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Chilean Fire Bush - a hidden jewel in our garden

It is heartbreaking that this beauty is hidden in our garden but at least the hummingbirds have found it. Hidden because it is planted behind a 7 feet tall rose. I planted it there because I was under the impression that it would become a tree. It can indeed become a tree and there is one growing about a mile from our house that is around 20 feet tall.  In our garden, it is taking its sweet time and is only 4 feet tall after being planted seven years ago (2017). It did not begin to bloom until its fifth year and this is the first year flowering has been so profuse. Whenever I think about this plant, I always remember what the Gosslers said in their book "The Gossler Guide to the Best Hardy Shrubs". I quote it here: "Since this plant comes from southern Chile, we begin with a word of warning: it will not grow anywhere in the United States outside western Washington, Oregon and northern California. People wanting to grow E. coccineum in the eastern part of the country will

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day for April 2018

Erisymum 'Bowle's Mauve' and 'Apricot Twist'

I begin April Bloom Day with the beautiful wallflowers that are in full bloom. The purple ones started blooming about a month ago and the orange just started. I never grew wallflowers until I moved here. I loved the combination of the orange and purple when I saw them side by side in the greenhouse where I work. They have been stellar performers, blooming non-stop all last season and off to a robust start this year. I hear that they are short-lived (how long, I don't know) but they have more than earned their keep so far.

I am almost giddy over the first rhododendron bloom. This is 'Taurus' that is planted underneath the dogwood tree. Rhododendrons were hard to grow in Alabama because of the heat and humidity. Here they thrive (the Coast Rhododendron is the state flower of Washington). So far, I have only planted a few but I do plan to add more. Making a decision from the hundreds (or thousands more likely) varieties is difficult.

Actually, this rhododendron 'Ramapo' may have started blooming first. It is a low-growing, small-flowered variety that is planted next to the front door steps. 

A spectacular native plant,  Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) is an early-blooming jewel in spring and the hummingbirds go crazy over it. Our plant is very small at the moment and I have only seen two paltry blooms but I have high hopes that it will take off this year. They can get about 6 ft. tall.

Andromeda or Lily of the Valley shrub (Pieris) is another great shrub for this area. You see them all over the place and it seems like every house has one. I have planted several. This one is 'Mountain Fire'.

Anemone coronaria 'Marianne Blue' just gets better and better.

The first clematis to bloom is Clematis alpine 'Pamela Jackman'. It is loaded with blooms that are just opening.

Veronica 'Georgia Blue'. A bit of a shy bloomer last season but maybe it just needs time to get established.

Euphorbia characieas wulfenii (Spurge), a gift from Amy Campion at last year's Plant Swap.  

The blooms are just beginning to open on the Flowering Quince
(Chaenomeles 'Double Take Orange Storm')

Aurinia (Basket of Gold)

Corydalis flexuosa 'Purple Leaf'

Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra 'Valentine')

Camellia 'Nuccio Bella Rossa' has been blooming heavily.

And finally, an early tulip. There were tulips already planted here when we arrived and I have received some from a co-worker and a neighbor as well as bringing some from work. I haven't kept good notes for them so I don't know which one this is.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is hosted by May Dreams Gardens. Check out what is blooming in other blogger's gardens around the world. 

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Wonderful! Beautiful!
    Love the Clematis
    Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!

  2. Anemone coronaria 'Marianne Blue' is spectacular - I will look out for that one! I didn't realise hummingbirds love Ribes - if only we got hummingbirds here, I would be out with my camera trying (and failing) to photograph them. Wishing you a happy GBBD.

  3. You have so much blooming already Phillip! Love seeing all this color. I would love to find a blue/purple corydalis for my garden. I wonder if they are as prolific as the native one?? I have tried growing wall flowers before. They are very short lived here. I always figured the heat got them. Maybe it was just their nature. Happy GBBD.

  4. Happy GBBD Phillip! The purple and orange wallflower combination is gorgeous as are all your blooms. If you like variegated foliage, check out rhododendron 'Super Flimmer.' The flowers are a bit ho-hum but the foliage is fantastic. R. 'President Roosevelt' also has nice variegated foliage and gorgeous pink and white flowers. 'Roosevelt' can be a bit of a weak plant as far as leaning over though.

  5. Oh Phillip, your first photo of the wallflowers is wonderful. I've had them in my garden here and they came back for several years but slowly declined. I just found some on the clearance shelf and snatched them up but their roots looked kind of pitiful. I'm hoping the 3+ inches of rain that we got overnight give them much more interest in living. You have such wonderful diversity in your plantings. I miss that giant spurge - had it in my Portland postage stamp front yard and it was such a statement every year.

  6. Who would have thought that purple and orange would look so good together? Yay for the wallflowers.

  7. I like wallflowers too, and that combo is great. That area of your garden must smell wonderful too, I love their scent. They do tend to look a bit ragged after a few years. Maybe they're only short-lived because gardeners get fed up with how they look and yank them out. I'm jealous of your Camellia 'Nuccio Bella Rossa,' I've been looking for one. Oh, my Ribes sanguineum, which started as single whips 9 years ago, are now about 10 feet tall. They're taking up a lot of space in my garden, but it's my favorite of our PNW native shrubs, so I keep them.

  8. Phillip, your blooms are so different from mine now. It's like getting a whole new lesson in flowers. Happy Bloom Day.~~Dee

  9. You have such beautiful blooms and they are all so wonderfully photographed! The wall flower combination is gorgeous. Happy Bloom Day!

  10. Oh, so much in bloom! I am ready for spring and it is taking its time about getting here.

  11. Phillip, one would never know you are not native to the PNW. You've embraced all our early spring beauties with zeal! All of your blooms must be so cheerful when we (occassionally) get a touch of sunshine :) Happy GBBD!

  12. It is interesting to see what is growing in the PNW, as opposed to Alabama. I truly adore the Erisymum 'Bowle's Mauve' and 'Apricot Twist' combination. I grew wallflowers for the first time a couple years ago. They flourished through a fall and winter and spring, then limped through the summer. I finally pulled them up and would have replanted again last fall but could not find any.

  13. So many lovely blooms! The orange and purple combo is gorgeous. I wonder if wallflowers will grow in my zone 5 garden. Happy Bloom Day!

  14. Oh my, wonderful. And always wonderfully photographed. My 'Nuccioss Bella Rossa' perished in the drought. What a beauty yours is. Enjoy it for me, please.

  15. The purple and orange is shockingly stunning. Congrats for being able to pull it off and get them blooming at the same time. Seems like your spring is a month ahead of everyone else ... and with no weird weather.

  16. Lovely flowers and colors throughout your garden, it is definitely ahead of my own.
    I love the fiery-orange flowers of Flowering Quince but seem to think it usually bloom on bare branches... I'm surprised to see that your had leafed first.

  17. I have never seen such magnificent Anemone,that rhododendron looks spectacular ,seems you have amazing collection of flowering perennials.

  18. Hooray for the Ribes sanguineum!! (You know I love the natives... but I think that would be a favorite even without native status...)

  19. Wow Philip, just wow! There’s something about the climate there that just seems to be ideal for so many flowers. I must visit your area in the spring some day.


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