Cynara cardunculus

Cynara cardunculus

Cardoon. Big ol artichoke cousin that has amazing architectural bold, silver leaves that are up to 30″ long and half as wide. Forms a large rosette (4′ across) initially then the stem extends rising to 4′ tall bearing huge rich, violet blue flowers that are up to 5″ across held in a cylindrical calyx. Open call to all pollinators. Blooms begin in the second year in May and repeat to August. Full sun, rich, well drained soil with light summer water. Give it room to spread out horizontally because it inevitably will. Light deer resistance.  Beautiful perennial in all of its parts. Lifespan (3-5 years )  on average.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure:
Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn6b 0º to -5ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Dahlia 'Bednall's Beauty'

Dahlia ‘Bednall’s Beauty’

We grow just a select few Dahlias now but over the decades we’ve been able to observe hardiness by cultivar. This is consistently one of the hardiest. And its a wonderful perennial. Finely divided foliage is dark, nearly black on a compact plant to 2′ x 2′ with stunning black/velvet red single flowers. These appear consistently from June to frost. Shorter stems lead to a smaller cut flower but it is still wonderful none-the-less. The intense deep flower color is a perfect match for the foliage yielding a dark tinted plant. Provide contrasting light to golden colored foliage for extra depth. Excellent border perennial for full sun and rich, well drained soil with regular summer irrigation. This hardy perennial requires very little protection other than a layer of mulch in autumn. Even a layer of leaves will provide a modicum of cover. Emerges with truly warm weather in spring. Protect emerging plants from snails/slugs. Full grown plants seem less affected. Loved by pollinators and moderately deer resistant. Far from 100% but still one of the last they will munch.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn7b 10º to 5ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Dahlia 'Forncett's Furnace'

Dahlia ‘Forncett’s Furnace’

We choose the Dahlia varieties that we grow very carefully. Time has taught us that all Dahlia cultivars do not share the same cold hardiness. What we’ve whittled down is a list of Dahlias that have never frozen away for us. This marvelous selection boasts large single firey orange flowers on tall waving stems. The intensity of the flower color is shocking and it make a great denouement to summer blooming well into autumn. To 5′ tall in the ground this robust perennial requires some protection as it first emerges to deter slugs/snails. Once its up and growing fast this is less of an issue. Full sun and rich, well drained soil with regular summer irrigation. Excellent and lurid cut flower. Excellent hardiness to cold- it is not necessary to dig and store the tuber so long as the soil is well drained. Mulch in autumn post first frost adds insurance. Moderately deer resistant.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure:
Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn8a 15º to 10ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Dahlia 'Red Menace'

Dahlia ‘Red Menace’

Our selection of a superior deep black leaved Dahlia. Finely divided leaves are symmetrical on towering stems to 4′ tall. In mid summer to fall a constant procession of vibrant red single flowers. They harmonize greatly with the leaf color. Full sun and enriched soil with regular summer water. Soil that does not become sodden and frozen in winter will yield the cold hardiest plants. Mulch in fall. Nice cut flower, arrangement material. Multiplies into large clumps in time. This selection has survived the coldest winters of the past 15 years. We’ve kind of let Jack frost do our selecting for us.

Xera Plants Introduction

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure:
Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn8a 15º to 10ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Dahlia ‘Sangria’

This is a brilliantly colored dahlia with large single  deep pink flowers that contrast wonderfully with midnight black foliage. To 34″ tall and increasing by tubers. Excellent cut flower but it makes a better garden subject where the contrast in foliage and flower color shine. Blooms late June to frost. This is a vigorous and hardy dahlia that is very easy to grow. Amend the soil heavily with compost and add all purpose organic fertilizer to the planting hole. Wonderful with the brilliant orange flowers of Epilobium (Zauschneria).  Mulch in fall or lift after frost and store in shredded paper in a cool dry place. Replant after all threat of frost has passed and the soil is sufficiently warm. Regular summer water in full sun.

Xera Plants Introduction 

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure:
Biome: ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn8a 15º to 10ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Dahlia 'Towering Blonde'

Dahlia ‘Towering Blonde’

We promised this very tall dahlia that it didn’t have to play basketball. And she agreed to produce a constant supply of amber/blonde single flowers that we love. This is a very old variety for us. In the past 20 years we’ve let our original seed and cutting raised plants dwindle as they are taken out by horrible freezes. What we’ve found is that we lose Dahlias by variety which implies two things. One,  Dahlia’s cold hardiness is different for every cultivar let alone species. And  (two) we’ve let nature do the selecting for us. The varieties that are left are the very cold hardiest Dahlias, and we’ve been very impressed with their performance. Rich soil that is never boggy but is moisture retentive with regular summer irrigation. Full sun and this variety also sports dark foliage which is highlighted by the lighter colored flowers. To 5′ tall with long flower stems. Dahlias as best planted in a warm full sun position in our climate where the soil seldom freezes. A thick mulch in fall is added insurance. Our varieties have been reliably hardy down to 5ºF with no issues. If you live in a colder zone you can lift and store the tubers over the winter.  Replant when all danger of frost has past. Mulch annually with compost.

Xera Plants Introduction

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn7b 10º to 5ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Dendranthema 'Hillside Sheffield Pink'

Dendranthema ‘Hillside Sheffield Pink’

A wonderful garden perennial and by far our favorite mum for fall. Much more informal and relaxed in habit and flower form it puts on a stellar show for months in autumn. Soft, copper pink single flowers radiate from a soft yellow center. A bushy perennial to 28″ x 28″ in full sun to light shade. Best in enriched soil for a good start in life. Regular summer water propels growth and blooming which begins in September and stretches nearly to Thanksgiving. Cut back hard the previous years remnants in early spring – as per your tidying routine. Very pretty cut flower. Underplant with Ivy leaved hardy Cyclamen for a soft but showy display. Long lived perennial gaining scale each year. Moderate deer resistance. Aromatic curly foliage is classic Chrysanthemum.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn5b -10º to -15ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Echinacea x 'Cheyenne Spirit'

Echinacea x ‘Cheyenne Spirit’

We love this seed strain of Echinacea the least of which is that they seem to establish and over winter in a superior way.  Multiple colors in these hybrids from reds to orange and yellow. large up facing flowers with a central fragrant yellow cone. Clump forming perennial for rich soil that is very well drained with consistent light irrigation in summer. Blooms naturally appear fro July to September- and occasionally longer. Remove spent flowers and more will likely appear. Great pollinator plant. Awesome cut flower. Over winters better if there is plenty of oxygen incorporated in the soil. Mulch annually with compost. Full sun to light shade. Excellent in our region on slopes.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn4a -25º to -30ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Echinacea x 'Green Twister'

Echinacea x ‘Green Twister’

There are SO MANY Echinaceas its hard to sort the best from the chaff. We love this unique coneflower with sophisticated flowers of pea green and pink with a central warm honey colored cone. To 2′ tall and forming expanding clumps. Rich, WELL DRAINED soil with regular H20 for the first several years. After that it seems to be much more established and requires quite a bit less. Full sun to the very lightest shade. Very groovy, fragrant cut flower and removing spent flowers will lengthen the bloom season which begins in June and sputters out in September. Echinaceas can be a little tricky to establish. What they love is the combination of rich and WELL drained soil. So, incorporate ample amounts of compost and cut it w/ a lot of pumice. Water regularly but never boggy. Butterflies adore this flower and use the blooms as a conspicuous landing pad. Leave the spent flower seeds over the winter, mine have provided food for a number of species. Seedheads turn a handsome black. Moderate deer resistance.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn4a -25º to -30ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Echinops ritro ruthenicus

A great plant in all of its parts. Beautiful intricate large blue gray leaves with an underside of white form substantial clumps. In high summer flower spikes rise  up to 3′ bearing dense sky blue orbs of flowers- the structure of the orbs gives them a metallic glint. Amazing. Obviously where it got its common name of globe thistle. Long lived herbaceous perennial for fast draining rich soils in full, hot sun. Spreads to form substantial clumps in time. Avoid sodden soils and heavy un-amended clay. Great on slopes. Completely deciduous in winter. These flowers seem to be made for butterflies- all sorts visit the flowers frequently. Light deer resistance. Plant with other large sun loving perennials to match the vigor and scale of this plant.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure:
Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn4b -20º to -25ºF
Foliage color: ,  |  Foliage season: