An exciting shrub/small tree with paddle shaped blue evergreen phyllodes for foliage and in late winter to early spring a massive display of luminous yellow flowers. I’ve always loved Australian wattles so it was with great excitement that we decided to grow this striking plant. Moderately fast growing to 16′ tall and 8′ wide forming either multiple or a single trunk. The bark is chocolate brown and smooth. Very few Australian Acacias will thrive in Portland, its just about 5 degrees too cold in our coldest years. This one is different, (a few species will live for 4-6 years before they finally succumb to Jack Frost. Acacia pravissima etc.) This, however, is the cold hardiest that we have grown. It is hardy to just below 10ºF for brief stints- good enough for long term survival. This is a rare limited endemic to the high mountains of New South Wales but is popular as a garden subject the world over. The small, fluffy, balls of electric yellow flowers foam among the blue leaves – incredibly pretty. Full sun and a protected location – against a south facing wall is ideal for a very pretty fun to grow tree. Once fully open the flowering stems may be cut for long lasting bouquets. Blooms on wood from the previous season, prune if needed after flowering has ended. Light consistent water to establish . Not fussy about soils and happiest in full, all day sun. Protect from subfreezing east wind. Bloom time is concurrent with several earlier Ceanothus (‘Blue Jeans’, ‘Dark Star’, ‘Concha’) and creates a vivid early spring yellow and blue display not soon to be forgotten. Drought adapted when established. Not bothered by deer/elk- not entirely sure about rabbits- if they are profuse in your neighborhood it wouldn’t hurt to protect the plant with chicken wire when young. Beautiful year round and spectacular in bloom. AKA Blue Bush.
Plants with Deer Resistance
There is nothing more frustrating than deer devouring your garden. Deer are a lot like people, they will try anything, especially if its new. So, while there are no plants that are 100% deer-proof here are some selections from our plant list that have proven to be less often on the menu. Of course a fence is always the best defense.
Tip: pay attention not just to the species but the genus as well. Though not 100% impervious, some are much less prone to consumption than others. Pay attention to what they don’t eat, for instance they seldom eat Digitalis therefore, it would be prudent to try other species of Digitalis rather than moving on to a completely different genus. You’d be surprised the choices that you have. To extend that line of thinking. Notice that deer seldom bother Boxwood, therefore it would be wise to try other plants in that family (Buxaceae). You might be surprised to find that Sarcococca and Pachysandra are both in that family and their deer resistance is good too. A few other families that share deer resistance are the Iris family (Iridaceae), Ferns (Dryopteraceae) and Daphne, (Thymelaceae). Remember that you don’t know if they will consume it unless you try and deer have tastes that not only vary they can also change.
If you don’t feel like springing for a fence and you insist that Bambi shine free I’ve had relatively good luck with 1cm x 1cm black bird netting, It can be stretched around tree trunks or posts to provide some measure of protection, and it is almost invisible from a distance. The downside is that deer can become tangled in it and UV seems to break it down. But as a temporary barrier it has merits.
Deer will seek out irrigated plants during the driest parts of the year (wouldn’t you?)
Newly installed plants are often more vulnerable. It’s a deer- it can’t tell the difference between your new favorite plant or an offering of food.
Deer will rut on plants, often small trees- they should be protected if vulnerable. Surround with sheep wire to 6’ tall. Rutting is to remove fur from their antlers or something like that. Either way it really screws up trees when they rub off the bark and branches especially if the tree is very young.
Deer do what nature tells them to do- not to piss off gardeners- innovation and patience are your responsibility.
Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW
Mudgee Wattle or simply showy wattle this is an extremely pretty small tree that requires a very protected location to thrive. Blue/green bipinnate leaves are intricate and pretty. In very late winter to early spring a stunning show of electric yellow puff ball flowers. It covers the whole tree weighing down the limbs in full bloom. To 12′-15′ tall in rich to average soil and it absolutely requires full sun. Excellent against a south facing wall. The flowers truly are showy and glow from quite a distance. Native to New South Wales and southern Queensland on table lands. Cold hardy to at least 18ºF- it should take colder temperatures if sited correctly. As with all Acacias it is extremely fast growing when young. Consistent summer water. Loved by hummingbirds and insects in general. This special small tree can begin its life in a spindly way. Full sun and regular water strengthens this growth. Excellent, and best adapted for the Oregon coast. It adapts to life on sand (with supplemental water) as well as well developed soils. Not bothered by deer. The large delicate leaves are blue/gray and are pretty year round. This Acacia is not as cold hardy as Acacia covenyi and is hardier than Acacia pravissima. Following bloom long dusty purple seed pods contrast against the blue/gray foliate. Bark is black to dark brown. Inland it is considered experimental. Eastern Australia.
Outrageous Bear’s Breeches for hot and sunny aspects. Forms large rosettes of spiked intricate leaves that almost lay flat on the ground. In summer, enormous chalice-like soft purple blooms rise to 2′ tall. Each flower opens to reveal yellow petals. A beautiful combination. Full sun and rich, well drained soil with light summer water. Give this plant room and air circulation. It does not like to be crowded. Fully cold hardy and completely winter deciduous. Established plants can get by on less water. Moderate deer resistance. To 2′ wide in several seasons. Spectacular cut flower.
Acer glabrum ssp. douglasii
Rocky mountain maple or locally also known as Douglas maple is our form of a widespread and sweet small tree that ranges from the Yukon in Canada to the highest mountains of northern Mexico. Our local variety is found in all of the mountainous parts of the state. This demure tree is the least planted of our native maples and deserves much more inclusion in our gardens. In the coast range it is found primarily above 2000′ and it can even be found lower in the Cascades. It follows the spine of the Ochocos in eastern Oregon up into the Blue mountains and Wallowa Mountains in the far north east. Rarely pole straight in stature its often multi-trunked and single trunked trees are in the minority in the wild. Ours are single trunks but multiple stems do not take away from the fresh green leaves and pretty to stunning fall color. The familiar maple leaves can achieve anything from dull yellow to shots of vermillion. Depending on the weather and tree. Soft gray bark. To 25′ tall moderately fast. Tiny green flowers morph into rosy hued samaras in autumn. Regular water for the first several years. This tree does appreciate rich soil that retains moisture in the Willamette Valley. Excellent woodland tree or even more appropriate on the edge of a stand of trees where it receives at least half a day of sun. The most recent years stems are often sanguine red, nice contrast with the grass green elegant leaves. The most striking fall color is achieved with more sun. A mesic maple that often follows water courses or lines wet ground. Single trunked trees are conical shaped and multi-trunked forms are more rounded and spreading. Deciduous. Avoid blasting heat and drought. Oregon native plant.
This is the locally native form of our wild yarrow. A rambunctious, easy to grow evergreen perennial for rough sites in well drained soil in full sun. Continuously from spring to autumn ‘umbels’ of pure white flowers rise 18″ above low spreading aromatic, finely divided ferny foliage. Most often it is green with variants that have gray foliage from time to time. Low water perennial that can even be used as a lawn substitute. A single plant spreads to several feet wide. Moderate deer resistance. Butterflies oh the butterflies.This is a pioneer perennial and will often out compete less robust native perennials. Its best use is as a contained weed. It is great for pollinators Individual plants rarely persist more than 3 years. Oregon native plant.
Achillea millefolium ‘Calistoga’
A fine form of our native Yarrow that has leaves that are a striking gray with pure, clean white flowers. A great combination. Spreads to form a low wide plant that is evergreen (gray). The flat clusters of flowers appear continuously from May to frost. More consistently if you remove spent flowers. The umbels, unusual for the daisy family, are loved by butterflies. Well, actually all pollinators. They are given a flat landing pad and tons of flowers- what more could you want. Excellent for low care areas where this romping perennial will happily out compete weeds and hold ground with very light amounts of water. Full sun and well drained soil. its best to double dig the soil to incorporate oxygen and de-compact the soil. Does not like compacted soil. Light but consistent summer water speeds growth and vigor. Otherwise very drought tolerant. Excellent on slopes. To 20″ tall in bloom on a low spreading foliage plant to 2′ wide or wider. High deer resistance. Great cut flower. Mix with other low water plants. Pretty with other colors of yarrow. Oregon native plant.
Achillea millefolium ‘Pretty Woman’
Of all the selections of our native yarrow this stands out for many reasons. The ‘umbels’ of flowers are a rich red which holds the color for an extended period. It fades only slightly to a rust red with time. Its vigorous and easy to grow. And it re-blooms reliably if spent flowers are removed. All the way until frost and sometimes longer. A very, very good long-lasting cut flower. To 18″ tall forming spreading colonies. Semi-evergreen. Low water when established in well-drained soils. Excellent to moderate deer resistance. Appreciates an annual application of compost. Oregon native plant.
Achillea millefolium ‘Salmon Beauty’
Yarrow is an unbeatable native perennial that blooms for a LONG time with a minimum amount of effort from the gardener. Foamy, ferny gray green leaves creates a low carpet of evergreen foliage. Rising up on 2′ spikes flat umbels of soft salmon flower create landing pads for pollinators. The flowers fade lightly after opening for a wonderful multicolor effect. Remove spent flowers, apply a little water and it will repeat bloom until frost. Best in lighter soils that are enriched but drain quickly. Best floral displays occur with light consistent summer water though it is very drought tolerant when established. Tolerates the toughest, hottest sites. Admirable if a little pungent cut flower. LOVED by pollinators. Creates a growing patch to several feet wide quickly. Blooms spring- autumn. Moderately deer resistant. Borders, dry borders, hell strips, etc. Oregon native plant.
A wonderful relatively new Achillea (Yarrow) from Siberia. It brings not only larger chalk pink flowers in bold umbels it is cold hardy to USDA Zone 2. This plant will never freeze out. Forms expanding clumps with upright stems clothed in glossy long green leaves with small teeth. On 22″ stems umbels of flowers appear from May to August. After the first flush of flowers shear away and water and another round will commence. The long stems make great long lasting cut flowers too. Loved by a bazillion pollinators, hover flies, bees of all kinds swarm the flat landing pad. Full sun to very light shade in rich, soil that drains. Incorporate some oxygen in by double digging. Good companion plants are Agastaches and Penstemons as well as ornamental grasses. Completely deciduous in winter. Light consistent summer H20 to establish. Long lived perennial. Moderate deer resistance. Elegant perennial. Siberian Yarrow.
Acorus calamus ‘Variegata’
Nifty foliage perennial that can double as a terrestrial border plant (with regular water in rich, moisture-retentive soil) or submerged as a border perennial in a water pot or the edge of the pond. The majority of the spikey 3′ tall leaves are composed of cream/ivory streaks with dramatic stripes of deep green. The effect is ghostly and vivid from quite a distance away. Forms large spreading clumps in time. To 4′ wide when things are going well. Full sun to part shade. Flowers are not very conspicuous spikes that hide within the foliage. Completely winter deciduous- this is nice, it makes cleaning up in late winter/spring easy and and no fuss and the plant begins anew and fresh each season. Not bothered by pests. If sunk in a pond or water pot use heavy clay soil- like from the ground and mulch with a layer of gravel. Long lived plant. High deer resistance. AKA. Ghost Sweet Flag.
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