Posted on 21 Comments

Late Spring Combinations

Side garden at Hayefield late May 2012

Late May to mid-June generally isn’t a great time for pretty garden pictures here at Hayefield. I’m usually just getting around to setting out the annuals and tender perennials, so the new plants are pretty puny. And, I normally end up cutting most of the summer- and fall-blooming perennials back hard (anywhere from halfway to all the way to the ground) the last week of May, so anything that is pretty in flower now is likely to be surrounded by chopped stems. Still, interesting combinations have a way of happening despite all this. In an effort to remind myself of that – though all I can see right now is the mud, the mess, and the weeds – I thought I’d take a look back through my archives to collect some of my favorite late-spring and early-summer images.

Mid- to late May brings on a number of classic perennials, such as the ornamental sages or salvias (Salvia). Slender-spiked ‘Caradonna’ has been a very good performer here over the past 5 or 6 years. In the front garden, it ended up in front of golden meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria ‘Aurea’), one of the few perennials I tend to leave uncut now, because I love the scent of its flowers [June 4, 2011].

Salvia 'Caradonna' against Filipendula ulmaria 'Aurea' at Hayefield

I also really like blue with white, so I have several clumps of ‘Caradonna’ in the side garden. Below, it’s with a variegated sport of ‘Cardinal’ red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) and white-flowered ‘Cramer’s Plum’ love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) [June 14, 2008].

Salvia 'Caradonna' with Nigella damascena 'Cramer's Plum' and Cornus sericea 'Cardinal' sport at Hayefield

Salvia 'Caradonna' with Geranium 'Brookside' and Persicaria polymorpha at Hayefield

I wouldn’t have intentionally put two blues together, but the intense purple-blue of ‘Caradonna’ looks really good against the lighter purple-blue of ‘Brookside’ geranium (Geranium), especially with the white plumes of giant fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha). The shot above is from May 23, 2010.

The image below, from June 13, 2009, is a wider view, with a splash of white from blooming silver sage (Salvia argentea) in front and lacy gray silver willow (Salix alba var. sericea) behind.

Salvia 'Caradonna' and S. argentea with Geranium 'Brookside', Persicaria polymorpha, and Salix alba var. sericea at Hayefield

Salvia sclarea with Gillenia stipulata and Consolida ajacis at Hayefield

Biennial clary sage (Salvia sclarea) seeded itself around quite dependably for a number of years. Above, it’s with several other early-summer bloomers, including ‘Cramer’s Plum’ love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena), larkspur (Consolida ajacis), Bowman’s root (Gillenia stipulata), and giant fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha). That shot is from June 14, 2008. Below, from June 13, 2009, it’s next to ‘Brookside’ geranium, with some larkspur and ‘New Dawn’ rose in the background.

Salvia sclarea with Geranium 'Brookside' at Hayefield

Until I found these photos, I’d forgotten how pretty clary sage is. I found only one first-year seedling this spring, nearly smothered by a mass of weeds; I hope it will recover soon and bloom next year.

Late May is also peak time here for a variety of irises.

Dutch iris 'Rendez Vous' with Ornithogalum magnum at Hayefield

I didn’t have much luck with Dutch irises in my last garden, so it took me a long time to try them here, but I’m glad I finally did. Above is ‘Rendez Vouz’ with Ornithogalum magnum [May 28, 2011]; below is ‘Lion King’ in front of ‘Axminster Gold’ comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum) [May 21, 2012]

Dutch iris 'Lion King' at Hayefield

Iris pallida 'Argentea Variegata' with Salvia 'Caradonna' and Salvia argentea at Hayefield

Sweet iris (Iris pallida) also blooms about this time. Above is white-variegated sweet iris (I. pallida ‘Argentea Variegata’) between ‘Caradonna’ salvia and silver sage (Salvia argentea) [May 26, 2008].

Below is yellow-striped sweet iris (I. pallida ‘Variegata’) with ‘Axminster Gold’ comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum), Chardonnay Pearls slender deutzia (Deutzia gracilis ‘Duncan’), and ‘Auslese’ lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) [May 26, 2008].

Iris pallida 'Variegata' with Symphytum x uplandicum 'Axminster Gold' and Alchemilla mollis 'Auslese' at Hayefield

Iris 'Edith Wolford' with Baptisia sphaerocarpa 'Screamin' Yellow' at Hayefield

I have a few bearded hybrids, too. Bicolor ‘Edith Wolford’ was still in bloom about a week ago, with ‘Screamin’ Yellow’ baptisia (Baptisia sphaerocarpa) and Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) [May 21, 2012].

Below is a no-name beauty shared by a friend many years ago (thanks, Gerald!), in front of golden elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Aurea’) [May 28, 2011].

Orange bearded iris against Sambucus nigra 'Aurea' at Hayefield

And below is the wonderful white, reblooming ‘Immortality’ paired with ‘Bath’s Pink’ dianthus, with Abelia mosanensis in the background [May 22, 2011].

Iris 'Immortality' with Dianthus 'Bath's Pink' at Hayefield

Iris x robusta 'Gerald Darby' with Weigela florida 'Alexandra' [Wine and Roses] at Hayefield

I mainly grow ‘Gerald Darby’ (Iris x robusta) for its purple-flushed spring foliage, but it’s nice in flower, too. In the front garden, shown above, it flowers at the same time as the round-headed alliums and Wine and Roses weigela (Weigela florida) [May 28, 2011]. Below, it’s against the new foliage of ‘Grace’ smokebush (Cotinus) [May 21, 2012].

Iris x robusta 'Gerald Darby' at Hayefield

I don’t have tremendous luck with the very showy ornamental onions (Allium), but I enjoy them very much while they last.

Allium schubertii with Thymus pseudolanuginosus and Geranium 'Brookside' at Hayefield

These Allium schubertii, rising out of woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus) and backed by ‘Brookside’ geranium, were exquisite for just two or years, but I have dozens of pictures to remember them by [above, June 1, 2009; below, June 12, 2009].

Allium schubertii with Thymus pseudolanuginosus and Geranium 'Brookside' at Hayefield

Allium karataviense 'Ivory Queen' with Geranium 'Brookside' at Hayefield

After that spectacle, poor Blue Bunny found ‘Ivory Queen’ Turkestan onion (Allium karataviense) a rather inferior companion, but the flowers still were pretty cool [May 22, 2010].

Star-of-Persia (Allium christophii) isn’t quite as show-stopping as A. schubertii, but it’s been much more dependable for me. That could have to do with the site, of course; the soil here in the courtyard, where I have star-of-Persia growing out of a patch of golden oregano (Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’), has much better drainage [May 28, 2011].

Allium christophii with Origanum vulgare 'Aureum' at Hayefield

Allium atropurpureum with Phlomis tuberosa 'Amazone' at Hayefield

Allium atropurpureum – above with ‘Amazone’ tuberous Jerusalem sage (Phlomis tuberosa) – flowered just one year in the side garden [June 4, 2011].

White ‘Mount Everest’ had been much more dependable in several places here, not just surviving but actually increasing from year to year. Below, it’s with ‘Screamin’ Yellow’ baptisia (Baptisia sphaerocarpa), Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii), and silver willow (Salix alba var. sericea) [May 28, 2011].

Allium 'Mount Everest' with Baptisia sphaerocarpa 'Screamin' Yellow' at Hayefield

Symphytum x uplandicum 'Axminster Gold' with Rosa 'Guinevere' at Hayefield'

Roses, of course, are a classic part of the early summer garden, but, because of rose rosette disease, my collection has dwindled to just a few sturdy favorites that have so far escaped infection. Above is ‘Guinevere’ with ‘Axminster Gold’ comfrey [May 22, 2010]. Below is Blushing Knock Out (‘Radyod’) with rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) and ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint (Nepeta) [June 6, 2008].

Rosa 'Radyod' [Blushing Knock Out] with rhubarb and Nepeta 'Walker's Low' at Hayefield

Rosa 'Radrazz' [Knock Out] with Persicaria polymorpha at Hayefield

And, of course, the original Knock Out (‘Radrazz’), above with giant fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha) [June 14, 2008] and below with golden oregano, ‘Angelina’ sedum, ‘Caradonna’ salvia, and golden elderberry [June 8, 2008].

Rosa 'Radrazz' (Knock Out) with Sedum 'Angelina', Origanum vulgare 'Aureum', and Sambucus nigra 'Aurea' at Hayefield

Ornamental grasses aren’t typically a highlight of early summer gardens, but Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) – a.k.a. ponytail grass – is absolutely exquisite right now, as it’s coming into bloom.

Stipa tenuissima with Persicaria polymorpha and Salix alba var. sericea at Hayefield

Above is Mexican feather grass with giant fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha) and silver willow (Salix alba var. sericea) [June 13, 2008]; below, it’s with ‘Brookside’ geranium [June 14, 2008].

Stipa tenuissima and Geranium 'Brookside' at Hayefield

Stipa tenuissima with Lavandula x intermedia 'Provence' at Hayefield

Above is Mexican feather grass with ‘Provence’ lavender (Lavandula x intermedia), with the addition of ‘Mount Everest’ allium seedheads below [both from June 13, 2011].

Stipa tenuissima with Lavandula x intermedia 'Provence' and Allium 'Mount Everest' at Hayefield

Colors in the early summer garden tend to be on the soft side, but there are a few hints at the intensity that will peak later.

Dichelostemma ida-maia at Hayefield

Above is Dichelostemma ida-maia against an unnamed red-leaved Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) [June 12, 2011].

Below is ‘Sedona’ coleus with variegated lilyturf (Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’) and Sunshine Blue bluebeard (Caryopteris incana ‘Jason’) [June 12, 2010].

Solenostemon (Coleus) 'Sedona' with Caryopteris incana 'Jason' [Sunshine Blue] and Liriope muscari 'Variegata' at Hayefield

Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’ with Pennisetum glaucum 'Jester' at Hayefield

This is a great time of year for chartreuse. The combo above is a bit too much, perhaps, but the leaves of the ‘Jester’ millet (Pennisetum glaucum) in the foreground will turn deep purple-brown in just a few weeks, making a nice contrast to the golden catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides ‘Aurea’) [June 12, 2010].

‘Isla Gold’ tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) makes a striking foliage partner for pretty much any companion, but it’s especially dramatic with bright flowers and/or dark foliage. Below, it’s with ‘Vesuvius’ Maltese cross (Lychnis x arkwrightii) [June 4, 2011].

Lychnis x arkwrightii 'Vesuvius' and Tanacetum vulgare 'Isla Gold' at Hayefield

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’ [Diabolo] with Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon' [Mellow yellow] and Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow' at Hayefield

Another light-and-dark combo – Mellow Yellow spirea (Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’) and Diabolo ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’) – with a splash of orange from ‘Fireglow’ Griffith’s spurge (Euphorbia griffithii) [June 13, 2009].

At some point in June (the warmer the weather, the sooner it happens), the dark leaves of ‘Red Majestic’ contorted hazel (Corylus avellana) start turning from deep purple to deep green. Back on June 13, 2011, it was still dark enough to make a decent background for ‘Monte Negro’ Asiatic lily (Lilium) and ‘Jacob Cline’ bee balm (Monarda), which were just coming into bloom.

Corylus avellana 'Red Majestic' with Lilium 'Monte Negro' and Monarda 'Jacob Cline' at Hayefield

Corylus avellana 'Red Majestic' with Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’ and Viburnum sargentii 'Onondaga' at Hayefield

Above is a shot of the same ‘Red Majestic’ when it was a few years younger, behind bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’) and in front of ‘Onondaga’ viburnum (Viburnum sargentii) [May 18, 2008].

Like the bronze fennel, red orach (Atriplex hortensis var. rubra) seeds around freely here. It eventually gets 3 to 4 feet tall, so I end up pulling out a lot of the seedlings that are near the front of the border, but for now, I enjoy the foliage color wherever it pops up. Below, it’s in front of Lysimachia atropurpurea and bronze fennel, as well as the one-stemmed sprig of ‘Red Majestic’ contorted hazel as a baby [June 1, 2006].

Atriplex hortensis var. rubra with Lysimachia atropurpurea at Hayefield

Angelica 'Ebony' with Dianthus 'Firewitch' at Hayefield

The leaves of ‘Ebony’ angelica (Angelica) are at their most intense darkness right now. Oh, how I wish it would self-sow as freely as the red orach! It’s with ‘Firewitch’ pinks (Dianthus) in the shot above [May 18, 2009].

Early to midsummer is the best time for foliage color on ‘Oakhurst’ pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa), too, though the leaves tend to get mud-splashed during spring storms and I really should remember to tidy them before taking their picture. Below, it’s paired with ‘Princess of India’ nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus), with a bit of ‘Sedona’ coleus and variegated lilyturf in the background [June 13, 2011].

Eucomis comosa 'Oakhurst' with Tropaeolum majus 'Princess of India' at Hayefield

Mustard 'Ruby Streaks' and 'Golden Streaks' at Hayefield

Foliage contrasts look great in the vegetable garden, too. Above is ‘Ruby Streaks’ and ‘Golden Streaks’ mustard [May 21, 2008]; below is ‘Red Velvet’ and ‘Australian Yellow’ lettuce [May 30, 2012].

Lettuce 'Red Velvet' and 'Australian Yellow' at Hayefield

And to finish, an assortment of some other favorite early-summer combos…

Stachys officinalis 'Alba' with Catharanthus roseus 'Cora White', Salvia officinalis 'Berggarten', and Echinacea purpurea 'Prairie Frost' at Hayefield

Above, white-flowered betony (Stachys officinalis ‘Alba’) and ‘Cora White’ rose periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) with silvery gray ‘Berggarten’ sage (Salvia officinalis) and variegated ‘Prairie Frost’ purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) [June 12, 2010].

Below, pink-flowered crosswort (Phuopsis stylosa) with variegated ‘Harlequin’ firethorn (Pyracantha) and Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) [May 28, 2010].

Phuopsis stylosa with Pyracantha 'Harlequin' and Eutrochium purpureum at Hayefield

Achillea 'Pink Grapefruit' with Veronica grandis at Hayefield

Above, ‘Pink Grapefruit’ yarrow (Achillea) with Veronica grandis  and an allium seedhead [June 12, 2011]. Below, yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis) – a weed, but a pretty one – with the pink whorls of ‘Amazone’ tuberous Jerusalem sage (Phlomis tuberosa) and some Mellow Yellow spirea (Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’) [June 1, 2006].

Melilotus officinalis with Phlomis tuberosa 'Amazone' and Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon' at Hayefield

Bupleurum rotundifolium with Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light' at Hayefield

Above, annual hare’s ear (Bupleurum rotundifolium) with ‘Morning Light’ miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis) [June 13, 2011]. Below, ‘Screamin’ Yellow’ baptisia (Baptisia sphaerocarpa) with ‘Susanna Mitchell’ marguerite (Anthemis) [June 8, 2008].

Baptisia sphaerocarpa 'Screamin' Yellow' with Anthemis 'Susanna Mitchell' at Hayefield

Linum perenne with Cornus sericea subsp. occidentalis 'Sunshine', Euphorbia palustris ‘Zauberflote’, and Cynara cardunculus at Hayefield

Above, perennial flax (Linum perenne) in front of ‘Sunshine’ red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea subsp. occidentalis), with Euphorbia palustris ‘Zauberflote’ and a bit of cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) in the foreground [May 26, 2008].

Below, ‘Sarastro’ bellflower (Campanula) with some sea kale (Crambe maritima) [June 14, 2008].

Campanula 'Sarastro' with Crambe maritima at Hayefield

Persicaria polymorpha with Baptisia australis at Hayefield

And last, two more shots of plumy white giant fleeceflower (Persicaria polymorpha): above with blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) [May 23, 2010] and below with ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) against ‘Center Glow’ ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) [June 12, 2010].

Persicaria polymorpha with Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Stricta' and Physocarpus opulifolius 'Center Glow' at Hayefield

Well, gee, that ended up looking a whole lot like a Bloom Day post, didn’t it? Two weeks to go until the next one, so I’d better hope that I have something new to show by then.

Posted on 21 Comments

21 thoughts on “Late Spring Combinations

  1. Gee Nan, I wish my garden looked as “ugly” as all these photos at this time of year! ( which was actually 3-4 weeks ago for us’n in TN!) Great shots as usualy. I love the no-name iris, the stipa tennusima and of course all the wonderful chartreuse. The deep purple and the alliums are great too. A. christophii is one of my favorites even after the bloom has dried in the garden…such great architecture. The look great in dried flower arrangements too.

    If I had shown you what the rest of the garden looks like just now – the soggy, sluggy, newly planted, and chopped-back parts, you would not be envious, I promise you! You’re right about the Allium christophii seedheads; sometimes they last even through the winter here.

  2. If you are offering any seed for that Crambe maritima this year, sign me up. Have you tried eating the stalks? I understand they are delicious, especially if they’re forced.

    I wish I could send you some seed, Susan; unfortunately, my sea kale disappeared a few years ago. I’d heard about it being tasty, but the clump was never especially vigorous, so I didn’t want to weaken it by harvesting. Sure was a pretty thing while it lasted, though.

  3. I must stress that I cannot get enough of these posts! The way you pair/group plants is a real talent Nan. I am about to put my garden to bed for the winter and am dreaming of all the changes I’d like to make…

    Thank you, Kerry. Preparing this post reminded me of many plants that I’d like to try again, and some combinations I’d like to tweak or recreate. I wish you a productive planning season for your own garden!

  4. It’s a good day here in Ohio, some rain and this reminder of why I enjoy your work. The blues really speak to my love of them in all my beds. It isn’t only finding plants, but the combinations that you use to inspire me to look for ways to make my garden better. Nancy

    Good morning, Nancy! I’m glad you’re enjoying some rain today. We’ve been pretty lucky here in PA, too. I’m thrilled to have the rain after each planting session, though some sunshine probably wouldn’t be amiss right now. Have a great summer!

  5. Polymorpha! I drool with envy over your combos with the white wonder.

    I tried it two years ago, but our summer droughts murdered it. This year, we’ve had a “real spring” — the kind that I remember during my first 25 years fo gardening — so, I added a 4″ nursery pot to the garden with my monarda ‘Jacob Cline’. The polymorpha has taken off and the foliage is now over two feet in height! Success! The bee balm just started blooming. Hopefully next year, the blooms with polymorpha and the bee balm will be synchronized.

    I’m smitten with stipa! It seems everything goes with stipa! When the seeds are ripe, I use my gloved hands to finger-comb the seeds out, usually with a bit of the stem coming along in the process. I then place those stems on the ground in the garden and anchor with a rock. The next spring, I have tufts of new stipa in the exact spot. Lazy, I am! I’ve had no seedlings appear anywhere else in spite of some reports that it self-sows freely.

    Thanks for sharing your combinations. While I can’t always grow the same plants, I always find your advice inspiring and educational.


    Once it’s established, the “white wonder” seems very forgiving of dry spells, thank goodness. Best of luck with yours! And hey, I’ve been using the same trick to expand my stipa collection, though I’ve found that the metal comb I use on Daniel’s and Duncan’s forelocks works even better than my fingers to comb out the seeds.

    1. Oh course! I used to have horses, so I’m familiar with the steel combs.

      They work really well to remove the seeds and tidy the plants as well. Certainly, the plants don’t fuss as much as the critters do about having their tangles combed out.

  6. Hi Nancy!
    Your mix of colours are always astonishing, but I think your are a master of textures! Your pictures could be in black and white, your combinations of plants would still be magnifique, as we say.

    I’m thrilled to say that the seedlings of Amsonia, Nigella and Patrinia that you gave me are going well. Unfortunately, I had less success with the Gossypium… I was hoping to see this original annual in my garden this summer!

    I wish you happy gardening days in this new month!

    Oh, how disappointing about the cotton, Jasmine! We can try again this fall, if you like. I had good luck with mine, so, if the weather cooperates, there should be lots of seed to share.

  7. Lovely combinations, as always! I like to let my ruby orach get so tall and then harvest it… seems less like “weeding” when you can saute a plant with garlic and olive oil and serve it over pasta! haha.

    I have the same experience with the ornamental onions, by the way. I’m down to one lone a. schubertii from an original clump of 6. My Ivory Queens were less than impressive this year as well–and I’m down to only 3 of those from 12. The regular purple globe passalongs are fine, though… and drumstick alliums? I can’t keep those contained. The clumps seem to ALWAYS need thinning out in the back garden! If only a. schubertii performed with the same exhuberance…. :-)

    I’ve never tried eating the red orach, Kim – I should do that with the thinnings sometime. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has mixed luck with the alliums. Honestly, I haven’t had great luck with the drumstick alliums over the years – probably because they look so much like the wild garlic that’s everywhere that I end up pulling out the drumstick allium shoots too.

  8. Everything is spectacular, but wow, those alliums with the woolly thyme were just jaw-droppingly good! I’m trying Allium christophii this year for the first time and also clary sage and knockout roses, so I hope they look as good as yours. I am again in awe of your ability to put plants together.

    Hi Lynn! The allium-and-thyme combo really was smashing while it lasted. I’m trying to get better at pairing bulbs and groundcovers but need lots more practice. Best of luck with your new beauties!

  9. I was so happy to see your corylus Red Majestic photos. I just planted a twig that looks remarkably like your 2008 photos, and yours looks lovely only 4 years later. Of course, I am in Alaska, and who knows if it will even survive the winter, much less thrive…but it’s worth a gamble for such a lovely shrub.

    It’s definitely worth trying, Heather, and I hope yours settles in and grows beautifully for you.

  10. Nan, Fabulous combinations! Love all of them especially the wooly thyme and alliums. I have 6 black cotton seedlings that are slowly coming along from the 10 seeds you so graciously sent me in the winter. Thank you once more and I’ll let you know how they do in the summer.

    The cotton seedlings will be much happier once we get some sun and heat, Sandi. Mine were doing great but have pretty much stopped growing for the last few weeks. I’m sure it will get warm again soon enough….

  11. Stunning combinations, I’m speechless. I love the way the Knock Out roses look in front of the fleeceflower. I wish I had the “Red Majestic” instead of the green one.

    Thanks, Phillip! The green contorted hazel is really nice too, though, and from July through winter, both it and ‘Red Majestic’ look pretty much alike.

  12. Hi Nancy,

    I`ve been enjoying your blog for some time now and just want to thank you for the inspiration. I`m a (still pretty) new gardener and your ideas and photos have helped me immensely. I have to say though, I wouldn`t mind seeing some of those “newly planted and chopped back” parts as what I struggle with is plant placement, spacing etc. Those kinds of posts are like the inner-workings of your beautiful garden. Your ‘cut-back shrubs’ post is one I refer to often!

    Also, thanks so much for your books. “Foliage” is what started it all for me.


    Terrific to meet you, Jen! That’s a great idea for a post – maybe the one after Bloom Day. Thanks for the suggestion, and for your kind words about Foliage. It’s my favorite, I think.

  13. Overload…

    Sorry, Greg!

  14. Beautiful post, Nancy! I am so envious of your drifts of persicaria polymorpha, I can’t have it established in my garden, what’s your secret? :) Those allium schubertii exploding over a carpet of thymus are stunning, I must take note of that combination! Thanks for sharing!

    I wish I knew what to tell you about the fleeceflower, Alberto. For whatever reason, I have good luck with persicarias in general here. Maybe it’s because my soil is on the clayey-and-moist side?

  15. Lovely as usual. Charles C. and I were just discussing alliums as he is getting ready for his summer-blooming bulbs course. I said I just planted A. shubertii and love it. Unfortunately he thinks it’s not hardy. I mentioned having trouble with A. atropurpureum—only a few ever come back. He said you have to replant it every year. Seems that you have had the same experience. I love the dark color of A. atro. though.

    Thanks for sharing the info, Carolyn. I’ve had A. schubertii winter over, but it’s definitely not long-lived for me. Have you ever tried Allium ‘Forelock’? I’ve had good luck with that several years in a row, and it’s a great dark color. I’ll try to remember to include a picture of it in my Bloom Day post.

    1. Would love to see another dark allium. Is Stipa the grass below the ruin at Chanticleer? Could I use it as a lawn substitute? I was wondering if it needed hot baking sun. I also know Chanticleer burns it which I couldn’t do. I think the genus name has changed because I saw it at Longwood today, and it wasn’t Stipa.

      It’s been ages since I’ve been to Chanticleer, but I do remember a large planting of prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis); maybe that’s what you’re thinking of? I have a fair number of clumps and hand-trim them in late winter. I could see prairie dropseed as a moderately tall lawn replacement: it’s easy from seed, a nice deep green color in summer, orangey in fall and tan through winter. The only thing I really don’t like is its cilantro-like odor in bloom. Stipa tenuissima (a.k.a. Nassella tenuissima) would also be gorgeous in a mass planting, though I wouldn’t try that up here, because I usually use a few clumps each winter.

  16. Nan, one of these days I will make it my personal agenda to spend a day in your garden. It’s exquisite! That Mexican Feathergrass… one must attain that immediately!

    I’ll warn you, Donna – if you get one clump of Stipa tenuissima, you will want many more! They’re really easy to grow from seed, fortunately.

  17. Another great post, Nancy!

    I am on my third time through your book “Foliage”… I can’t get enough! Makes me want to rip out my garden and start over!! I also would love a post on planning, planting and spacing. Right now my first perennials (planted 4 years ago) are looking quite crowded, while all my newer things are still a bit lonely looking. Any tips for keeping things well spaced without being sparse?

    Thanks, Katie! Ok, another vote for a spacing post. I will definitely put it on my list. I don’t have all the answers, but I can share some of the ways I deal with spacing here.

  18. Hi Nan,
    Lovely combinations that I will come back a study some time on a cold winter day. Right now I’m too busy gardening! LOL
    Tell me, do you think that ‘Caradonna’ would do OK in the Texas heat? Is it a Salvia? I grow lots of Salvias but have never seen that particular one offered here in Texas.
    I love the purple spikes with the chartreuse in that one photo.
    Your garden looks fantastic.

    Hey there, David. Yes, ‘Caradonna’ is a salvia: usually listed as a selection of S. nemorosa or S. x sylvestris. I honestly can’t tell you how it would perform for you; I’ve seen pictures of it doing well in North Carolina gardens but I can’t recall seeing it in any Texas garden blogs – yet, anyway. Maybe you’ll be one of the first to experiment with it? I see Digging Dog has it for sale, and so does High Country Gardens.

    1. Hi Nan,
      Thanks for the research and alternate Latin name! I already have one variety of S. x sylvestris (Blue Hill Salvia or “Blauhugel”) in the garden and it seems to be doing fine here. I’ll try to find some for next year. In the meantime,

      I need a bumper sticker on my car with…
      “So many Salvias, so little time.”

      And here I am, trying to grow so many of the heat-loving salvias and lucky to get them to bloom before frost. We gardeners are just never satisfied, huh?

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