Alkanet, Italian Bugloss- neither name is very appealing but I’m here to testify that if you are a connoisseur of the color blue this big showy perennial is for you. To 4′ tall multiple spikes bear rich, deep, true blue flowers in one bodacious cloud. This form is not only a superior blue, but its a more reliable perennial. Most live 2-3 years but this often persists for longer. This borage forms a basal rosette of rough leaves- this is important to identify the inevitable seedlings- they are dark, dark green and spiny. Blooms first year from seed. A Spectacular plant for a young garden, a dry garden, wild border or in its most classic home the cottage garden. Full sun and average to enriched soil that drains quickly. Light consistent water to establish then drought adapted. Long, long blooming plant that often has bumble bees fast asleep in the cup shaped flowers. Very cool. Obvious pollinator gem. Very climate adapted plant.
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.
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.
Native to the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico and extreme west Texas this adorable columbine enchants us with its whimsical soft yellow flowers and fine blue foliage. To 18″ tall in bloom the petite flowers have long fantastic tails. They appear from April-June, and occasionally again if you remove spent flowers and prevent seed set. This smaller plant has wonderful finely divided blue green foliage that forms a fountain before and after bloom. Often self sows in open sites. The original plants live about 5 years but the distinctive leaves will give away the seedlings. They seem to favor cracks in pavement, stones. Full sun to very light shade in rich to average soil with regular summer water. Mix with our native Columbine (Aquilegia formosa) for a color echo on the yellow perianth of both. Very popular with pollinators including native pollinators. Winter deciduous. Moderate deer resistance. Charming and easy to grow wild flower.
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.
This is a little gal. She creeps slowly along the ground forming a dense dome. Round glossy leaves add to the the overall dome shape. In winter into spring a continual procession of soft pink flowers. They come in groups and are more intensely pink with cooler/cold temperatures. To about 1′ tall by 3′ wide not very quickly. Dense and smothers weeds effectively. Grows about 3″ per year, faster in more fertile soil. Great in year round containers where its restrained growth and ability to adhere to contours makes it perfect for life on the edge. Not quite as vigorous as kinnnick kinnick and actually a better specimen than ground cover. Great in rock gardens. Little summer water when established. Nice resistance to black spot. Appreciates a warm location. Moderately deer resistant. We have yet to see it produce berries. Or they were snagged by birds before we could notice. Demure little shrub. Looks glossy and fresh year round.
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.
Narrow leaved milkweed is an 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 spreading plant. Mix with fine textured ornamental grasses,such as Tufted fairy grass – Deschampsia caespitosa and tall spiky perennials such as simultaneously blooming Kniphofias. 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. Blooms open in June and persist to August. Oregon native plant.
This widespread species is native to the floor of the Willamette Valley and is locally common in the Columbia Gorge where it occupies dry rocky hillsides in full sun but tolerates heavy clay soil. In the best conditions (loam) it is huge spreading perennial that requires pre-planning and some real estate. Gray green stalks and leaves rise up to about 4’tall and bear deliciously fragrant pink orbicular flowers. These are irresistible to butterflies, including Monarchs, and if you want one to visit your garden this plant is good insurance. However, all butterflies find it irresistible. Spreads underground vigorously by stolons and can come up quite a way from the initial clump. Full sun and well drained soil. Completely winter deciduous and emerges relatively late in spring. Be patient. see video below. IMG 6323. Oregon native plant.
Common butterfly weed native to the central parts of the continent makes a striking long blooming perennial in our gardens. To 2′ tall flat cymes of brilliant orange flowers appear in July and re-bloom until frost. Emerges late – not until May and then rockets out of the ground and almost immediately commences blooming. Fantastic plant for all pollinators. Remarkably showy perennial for very well drained soil- try a slope and deep but infrequent irrigation or add a few handfuls of pumice to the planting hole. Mine thrives in the heat and rigors of my hellstrip. completely deciduous in winter.- its good to remember where you planted it. Butterflies, Oh the god damned butterflies.