Saturday, July 22, 2017


I think it is important to document the failures as well as the successes. Sometimes plants start out promising, do well for a season, or with special coddling, then fail. Sometimes I buy plants that "should" do well, since they do well in Santa Fe, or Denver, but don't.

Phlox kelsyi is a miniature phlox which is sold by alpine nurseries, High Country Gardens, and had a good review by Robert Nold in his book High and Dry. He does describe it as having a "preference for wet, alkaline areas, these do dry out in summer and autumn, and so P. kelseyi will work quite well in a dry rock garden." I was very optimistic, since I think that Phlox kelsyi vies with Scutellaria resinosa for being the cutest plants ever, to grow in my climate. I've tried Phlox kelsyi 'Lemhi Purple' and Phlox kelsyi 'Lemhi Midnight' which originate in Idaho. 'Lemhi Purple' survived in an area of the garden with high shade from a pine tree, but then one of the three plants died after being shaded slightly from a nearby rosemary plant. I'm not sure if it was the shading that did it, since soon after, the next plant down died also. 'Lemhi Midnight' bloomed about the same color as 'Lemhi Purple' after shrugging of the winter without complaint, but once the heat came, the plant except for the part directly under the drip emitter. Even that part doesn't look very happy. Hand irrigating didn't seem to help. I think these plants are cold tolerant, but not heat tolerant. This is a big disappointment for me, since I love the look of these plants.  Maybe it needs heavy irrigation.

Phlox kelsyi 'Lemhi Midnight'
This is what it looked like this spring:

I also love the look of the dryland clematis, also known as sugarbowls. These are also incredibly cute and apparently do well at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I'm not sure if these count as a failure, if they are marginal, or if I'm just not doing something right. They seem to emerge robustly in the spring,  and I did have two blooms this year (none last year), but when the heat hits, the leaves die. The interesting thing is that a few weeks later, new leaves spring from the roots, just in time for (but before) the late summer monsoons. This happened last year as well as this year, and irrigation didn't seem to make a difference this year. I'm not sure if this is just the way the plants grow, or if they are killed by the intense sun and this is a survival mechanism (and the plants are barely surviving). In either case, I'm still trying. I'm also going to try growing some companion plants around some of them, to see if that helps.

Here's what one looks like today, with the spring foliage brown, and the newly emerging late summer growth. 

As a reminder of this past spring, this is the reason why I want to grow them:

I also tried Clematis integrifollia 'Lake Baikal' from Plant Delights nursery. This one did not survive its first summer, the leaves burning even with fairly attentive hand watering and heavy mulch.
When it was alive, it had nice flowers. Unfortunately, it is now dead. I'd like to try again in a different location if I can find a source for a good Clematis integrifolia, especially since C. integrifolia 'Rooguchi' seems to be doing adequately well for me, and is lovely.

Clematis integrifolia 'Lake Baikal'

1 comment:

  1. In my earlier days in ABQ, I quickly learned ABQ is much more like Las Cruces than Denver or even Santa Fe, looking at growing season, summer heat, and many native plants. All my climate and ecoregion research, even Koppen's chart, are telling.

    I don't blame you for trying some of those that make it at DBG or in North Carolina. That blue clematis is a good one.