Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Lining up the Unusual Suspects

Now that the gravel garden is close to completion, every day when Chris and his assistant leave, I've been indulging in some constructive staring. For several weeks now I've been slowly amassing plants, checking what I already had in my pot ghetto that would be drought-tolerant, ordering more of plants I like, and pinning pictures like mad to two of my Pinterest boards -- Plants for My Gravel Garden and Plant Combos. They are all lined up along my fence in a spot that gets sun when the sun comes out, and in the shelter of overhanging Douglas firs, so they won't get too drenched when the rain pours down on them.

This is the first garden bed I've put together with the goal in mind of putting together vignettes that will repeat throughout the bed and give it a feeling of unity. With my back garden, I knew I wanted a large area for PNW natives, and a sunny perennial bed, and a full cottage garden look and feel, but other than that, I didn't have any real design in mind. Many of the plants in the back were bought on a whim, and it suffers a bit from "one-itis."

So, here are some of the combos I'm planning:

Agave ovatifolia, ground cover Sedum, Sempervivums, species Tulips

Agave parryi 'J.C. Raulston', Mexican feather grass, tall Alliums

Kniphofia caulescens, Mexican feather grass, ground cover Sedum, Semps

Nepeta 'Walker's Low,' Armeria maritima or Dianthus, Sedum 'Ogon'

French lavender, Carex testacea (deep orange in winter)

Purple Salvia, California poppy, Lamb's Ear, Tricolor Sedum

Russian sage, Blue oat grass, Lamb's Ear, Soapwort OR Dianthus pinifolius OR Teucrium aroanium (germander)

Miscanthus purpurascens, Lamb's Ear, Black Mondo grass

Agastache, hardy Geranium, Veronica

Yucca Bright Star, Euphorbia

Pennisetum Karley Rose, Euphorbia 'Rudolph', Alliums

Centranthus ruber, Nepeta 'Walker's Low'

Kniphofia, Eryngium 'Big Blue', Alliums

Hardy Geranium ('Ann Folkard' or 'Rozanne'), Lamb's Ears, Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco'

Bowles' Golden Sedge, Black mondo grass (I have been so tempted to put black mondo grass with the orange Carex testacea, but....Hello! Halloween!)

Pink Muhly grass, Sedum 'Neon'

Russian sage, Eryngium 'Big Blue', blue Agastache (like 'Honey Bee Blue')

Whatever you do, do not give me credit for coming up with any of these combos, they have all been cribbed from pictures and ideas found all over the wonderful worldwide web.

And now, just in case you are not totally bored out of your gourd, this is my list of plants slated for inclusion in this garden. If you think of any good combos here that I haven't mentioned, please let me know. And if you can think of any plants I don't have here that you love, tell me! I've resorted to Latin names for this list, best to be as specific as possible.


Agastache 'Ava'
Agastache 'Tutti-Frutti'
Agastache 'Acapulco Orange'
Agave ovatifolia
Agave parryi 'J.C. Raulston'
Agave toumeyana v. bella (I might need to bring this in for the winter)
Allium 'Globemaster'
Allium 'Purple Sensation'
Carex testacea
Centranthus ruber
Coreopsis 'Big Bang Star Cluster'
Cynara carndunculus (Cardoon)
Delosperma congesta
Dierama pulcherimum 'Dark Cerise'
Eryngium 'Big Blue'
Eucomis 'Burgundy'
Euphorbia 'Red Wing'
Euphorbia 'Rudolph'
Fargesia nitida 'Blue Fountain'
Geranium 'Biokovo'
Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
Geranium 'Rozanne'
Helictotrichon sempervirens
Kniphofia caulescens
Kniphofia 'Creamsicle'
Kniphofia hirsuta
Lavandula  'Goodwin Creek Gray'
Lavandula stoechas 'Violet Lace'
Lewisia longipetala
Liatris punctata
Libertia peregrinans
Miscanthus sinensis Purpurascens
Muhlenbergia capillaris
Nepeta 'Walker's Low'
Ophiopogon planiscapus 'nigrescens'
Origanum 'Barbara Tingey'
Origanum libanoticum
Pennisetum 'Ksrley Rose'
Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Blue Spires'
Phyllostachys nigra
Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Pinwheel Dark Red'
Pulsatilla vulgaris 'White'
Rosemarinus officinalis 'Santa Barbara'
Salvia officinalis Gold-leaved
Salvia 'Indigo Spires'
Salvia 'Blue Flame'
Scutellaria 'Violet Cloud'
Sedum spurium 'Tricolor'
Sedum spurium 'Fireglow'
Sedum spectabile 'Neon'
Sedum 'Angelina'
Sedum makinoi 'Ogon'
Sedum ewersii
Sedum 'Button'
Sedum tetraclinum 'Coral Reef'
Sedum rupestre Aureum
Sempervivum 'Black'
Sempervivum 'Frosty'
Sempervivum 'Pluto'
Sempervivum 'Aqua'
Sempervivum 'Hot Cocoa'
Sempervivum  'Harlequin Rouge'
Sempervivum 'Vivaldi'
Sesleria autumnalis
Schizachyrium scoparium Blaze
Stachys byzantina 'Primrose Heron'
Stipa gigantea
Stipa/Nasella tenuissima
Tetrapanax 'Steroidal Giant'
Thymus 'Pink Ripple'
Thymus serpyllum 'Elfin'
Thymus citriodorus'Archer's Gold'
Yucca 'Bright Star'

Shrubs and Trees

Abelia grandiflora
Arbutus unedo compacta
Juniperus 'Ble Star'
Juniperus 'Skyrocket'
Juniperus 'Gold Cone'
Trachycarpus fortunei

Other small trees and shrubs that I'm considering:

Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki'
Grevillea victoriae
Aucuba japonica 'Goldstrike'
Chionanthus retusus
Styrax officinalis
Callistemon 'Woodlander's Hardy'


  1. Good gosh that's a lot of plants, you've been busy! Love your combinations...and must ask where you found your Agave parryi 'J.C. Raulston'?

    1. Hi Loree, I got the J.C. Raulston agave last fall at Jungle Fever Exotics in Tacoma. I kept it indoors all winter, and it already has an offset. I'd like to find a squid agave too!

  2. Oh that is going to look wonderful.

  3. Constructive staring is always a good thing! My husband wonders what I am doing when I am 'in the zone'.
    That is one awesome list!

  4. That is a whole lot of plants. You are going to have so much fun getting them planted.
    I love "constructive staring". I do that too, but never had a good name for it.

  5. Oh Alison, what a wonderful project! I love all of your planning and pinning! It must provide hours of joyful, entertainment. I envy your skill of garden planning. I've not moved past the 'whim' purchases yet. Cheers, Jenni

  6. I saw a pic last year of pink Muhly grass with Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). Beautyberry grows wild here and I didn't plant any in the bed where my Muhly is, but I thought it was striking when the Muhly blooms and the berries are purple. Kind of blah spring and summer, but my Muhly edges a gaudy summer bed. Maybe the birds will bring me some beautyberry.

    1. That sounds like a great combo! I think I might have to go out ad find a beautyberry at the nursery. I've been placing plants this morning, and I'm already running out. I need more shrubs.

  7. Looking forward to seeing the plants when they are established.

  8. I hope you'll continue to post photos of this area. With this wonderful plant assortment, it's sure to look amazing really soon.


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