Thinking about pops of color for your garden
The word ephemeral defines anything that lives for just a short time. It’s often used to define flowering plants that are annuals, which grow from seed, mature, flower, and set new seed within just a single growing season. Those suited for dry gardens can be divided into three loosely defined categories:
Annual wildflowers are by far the best example of ephemeral plants yet are among the most misunderstood and underappreciated garden plants for drought. Do not confuse these with perennial wildflowers, which are slower to germinate and more difficult to establish from seed.
Tender bedding plants cannot survive a frost, so they’re absolutely limited to growing season and will be cut down by the first cold mornings of fall. These may be annuals or very fast-growing perennials from mild winter regions that offer lots of color for limited amounts of water.
Bulbs and their kin are a third group of ephemeral plants with growth strictly limited to the rainy season. For example, daffodils originate in arid North Africa and the western Mediterranean where their growing season is typically during the cool, moist winter months, so they come and go before the heat and low humidity of summer. This unusual season of growth is a drought adaptation from their habitat of origin that allows them to lie underground, dormant without a drop of water from about June until early winter.
Five-Plant Palette: Wild Style
- Baileya multiradiata (Desert Marigold)
- Datura meteloides (Jimson Weed)
- Eschscholzia californica (California Poppy)
- Gaura lindheimeri (Gaura)
- Muhlenbergia rigens (Deergrass)
From The Colorful Dry Garden (2018) by Maureen Gilmer with permission of Sasquatch Books. All rights reserved.
By Maureen Gilmer