Regional Picks: Summer Standouts – Mountain West

Fine Gardening - Issue 140

 1. ‘Pee Wee’ Oakleaf Hydrangea


Name: Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee’

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Conditions: Partial shade; moist, rich, well-drained soil

Although many oakleaf hydrangeas grow 6 to 10 feet tall, ‘Pee Wee’ peaks at just 4 feet. This dwarf shrub is ideal for small gardens and large containers. In summer, its huge white flowers bloom profusely and then mature to a lovely shade of pale pink. To keep this disease-resistant shrub happy, give it moist soil, afternoon shade, and plenty of mulch. Because oakleaf hydrangeas bloom on last year’s growth, wait until after they’ve finished flowering to prune.


2. ‘Snowberry’ Coreopsis


Name: Coreopsis ‘Snowberry’

Zones: 6 to 9

Size: 26 inches tall and 32 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

All summer long, this cutting flower offers creamy blossoms with maroon eyes, but you’ll need to religiously deadhead for constant blooms. As a firewise plant, coreopsis is perfect in arid areas and wildflower meadows. Or if you want a dramatic garden border, plant ‘Snowberry’ coreopsis alongside ornamental onions (Allium spp. and cvs., Zones 3–11), delphiniums (Delphinium spp. and cvs., Zones 3–7), and coneflowers (Echinacea spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9).


3. ‘Gold Bullion’ Bachelor’s Button


Name: Centaurea montana ‘Gold Bullion’

Zones: 3 to 8

Size: 2 feet tall and 18 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun; average to dry soil

Butterflies flock to this perennial’s indigo blossoms from late spring to midsummer and again in fall if you heavily prune it back. But the real star of this drought-tolerant dazzler is the chartreuse foliage. Those yellow leaves pop against its blue flowers and brighten the garden all season long. This species needs regular deadheading to prevent self-sowing and requires dividing every two to four years in spring, but you’ll love that ‘Gold Bullion’ bachelor’s button is deer and rabbit resistant.


4. ‘Sapphire’ Blue Oat Grass


Name: Helictotrichon sempervirens ‘Sapphire’

Zones: 4 to 9

Size: 3 feet tall and 15 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

In summer, this steely blue grass forms semi­evergreen mounds with tan-colored seed heads that hang gracefully over the foliage. Easy to grow, ‘Sapphire’ blue oat grass is a reliable performer with improved resistance to rust fungus. This plant looks stunning in rock gardens, in containers, and on dry hillsides. Plant this drought-tolerant grass in any arid, sunny spot that needs a splash of color. For best results, cut it back to 4 inches tall before new growth appears in spring.


Teresa O’Connor is co-host of the podcast Nest in Style and a garden writer and speaker in Boise, Idaho.

Photos: courtesy of Teresa O’Connor; courtesy of Doreen Wynja/Monrovia; courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.; Bill Johnson; Jennifer Benner

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