Penstemons and Gooseberries

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Cascades Penstemon

Cascades Penstemon (Penstemon serrulatus), the purple flowers in the photo above, is native to the west side of the Cascades and a prolific self-seeder in our native plant garden. It stays in bloom for about three weeks for us, just finishing up now. If I recall, we started with just one or two plants in a different garden bed a few years ago. We cut a few stems with mature seeds and spread them in this bed and now we have masses. They seem to move themselves around to where they want to grow, which is how we ended up with this floriferous border.

Cascades Penstemon

We’ll probably let these plants go to seed again this year so we continue to have them in our garden.

Cascades Penstemon w/ 'Poco Yellow' Red Hot Poker

This native penstemon pairs well with other plants in the garden, too. Here, in a photo from a couple of weeks ago, Cascades Penstemon is looking good with ‘Poco Yellow’ Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia ‘Poco Yellow’).

Scotch Bluebells

Scotch Bluebells (Campanula rotundifolia) is another prolific self-seeding native in our garden. We’ll have a few flowers on these plants all the way to our first killing frost in late autumn. While we love them, they can definitely take over a garden bed if you’re not careful. Fortunately, they’re easy to weed out when they get too vigorous. Behind the Bluebells are two of our native gooseberries or currants.

Coast Black Gooseberries

Coast Black Gooseberry (Ribes divaricatum) can be straggly in the shade, but grown in full sun it’s a sturdy, vigorous plant with interesting flowers earlier in the season. At this point in their growth cycle the fruit is maturing to a nice deep blue-black color. The berries are relatively sweet (as goosberries go) and quite tasty. You can’t say that about all of our natives in the genus.

We started this native garden bed soon after we moved here. Our first attempt failed, as the soil on this slope was considerably wetter than we expected. After bringing in a truckload or two of soil and replanting it’s doing very well. I’ve shared this bed before:

April 28, 2020: Serviceberry Time
April 15, 2020: Coming Attractions
April 13, 2020: Plug In to the Currant Bush
March 20, 2020: On the Cusp
June 4, 2018: A River of Penstemon
June, 2017: Gardening for the Future with Natives

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