In the fall of 2008, my new “dry garden” was ready to plant. The area, which had formerly been covered with sad, shallowly rooted turf, had been tilled, amended and bisected by a new, curvy flagstone path. I had amassed quite the pile of plants from specialty nurseries in anticipation of autumn planting. Many of the choice botanical beauties I was hording were surely to love our summer’s lack of precipitation if only they survived our wet winters.
Of the riskier plants that still live on, Halimium lasianthum ssp. formosum ‘Sandling’ tops the list. The winter of 2008 was a whacker here in the Pacific Northwest, and what limped through was mercifully culled last winter (Hebe, Phormium, adios). The tag adorning my Halimium quoted hardiness to zone 8, though the American Horticultural Society’s A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants is more conservative with z9-10. I estimate my dry garden to be a sheltered 7 to 8. Halimium is a smashing subshrub from Portugal and Spain; covered in yellow rockrose type flowers with ruddy red splotches at the base of the petals. It loves full sun (we use the term loosely here in Western Washington) and sharp drainage. While mine has yet to reach this size, I’m expecting it to become 18”tall x 5’across. Paired with Ceratostigma (plumbago), whose sky blue blooms kick up when the last of sweet rockroses fade, I’m hoping my evergreen Halimium isn’t too short-lived and try to keep it that way by withholding summer water.
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