Steele: Plants for an easy-care, sunny, water-wise garden

For the next few weeks I am going to write about my favourite water-wise plant combinations suitable for specific growing conditions.

Cushion spurge adds vivid

Today’s collection is for full sun. Once plants are established (one to two years) they will require a deep watering once or twice during a long, dry summer. If the soil is fast-draining and sandy, they may need a bit more. All are easy to grow, and easy to divide, making it inexpensive to expand gardens after the first year or two.

With the addition of spring bulbs (purchased and planted in fall), this collection will provide colour from spring to frost.

Euphorbia polychroma (cushion spurge) is a vivid, deep yellow mound lasting about a month from mid April.

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (catmint) grows eighteen inches high and two feet wide. Spikes of blue flowers last from May to July and then repeat at the end of summer. For a tidier look, early bloom may be cut back once finished,.

Achillea ‘Moonshine’ (yarrow) has attractive, silvery foliage and a soft yellow bloom in May and June. If dead-headed, it will bloom again late summer.To dead-head a perennial, cut the finished flower stem down to the next flower bud or into the lower mass of foliage so it hides the cut stem.

Salvia ‘Caradonna’ has spikes of deep blue flowers on purple stems making it an attractive contrast with the yarrow. It blooms at a similar time and will repeat if dead-headed. It also looks good planted with Coreopsis ‘Golden Gain’ or Coreopsis Zagreb’. They are covered in deep yellow blooms from June to late September. Their feathery bright green foliage adds interesting contrast to the garden before it begins flowering.

Gaillardia ‘Burgundy’ (blanket flower) adds a splash of deep red emphasising the blues and yellows of the other plants. It blooms from June to frost if dead-headed periodically.

With the exception of Coreopsis, all the above perennials are good cut flowers.

Blue Oat grass adds a foliage contrast and silvery-blue colour which persists through winter.

It is especially nice to pair the grass with Sedum Autumn Joy, which looks like an eighteen inch, round, bluish-green, succulent shrub until it bursts into deep pink bloom in August. Blooms age to red then rust by October.

Although the tops are killed by frost, the sedum, and yarrow provide interesting winter effects.

This collection feeds many different pollinators and butterflies throughout the season.

Full details and photos of these plants, and many more, can be found at Check for the full Latin name to ensure you are buying the plants recommended.

To learn more, consider taking my ‘Introduction to Xeriscape’ class. Details are on the website.OXA’s Xeriscape Plant Sale is on May 2 in the unH2O Xeriscape Garden. We are in need of plastic venetian blinds to cut up for plant labels. If you have some to donate please call 250-762-6018 or contact me through the website email.

Just Posted

Community Leader Awards: Anja Dumas

The Kelowna Capital News puts the spotlight on community leaders with annual awards

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Blowing snow, slippery sections on Okanagan Connector

Compact snow, poor visibility on Highway 97 from Pennask Summitt to Brenda Mines.

IH adds immunization clinic Sunday in Kelowna

Drop-in meningococcal vaccination clinic on today at Community Health & Services Centre

Fire crews investigating oil sheen on Penticton Creek

Fire crews are working to contain the oil from spreading

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Family suspends search for missing Alberta couple, plane near Revelstoke

Due to bad weather, families of missing Albertan couple say they will resume in the spring

Fire crews investigating oil sheen on Penticton Creek

Fire crews are working to contain the oil from spreading

UBCO prof tests software to help cancer patients

Program may help those reluctant to engage ‘tough conversations’ in advance care planning

Broken de-icer delays flights at Kelowna airport

Passengers were on board for three hours Sunday waiting for departure to Vancouver

Canadian grocers make $3M per year from penny-rounding: UBC study

Ottawa announced plans in 2012 to phase out the copper coin

Well-known Canadian bird making a comeback

Once on the brink of extinction, the peregrine falcon no longer considered at risk in Canada.

Suzuki: Shine a light during dark times

People need to remain positive despite difficult and unpredictable political climate

Most Read