by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
How big can a single flower blossom be? The rare corpse flower of Indonesia can be up to three feet across! There are far more fragrant and more readily available giant flowers we can grow in our backyards. Assess your garden situation and then choose from these big, bold, mountain bloomers:
Arizona Gaillardia– The perfect mountain perennial with huge fiery flowers on a compact plant. It loves the heat and is amazingly drought hardy. You can count on this bloomer to show off all summer long in raised beds, containers, or directly in the ground. Javelina and rabbit proof, this bloomer is a ‘must-have’ Arizona plant.
Balboa Sunset Trumpet Vine – Large clusters of reddish flowers create a dramatic show all season long. Once established, this vigorous vine thrives in heat and blooms profusely, even when neglected. Quickly covers large areas as a ground cover, spilling over retaining walls, screening a fence, or cloaking arbors. Guaranteed to attract countless hummingbirds!
Butterfly Bush – Monarch and Swallowtail butterflies flock to this impressive bush. Spectacular 8″- long flower-filled cone shapes fill the yard with fragrance and beauty and are used in flower arrangements. Heat, drought, and wind only make this shrub bloom more. It is tough enough to grow as foundation plantings in clay, but hardy enough to shine in containers. With so many colors available, it’s sure to combine with every palette. Every yard should have at least two!
Brown Beauty Magnolia – Lustrous, leathery foliage is rich, dark green above, and cinnamon brown underneath. Large, 5-6″ inch wide, creamy white flowers are exotically fragrant. This is a hardy magnolia that transplants well and does not lose as many leaves as other varieties. It possesses better mountain cold tolerance than other magnolias.
Crape Myrtle – Blooms of intense watermelon-pink, solar red, and LED white cover this heat lover during the late-summer lull in the garden. Use as an accent or to cover unattractive views on a small scale. Plant where you closely can enjoy its beautiful multicolored bark and sinuous branches. The flowers are striking against forest green foliage that turns red and orange in Autumn. Growing to just head height, every yard has room for at least one. It only is available for summer planting.
Easy Elegance Roses – Just plant in a sunny spot and enjoy them! We’ve married the beauty of long- stemmed roses with the easy-care of shrub roses for landscape color like no other plant in the backyard. Choose from a wide selection of colors: fragrant reds, radiant pinks, warm corals, vivacious yellows, and stately whites. Extremely fragrant and found locally only at Watters.
Frost Proof Gardenia– A wonderful flowering evergreen, its upright habit is ideal for use as a hedge or foundation plant. The lustrous, dark green foliage is a stunning background to the large, fragrant, white flowers that are two to three inches wide. It is more tolerant of direct sun exposure than other gardenias, yet its flower buds resist late spring frosts without damage.
Gold Dart Ninebark – This compact, mounded shrub is a presence of changing colors! Large maple-like-shaped leaves emerge bright golden yellow in spring, then age to lime green, followed by a golden hue with a bronze tint. Small white flowers bloom in dense clusters, followed by small red fruits. Exfoliating bark on mature branches provides intriguing winter interest.
Hydrangea– Hybridizing for bigger blooms continues to improve the species. Most of us know that Hydrangea arborescens’ Annabelle,’ with its 12-inch flower heads, still is a stunning staple in many shade gardens. However, ‘Incrediball’ has increased in popularity, as it also blooms on new wood, with stems that won’t flop over under the weight of rain-soaked blossoms. A sheltered site with some shade will help to keep hydrangeas in the limelight throughout the growing season.
Mascheutos Hibiscus– Rosy honeymoon blooms grow 9 inches wide! Because the flowers exude youthfulness and beauty, they are the choice for many bridal bouquets, but they also can deliver an instant garden makeover. It is Arizona’s toughest perennial hibiscus, even in subzero winters. The blooms beautify sunny gardens, raised beds, and containers with exotic colors summer through fall. A sturdy perennial, growing up to 4′ tall.
Radio Red Sage – The longest blooming sage, its crimson-red blooms appear in spring and continue right through Autumn. Hummingbirds and gardeners alike fall for this knee high bloomer that deserves a prominent location in a garden’s hotter spots. Lightly clipped, it can become a low informal hedge or a single specimen in borders or courtyard containers. Javelina and deer proof.
Latest Garden News – It’s been five months in the making, and the first edition is now online. This week I launched a digital garden center to make it easier to research local landscape plants. Plants are organized as you would research or plant them in the landscape. This is an active list of plants that changes weekly as crops are harvested and brought to the garden center.
Polish is still needed, but go ahead and let your friends take a look before anyone else . . .Right? Be kind, but I really would appreciate your input and honest thoughts. With so many plants arriving at the garden center, it’s difficult to keep the digital version accurate, but so far, so good. Take a look at Top10Plants.com.
Until next week, I’ll be helping local gardeners with selections of truly BIG flowers here at Watters Garden Center.
Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his website at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter