The Pollinator’s Garden – Year 1

Rudbeckia, Texas Scarlet Sage, and May Night Salvia
Rudbeckia, Texas Scarlet Sage, and May Night Salvia

The pollinator’s garden made its start with a rainier than usual summer. My goal was to test the seeds’ propagation rate and performance in the dry heat of July with little additional irrigation.  This was important, as I intend to plant hardy natives at the neighborhood entrances and eventually create a demonstration garden in our community open space.  I also hoped to give the garden structure by using a plan.

Though I’m happy to see the primary plants made a good start.  I chose six plants to start indoors from seed,  Penstemon strictus (Rocky Mountain Penstemon),  Linum lewisii (Blue Flax), Rudbeckia hirta (Blackeyed Susan), Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), and the grasses Bouteloua gracilis (Blue Grama), and Pennisetum alopecuroides Compressum (Fountain Grass).

The most disappointing was the penstemon, none made it after hardening off.  There were so many seedlings after stratification in a damp paper towel, kept dark in a foil wrapping for 2 months in the crisper, then transferred to seed pods.   The large amounts of rain in May filled the newly put out seed trays to overflowing, even when sheltered under the deck.  During this time the hardiest were the Rudbeckia and Echinacea,  surviving intervals of water-logged to parched soils.

A Susan Like No Other

From seed to flower, only one plant flowered this year, and boy did the Rudbeckia make a great impression. Four plants grew to 24″w x 36″ h.  While perky in June, they turned rangy with the July rain.  Yet their charm never diminished.  The picture below was taken in early September. Having grown these from seed before the native variety is not long lived, so will see if they come back next year.

Blackeyed Susan Beauty in September

But alas none of the other plants gave as much of a show.  In fact the Linum failed after planting, leaving only the Echinacea with an 80% success rate.  Those that survived have two to three large leaves and are about 12″ tall.  I expect they will flower next year.

The fountain grass is growing well and during the July rains I was able to get many blue grama seeds to germinate as well as linum.  Now if only my dog Katie would stop eating the grass, I’d know how large to expect them!

Texas Scarlet Sage


To fill in I planted Salvia coccinia (Texas Scarlet Sage) and Salvia nemerosa (May Night).  The scarlet sage may not survive the winter, a pity considering their beauty.

Salvia nemerosa is a striking dark purple against the bright blue of Linum lewesii

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The garden has changed over the years.

An amateur gardener who loves to watch the garden grow.