Xeriscape garden plan - better substitutes for the pink plants

BradleyQT(z5 Westminster/Broomfield)February 10, 2008

All right intrepid gardeners,

I bought a HUD home in August. The backyard needs some TLC. I'd like to winter sow plants to help improve my backyard. But first I need some plant help!

My plan is for a family/dog friendly backyard that is also xeric. During the spring/summer/fall, I'm a weekend gardener at best so the yard needs to be low maintenance as well.

I found a xeric landscape plan ( Easy Living - half way down the page) that I like for a variety of reasons (focus on affordable plants, uses existing back deck structure, low maintenance, grassy space).

I've been researching the plants. I am not a fan of the bright pink plants in the plan (coral bells, Hancock coralberry, Red-leaf rose and purple iceplant).

I'm fine with the more mellow Mexican Evening Primrose.

I'm looking for advice! I'd like to find xeric plants that would compliment the other plants in the plan, without being bright pink.

I found a and a , but I'm very open to other great options.


~becca in Broomfield

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dafygardennut(5b-ish, CO)

I don't have any xeric experience, but here's an older thread with pics that may help until someone with more knowledge than I pops in. If you're planning on staying around this forum, don't forget to sign in on the Who's Here thread and consider the Spring Swap as there are bound to be people with xeric plants there.


Here is a link that might be useful: Xeric garden pics

    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 9:51PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Hi, Becca in Broomfield!

Hey, this is my kind of thread, LOL. Well, except the dog friendly part, we have cats, but I'm on board with the family friendly/xeric/no pink part!

Some of the plants I'm going to list are already on that link you provided, but maybe you'll get a couple of new ideas.

These are things I know are low maintenance, low water, and my kids haven't killed them yet:

Achillea 'Anthea' (pretty creamy yellow), or 'Terra Cotta', or 'Paprika'
Agastache 'Apache Sunset' (peach/lavender)
Aquilegia chrysantha (yellow)
Asclepias tuberosa (comes in orange, yellow, or a red/orange/yellow mix)
Coreopsis 'Creme Brule', 'Autumn Blush' 'Sunburst' (these are blooming machines)
Delosperma congestum (this is a yellow Iceplant)
Dianthus knappii (soft yellow)
Echinacea 'Sunrise' or 'Harvest Moon'
Gaillardia 'Goblin' 'Golden Goblin' 'Oranges & Lemons' and 'Burgandy' (these bloom ALL summer)
Heuchera 'Creme Brulee' 'Crimson Curls' 'Marmalade' 'Amethyst Myst' and 'Amber Waves'(Coral Bells) - these aren't really xeric, and I buy them for the foliage, you can cut the blooms off if you don't like their color)
Penstemon pinifolius 'Compactum' (red)
Sedum 'Postman's Pride' (Burgandy) 'Dragon's Blood' (groundcover)
Solidago 'Fireworks' Solidago

Gaillardia 'Oranges & Lemons'

Gaillardia 'Goblin'

Coreopsis 'Sunburst'

Coreopsis 'Creme Brule'

Coreopsis 'Autumn Blush'

Echinacea 'Sunrise'

Plus some yellow and red daylillies. Oh, and Shasta daisies too!

This year I'm trying:
Alyssum 'Golden Queen' (I think it's also called Basket of Gold)
Geum 'Blazing Sunset'
Helenium 'Moorheim Beauty'
Lychnis 'Lumina Bronzeleaf Red' (related to Maltese Cross)

So you see, I have plenty of stuff to fill my flower beds without resorting to a speck of pink!!! I'm so glad to find someone else that isn't fond of pink flowers. If you notice, I don't have any blue ones either, LOL. That's the beauty of gardening, you get to grow what YOU like.

Happy gardening, and welcome to the Rocky Mountain Gardening Forum!


    Bookmark   February 10, 2008 at 11:08PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Becca,

Welcome to RMG, and congratulations on your graduation from a balcony to a real live yard!

I think you may want to reconsider your decision about the Mexican Evening Primrose! Unfortunately its one of the REALLY bad thugs. HereÂs a link to an RMG thread about it, and thereÂs a link in this thread back to another thread berating it.

And one other comment about a plant in that collection. Yes, you can get the coral bells in the ivory or there are some white varieties, but IÂve not found the Heuchera sanguinea to be xeric in any sense of the word. I had ÂFirefly which is the brightest, reddest one, and (it was planted in mostly sun) even with constant watering, the leaves were always sun burned. I knew it had to be moved, but by the time I actually got around to doing it, it was too late and it didnÂt survive. IÂll be looking for a new oneÂand itÂll be going in at least half shade and will still get extra water. Does anyone else consider the H.s. to be xeric?

Do sign in on the WhoÂs Here thread, as Dafy has already suggested, and do consider coming to the Spring Swap! I can bring cuttings of a bunch of different ground cover sedums for you, and I might even be able to bring a small piece of the white iceplant, Delosperma basuticum ÂWhite Nugget. And IÂm sure there will be other xeric things there. ItÂs a great way to get some free plants to try, and a really fun way to meet some fellow garden nuts.

And thereÂs also something I happened to hear on a gardening show on TV today that you might be interested in! Someone with lots of dogs was explaining how she had laid out her yard, and she said that after she moved in she first watched to see where the dogs made their paths, then she laid out the yard based on that and put the paths where she knew the dogs were going to run (and trample things down anyway), and planted the flowers and shrubs along the paths. That seemed like a really excellent plan to me, because when I had a dog, I found it extremely difficult to keep her where I wanted her to beÂand she DID almost always take the same route around the yard. So you just might be saving yourself a lot of extra work by planning your yard around your pets, rather than trying to train your pets to go where you want them to in your yard.

If I get a chance IÂll try to post pictures of some of the sedums in the next couple days. Oh, and I have several different hen & chicks too, and theyÂre the absolutely easiest-to-grow things you can have.

Hope to meet you at the swap,

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 1:16AM
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BradleyQT(z5 Westminster/Broomfield)

Sky, you and I watched the same gardening show! Her border collies were so cute and excited to play in her pond. I don't actually have a dog yet though. My roommate's cats run the house right now. If he moves out in the next couple of years, I'd love to get a dog. I'm just not sure I can wait to garden until I get a dog.

I am quite content to skip the Mexican Primrose, especially after looking at highalt's list.

On the plan, there are rocks for a rock garden which I'm not as interested in. But I was thinking of putting pots where the rocks are. It sounds like I could put the Missouri Primrose in a pot.

One of the things I liked about the other plants was that, despite their color, they were more "garden-y" looking.

As I am thinking about this though, I may be able to compensate and create a "more garden-y" garden by using pots to plant "more traditional" plants. Maybe even just squash and sweet potato vine in large, low pots would balance the spiky, more delicate xeric plants that compose the rest of the garden. I don't have a sprinkler system right now but it is in the plans. I could run a drip line to the garden and to some permaculture containers.

Planning, planning. It's at least half the fun!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 2:46AM
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gardenbutt(rocky mt 4-5)

Hello Becca,
When I sit down to do design with someone we always discuss their needs first before we ever make it to the garden.Like the shows people watch, I always suggest to people watch their pets and children in the yard, see where they routinely walk, play and go potty(important dog sizes as well as male or female).I also suggest to the homeowners that they themselves pay attention to where they walk around,prefer to sit,amount of outside use,where they do maintenance(including water sytems, doggy doo disposal, composting,etc.Lets not forget lighting,wether your going to want some potted veges etc,,As well as sound,do you need something close to the deck to blend in noise, such as a fountain or small water feature.
Then we discuss views, as in look out your windows,remember this is what your going to look at year round, so be sure to think either hardscape or interesting winter plantings.I explain we also need to look at what spaces need creative camoflauge, wether its the far end of the yard where you compost or an air conditioning unit, etc.
From here we do a basic yard plan.Figureing in where your pet does all their business.If this is a male dog I would suggest you are careful about stone and container placement as well as small evergreens.Larger dogs such as labs will customize many veges in planters,Cats are also known for digging plants out of containers and using them for a potty.
Okay so you sit down and draw out your yard,front back and house placement on the lot.Now look at the areas you have defined as pet space,window views,walkways,edgeing,camoflauging areas,Where your water and power hook-ups are etc, Sketch these in and see if the plan you picked will still work around them.This is important since its your preplanning space, its where you should be figureing out future elements you will be adding and hardscaping.By this I am suggesting you preplan spaces for things such as a storage sheds or whatever you may move into the backyard.You do not want to plant a shrub or tree and have to dig or cut it off 5 or 10 years from now to move a shed in.These type of things are easy to plan for now.You also need to look for the easist routes for your drip or sprinkler systems, even if you do not put them in now, you can preplan the mainlines,this also includes running around to the front of your home if you landscape it.Same goes for laying out hoses if you will be using them for watering,less work dragging and smashing plants.Figure out where you can afford to put in small amounts of hardscaping,wether its a pathway or edging,as well as stone placements,These are the elements which really tie your garden in.They are there in good and bad weather,they add demension to the area.
Next you should check out your lighting times as well as which parts may get more wind, where the snow melts first,where the frosts hit first,etc.Sometimes these areas can be used to push seasons or protectless hardy plants.
Then of course there is soil,whats under the sod? Xeriscape gardens do take soil prepping,if you want plants to do well.At times you may even need to add gravel pockets for particular plants who need better drainage.
I would suggest all these things ,before you commit to a plan.The one you are looking out uses the rocks to allow for some lower growing plants which would be quickly covered up by larger plants,by doing this they are able to add demension with ups and downs.The rocks also offer up height for fall and winter.The pink colored flowers picked in this plan appear to be there for color blending.To give a cooler relaxed effect.Where as when you toss in bright yellows and oranges you tend to make a brighter warm garden.Whites usually stay in the neutral, fading into the grey blue tones or popping out of the red,yellows and oranges.
LOl, guess this got long, anyhow my whole point is what I tell my clients, research, and preplan.Yes its the boring stuff and I know it changes as one goes, but in the long run it can save a heck of alot of money and time. If you have the actual garden plan figured out and its really about plants and money, I always suggest, hardscape, soils trees and shrubs first.Fill in with annuals,herbs and veges, buying the perennials(clearance sales are great), seed starting etc, as you go.These are you back bones that will rarely change, so getting them in and growing healthy is important.
Our main gardens lean to xeriscape,using much less water then people think,even though they are extremely lush and full.Our rooftop however is extremely xeriscape,all plants growing in 4inches of soil or less.
Hope this gives you some other pointers to look at as your jumping in.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 1:49PM
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jaliranchr(z5 EC CO)

Becca, lots of good suggestions. On the Mexican Evening Primrose? ..... no .... no ... no .... a 1000 times no. I say that with a sincere desire to see you succeed and be happy. Don't do it. :)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 2:15PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

I second the motion from Jali -- don't do the Mexican Evening Primrose, even if it's in a pot -- it spreads by seeds, so you'll still have invasion problems!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 5:15PM
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Hi, Becca - my whole front yard is xeriscaped. For pink plants I used "Red Rocks" penstemon, "Red Fox" veronica, and "Coral Canyon" twinspur (it's got a bit of salmon in it but it has a great long blooming period). Pictures of these can be Googled easily, I'll be happy to give you seedlings or divisions this spring if you like any of them.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2008 at 12:05PM
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