There are several tiny rock garden-sized phlox, bred in the EU, and sold by specialist nurseries as forms of the Western US native, Phlox douglasii. The only problem is that Phlox douglasii isn’t really growable much outside climates similar to its native haunts. Phlox expert Charles Oliver determined these are actually hybrids between Phlox douglasii and the East Coast native Phlox subulata. This week, one of those hybrids, Phlox ‘Ochsen Blut’ is ravishing, and thriving in our crevice garden. The name, which translates to Ox Blood, indicates that the breeder most likely doesn’t have any training in marketing.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a piece of concrete, you’ve no doubt heard of our crevice garden experiment, constructed with recycled concrete and plants planted in chipped slate (Permatill). It’s been just over three years since we started the project and just over a year since its completion. In all, the crevice garden spans 300′ linear feet and is built with 200 tons of recycled concrete. The garden has allowed us to grow a range of dryland (6-12″ of rain annually) plants that would otherwise be ungrowable in our climate which averages 45″ of rain annually.
One of many plants we’d killed several times ptc (prior to crevice) are the arilbred iris, known to iris folks as ab’s. These amazing hybrids are crosses between the dazzling middleastern desert species and bearded hybrids. Being ready to try again post crevice (pc), we sent in our order to a California iris breeder, who promptly emailed to tell us that he would not sell them to us because they were ungrowable here. It took some persuading before they agreed to send our order, but on arrival, they became some of the first plants to find a home in the new crevices. Although we’ve added more ab’s each year, the original plantings will be three years old in August. Here are a few flowers from this week.
Iris are just a few of the gems that can be found in our “cracks”, continuing below with dianthus. As we continually take note of our trial successes, more and more of those gems will find their way into our catalog and on-line offerings…as long as we can produce it in a container. Please let us know if any of these strikes your fancy.
If that’s not enough, here are some more shinning stars currently in bloom.
If any of this seems interesting, you probably should be a member of the North American Rock Garden Society…a group of similarly afflicted individuals. If you are specifically addicted to cracks, check out the nearly 2000 strong, really sick folks on Modern Crevice Gardens on Facebook
We’ve got a thing for hardy cactus in the garden, but haven’t propagated many to offer yet. One of our many favorites is Notocactus apricus. Above is our 17 year old clump in the garden, which is 4″ tall x 15″ wide. We’ve grown a few from seed, but are curious how many folks might consider purchasing one? We’ve only been to 7F since 2000, so we don’t know if it will take colder temperatures or not.
Visitors to our spring Open Nursery and Garden this year got to see the amazing Trichocereus ‘Irridescent Watermelon’ (bred by local cacti specialist, Mike Papay) in full flower (hardy so far to 7 degrees F). Offsets are almost non-existent, so we decided to grow some from seed. Each plant will be different, but all should be quite nice. So, if we offered these as a seed strain, would you purchase some, knowing each will be slightly different?
We hope you’ll be able to visit during our final open weekend for summer, Saturday July 15 (8-5) and Sunday July 16 (1-5). The gardens are looking quite fabulous, especially our new crevice garden. The greenhouses are also quite full of an assortment of perennial treasures!
Also flowering now in our rock garden is Drimiopsis maculata ‘Slow Fade’…having come through our cold winter with no problem. Hardiness is Zone 7b-10b, but it makes a great container specimen in colder zones. I think this is one of the cuter plants we grow in the rock garden, and so very easy!
Here’s today’s view of our first alpine berm garden installed in 1997. Even within a small space, you can have incredible plant diversity. One of the many features you’ll enjoy when you visit Juniper Level Botanic Garden during one of our open days.
Here’s a vignette from our Southwestern garden, which gives the feel of a Southern California landscape.Here is one of our rain gardens that captures 5 acres of water runoff from both nursery irrigation as well as surface runoff. This makes a perfect place to grow many of the water iris (Louisianas and blue flag) which are in flower now, soon to be followed by the Japanese iris.
The amazing Balkan native Genista saxitalis is in full flower today. This amazing groundcover has been brightening our rock garden for a couple of weeks. Genista is easy to grow with plenty of sun…hardiness is Zone 4a-8b.
For those who didn’t get to our Open Nursery and Garden last week, here are some of the hardy cactus you missed in the new Souto Garden section. We’re passionate about hardy cactus, and have been so since we were hooked by a jumping cholla about 45 years ago. I hope you enjoy the photos of this amazing group of plants.
Gymnocalycium ‘Bridal Showers’ – a Mike Papay hybrid
Gymnocalycium ‘Panama Pink’ – a Mike Papay hybrid
Opuntia polycantha var. hystracina
While gardeners in colder zones take growing hens and chicks for granted, those of us in hot, humid climates are thrilled when we find a variety that lives for us. Here is a photo from the garden today of one of the best in our climate….Sempervivum ‘Oh My‘.