If you blink it changes. That is the way of the June garden; it comes at us fast and floriferous. While out frantically taking photos for this week's post, I honestly didn't know what the subject would be. Often times these things sort themselves out, however, and by scanning this week's photographs it was obvious that it's all about flowers right now. I consider myself a foliage lover above all else but who can resist a blooming plant? While Chickadee Gardens is primarily a dry garden that does not mean we're excluded from the flower club. In fact, I think many dry adapted plants have wonderful blooms and color. Here then is a look at a few of my favorites now in late June. 

Leptospermum namadgiensis is on fire right now. While it looked a bit crunchy after our brutal winter it has rebounded with soft green new foliage and a mass of charming white flowers with dark pink centers. While listed as reaching 8' or so my specimen has not topped 5' and this is after eight years in the ground. It is incredibly drought-adapted receiving no supplemental irrigation.

Aruncus dioicus, our native goat's beard, has been in several stages of flower the past several weeks. This particular specimen is just starting while several others in different parts of the shade garden are finishing. I adore this completely herbaceous perennial because it grows so large so quickly in spring and is still somewhat see-through. Its towering blooms show up well in part shade, too. Once these are established they are quite drought adapted.

From a week or so ago, the edge of the labyrinth is a mix of colors. I wish it were more harmonious but this color combination of yellow, red and pinkish is temporary so it's okay, meaning the blooms won't last forever. I'm rather fussy about color, admittedly, but sometimes the puzzle pieces don't fit exactly as one desires. However, it's not all about what I want, a humbling realization after decades of gardening. In my perfect world they would all be hot pink and orange or shades of yellow and blues. Still, this area is vibrant and full of pollinator visitors.

A wonderful little verbena that Maurice, my former boss and current dear friend, gave me cuttings of. I'm amazed frankly it survived in the ground through winter. No i.d. on this one. That color! Wow!

Callistemon 'Woodlander's Hardy Red' took a hit this winter but has rebounded nicely and is in full bloom right now. I have a few of these throughout the garden and I find they are rather shy to flower in my garden.

Ceanothus x pallidus 'Marie Simon' is a semi-deciduous ceanothus, a hybrid ceanothus likely with parentage of native eastern US species and west coast species. It is semi-deciduous, meaning if we have a mild winter it may retain some foliage, but really it's practically deciduous. Not that large and responds well to a hard prune, it reaches a few feet in height. A good candidate for mixed borders and handles summer water better than most ceanothus species - but give it good drainage. Very pretty and fluffy pink flowers with reddish stems.

Veronica longifolia in the meadow garden. It is a large perennial at about 5 - 6' tall, forming a lovely clump in time. I do find it sulks a little in really hot dry weather but otherwise is as easy as can be.

I had a little dianthus seedling show up in a nursery pot, so planted it out and now it's a 3' wide mat of low, evergreen foliage with a blue tint. I love little freebies.

Rosa moyesii is pretty in flower but it's the torpedo shaped orange hips later on in the season that I especially adore. This is a sweet rose that will get quite large. Good foliage, too.

Kniphofia thomsonii is my favorite kniphofia and really the only one I grow. I'm not a fan of most others to be honest.

Glowing blue purple of the old standby, Nepeta 'Walker's Low' in the meadow garden. While, yes, it does flop over after its first flush of flowers if it's cut back hard a second growth spurt gives more flowers later in the summer. Bumble bees frequent this plant throughout its bloom cycles.

Digitalis lutea is a bit of a thug. It is pretty and perennial - it also seeds itself liberally. The seedlings are easy to remove, though so it's not an issue. I like it for the pale yellow small flowers. These summer bloomers reach a few feet or so in height and form large clumps as they age.

Eryngium giganteum 'Miss Wilmott's Ghost' forest is growing and expanding and taking over once more. I swear I have this growing in the cracks of our driveway. I'm not joking. While I love it (so do pollinators), it might be too much of a good thing. I don't think I'll ever not have it, though, as there are millions of seeds in the ground at this point.

Several years ago I purchased seeds of Digitalis 'Camelot Cream' from Floret Flowers. A few grew but fizzled out and never got to size (my fault, not the seeds). A year or two ago I noticed digitalis seedling in roughly the same area where I planted out my miserable little attempt at growing this. I let these new mystery plants grow as I was curious (I tend to let unknown seedlings grow until I can definitively say what it is) and sure enough, in the mix of a huge purple pink D. purpurea are several Digitalis 'Camelot Cream'. I've been wanting white flowered foxgloves for a long time.

Daphne 'Eternal Fragrance' is a perfect little evergreen shrub. Except it's getting rather large for this spot.

It is difficult to get a suitable photograph of little Salvia arizonica but trust me when I say this is one of the best. It is totally deciduous, but grows quickly in spring. It also likes a bit of shade and can handle dry shade at that. Its pretty blue flowers stand out with the naked eye, not so much in photos. I am so impressed with this salvia and highly recommend it if you struggle with salvias fizzling out.

Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida, our native white spiraea. It's concerning to me that I see Spiraea lucida 'Tor' or just Spiraea lucida being sold as native plants. I've made the mistake of buying what I thought were the native versions at native plant sales only to discover they are either S. 'Tor' or just S. lucida which are native to Japan and Asia. I love the Asian versions, too, and they have their place in the landscape, but I think there is confusion about which is native. In any event both have fantastic autumn foliage color and white umbels of flowers. It's difficult to tell but I have both side by side and you can definitely see the difference. This, I assure you, is the native version.

Callistemon viridiflorus with Dorycnium hirsutum climbing through. I adore both, the callistemon is a great foliage plant especially. It was totally unaffected by our super low temperatures in January. The flowers are fantastic but unfortunately they only last for a few days then the show is over.

Single red groundcover rose that I took cuttings of from my mother's plant. I don't know its name but we bought it together at Heirloom Roses in the early 2000's. It's so clean and disease free, a real winner.

No i.d. lavender with very rich colors. Most lavenders are blooming right now and are very popular with pollinators.

Marrubium incanum, commonly known as horehound, is a small velvety perennial for really dry sites and full sun. 

Diplacus aurantiacus 'Jeff's Tangerine' is currently in full-bloom mode. Many of these fabulous southern Oregon and California native plants grace my garden. I lost only one this winter. They are usually evergreen subshrubs but in a bad winter can die to the ground and will more often than not resprout from the roots.

Wide shot of fading Phlomis russelliana flowers surrounded by a sea of white, apparently. Clematis recta 'Purpurea' on the far right, center right is Hebe 'Western Hills' and the pipe cleaner white flowers are Itea 'Henry's Garnet'.

Philadelphus lewisii, our native mock orange. This multi-stemmed shrub can reach 8' or so and has amazing fragrance. It does look a little scrappy as the summer progresses with disfigured, sometimes spotty leaves. I think good air circulation helps improve its health. I also give these a prune about every other year cutting the largest branches clear to the ground to keep it fresh and not too tall though it blooms on old wood so keep that in mind when pruning.

The last of the Penstemon pinofolius flowers at the edge of the labyrinth garden.

Sidalcea hirtipes is just getting going while its cousin, Sidalcea campestris is pretty much finished flowering. I note that the latter was in bloom starting in mid-April so has been continuously in flower for two and a half months.

Santolina 'Lemon Queen' with a Tetrapanax papyrifer leaf.

Penstemon subserratus is fairly new to the garden having been in only a year. It has had an evergreen presence although a little tatty at the base but its flowers are sweet and the pollinators seem to be attracted to them.

Achillea millefolium pops up here and there, especially in the meadow garden. 

Asclepias speciosa, milkweed, is just starting to bloom. While I have room for this beast I can see how it would overwhelm a small garden, though it is very pretty and supports a wide range of pollinators. No, I haven't seen any monarchs but I keep looking.

Tiny sweet flowers of Hebe 'Wingletye' mixed among Ceanothus gloriosus.

Cistus x platysepalus has been a champion against the hot reflected heat on the south side of our metal house.

Hebe 'Western Hills' is being a show off this year just covered in flowers. While I grow hebes for foliage as most gardeners do, this would convince me to grow it just for its flowers.

What do you think? Can drought-adapted plants have good flowers, too? Of course they can. There are many more that what is pictured here, I don't want to bore you with 75 photographs but trust me, drought adapted can be pretty. While this garden was designed from its inception as drought adapted (meaning lean soil, dry hot summers, full sun, sloped property and no irrigation system other than myself and FM), I think what lessons I have learned can help others who maybe have a drought adapted garden simply because the climate patterns are shifting. I'm here as your biggest cheerleader to say yes, there is hope and there are choices out there. 

That's a wrap this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always thank you so much for reading and commenting, we do love hearing from you and what you are up to in your gardens! 


  1. Gayle Parrish11:14 AM PDT

    Lovely! I’ve never been a kniphofia fan but I like that one. I’ll have to see if I can find a source.

    1. Oh, it's sooo lovely Gayle. I hope you find one! I know Blooming Advantage/Blooming Junction had them a few years back. If you ever get up this way I can divide one for you ;)

  2. As a hopeless floral addict, I was impressed by each and every plant you highlighted, Tamara. Only a few of your selections grow in my garden. That includes the Callistemon viridiflorus your secured for me years ago. It hasn't bloomed yet this season but our heavy marine layer seemed to throw a lot of flowering plants into stasis. With that marine influence all but gone now, many plants are scurrying to catch up as our temperatures soar. I love that new-to-me Hebe 'Wingletye'.

    1. A hopeless floral addict, and a super talented flower arranger at that. I always adore your flower posts, Kris. I'm kind of surprised your Callistemon viridiflorus hasn't bloomed but - I hope it's healthy all the same. The hebe is rather fabulous, a very low growing ground cover type (though not a huge spreader). I have a few I grew if you are in need of one! ;)

  3. "I tend to let unknown seedlings grow until I can definitively say what it is" -- that's been my m.o. too. I hunted for Digitalis lutea and brought in two plants but can apparently expect lots more when they bloom. From the photo I thought that verbena was a primula! Wonderful June garden. Foliage vs. flowers, I don't look at garden plants that way either. Currently my litmus test is will a slug eat it or not ;)

    1. The Digitalis is pretty lovely! You could very well have lots of seedlings. Your litmus test sounds very Oregonian to me...hee hee! Right now our slug problem has been diminished by the skunk population. I saw a parent with - get this - seven little ones. That's a lot of mouths to feed so in that regard, we're lucky I suppose? Cheers.

  4. Your Callistemon 'Woodlander's Hardy Red' are flowering!? Wow. I have two stems less than 8" tall sprouting from the base. The color on that verbena from Maurice is dreamy!

    1. Yes, they are! Can you believe it? This one, the only one of about five is blooming and it's in the most sun. The verbena is a winner, I'm going to try to take cuttings to share. And it was hardy in the ground! Hard to believe but it made it through January's fury.

  5. Anonymous8:47 AM PDT

    For a sizable garden such as yours, lamenting about the color mix at the edge of the labyrinth is a funny. It's temporary, as you pointed out; a tiny moment in time: in a few short weeks it will look different anyway. In my own garden, a bloom, even if not a favorite, will be tolerated if that plant checks other boxes: hardiness, size, well behaved etc. I know you feel the same. The edge of your labyrinth and the rest of the garden look fantastic, especially considering the winter you've gone through!

    The berm garden has filled up so much and is looking excellent this time of year.
    Diplacus aurantiacus 'Jeff's Tangerine' makes me swoon.

    1. Oh yes, Chavli - so true! It changes so quickly that it's all good. It is kind of funny that I'm so picky about color but there you have it - I make myself laugh. So many other attributes to consider which primarily drives my choices. The same for you, of course. If you can find Diplacus 'Jeff's Tangerine' it's a keeper!

  6. Wow the garden is really coming into it's own. You can see how it is maturing in a really good way. Had to chuckle about your Eryngium. I have the same problem with Eryngium planum. I love this plant but with it seems with our hotter and drier summers it's getting a little too care free with the seeding. Carpets of them. I agree with drought tolerant gardens being beautiful. I never water any plants unless they are suffering during a heat spell and they perform beautifully all summer. Tough love and right plant choices are the key as you know. Haven't been able to comment for a while so nice to be able to contribute again.

    1. Thank you Elaine! Oh, that eryngium - we love to hate it. I mean I love it, the pollinators adore it and it's pretty cool looking, just not everywhere. Yes, carefree indeed. Sheesh.

      Tough love and right plant choices can save us all a lot of heartache and stress. Glad you are able to comment, was there an issue with blogger? Do let me know if so. Cheers!

  7. Well shoot! I thought I had our native Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida. But now, after reading your post, I see have Tor. OregonFlora, by the way, has our native white spiraea listed as Spiraea lucida, not S. betulifolia var. lucida. I must say, I find the names for this one a little confusing, but it is very evident that the plant that I have (Tor) has much cleaner, less fuzzy white flowers than our native spiraea.
    My Callistemon Woodlander's hardy red died to the ground like Loree's. However, L. namadgiensis pulled through much like yours did. Love your Digitalis and Verbena. My Eryngium 'Miss Wilmott's Ghost' bloomed last year and promptly died. There are a few seedlings and I am sort of hoping I will have the reseeding problem you describe. Gotta keep everything watered through the heat wave!


Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments! I love hearing them, I will approve comments as soon as I can. Yay!

Popular Posts