Sunday, June 28, 2015

Aromatic Santolina

I received a Santolina start from a friend many years ago.

Also called "Lavender Cotton", the standard variety has bright yellow flowers and more intensely silvery foliage. The variety in my garden has creamy white flowers, and it has earned a place in my top ten for so many reasons.

  • Cold hardy 
  • Deer Resistant 
  • Highly drought tolerant
  • Easy to grow
  • Full to sun to part shade
  • Easily propagated by layering or rooting cuttings

    • Attractive silvery green fern-like foliage 
    • Evergreen - does not go dormant in winter
    • Aromatic foliage has been used historically to discourage insect pests.
    • Long lasting blooming season in early summer
    • Adorable button flowers
    • Good cut flower, possible to use as dried flower
    • Combines well with other plants in the border.
    • Santolina cuttings are lovely in winter container arrangements. They will last a long time if kept adequately watered, and may even take root. 
    Allow for plenty of space, planting at least two feet from the edge of your border.
    The blossoms open out as they mature.


    -Must have good drainage; will not tolerate excessive watering.

    - Although some sites claim you can keep Santolina trimmed to the shape desired, my experience is a rambling shrub that sends its long flower stalks wherever it wishes (even though I trim it every year).

     - Must be pruned back after blooming because the spent flower stems are not attractive, and the plant will become leggy and the woody stems tend to split if not trimmed.
    After the flowers turn brown I prune it back vigorously.

    - Even with trimming, most plants will need to be replaced after about five years.


    Sometimes I take my trimmings and bury them in mud, keeping them moist until the winter rains begin. I usually am rewarded with several rooted cuttings by spring.

    The other way to propagate this plant is to layer branches in dirt until they root, then divide the plant.

    Just more pictures (below)

    Thursday, June 18, 2015

    Rose Campion from Grandma's Garden

    I grew up taking these deep magenta blossoms for granted. 
    They were practically ubiquitous in our rambling sidewalk borders, 
    and were most likely planted from seed shared with my Grandmother decades ago.
    My Mother called them a "single phlox", and it's not hard to see why she made that error. 
    Rose Campion is just one of the many common names for Lychnis coronaria. 
    I think it sounds like a heroine from an Edwardian novel.
    Because they multiply rapidly by seed, at one point they were so prolific I pulled them out every time I saw them. Now that they are under control, I realize what a treasure they really are.

    • Long lasting blooming season in mid-spring (some repeat blooms in summer-fall)
    • Velvety deep magenta blossoms
    • Felted silvery stems and leaves (like Lamb's Ear)
    • Fairly drought tolerant
    • Cold hardy 
    • Self sowing (generously)
    • Transplants easily
    • Attracts bees, butterflies and humming birds
    • Deer Resistant 
    • Evergreen - does not go dormant in winter
    • Good cut flower
    • Easy to grow
    • Seldom needs staking
    • Adaptable to sun or medium shade
    • Works well combined with other plants in the border.
    Reading other postings about this plant, many people mention that it just showed up in their garden. Birds? Wind? Happy circumstance!


    Spent flower stems are not attractive. 
    I cut it back mid summer.

    Prolific seed production. 
    Young plants are easily pulled out.

    Needs drainage. 
    I think of this perennial more like a self sewing annual, because our Oregon winters are often too wet for established plants. 

    Just more photos (below)

    Rose Campion and Lavender
    Rose Campion's silver foliage contrasts nicely with brighter greens in the border.

    Friday, June 12, 2015

    Airy Linaria

    Another mid spring flower that brings butterflies and bees to my perennial border is the faithful Linaria Purpurea, or "Purple Toadflax".
    Linaria and Lavender

    Specific cultivars are available from nurseries. Mine is an old fashioned variety, and has purple, pink and white blossoms. It is often promoted for rock gardens and cottage gardens.

    I got a gallon or two from a friend about 20 years ago, and it has earned its place in my favorite plants lists for these qualities:
    • Long lasting blooming season in spring (with repeat blooms throughout the summer and into the fall)
    • Drought tolerant
    • Cold hardy 
    • Self sowing (generously)
    • Transplants easily
    • Sweet, airy blossoms
    • Attracts bees, butterflies and humming birds
    • Evergreen - does not go dormant in winter
    • Lovely cut flower
    • Easy to grow
    • Although it is a tall plant, it seldom needs staking
    • Adaptable to sun or medium shade


    Requires a small amount of maintenance -- I cut back bloom stalks when they are no longer attractive, but it will send up more blossoms from the remaining stalk.

    Highly prolific seed production and excellent germination means it will happily fill your garden. Young plants are easily pulled out, but it can be a lot! 

    Just more pictures...

    Linaria and Lavender

    Thursday, June 4, 2015

    Brilliant Penstemon

    Every spring I get unreasonably excited when the Penstemon starts to bloom.
    I believe the variety I own is "Electric Blue"

    I bought one gallon from a local backyard nursery many years ago, and this plant has earned a top spot in my "Favorite Perennials" list for these qualities:
    • Long lasting blooming season in spring (with some repeat blooms throughout the summer)
    • Drought hardy
    • Cold hardy 
    • Dividable *
    • Gorgeous blossoms
    • Attracts bees, butterflies and humming birds
    • Evergreen - does not go dormant in winter
    • Lovely cut flower
    • Not invasive
    • Easy to grow
    * To divide this plant, I purposefully buried some of the stems in dirt to encourage root growth, and once established I dug up my start. Here is the original plant.

    Here is the one I grew by division, just a couple years later! (I think it's happy)
    Early in bloom season
    • Foliage for this variety is OK, but not exceptional. I cut mine back after blooming and usually place annuals in the bare space. Cutting it back encourages more bloom.
    • Stems are weak, so the plant becomes rangy. Another reason to cut it back after blooming. 
    Later in bloom season, heavy blossoms & rain have collapsed the stems.
     Just more pictures.