The Night Sky Bed
We are especially excited this year to trial the new, aptly-named Petunia ‘Night Sky,’ and wanted to feature it in mixed plantings. ‘Night Sky’ was released this spring in the industry as a trial plant, in order for growers to test its performance across the country. We expect the white speckling of the flower to be affected by heat, and thus the flowers may look very different later this summer. We’ve paired it with yellow and green in the “boxes” of this bed, alongside Crassula ‘Shark’s Tooth.’ The Crassula will grow and spill over the sides of the boxes and will continue to deepen into a rouge-red with summer heat.
Two of the striped Agave lopantha ‘Quadricolor’ overwintered from 2015 in this garden; both are also located in these boxes. New this year is Anigozanthos ‘Deep Orange,’ a dwarf Kangaroo Paw we are trialing to gauge is bloom tendencies in the PNW. You might be surprised to know that this plant is also attractive to hummingbirds.
Calothamnus quadrifidus ‘Seaside’ also overwintered in the boxes from 2015. However, we lost one this spring, perhaps due to fertilization or root disturbance. Calothamnus are native to Australia and are part of the Myrtaceae family. Its common name is One-sided Bottlebrush, and it produces bright red blooms from staminal claws on the previous year’s growth. It bloomed pretty profusely in late spring this year, and though it looks prickly and pine-like, it’s a great “touch me” plant in this garden.
The main section of this bed is planted with some mid- & late-summer surprises.
Unassuming right now, the Zauschneria (Epilobium) ‘Everett’s Choice’ will explode with orange-red trumpets later this summer and should be very popular with the hummingbirds that frequent the plaza. Calandrinia spectabilis is also planted here. This spectacular blooming succulent is rare to see in the NW, but it’s a Chilean native and purslane relative that’s pretty darn tough, with weed-like resilience in coastal California. Starting to bud now, it will hold cups of bright magenta blooms aloft about 2’ above its pretty blue-green foliage. The best part: we are expecting it to bloom until frost!
Two other features to note in the main bed are the white-blooming Ozothamnus ‘Radiance’ and the workhorse Salvia guaranitica ‘Black & Blue.’ Ozothamnus (aka Rice Flower) is featured in a couple of the beds here this year to demonstrate its texture and bloom longevity. This plant will bloom until frost—getting better and better as the season progresses—and is woody enough to often overwinter in the NW. Eye-catching in mixed plantings, it’s also drought-tolerant, needs no deadheading, and makes a great cut flower.
Salvia ‘Black & Blue’ is a beloved annual (and often a tender perennial)—one of the most beautiful of the blue Salvias. We’ve featured it here in a head-to-head trial with the newly introduced Salvia ‘Black & Bloom’ (located in the Purple Haze planting). The newer ‘Black & Bloom’ promises bigger blooms and leaves, as well as sturdier stems. We are eager to see if this is indeed an improvement over ‘Black & Blue,’ a favorite of many NW gardeners.