Low Flowers Endure Wind

By Marilyn Loser
2014 May 14

It’s been a great year for Golden Banner (Thermopsis montana) – false snapdragon. This Colorado native does well when we have moisture in February and March.  In dry spring years it doesn’t even bother to poke its leaves above ground. The spring moisture also brought up Jolly-Joker Jonny-Jump-Ups (that’s a lot of J’s!) in many places in the yard – even in the gravel.

It’s also been a good year for blue and purple grape hyacinths (Muscari). I wish I planted hyacinths and Golden Banner together – think I’ll do some transplanting after they finish blooming.

Both of these flowers endure our nasty spring winds as do lavender creeping veronica, and lavender/pink creeping phlox. Early blooming tiny Bird’s Eye Primrose (Primula darialica) are almost done. For images of all of these flowers, please visit AlamosaFlowers.net.

Yellow Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma) has just starting blooming. Euphorbia plants are distinctive in that they exude a white, milky looking liquid when picked.  I have a second low bloomer that I think is in the spurge family, but I can’t find out what it is.  I don’t think it’s an invasive spurge as it hasn’t taken over the bed I’ve had it in for 10 years.

Creeping yellow Buttercups (Ranunculus plentiflorus) are starting to bloom. I have these in a rather dry bed and they come back regularly. According to some references they can be invasive in moist environments.

I’m planning to plant a few more low, early blooming plants as soon as I have a garden friendly day.  I have a couple of gallon-sized specimens of Gold Dust Alyssum (Aurinia saxatillis) that I’ll plant in xeriscape beds on the downwind side of rocks. I’ll probably divide each gallon into 2-3 pieces before planting.  I lost my last specimens a couple of years ago over a dry, cold, windy winter.

I love the brilliant gold color of many spring blooming ‘Broom’ shrubs such Spanish Broom (Genista hispanica) that aren’t cold hardy enough for my yard.  I picked up a couple of low blooming (6-12 inches tall) Gold Flash Brooms (Genista pilosa ‘Gold Flash’) with  zone 3 (-40 degrees F) hardiness. They require full sun and moderate watering. As with other shrubs and trees, planting instructions say to dig the hole 3 times the width of the container and place the plant slightly above ground level.

Once again, I’m trying Kinnikinnick or Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). It has small, glossy leaves with white or pinkish flowers. I loved seeing it in the forests above Colorado Springs when I lived there. I’ve never had it live for more than a couple of years in my yard – don’t know why. Generally, it needs little to low water and likes full sun to some shade. A member of the manzanita family, they require good drainage, but tolerate poor soil. I keep thinking it should love my garden.

Field Anemone (Anemone canadensis) is developing plump buds and will open on the next warm, sunny day. I’ve mentioned this white delight in a previous column, but think it needs special mention as it is so often overlooked. It blooms for a long time and has wonderful foliage. One caution – it spreads by roots and can take over a flower bed – I’ve let it.  But, I’ve never had it pop up in another garden bed. If anyone would like some starts, please email me at Marilyn@AlamosaFlowers.net.

Some other, taller plants, are blooming in the wind. A few daffodils, jonquils, and tulips keep popping up.  I didn’t realize until a few years ago that various species bloom at different times so it’s easy to extend the season by planting a variety of species.

Icelandic poppy buds are nodding their heads in the wind as are chives and blue Flax.  I planted a few allium bulbs last fall as previous ones died out and the buds are starting to fill out. Even with our crazy, snowy weather, I know summer is coming!

I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border. I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error.”  Sara Stein, My Weeds