Allium sikkimense

Allium sikkimense

Blue is an elusive color in Alliums but there are several that achieve that hue. This small bunch forming onion is a delight with clusters of nodding blue flower in mid-late summer. To 10″ tall a multiplying clump will spread to 1′ wide over time. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. Excellent in rock gardens, the front of borders and even hellstrips. Very easy to grow herbaceous perennial that blooms for 4-6 weeks. Cute little cutflower and loved by pollinators. Winter decidiuous for full sun- no fudging here. Long lived and hardy in containers. Moderate deer resistance.

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Amsonia hubrichtii

Amsonia hubrichtii

Threadleaf Bluestar is a fantastic native North American perennial with many seasons of interest. To 4′ tall this strongly clump-forming perennial has thread-like green leaves that line the sturdy, very vertical stems. Upon rising in late spring they host clusters of star shaped, fragrant (yep) blue flowers. Very pretty. The green, fine-textured foliage holds space as a blowsy presence in borders, gravel gardens, hellstrips. In autumn the entire plant turns shocking yellow and stays that way for weeks. Fall color at ground level and it rocks. Light but consistent summer water to aid in establishment. Very drought tolerant then. Full sun in any soil type but for permanently boggy. Good deer resistance. They will try it once but not again- for what it’s worth. Completely deciduous in winter.  Emerges mid-spring. Very long lived, no-fuss perennial. Mix with ornamental grasses, cacti, just about anything.

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Anchusa azurea 'Dropmore'

Anchusa azurea ‘Dropmore’

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.

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Anemanthele lessoniana

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

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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Aquilegia chaplinii

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.

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Arctostaphylos silvicola ‘Ghostly’

Arctostaphylos silvicola ‘Ghostly’

Ghostly white  fur covered foliage is almost too pale to believed and ‘Ghostly’ is an apt name. A distinctive  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. Tends to send out a lot of vertical stems, those may be cut to initiate denser branching.  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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Arctostaphylos x 'Rosy Dawn'

Arctostaphylos x ‘Rosy Dawn’

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.

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Artemesia versicolor 'Seafoam'

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

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 , otherwise light consistent irrigation to establish- then natural rainfall alone. 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. Spreads to form colonies by underground stolons to  2′-3′ wide. 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. The large seed heads are pointed and release their downy seeds on the wind in August-September.  Oregon native plant.

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