Five of my favorite perennials for sunny spots in Santa Fe gardens are Pineleaf penstemon, Hummingbird mint, Lavender, Autumn Joy Sedum and Grey Germander. All of these have long lasting blooms, are drought tolerant and love full sun.
— Peggy Wright (Masters in Landscape Architecture)
Pineleaf penstemon, penstemon pinifolius compactum, is an awesome native plant for northern New Mexico gardens. ‘Nearly Red’ Pine leaf penstemon has red flower spikes set above a tidy evergreen mound, while ‘Mersa Yellow’ has yellow flower spikes. This popular penstemon attracts hummingbirds, is resistant to rabbit browsing, and is drought tolerant. Both the yellow and the red flowering pineleaf penstemon look great with lavender, catmint, and rocky mountain penstemons.
Hummingbird mint ‘Ava’, Agastache Ava, is one of my favorite Hummingbird mints returning repeatedly year after year with glorious 3′-4′ tall flower spikes. This is a special variety grown exclusively by High Country Gardens and can be ordered from their on line catalogue. It’s fragrant flower is resistant to rabbit and deer browsing, yet attracts hummingbirds as it’s name would suggest.
Lavender ‘Hidcote’, Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’, is one of the most reliable lavenders for the Santa Fe area. Lavenders require a bit of extra care when planting and throughout the year but their value in the landscape is undeniable. Lavenders require good drainage, monthly winter watering, full sun and just the right amount of water through the summer months (not too much and not too little). They also really seem to prefer gravel mulch, as their root crowns are susceptible to rot with too much moisture over too long of a period of time.
‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum, is really a fabulous plant year round, but it is especially attractive in the fall when the flowers brighten to pink then fade to a bronze in the Fall. Autumn Joy stands through the winter apx 18″ tall and should be pruned down to their base in the early spring as the new growth starts to show itself.
Grey creeping germander, Teucrrium Aroanium, is an excellent rock garden plant for those sunny, hot slopes in your garden. It has a beautiful pink, scented flower in the summer that makes for good bee forage. It looks great combined with Lavender, Blue Avena grass, and Serbian Yarrow.