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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

Favorite Photos from 2018

Flicker at the suet feeder (January)

It is always fun and surprising to look back at the garden photos from the previous year -

Camellia 'Nuccio Bella Rosa' (March)

Anemone coronaria 'Marianne Blue' (March)

The Pan Garden, just off the back deck, in May. It has really filled in since this photo was taken. This was also before new grass was planted. I continue to move things around and experiment in this area. 

Spanish Lavender, Barberry 'Orange Rocket', California Lilac (Ceanothus 'Black Diamond') (May)

Talk about changes - since this photo was taken last May, the borders has filled in and the steps have been completed. Everything looks so fresh and vibrant here as opposed to unruly and ragged like it looks now.
Rose 'Mutablis' (May)

California Lilac (Ceanothus 'Julia Phelps') and Lupine (May)
A wider shot of Ceanothus 'Julia Phelps'. This photo makes me so happy. This was the first shrub that really captivated me after moving here. It is amazing how fast it is growing. I would guess that it is double the size now and it seems to be growing even faster during the winter months. Maybe it is my imagination but it is a monster but a beautiful one.

Another photo that gives me a great sense of accomplishment. This is the border along the fence in front of our house next to the street. The "Lady of Shallot" rose (on the far left) was really a stunner last year. (June)

Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia 'Shining Scepter') (June)

Clematis 'Jackmanii Superba' - my favorite clematis (so far!) (June)

Deschampsia flexuosa 'Aurea' (Tatra Gold Hair Grass) (May)

Nicotiana 'Fragrant Cloud' (August)

Aster 'Wood's Purple', Mexican Feather Grass, Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy',
Colorado Blue Spruce 'Globosa' (September)

Oxydendrum arboretum (Sourwood) (September)

The Sourwood tree again one month later with vibrant fall color (October)

The front border in fall (October)

Weeping Redbud 'Ruby Falls' with beautiful fall colors (October)

A favorite rose "Essex" with hydrangeas behind (October)

Kelsey Dwarf Dogwood (Cornus sericea 'Kelseyi') was already here when we moved in and it took me a while to identify it. Despite what I've heard, it grows in full sun in a very dry location.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Your garden is so lush for being so young. I love the big circular arbor at the top of the stairs. I must have missed the post about it's installation??. Worthy of a post to me. I can't wait to see what you plant on it. Here's to another great gardening year.

  2. I also love looking back and seeing how the garden has evolved. The front border picture is a favorite of my, and I remember it from when you originally posted it; a spectacular moment in time when everything was just perfect!


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