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Archive for Summer Garden Tips – Page 3

Unusual Flowers to Attract Hummingbirds

Unusual Flowers to Attract Hummingbirds

Today I want to share “Hummer” plants with hot colors for summer that are unique.  I will also list a few very colorful plants that  feed the overwintering hummingbirds in winter.

imagesHardy Fuchsia may be considered common for feeding hummingbirds 8 months out of the year.  Here are 3 varieties that are available locally (Portland, Oregon) that are a little different.  This type of fuchsia is a perennial and not anything like the fuchsia baskets that live in shady patios.  These fuchsias need sun and will come back year after year with simple care.

‘Golden Gate’ Hardy Fuchsia has hot gold leaves and shocking red pink flowers.  It is much smaller than the typically ‘Aurea’ and is an upright shrub instead of a wide vase shape.  It will fit into a smaller garden much better than ‘Aurea’ which can grow 4′ across easily.  We have a local source, a wholesale grower, Jockey Hill, who sells retail at Scappoose Saturday market.

Fuchsia Magellnica ‘Isis’ – this is great against a wall and while the leaf and flower are tiny, it can become a tall column (8′ – 10′) or it can be cut back hard every year and kept in the 4’ range.  Hundreds of flowers will interest many varieties of the larger bees as well as hummingbirds.

President’  Hardy Fuchsia.  It has a dark maroon leaf which is very unusual. This can be hard to find.  We have a local wholesale grower, Jockey Hill, who sells retail at Scappoose Saturday market.  It grows into a wider than tall shrub with purple and red flowers.

agastache-kudos-mandarin Terra Nova photoAgastache, also called Hummingbird Mint, are hot plants for long flowering summer color and for hummingbirds.  My old favorite variety is called ‘Apricot Sunrise’ and is an Agastache aurantica.  There are many new varieties of Agastache that I am very excited about.  ‘Summer Fiesta’,  ‘Summer Sunset’, ‘Kudos Manderin’, and ‘Kudos Coral’ are newer varieties that are more compact.  All of these Agastache are fragrant and smell strongly like mint or apple mint depending on the variety.

If you provide good drainage (think about planting on a low mound of soil), and don’t over water or fertilize …… it can live for years.  I often mulch around these plants with a cup of tiny crushed rock or pumice and I also tend to plant Hummingbird Mint in a raised planting.  Even 4” above the rest of the soil will improve drainage.

Agastache ‘Summer Glow’  did very well in a client’s gardenagastache-kudos-coral until a local rabbit ate them to the ground one too many times.  I love this exact variety, ‘Summer Glow’, because even after the glowing creamy yellow flowers are gone, the mulberry calyeces (under each tubular flower) stay on the plant until frost.  This color is soft but truly does glow especially in the evening.  This variety, like the hummingbird magnets above, results in 3 months of color in the garden.  It’s not red so isn’t as attractive to Hummers.

Here are three great hummingbird attractors for winter:

191 spring promise camellia

Camellia Sasanqua ‘Springs Promise’




Hybrid ‘Springs Promise’ is a new vivid rose red winter flowering Chinese Camellia.



Correa 'Dusky Rose'

Correa ‘Dusky Rose’




Correa ‘Dusky Rose’ Australian Fuchsia is available locally at Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Island.




Arhtu Meziezies Mahonia

‘Arthur Menzies’ Mahonia – photo from Forest Farm.

Mahonia x media ‘Arthur Menzies’   Think small tree so 15’ by 8’ wide.  The fragrance alone is amazing.  It is a coarse but attractive blue green leaf, the flower is a soft but strong yellow and is beloved by the Anna Hummingbirds.  At times you can find it at Portland Nursery, Cistus Design Nursery or Xera Plants, Inc.

You can also order a small plant from Forest Farms




For typical plants that attract hummingbirds go to my video for



Hydrangea Love

Designers mom with  favorite hydrangea

My Mom with Oliver, the Hydrangea

Hydrangea Love

There are several lessons in this story for you, O gentle reader……… to successfully transplant a shrub or tree in July heat……, how to prevent hot weather damage to your plants when we have intense hot weather right on top of weeks of cool rain, (more critical if you agreed to have your garden on a fundraiser tour).  This will also work to restore plants in a container that you forgot to water???? ……………..these helpful lessons all fit into this story.

The story:  My mom and dad planted and named the two hydrangea by the back patio, Mary and Oliver.  Mary was beautiful no matter what but Oliver had troubles.  Every year in early summer, Oliver’s flowers would get crisped.  If they had planted Oliver a few feet closer to the covered patio there would be no problem and no story.   They planted Mary in the afternoon shade of the patio but Oliver got the early afternoon sun in June and July. He was just not a super sun tolerant kind of guy.

He could handle the sun better once the leaves and petals had hardened off in July but in early June, while the leaves and petals were full of spring, freshly unfurled, a 100 degree day or two would toast all the new flowers on the plant.  So Oliver’s flowers would scorch and my parents would then over water Oliver trying to get some water back into his petals. They did not understand that once petals are scorched they stay that way. Oliver’s new flowers were fine but now the plant’s leaves looked terrible. Over watering caused the leaves to wilt and yellow. Oliver was a mess.  I offered to come over and protect Oliver from them. The human Mary and Oliver had long since gone on so these were not really plants to my parents, but symbols of their dear friends.

Protecting plants from heat stress in Portland Area Landscape Design

The Sheet Trick

So how did I do this?  The Sheet Trick!  My first solution was to water once a week and the second solution was to protect Oliver from intense sun.  My solution was time consuming mostly because I lived in NW Portland and my parents lived in Gladstone.  If I was expecting intense sun,  I would drive over, get out some binder clips, drape a white sheet over Oliver to cover all his leaves and flowers and then clip the sheet onto various large stems so it could not blow off.

Because the leaves were covered (this is science folks!) they held in the water rather than letting it go, this is called transpiration. Transpiration is part of the plants photosynthesis process with the sun.  See Wikipedia on photosynthesis.  Since the flower petals and leaves kept their water, they stayed cool enough and did not scorch. I would not leave the sheet on for more three days at a time so I didn’t have to go over there every single day, just when I knew it was going to be hot.

Hydrangea PistachioWhat’s important for you gentle reader is that this sheet trick is handy beyond belief for all kinds of things.  Number 1  best tip ever for transplanting a shrub in the summer…….keep it covered for 3 days and I mean immediately or even during the digging of the plant if you are feeling compulsive.  Use it to protect flowering plants if we have intense heat while the flower petals are still new and soft. Use this trick if you have had an irrigation boo boo and your plants in one area didn’t get any water and  have wilted.  Presto, sprinkle the leaves with water gently, water the plant and cover for a few days……..your plant will have a better chance of recovery.

Every generation loves hydrangeas, my parents loved theirs, I love them although confess I have none of my own down here on the floating river house, my step daughters would love to have them…..maybe I can fix that this year.  They also look mighty fine with ornamental grasses so not just for an old fashioned garden but could be used in more modern gardens if placed thoughtfully.