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In the Garden: Colorful options at annual plant sale

The arrival of September means three things: kids are headed back to school, we can expect beautiful days and cooler nights, and – most importantly of all – gardeners will be flocking to the Friends of Manito fall plant sale. Scheduled for Sept. 9 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., the sale will be located just east of the Gaiser Conservatory in Spokane’s Manito Park.

Plant sale manager Janis Saiki is very choosy when it comes to the plants she and her army of dedicated volunteers offer at the sale.

“All of the plants I order have outstanding attributes, should flourish in this area, and be stand-out performers,” she explained. “They may have dramatic and colorful foliage, or multiple seasons of interest, be exceptionally long-blooming, xeric (drought-tolerant) or deer-resistant. I look for pest- and disease-resistance and investigate unusual plants not commonly found.”

Saiki gave examples of five wonderful plants worth checking into and what she loves about each:

Coreopsis Cruizin’ Broad Street – “It is a powerhouse bloomer with bright, rich, burnt-red flowers. It never gets powdery mildew or becomes a nuisance self-seeder.” Attributes: 18 inches tall, hardy down to USDA zone 5, full sun, attracts pollinators and deer-resistant.

Hibiscus Summerific Perfect Storm – “Bronze foliage along 3-foot stems and dinner plate-sized white flowers with prominent red centers and venation.” Attributes: 3 feet tall by 5 feet wide, full sun, hardy to zone 4 and attracts pollinators.

Hydrangea Mini Mauvette – “A dwarf form with mauve, mophead bloom clusters on the current year’s growth.” Attributes: 2.5 feet tall by 3 feet wide, hardy to zone 3, part to full sun, and dried flowers that provide winter interest.

Penstemon Blackbeard – “Luscious purple/burgundy foliage with mauve to lavender flowers and burgundy seedpods.” Attributes: 30 inches tall, full sun, hardy to zone 3, attracts pollinators and hummingbirds, drought-tolerant and deer-resistant.

Penstemon Cherry Sparks “It is long-blooming with large, rich red tubular flowers. It is spectacular in person!” Attributes: 20 inches tall, full sun, hardy to zone 5, attracts pollinators and hummingbirds, drought-tolerant and deer-resistant.

A big hit at the last two plant sales, “Garden-in-a-Box” will be available again. There are three theme options – a hummingbird garden, xeric garden and winter interest garden – all created by Saiki, who has been a landscape designer for 19 years.

“The Garden-in-a-Box designs are hugely popular,” she said. “It is the easiest way to have a gorgeous landscape. All the plants included in the designs are quality plants sure to thrive in the Spokane area if given the right cultural requirements. They are all perennial and hardy to at least zone 5.”

Those interested can view the designs on the Friends of Manito website, thefriendsofmanito.org, order online and pick up the plants at the sale. Additional boxes will be available the day of the sale as well.

Along with kids activities and live music, the Animal Nature Sanctuary – a rescue service for a wide variety of animals – will be on hand. Anyone who donates pet supplies will receive a free 1-gallon perennial plant. The 2018 calendar featuring beautiful photographs of Manito Park will be available as well.

All proceeds from the plant sale will benefit Manito Park. Members of the Friends of Manito will receive 10 percent off their plant purchases; new members can join during the sale.

Susan Mulvihill is co-author of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook” with Pat Munts. Contact her at Susan@susansinthegarden.com. Watch this week’s “Everyone Can Grow A Garden” video at youtube.com/c/susansinthegarden.