Category Archives: Annuals

Clarkia pulchella

This is the first year I’ve grown Clarkia and I’m a believer now.  We grew it from seed for our plant sale at school and I was not impressed with its beginnings.  It was floppy and rangy and never could decide whether to grow up or down.  I transplanted four starts to a nursery pot and there was trouble.  Over the following month, three of the four starts withered and died.  They appeared to be suffering from too much or too little water, the leaves just collapsed and the entire plant died.  After talking with a few others who brought this plant home from the sale, I found that their Clarkia suffered similar fates.  We came to the conclusion that the young, tender roots do not like being disturbed, as watering was consistent.   They just don’t like transplanting. One person who took the Clarkia home has left it in the tiny little four-pack and she says it’s doing great!  So why does this little native resent having it’s roots disturbed?  Discovered by Lewis and Clarke, the journal entry by Lewis states that Clarkia pulchella was found in Idaho ‘on the steep sides of the fertile hills’.  That clue leads me to believe that it requires excellent drainage and perhaps rich potting soil absorbs too much moisture?  Hard to say for sure, as this is my first season growing Clarkia. The seeds are reported to germinate extremely well for gardeners.  I really like the flower show as it spills out of the pot and it’s been blooming for over a month.  Clarkia blooms in early summer and is an annual.  It reaches 6-18 inches in height (or length) and is a native to the Western US. I’m looking forward to growing it again next year!


This year nasturtiums have been a bright spot in my garden.  I brought some seedlings home from school in the spring and stuffed a bunch of them into two hanging baskets.  They are so cheery and a hummingbird favorite.  Even though they began well, I won’t grow nasturtiums in hanging pots again.  There doesn’t seem to be enough room for them.  They keep reaching and grabbing and look like they really have places to go.  But there is only so far they can go in a hanging pot.  And after two weeks of over 80  degrees F they have almost collapsed.  They seem to prefer more moisture than can be sucked out of a pot and they were difficult to keep hydrated in the heat.   Next year I’ll plant this happy annual in the ground, perhaps growing up a trellis.  Where do you grow nasturtiums?





Pink Zazzle

I saw this flower at the FarWest Show in Portland last month and had to stop and stare.  I had never seen anything like it .  The bright pink flowers are spectacular, especially with that fuzzy green foliage.  Growing in zones 9-11 it’s an annual here in the Pacific Northwest, but who cares, I want one!  It’s described as very floriferous and reblooming for 2-3 months outdoors  or 3-4 weeks indoors.  Can’t wait to see one growing in my garden next year!


Pink Zazzle

Pennisetum Pot

I planted this container for a client and it finally came into it’s own when the purple fountain grass grew.  For months this Pennisetum ‘Rubrum’ just sat there and waited out the cool months, barely inching its way upward.  Finally, towards the end of July it started to shoot out and now in August it’s the focal point.  Combined with the geraniums, verbena and calibrachoa, there is color and texture, loved by people and frogs alike.

Just the Facts
Purple Fountain Grass     Pennisetum ‘Rubrum’
Zones 8-11 (Not reliably hardy in the PNW)
Likes sun, drought tolerant
Blooms late Summer through Fall

The Fifth Day of Christmas—Five Golden Plants

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, Five Golden Plants.  Dazzling, bright, sunshine, contrast, color, yellow, gold….Here are a few (I couldn’t pick just five!) that will make your garden worth it’s weight in gold.

It’s Hip to Have Catnip


I brought home a catnip plant for the garden yesterday. It didn’t even make it out of the driveway unscathed. Our cat practically pounced on it, knocked it over, rolled on it, rubbed against it and nibbled and chewed. An hour later the neighbor’s cat was rolling around our driveway. The above photo is what made it to the garden. And now, 24 hours later, it’s completely gone. Somebody was having a little fun, and it wasn’t the person shoveling the dirt!


The Cat, the Culprit

Just the Facts
Nepeta cataria     Catnip or Catmint
Height 36-48 inches
Zones 3-9
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Blooms mid to late summer, white
Foliage silver/gray or blue/green, aromatic
Self-sows freely
Attractive to Cats, Birds, Bees and Butterflies
Oil from catnip is a mosquito and fly repellant

Frosted Curls Sedge

This grass is clumpy cool.  Cool because this picture was taken on a frosty, frozen morning.  Clumpy because it’s not bumpy, just smooth and clumpy.  Any plant that looks this good in December is on my list.  My good plant list.  The happy list.  (Are you curious about my bad plant list? Here’s a teaser….Photinia…I scowl at you every time we meet!)  Carex comans or Frosted Curls or New Zealand Hair Sedge is another story.  Walking by this small group of Carex I felt like I was at an art exhibit.  Considering light and line.  Pondering form and function.  Wondering how this grass suggests movement even as it’s frozen in place.  It has a rhythm and flow and appears to grow.  How does it do that?  A little bit of pixie dust?  Shimmering, it looks like a refreshing water fountain, tumbling over itself.  This planting is an example of repetition.  Repetition of the same plant creating a pleasing effect.  Repetition showing off the beauty more than a single specimen.  Repetition moving us along a flowing river.  Repetition is good with Carex comans, but it also looks great in a container.   It grows best in moist, well-drained soil, sun to partial shade.  This fine-textured dwarf evergreen sedge grows 12-18 inches high and will reseed, but not profusely.  An exciting addition to your very-pretty-plant gallery.


New Zealand Hair Sedge