High Country Gardens on December 13th, 2013

Zinnia grandiflora 'Gold on Blue'

Zinnia grandiflora ‘Gold on Blue’ (Gold on Blue Prairie Zinnia) is a 2014 Plant Select winner.

Where I found it

I spend a lot of time driving between my home in Santa Fe and Denver, the Intermountain West’s horticultural epicenter. One summer on my way north, just over the border of Colorado, I spotted a huge field of Zinnia grandiflora in full bloom.

I stopped to investigate and to my delight found a patch of gold flowered plants in the middle of several acres of yellow blooming ones. I marked the plants and stopped there again that fall where I was able to collect several sacks of seed.  In the spring, several dozen plants had grown from the seed collected that previous fall.

As the plants matured I noticed that these golden flowered plants had excellent vigor and grew to unusually large size. From among these Zinnia giants I selected a particularly robust plant that also had noticeably blue-green foliage and gave it the name ‘Gold on Blue’.

Zinnia grandiflora 'Gold on Blue'

Zinnia grandiflora ‘Gold on Blue’ makes an excellent groundcover.

Bringing it to the attention of Plant Select

A few years ago, I submitted the plant to Plant Select (the Denver Botanic Garden/ Colorado State University plant introduction program) for consideration as a future Plant Select winner. Everyone who grew and tested ‘Gold on Blue’ was very excited and enthusiastic about this little beauty and it has been selected as a winner for 2014.

I’ve been growing and enjoying Zinnia grandiflora for many, many years. Unfortunately, it remains a relatively


obscure native plant because it is not widely grown in the trade. Too bad, because this native wildflower species is one of the toughest, most xeric, longest lived plants I’ve ever grown.

Xeriscaping uses for ‘Gold on Blue’

‘Gold on Blue’ is a very distinctive form of Z. grandiflora that has many uses:

  • It’s a vigorous spreading groundcover that spreads by sucking to create big drifts of foliage and flowers
  • It’s excellent for planting on slopes and other hot, dry areas where lesser perennials would fail
  • Is recommended for planting in “Inferno Strips”, that long, narrow piece of no man’s land between the street and sidewalk
Zinnia grandiflora 'Gold on Blue'

Zinnia grandiflora ‘Gold on Blue’ with Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’

Companion Plants

‘Gold on Blue’ blooms in late summer with a blast of brilliant gold flowers over a low 4” tall spreading mound of attractive finely textured foliage. It spreads via underground runners making it an invaluable groundcover to plant around tall, summer blooming xeric plants.

Some of my favorite companions are:

Zinnia grandiflora ‘Gold on Blue’ looks great with most any flowering perennial and creates a low growing carpet-like patch of stems.


Text and Photos by David Salman

High Country Gardens on December 6th, 2013

New Salvia Varieties from High Country Gardens for Spring 2014


Salvia verticiliata 'Endless Love'

A New Salvia Variety for 2014! Salvia verticiliata ‘Endless Love’

The genus Salvia, commonly referred to as Sage, is vast, with hundreds of species worldwide. They are tough, durable plants with colorful flowers, aromatic foliage and invaluable as a nectar source for all types of pollinators. And for waterwise landscapes in the US, there are so many great choices.

I like to separate native Western species and hybrids from the European species and hybrids. I do this because they are so different.

  • For attracting hummingbirds, there are no finer flowers than the Western native sages.
  • For bringing bees to the garden, the European sages are king of the hill.

New from the Old World is:

Salvia verticiliata ‘Endless Love’, commonly known as Lilac Sage, because of its large tubular flowers resembling those of a lilac. ‘Endless Love’ is an outstanding selection of this European native sage grown for its big, fuzzy, deep green leaves and summer-long display of large, lavender-purple flower spikes. This is a distinctive, very different sage from the S. nemerosa types like ‘May Night’, ‘Blue Hill’ and others. It is a recent introduction by renowned European plantsman Piet Oudolf.  In hot, sunny climates I recommend planting it in afternoon shade. Not a xeric species, ‘Endless Love’ doesn’t want to have the soil dry out completely. Watch the big leaves; when they flag, it’s time to water.

  • 24″ tall  x 30-36″ wide
  • USDA zones 5-9
  • Rabbit and deer resistant
  • Compost enriched garden loam
  • Cutting grown

New from the Western US are:

Salvia arizonica ‘Deep Blue’ is my selection of the species chosen for its exceptionally dark blue flowers. I’ve enjoyed Salvia arizonica in the dry shade parts of my gardens where it blooms all summer if conditions aren’t too dry. ‘Deep Blue’ is a tenacious, long lived and easy care perennial with good cold hardiness.

  • 8-12″ x 12-16″ wide
  • USDA zones 5-9
  • Rabbit and deer resistant
  • Most soil types including dry clay
  • Cutting grown
Salvia pachyphylla 'Mulberry Flambé'

Salvia pachyphylla Mulberry Flambé

Salvia pachyphylla ‘Mulberry Flambé’ is a very special cultivar of Giant Mojave Sage that I’ve been working on for many years. I found the original plant in a customer’s garden here in Santa Fe where its vibrant mulberry-red colored calyxes really caught my attention. This selection is different from ‘Blue Flame’ (our first S. pachyphylla selection introduced in 2008) and is more compact with more darkly colored flower spikes and pure silver foliage. Not a perennial for beginners, plant it where (once established) it doesn’t get much irrigation during the summer months. It is important to have beneficial fungi on the roots so treat this Salvia with Plant Success® mycorrhizal root inoculant.

  • 18″ x 18-24″ wide
  • USDA zones 5-8
  • Rabbit and deer resistant
  • Hummingbirds
  • Low fertility, well drained soil
  • For Western gardens only (less than 20” of annual precipitation)
  • Cutting grown

Salvia penstemonoides (Penstemon Sage) has a remarkable story. A very showy native Sage found only in south-central Texas, it was thought extinct. But as luck would have it, about 20 years ago it was rediscovered growing in two isolated colonies. Seeds were collected and horticulturists at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin began the propagation process. I got my original plants at a Wildflower plant sale back in the late 1990’s from which I began growing my own seed. It blooms all summer with large, dark red Penstemon-like flowers held high on sturdy spikes over beautiful glossy green foliage. It needs a “lean”, well drained soil with sun or partial sun.

Salvia penstemonoides

Salvia penstemonoides (Penstemon Sage)

  • 24-30″ tall x 12-15″ wide
  • USDA zones 6-9
  • Rabbit and deer resistant
  • Hummingbirds
  • Low fertility, well drained soil
  • Seed grown


To learn more about the Salvia offered by High Country Gardens visit us at www.HighCountryGardens.com


Text and Photos by David Salman

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High Country Gardens on November 22nd, 2013

Erigonum umbellatum 'Poncha Pass Red'

New for 2014! Eriogonum umbellatum ‘Poncha Pass Red’

New!  High Country Garden 2014 Plant of the Year

It is interesting to note how some really great plants seem to hang around my greenhouse and gardens for a long time before I get around to introducing them.  And I’m not sure why I keep them to myself, but this is certainly the case with Eriogonum umbellatum  ‘Poncha Pass Red’  (Poncha Pass Red Sulfur Buckwheat).

I don’t even remember the exact year I found this fantastic plant in its native habitat, but I do remember my excitement when I saw the colony of these plants growing along a Colorado roadside.  I came upon the plants in full seed, which might sound boring, except for the fact that the seed heads are bright orange-red. 

The dark red seed heads of Eriogonum 'Poncha Pass Red'

The dark red seed heads of Eriogonum ‘Poncha Pass Red’ that display in late summer.

Eriogonum  (Sulfur Buckwheat) is a totally under-appreciated native plant family that finds its sweet spot in the Western US where there are many dozens of species and subspecies.  And many of the Buckwheats are actually small evergreen shrubs.  Such is the case with ‘Poncha Pass Red’, although it is a very small shrub that has woody stems and evergreen foliage. The plant blooms in late spring with showy umbels of bright yellow. Then as the flowers mature to seed set, they turn brilliant orange-red.

And as if this weren’t enough to convince you to plant it, Eriogonum is a fantastic genus of wildflowers when it comes to attracting and feeding bees and butterflies and many species of beneficial insects. These insects prey on injurious insects like aphids, spider mites and other garden pests.

The bright yellow flower clusters of Eriogonum 'Poncha Pass Red' in late spring with Opuntia basilaris v. heilli

The bright yellow flower clusters of Eriogonum ‘Poncha Pass Red’ in late spring with Opuntia basilaris v. heilli.

They are wonderful companion plants to pair up with Lavender, Penstemon, and smaller growing ornamental native grasses like ‘Blonde Ambition’. These are plants that appreciate ‘Poncha Pass Red’s’ love of full sun and “lean”, well drained soils.

Eriogonum umbellatum  ‘Poncha Pass Red’  (Poncha Pass Red Sulfur Buckwheat) is a plant that is hardy for zones 3 through 7 and comes in 5” pots.  To learn more, visit our website: www.HighCountryGardens.com


Text and Photos by David Salman


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High Country Gardens on November 15th, 2013

Butterfly on Echinacea

Wildflowers, such as Echinacea, will help attract pollinators to your garden

The disappearing pollinator population is a phenomenon that affects our ecosystem in a huge way. Many know that the dwindling population is a problem, but few realize that gardeners can help pollinators in a BIG way, simply by planting a wildflower or perennial garden!

 What are Pollinators’ jobs in nature?

There are a variety of different pollinators: Bees (including Honey Bees), Butterflies, Moths, and several species of flies and beetles. These important species move pollen from a male flower to a female flower, eventually resulting in fertilization. Many plants require this fertilization to reproduce and grow, meaning pollinators are essential to the stability of our ecosystem.

 What Crops Need Pollination?

There are too many to name, but many of our most popular crops need Bees and other pollinators to grow and produce. A recent study showed that at least 80% of the world’s crop species require pollination to set seed, including: Kiwifruit, Cashews, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Pumpkins, Gourds, Zucchini, Passion Fruit, Cocoa, Vanilla and many, many more.

 Recent Decline of Pollinators

In the most recent decades, many pollinator populations are considered to be in decline and some (such as several varieties of Bees) are even in danger of extinction. This is not only devastating for the fact that we are losing an entire species from our planet, but this could bring forth dire circumstances for global food webs and human health.

 How You Can Help

One of the best ways gardeners can help pollinators is by planting a flower garden! This helps create a larger diversity of nectar and pollen sources. Putting pollinator-friendly plants together in one area helps to make their work a little easier, consequently reducing stress.

Bee on Sunflower

Our Honey Bee Wildflower Seed Mix provides a variety of annuals and perennials to attract the honey bee all season long

If you are planting Perennials, try to group a dense amount of plants in close proximity to one another, all with different shapes, colors and bloom times. This helps to attract a variety of pollinators all season long. It is also important to try to grow plants that are native to your area. Several varieties that are especially attractive to pollinators are Penstemon, Foxglove, Peonies, Black Eyed Susans, EchinaceaSunflowers, Bee Balm and more.

 Looking to help, but don’t have the time to design a perennial garden? We offer a Pollinator Paradise Pre-Planned garden and we’ve put together several Wildflower Mixtures to help pollinators. Each mixture is designed with a variety of annual and perennial Wildflowers that are all different colors, shapes and bloom all season long, to attract a wide variety of pollinators to your garden. Try our Honey Bee Wildflower Seed Mix,  Hummingbird & Butterfly Seed Mix, or plant a Native Mixture for your area.

Planting for pollinators can help benefit their depleting population and add extra color to your landscaping. If every gardener decided to plant their own “pollinator garden,” we could really help make a difference for the disappearing population!


Guest blog by “The Seed Man” Mike Lizotte

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High Country Gardens on November 13th, 2013

Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition

Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Amibition’ is a great ornamental grass for a fall garden

Now that fall is officially here (September 22nd, 2013 was the Fall Equinox), and your landscape plants are dropping their leaves, this is a great time to take a stroll through your yard because it’s easier to see the details.  Fill up a mug of hot tea (or grab a bottle of beer) and take a leisurely look around.  Enjoy some quiet time in your yard.  And direct a critical eye toward what areas and plants were the standouts this year.  Where are the places and plants that didn’t do well or were lacking color and texture?  Take a note pad and write it down.  Make some sketches.  Get inspired for next year.

Take a list of plants you’re interested in planting along with you and identify where they would do best.  And while you’re walking around thinking about putting some polish on your garden, I’d like to make a few suggestions that would help.

Look where the afternoon light shines into your landscape.  This low angled sunlight defines the fall and winter garden.  Are there places where some ornamental grasses could be planted to catch that light?  Here are some warm season grasses (those that bloom in mid-summer into fall) to mark down to order for next spring:

- ‘Blonde Ambition’ Blue Grama grass (Bouteloua)

- Prairie Switch Grass (Panicum cultivars)

- ‘Windbreaker’ Giant Sacaton Grass (Sporobolus)

- ‘Llano’ Indian Grass  (Sorghastrum)

- Ruby Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia reverchonii)

Shrubs with colorful fall foliage, like late blooming grasses, are commonly forgotten when planting in the spring.  But a lack of them in your fall landscape is readily noticeable.  My favorite native shrubs for colorful leaves are:

Prunus besseyi Pawnee Buttes

Prunus besseyi ‘Pawnee Buttes’ in the fall with Dwarf Pinus nigra

- New Mexico Privet (Forestiera)

- ‘Pawnee Buttes’ Sand Cherry (Prunus besseyii).  ‘Pawnee Buttes’ is a groundcover shrub and makes a nice “skirt” when planted around the base of a taller shrub like New Mexico Privet.

Fall blooming perennials, like shrubs with colorful fall foliage, are also overlooked during the frenzy of spring planting.  But again, their absence now is very noticeable.  Write these down and get them in your spring 2014 plant order:

- Hummingbird Trumpet or Fire Chalice (Zauschneria arizonica) with its blazing orange flowers is required planting.

- West Texas Grass Sage (Salvia reptans, West TX form) is fabulous with its cobalt blue flowers.

Salvia Raspberry Delight with Salvia reptans

Salvia Raspberry Delight with Salvia reptans (West Texas form)

- ‘Raspberry Delight’ Sage (Salvia hybrid) is a non-stop bloomer from late spring until hard frost in October or November.  Superb!

- Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is a fantastic groundcover that blooms in August and September and then turns to burgundy-red in October as its foliage changes color from glossy green.

- Giant Silver Germander (Teucrium cussonii) with its silver, evergreen foliage and fragrant pink flowers that go through summer into late fall is a fantastic groundcover for covering large areas and anchoring sloped beds.

-Re-blooming English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a great season extender blooming in late spring/early summer and again in August and September.  ‘Sharon Roberts’, ‘Buena Vista’ and ‘Pastor’s Pride’ are three excellent re-bloomers.

Text and Photos by David Salman

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High Country Gardens on November 1st, 2013

Darwin Tulip with Muscari and Crocus bulbs

Layering your bulbs makes for a colorful spring display

Boo!  Halloween is always a marker of the winter to come.  Here in the high country of New Mexico, the tallest mountain peaks are starting to collect some snow and the frosts down in town become harder and more frequent.   This is also the time of year when the action in our gardens moves underground.

Still time for Planting Bulbs

Planting bulbs are the best way to follow in nature’s footsteps by going underground and finishing our garden chores for the year.

- The small bulbs like Crocus, miniature Iris, Muscari (Grape Hyacinths) are some of the very best spring bloomers for waking up our gardens in the early spring.

- The key to a great display of the small bulbs is to plant a lot of them. Planted in drifts (or patches) of 48 or more so their small flowers become a huge pool of color when they come into bloom together.

Layering bulbs in the garden

Maximine your spring bulb display by planting several bulbs in the same planting hole

Layering a Bulb Planting

Layering your bulbs is a great way to maximize your spring bulb displays.  In nature, different bulbs establish themselves at different depths in the soil, so we can imitate nature by doing it ourselves.   I like to plant a large bulb and a small bulb (or two) in the same planting hole. It’s a great labor saver and makes the spring display that much longer and more colorful.

- For example, the large garden daffodils or Darwin perennial tulips need to be planted at a depth of about 8 inches.  So after dropping a daffodil or tulip into its hole and covering it with a few inches of dirt, you now have a 4 inch deep hole into which you can drop a couple of Crocus, miniature Iris or Muscari.  Then fill the planting hole to ground level and it’s done.

- When planting bulbs be sure to have a bucket or wheelbarrow with a mixture of Yum Yum Mix (or Yum Yum Mix Winterizer), compost and soil ready. This way you can enrich the soil by simply filling the holes with the soil/compost/Yum Yum Mix blend.

- Water in your new bulb transplants with a good soaking and where appropriate, apply a couple inches of mulch to tuck them.

Darwin Tulip Rosy Delight

Darwin Tulip Rosy Delight.

These bulbs will live together harmoniously and multiply themselves to make even bigger showier patches over time. In places of great bulb diversity like South Africa (the world’s epicenter for bulb species) there are often hundreds of bulbs and dozens of species in every square yard of ground, all growing at different depths in the soil.

A Reminder

The above ground plants are also moving underground. Woody plants are busy transporting accumulated nutrients from the stems and leaves down into the roots, which are actively growing with the onset of the short days of fall.  Perennials are doing the same thing, moving their stored nutrients from the dying stem and leaves down into their roots and crowns. This is, in part, why fall planting of many plants is so ideal.  All of their energy goes into growing and expanding their root systems.  So don’t cut back your perennials until spring and wait to do pruning of woody plants until December or next year.

High Country Gardens on October 25th, 2013

It’s been a long hot summer here in northern New Mexico.  With June being the hottest and driest in anyone’s memory, September brought records rains that helped to temporarily put the drought on hold. So now what?

Fall Garden

Ornamental Grasses add interest to a Fall Garden

1. Feeding the Soil (Fertilizing)

One of the most basic principles of organic gardening is the need to “feed the soil”.  The web of life depends on the soil’s ability to break down fallen leaves and other organic materials and recycle the nutrients into the soil.  After the first hard frost is a good time to mix-up a wheel barrow of high quality compost and Yum Yum Mix Winterizer and top dress your flower beds, shrubs and smaller trees.  Just scatter the compost/Yum Yum Mix over the top of the soil and scratch it in lightly.  Then set the sprinkler and water it in.

 2. Mulching

In the drier parts of the country like the Great Plains and Intermountain West, mulching is an essential tool for conserving precious soil moisture and building the soil. For those living in regions that get more than 25” of precipitation or have a lot of winter rain or slushy snow, mulching is NOT recommended. It will help attract slugs and cause disease from excess moisture around the crowns of perennials and ornamental grasses.

-  For Xeric Plants use:  1 to 2” thick layer of pine needles, crushed pecan shells or crushed gravel.

-  For Plants that Like more moisture and richer soil: 1 to 2” thick layer of composted bark (not bark chips or nuggets), shredded wood or leaves and clean straw (for your vegetable beds only).

3. Garden Clean up

Not so fast. Just let the perennials and ornamental grasses stand over the winter.

-  This improves cold hardiness of plants like Agastache, Zauschneria and Salvia.

-  Helping beneficial insects and pollinators.  The eggs and cocoons/pupae of beneficial insects, butterflies and moths are often attached to the dormant stems of your garden plants so let them stay and hatch next spring.  Clean-up in mid-spring.

-  Enjoy the winter beauty of many plants, especially ornamental grasses.

-  Hold off pruning trees and shrubs until late winter/early spring

Salvia daghestanica with Artemisia Seafoam

Salvia daghestanica with Artemisisa Seafoam

 4. Watering

Dry fall and winter weather is tough on plants, especially perennials and ornamental grasses.

-  Make sure the ground has ample moisture by watering a last time before the ground begins to freeze (mid-November in Santa Fe and Denver)

-  Winter watering is essential for all new perennials, shrubs and trees planted this past growing season. If there is no snow or rain, water when day temperatures are above 45⁰ F, once every three or four weeks.

5. Planting spring blooming bulbs

Plant yourself a wonderful surprise.  Spring blooming bulbs must be fall planted to bloom next spring. Bulbs are a bargain and a great way to wake up your garden in spring.  And if you have the winter blues, a colorful drift of early crocus is a great way to lift your mood.

6. Planting perennials and ornamental grasses

-  Fall is the very best time to plant if you live in the Southwestern US, Texas and other regions with very hot summer temperatures and mild winters.

-  There is still time to plant in zone 6 & 7 but it’s getting late too in zones  4 and 5 (except for bulbs)

 7. Fertilizing your lawn

Fall is the best time to feed your lawn. A top dressing of fine textured compost and Yum Yum Mix is ideal.  Forget the chemical fertilizers and “Weed ‘n Feed” as they are detrimental to the soil and grass.

 8. Apply Mycorrhiza to inoculate the roots

If you live in a recently built subdivision or have a new house and the construction damaged your soils, be sure to spread Plant Success Mycorrhizal inoculants around your plants and over your new lawn. This will greatly improve plant health and vitality.

Yum Yum Mix Winterizer

Yum Yum Mix Winterizer

 9. Raking leaves

Never mulch with whole leaves as they will mat and starve the soil of oxygen (those earthworms need to breathe).  If possible, rent or buy a shredder that will grind up your leaves into a coarse pieces.  Coarsely ground up leaves are a superb mulch and a great soil builder.

 10. Relax and spend time in your garden doing nothing

Hop on your hammock or sit out on your patio with a good book and enjoy the soothing beauty of the fall garden.

High Country Gardens on October 18th, 2013



Sedum add great interest to a Winter garden

Sedum, commonly known as stonecrop, is a group of succulent plants native across much of the Northern Hemisphere.  They are excellent garden plants because they are:

  • Waterwise and cold hardy
  • Colorful with flowers in shades of pink, white and yellow
  • Excellent for fall and winter interest with their ornamental seed heads
  • A favorite of insect pollinators like bees and butterflies

The stonecrops are very versatile with different varieties that can be used as durable, evergreen groundcovers or taller specimens in the perennial border.  The larger growers are known as the Tall Sedum and may be a little less familiar to folks than the groundcover types (which have been used extensively for many years).  The Tall Sedums typically bloom from mid-summer into early fall. And their architecturally interesting seed heads should be left standing over the winter months to catch the morning frost or snow like tidy ‘snow toadstools’.  And the Tall Stonecrops provide pleasing contrast with the finely textured ornamental grasses that also grace the winter garden.

Sedum Purple Emperor

Sedum Purple Emperor


Some of my favorite cultivars include:

- ‘Purple Emperor’ which has eye catching burgundy foliage which contrasts so beautifully with other perennials especially if they have gray or silver foliage.  (Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ or Artemisia versicolor ‘Seafoam’ are particularly showy companion plants. )

‘Matrona’ is my favorite and perhaps the tallest of the genus with clouds of pink flowers held on 30” tall mahogany stems.  ‘Matrona’ is an impressive sight especially when attracting numerous butterflies. I particularly like it standing next to Little Bluestem grass (Schizachyrium).

Chinese Mountain Crop (Sedum middendorfianum)

Chinese Mountain Crop (Sedum middendorfianum)

As a showy groundcover variety, I am very fond of Chinese Mountain Stonecrop (Sedum middendorfianum).  This Oriental native blooms in late spring and early summer with hundreds of bright yellow flowers that age to reddish-orange and are held overhead by short burgundy stems.  When not blooming the carpet of fresh looking bright evergreen foliage is really nice.  Landscape designers Lauren Springer Ogden and her husband Scott Ogden introduced me to this uncommon beauty.

Because of their cold hardiness and vigor, Sedum are on the top of my list for fall planting.  And you’ll enjoy larger, more floriferous plants during next year’s growing season.

Text and Photos by David Salman


High Country Gardens on October 11th, 2013


Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris are
great for fall planting.

The Bearded Iris are, for much of the country , a reminder of Memorial Day, as this is usually the time of peak bloom for this showy group of perennials.  I enjoy these beauties for their easy care, their tough constitution and their large, colorful flowers in a huge array of solid and bi-colored combinations.

Bearded Iris are very dependable in the garden when you provide them with

- plenty of sun

- a well drained planting site

- well amended soil  (go heavy on the compost and soft rock phosphate as Iris are heavy “feeders”)

Fall is an excellent time to plant Iris, so you can enjoy their flowers next spring. But don’t feel you need to isolate Iris or plant them apart from the other flowers in your garden as is often done.  (Roses often suffer this same fate.) Iris mingles nicely with other perennials, especially because their attractive, sword-shaped leaves provide a nice contrast with the other foliage, much like a thick bladed ornamental grass might do. And the wide range of flower colors allows them to be inter-planted with other perennials to provide a rainbow of complementary flower colors.

Iris germanica Edith Wolford

Iris germanica Edith Wolford

The big news about Bearded Iris is that many new varieties are “re-bloomers” flowering in late spring and re-blooming in August (with prompt deadheading of the old flower spikes). This has reinvigorated interest in the Bearded Iris and kept the breeders busy expanding their offerings.

In terms of maintenance, the best time to divide your Iris clumps is in August.  When they stop blooming or the flowers are sparse, this is an indication that they are crowded and the soil is low in nutrients and needs to be enriched.

Just dig the plants out of the ground, shake off the soil and cut the rhizomes (fleshy roots) into pieces with a sharp clean garden knife. Be sure to include a fan or two of leaves on each piece of rhizome.  If you have some dusting sulfur, dip the cut ends into it and let the rhizomes dry for a day or two in the shade so the cuts callus over.

Before you replant the divisions, dig a 3 to 4 inch thick layer of compost and a few handfuls of natural soft rock phosphate and Yum Yum Mix into the top 8-10” of the soil. Plant so that the shoulders of the rhizomes are just above the surface of the soil. Don’t plant them too deep.

Iris pallida 'Variegata' with Buddleia

Iris pallida ‘Variegata’ with Buddleia

One of my favorite Bearded Iris would have to be Iris pallida ‘Variegata’.  The soft purple flowers are wonderfully fragrant and the boldly striped green and white leaves enliven any bed where they are planted giving the plant season-long garden interest.


Text and Photos by David Salman



High Country Gardens on October 4th, 2013

Daffodil Bulbs 'New Baby'

Miniature Daffodil Bulbs
‘New Baby’

Daffodils, also known by the Latin genus Narcissus, are named after the vain youth of Greek mythology who broke Echo’s heart and succumbed to his own reflection in a pool of water.  Well, Daffodils have the right to be a little vain, as they are a superb group of beautiful flowers.  There are many groups of daffodils that categorize them by size, flower shape and flower count.

But to the average gardener, the most important things to remember about them is;

- They are deer proof (above ground) and gopher and mole/vole proof (underground)

- Different cultivars bloom at different times in spring.

The different bloom times help you to extend the show of flowers in spring by planting early spring blooming, mid-spring blooming and late spring blooming varieties. (Bloom times are mentioned on the web and in the catalog as part of each daffodil’s description).

Daffodils grow well in sun and part sun and are not fussy about their soil, as long as it has good drainage and modest fertility. They are an excellent choice for planting into the dappled shade under tall shade trees in amongst other shade loving perennials.

Allium Bulbs 'Mount Everest' and 'Purple Sensation'

Allium Bulbs ‘Mount Everest’
and ‘Purple Sensation’

Other Deer Resistant Flower Bulbs

There are also other equally beautiful spring blooming bulbs that resist browsing by deer.

Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides)

Guinea Hen Flower  (Fritillaria meleagris)

Star flower  (Ipheon)

Snowdrops  (Galanthus)

Ornamental Onions (Allium)

- Grape Hyacinths (Muscari) are generally deer resistant, but not always.

Crocus (Crocus) are generally deer resistant, but not always

Spanish Blue Bells

Blue Bells

Some of my favorite combinations are to mix;

- Spanish Bluebells with Daffodil ‘Primeur’ and ‘Petrel’  to create a colorful glade of spring flowers.

- Grape hyacinth with ‘Fortissimo’ and ‘Professor Einstein’

These Narcissus listed below are some of my favorites.

Early spring blooming

‘Tete-a-Tete’ ; a special heirloom miniature variety

‘Brackenhurst’ ; showy yellow and orange-red flowers

Mid-spring blooming

‘Quail’ ;  a vigorous naturalizer that makes colorful colonies of pure yellow

‘Jamestown’;  with lovely white and lemon-yellow flowers

Late spring blooming

‘Primeur’ ; huge bright yellow flowers

‘Petrel’ ; graceful pure white flowers on vigorous colonizing plants