Last July, on the High Desert Garden Tour in Bend, I was happy to see a place to pause in a xeriscaped garden. What is xeriscaping, you may ask. Here’s the dictionary definition:
a landscaping method developed especially for arid and semiarid climates that utilizes water-conserving techniques (such as the use of drought-tolerant plants, mulch, and efficient irrigation)
Are xeriscaped gardens boring? No! This garden was designed by Rick Martinson, formerly of Wintercreek Restoration and Nursery. He’s now the executive director of the Worthy Garden Club. Rick has been encouraging people to use plants that require little water for years.
There are an abundance of flowers growing along the path near the Hayden Homes Amphitheater in Bend, Oregon. I always look forward to walking there in the late summer and early fall months. Can you see why?
I saw this gorgeous red Indian paintbrush at Great Basin National Park in Nevada. This park doesn’t get as many visitors as others nearby, but it’s definitely worth a visit. We enjoyed our drive up to the the 10,000 foot level of Wheeler Peak. We drove by ancient stands of singleleaf pinyon pine, Great Basin bristlecone pine, and curlleaf mountain mahogany covered with a dusting of spring snow. These brilliant wildflowers were near the beginning of the 12-mile long Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive.
Once a year, in the middle of June, Clearwater Native Plant Nursery opens its gates to the public. This contract grow nursery provides native plants for restoration and landscaping projects. Plants sold here grow well in upland, riparian, and wetland habitats. The nursery is located in Redmond, Oregon.
Clearwater Native Plant Nursery provided plants to the Deschutes Land Trust for the restoration of Whychus Creek, 15 miles to the northwest. The plantings provided wildlife habitat and helped stabilize the soil near the creek.
Clearwater Native Plant Nursery Annual Sale
I had never been to their annual sale before. This nursery is not open to the public the rest of the year.
We arrived soon after opening and there were already a lot of people there. Plants ranged in price from $3 for a 4-inch pot, to $27 for a 5-gallon pot.
I saw flowers, flowers everywhere while walking the riverside trail in the Old Mill District of Bend this morning. This is my favorite time of year to walk by the plantings near the amphitheater. Can you see why?
I saw this bold blue sage border in the 80-acre Oregon Garden, located in Silverton, Oregon. It’s impressive how they pay attention to all the plants surrounding bold flowers such as these. The framing brings out their best features.
Here’s a colorful corner filled with blooming summer flowers. This planting includes: hollyhocks, foxglove, blanket flowers, ‘orange blaze’ red hot poker, black-eyed Susan, pansies, and more. I’m looking forward to seeing them again in a few months.
You may have heard of this plant referred to in the classic western, Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. But did you know purple sage is not actually in the sagebrush family? It’s a type of sage in the mint family, Lamiaceae, and one of its common names is “mint sage.” If you crush the leaves in your hand you’ll be able to tell why.
I’ve seen purple sage, Salvia dorrii, in various high desert locations in eastern Oregon. Gray Butte, just northeast of Smith Rock, is a great place to see this native shrub in full bloom.
Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is tucked into the northeastern corner of Oregon and the western edge of Idaho. We visited Hells Canyon in the spring last year. At the overlook, the meadows were carpeted in wildflowers. Perfect timing for pictures!
Many different types of flowers were in full bloom.
We had great weather to take in the panoramic view. The Snake River winds through this canyon nearly 8,000 feet below the canyon rim. Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in North America, is almost 2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon.
We stopped at the Kiger Gorge overlook on Steens Mountain in August and saw tiny flowers at our feet. These are prostrate lupines, Lupinus lepidus var. lobbii. I put my hand in the picture just to give you an idea of the scale.
This native plant grows in alpine habitats. The tiny blue or purple flowers measure 1/3 inch across. The plant grows to a height of 4-6 inches. Another common name for this low profile plant is “dwarf lupine.” Lupines have distinctive leaves that are almost star-like in form. The seedpods are often covered with soft “hair.”
I saw these blazing star beauties at the top of Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon last August. Pilot Butte is an extinct volcano that is a state scenic viewpoint. It’s a great place to visit for a 360 degree high desert view! You can see in the photos that these flowers are growing on cinder rocks. The Sisters volcanic peaks are in the background of the last picture.
The fringed gentian, Gentianopsis thermalis, grows in meadows, bogs, and on moist ground. This species prefers growing in warm places and it’s common near geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. It is the official flower of the park.
This plant grows to a height of 4-16 inches and blooms in May through August. This annual has purple flowers 1.5-3 inches in length. The showy flowers are fringed along the edges.
Fringed gentians can be found across northern Canada and south through the Rocky Mountains and into parts of New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada.
Native Americans used gentians to treat headaches and as an antidote to witchcraft.
Fun fact: The flowers curl up and close on cloudy days leaving just the tops visible. The closed flowers resemble a small windmill.