Steele: H2O garden tour demonstration pointers

Please join me Thursday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m., in the unH2O Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, 4075 Gordon Dr., in front of the H2O Aquatic Centre, for the August free guided tour of the garden.

I will be talking about late summer highlights in the five theme gardens and answering your questions.

The unH2O Xeriscape Garden illustrates six points to consider to ensure that a garden looks good through to frost.

1) Long blooming plants: The gardens have several areas of long blooming, easy-care perennials such as Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Coreopsis verticillata, and Aster frikartii. This blue aster is my favourite, blooming from July to frost without any dead-heading.

2) Late blooming plants with good foliage: The gardens have three tall sedums blooming in August and September. The plants are about 18-inch  high and have excellent foliage throughout the season.

Best known, Sedum Autumn Joy looks like a small blue green shrub with broccoli-like buds mid summer. The pink flowers open in August and change to red then rust through fall. Plants even look good in winter.

Sedum ‘Matrona’ is similar with burgundy-edged blue leaves and burgundy stems. Sedum ‘Postman’s Pride’ has the darkest burgundy foliage, an excellent contrast to silver lavender.

3) Ornamental grasses: Their foliage provides varying shades of blue and green to show off colourful blooms and also creates restful transitions and changes in texture.

Blue Oat Grass, and Blue Fescue bloom in June and provide year round blue foliage.

More June bloomers, Tufted Hair Grass and Blue Gramma Grass have attractive ‘flowers’ maturing to beautiful seeds heads. Taller ‘Bison’ Big Bluestem and ‘Heavy Metal’ Switch Grass bloom late summer and provide movement with even the slightest breeze.

I especially like using ornamental grasses as most provide winter interest and only require maintenance in spring when they are cut to just above the ground. (Warning: Be sure to choose clump forming grasses, not spreaders).

4) Repeat blooming perennials: As mentioned last week, lavender, yarrows and catnip will bloom again at the end of summer if dead-headed after their first flowering.

5) Spring blooming plants with good foliage: Shrubs Berberis ‘Cherry Bomb’ and ‘Diabolo’ Ninebark have outstanding burgundy foliage.

Evergreen Iberis ‘Little Gem’, is a miniature mounding shrub. ‘Dusseldorf Pride’ Thrift forms an evergreen pincushion and ‘Mountain Gold’ Alyssum is an ever-grey compact mat.

6) Long blooming annual fillers: Empty spaces in a young garden can be filled with easy-care long blooming annuals such as Petunias, and Tagetes Marigolds.


• A reminder of the deadline to enter OXA’s Xeriscape Garden Contest is Aug. 31. All entries are eligible for a $500 cash draw prize. See OXA’s web site (below) for details.

Gwen Steele is executive-director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association.



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