Regional Picks: Garden Staples – Mountain West

Fine Gardening - Issue 142

1. Cushion Spurge

Name: Euphorbia polychroma

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9

Size: 16 inches tall and 2 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

A relative of the poinsettia, this euphorbia’s color comes not from its flowers but from its bracts. The amazing florescent yellow hue adds an unbeatable punch of excitement to my spring garden. Cushion spurge is a long-lived perennial that has a lovely mounding shape all summer. It doesn’t need dividing or pruning, and the leaves turn an amazing red in fall. And if that isn’t enough to sell you on it, then add the fact that the deer don’t like it.


2. Kannah Creek® Buckwheat

Name: Eriogonum umbellatum ‘Psdowns’

Zones: 3 to 8

Size: 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-drained soil

People have a hard time believing Kannah Creek® is a buckwheat because it’s so beautiful. Umbels of bright yellow flowers appear in early spring, with the lavish floral display extending into mid­summer and beyond as the petals age to orange and then finally to red. Planting this perennial is like adding a pot of sunshine to my garden. Easy to grow, this is a plant that you’ll never have too many of.


3. ‘Therese Bugnet’ Beach Rose

Name: Rosa ‘Therese Bugnet’

Zones: 3 to 8

Size: 5 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun; rich, acidic, well-drained soil

Not a lot of roses will thrive in the high elevations of the Mountain West. Some heritage varieties do fairly well, but the one rose that consistently performs for me is ‘Therese Bugnet’ beach rose. When a plant blooms all summer, doesn’t want to be pruned, and wards off disease and bugs without any help from me, it deserves a spot in my garden. Visitors are usually drawn to ‘Therese Bugnet’ because of its sweet smell. Blossoming begins in midspring and continues through fall, with the flowers persisting past the first few frosts.


4. ‘Orange Carpet’ Hummingbird Trumpet

Name: Zauschneria garrettii ‘Orange Carpet’

Zones: 4 to 9

Size: 4 to 6 inches tall and 15 to 18 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun; rich, well-drained soil

In midsummer, our gardens turn into a humming­bird bed and breakfast, so to keep our guests happy, I rely on ‘Orange Carpet’ hummingbird trumpet. At our altitude, you have to find the right spot for it because it can struggle to survive a harsh winter. But when you find the perfect protected nook, you will fall in love with this perennial. ‘Orange Carpet’ spreads to form a rich mat of green foliage, and is ideally sited in a dry location.


Belva Lotzer is the owner of Tizer Botanic Gardens in Jefferson City, Montana.

Photos:courtesy of Belva Lotzer; Jennifer Benner; Jerry Pavia; Susan A. Roth; courtesy of

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