Summer of ‘18 – Top 30

photo credit Loree Bohl

It’s been a minute since my last blog post. 5 months of minutes almost to the day. Somehow I’ve missed the entire summer so I thought my “annual” summer recap might be an appropriate comeback.

This year I’ve upped the ante to a top 30 instead of 25. Also, my favorites are in no particular order. I’m getting lazy in my old age.

– Asclepias fascicularis

Why it’s on the list: I’ve always had a taste for weird and unusual plants and the tall, wiry and wispy nature of this particular asclepias resonated with me. My front garden will undergo a pretty dramatic facelift this year and I’m hoping for this guy to play a key role.

Asclepias fascicularis

– Eryngium ‘Blue Sapphire’, Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling Butterflies’ and Euphorbia ‘Dean’s Hybrid”

Why they are on the list: Yes, I know I’m cheating a bit by sneaking three plants into one entry but this was one of my favorite moments of the summer. The gaura did what gaura does and just appeared out of nowhere lending itself to this vignette. You can’t beat eryngiums for long-lived summer interest, either. Long after the brilliant blue has faded, this eryngium still delivers.

Eryngium ‘Blue Sapphire’ and Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’


– Nigella damascena ‘Miss Jekyll’

– After years of repeatedly asking The Lents Farmer what this plant was, I finally remembered to buy one this spring and I could kick myself for not jumping on the nigella train sooner! That color, those scraggly leaves, those seed heads! Swoon!

Nigella demascena ‘Miss Jekyll’

– Gillenia trifoliata

– Why it’s on the list? I’m not sure why I don’t see this plant more often in gardens. It is such a lovely perrenial shrub for spring and early summer and the fall color is great, too! The flowers are a bit reminiscent of gaura but without the naughtiness. You’ll probably start to notice a trend of my fondness for plants with lots of movement as the list progresses.

Gillenia trifoliata

– Echinacea ‘Green Envy’

– Why it’s on the list? This plant stopped me in my tracks at Pomarius Nursery. Unfortunately, so did the price tag and I left it behind and regretted it the moment I got home. I spent the rest of the summer tracking it down and finally found one. My echinacea phase has run it’s course but the unique beauty and staying power of e.’Green Envy’ will ensure that this one always has a home in my garden.

Echinacea ‘Green Envy’

– Sisyrinchium ‘Lucerne’

– Why it’s on the list? How many sisyrinchiums are enough? Well, I’ll be sure to tell you when I figure that out! Several years ago I bought Sisyrinchium ‘E.K. Balls’ from Xera Plants and every year I’ve added one or two more low growing versions. This spring I decided that more is more and that they would become my little beacons of spring for the hellstrip. I particularly like the height of Sisyricnchium ‘Lucerne’ and their “blue eyes” lend themselves well to their surroundings.

Sisyrinchium ‘Lucerne’

– Rose Campion

– Why it’s on the list: This picture says it all. I’ve never had a swallowtail visit my garden. For a few weeks this year, they could not get enough of the several campions I had scattered throughout my garden. They were almost daily visitors flitting from one to another throughout my garden.

Rose Campion

– Dierama trichorhizum (dwarf)

– Why it’s on the list: I’m a bit cracked out on dieramas. I just couldn’t resist when I saw this dwarf version from the ladies at Secret Garden Growers . I am impressed with how much it has grown in just a year and hope to share it this spring with my blogger friends.

Dierama trichorhizum (dwarf)

– Jasminum officinale ‘Argenteovariegatum’

– Why it’s on the list: There is so much to love about this plant. The new growth in spring is a stunning rose/pink eventually becoming this fabulous variegation. This is the first year it’s bloomed enough for me to really enjoy it’s incredible fragrance, too!

Jasminum officinale ‘Argenteovariegatum’

– Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’

– Why it’s on the list: If I was ranking my favorites, this clematis would be a strong contender for number one. I found it on the clearance rack at Garden Fever at the very end of the season last year and snatched it up after seeing it on Danger Garden’s blog. I wasn’t prepared for the fabulousness of this plant. On it’s journey to full bloom, every incarnation revealed something unique and beautiful. Even when it was done, it left behind a fabulous purple central tuft! Unfortunately, it quickly succumbed to clematis wilt and I cut it back to the ground. I’m happy to report it’s made a full recovery and is currently flowering!

Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’


Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’

Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’

– Lilium formosanum var. coccineum

– Why it’s on the list: I’m working through a lily phase and the more unusual the better. Of course, I could rely on the ladies at Secret Garden Growers for a unique contribution to my collection with this fabulous “dwarf”. The only thing dwarf about this lily is the height because the flowers are full size and fabulous! It does make for some tricky picture taking!

Lilium formosanum var. coccineum

– Kniphofia ‘Timothy’

– Why it’s on the list: Kniphofias were part of my “Holy Trinity” of a favorite genus of plants when I first started my garden and thanks to cultivars like Kniphofia ‘Timothy’ my love is just getting stronger. I am crazy about the contrast of the coral flowers and cinnamon stems and the constant reblooming over the summer is an added bonus!

Kniphofia ‘Timothy’

 – Penstemon ‘Enor’ and Agropyron magellanicum

– Why they are on the list: There really isn’t anything else I’ve found that can duplicate this almost luminescent blue in the garden. It’s probably the only reason the Penstemon ‘Enor’ is still there with its lackluster performance over the past two years. They sure are pretty together!

Penstemon ‘Enor’ and Agropyron magellanicum


Agropyron magellanicum

– Eryngium agavifolium, Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Violett’, Acanthus unknown

Why they are on the list: Here is another of my favorite moments of the summer. I love how everyone is lining up like little soldiers! Thanks to some generous blogger friends, I’ve added several more liatris to this area of the garden.

Eryngium agavifolium, Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Violett’

– Kniphofia ‘Safranvogel’

– Why it’s on the list: OMG this color! Coral where have you been all my life? Well, you’ve been here all along  (see Kniphofia ‘Timothy’) but you just needed the right spot! K. Safranvogel did not disappoint when given a prime location in the triangle garden this year. It’s combination with Artemesia ‘Silver Foam’ and Brachyglottis monroi has inspired a front garden overhaul!

Kniphofia ‘Safranvogel’

– Coreopsis ‘Sweet Marmelade’

– Why it’s on the list: Before there was coral there was apricot! The unique color of this coreopsis always makes it a topic of discussion during garden visits.  This was my first coreopsis and it may end up being the last as I’ve grown weary of their flopsy ways.

Coreopsis ‘Sweet Marmelade’

– Pennisetum spatheolatum

– Why it’s on the list: I blame Heather Just a Girl with a Hammer  . I hold her accountable for my obsession with grasses. Upon seeing this grass in her garden, it was love at first sight. There is nothing quite like the graceful movement of Pennisetum spatheolatum and last summer the hell strip was reimagined with grasses galore!

Pennisetum spatheolatum

– Eryngium variifolium

– Why it’s on the list: 1.See Something Wicked This Way Comes….2. It’s an eryngium.

Eryngium variifolium

– Trachelium caeruleum 

– Why they are on the list: I’ve loved these from the moment I saw them at Xera several years ago and I’ve collected almost every different variety they’ve offered over the years. From dark purple, dark blue to this beautiful lilac color, these umbels make perfect companions to the crocosmia, manzanita, and grasses in the hellstrip and throughout my garden.

Trachelium caeruleum – species I believe

– Eryngium leavenworthii ‘Purple Sheen’

– Why it’s on the list: A PURPLE eryngium? Are you kidding me? I snatched three of these up when I discovered them at Portland Nursery in early spring.  I was giddy with excitement of what might come in late summer. Wow, was it worth the wait. The jury is out on their hardiness so I’m hoping for some self-sowing!

Eryngium leavenworthii ‘Purple Sheen’

Leave it my blogger friend Loree to snap the best picture of this plant during a quick stop at my garden…Can you believe the color? No editing here folks.

photo credit Loree Bohl

Photo courtesy of Loree Bohl

– Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’

Why it’s on the list: Over the years, grevillea has replaced cistus in my plant genus ‘Holy Trinity’ and Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’ was my shining star this year! What a show it put on this summer again the Tetrapanax.

Grevillea ‘Neil Bell’

– Lilium ‘African Queen’

– Why it’s on the list: Another stop in my tracks moment courtesy of Heather! I had never seen (or at least taken notice) of trumpet lilies until I saw them in her garden. These bulbs were the first plant purchase of the season this year at the Portland Home and Garden Show. The height and drama ensure there will be more to come!

Lilium ‘African Queen’


– Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’

– Why it’s on the list: I couldn’t remember why I bought four of these late last season until this guy started to come to life. Every day for months I noticed something new and different and the way it moves in the wind is hypnotic. It’s still beautiful today.

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’

– Eryngium aff. lattifolium

– Why it’s on the list: If I was doing a countdown, this would be number one. It checks off every box: weird, wild, wacky and will hurt me. I discovered this in the display garden at Cistus Nursery a couple of years ago and brought one home in a tiny 4″ pot. A couple of years went by and I had forgotten what it had looked like. I couldn’t even find pictures online. Then things started to get crazy this spring!  I’ll let the pictures tell the story as this eryngium rocketed to almost 7 feet tall! It was magical watching it grow. This plant created a pollinator frenzy like I’ve never seen before. The “towers” are still standing strong today!

Eryngium aff. lattifolium

Eryngium aff. lattifolium

Eryngium aff. lattifolium

– Lilium martagon ‘Russian Morning’

– Why it’s on the list: If only I could have all the martagons! This martagon was my best performer this year. They are such perfect companions to the hostas.

Lilium martagon ‘Russian Morning’

Enter a captionLilium martagon ‘Russian Morning’

– Grevillea ‘Molongolo’

– Why it’s on the list:  My Grevillea ‘Molongolo’ had the best year yet as it has reached almost 8×8 feet as I’ve given it more room. Check out those freaky, fabulous apricot flowers!


Grevillea ‘Molongolo’


Grevillea ‘Molongolo’

– Disporopsis perdeyi

– Why it’s on the list: There is something luxurious and sexy about this plant. At the same time I have this picture of in my head of Carol Burnett standing at the top of a staircase saying “I saw in a window and just couldn’t resist!”

Disporopsis perdeyi

– Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Danube’

– Why it’s on the list: You know it is spring in Portland when the camassia starts to bloom. I’ve not been impressed with some shorter versions, however, Camassia leichtlini ‘Blue Danube’ was an absolute showstopper in the hellstrip and I have plans for adding more in the spring!

Camassia leichtlinii ‘Blue Danube’

– Gordlinia grandiflora

– Why it’s on the list: Cistus is known for walking the hardiness tightrope. I try not getting too attached to what I bring home from Sauvie Island.  So, two years ago when I bought home this foot tall tree, I kept my expectations low. I have high hopes for this beauty as it reaches almost 10 feet tall. I’m crazy about the open branch structure, glossy leaves that turn bright red in the fall and its sweet flowers in late summer and early fall.

Gordlinia grandiflora

– Paeonia ‘Nike’

– Why it’s on the list: There had to be at least one peony on the list! This is my first and only tree peony. I love the big, dramatic flowers and how the color changes with the light and throughout its life cycle.

Paeonia ‘Nike’

– Grevillea rivularis

– Why it’s on the list: Stay tuned for next year’s edition when this is my #1! I started out this season with a list of about 20 must have plants and took it to Hortlandia. Thanks to The Desert Northwest, I was able to cross this hard to find grevillea off my list.


Grevillea rivularis

It feels good reflecting on my garden again after such a long break. This season was different for me. With so many competing priorities and life changes, I feel there was barely time to keep up my garden’s maintenance so writing about it just didn’t sound like much fun. And then there was loss. Scrolling through pictures of flowers and plants for my blog also meant reliving memories and moments that, at times, would bring me to tears.

But, life goes on and over the past month I’ve focused on what’s next and what could be for my garden and I feel like it’s having a personal effect on me, as well. Funny how digging in the dirt can do that to you.

This blog is dedicated to our sweet girl, Yvette. Our Nay Nay. My little Monkey.

Your Uncle Alan loves and misses you. We all do.


Yvette in one of her favorite spots – Uncle Alan’s lap






5 thoughts on “Summer of ‘18 – Top 30

  1. Your doggie is so sweet. Funny how our furbabies steal a piece of our heart. I bought Echinacea ‘Green Twister’ on sale at Dancing Oaks. I’m excited to see it bloom next year. That pretty Eryngium leavenworthii ‘Purple Sheen’, I’ll be curious to see if it winters over for you. I had no luck with it but I’m not averse to trying it again. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just put in a bunch of new Hostas and I’ve been trying to think of good companions for them. Martagon lilies and Hostas is an inspiring mix, so thanks for the tip! I hope your Nigella self-sows for you, but if not, they are so very easy from seed, just buy a packet and sprinkle it around.

    I hope life settles down next year for you.

    Liked by 1 person

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