Season of ’17 – Top 25

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon’s Fall Plant Fest. Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery gave a talk on his Top 40 Plants. I am shamelessly stealing his idea for this blog post.

The following is my own ranking of my favorite plants. Not having real kids, my plants are my babies. I’m told you’re not supposed to like any child more than another, so I’m sure glad I don’t have them. I’m not sure I wouldn’t have a favorite.

These plants are the ones I can’t wait to see come up every season, the ones I look for when I water, the ones I pay special attention to walking around with a glass of wine after work. Okay, maybe I even talk to them, too! And of course, the plants I have way more pictures than any of the others!

25. Paeonia ‘Fernleaf hybrid’


I love the texture of the leaves and it’s small stature. Not the most floriferous in it’s early years.

Why it’s on the list: For it’s sentimental value. It’s one of the first peonies I purchased when I went with Matthew, The Lents Farmer, for the first time to  Adelman’s Peony Gardens for their opening weekend. Plus, it’s my first peony to bloom and signals that my garden is about to come to life!

24. Antennaria dioica ‘Rubra’ (Pink Pussy Toes)


This was a new addition to the garden late last year


Why it’s on the list:  After getting over the giggling, I’m gaga over this little plant and I’m not sure why I haven’t added more to this part of my garden. In addition to wonderful little flowers and added texture, it provides a great ground cover that looks good all summer. Honestly, it’s so photogenic and I loved seeing it come to life for the first time in my garden.

23. Agastache ‘ Electric Punch’


I have so many pictures of this agastache but these are from the eclipse and really captured the crazy light.


Why it’s on the list: Last year I asked Greg at Xera for a recommendation for something to add behind my Kniphofia ‘Shining Scepter’, since the space looked really bare after it bloomed. This agastache rose to the occasion – literally. The color is spectacular and it’s a hummingbird favorite!

22. Eryngium Yuccifolium 


So simple and stunning.


I’m becoming an eryngium collector of sorts


Eryngium yuccifolium just behind the left Adirondack chair


Amazing foliage on the E. yuccifolium. My stepdaughter Yvee likes it more than she is letting on.

Why it’s on the list: This Eryngium has it all for me. Beautiful foliage, stalks and flowers that last and keep their shape and color for a long time! It doesn’t seem to attract as many bees as the others which is nice considering the location.

21. Tulbaghia violacea (Society garlic)


Such great color

Why it on the list: This little guy is a workhorse. The first pictures I have this season are from mid June and it is STILL going strong! Also, it seems the more I neglect it, the better it gets! Who doesn’t love that? This one is high on my relocation list as it’s getting crowded out by some neighbors.

20. Cistus ‘Mickie’


Such a beautiful combination


It makes a fabulous backdrop to some if its neighbors, too!


Three Cistus ‘Mickies’ were all planted at the same time three years ago. Only one has thrived and is in the worst part of the soil. The other two are struggling and have lost their variegation.

Why it’s on the list: I fell in love with cistus early on when I started gardening. This year my love affair began to wane and I’ve removed quite a few. Cistus ‘Mickie’, however, has great density, incredible flower power that doesn’t get messy, and wonderful variegation (when it doesn’t revert!).

19. Archtostaphylos ‘Howard McMinn’



Spring is here!

Why it’s on the list: Come on, it’s an Archtostaphylos! Beautiful little clusters of flowers, glossy leaves and stunning bark all make for wonderful year round interest! After several years of being terrified of pruning, I gave it try and I am now able to enjoy much more of it’s bark than what you see here.

18. Coreopsis ‘Sweet Marmalade’


Such a unique color


I love this combination

Why it’s on the list: I’m a BIG fan of Coreopsis – except for the yellow one’s. I’m constantly on the lookout for unusual colors and this one hits the nail on the head. I found this one at Garden Fever a few years ago.

17. Crocosmia ‘Emily Mckenzie’


I’ve had a love affair with Crocosmia every since I saw my first massive clump of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’. It was one of those moments before I even thought of gardening where I went “WHAT is that?” It was one of the very first plants to go in when I finally had my own garden. As fate would have it, it did not cooperate but by then I realized there many other options out there!


Why it’s on the list: The colors of “Emily McKenzie’ make me swoon. It has thrived in the hellstrip and is getting quite large. The extreme heat this summer seemed to take it’s toll on it’s bloom time this year. This is the crocosmia that inspired me to add another six (or was it eight !?!) to the hellstrip this year! I think I may have a problem!

16. Barbera replicata


There is danger lurking amongst the beauty!


Not quite sure how to prune this yet

Why it’s on the list: I have a penchant for plants that will hurt me. I love the glossy leaves, the contrasting color of the new growth, the adorable flower clusters in early spring and the wonderful combination of them all is one of very favorite moments of the year.

15. Oenothera fruticosa ‘Fireworks’


Positively radiant!


What a contrast to their leaves and buds!

Why it’s on the list: Intense color, long bloom time, durability, reliability. This is an attention grabber in the landscape!

14. Zauschneria – Assorted


Zauschneria ‘Select Mattole’

I’ve been eyeing these in the  BF and other’s gardens for years. He’s always warned me of their “rambunctiousness” so I’ve been trepidatious about trying them.


Zauschneria ‘Silver Select’


Zauschneria ‘Calastoga’


Zauschneria unknown

Why it’s on the list: It’s easy to think that it’s all about that amazing, vibrant flower color but I love the texture of the foliage, too. In particular, Zauschneria ‘Select Mattole’ and ‘Silver Select’ are standouts. That being said, who doesn’t love that amazing punch of color and it’s appeal to our hummingbird friends?

13. Acanthus mollis




Little skyscrapers!


Why it’s on the list: I love an architectural plant! In it’s third year, my Acanthus mollis put on quite a show all summer making a statement by itself and a wonderful backdrop in a favorite part of my garden. Oh, and the little spiky things are an added bonus!

12. Candy lilies 



I have no idea how this did so well competing with the roots of the maple tree. NOTHING wants to grow here!


Happy in the hellstrip, too!

Why it’s on the list: Full disclosure, I had no idea what to expect when I planted these. I received these from a fellow blogger at a plant swap. I was unsure of what I was even getting. I think I purposefully left myself in the dark so I could have the surprise of seeing what would come to life when they finally bloomed. I was thrilled! The orange/red colors are stunning and I love how these beautiful flowers perch at the end of long slender stems! Most exciting is I planted one in the very worst part of my garden riddled with tree roots and it thrived!

11. Romneya Coulteri


Why it’s on the list: I can’t wait for this to mature! So far I’ve only had one or two flowers per year but this summer saw a lot of growth so I’m hopeful for a floriferous summer of ’18. Besides the obvious large beautiful flower, I love the wild nature of the plant and it’s foliage color. Plus, Who doesn’t like a fried egg on everything?

10. Kniphofia ‘Pumila’


Why it’s on the list: I have an irrational attraction/attachment to Kniphofias. I can hardly keep track of how many I have in my garden and could probably give them their own top 25. Kniphofia ‘Pumila’ was a new addition last year to the hellstrip and I waited with baited breath for it to bloom. It took it’s own sweet time but once it did it was a doozy! Big, bold, chartreuse flower stalks really made a statement. Looking forward to seeing this one develop over the years!

9. Callistemon viridiflorus


The promise of wonderful things to come!


Ready for it’s close up!


In all it’s glory!

Why it’s on the list: Callistemon, Kniphofia and Cistus were my Holy Trinity of sorts when the BF started introducing me to nurseries outside of the Home Depot. I was just drawn to them and this Callistemon ‘Viridiflorus’ was the first one I ever purchased and is near and dear to my heart. It’s a focal point in my garden and in full bloom it is truly spectacular!

8. Eremerus – Unknown




Why it’s on the list: I tried to avoid using any plants that were new to my garden this this year but I could not resist these Eremerus. These make the list because they were one of the first bare root plant I’ve ever tried and I really had no idea how they would turn out. Holy cow was I thrilled! Every day I could not wait to see what was happening with each one! They worked so beautifully with all the peonies and had interest for quite a long time even as they faded!

7. Eryngium Agavifolium


I call this one “Big Momma”



Why it’s on the list: This Eryngium is the one that started it all! A “hand me down” from Matthew when we first started dating, this particular plant will always hold a special place in my heart. I have several E. agavifoliums but this one is a standout and is by far the largest and tallest – in one year reaching almost six feet! Combine the glossy, spiky leaves and fabulous structural interest as it matures and you have a winner in my book!

6. Inula magnifica


Picture perfect!



Magnificent indeed!

Why it’s on the list: I am in love with the huge leaves and the gorgeous, bright flowers that cover this plant for long periods in summer. Even as the flowers go to seed, they are still beautiful and add interest to the garden. This is a favorite of the bees, too!

5. Cestrum ‘Orange Peel’


Exciting things are happening!


A feast for the hummingbirds!

This was one of those ‘”OMG, I NEED this” plants I stumbled across at Portland Nursery a few years ago. The BF warned me of it’s potential marginal hardiness, so I did what any sane gardener would do – I bought it anyway! Well, after this past winter, I thought it was a goner as it looked a dead as dead could be. But, one day when I was weeding, I saw these little sprouts coming out of the ground and I just squealed! (I do that a lot!) The photos below give you an idea of how well it came back this year almost matching the height of the Joe Pye Weed!


Why it’s on the list: Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I have a thing for the color orange! This fun, tropical feeling plant adds wonderful color and interest to my backyard all summer and is a hummingbird destination! Plus, I love proving the BF wrong.

4. Agapanthus inapertus ssp. pendulus ‘Graskop’

DSCN0799 2

Brilliant color!


Unique and interesting shape


Little soldiers

Why it’s on the list: This Agapanthus is amazing. Stunning color, stiff, tall vertical stems and beautiful glossy deep green foliage that has interest all summer. Plus, the bloom time on this guy is incredible. These pictures were taken the second week on August and the flowers on this plant were still looking good up until about two weeks ago!

3. Stipa Gigantea


One of the many beautiful moments!



Early spring

Why it’s on the list: It’s big, bold and beautiful in so many of it’s iterations. From early spring to fall, Stipa gigantea makes a new and unique statement in my hellstrip. This grass has ignited a new passion in me for grasses..

2. Dierama ‘Xera’s Darkest Purple’


I squeal when the first buds begin to show



Why it’s on the list: I think this just hypnotizes me every spring. I find myself staring at it as it moves in the wind. I try my best, but I can never quite capture the dierama’s impact on it’s surrounding area or it’s stand alone beauty.

1. Lagerstromea ‘Tuscarora’ 


Making a statement in the hellstrip


Some serious color happening with the cotinus in the background!


The tag from Xera describes this crape myrtle shape as a “hot air balloon”.

Why it’s on the list? Crape myrtles have huge sentimental value to me as I grew up with at least four of them in my yard as a kid in New Orleans. Also, after three years with just leaves, a little watering advice from Paul at Xera went a long way and I was rewarded handsomely with a floral powerhouse! This was the year the bark started to peel, as well.

Creating this list was a journey. Realizing I have so many personal connections to my plants is, perhaps, a little disturbing. Maybe I should change the name of my blog to ‘The Sentimental Gardener”?

We shall see which of my “kids” make the cut next year.

What are your favorites this year?


13 thoughts on “Season of ’17 – Top 25

  1. You really are a flower floozy! And a wizard with plants it seems, so many beauties all looking wonderfully healthy and happy. I continue to be in awe of your ability with the Dierama. Wow. Just wow!


  2. I’ve never heard of this particular Coreopsis. Very nice color. I grow C. ‘Mercury Rising’, a nice cherry-red with a tich of yellow. The newer Coreopsis hybrids are so much hardier than the disappointing “Limerock” series of yesteryear. … Antennaria dioica ‘Rubra’ is one of my favorite plants. I’ve got it growing between bricks on one of my terraces and it has filled in so nicely. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just looked up C. ‘Mercury Rising’ and it’s wonderful. I’ve been looking for a replacement for one that is just too red in the hellstrip and this might do beautifully! Thanks for the comment!


  3. What was the crepe myrtle watering advice if I may ask? I have that exact cultivar and in 4 summers in a super sunny spot it has never even gotten blooms.


    • I got the advice from Paul Bonine, one of the owners of Xera Plants here in Portland. You can check it out on their website. He has a section on crepe myrtles. Basically, he advised to give it a good deep soak about once a month during the summer.


      • Thank you! I will have to check out the website. I’ve been watering more than that, might have to try cutting back next summer.


  4. What a fantastic idea for a blog post! I love your selections and a few were new to me! I’m looking them up as I type. By the looks of this post, no one would believe that you have anything less than 20 years under your belt as a gardener!!

    Liked by 1 person

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