bloom day 7/22; dierama drama


I admit that there’s a bit of a grudge match component to plant trials in the Oregon coastal garden. There are countless plants I foolishly trialed in my dry zone 10 garden that hated the lack of winter dormancy, and that’s on me, but some seemed like naturals. Dierama, for instance. Because it’s from South Africa, and is always described as good in hot, exposed gravel gardens, I assumed it would love my zone 10 garden, if kept moist enough early on, like so many other plants from South Africa (agapanthus, leucadendron and so on). I should have paid more attention to the climates of the gardens in which it flourished, mostly a reliably rainy zone 8. Repeated attempts, repeated failures disabused me of the notion that the wandflower could dance in the breezes of coastal zone 10.

is it just me, or does the dierama look like a victory flag?!

When Dancing Oaks Nursery had a dark seedling strain for sale in January, I planted the well-established corms in the Oregon garden with the understanding that this irid with the finicky reputation would, in the best case scenario, be slow to establish. Best not to get too excited. In the face of all that fatalism, early signs were surprisingly encouraging — it held on to its leaves all winter, and they increased in size under extremely heavy rain and occasional light snow. And then, in its first year in the ground, the head-exploding event happened this July…blooms! And let me just say that this very windy coastal garden is happy to accommodate anything that dances on a breeze.

Another grudge rematch with the clary sage, supposedly an easy reseeder that refused that assignment in zone 10.
Salvia argentea is another plant that seemed to be a natural for zone 10 but never settled down. New flush of blooms on the lewisia
common, easy Lychnis coronaria, a shoo-in for summer garden in dry zone 10? Not so fast. This very old, sterile, double variety was rediscovered and named ‘Gardeners’ World’ — and I never saw a bloom in zone 10, although the plants grew lustily for a few years. After a record wet winter and spring, it bloomed its first summer in the coastal zone 8 garden.
New flush of blooms on Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’
Malva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’ – saw this last fall blooming its head off in a container in downtown Tillamook, so had to try it. (The same malva in the same container is in full bloom again now.). The malvaceae love it up here, lavatera, sidalcea.
the annual linaria left its straggly ways behind in zone 10. Self-sowing amongst Echeveria agavoides, here it is the exact opposite of straggly. Other plants like Verbena bonariensis behave differently too, building up strong, twiggy architecture before flowers. In zone 10 flowers seem to rush about their business, rapidly going to seed.
so uniform! so bushy! so not straggly!
Salvia ‘Amante’ and abutilon overflowing a stock tank.
Silene fabaria ssp. domokina — another entry for the garden of insignificant flowers. But what a charmer. Slender branched stems to 18 inches dangling fringed parachutes
Diascia, Omphalodes linifolia, Arctostaphylos ‘Sunset’ in an overstuffed stock tank

I’m running a day late for the bloom day festival hosted by May Dreams Gardens the 15th of every month, so will finish before walking you through every last detail, the kind I moon over every morning, coffee in hand. I hope you have interesting things to look at in the garden every day as well. The little Oregon garden has finally reached that stage, something I seriously doubted in May. Happy July!

Billie sends her best too!
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8 Responses to bloom day 7/22; dierama drama

  1. Kris P says:

    Having followed a similar path in trying some of these very same plants in my zone 10b/11a garden, I greatly appreciated this post, Denise. Lychnis and Geum survived but all I ever saw was a single bloom from Geum. I planted 3 clary sage in my garden this year, 2 of which survive (one still on life support) but have done absolutely nothing. I succumbed to the allure of Malva ‘Zebrina’ this year too – it’s bloomed but the flowers were tiny and the plant seems to have markedly shrunk since I planted it.

    It’s good to see Billie. Belated best wishes on GBBD!

  2. Gerhard Bock says:

    So many plants I’d never be able to grow in my garden in the Sacramento Valley. I love your excitement about plants that are common elsewhere but are new to you–and to me.

    I spotted a Lewisia. Were you ever able to grew it in Long Beach?

  3. Denise says:

    @Kris, it’s crazy the plants we fixate on, right? Happy GBBD to you too!
    @Gerhard, out of all the plants in the world, lots still to be discovered, it’s amazing to me the ones that become “common” garden plants. Lewisia is one I never even attempted in Long Beach!

  4. Elaine says:

    Your garden has filled in incredibly quickly. Fun to try all the different plants. ‘Gardener’s World’ is gorgeous but if it’s sterile how is it propagated? Curious as I do see seeds for sale occasionally. Beware Zebrina. Once you have it you will never be without.

  5. ks says:

    I would have a hard time showing any budgetary restraint when developing a new garden in a new zone. My big temptation would be dwarf conifers . I have tried Salvia argentea numerous times here-it grows fine here but it holds Hosta-like allure for snails -I eventually gave up !

  6. Denise Maher says:

    @Elaine, I can only imagine it’s propagated vegetatively. Good to know about Zebrina! So far I haven’t met a reseeder I didn’t like and don’t mind pulling out what’s not needed. We’ll see if that holds true in this zone too.
    @Kathy, maybe the rock mulch will save that salvia. If Sluggo stopped shipping to the PNW I hate to imagine what the gardens would look like up here! I finally bought some Sluggo but my two hostas were already toast and I don’t think I’ll go for them in a big way anyway.

  7. Surprised you’re having success with that Salvia argentea as it did not like wet springs in my garden. Speaking of, wet that is, you aren’t still getting rain over there are you? I know you stay cooler, but I always figured summer-dry was normal for our coast too. I should know, kind of embarrassed that I don’t.

  8. Denise says:

    @Loree, we had that one rainy day a couple weeks ago — I think Portland got some of that too! Other than that, no rain. Maybe more mist and fog occasionally?

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