Steele: Pollinator plants at OXA plant sale

Butterfly and Mediterranean Gardens attract a wide variety of pollinators adding a lively dimension to the garden.

Deep purple spikes of Salvia ‘Caradonna’ provide contrast for Coreopsis ‘Zagreb’. Feather reed grass is blooming in the background in this June photo at the unH2O Butterfly Garden.

The Okanagan Xeriscape Association’s annual Xeriscape Plant Sale will be held Saturday, May 2 in the unH2O Garden, 4075 Gordon Dr., from 9 a.m. to noon.

My column this week and for the next two weeks will be about the plants that will be available.

This week is about plants in the Butterfly and Mediterranean Gardens. They all attract a wide variety of pollinators adding a lively dimension to the garden.

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (catnip) puts on a stunning display from late April to July and again in late summer. Plants are eighteen inches high and wide with dense sprays of tiny blue flowers complimenting the gray foliage.

Coreopsis ‘Zagreb’ has vivid, light-green, ferny foliage that contrasts well with other foliage textures and colours.

It is covered in a mass of small, bright-yellow daisies from June through September.

‘Zagreb’ and ‘Walker’s Low’ are very drought-tolerant and look good together.Salvia ‘Caradonna’ is twenty inches tall with spikes of deep blue flowers on purple stems. The main flush of bloom is in June. Side shoots continue flowering into August.

Achillea ‘Moonshine’ (yarrow) has a similar bloom pattern and makes a good companion with ‘Caradonna’.

‘Moonshine’ is a non-spreading, non-seeding, well-behaved yarrow with attractive, ferny, silver-grey leaves and a soft, yellow flower.

Rugosa roses are hardy and disease resistant. Two varieties will be available.

Both tend to sucker and can grow to eight feet if left unpruned making them a good hedge plant. They bloom profusely in spring and fall and sporadically through summer. The rose hips are large, supplying good winter interest. ‘Blanc de Coubert’ is white. ‘Hansa’ is fuschia pink.

We have three plants well suited to dry shade or part shade.

Persicaria affine ‘Dimity’ (Himalayan fleeceflower) has six inch spikes of white flowers rising from a carpet of glossy leaves. It keeps blooming, without deadheading, all season.

Geranium macrorrhizum (bigroot cranesbill) has fragrant leaves. It slowly spreads to create a fifteen inch high ground cover. Pink blooms appear in June.

Heuchera sanguinea (red coral bells) has a base of semi-evergreen foliage. Out of this rise many fine, twelve inch tall stems topped with tiny, red, tubular flowers. Hummingbirds love them. They bloom in May and, if dead-headed and happy, will bloom through the summer.

Details and photos of the plants are on OXA’s plant database at  HYPERLINK “”

The website also has a slide show of the unH2O Garden and the story of it’s creation in 2010.

We’re pleased to have Sheila Campbell at the sale. A long time bee-keeper, she is passionate about pollinating plants for honeybees and will be very happy to give tips on planting for the bees.

Master Gardeners and Xeriscape experts will be there to answer questions.

To learn more about gardening in the Okanagan I invite you to attend my ‘Introduction to Xeriscape’ class. The final class this spring will be Monday, May 4 and 11. Check for details.


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