Plant Select, a cooperative program between the Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado State University, has recently published its 2013 Demonstration Garden Surveys. 63 demonstration gardens across Colorado participated in the plant evaluations and 118 plants were rated on a 1-9 scale. I would like to share the Top 20 Plants by Overall Rating. You can read the entire report at www.plantselect.org.
I think we should strive to include as many of these plants into our gardens as possible (with one exception and I’ll explain that later). These plants have proven to be great performers in many areas of Colorado and could be a beautiful worry-free addition to our gardens. I have 7 of these special plants in my garden. How many do you have?
These plants are listed from highest rated to lowest. All pictures except for the Mojave Sage are courtesy of Plant Select.org The mojave sage underplanted with Prairie Zinnia is a picture from my front yard.
1. Buddleia alternifolia ‘Argentea’ or Silver Fountain Butterfly Bush
2. Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ or Blonde Ambition blue grama grass
3. Acer tataricum ‘Garann‘ or HOT WINGS tatarian maple
4. Fallugia paradoxa or Apache Plume
5. Agastache rupestris or SUNSET Hyssop
6. Agastache cana ‘Sinning’ or SONORAN SUNSET Hyssop
7. Berlandiera lyrata or Chocolate Flower
8. Penstemon grandiflorus or PRAIRIE JEWEL Penstemon
9. Origanum libanoticum or Hopflower Oregano
10. Zauschneria garrettii or ORANGE CARPET Hummingbird Trumpet
11. Salvia pachyphylla or Mojave Sage
12. Sporobolus wrightii or Giant Sacaton
13. Eriogonum umbellatum va. aureum ‘Psdowns’ or KANNAH CREEK Buckwheat
14. Prunus besseyi or PAWNEE BUTTES Sand Cherry
15. Marrubium rotundifolium or Silverheels Horehound
16. Lonicera reticulata or KINTZLEY’S GHOST Honeysuckle
17. Chamaebatiaria millefolium or Fernbush
18. Penstemon x mexicali or RED ROCKS Penstemon
19. Nepeta ‘Psfike’ or LITTLE TRUDY Catnip
20. Rosa Glauca, R. rubifolia or red leaf rose
As a garden designer, I strive to create gardens and landscapes that are water-wise, interesting year round and colorful. Many newcomers to our area think that Xeriscaping (or Zeroscaping as its sometimes called) is just cactus and rocks. That couldn’t be further from the truth. These Plant Select plants show that you can have an inviting and beautiful garden with color, texture and and year round interest without resorting to the barren Zeroscape. Whether you looking for a special tree, shrub or perennial, there is something on this list that would be perfect in your garden. And just so you know, there are many more durable Plant Select plants available. The program has been selecting special plants since 1997.
So now that we have seen the best of the best and what they can do for our gardens, we can talk about the “exception” included in this list. Over at the CSU Extension Tri-River area office in Grand Junction, Dr. Curtis Swift, Susan Rose and countless master gardeners have created, cultivated and maintained an amazing arboretum over the last 6-7 years. The garden contains hundreds of species of trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, vines, and grasses. One of the first shrubs planted was none other than Rosa Glauca or the red leaf rose (#20). To be sure, this rose is beautiful. The foliage alone is reason enough to plant it but the single fresh pink flowers and long lasting hips make it a show stopper for most of the year. What the books don’t tell you and what might not be true in other parts of Colorado or the country is it is a vicious re-seeder. I call it a Garden Thug! This rose sends out voluminous amounts of suckers and the birds love the hips so the seeds get spread all over the place. And, to add insult to injury, because this rose is so darn hardy, it will and can grow anywhere! Unless you plant it in a native area with no additional water, it will take over your garden. You have been officially warned.
Speaking of beautiful gardens, now is a great time of year to visit the Chinle Cactus garden at the CSU Extension Tri-River area office in Grand Junction. It looks fabulous any time of year but in the winter, it glows.
Here is a sneak peek of the garden covered in snow. This is a fabulous lesson in planning your garden for all seasons.
Enjoy the Christmas season and I wish all of you a very Happy New Year. Soon the seed and garden catalogs will fill our mailboxes and we can start planning next year’s garden in earnest.