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Tried and True plants

To see more information about a particular plant or genus, click on the name to go to a more detailed page. There is a pager at the bottom.


This is a charming, if dangerous group of plants that form dense spiny silver buns.  Perfect domes.  You just want to pet them.  Don't.  They are very sharp.  In the spring they send up stalks of tiny pink flowers.  The flowers dry in place after the springtime bloom, leaving decorative stalks that look like they are covered with tiny parasols.

Acantholimon  caryophyllaceum Acantholimon caryophyllaceum

A relatively large and striking Acantholimon from Turkey. Over time it slowly forms large perfect silver domes of silver spine tipped leaves. Pink flowers on erect scapes. Plant it in a well drained area, gravel mulch, and do not water much in summer. Weed around it very, very carefully.  Those beautiful spines are sharp. We have one in our unwatered front bed that is almost 3 foot across and a foot tall (without flower spikes) that is almost never watered.

Acantholimon armenum Acantholimon armenum

Buns/mounds of silver sharp tipped leaves and pink flowers.  From Turkey, of course!

Achillea kelleri Achillea

There are several Achillea that do very well in foothill rock gardens, given good drainage on a sunny slope or berm.  Unfortunately, for us, they have not proven very gopher resistant, so they have gradually disappeared from our garden.  If gophers are not a problem in your garden (HOW??), you might try some of the nice silver leaved species such as Achillea kellereri, Achillea serbica, or Achillea clavenae.  All have silvery leaves and white/cream flowers.


There are so many fantastic Aethionemas. Most of them form small shrubby mats of semi-woody stems and blue-grey succulent leaves.  In the spring they are absolutely covered with pink flowers.  They will reseed in the garden, insuring that there will be a repeat bloom the following spring. In our garden they have moved about, populating the crevices between the paving stones, the edges of the paths, and pretty much any unoccupied area.   

Aethionema Warley Rose Aethionema "Warley Rose"

This is said to be a possible hybrid of Aethionema armenum.  It has the most saturated deepest colored pink flowers of any other Aethionema.  Sadly, it does not reseed.  Therefore, it no longer exists in our garden.  I would really like to have it back.  Does anyone have one?  Please?

Aethionema armenum Aethionema armenum

Possibly still my favorite Aethionema, especially in mid-summer when the foliage has formed flat dense clumps of shrubby blue foliage. Light pink flowers in spring come later than some of the other Aethionema, extending the bloom season. Can handle poor dry soil.

Aethionema grandiflora

Glaucous blue foliage and loose sprays of  flowers, much darker pink and slightly taller than many of the other Aethionemas.

Aethionema schistosum Aethionema schistosum

Glaucous blue foliage and honey scented pale pink flowers.  Excellent in dry rock walls or on the edge of a bank. This one is a bit taller and looser than some of our other aethionema, but it is the only one with fragrance. In bloom it may be up to 10"  Like all aethionema, it reseeds well. 

Aethionema stylosa Aethionema stylosa

We received this plant through the NARGS seed exchange.  Another extremely tough Aethionema.  This one has survived the front bed, in full sun, watered only a few times in the summer.  The foliage is not that pretty, but when it flowers in the spring it is gorgeous.