Blooms and What To Do With Them

(click images to enlarge)

I like flowers, just like the rest of us. It often seems I post so much about installation issues and designs in landscaping I often miss those delights everyone else is so eager to feature. But make no mistake – I adore blooming things and I crave using them in landscapes. The fact is, I do a ton of it.

Living in Vancouver, British Columbia offered an incredibly rich supply of blooming things from Cherry trees and ornamentals to fascinating mixes of Exbury Hybrid Azaleas and Rhododendrons.

This was all well and good but when I moved to Reno, Nevada I found the alkaline soils and the concerns over water usage restricted me far more in terms of adding color to landscapes. It was then that I began studying more options to make a landscape an interesting and appealing place to enjoy. Naturally, I studied rocks and structural things. And much of this was owing to not only a less urban area than Vancouver but also because of the space one had to fill in the typically larger lots of Reno.

Since the constant wind caused so many problems with blowing the mulches I had gotten so familiar with in Vancouver and Portland, I began to look closer at rock mulches and then naturally to filling those areas as well with ground covers and other growing things. I mention this as a segue into the world of Perennials. Annuals in Reno face the water issues which they require so desperately and I began omitting them from design considerations. Sure, Summers can find Geraniums and Petunias all over but hardly to the extent one finds in the North West with its abundant water. The perennial search served as an attractive and fascinating angle of approach and I began using them increasingly. Incidentally, I also include roses in this category, although I did concentrate on those easiest to maintain and rely upon.The red Meidiland Roses are my own particular fave. Here, in the picture below, taken on a dark day, the highlights of the crimson shades stand out, I think impressively. That deep red gives depth and it gives an optimistic sort of background among the wide variety of foliage there and serves to provide a consistent backdrop.

In other applications, perennials of all types, including Sedges and Grasses have served my needs perfectly.

Anyway, I did develop some real favorite plants, in all this. Here are some pictures I took of some of these:

(I’m real big on Evening Primrose [Oenothera Biennis]……..)

(This below was a little “starter kit” of Evening Primrose with those typical Meidiland Reds on the rocks around this ‘pondless waterfall we installed off someone’s patio…..for the record, these are taken here soon after planting……they have gotten huge since)

Penstemons are my ultimate favroite, I think. Here is a dry climate version of an almost “native” one:

When a Penstemon gets to a full size, they are spectacular. Notice the variety of them in this picture:

This one is a bit sparse-looking now but it grew into an impressive area next to our paver driveway and patio:

And here is a completely gratuitous – but related! – picture of some Clematis at one of the homes above:

Naturally, no bloom pictures will be complete without some rhodies, these from Vancouver and a project there:

Embarrassing and as unprofessional as it may be, the hose in the foreground below has to prove I was the photographer! This one was true fun to do. Watching this property develop as time went on has provided some serious joy for me and re-emphasized the utter rightness of using perennials in landscapes:

Who knew a Sumac could be so pretty?

Or be so lush?

Or the old Smoke Tree?

The Cotinus is an old Favorite……………and not a perennial but I couldn’t resist.

Flowers rock.

I could go on……….. In fact, I just may. Everyone likes unique looks at the same old stuff. Flowers, after all, never get old, do they?

7 thoughts on “Blooms and What To Do With Them

  1. Flowers do rock! Thanks for sharing photos of so many of your landscapes. Gorgeous work. Some of the ideas I might even be able to incorporate into my Ohio garden. Thank you!

  2. You have lots of lovely ideas in your photos. The climate has such a strong impact on the garden, and you can sure see the environmental difference between Vancouver and Nevada. Looking back on your photos must also offset some of the frustration dealing with something like the mudslide.
    Those rocks tend to casually sneak into lots of designs don’t they? I like the mingling of the natural hard textures and plants.

  3. Great landscaping shots, Steve! It’s a funny coincidence that I just put in some penstemons a couple weekends ago. I got tired of staring at the pots of dirt that supposed contained viable seed and ran out to get some P. heterophyllus. Instant flowers. I can see why you like the penstemons.

    It must be a real challenge not only re-learning what plants do well in a new place but also the “look” of what looks like it fits in a new. The “real” landscape designer in my family just moved from near Seattle to Phoenix. It’s been a shock…

  4. Northern Shade (It’s Gail, isn’t it?) it’s funny, I was just visiting your Campanula post at your site earlier. That’s a great book resource you point out there. I use those liberally as well. Blue flowering things – and cool colors in general – have been a stock in trade of mine in the arid semi-desert of Reno, just for some contrast and to provide a small relief.

    Nevada is rock-rich, lol. As a geological wonderland, Nevada ranks very high. The entire city, in fact, now runs essentially on geothermal energy. I found rocks to be a great additional element to landscapes in general. The liberal use of them allowed in Reno lets me create some line-breaking elements in edges of brick paver patios and driveways. I think they provide a depth that nothing else could. I like them, big time, as is plainly evident.

  5. James, I adore your blog. You have a great eye for landscapes. I have come to thinking of Penstemons almost like dogs, lol. They sit there, their tails wagging, but they are hell-bent on producing for their owner, almost no matter what. Honestly, they are spectacularly hardy and they can produce those rich, elegant blooms for more than a month at a time. Plus their variety is stunning, from white to pink to deep purples and blues. I am a real fan.

  6. Julenjo, I want to thank you so much for dropping in and saying those nice things. Your blog is interesting as well and I want to encourage you to stick with it. You can meet some pretty inspiring and very decent people blogging. I have felt rich in my blogging friends, personally. With your personality, it may be the last thing you’d need to worry about, lol.

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