The Plant Select® program of 2004 introduces and recommends the following plants for regional gardens. This year’s selections reflect the program’s standard for outstanding performance in gardens in the Rocky Mountain region and beyond.
SUNSET® Foxglove (Digitalis obscura) is one of the most distinctive of the foxgloves that forms an almost shrubby base with multiple rosettes of smooth, leathery textured leaves. This perennial foxglove is native to the high mountains of southern Spain where it endures drought and hot summers. It features unique flowers of burnt-orange on wiry stems and if deadheaded can continue to flower through the summer.
Cherry Skullcap (Scutellaria suffrutescens)is noted for providing a continuous display of hot, cherry-red flowers through the summer and into the weeks of autumn. This low, mounding plant prefers a sunny location and well-drained soil and is perfectly suited for the rock garden, raised beds or the front of a border. It has proven to be perennial in protected sites in USDA zone 5a, but is marginally hardy in exposed locations.
Hopflower Oregano (Origanum libanoticum) is a vigorous, trailing herb with unique hop-like, chartreuse colored bracts that enclose lavender flowers. These appear throughout the summer and continue adding interest into the autumn as they dry to a taupe brown and rustle in the fall breeze. This is a perfect plant when positioned to cascade over the edge of a raised bed or in a rock garden.
Bluestem Joint Fir (Ephedra equisetina) is a shrub with finely textured blue-green stems that are evergreen in all seasons. In the spring a show of small yellow flowers appears, often followed by orange-red berries on more mature plants. This shrub is extremely heat and drought tolerant and the dense branching and evergreen appearance make this an exceptional plant for winter interest in the xeriscape.
Sea Foam Artemisia (Artemisia versicolor ‘Sea Foam’) is a vigorous, attractive groundcover with lacy, mounding silvery blue foliage. This drought tolerant perennial brings texture and contrast when combined with other xeriscape plants. The low growing mounds hold persistent foliage into the winter providing interest wherever it is grown.
Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata) is a native wildflower of the Southwest that produces a continuous succession of dark-eyed yellow daisies over rosettes of soft green foliage. The flowers are extremely aromatic, exuding a rich chocolate fragrance that brings to mind cocoa or a tempting Hershey’s bar. Chocolate Flower is a hardy perennial although somewhat short-lived. It will reseed freely and is very drought tolerant.
Cashmere Sage (Phlomis cashmeriana) is a hardy perennial that is perfect for the perennial border. Tall and stately in form with textured leaves and whorls of showy lavender-pink flowers, Cashmere Sage will be a stand-out in the garden. The sturdy stems and architectural form continue to add interest in the fall and winter as the flowers give way to attractive heads of seed that persist.
Plant Select® introductions and recommendations are available at garden centers and nurseries. Additional information on the cultural needs of these and other plants in the program is available at the Plant Select®website, www.plantselect.org.