things and places for homes and gardens

The denial garden

Wednesday 21 July 2010 - Filed under Plants

Some people name their gardens. I have a hard time even naming pets. I have to let their names come to me, otherwise they never fit, and some weird nickname sticks. How else could you explain a dog named Pants? I’ve never thought of any particular title for my garden but if it were to name itself, it would have to be denial. Drought tolerant plants next to thirsty ones. Sun lovers next to woodland plants. You will not find any trustworthy source that recommends my planting schemes. Today my post is dedicated to the sun lovers that are performing in spite of my overly optimistic planting.

Anigozanthos (Kangaroo paw)
I got a craving for kangaroo paws after a Germinatrix post last year softened me up, and then there was this beauty at the HPSO sale in spring, and I couldn’t resist. I’ve planted it in a spot that I thought might be my sun garden. In reality, it gets a little morning light, then shade the rest of the day. The soil is terrible, chalky and rarely watered, topped with a little compost. It won’t survive our winter, so this is it – one beautiful summer. It’s not as big as the plants I’ve seen in other people’s garden, with proper sunny conditions, but it looks good. It’s probably going on my spring shopping list from here on out. My only regret is not buying more than one.

Anigozanthos (Kangaroo paw)
I think I see now why they’re called Kangaroo paws. Do you see it?

I bought several Eucomis bulbs. Some are sited more appropriately than others, but the only one that bloomed this year is in the same shady bed as the kangaroo paw. Is this one of those stress blooms, only blooming because it thinks this is it’s last chance? Maybe but it was an exciting discovery nonetheless.

My flower blinders have started to fall away, I’ve been admiring Eremerus from afar over the last year. I like them, as far as flowers go, because they’re tall and skinny, and don’t demand a big footprint in the garden. And the 7 ft tall white ones – wow! I really wanted those. I’ve read you should plant them in the fall, so I tried my best to resist until a fall shopping trip out to Dancing Oaks, but when I found one in spring at the the HPSO show, well, these words come up too much when talking about plant sales, but again, I couldn’t resist. It’s also in that shady garden. The bloom had to reach out sideways toward the sun, but it was still a beautiful show.

The Eremerus, after the flowers have gone. I almost like it more now. When I cut down a couple dying trees next year, the newly sunny spot in the garden is going to get a bunch of these.

Hesperaloe parviflora (red yucca)
Hesperaloe parviflora, or red yucca. Same shady spot, but doesn’t seem to be complaining. The flowers are growing sideways, but I think they do that anyway, don’t they? I got it for the foliage, but I haven’t yet had the impulse to cut off the coral flowers, they’ve really grown on me. If I can believe the plant tag, it’ll start blooming in early summer, with continuous rebloom for nearly year round flowers. Surely “nearly year round” is an exaggeration?

Echium wildpretii
I’m completely in love with Echium wildpretii right now. I found myself wandering the garden, little plant in hand, trying to find the very best spot for such a sun lover. I’ve come up with a place, on the edge of some dappled shade of a birch tree, where the afternoon sun filters through the wood slats of the fence. I’m sure it would be bigger and better in more sun, but it’s tripled in size since I planted it a few months ago, and doesn’t look like it’s complaining. It may be my favorite new plant this year.

Tradescantia sillamontana (cobweb spiderwort, gossamer)
Sometimes my denial planting works out just right. I got captivated by the cobweb covered leaves of Tradescantia sillamontana and grabbed it up as a last minute impulse purchase. Not til I got home, did I realize that it gets magenta flowers most of the summer through fall. I’ve said I was softening toward flowers, but I don’t think I’m ready for magenta. I’ve let enough reds, yellows, and oranges creep into my garden, the thought of magenta clashing with them makes me cringe. But many times, while my sun lovers survive their shady positions, they don’t always flower. Maybe I’ll get lucky and keep it just happy enough to produce lots of velvety leaves.

2010-07-21  »  megan

Talkback x 8

  1. Laura
    21 July 2010 @ 9:57 am

    Beautiful! I’m a denial plater too. Although I’m trying to be more realistic these days :)

  2. Patricia C, Portland, OR
    21 July 2010 @ 11:38 am

    I’ll see your Denial and raise you an ADD.

  3. tina
    22 July 2010 @ 9:13 am

    It took FOREVER to open up the comment page. I even tried on another post. Urgh. Hopefully this goes thru. I like your Denial garden. A perfect name for gardeners who try to have it all. I’m so glad it has worked with these plants. That prettii is really neat!

    I also looked at your saruma post. That is quite cool. I love these groundcovers though I’ve never heard of saruma. I hope you get lots of volunteers.

  4. Grace
    22 July 2010 @ 4:09 pm

    Hi Megan, I bought a small Hesperaloe last spring. Finally I’m seeing the signs of blooms. I think it will be worth the wait. The best of both worlds is having great foliage AND flower.

  5. Denise
    22 July 2010 @ 5:33 pm

    Hi Megan — my hesperaloe is sideways too! And..only one eucomis of several bloomed this year. About the eremus…totally a denial plant here in zone 10, needing winter chill, but I planted bulbs anyway last fall. Not a one showed so I’ll enjoy them in your garden. And I’m presently anigozanthos-less at the moment. What a fine plant it is. And Pants is a fine name for a dog. I’m still trying to think of a name for the house..maybe Casa Calibri (House of the Hummingbirds)?

  6. Jane/MulchMaid
    23 July 2010 @ 5:58 am

    It’s good to see you stretching the boundaries of denial from zonal to sun/shade, and even better to see your success despite our low-sun summer so far.

    I MUST have h. parviflora I realize, now having seen it in your garden, Denise’s garden and one street over from me – thanks for the push!

  7. Loree / danger garden
    24 July 2010 @ 9:08 am

    I love the name. I think it will stick.

    I am suffering through a summer with no Hesperaloe bloom. And I don’t like it one bit. Thanks for sharing yours. And while I am on the subject of thanking you, I too love my Echium wildpretii. It’s amazing. Thank you for picking it up for me!!!

  8. ricki - sprig to twig
    24 July 2010 @ 11:29 am

    I just took some pictures of ‘Big Sky Sundown’ Echinacea, and will never again bad-mouth magenta and orange as a combo. I’ll show you on my blog soon.