Annuals in Autumn

There are annuals still blooming boldly in the garden, even after several light frosts. There are zinnias, ageratum, cosmos and marigolds that still look great. I don't think marigolds know when to stop. Besides that, they've never looked ragged.

Granted, the marigold seeds were sown the first two weeks in July so that there would be fall color.

There are autumn colors of yellow, gold, orange and red. If you think marigolds look too gaudy for summer, try them for autumn. The combination of the annual (in my zone) purple fountain grass with the tall marigolds works well enough that I may actually plan this combination again for next year.

Please don't ask me to identify the marigolds in my garden. I picked up packets at stores, ordered online and didn't take the time to document any of these. I faintly remember sowing seeds from a 'Crackerjack Mix' somewhere in the garden.

I never cared for marigolds until I planted them this year. Previously, my impression was a vision of straight rows of plantings outside commercial buildings.

I just scattered the seeds - literally and liberally - in any blank space available. I don't advise this. I definitely got carried away and there are still little marigold seedlings sprouting everywhere. Next year, there will be a little more order and attention to my marigold seed sowing. I've already ordered a packet of lemon yellow single blooms for next summer.

As for my favorite bloom shape, I prefer the single blooms of the French marigolds over the carnation type double blooms.

As for the bees and butterflies, they love all of the marigolds. The Monarch butterflies are particularly attracted to the single marigolds and big bumblebees love to sleep on the cushions of the double blooms. And for the late-arriving Monarch butterflies that have been showing up all fall - thank goodness for marigolds.

Some of the marigolds are short and some are very tall. They've exceeded my expectations for the common marigold. I'll no longer look down my perennial-loving nose at these common annuals. They've added plenty of punch and pizzaz in the garden for autumn.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Home garden; late October 2009

BYOB (A Garden Makeover)

"Bring Your Own Blooms" is my mantra for redesigning the butterfly garden this fall. As much as possible, I am shuffling plants around to utilize what I already grow in order to reduce the cost.

After moving the orange and purple flowers to another new garden area, I had holes to fill in the butterfly garden. Two perennials already in the garden became the focus of the makeover color scheme of burgundy, yellow and blue.

The main players (click the photo to enlarge) that influenced the makeover are:

Coreopsis Big Bang™ 'Redshift'
zones 4-9, full sun, deer resistant, 30-26" x 24-30"

Gaillardia 'Burgundy'
zones 3-9, full sun, deer resistant 24" x 12"

The reds in all of the flowers are on the blue side, showing as burgundy in person.

Other plants that remain are the large green/white miscanthus 'Cosmopolitan', a yellow-blooming hypericum shrub and a mass planting of red salvia greggii.

Another existing perennial is a light yellow yarrow (achillea). The mass planting of yarrow overlaps into a small area with nepeta and verbena bonariensis that, along with crocosmia, serves as a buffer to the adjacent orange and purple bed.

I decided that spires of blue blooms would work well with both the shape and colors of the existing perennials. Of course, the decision was partly based upon suitable plants that I could move from other areas of the garden.

But first, there was a huge problem! There was a monster bronze fennel that was too tall and out of place. Having another mass planting of fennel to serve as host plants for Black Swallowtail caterpillars, I decided to dig up this one. What a surprise! The thick and long roots were undermining the surrounding perennials! This must be the reason for the poor performance near the fennel. I had to do a bit of rearranging of the gaillardia and one coreopsis to save them from the fennel roots.

Once the fennel was removed, I transplanted agastache 'Blue Fortune' to serve as a backdrop to the burgundy gaillardia. Another red salvia greggii was placed next to the miscanthus. Next spring, I will add deep blue flowers using both salvia 'Mystic Spires Blue' and salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'.

There are a few yellow daffodils somewhere in this area! I may sow seeds (since I have them) for red poppies for early spring blooms.

The agastache, salvia, coreopsis, and gaillardia bloom all summer and into fall. They are still in bloom. The agastache required deadheading for re-bloom, but this has resulted in a prettier blue (not as dusty looking as in summer). The yarrow blooms great in early summer, but with our humidity the silver foliage tends to turn black, requiring it to be cut back to the ground. It looks good again by fall, but doesn't re-bloom. I have seeds for pale yellow marigolds to help hide the yarrow foliage in late summer through fall.

I have even more makeovers in the works. I've been very, very busy in the the garden!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Home Garden

Shuffling Plants for a New Garden

Have I told you lately that I love to combine purple and orange blooms in the flower garden? I put together a design idea and the new color-themed garden is now almost finished.

To help me visualize the color and plant combinations, I looked through my photos and matched up bloom times. I played with the photos until I had my spring, summer and fall bloom plan. I started an inventory of the perennials in the photos. With some garden rearranging and plant shuffling, I could fill the new area quite easily.

Except for allium 'purple sensation' bulbs and annual larkspur seeds, all of the plants came from my existing gardens. In other words, this was an inexpensive project.

I claimed prime real estate that was being used as a holding bed. The new garden area is at the top of the slope above our large willow tree - in deer country, bordering the meadow between the south and east gardens. It is also a full sun, southeast location so all plants were selected for similar growing and water requirements.

Spring color will kick off with purple blooms of nepeta 'Walkers Low', allium 'Purple Sensation', salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna', verbena 'Homestead' and larkspur 'lilac spires' (annual).

In summer, orange blooms of agastache aurantiaca 'Navajo Sunset', echinacea 'Sundown', crocosmia and asclepias tuberosa will be accented with purple spires of agastache 'Purple Haze' and ground-hugging verbena 'Homestead'. If I need additional purple blooms, I have plenty of skinny verbena bonariensis as well as petunias that can be transplanted.

The foliage of the other perennials, as well as stachys 'Big Ears Helen von Stein' will keep the garden from looking barren after the purple spring bloom. The existing nepeta has frilly foliage while the existing crocosmia provides blades as well as a buffer to the red in the butterfly garden. The existing asclepias tuberosa foliage may be eaten by the caterpillars of Monarch butterflies, but that's part of the plan, too. The larkspur will be pulled after blooming and the allium foliage will disappear.

I have allowed enough space to relocate a few plants for fall bloom, probably using my salvia greggii 'Ultra Violet' (short) and salvia leucantha (tall) to bring more purple back to the garden for the final bloom season. Those are too tender to move now and will have to wait next spring.

Dark purple foliage would be a nice accent in this area. It is difficult to find dark foliage that can stand up to the full sun and the deer. Unfortunately, deer will eat the taller sedum that I would love to use in this garden. I have a sufficient supply of sedum 'Purple Emperor' that I could move. Purple salvia officinialis or purple basil are potential candidates for adding next spring, too.

The primary perennial players include:

Tall background plants, over three feet tall, consist of agastache 'Purple Haze' and agastache 'Navajo Sunset'. I have enough of each to create a mass planting, though I wish I had enough 'Black Adder' to use instead of 'Purple Haze'. The agastache pair are suitable for zones 6-9, need full sun and well-drained soil and are deer and rabbit resistant. These will provide a long bloom season from summer until frost.

A meandering planting of orange echinacea 'Sundown' wind between the tall agastache and five purple salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'. The coneflowers (1 - 3 feet high) are fine for zones 4-9, full sun and well-drained soil. I haven't had a deer problem with these, but I have to watch out for the rabbits. The coneflowers will bloom in June and will bloom again with deadheading.

Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna' is a good spring-blooming perennial with dark purple, upright spikes. Suitable for zones 4-8, it works in a variety of soil types (even clay). It is deer and rabbit resistant. I am using five plants and have another group of three. If the spikes are left on this salvia, they will reseed. The plants are about 24" high and 18" wide. The foliage is pretty after the blooms are gone, so a mass planting of 'Caradonna' makes a nice ground cover, too.

Since it is fall, I will keep the plants watered well to help the roots establish before it gets too cold. Here in zone 7, perennials that can be safely planted in autumn are much larger, and bloom better than spring-plantings for the first season.

I'm pretty excited over the purple-orange color theme garden since these are familiar plants that I can count on for good performance next year. I do have a lot of holes to fill in the other gardens from where I stole the plants - I try to view those as more redesign opportunities rather than wrecked spaces!

Photos and words by Freda Cameron; Home Garden

Blazing Bloomers!

The blazing red blooms are over five feet high and wide, creating quite a bonfire! The fire has been raging out of control for weeks now. Several light frosts this week haven't extinguished the blooms on the salvia elegans (pineapple sage).

This is one of those plants that may be an indicator for global warming, though we had a very cold winter last year. Pineapple sage is considered an annual around here, more suitable for zones 8-11 than my zone 7 garden. I planted this one (and a few others that didn't survive) three years ago.

I never expected this salvia to survive, so I totally ignored it and literally planted agastache 'Blue Fortune' and clumping bamboo on top of it two years ago! In mid-August, I gave the agastache a trim, the salvia got to see the sun and took off like a wildfire. The hummingbirds went nuts over this plant before they packed up their tiny bags and flew south. Deer and rabbits ignore the plant.

The salvia is in a section of the butterfly garden that is getting a makeover. The space is now getting partial shade as the bamboo, a chaste tree and miscanthus have matured. I have relocated some heat-seeking plants to make room for plants that don't have to heat roast all summer. Next year, there will be colocasia and amsonia hubrichtii with the salvia. I may try some of the butterfly ginger or a canna here as well. The colocasia blooms in fall and has dark purple stems and a yellow bloom. The amsonia turns a brilliant gold in the fall. Of course, my PLAN will go up in flames if the salvia doesn't survive this winter!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Home Garden; October 2009

A B C: A Favorite Flower Combination

I could grow fields of this garden combination and be perfectly pleased... if only it could look this good to enjoy all summer long!
A = agastache 'Purple Haze' (or 'Black Adder')
zones 6-9, full sun

B = bee balm (monarda) 'Raspberry Wine'
zones 4-9, full sun

C= coneflowers (echinacea) 'Prairie Splendor'
zones 3-9, full sun
This trio bloomed beautifully together all of June. The combination consisted of 3 agastache, 1 bee balm and 5 coneflowers when planted in September 2008. This was the first year of bloom, an example of how fall planting can provide great results as the perennials have a chance for root development.

Unfortunately, the agastache 'Purple Haze' grew far too tall to continue in the current location. For some reason, this agastache didn't like to be deadheaded after getting so lanky. I moved the agastache out to the butterfly garden.

By also growing agastache 'Black Adder' in the deer resistant garden all summer, I have decided that it is a better agastache choice for this location and has the same purple spires. A better agastache in my opinion, 'Black Adder' has looked full all summer, still has rich purple spires and taken to deadheading quite well.

This particular bee balm 'Raspberry Wine' has very large stems that are noticeable when deadheaded. I recommend cutting it back severely after it finishes blooming if it is in a prominent location (this is by my front porch). Use annuals (I had zinnias here until yesterday) to fill in the space if you are left with a hole in the garden. An aggressive grower in rich soil, you only need one of these plants. You can divide it in autumn or spring, but I find I get the best blooms from monarda if it is divided in autumn.

These coneflowers (Prairie Splendor) will bloom after deadheading all summer. I still have blooms on these plants. The 'Prairie Splendor' reseeds in the garden, so I also have plenty of kids to transplant to other locations next spring. You could direct sow seeds now and have a few blooms by late summer of next year.

I love the color combination of purple, deep pink and raspberry. The different bloom shapes add interest to the grouping, so repeating these plants in a different color scheme, could also provide interesting results. I will definitely repeat this combination... somewhere in the outer gardens, if I can find some space!

Clematis and Roses: A Favorite Combination

It is quite the scramble in May as the clematis climb over the roses. Just select your favorite clematis and your favorite rose and mix them up.

In my garden, I use two common varieties. Clematis 'Jackmanii' and Knock Out™ Rose 'Radrazz' are planted along the inside of the cottage garden fence. As with many combinations in my garden, these provide the purple and deep rose bloom colors that I love so much.

The clematis is rated for zones 4-9 and is a Group 3, meaning to prune back in late winter at the same time as roses. I have good results by leaving a few leaf nodes when pruning. There are three along the inside of my front fence.

The roses are suitable for zones 5-9 and are tough, drought-resistant roses that bloom off and on from May through a few frosts. I've had them bloom up until Thanksgiving. The only real maintenance problem is due to Japanese beetles that attack in the summer. I've tried a number of solutions, but cutting off the rose blooms while the beetles are around worked better, and was easier, than other methods. It took a few weeks for the roses to push new growth and bloom again, so there was some down time.

Yes, the deer will normally eat clematis and roses, so the plants need to be inside a fence. In May, there tends to be enough food in the wild that the deer allow me to enjoy the blooms that spill over, outside and through the fence.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron

Purple and Deep Rose: A Favorite Combination

I do love to combine deep rose with purple-blue blooms in the garden. In fact, I'm probably growing too many deep rose (includes magenta and fuschia) and purple flowers, but I tend to gravitate toward the colors. I think the combination is soothing and easy on the eyes.

Could it be because these colors are analogous or adjacent on the color wheel? Cornell University has an excellent tutorial on Using Color in Flower Gardens.

Deep rose flowers in the top photo include:

Salvia greggii 'Dark Dancer'
Spirea 'Neon Flash'
rose campion
larkspur 'Carmine Rose'

Purple-blue flowers in the photo:

Buddleia 'Adonis Blue'™
Japanese iris (not sure which one)
larkspur 'Lilac Spires'

I have a tendency to create the look of diagonal swaths across the slope in my garden. This is an example where the monochromatic grouping of deep rose blooms shows this illusion. This is the view when walking along the lower path from the butterfly garden into the front garden. Since I prefer to mix different bloom sizes of the same color, the diagonal line isn't just one particular plant. Perennials, shrubs, and annuals are used together.

All of these plants are keepers, too. This vignette happens to include many favorites that I can easily recommend.

The buddleia blooms and re-blooms all summer if deadheaded. I have tried to be diligent about it this summer and am still being rewarded with fall blooms. It is suitable for zones 5-9, full sun, and the size is a fairly compact 5' x 5'. It is deer resistant and drought tolerant, once established. Of course, it is a butterfly magnet!

Spirea 'Neon Flash' is for zones 4-8, full sun and is a deciduous shrub that blooms abundantly in early June and will re-bloom lightly if deadheaded. I like the foliage, too. Spirea is one of the first deciduous shrubs to grow leaves in spring. The size is easily managed, though it can grow to 3' x 3'. It is deer resistant in my garden, but there is the occasional bloom tasting party. They spit out the flowers between tastings.

Salvia greggii 'Dark Dancer' is one of my favorites. This evergreen salvia loves hot climates such as zones 7-10. It is a heavy bloomer in spring and fall with sporadic blooms all summer. Although it can reach 4' high and wide, it is easily kept smaller with a shaping before blooming in early spring. It is definitely deer resistant and loves full sun and good drainage.

The Japanese irises provide beautiful early summer flowers and the foliage remains attractive until after a few frosts. It expands rapidly to create large clumps that have to be divided when the "donut hole" shows in the middle. These irises are suitable for zones 4-9, full sun to part sun. I grow these where they can have very wet feet on rainy days and be in drought in the summer. They are tough! The deer may taste the fully opened blooms now and then, but it hasn't been a significant problem. They seem to avoid the buds and the foliage.

The rose campion and larkspur are reseeding annuals. I planted three rose campion a few years ago and have never had to plant more. I move the seedlings around wherever I like. The larkspur seeds are sown directly where they are to grow - in late October in my zone. I will never garden without them again!

Not in bloom in the photo, but worth mentioning since the foliage and flowers are important. On either side of the spirea are patches of monarda 'Blue Stocking'. When the spirea starts to fade, the bee balm, along with purple coneflowers and purple agastache, will add blooms to the grouping. The monarda can be grown in zones 4-9 and grows to 30" tall. You only need one if you plant it in rich, moist soil! It is reliably deer resistant in my garden.

I could go on and on... as there are even more flowers on either side of this grouping that fall into the same color range!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Home Garden; Summer 2009

Allium and Iris: A Favorite Combination

It is great to walk through the garden on April mornings and see the happy pairing of allium and Dutch irises. Now is the time to plant those bulbs for next spring.

This is my first year with allium 'Purple Sensation' so I don't have photos of mass plantings to show you. I do have more bulbs to add to the garden later this month to increase the display. I'd like to add some of the taller allium, but I haven't gotten an order together so far.

Dutch irises were first planted here in fall 2005 and they have not disappointed me. This is my first fall without buying more to plant. If I can locate my existing clumps without too much digging (this is where using blogging and photos as a journal can help), I will divide my oldest clumps. I have several other colors that include blue, yellow, bronze and lilac.

Although the foliage of the iris and allium wasn't a distraction, I planted hardy geranium 'Rozanne' around the feet so that there would be no bare spot in the garden in that location. The geranium begins to bloom in early summer, just after the irises and allium have finished blooming. I guess I should include it as part of the combination, but there are other so many other options (nepeta, coreopsis, etc.) for planting at the feet of the irises and allium.

This perennial geranium sprawls a bit and that's okay as it is a nice ground cover that bloomed all summer long and is still in bloom. The loose sprawling habit also makes it easy for bulbs to emerge through the geranium. The only problem with the geranium is that I have to keep rabbit repellent on it for a few weeks in the spring. It is rated for zones 5-8, although it will need more water and afternoon shade in the hotter zones during the summer. I interspersed taller annuals to provide a bit of relief for my geraniums on the west side. Knock Out® Roses shade the geranium on the south side.

Dutch irises and allium can be planted at the same time in the fall. They like the same conditions, making them easy companions to use together.

The irises are rated for zones 5-8 and the allium for zones 4-8. They need good drainage, especially in the winter. I lost a few last winter by planting them in an area that was too wet, so don't do that! Both perennial bulbs are deer and rabbit resistant.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Home Garden

Garden Overview (As Seen From Above)

This has been a busy week in the garden. I have divided and transplanted daylilies and Japanese irises. I have pulled annuals that were spent, or had to be removed to make room for fall seed sowing. I have moved plants from holding areas into their new homes in the garden. I've been amending soil as I go since these tasks remove soil. I mixed new garden soil with organic compost to boost the existing perennials and refresh the soil for sowing seeds.

I moved a crepe myrtle that had been in a holding area to the fence line outside the cottage garden. Yes, I dug that big hole and moved that tree all by myself! I don't plant many things in rows, but we need some shade relief and front porch privacy, so there are now three crepe myrtles planted outside the front fence. I added Japanese irises and finished adding nepeta that was in holding for the area after a Lady Banks was removed.

In an effort to rid the garden of anything that has been bothering me - I dug out that overgrown Lady Banksia Rose at our front gate. The deer could reach it and it was just out of scale for that gate. I was constantly trimming it. There is another Lady Banksia over the gable gate that I'm going to have to trim by reaching outside the window of an upstairs room!

Since I've been writing about the changes that I'm making to the garden, Gail at Clay and Limestone asked if I had any photos taken from above.

This morning, I went upstairs and took photos. I also took photos on the ground so you can follow along two sections of the garden - the front, deer resistant garden and the cottage garden that is inside the fence. These gardens are in front of the house. Between the gardens and the road is our large meadow that must remain in grass (and kept mowed below 9").

Keep in mind that this is mid-October, so there isn't a lot in bloom. Zinnias, marigolds, salvias, a few mums and swamp sunflower are providing the only color right now. Also, I have removed so much to make the changes that there is a lot of empty soil, awaiting seeds, bulbs or future pots of plants.

The first set of photos was taken as I stood at the top edge of the front deer resistant garden, looking back to the cottage garden.

The next set of photos was taken from the upstairs windows.

Gail asked about the diagonal planting space that I mentioned when describing my seed-sowing plans.

Why diagonal? I discovered, through trying to get good photos of the deer resistant garden, that if I stood at the top left edge of the garden and looked diagonally down to the front gate, I had a better view. (As an example, see the photo at the top of my left sidebar.)

The garden is long, so strolling the path, it isn't easy to get a good view. By planting diagonally, I hope to alter the view as I walk the path at the bottom of the garden.

That said, the meadow is south of the garden. Therefore, the blooms face south. Taking photos from the top of the garden means that most of the blooms are looking at me! Not so, from the path at the bottom. This is why we start our daily garden walk around the top of the meadow and loop back around on the paths.

There are more gardens than shown here, and all are deer resistant. Those include the dry stream garden (being renovated), the parking island bed (it has been a catch-all and will be renovated in spring), the butterfly garden (hot colors, but includes some large plants that need to be moved), the waterfall garden, and the fragrance garden. Much to be done...

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Home Gardens; October 9, 2009

Larkspur and Any Other Plant: Favorite Combination

That's right, I'd plant larkspur with just about any other annual, perennial or shrub! Well, maybe not anything, but pretty close.

To grow larkspur in the spring, I have to plan ahead a few seasons for my zone 7. Fall is the time of year to sow the seeds and my larkspur packets are lined up on the dining room table waiting for the perfect day. We're still having days in the 80°F, so I'm waiting for cooler daytime temperatures.

When spring rolled around, I found that I loved larkspur so much that I didn't plant nearly enough! I was pleased with all the colors except for the deep pink that seemed to be weak and very short. I'm sure that some of my larkspur reseeded, but I bought more seeds. This year, I have seeds of:

'Galilee Blue' (violet-blue)
'Blue Spire' (deep blue)
'Lilac Spire' (lilac)
'White King' (white)

Larkspur grows between 3-4 feet high and is a slender annual, making it easy to squeeze into the garden for spring color. While recommendations are to let it reseed before pulling it, I found out that in cooler climates, gardeners deadhead it to keep it blooming. I experimented with both ways. Indeed, deadheading prolonged the blooms in my garden, although the plants were smaller.

I used larkspur inside the cottage garden fence and in the outer deer resistant garden. The deer never touched the plant. All parts are poisonous, so you need to watch your dogs and children, although a bunny did sample a bit of the foliage. That little bunny didn't die from tasting the larkspur, having met an early demise from an attack by a red-tailed hawk.

This time, I have a multi-step approach where I will sow larkspur with other spring-blooming annuals and then replace those with a second sowing of summer-blooming annuals in the same location. My vision is that the spring, then summer, annuals will keep the color going as the perennials come and go. I'd rather sow annual seeds instead of buying plants next spring. A packet of seeds for $2.95-3.95 is a bargain.

It is important to prepare the soil for annual seeds before sowing and then do not mulch on top of the seeds. Many seeds are just pressed into the ground and others require a small amount of coverage. A thick mulch will smother the seeds and prevent germination. This is also true with reseeding plants. If you mulch thickly in late fall or early winter, then you will prevent the seeds (of weeds, too) from sprouting.

What will I change to make room for more larkspur?
  1. I have already cleared irregular, diagonal swaths across the slope of the deer resistant garden to create space for sowing annual seeds.
  2. I moved 4 of the 6 spirea for a better design as they were getting lost in the middle of the border.
  3. I pulled plants that were under-performing, or that were already too plentiful to add any extra value to the design.
  4. I have added a few inches of amended soil to refresh and replenish what was lost in all of the transplanting.
  5. In other garden areas, I will randomly sow the seeds for a cottage garden look, amending the soil before planting.

What companion plants will be used?
  1. All colors of the larkspur will snake through the mid-to-late summer blooming perennials of asclepias incarnata, agastache, and salvia guaranitica to provide spring color.
  2. I am going to sow seeds of the annuals nigella and centaurea cyanus to increase the spring display of blue and white simultaneous blooms.
  3. White larkspur will be added to the butterfly garden with red blooms such as salvia greggii and crocosmia 'Lucifer'.
  4. When the spring blooms of larkspur, nigella and centaurea begin to fade, I will pull the plants and sow tall zinnia and marigold seeds in the same swaths. I will use yellow, deep rose and purple in the deer resistant garden and white and red zinnias with orange and yellow marigolds in the butterfly garden.

Nigella and centaurea cyanus will be experimental for my garden and for deer resistance. I tested the larkspur, Benary's Giant zinnias and several varieties of marigolds this year with great success in both the bloom results and the deer resistance. Not only have these annuals provided color, but the bees and butterflies are very happy with the nectar. My fascination with sowing annuals continues!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; Photos taken in spring 2009

Grape Salvia and Gaillardia: A Favorite Combination

My garden is young (2005) and most of my planting over the last few years has been experimental while I worked with the growing conditions and identified the best performers. I've arrived at a series of combinations that I want to use as primary plants in the redesign of the gardens.

Located inside the cottage garden fence are two, tough Texas perennials that love full sun, good drainage and are rated for zones 7-9. The two bloom together, off and on, from spring until frost.

Salvia greggii 'Diane' and her companion Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri 'Grape Sensation' have an identical bloom color, too. Not only that, but they both grow 18" high x 36" wide. Both are deer and rabbit resistant, so they could go outside the fence.

These perennials are coincidentally from Texas, although I purchased them from Plant Delights Nursery's open house last fall. I'd like to tell you that these are easy plants to find, but not so. There are very few plants in my garden that are difficult to find, but these two fall into that category.

Gaillardia 'Grape Sensation' blooms profusely like other blanket flowers. However, the blooms are an appealing, deep grape color. Even the centers are beautiful round grapes, so without petals the plant still looks attractive.

Salvia greggii 'Diane' is the same grape color. Unlike many greggii colors that grow to three feet high, this one is a nice, compact plant for the front of the border. It is semi-evergreen, with remaining green foliage throughout most of the year. It is a hummingbird favorite, too.

So what will I change to improve the design around this favorite pair? Why?
  1. These plants are in a narrow bed that flanks the right bank of our water feature (stream) and cannot be outfitted with drip irrigation. So, it is best for me to grow xeric plants in this flower bed. By using xeric plants, I won't have to spend so much time hand-watering plants.
  2. Right now, the spring color scheme is pink, followed by yellow and then magenta and purple. I'd like to simplify and unify this border with a purple/pink bloom scheme.
  3. Complimentary foliage colors (green, silver, purple) and shapes (small, wide, wispy) that look good most of the year will be important since this bed is literally in our front yard.

What plants will be used?
  1. There are yellow daylilies that will be moved to another location. The daylilies will perform better where there is drip irrigation. I have already transplanted the yellow leucanthemum 'Broadway Lights' to the outer gardens. The yellow blooming plants will be teamed up with blue in their new locations.
  2. Along the front of the bed is an established edging of dianthus (Cottage Pinks) that I will keep for the fragrant blooms and good behavior. The blue foliage and pink flowers of the dianthus works well with the salvia and gaillardia.
  3. I'm going to add lavender 'Munstead' to the same flower bed. Lavender likes the same growing conditions and the silver foliage as well as the blue-purple blooms work well with the color combination.
  4. I have already transplanted tips of sedum 'Purple Emperor' to the flower bed. I like the wide, succulent foliage shape to complement the wispy silver lavender wands, the blue foliage of the dianthus and the small green leaves of the salvia and gaillardia. Like the salvia, gaillardia, dianthus and lavender, the sedum will perform well with the same conditions.
As with any design or redesign, it will take time to tweak the plantings and give them time to mature. Maybe I won't change my mind again until I see the finished results!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: home gardens; October 2009

Favorite Plant Combinations: The Series

by Freda Cameron

Tired of reruns? Me, too. Isn't it great to have new shows on TV to entertain you in the fall?

I'm tired of writing about the same plants ten times over. There is a limit to the number of plants that I grow, so there's a limit to my blogging material. It seems as though all of my photos are starting to look the same. My garden blogging is photo-driven. If I don't have good photos, I don't have good material!

I'm not going to expand my garden for the sake of blogging. I can't hire gardeners, like actors, to come in and help me put on a new show for my readers.

Without a new garden to create a new blogging show, all I can do is freshen up the characters in my garden and ditch the ones that aren't performing well or just plain boring or too prima dona to be worth my efforts to keep them in the show. This "editing" (a genteel term for "ripping those suckers out of there") is underway with the fall planting season.

I was planning to stop experimenting and finish designing my garden vision anyway, so why not make it a documentary series of slow-action garden installments?

If I want to take a good nap, I turn the TV to a documentary. Usually, the announcers voice is so monotone it sends me into a deep sleep. If nothing else, my series will serve as good nap time reading.

Here's a preview of the next show:

Two purple hotties team up for a steamy tango. Short and tough, salvia greggii 'Diane' dances and mingles with her Texas companion Gaillardia aestivalis var. winkleri 'Grape Sensation'. The choreography is so tight, it looks as though there are different blooms on the same plant. Stay tuned for the close-up shots and planting instructions!

The fine print:

All deer resistant plant suggestions come with the disclaimer of "if my deer don't eat this plant, your deer may like it" as any herd that is hungry enough will eat things they don't really prefer.

All of my plant combinations are my opinion and you may not share my taste in color schemes.

All of my plants are growing in zone 7 and you may be gardening in colder, or hotter, zones.

My garden is in full sun and must tolerate inferno-like summer conditions with minimal irrigation.

I am not paid to recommend any plant, but if I have received free plants to trial, I'll always tell you.

Bloom List and Photos of Early Autumn

Autumn 2009 marks our 4 year anniversary in this house. Very little gardening was done the first year, but I've been expanding the areas and rearranging plants ever since. The gardens are still a work in progress, so just give me another 10 to 20 years to get it right!

What's in bloom? Here's a quick list and I'm sure that I've left off a few plants.

Benary's Giant Zinnias (annual)
Impatiens (annual)
Marigolds (annual)
Cosmos (annual)
Hyacinth bean vine (annual)

Agastache 'Black Adder'
Agastache 'Purple Haze'
Agastache 'Navajo Sunset'
Agastache 'Coronado'

Coreopsis Big Bang 'Red Shift'
Echinacea 'Prairie Splendor'
Gaillardia (4 varieties)
Geranium 'Rozanne'
Hardy mums
Helianthus angustifolius 'First Light'
Perennial heliotrope
Sedum 'Green Expectations'

Encore® Azaleas
Knock Out® Roses
Osmanthus fragrans
White Butterfly Ginger
Gardenia 'August Beauty'

Salvia greggii 'Autumn Sage'
Salvia greggii 'Diane'
Salvia greggii 'Dark Dancer'
Salvia greggii 'Cherry Queen'
Salvia greggii 'Navajo Bright Red'
Salvia greggii 'Ultra Violet'
Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue'
Salvia uliginosa
Salvia 'Mystic Spires Blue'
Salvia 'Purple Majesty'
Salvia 'Indigo Spires'
Salvia leucantha
Salvia elegans (pineapple sage)

Words and photos by Freda Cameron

Agastache Combo of Purple and Orange

Take a mass of airy orange blooms and add a dash of purple spikes. Two agastache have turned into a great combination in my fragrance garden. The foliage is minty, in case you are wondering why I categorize agastache as fragrant. Just brush up against the leaves of agastache aurantiaca 'Navajo Sunset' and the air is filled with the fresh scent.

In addition to the color combination, the flowers have different forms that work well together. The agastache x 'Purple Haze' has wider leaves (typical of a hyssop) and bottlebrush blooms while the agastache aurantiaca has narrow, airy leaves and tiny, tubular blooms.

Why I love agastache - let me count the ways:
  1. It is deer resistant
  2. It is rabbit resistant
  3. It is pest resistant
  4. It is drought tolerant
  5. It blooms from midsummer until fall
  6. It smells good
  7. It is available in many colors
  8. Butterflies love it
  9. Bees love it
  10. Hummingbirds love it

It is best to plant agastache in the spring so that it can get established before winter. The 'Navajo Sunset' and 'Purple Haze' are suitable for zones 6-9 in full sun location with well draining soil. Some agastache varieties can be grown from seeds and others have to be propagated.

In my experience, I've found that the narrow-leaved varieties such as aurantiaca and rupestris need leaner, drier soil and more full sun than the wide-leaved varieties such as 'Blue Fortune', 'Purple Haze', 'Black Adder' and 'Golden Jubilee'. The wide-leaved varieties have done well in rich soil with more watering than the narrow-leaved types. Prolonged winter wetness is a problem for any agastache.

I have added so many new agastache this summer, including official trials for a plant breeder, that I'm excited to see what next summer brings!
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