With nearly 40 years of being a gardener, greenhouse manager and plant retailer, I’ve always been interested in rare or little known plants. There are lots of new plants introduced into the horticultural markets each year, but most of them are just variations of previously sold varieties. I like to find obscure species, collect seed of desirable native species or breed new introductions that are resilient, cold hardy and xeric and are regionally suitable for planting in the western US. Some of my current favorites for northern NM gardens include;
Heterotheca jonesii (Creeping Goldenaster) – a rare Utah native plant that makes a wonderful groundcover in the xeric garden. Long blooming with small yellow flowers held just above a thick rug of grey foliage, it’s great in rock gardens, along pathways and between flagstones in the patio.
Erigeron linearis ((Threadleaf Fleebane) – native to the dry summer side of the Cascade Mts. of eastern Oregon, this very xeric little wildflower has fabulous late spring yellow flowers and attractive grey threadleaf foliage that is evergreen.
Fendlera rupicola (Cliff Fendlerbush) – fragrant, rare and invaluable to insect pollinators, this NM native shrub is almost never offered for sale. But I have collected my own seed from 20 years old plants in my home garden and am able to offer it to our WATERWISE gardeners.
Cercocarpus intricatus (Littleleaf Mountain Mahogany) – native to Utah, this small growing evergreen native shrub fits into even the smallest garden. Perfect for use as a hedge plant or clipped into a bonsai specimen, it’s very xeric and has ornamental feather-like seeds.
Phlox nana ‘Perfect Pink’ (Perfect Pink Santa Fe Phlox) – sweetly fragrant pink flowers cover this Santa Fe county native plant in late spring and again in summer with the arrival of the monsoonal rains. But this plant has not been sold much because it has previously been very difficult to propagate. But I cracked the propagation code about 8 years ago and we now offer it every spring. But you’ll likely not find it anywhere else.
Hymenoxys scaposa (Thrift-leaf Perky Sue) – native to the eastern plains of NM, this tough little evergreen perennial covers itself with yellow daisies in late spring and again in summer with the monsoonal rains. It’s a superb re-seeder spreading itself gently, especially when planted into gravel mulch. Shown here with lavender "Wee One'.
Philadelphus microphyllus ‘Desert Snow’ – I purchased a couple of plants of this native shrub many years ago from an arboretum in Oregon. I’ve never seen it sold ever again, but have kept it in my collection and grow it every year from cuttings. A tough, xeric species, it’s not found an audience because of its small flowers. But ‘Desert Snow’ has huge 1 ½” intensely orange-scented white flowers that cover the shrub in late spring. Perfect for small patio gardens in part to full sun locations. Shown here with Nepeta Walker's Low and English Lavender.
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