Agave harvardiana

Spikes! A very upright and pokey Agave with steel blue/gray foliage that forms large rosettes. To 3′ across eventually this cold hardy Agave demands excellent drainage but is worth the effort. VERY well drained soil- amend with liberal amounts of pumice and gravel. Excellent on a slope. Plant with the rosette tilted to shed winter water. Makes new pups happily and they will often come up quite a distance from the parent plant. To 3′ tall when up and established. Great in containers that you protect from winter wet. Move to a covered place in fall- a south facing eave is sufficient. Cold hardy below 0ºF- when established. Best to plant in March or April so that it has the longest possible season to develop a tap root going into its first winter. Light summer water to none. High deer resistance.

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Agave parryi ‘Flagstaff’

From the very far north end of this variable species range in Northern Arizona near—‘Flagstaff’. High elevation form that is found above 7000′ in the wild. Very cold hardy moderately large Agave. Full sun and very well drained soil. You must amend the soil with pumice and gravel to avoid wet accumulating around the crown in winter. This is made all the more easy by placing on a slope. The rosettes should be tilted to shed winter wet. Very stiff and sharply tipped steel blue leaves form a rosette that is at first upright then spreads out a little. Remove leaves from deciduous plants that collect in the rosette in autumn- they blow in from god knows where and leaving them can encourage rot. Excellent in containers. Move containerized plants under an eave or overhang to keep it dry in winter. No water required after initial establishment. Beautiful form of this cold hardy species. High deer resistance.

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Agave parryi ssp. neomexicana

New Mexico Agave is a spike wonder. Much more upright-growing than the species with sharp-tipped leaves that terminate in a blood red thorn. OW. Forms a very symmetrical plant with many leaves of steel blue. Full sun and VERY WELL-DRAINED soil. Excellent on hot slopes where it will tilt the rosette to avoid winter wet. Pups, heh, freely and you will soon have many rosettes. Amend the soil with pumice and gravel. Make sure there is plenty of air in the soil and no place where water could collect. Fantastic specimen plant for a dry garden/gravel garden. Water through the first summer to establish then none in subsequent years. Clean out the rosette when deciduous leaves collect in there- a shop vac works great. The leaves will cause rot when they decompose….so they must go. Great in containers- large, sturdy containers. Cold hardy. High deer resistance.

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Agave parryi ssp. truncata

Consistently one of the most successful Agaves for gardens in our region. Soft gray rosettes have leaves with a distinct upright habit. At the tips of the wide leaves is a single (deadly) black thorn. Very nice. Full sun and very well drained soil with little to no summer water when established. This Agave requires soil that is never soggy- amend heavily with pumice and gravel to create air pockets. Plant this (and all) hardy Agaves in our climate on a tilt. The tilted rosette sheds rainwater and it keeps it much drier in winter. Ideally, this Agave should be sited on a hot, south facing slope. In autumn deciduous leaves from (everywhere) seem to blow into the rosette and collect. You must remove these immediately so that they do not rot the center of the plant. A shop vac works wonders…so do bar-B-Q tongs. Excellent in containers. Its best to plant hardy Agaves in early spring to early summer. They require a long season to develop a tap root which in turn ensures that they are cold hardy. No tap root and not so hardy. Hardy below 0ºF when dry. Highly deer resistant.

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Agropyron magellanicum

Blue wheat grass from Chile/Argentina is perhaps the bluest grass that we can grow. Clump forming ultra blue upright then arching grass that is good looking all the time. It virtually glows in a landscape provided rich, well-drained soil in full sun with regular and consistent summer moisture. Does not like to dry out and conversely it resents a boggy situation. To 20″ tall and forming a clump almost as wide. Great performance in containers. Loves the Oregon coast. Do not cut back wholesale- instead tidy by removing tattered, discolored leaves in early spring. Avoid reflected heat. Moderate deer resistance.

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Anemanthele lessoniana

Pheasant Tail Grass is a clumping large arching grass with colorful surprises throughout the year. To 30″ tall and a little wider the army green arching foliage takes on dramatic orange and red tints if given just a little stress. In summer fine tawny orange/brown glossy seedheads arch gracefully within the foliage. Full sun to very light shade in rich, well drained soil with consistent summer moisture- a little dryness and wham! You get those fiery tints. Requires a protected location in gardens, avoid full on exposure and cold winds. Its best application though is as a large graceful container subject. And the drainage adds to cold hardiness. Remove seedheads before they mature as it does like to seed around. Mulch for arctic weather. Moderate deer resistance. New Zealand.

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Anthyllis vulneraria var. coccinea

Kidney Vetch is a playful, short-lived perennial with shocking red flowers that come in clusters much like clover. Low, spreading plant that hugs the ground, all the better to see the piercing red flowers on this form. Seeds prolifically, and the seedlings are both easy to identify as well as move or dispatch. To 3″ tall by 18″ wide, when very happy. Loved by pollinators. Forms a vivid patch of color in the most unlikely places. Seeds germinate in autumn and bloom commences in spring. Excellent little nitrogen-fixing temporary plant for new gardens. Enriches soil in a wonderful way. Light to little summer water.  Mediterranean.

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Arctostaphylos silvicola ‘Ghostly’

Ghostly white foliage is almost too pale to believed and ‘Ghostly’ is an apt name. A moderate growing Manzanita to 8’ tall and 4’ wide in 5  years. Fast growing in our climate. Do not be afraid to cut back lanky new growth for a more upright and sturdier plant. Prune in July. In late winter and early spring clusters of white urn shaped flowers appear at the branch tips and delight hummingbirds. There is no more silver/white foliaged Manzania that we have seen. Truly spectacular in well drained soil with good air circulation and little summer water once established. From a species native to the Santa Cruz Mtns. in California and surprisingly cold hardy.

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Artemesia versicolor ‘Seafoam’

Lovely, soft gray curls make up the foliage of this low spreading perennial. Easy to grow and long lived plant for full sun and well drained soil. Little summer water when established. Takes the hottest aspects with aplomb and remains good looking all season. At the end of summer stems extend to produce small white flowers. Not really showy but it expands the overall texture of the plant. Completely winter deciduous. Cut back hard in early spring. Forms woody stems at the base and is a quite permanent plant. Flows in and around other plants gracefully. Moderate deer resistance. To 1′ x 3′ in a season.

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Asclepias fascicularis

Native Oregonian butterfly weed that has a great wildflower demeanor and is just as attractive to pollinators as well as Lepidoptera (butterflies). Full sun and well drained soil, though it accepts clay soil on slopes that are strictly unwatered in summer. To 22″ tall and making a clump in time. Mix with fine textured ornamental grasses, tall spiky perennials. Light summer water. Flower color is most often creamy white but ranges to light pink. Often seen on road cuts and in ditches in the Willamette Valley. Blends in with grasses and other plants but pollinators find it no matter what. Nice cutflower. Important food source for Fendler’s Blue Butterfly which is very endangered and locally indigenous. Winter deciduous. Oregon native plant.

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