and then it will be ugly with dead wood in the center of the plant.  When this happens we can’t simply cut it back severely which we can do with many plants to fix the problem.  Trimming every year before new growth starts (February or March for Pacific Northwest) will keep your plants attractive long term.

 

Heather at Harstine

Calluna Vulgaris ‘White Lawn’. Sedum ‘Xenox’ and Sedum ‘Voo Doo’ planted with the heather.

 

Summer heather/Calluna Vulgaris is a great plant for hot sun situations.  This summer for the first time ever, I actually had foliage burn.  They got no water for 45 days in record breaking heat, but since these plants have been there for five years, they are now coming back beautifully.

 

Euphorbia – Full season color shrub

Euphorbia a Perfect Plant or “She Devil”?

Euphorbia Humpty Dumpty with wagon wheel

Euphorbia c. ‘Humpty Dumpty’ encircling a wagon wheel

Growers clearly think euphorbia (spurge) is a perfect plant – Blooming Nursery, a local grower, shows over 50 varieties in their on line catalog.  Many varieties have come along in the last ten years.

What is Euphorbia?
It is a low maintenance shrub or ground cover.  Most varieties prefer sun and well-drained soil making them perfect for a SW facing landscape.  They provide a lot of color and they are very unusual looking.  The flower itself looks like a fat column filled with whorls of petals. The flowers are actually tiny little leaf bracts in contrasting colors.  People will say to me, “Oh you know, it looks like it came from Mars.”  Regardless of its peculiar look, people like the fact that most are very low water and they can enjoy six weeks or more of flower color in the hot sun.

If it’s such a great plant why did I call it a “She Devil”?

  1. A kind of latex sap exudes from every injury or cut to a leaf, stem or flower and can be a skin irritant.  Get some in your eye and you’ll call it a worse thing than a she devil.  For this reason, I never use it in a parking strip and I make sure the client knows about the potential problem before I use it in a design.  The sap does not affect me, but I know people who have gotten rashes, extreme but temporary eye pain. I have read that if ingested it will cause extreme stomach discomfort and should not be included in dog friendly landscaping.  I don’t know anyone who has eaten any of it but this plant probably should not be in a yard with children, a puppy or a goofy dog who lacks common dog sense.  A local pub ran into legal trouble when someone’s child came in contact with a Euphorbia.  Since each person has their own sensitivity, no one can say whether a plant will cause an individual discomfort but Euphorbia is well known for causing skin irritation. Here is the local pub article.

    Euphorbia

    The species Euphorbia characias tend to be 4′ to 5′ tall.  The varieties I use are shorter.

  1. All varieties of Euphorbia seed around. Some are prolific, some are not but they all seed. It is not a no maintenance plant but it is a low maintenance plant.  The varieties I use must be deadheaded, usually in early June to prevent seeding around and to ensure the plant will be a handsome devil for winter.  If the flowering stems are not removed to the ground, the shape for winter will be ugly and to me rather sad since it can be such a radiant winter shrub.
  1. Some varieties of Euphorbia (only one that I use) will spread by running root. I know what I only use it for dryish shade situations where it can spread.  Others might plant it next to their hostas and discover in a few years that the hostas are no more.

Enough of the doom and gloom!  Here are the plants that I enjoy using in gardens with consenting adults.  There are so many varieties that I don’t even try to trial them all personally.  I don’t use the plants that I have not trialed or that a person I know has trialed.

My Favorite Euphorbia List

EuphorbiaamygdaloidesvarrobbiaegrdcvrEuphorbia amydgaloides ‘Mrs Robb’s Bonnet’ or just ‘Robb’s Spurge’.
I use it under fir trees with sword fern.   I NEVER use it in mixed plantings or flowers beds, it will take over.  I use it where I want a low water needs, shade tolerant ground cover (not deep shade).  It should be fully contained by a path or root barrier.  It’s a very useful and handsome plant if deadheaded properly.

Euphorbia 'Humpty Dumpty' with water drops

Euphorbia c. ‘Humpty Dumpty’ with water drops

Euphorbia characias ‘Humpty Dumpty’
It’s a perfect size unlike most Euphorbia varieties. I use this plant in south or west facing foundation plantings.  My plant survived the cold at 900 feet for six years.  It looked fantastic with it’s silver green foliage in the dead of January.  It won’t look nice if you don’t deadhead it properly in June.  Companions:  Low 4” high heathers, coneflowers such as ‘Miss Kim’.
Variety grows to 24” x 24”. Flowers at 30” high.

Euphoria John Tomlinson

Euphorbia ‘John Tomlinson’

Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii  ‘John Tomlinson’
John is taller than ‘Humpty Dumpty’ and has more green blue than green silver foliage.  Select California Lilac such as Ceanothus griseus ‘Kurt Zadnik’ as the background shrub for the most amazing color combination in early summer.  The purple blue flowers of the California Lilac sizzle next to the chartreuse flowers of the Euphorbia. Variety grows to 36” x 36”.

 

 

euphorbia x m rudolph

Euphorbia ‘Rudolph’

Euphorbia x martinii ‘Rudolph’
Rudolph develops brilliant red new leaves in winter.  The combo of blue green old leaves and the red hint in winter is why I like this compact variety.  Blue fescue grass is a great companion, both for color and texture. Variety grows to 30″ x 30″.

 

Winter Flowers Feed Bees

bee-id-1

Saving Bees? Feed them. Plan for flowering plants from early spring until mid-fall.    Don’t use any pesticides.  Then you don’t have to try to figure out if the claim that it won’t harm bees is true or not.

Honey Bees and Heather FarmWinter flowers feed bees.    It’s easier to provide flowers for bees in our cool early springs than you might think.  What we are learning about saving bees can be made very simple.  Feed them!  Use a diverse plant palette with flowers from early spring until mid-fall. Don’t use any pesticides and then you don’t have to try to figure out what is safe and what isn’t or who to trust.

I have always found summer easy  to provide a diverse collection of flowers for all kinds of bees but early spring requires thought and planning.   My beach house landscape on the Olympic Peninsula is a great example of a very low maintenance and bee friendly garden. The plants I list in this article are from my experiences there and from my landscape design practice here in Portland, Oregon.

Erica Darleyensis Mary Helen

Erica darleyensis ‘Mary Helen’

If you’ve read any of my blogs, heather comes up a lot.  I love to use heather in my personal landscape and for clients where we can create good drainage. By the way, I had to learn how to grow it well.  The fact that many varieties of spring heather feed bees at a critical time is a huge bonus to an already great plant.  Deer don’t bother it, and it’s a glorious and tough ground cover.  Spring heather, native plants and early flowering Spanish lavender feed bees in late winter and early spring. I start out with heather varieties that flower in late January and into early spring.  These plants Erica Carnea – spring heather not summer heather  – are especially great for our native bumble bees who are out and about earlier than honey bees.  The bumble bees can protect themselves from sudden changes in temperature by nestling down in the thick foliage if they get too cold. I’d use the word cuddle but my inner 5 year old who hated the heather at our  front walk because it was buzzing with bees . . .  won’t let me!   Heather provides a lot of nectar for the bees because of the hundreds of tiny flowers on each plant. The flowers are just the right depth for different sizes of bees.   Some tube like flowers are better for hummingbirds but the heather flower (which is a tiny little tube) is just right for bees.  Here are some early flowering spring heather varieties I like:

‘Bells Extra Special’
Foliage goes to a whiskey color with flecks of orange in the cold, the flowers are a strong purple red and best of all it’s only 4 inches high.  It spreads to about 16” wide January to May.  This short compact plant is unusual among the spring heather,  most are 6 to 8 inches high.

December Red
Clean dark green foliage with Cabernet red flowers – 8” high and spreading to 18” November to April.

Adrianne Duncan
Has a strong violet purple flower and is more compact than typical,  6” high by 18” spread.  It flowers later than Bells Extra Special.  I like to put these two together for foliage contrast.

Erica darleyensis ‘Mary Helen’
Sports an interesting gold bronze foliage in winter and lots of flower power in February to April. These plants are grown locally by Highland Heathers in Canby, Oregon.   This grower supplies retail nurseries, special plant sales such as HPSO Hortlandia spring plant sale and you can buy directly if you make an appointment. You won’t find these varieties at a big box store.  The common varieties get too big for most landscape situations and then you end up hacking at them and then they are ugly and out they go.

Three things to pay attention to for success with heathers

  1. Soil prep
  2. Proper watering
  3. Yearly Pruning

A lot of my other early spring flowering plants are Pacific NW natives.  Rubus spectabilis, Salmon Berry,  has a spectacular colorful spring flower with 75 to 100 stamens which will keep bees busy for a long time.  This flower 220px-Rubus_spectabilis_1855calls the early bumble bees by the droves.  This shrub has thorns and needs a bit of room so think first and plant second.  Our Oregon grape,  Mahonia aquifolium, my evergreen huckleberry, Vaccinium ovatum, and the hot pink red flowering current edge the light woods around the house and provide for the various local bees.   Some people don’t like Oregon grape because the leaves can get winter damage and have ratty looking leaves by early spring.  I say no problem, let them flower to provide for wildlife and then cut them down to the ground.  They will re leaf into glossy and good looking foliage for the rest of the year.

We know English lavender is great for bees in the summer.  Like heather, all lavender has hundreds of tiny flowers and is an abundant source for nectar.   Spanish lavender flowers much earlier than English lavender and provides for mid spring to early summer nectar. We need good drainage to be successful with with Spanish lavender but this often just means mounding up a few inches.   Don’t over water Spanish lavender.  I water mine once a month and am not sure it even needs that now that the plants are old.

Lavender at Joy Creek Nursery

Lavender at Joy Creek Nursery

lavandula winter bee

Lavandula stoechas ‘Winter Bee’

There is a newish variety called ‘Winter Bee’ grown by Blooming Nursery, a local wholesale grower. They claim it flowers 3 weeks earlier than other Spanish lavender and have named it accordingly,  Lavandula stoechas
‘Winter Bee’ PP #20,840.Up at my vacation house my Spanish lavender flowers in early April to mid summer.  I have seen flowers on them in March.  After the main flowering, I cut it back about 1/3rd and get another lovely hit of flowers in late summer into early fall. Here are three spring flowering Spanish lavender varieties I have grown: ‘Blueberry Ruffles‘, ‘Hazel, and ‘Mulberry Ruffle’s‘.  Blooming Nursery sells to many of the larger garden centers but don’t look for their plants at a box store; they won’t be there.

This unusual variety is compact and flowers earlier than most Spanish Lavender.

This unusual variety, ‘Mulberry Ruffles’, is compact and flowers earlier than most Spanish lavender.

Last of all, the best early flower for bees at our beach property isn’t what you would think of as a flower probably.  It has to be the huge old Oregon Big Leaf Maples down at the edge of the beach.  When they flower, the sound of bees is a low roar, I am not kidding.  My grandkids are a little nervous and tend to stay out of that area for a while.  Bees will earn respect if need be but otherwise I find them easy to get along with.  I do flinch when a bumble bee takes a dead run at me… and then I scold them for being bossy. There is enough room in the garden for everyone.

Unusual Flowers to Attract Hummingbirds

Unusual Flowers to Attract Hummingbirds

Today I want to share “Hummer” plants with hot colors for summer that are unique.  I will also list a few very colorful plants that  feed the overwintering hummingbirds in winter.

imagesHardy Fuchsia may be considered common for feeding hummingbirds 8 months out of the year.  Here are 3 varieties that are available locally (Portland, Oregon) that are a little different.  This type of fuchsia is a perennial and not anything like the fuchsia baskets that live in shady patios.  These fuchsias need sun and will come back year after year with simple care.

‘Golden Gate’ Hardy Fuchsia has hot gold leaves and shocking red pink flowers.  It is much smaller than the typically ‘Aurea’ and is an upright shrub instead of a wide vase shape.  It will fit into a smaller garden much better than ‘Aurea’ which can grow 4′ across easily.  We have a local source, a wholesale grower, Jockey Hill, who sells retail at Scappoose Saturday market.

Fuchsia Magellnica ‘Isis’ – this is great against a wall and while the leaf and flower are tiny, it can become a tall column (8′ – 10′) or it can be cut back hard every year and kept in the 4’ range.  Hundreds of flowers will interest many varieties of the larger bees as well as hummingbirds.

President’  Hardy Fuchsia.  It has a dark maroon leaf which is very unusual. This can be hard to find.  We have a local wholesale grower, Jockey Hill, who sells retail at Scappoose Saturday market.  It grows into a wider than tall shrub with purple and red flowers.

agastache-kudos-mandarin Terra Nova photoAgastache, also called Hummingbird Mint, are hot plants for long flowering summer color and for hummingbirds.  My old favorite variety is called ‘Apricot Sunrise’ and is an Agastache aurantica.  There are many new varieties of Agastache that I am very excited about.  ‘Summer Fiesta’,  ‘Summer Sunset’, ‘Kudos Manderin’, and ‘Kudos Coral’ are newer varieties that are more compact.  All of these Agastache are fragrant and smell strongly like mint or apple mint depending on the variety.

If you provide good drainage (think about planting on a low mound of soil), and don’t over water or fertilize …… it can live for years.  I often mulch around these plants with a cup of tiny crushed rock or pumice and I also tend to plant Hummingbird Mint in a raised planting.  Even 4” above the rest of the soil will improve drainage.

Agastache ‘Summer Glow’  did very well in a client’s gardenagastache-kudos-coral until a local rabbit ate them to the ground one too many times.  I love this exact variety, ‘Summer Glow’, because even after the glowing creamy yellow flowers are gone, the mulberry calyeces (under each tubular flower) stay on the plant until frost.  This color is soft but truly does glow especially in the evening.  This variety, like the hummingbird magnets above, results in 3 months of color in the garden.  It’s not red so isn’t as attractive to Hummers.

Here are three great hummingbird attractors for winter:

191 spring promise camellia

Camellia Sasanqua ‘Springs Promise’

 

 

 

Hybrid ‘Springs Promise’ is a new vivid rose red winter flowering Chinese Camellia.

 

 

Correa 'Dusky Rose'

Correa ‘Dusky Rose’

 

 

 

Correa ‘Dusky Rose’ Australian Fuchsia is available locally at Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Island.

 

 

 

Arhtu Meziezies Mahonia

‘Arthur Menzies’ Mahonia – photo from Forest Farm.

Mahonia x media ‘Arthur Menzies’   Think small tree so 15’ by 8’ wide.  The fragrance alone is amazing.  It is a coarse but attractive blue green leaf, the flower is a soft but strong yellow and is beloved by the Anna Hummingbirds.  At times you can find it at Portland Nursery, Cistus Design Nursery or Xera Plants, Inc.

You can also order a small plant from Forest Farms

 

 

 

For typical plants that attract hummingbirds go to my video for About.com. http://landscaping.about.com/video/Best-Flowers-to-Attract-Hummingbirds.htm

 

 

Hot Summer Color Flowering Plants That Last

Carol with coneflower

Carol Lindsay of Landscape Design in a Day standing in a parking strip of Cutleaf Coneflower

Here are three great plants for summer color in the Northwest.  These vibrant flowering plants are very easy to care for and come back each year as long as they have good drainage.  These won’t survive our Northwest winters planted in a low place or puddle.  If the clay is hard and dry as pottery in the summer we do have plants that will live in these conditions, but very few and not these.

Hardy Fuchsia
Flowers all summer and into late fall. I had mine inside a courtyard and used flowers for my Thanksgiving table every year. Hummingbirds love this plant.  It’s old fashioned but my 30 something clients love it too.

Fuchsia 'Chickadee'

Photo of Fuchsia magellanica ‘Chickadee’ courtesy of Jockey Hill Nursery

There is quite a variety of shrub sizes, foliage colors, and variable sizes of flowers.  Look for hot pinks, hot reds, deep purples, orchid and pinks.  Some sun is needed to get  flowers.  All day dappled sun coming through tree leaves is perfect!  Morning sun and afternoon shade also works well. Deep shade works for annual Fuchsia baskets – don’t be confused.  The plants I’m talking about are shrubs Fuchsia magellanica  that come back every year and will not flower with too little sun.

Herbstonne rudbeckia

Our client Mary loves her cutleaf coneflower!

Rudebeckia Lacinata ‘Autumn Sun
Common Name: Cutleaf coneflower
Syn: Herbstonne

Here’s an easy plant on the other end of the spectrum in every way. Oh how to tell you??? Initially I used this plant to fill in planting areas while my clients wait for their new slower long term plants to grow in.  After 3 years when it was time to remove the 5′ to 6′ tall Rudebeckia, my clients tended to say……….”noooooo,  I love it so, it just means summer to me!”

So we found ways to keep the plant in the garden and the client happy.  Rudebeckia Herbstonne  grows to 6′ tall and softens the view of a fence beautifully, it loves hot sun, but will cope with perhaps as little as 4 hours of sun.  The flowers are drop dead georgeus.  The plant is low water needs and you won’t need to stake it!  It stands on it’s own!

Kims knee high coneflower

Photo courtesy of Monrovia

Echinacea
Color! Color! Color! is what Echinacea purpurea ‘Kim’s Knee High’ and E. p. ‘Kims Knee High Red’ are all about.  They start flowering in June and keep going through August.  In September, coneflowers turn cool burnt colors and if you are willing to leave the flower heads overwinter … the chickadees will make a nice meal of the seeds in late winter.

This plant is easy once you get the soil prepped for it.  The only way to lose it is have slugs eat it all the first year while it’s just shooting up out of the ground in spring. Many varieties of coneflower get too tall and floppy.  The Knee High varieties do not flop and is one of my personal favorites!