by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Yellow flowers bring sunshine to a landscape, even on a cloudy monsoon day. There is room in virtually any garden for the many shades of yellow from spring bulbs, showy shrubs, and perennial wildflowers. Here we put together the ‘Top 10’ showiest plants that elevate any landscape to gorgeous shade to gold.
Agastache brightens the garden with bright yellow flowers on dense, 24″ flower spikes. Provides a profusion of summer color for warm, dry regions. Great in blistering flowerbeds and containers.
Arizona Sun Blanket Flower, Gaillardia aristata, is a carefree wildflower that blooms nearly nonstop all season. Perfect for hot, windy borders and cutting gardens. An actual hummingbird and butterfly attractor that is both javelina and deer resistant.
Columbine, Aquilegia caerulea, shows delicate flowers that hover on sturdy upright stems perfect for cutting gardens. So tough it takes intense mountain sun but seems to bloom longer with mid-day shade. The sweet fragrance is ideal for mixed flowerbeds, containers, and rock gardens.
Dakota Gold Black-Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta, is the biggest flower you can find on a truly hardy Rudbeckia, stretching 6″ inches wide! The golden blooms continue all summer on long stems, perfect for cutting. Wonderful en masse or in a striking perennial display of color in containers.
Daylily, Hemerocallis, offers many yellow cultivars, but ‘Stella d’Oro is the most popular for its long bloom period and autumn repeat-bloom. Blooms last just a day, thus the name, producing so many flowers they are in continuous color from late spring to early summer. ‘Stella’ is even more productive because of the repeat blooms in early fall. This knee-high perennial is drought-hardy, needs minimal care, and is both rabbit and javelina resistant.
Forsythia heralds spring in the mountain garden. Growing anywhere from two to ten feet tall. The upright arching branches are covered with bright yellow blooms around Easter before showing deep green foliage. It loves sun, wind, tough soils, and deer, rabbit, and javelina resistant. Every yard deserves at least one.
Goldfinger Potentilla is the most versatile shrub covered in cheery buttercup flowers all season long. Mounds of feathered green foliage show off each and every flower. This knee-high deciduous shrub requires little pruning and loves the hot sun and wind that animals will not bother or eat.
Iris, especially bearded varieties, are famous in mountain landscapes. You will also find Dutch, Crested, Siberian, and Japanese iris at the garden center in spring. Iris comes from the Greed goddess of the rainbow and the messenger of the Olympian gods. A reference to the vibrancy of the flowers and the vast array of floral colors found in the genus. Iris have pointed sword-like leaves, from which taller flower stalks emerge in early spring to early summer.
Japanese Rose, Kerria japonica, boasts a long flower period. The delicate arching branches make it easy to identify this deciduous shrub that is unmistakable when covered with yellow chrysanthemum-like blooms in early spring. This plant flowers on previous year’s wood, pruning it like a lilac. Pruning is best done right after its spring bloom.
Sombrero Lemon Coneflower, Balsomemyim, offers bright lemon blooms with broad overlapping petals that add bold summer color! A must-have for a cutting garden, this drought-tolerant, sun-loving perennial has a neat, compact form with prolific blooms over an exceptionally long time.
St Johns Wort, Hypericum inodorum, sunny cupped flowers produce clusters of showy rose-colored berries on handsome dark green foliage. Stems full of fall berries are a wonderful accent in cut flower arrangements. A fuss-free deciduous shrub ideal for sunny borders and containers. Use as a knee-high hedge or plant in showy drifts.
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, has long been used as a medicinal herb. A true wildflower in Arizona where the flat top flowers bloom from June to September. An easy care plant that needs lots of sun and little water and spreads like other native flowers. Rabbit, deer, and javelina resistant.
Yellow Hot Poker, Kniphofia, shows off Lemon-yellow blooms that delight gardener and hummingbird alike summer through autumn. Shorter than a classic Red Hot Poker, this compact variety is the perfect perennial for containers or smaller gardens. Grass-like foliage remains neat all summer.
Yellow Yucca, Hesperaloe parviflora, is a magnificent Southwestern native producing 4′ wands of bright yellow trumpet flowers irresistible to hummingbirds. Bloom’s tower above the mound with sword-shaped blue foliage. A must-have for sunny Waterwise gardens used in a showy evergreen planting.
September is the start of our third planting season, and the ideal time to plant large trees, shrubs, and evergreens like spruce and pine.
FUN GARDENING CLASSES are coming up that are sure to green up the thumbs of even novice gardeners. Classes are free and are held at Watters Garden Center at 9:30 on the following Saturday mornings.
September 17 @ 9:30 am – Easy to Grow Mountain Plants – Rock landscapes without these core plants tend to look strange, immature, and lacking. Learn how to garden with these simple but effective planting combinations for a design that WOWs all four seasons of the year.
September 24 @ 9:30 am – Privacy Screens and the Secret Garden. Tired of looking at the neighbor’s RV? This class shows off the best, fastest-growing plants that create privacy screens! You can screen unsightly neighbors, enhance your view, or block pesky traffic and cut noise and light pollution.
Until next week, I’ll be helping local gardeners plant more yellow and gold in the gardens here at Watters Garden Center.