Back Yard Plant List

The plants I track in my Colorado garden.

Zone: 5

Light: 2020 – 30% sun, 35% part-shade, 35% shade. Looking out my patio I face northwest and the majority of the yard is shaded by numerous trees throughout the day.  A large maple was removed in 2019 at the southwestern edge that has created more sun in the center. Sunniest spot is the North-central strip of the yard where  flower and vegetable gardens. The outer edges of the yard is partial to full shade. The shady areas are mostly dry shade due to a lack of irrigation under most of the trees. On the southern side of the house is sunny where a pollinator’s garden resides.

Soil: Amended Clay

2021 Prairie


  1. Prunus persica ‘Redhaven’ Peach (1)  Planted on east side of shed.
  2. Rosa ‘Claire Austin’ Ausprior  (1) Climbing David Austin rose with creamy white flowers.
  3. Rosa ‘Emily Bronte’ Ausearnshaw (1) Shrub David Austin rose soft pink apricot fading to cream.

In purchase  High Country Gardens

  1. Gracillimus Miscanthus Grass  – Quantity: 3
  2. Blue Reflection® Veronica  Quantity: 3
  3. Dark Knight Caryopteris clandonensis  Quantity: 1
 These plants will form a border between the prairie and more formal lawn.  I will also purchase a columnar grass to border the dry pond.  Karl Forester perhaps. This can easily be purchased at most any garden center.
Seeding for prairie: See Natives for 2021
1. Papaver somniferum (Poppy)  – seeded in both the pollinator garden and the flower bed, bright red puff balls. –  came up in the back of the flower bed.  I don’t know if these are annuals? If so I might try again early next year.
  1. Papaver somniferum (Poppy)  – seeded in both the pollinator garden and the flower bed, bright red puff balls. –  came up in the back of the flower bed.  I don’t know if these are annuals? If so I might try again early next year.
  2. Phacelia tanacetifolia (Bee’s friend).   dry, sun  — Never came up when sown outdoors in the flower and pollinator gardens.
  3. Talinum paniculatum (Jewels of Opar / fameflower) — Never came up when sown outdoors in the flower and pollinator gardens. 
  4. Nicotiana sylvestris (night-scented tobacco) – A new fave.  Sown indoors February, planted out A. June Container Blooming late August.  B. July in ground – Just blooming now as I planted out late.

2020 The prairie part deux — All are NATIVE except where noted.

  1. Dalea purpurea – Purple flower clusters on 12″ stalks.  Found roadside Utah desert its not doing well in Colorado irrigated clay.
  2. Ratabida columnifera  Prairie Coneflower – 3’h x 2’w Yellow rays and a light brown columnar center.  The leaves are nicely shaped.
  3. Liatris – Dotted Gayfeather – seeds never germinated.
  4. Koeleria macanthra – June Grass cool season bunch grass, 12″ tall with flower stalks upto 20″ in June.  Nice front of the border in clay.
  5. Bouteloua curtipendula Side-oats grama – Warm season bunch grass 12″ tall with flower stalks upto 30″.  Pretty red flowers in August.
  6. Iris – burgundy – planted in back bed, non-native but given by a very nice neighbor.
  7. RIP — Syringia vulgaris – Fragrant Lilac 2 whips from Arbor Day Foundation.
  8. Yucca filamentosa – ‘Color guard’  If this yucca survives the dry cold 2020 winter it will go into a dark colored pot as a specimen plant in the original pollinator’s garden.
  9. Anaphalis margaritacea – Pearly everlasting.  Great White clustered flowers that attracts all kinds of native pollinators.  Highly recommend.


2019 The prairie skeleton

  1. Cerastium tomentosum ( Snow in Summer ) – Non-native grey green fuzzy leaved ground cover.  White flowers are quite pretty as well.
  2. Andropogon Gerardii (Big bluestem)  NATIVE – 5 ft h x 3 ft w. Warm season bunch grass. Planted in clay.  Dog loves to chew on it so its been corraled.
  3. Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)  NATIVE Warm season bunch grass.  Planted 10 in clay  and all but one died.  Supposed to have lovely bronzy fall color.
  4. Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Firewitch’ (4)  6″ h x 12″ w.  Gray-green leaves with bright pink flowers.  Planted on the mound – great early summer color.  Does not reliably rebloom with dead-heading.
  5. Sporobolus heterolepsis (Prairie Dropseed)  Cool season bunch grass.  Planted 8 and all but one died.  The last is planted closest to the walkway in the row of June grass.
  6. Aster laevi (Smooth Aster) NATIVE – 24″  h x 20″ w.  Late summer purple flowers have cheery yellow centers.  Sit on stems with opposite leaves.  Great addition for late season nectar source.
  7. Monarda fistulosa (Bergamot) NATIVE – 36″ h x 30″ w. Light purple flowers that bumble bees love.  Monarda was moved to prarie garden in 2020. In 2021 it was the star of the show.  Highly recommend.
  8. Ruta graveolens (Rue) (1), 2′ h x 2′ w, Non-native herb.  Bluish green leaves with small yellow clustered flowers.  Can be used as a insect repellent. highly toxic.  This now sits in the patio raised bed to stand guard against mosquitos.
  9. Actaea rubra (Baneberry) (1) 2′ h x 2′ w, NATIVE woodland garden plant, bright green serrated leaves, with white flowers in spring and red berries in fall.  I thought this guy had died, but no – 2021 he reappeared.  Probably needs more water than it was given.

Removed: Silver maple

The silver maple comes down, well mostly


  1. RIP Blueberry — dying — soil never amended
  2. RIP Elderberry — sumbucus didn’t survive
  3. Penstemon virens (Penstemon) (1) 1.5′ h x 1′ w,  purple flowers with white throat summer bloom, with  lance shaped leaves.


  1. Peach trees from seed. Need to try grafting?
  2. RIP Hakone Grass Planted beneath apple. 2018 DEAD Too dry.
  3. Sedum Sunsparkler ?? may have moved that to the front.
  4. RIP Cornus Canadensis (bunchberry) Planted along back fence. Moved to raised bed south side 2018.
  5. RIP Arborvitae (3) Planted along back fence. 1 survives (2020) but has not grown above 10″ tall.
  6. Malus Transitoria ‘Royal Raindrops’ (1) 20h x 15w Crabapple Tree planted beneath ailing silver maple. Doing well so far. Purple leaves and magenta pink flowers in April.  Upright, spreading shape.


  1. Thuja Occidentalis ‘North Pole’ – Arborvitae (1) 12’h x 4’w Planted in shade by back fence. Columnar in shape and evergreen. DIED
  2. RIP Aruncus Dioicus – Goat’s beard or bride’s feathers (5) 36-48″h x ? Not planted yet. These large perennials have a male and a female plant. Part of the rosaceae family the prefer med to wet soils (I plan to have this in a dryer shaded area of my yard so we shall see). DIED
  3. RIP Deschampsia Cepsitosa – Tufted Hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa) (4) Next to vege garden fence. DIED
  4. Salvia – ‘May Night’ (1) 18 -24 ” h x 24″ w. Purchased to fill in an area of the pollinator’s garden.
  5. Vege Garden 2016


  1. Calamagrostis xacutiflora ‘Overdam’ – Feather Reed Grass (1) – 4′-6’h x 24″w Planted in shade by back fence. Variegated grass, with a late summer bloom. Can tolerate afternoon shade and clay soil. Planted late summer.
  2. Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ – Hosta (1) 36″h x 72″w Planted in shade bed by back deck. This hosta has been doing well as long as I watch for slugs and give it some extra compost at the beginning of the year.
  3. Lonicera sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’ – honeysuckle (2) 6 – 8’h x 5 – 10′ w One planted in shade by back fence. It has a few blooms but is only just surviving. The other is planted on south side of house in pollinator garden. Gets a ton of sun and is baked by the heat from the brick. Needs extra water and care. Hummingbirds are attracted to the red blooms and is a fast growing vine.
  4. Akebia quinata – Chocolate flower vine, up to 30′ when fully mature is growing as a vine in a now full sun spot.  Did not like the 2020 drought.

2014 The year of the Pollinator Garden

  1. See: Pollinators Garden
  2. Allium ‘Mount Everest’ (2) Planted 1 in the shade by back fence and 1 in flower garden. White flower heads 3-4″ wide in late spring. Those in the flower garden bloomed the first year then went to seed. Has not bloomed since. The seeds did propagate but the seedlings wouldn’t harden off.
  3. Allium ‘Globe Master’ (2) Planted 1 in the shade by back fence and 1 in flower garden. Huge purple flower heads 8″ in late spring. Flowers are light purple and last a couple weeks. The heads then last throughout the summer as a dried stalk. Very cool – going to get more!


  1. Paeonia ‘Dr Alexander Fleming’ – Peony (1) 36″x 36″w Planted in shade in raised planter. Pink early blooming fragrant flower. Blooms can reach 10″ in width. Says the peony requires full sun so will see how it does.
  2. Hydrangea ‘Twist and Shout’ (1) 3-6′ Planted in partial shade in flower bed. Pink flowers in alkaline soil.


  1. Galium Oderatum – Sweet woodruff (3) 6″ h x 30″w Planted in full shaded in amended clay. This plant has small fragrant white flowers that blooms in May with a spreading habit. It likes average to wet well-drained soils. I need to work on the drainage with the addition of peat moss around the sweet woodruff. So far hardy, as they sat in the nursery plastic all winter. I read, if you cut a few flowering stems of sweet woodruff, and let them steep overnight in a bottle of crisp Reisling, you’ll produce a delicious infusion called “May Wine,” part of the ancient German spring ritual around the maypole.
  2. Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Shugert’ (2) 3-4’h x 3′ – 4’w Planted in part sun in fully amended clay. One plant is more pink and the other blue. To get a nice blueish color, coffee grounds (5 tbs) per plant were added to the fill soil, as well as peat moss. These plants replace two day lillies and sage that have seen better days. Prior to planting these needed daily water in their pots. The plant grower suggests morning sun and afternoon shade. These will get some midday sun. RIP – One did not survive the winter. Will remove and try to get another.


  1. Clematis Sangria ‘Mrs. Cholmendley’ H: 6 – 8′ X 4-6′ Light blue/purple flowers 5 -8″ in size Group 2 – Repeat bloomers; prune immediately after flowering. This very small plant was planted late 2011, only has a single stem.
  2. Clematis ‘jackmannii’ (1) 15′ x 9′ Part Sun – Morning Sunlight only — hmmm thats not good, I have it planted in full sun with only a bit of afternoon shade, and mostly no morning sun. We’ll see how it goes. Pruning Groups: Group 3 – Summer/Fall bloomers; prune hard in early spring.
  3.  Weigela florida ‘Minor Black’ 6-10′ x 6-10′. Gorgeous glossy dark green leaves with hints of purple in the leaves that make them appear near black in color. Dark pink f lowers attract hummingbirds. in spring. Although mine was blooming in August this year.
  4. Hosta ‘blazing saddle’ ?
  5. Hellebores;
  6. Lilium Asiatic ‘Navona’ (8) 6″ x 24″h . Beautiful white flowers that bloom early summer (June – August). These were purchased as bulbs and planted in early May. They can grow in sun to partial sun. In my garden they are in partial sun. They have come back in 2012 with many stems and I expect a profusion of flowers this year.


  1. RIP Hollyhock – Alcea Rosea ‘Nigra’ (2) grown from seed. Deep maroon, nealy black bloom. 4-6′ x 24″.
  2. Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ (1) 15′ x 9′ Part Sun – Morning Sunlight only — hmmm thats not good, I have it planted in full sun with only a bit of afternoon shade, and mostly no morning sun. We’ll see how it goes. Pruning Groups: Group 3 – Summer/Fall bloomers; prune hard in early spring <This one died> so I bought a second one… keep your fingers crossed!
  3. Clematis ‘ Miss Bateman’ (2) Bright white flowers 6-10′ Part Sun – Morning sunlight only. Semi-moist soil. Prune while dormant.Pruning Groups:
    Group 2 – Repeat bloomers; prune immediately after flowering. Both of these survived the first year, and what pretty flowers! RIP — 1 got a bad case of rust and did not return this year.
  4. Columbine ‘ McKana’s Giant’ Aquilegia caerulea 3″ flowers and lacy foliage. 24″ x 10″ – Partial shade. Grown from seed. Very easy to propagate from seed. Plants produce seed heads that can be collected to propagate. 2012 – I do not know if all plants came back, will compare via pictures I took last year.
  5. Dahlia – Chat Noir (1) Planted 4/2010. 39″ h x 10″ w, plant 6″ deep. Dark red bloom, cactus dahlia RIP
  6. Eunoymous Alatus ‘Compactus’ Dwarf Burning Bush. 6′-8’h x 10′ w. Planted in the flower garden to add more structure. This will take over the area if not trimmed on a yearly basis. Will have to review where its planted and decide if I need to move it.
  7. Boxwood, Korean or Mountain?


  1. RIP Japanese Painted Fern (1) Athyrium niponicum Pictum. 12″H x 15″W Part Shade. Planted in an area I hope to have more sun in once I get the Catalpa pruned. Soil is amended clay. The plant remains small, less than 12″ wide and 5″ high. I have cut back the catalpa to see if this will help the little guy grow and have given it more fertilizer than normal. — RIP
  2. Bleeding Heart (1) Dicentra Pink. 36″H x 40″W. Should be divided every 3 years. Prefers well drained soils. Soil is amended clay. 2012 best the bleeding heart has looked after the catalpa / apple pruned to allow more sunlight. Happy as can be 2016. Now called Lamprocapnos spectabilis.
  3. Huechera – sanguinea ‘Snow Angel’ (2) 12″H x 12″W. Sun to Part Shade. Planted in an area I hope to have more sun in once I get the Catalpa pruned. Soil is amended clay. Update 2010. May have killed the huechera – I planted some columbine and dug right into same area as huechera. (DIED).
  4. Plumbago – (6) Ceratostigma plumbaginoides 6-8” H x 18” W Planted in full shade. Soil is poorly amended clay. But the ones from previous seasons have done amazingly well. This is a reliable plant for the worst of areas, produces pretty purple flowers in summer, and gorgeous red leaves in fall.
  5. RIP Lilac ‘Miss Kim’ Syringia pubescens (1) 6-7′ H x 5′ W Planted in the southern raised bed. I am hoping this lilac will remain compact. Very fragrant light lavendar blooms. 2011 Update. Very nice burgundy leaves in fall. 2016 was the most fragrant they have been, blooms were almost white. RIP — I think voles ate the roots.
  6. Delphiniums (2) – Aurora Lavender and Light Purple. 48″ H x 18″. 2012 – These have grown quite large, especially the Lavender, which has 4 large stalks that need some serious staking.
  7. Echinacea Purple Coneflower (1). Grown from Burpee seed. 36″ H x 24″ W. Grown in sun to part shade. 2012 – will be moving in front of the Jackmanni Clematis and removing a wayward rose bush that is just plain ugly and weedy from seeds its produces.
  8. Euonymus  fortunei ‘Moonshadow’ (1).  Raised patio bed.  Gets about 4 hours of sun a day. spreads to 5′, low shrub in my garden.


  1. Globe Blue Spruce – Picea pungens ‘Globosa’ (1) 5-10H x 8-12’W I doubt my little guy will ever be so big. They are very slow growing. I have noticed that the wonderful blue that it was in 2008, in 2010 has faded to a light blue gray. 2011 and 2012 have treated for iron chlorosis, added iron sulfite amendment.
  2. Dwarf Alberta Spruce – spiraled. Picea glauca ‘Conica’ (1) 10′ h x 3′ w. Planted in part to full sun. The spruce has not grown much taller but has widened to nearly 3′. In the backyard this plant is shielded from desicating winds and does not suffer from winter burn. The same variety in the front yard has south facing winter burn each year. The plant is shaped each year to maintain the spiral shape.
  3. Spirea ‘Gold Flame’ (2) 4′ h x 4′ w. Shrub planted in part to full sun, amended clay soil. These plants have wonderful bright yellow green foliage in spring, and turns a wonderful coppery color in fall. Red flowers are not real significant in summer. This may be due to less sun than it requires.
  4. Hibiscus Syr ‘Helene’ – Rose of Sharon Tree. 10′ h x 6′ w. Planted in partial sun, amended clay soil. This was originally in tree form, but the tree portion died. Stems die off each year, and new stems grow from base. Plant stays about 2′ tall.
  5. Campanula Glomerata (1) 24″ h x 18″ w. Planted in partial sun, amended clay soil. This bellflower produces pretty clusters of violet purple flowers. I have noticed it becomes leggy in early summer. Plant may need more sun. Will move.
  6. Russian Sage (2) These plants have been removed.


  1. Liatris spicata – Gayfeather (2) – 2′ h x 12′ w planted in partial sun, amended clay. These were grown from seed and have reliably come back each year. I may move one plant closer to the other for more impact.
  2. Blue Fescue – 12″ x 18″ planted in partial sun, amended clay. Grown from seed, these nice short bluish green fine grass easily re-seeds and is drought hardy.
  3. Lamium ‘Beacon Silver’ (3) 4″ h x 18″w planted in full shade, amended clay with lots of compost. I got these transplants from a friend, and they brighten up a shady area where nothing else seems to grow. Plants took off after sprinkler system was added and gets regular watering. RIP
  4. Bleeding Heart – Dicentra white (1) 24″ h x 18″w planted in full shade, amended clay with lots of compost. This plant produced pretty white heart shaped flowers in long strands. Each year the plant does better and grows a little wider. Happy as can be!
  5. Juniperus Conferta ‘All Gold’ (1) This is my best guess for the little bundle of beautiful lime green in the summer, and yellow-brown overtones of I’m freaking dying in the winter. This plant has such bad winter burn that I will be removing it. RIP


  1. RIP 2007 hydrangeas (2) I suspect they are the Geoffrey Chadburn variety due to their color, but not sure. Purchased from Home Depot.
  2. RIP 2008 white columbine – Aquilegia carerulea v. ochroleuca (3) Purchased from High Country Gardens, the link shows the exact variety. Gorgeous, lasted only 2 seasons in the deep shade.
  3. Plumbago (3) Ceratostigma plumbaginoides Purchased from High Country Gardens. Doing well, I have added 6 more to the bunch. This is a highly reliable plant for shade.
  4. Daylily – Hemerocallis Fulva (orange – next to iris), 36″h x 36″w Planted from bare root in slightly amended clay, these daylilies spread naturally. This is in partial sun.
  5. Daylily – Hemerocallis Yellow, unknown 36″h x 36″w in my garden. Planted from bare root in amended clay, these daylilies spread naturally.
  6. Daylily – Hemerocallis ‘Happy Returns’ 18″h x 24″w. I moved this to the back of the flower garden in 2011. Will have to see how it does.
  7. Daylily – Hemerocallis Unkown red. Assuming its a Fulva var. 36″h x 36″w Planted from bare root in amended clay, these daylilies spread naturally (This may have been removed in 2011 during a clearing of the flower garden).
  8. Astilbe – unknown var. 18″h x 12″w Planted in full shade, amended clay with compost. For many years this astilbe never bloomed most likely due to lack of regular watering. With the sprinkler system its improved each year, with a bloom of red flowers last year. This plant is not recommended for areas that will not have supplemental watering. These truck along although not very happily.


  1. RIP 2008 Lilac – Dwarf Korean – Was a wonderful addition to the rose garden, but did not survive transplant in 2008.
  2. Assorted Hostas (4) – all but one hosta is dead as of 2012.
  3. Salvia ‘May Night’ (3) These are hardy plants that have re-seeded to add an additional 3 or plants? Love the color. RIP
  4. Dianthus (5) Sweet william – three died in transplant in 2007, 2 survive but bunched as one plant

Planted prior to my arrival

  1. Peonies ‘Double Pink’ ? light pink variety
  2. Peonies – ‘Karl Rosenfeld’ ? Hot Pink
  3. Large variety of hybrid tea roses. — most of these were moved after the new patio put in. Many since died. But 5 remain as of 2016.
  4. Silver Maple
  5. Honey Locust ‘Sunburst’ (2)?
  6. Green Mountain Ash
  7. Northern Catalpa Tree (1) 25′ h x 15′ w This Colorado native is wonderful tree. Huge heart shaped leaves sprout in late spring, followed by white and purple fringed orchid shaped flowers in summer. These produce seed pods 18″ long. Seeds do not propogate readily so are not weedy like the green ash. I can’t recommend this tree enough.
  8. Douglas Fir (2) – One on north side of house was removed in 2008.
  9. Apple Tree – Green variety (2) One on the north side of the house I don’t think ever blooms.
  10. Mock orange – South side of house. – REMOVED
  11. Forsythia – On north corner of house, in a spot that gets little sun, so its lanky at best.
  12. Sand Cherry
  13. Barberry – Light green in color
  14. Iris After 5 years 1 iris finally bloomed in 2009. I had divided them in 2007 and waited. We will see if any of the others bloom.. if not, they are out of there!
    2010 Update: Fortunately the other iris bloomed, unfortunately they are god awfully ugly. This year will be pulling those out and replacing with other plants
  15. I just discovered one of the myriad of bushes in the back corner is actually a chokecherry…. me thinks I need to give that some love and find out how to make chokecherry jam!.
  16. Lamiastrum Galeobdolon WEED!! Yellow archangel spreads by stolons and anywhere they touch the ground they spread. I have spent many years trying to rid the flower garden of these and no luck. Worse than any mint (it is part of the mint family).

An amateur gardener who loves to watch the garden grow.


  1. HI Jenny,

    I am reaching out because i saw your post on espalier Peach tree and I need your assistance. I like in Chicago and I have planted a peach tree and am trying to espalier it . this is the first summer and the tree is doing great . Can I send you pictures of my tree so that you can recommend the pruning techniques to me?

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