Deb Babcock's gardening column appears Mondays in Steamboat Today.
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Steamboat Springs Every year it seems one plant or another just doesn't make it through our Steamboat winter, thus leaving a space to fill in the garden. As you contemplate which plant to bring into your garden to fill a sizeable space, check out these Zone 4 beauties.
- Blue Spires Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia "Blue Spires") is a spikey, dark-blue perennial that grows to 4 feet tall by 4 feet in diameter. It likes a sunny space and is xeric (requiring very little water once established). As an added bonus, deer and rabbits don't care for this plant.
- Another colorful large-space plant is the Wild Four O'clock (Mirabilis multiflorus) with its magenta-pink flowers (hundreds of them on a mature plant). This plant grows to 18 inches tall by 4- to 6-feet across and likes sunny to partly-sunny areas and is extremely xeric, growing best with minimal irrigation. It, too, is deer and rabbit resistant, but it does attract butterflies.
- Hostas are wonderful for shady spots and will grow up to 4 feet tall by 5 feet wide. There are many varieties to choose from offering colorful foliage in an array of shapes and sizes.
- For a cheerful touch of yellow in a large space, consider Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp). This sun-loving plant will grow between 2 and 10 feet tall and spread up to 6 feet. It features brightly colored flowers in oranges, reds and golds.
- Anything but a weed, Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum macultum) offers gorgeous blooms and striking, large foliage. In the fall, Joe-Pye has attractive, fuzzy seedheads. This plant likes full sun and moist soil. It grows to 7 feet tall and up to 4 feet across.
- Daylilies (Hemerocallis) provide a long bloom season and are available in a wide range of hues. Growing up to 5 feet tall and 1 to 4 feet wide, this plant can thrive in full sun to part shade in moist soil.
- Bush Morning Glory (Ipomea leptophylla) is a not a vine, but a 3-foot tall by 3- to 5-foot wide shrub-like plant growing on a large tuberous root. It blooms with beautiful pink-purple flowers in late summer. Xeric, it likes a sunny location.
- Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) is a plant found in many gardens throughout the Steamboat area, where it adds a colorful accent with its red and yellow bi-color flower spike. This xeric plant grows to 3 feet tall by 3 feet across and likes a sunny location. It is rabbit and deer resistant as well as a hummingbird attractor.
- No local garden is complete without a penstemon plant, and the Pink Wild Snapdragon (Penstemon palmeri) is one of the few fragrant plants in this species. This plant grows up to 5 feet tall by 2 feet wide and requires sandy or gravelly soil in a sunny location. It is extremely xeric and is attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.
- As a fragrant butterfly and hummingbird attractor, Beebalm (Monarda) is a great choice for a large space. One plant will grow 3 to 4 feet tall and 3 feet across. There are several hybrids of this plant offering blooms in shades of bright red, pink and white. This plant prefers a sunny to partly sunny location.
As you look for plants to fill large spaces in your garden, be sure to look for the Zone 4 designation, check out how much space the mature plant will need and what kind of environment (sun/shade, xeric/moist) it needs before finalizing your choice.
Deb Babcock is a Routt County resident and a Master Gardener through the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service Office in Routt County. Questions? Call 879-0825 or e-mail email@example.com.