Coneflower cornucopia and other garden delights


The garden photobomber strikes again, this time peeking out of a bower of purple coneflower and ‘Color Guard’ yucca.


A wider view shows that I was being watched as I photographed the pond garden. Early summer is a pretty time here, as the coneflowers color-coordinate with the ‘Colorado’ water lilies in the pond.


A ‘Wilson’s Yellow’ daylily has snuck into this planting bed somewhere along the way. Do you ever forget that you’ve moved a plant from one spot to another, only to be surprised later? Yeah, I didn’t think I was the only one.


Purple coneflowers have long been a favorite of mine. These prairie natives are like vanilla ice cream — simple, classic, and crowd pleasing.


These came from seed collected in my former garden, and they were one of the first plants to grow in my new garden. Stripey ‘Color Guard’ yucca and fall aster foliage distract from the coneflower’s stork-like legs.


Here’s a wide view of this bed, which screens the base of the elevated deck and curves around the sunburst stone path that surrounds the stock-tank pond. I try to keep these bamboo muhly grasses (Muhlenbergia dumosa) clipped for a more manicured look, and they’re due for a haircut. In other parts of the garden, however, I let these grasses grow tall and bushy.

After several redesigns here over the years, I finally exercised enough restraint to run a curving line of ‘Color Guard’ yuccas backed by bamboo muhly, emphasizing the circular geometry of this area. Small limestone boulders I collected throughout the yard casually edge this bed.


Purple coneflowers add summer color at one end, ‘Peter’s Purple’ monarda at the other. Sheared balls of ‘Winter Gem’ boxwood mark the four “doorways” into the pond garden.


Looking up the hillside path toward the gate — the ‘Blue Ice’ Arizona cypress just keeps growing, beautifully screening the house next door. Every time I walk by I brush its needles for the Christmasy scent.


Heading the other way, toward the far side of the back garden, I stop to admire a second bloom stalk on a soap aloe (Aloe maculata). The hummingbirds will be happy to see this. Moby the ‘Whales’ Tongue’ agave (A. ovatifolia) stretches his flukes in the background.


And looking back toward the stock-tank pond


Wandering out front, I’m happy to still be happy with the new front door color.


White skullcap (Scutellaria suffrutescens) softens the edge of a steel pipe remnant-turned-planter for a trio of ‘Burgundy Ice’ dyckias. Two of the original three didn’t survive the winter, so I replaced them. A painted metal heart made by Bob Pool adds a little love (and color).


The curbside garden along the front of the house is looking particularly lush and happy, but our long, cool spring has delayed the flowering of the autumn sage (Salvia greggii). It won’t be long; the first hot-pink flower has already appeared. Meanwhile, the pale-lilac blossoms of Mexican oregano are feeding the hummingbirds, and the grassy foliage of purple fountain grass (replaced annually), garlic chives, and Mexican feathergrass adds softness and movement. Everything out here must, of course, be as deer resistant as possible, and grassy or strong-scented foliage is the ticket.


Looking left, I pause to admire my neighbor’s streetside garden, which I planted for her a couple of years ago. Because this bed receives more sun than mine, her autumn sage is in full bloom, along with ‘Peter’s Purple’ monarda and Jerusalem sage. A hummingbird darted in while I was watching for a sip from the monarda blossoms.


This is the view from the street, looking toward my house and new fence, with a two-year-old ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave growing quickly in the center of the bed. The large red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) at back was already there when I planted, and I simply incorporated it into the new bed. Sadly, whenever it flowers the deer devour the bloom stalks, but at least the foliage is striking.

Thanks for joining me for a garden stroll today!

All material © 2006-2014 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

26 Responses

  1. Dee Nash says:

    Ah, how much it’s changed in only a few weeks. Love that color coordination with the echinacea and water lilies. Also, I wish I could get Arizona cypress to grow for me. So far, I have’t found the right place. So glad I got to visit and see your “new” garden.~~Dee

  2. Your garden looks great! And, WAY ahead of mine.

    I have never had luck with coneflower here. Maybe not enough sun, where I tried it. I do like it, so I’ll try again.

    Your Peter’s Purple looks shorter than mine. Do you prune it?

  3. Shirley says:

    As always, I enjoyed the walk through your garden and it all looks so good. Thinking back, it’s been amazing to follow what you’ve done with this garden in just a few years.

    Cosmo is the sweetest garden accessory.

  4. I love the profusion of coneflowers in your garden. So cheery. I used to have 20+ coneflowers but many of them have died over the years–they seem to hate wet soil in the winter.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Wow, 20+ varieties? I’ve tried various cultivars of purple coneflower over the years, but the standard, native variety is the only one that’s ever thrived for me. I’m sorry you lost yours, Gerhard, but I’m sure you found something fabulous to take their place. —Pam

  5. This is so exciting to see! So much happens in early summer. Thanks so much for these awesome pics, which provide more and more perspective for those not fortunate to visit your garden :) As we try to landscape our very plain, ordinary, suburban garden and turn it back to some of its former, Native glory, I’m so very grateful for these pictures as they give us here good advice on what goes well with what, what needs what sort of light, and what’s blooming when. Mostly, we’re just blundering through and trying to keep all our dear plants well mulched and watered as the earth turns her eye towards “The Death Star!!” Happy gardening, Pam!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Kapila, that’s exactly what I hope local readers glean from my posts: an idea of what grows well here, when it blooms, companion plant ideas, etc. I started reading local garden blogs years ago because most gardening magazines and books are oriented to gentler, more temperate climates, and I wanted locally relevant gardening info and inspiration. I’m so glad to know you find that here at Digging! —Pam

  6. TexasDeb says:

    My coneflowers are snugged in beds among pink primrose and daisy plants that delay them from coming out until later in the year. As a result they are just beginning to send bloom stalks up out of their rosettes while everybody else’s are in full bloom. Seeing yours I can barely wait for my own mini-display. Every time I see them massed I resolve to get more but the competition for the few deer-free sunny spots they enjoy is intense.

  7. peter schaar says:

    Pam, I’m with Kapila! Your blog is so helpful and reassuring. My S. greggiis haven’t started blooming yet either. BTW, have you thought of painting the wood posts and trim of the front porch the same elegant blue as the door?

  8. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Fabulous stroll. Thanks for bringing us along. I think you should have named Cosmo ‘Blossom’ since he likes to be in the flower beds. He is a cutie. I really like the metal planter with the heart in it. A nice touch. Your garden is romping now.

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Ha ha — like the skunk in Bambi, right? I like the idea of the garden “romping.” It seemed a baby and then a toddler garden for so long. But now it’s big enough to romp a little. —Pam

  9. Kris P says:

    The purple coneflowers I planted last fall are just now forming buds – I hope they look as good as yours when they bloom. Your entire garden looks great and Cosmo is one of the most photogenic garden companions around!

    • Pam/Digging says:

      Thanks, Kris! Cosmo is getting a big head from all the compliments. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, as we’ve always thought he had a bit of a pinhead. ;-) —Pam

  10. Heather says:

    I love that you so effortlessly combined echinacea with agave. Gorgeous!

  11. Jeanette says:

    That first picture is precious. Your garden is Lovely!

  12. Katina says:

    Love the shot of the coneflower against the ‘shed’ door.

  13. Susan says:

    My coneflowers look great this year. I live east of Dallas. I think they do better when we have hard freezes over the winter. I think they get more “rest”. In regards to your purple fountain grass, my local nursery had a new grass this year that looks like purple fountain but is perennial. It is called “Princess Caroline”( I think). You might check it out.

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