Never Enough Time

We tried to cram a trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens, a visit to Bob Nold’s garden, and a stop at the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the national rock garden society’s annual plant sale and fund raiser into little more than 24 hours.  It wasn’t enough time! Add on to that a bit of food poisoning to make the trip even more challenging….

Still, we had a good time and got to see cool plants everywhere! We were lucky to spend some time with Mike Kintgen and see some of his favorite plants at DBG.  I didn’t take enough pictures, but I would like to share a few with you.

Chihuly exhibit at DBG

Chihuly exhibit at DBG

You need to go the botanic gardens this year for all sorts of reasons. You can see plants there that you will not see anywhere else in Colorado. The garden designs are inspiring. The plants are fascinating. And the Chihuly exhibit just adds to the experience.  The exhibit lasts until November, so you still have time.  Go!

A really red Agastache aurantiaca hybrid in Bob Nold's garden.

A really red Agastache aurantiaca hybrid in Bob Nold’s garden.

I’ve been obsessed with agastaches for over 20 years. This one is really different! The color is a red without orange….not like anything I’ve ever seen.  Bob’s garden was beautiful and filled with amazing plants, but the only picture I took was this one.  My excuse, if I can offer one, is that I was sick.  I didn’t get any pictures of the cyclamen that are so pretty this time of year, or the huge Cercocarpus ledifolius in his front yard that is the most spectacular specimen of this species I’ve ever seen.

The next three pictures are of the crowd at the chapter fund raiser. It was held at Marcia and Randy Tatroe’s garden. If you like native plants or alpine plants, or cactus and succulents, you need to get to know this group.  If I lived closer to Denver I’d go to all their events. Panayoti, in his charming and humorous way , helped sell the plants, pointing out the stars in each category. There were eriogonums in bloom that I couldn’t resist.  I came home with a flat full of new and different stuff to try here.  It’s so much fun to hang around with plant geeks.  Here’s the link to the chapter website:

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After the sale we got a chance to walk around Marcia’s garden.  It’s good to see a garden in mid-September–you start to notice all the things you missed when it was at its blooming height in spring or early summer.  Foliage and structure are revealed.


I don’t usually like these star patterned petunias, but there was something about this one that caught me.


Little bulbs popped up here and there. Delightful.



I came away from Denver with lots of great plants, and now it’s back to work.  I’ve been reminded that even a short trip can give you new energy and inspiration.




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Dividing Perennials

Even though our nursery is closed to the public until next spring, we still have lots to do. One of the first things on my September to-do list is dividing perennials. A lot of people are afraid to divide plants, or they don’t know when to do it. The general rule is that you divide plants opposite their season of bloom. So, for example, if a plant blooms in spring, dividing in the autumn is best.

Following that logic, it doesn’t take much thought to figure out that now is the time to divide or move peonies.  Peonies are incredibly long lived, and somewhat slow to spread, so unless you have one that is very old, or that is in the wrong place in the garden, there’s really no need to divide or move them.  Still, “when should I move peonies?” is one question we get a lot.

Here’s a quick list of plants that do benefit from fall division: Phlox paniculata (tall garden phlox); Monarda (bee balm); Salvia nemerosa (meadow sage); Stachys lanata (lambs-ear); some penstemons including Penstemon glaber, Penstemon pinifolius, and Penstemon barbatus; and, Leucanthemum superbum (shasta daisy).

Any plant that starts to die out in the center, and flop over onto its neighbor, is hinting that it would appreciate division.  When you divide your plants, make sure you get both a leafy stem and a root with each section. Every plant is a little different, but when you start to pull them apart, you’ll see how they grow and what goes with what.

It’s impotant to note that there are  some plants that don’t like division at all and will most likely die if you attempt it: Aquilegia caerulea (columbine); Gypsophila paniculata (baby’s breath); Linum lewisii (blue flax); Alyssum saxatile (basket of gold); and Lupinus sp. (lupine).

You’ll start to see a pattern in how the plants that can be divided grow compared to the ones that can’t.  If a plant grows from a single growing point and has a taproot, it’s not a candidate for division.  Once you start, you’ll get addicted to this process of making free plants.

In the picture below you can see a single division of Penstemon glaber. There are some new leaves starting on the stem.  This one small piece, when replanted in your garden,  will make a new plant that can grow to 12″ wide by the end of next summer. I love this penstemon, it’s a tough native, it blooms a long time, and it has lived in my garden for 20 years!





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The Nursery is Closed for the Season

We had a good summer and hope you did, too. We know we’ll miss all of you until we meet again next spring. Have a great fall! Check back to our website for information and pictures as the seasons progress.

Aster 'Chilly Winds' blooming at Perennial Favorites

Aster ‘Chilly Winds’ blooming at Perennial Favorites

The asters blooming in the garden are covered with bees and butterflies! I only caught a couple of bees in the picture above, but those of you who were here this week saw hundreds of them!  I hope your garden is home to many, too.

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Labor Day Weekend Sale; Blooming in the Nursery

This is our big annual end of season sale! We’re open 9-5, every day this weekend, including Labor Day. All plants are 25% off! If your garden is lacking late summer or fall color, we can help.  Here are pictures of plants that are blooming in the garden now and that we also have for sale in the nursery.  The first one shows Achillea ‘Moonshine’ and Perovskia (Russian sage.)


Russian sage, again, with Ratibida (Mexican hat) in front of it. I love blues and yellows together.


Campanula incurva, my new favorite rock garden plant.


Aster ‘October Skies’ blooming in August!


Agastache ‘Sonoran Sunset’ is a hummingbird magnet. All the agastaches are. This is a picture from a couple of years ago, but this same plant is blooming in that same spot today.



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Labor Day Weekend Sale

Starting Wednesday, August 27, and going through Monday, September 1, all the plants in the Nursery will be 25% off. In addition to the discount, there is a drawing Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for free plants, at 1 p.m. each day. Hours: 9-5 each day.

Saturday, the drawing is for a Pollinator Collection, a trio of native plants that will attract butterflies, bees, or hummingbirds.


On Sunday the drawing is for Clematis viticella ‘Venosa Violacea’.  Here’s a picture of the one growing on the shade house at the nursery.  Despite being trampled in May, this clematis came back covered in blooms this month.  They are easier than you think!

013Monday we’re giving away a flowering shrub for the xeriscape.

If you find you need to fill in some gaps in the garden, now is the time to do it. Plants still have time to get well established before winter, and will be ready to take off in your garden next spring. We have fruit trees, shrubs, and a great selection of perennials. Monday, September 1 is the last open day of the season, the nursery will be closed after that. Don’t miss out!






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Early August in the Garden

Echinacea tennesseensis is looking good!


We have so many mushrooms growing in the shady grassy areas, I think I could make my own mushroom compost!


This bumblebee was only one of many buzzing around the ‘Kent Beauty’ Oregano.


Russian sage and Mexican hat are in peak form. Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is actually native to Afghanistan, and Mexican hat (Ratibida columnifera) is native to Colorado. Such is the treachery of common names!

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Drop by anytime in August, Wednesday through Saturday, 9-5, to see more blooms and butterflies and bees and birds!


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Planning the Perfect Pollinator Garden

To create a good habitat for bees, birds and butterflies, you need to provide the basics: food and water and places for them to hide from predators. Here’s a hummingbird hanging out near our honeysuckle vine. They like the vine for the nectar and the shelter it offers.

Rufous hummingbird

Rufous hummingbird

It’s important to provide food all during the growing season, because it doesn’t help the bees if your garden is full of flowers in May and then there’s nothing for them to eat in August or September.  Provide a diverse ecosystem and you’ll attract lots of hummingbirds and butterflies and bees.


All the butterflies like pincushion flower. And so do the hummingbird moths (AKA sphinxmoths.)


Bees are everywhere here at Perennial Favorites. They’re not aggressive or mean, they work right alongside me as I plant and weed in the garden.  I know that some people are severely allergic and can’t take the chance of getting accidentally stung, but for the rest of us, bees are good companions in the garden.

Bee on Russian Sage

Bee on Russian Sage

Remember that you cannot spray insecticides if you want to attracts pollinators.  There’s been a lot of news lately about the neonicotinoids, a class of chemicals that are particularly toxic to bees and birds.  We have never used them here and never will! Unfortunately, saying “NO to Neonics” is not enough. I’m afraid that many of the big growers will just switch to another insecticide that could be even more toxic but that hasn’t received the bad press that Neonics have.  When Neonicotinoids were first introduced, they were considered a much milder, more gentle insecticide that what was used at the time,  mostly organophosphates.  (We’ve never used those either!)  The only insecticides we use are soap and neem–both of those are certified organic insecticides–and even with them we are cautious and don’t spray when bees are out. Organic certified doesn’t mean that it’s safe for bees.

This is Kniphofia ‘Mango Echo.’ Kniphofia is native to Africa where they have a bird much like our hummingbird called sunbird. Sunbirds drink nectar from the kniphofias, and so do our hummingbirds.  It’s called convergent evolution (something to Google in your spare time.)034 038Here’s a picture of the hummingbird garden. All the birds flew away when I came out to take the picture. In the bottom left corner you can see a red salvia blooming. Salvia darcyi is native to Mexico and a favorite of hummingbirds. I’ve never been able to get it to survive the winter here, but I’m trying again. I want it to live!  That’s the honeysuckle vine that was in the first picture of this post. You can see why they like it. They can sit on a branch and survey the feeders and the flowers. The agastache is just starting to bloom, too, and that is a fantastic late summer plant for hummers and butterflies.




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An Abundance in August!

Since we’re opening this Friday, August 1, I thought it might be fun to show you what we have in the nursery right now. It’s surprising really, how many plants we have! The first picture is of Rudbeckia ‘Denver Daisy.’  This variety, selected from the native black-eyed Susan, is one of my favorite flowers–long blooming, cheerful, attractive to butterflies–Plant Select picked a winner when they added this one to their collection.

006The lavender blue pincushion flower ‘Butterfly Blue’ has been blooming for months and shows no sign of stopping! The kniphofia in  front of it is ‘Echo Mango,’ a really nice Torch Lily that blooms longer than some.010

Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit.’


This picture is not in the nursery, it’s in the hummingbird garden, but we do have buddleias looking gorgeous in pots, too. I just wanted to include this picture because of the hummingbird.


I don’t know who likes the butterfly bush more, hummingbirds or butterflies.

The yellow flower in the trough below is Ratibida columnifera, AKA Mexican Hat. It’s a very drought tolerant native plant. The one in the trough is a very dwarf form. Usually they grow 18″ tall, but this one is two years old and only 3″ tall. I love the form of it. I’m going to save seed this year and see if it will come true from seed.


Delosperma ‘Fire Wonder’ is a fantastic color in ice plants.  Very long blooming, too.005

We have lots of native shrubs ready that we were out of in the spring, including Apache Plume, the native currant, and Juneberry.

Hope you can visit us soon.








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Hail, NO!

We’ve had quite a few questions on our Facebook page about hail damage, and what to do with plants that have been broken or shredded by hail. I know gardeners all along the Front Range have had to deal with one or more hail storms this year. First let me offer condolences.  Can there be anything worse than watching your beautiful garden wiped out by a fifteen minute storm? Sometimes it can happen in five minutes! We have suffered from two very serious hail storms here, one that was so bad it broke the shade house rafters and sent the roof crashing down on the poor plants underneath. Most of the perennials in the garden were crushed. I can honestly say I know your pain.

A feeble attempt to protect our grapevine from a hailstorm.

A feeble attempt to protect our grapevine from a hailstorm.

After the initial shock of the destruction, it’s good to wait a day or two before rushing out and pulling up plants in disgust. The grapevine, despite losing a bunch of leaves, still gave us grapes that year. Let the hail melt and the plants have a day of sunshine to help them stand back up on their own.  It’s easier to see the real damage then, and to see what might have a chance of coming back this season. Perennials, in general, are not killed by hail. Even annuals can recover if the damage isn’t too great and there is enough time left in the season. Hail in June, while depressing enough, isn’t as bad as hail in August. Trim any broken stems and pick up the leaves that were knocked down. If you don’t clean the plants a little, you leave wounds for diseases to start.

Here’s something to think about for the future. Plants native to high mountain ranges, like alpines and many rock garden plants, aren’t as easily damaged by hail as something with big lush leaves like a hosta.  Dianthus, creeping phlox, creeping thyme, creeping veronica….any creeper!….will be less damaged than other plants. Grasses, ornamental and native, are not easily damaged and they are quick to recover.

What about vegetables? Most of them are very vulnerable to hail. The leafy greens are easily shredded, but they’re also quick to recover. The real loss comes from something like a tomato or pepper that takes so long to produce and can be slow to come back.  I wish everyone could plant tomatoes and peppers in a cold frame or greenhouse that has some protection, both from the cold and from the hailstorms. Late frosts and hail are part of gardening in Colorado, so we have to adapt.  Shade cloth or hail cloth are a little expensive initially, but you can use them for years.  Again, I’m offering this as something to think about for the future.

If you have more questions, please feel free to ask us on Facebook, or email directly.



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In the Garden this Morning

This guy has been hanging around, nibbling on the Harison’s Yellow Rose in the garden. Luckily that rose is vigorous enough it can handle a little nibbling.

001 003The two lavenders in the picture below,  ‘Royal Velvet’ and Lavandula nana alba, have been in the garden in this same spot for over 20 years. They’re happy here, and have even reseeded. 008

How much do I love the color of this black hollyhock! It’s so rich and deep. The picture doesn’t do it justice–I had to take two pictures to try to capture it. The pale yellow one below it is an Alcea ficifolia selection. The common name for this species is fig-leaf hollyhock, and it is much more perennial than the species most people grow, Alcea rosea.  Not that there’s anything wrong with A. rosea, it reseeds and has a wonderful color range.

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Below is Heliopsis ‘Summer Sun.’ Not xeric, really, but it can tolerate a lot of neglect. I tried to kill it in the last two drought years by forgetting to water it and digging up half of it when I decided I needed to plant something else nearby. It ignored my insults and is a beauty at the moment. It’s a great perennial to grow for bouquets.


Another great midsummer bloomer, this is Achillea  ‘Butterscotch.’  It’s very similar to ‘Terracotta.’  Yarrows are super tough and long blooming. I’d like one in every color, and they come in almost every color of the rainbow except blue. I especially like the ones with silvery or gray foliage.

026I forgot to take a picture of the Heuchera ‘Ruby Bells’ blooming in the hummingbird garden, and I may soon devote an entire post to coral bells. I think I’ve finally figured out how to grow them–it only took a couple of decades. Hope your garden is doing well and that you have a great weekend!

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