Symphoricarpos albus

Common snowberry is very widespread in our state and is found in a host of biomes This small, deciduous, suckering shrub begins spring with leaves of the freshest green, so fresh they flutter on the late spring early summer breeze. After several weeks of foliage the small white tinted pink flowers are shaped like small bowls and line the stem at every leaf axil. These morph into plush, plump pure white berries that are quite a bit larger than the relatively insignificant flowers. The berries (drupes) are perched in groups on the stems. Their pure white hue is easy to spot for humans and especially birds.They relish the berries while they are toxic for humans.  To 32″ tall forming a dome shaped suckering shrub twice as wide. Water to establish the first season then none in subsequent years. Mulch heavily.  The berries last well into winter before becoming animal snacks. The gray thin arching stems create a haze on the forest floor that becomes acid green as leaves appear. Spreads by stolons underground to expand its territory. Its adaptable to both upland quite dry situations as well as vernally wet spots in floodplains and fields. In the Willamette Valley its common associates are with Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir)  Quercus garryana  ( Oregon White Oak) and Fraxinus latifolia ( Oregon Ash) as an understory component. Its tolerant of dense shade as long as its deciduous to full hot sun, Very well adapted to the driest summers. In summer the acid green leaves change to a dark blue green and are often afflicted by a strain of powdery mildew- my whole life I’ve known this shrub and I’ve never seen powdery mildew cause any permanent damage- mostly its just a poor aesthetic look for late summer to autumn. Fall color is soft yellow and brief. Branches may be carefully cut in berry and will hold them in arrangements for quite a few days. An excellent forage and cover plant for native fauna.  A great native shrub for beginners. This is the taller form of the two species that we grow. Native to the Portland city limits. Moderate deer resistance. One of our best shrubs for seasonally dry shade.  Oregon native plant.

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Symphoricarpos mollis

Creeping snowberry is widespread in western Oregon and indeed throughout the state. Its a low suckering deciduous shrub that can occupy large areas. To 30″ tall spread is indefinite in rich to average soil with regular water for the first year to establish. Mulch is extremely beneficial and will suppress weeds for the first few years which can arrive in the middle of a patch of this spreading plant. Leaves are fresh green in spring turning blue green with the heat of summer. Small pinkish flowers occur in late spring and morph over the summer into plush white squishy berries. They line the bare stems and are showy until birds make off with them or they remain and rot. The berries are toxic for humans. Fall color is light yellow to very little. Common on undisturbed slopes on the edges of the valley and in the eastern foothills of the Coast Range and western Cascades. Snow berry is often afflicted with powdery mildew in the driest parts of summer. No harm will come to the plant. A wonderful habitat plant. Oregon native plant.

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Tellima grandiflora

Locally native on our nursery site Fringe Cups or Fairy Bells as they are commonly known are a spreading perennial for moist shady sites. Low mounding maple shaped leaves cover the ground densely and in late spring vertical spikes appear to 18″ tall and sport rows of small green cup shaped flowers which change to white and finish with tints of pink. Closely related to Heuchera and thrives in the same conditions. It will even take full sun in moist conditions. It is a background plant because it often suffers from powdery mildew late in summer which is mostly just ugly and I’ve never seen harm to the plant. The drier the conditions the worse the affliction. Good air circulation helps but its best to just accept that this is how this native perennial rolls. Semi-evergreen in winter. Woodland borders, shady containers. Very easy to grow. Often grows with Claytonia as seen below. Flowers emit a sweet fragrance.  Oregon Native Plant.

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Tolmiea menziesii

Piggy Back plant is what we called this moisture loving woodland plant. Its famous for its ability to sprout a new plant right from the leaf petiole, it forms roots and drops off the plant and roots into the ground. Its also commonly known as a very easy to grow houseplant. Native from Southern Alaska to Northern California. In moist, cool climates like the coast it can grow just about anywhere. The distinctly arrow shaped leaves cover the ground densely on a wide spreading perennial. In mid-spring 2′ spikes erupt with rows of brownish-red flowers. A member of the Saxafrage family  and closely related to Heucheras and Tiarellas. this is as superb a garden plant. Evergreen and consistently moist shady sites are where it thrives. Though with some supplemental water it can make its home in some pretty challenging dry shade. Foliage forms spreading mounds to 10″ tall and spreads laterally 2′-3′ when happy. Plants shrink somewhat in winter, and not as verdant but they do cover the ground and out compete weeds. Great container plant. Very nice naturalized among ferns of any kind. Native to the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.

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Tolmiea menziesii ‘Taff’s Gold’

An exceptional variegated form of our native “pigaback” plant that is excellent as a groundcover in dense to light shade. Vigorous and evergreen it will spread to 4′ wide in 2 years but stay only 1′ tall. Very easy to grow, works well under established Rhododendrons. Pretty, but not conspicuous brown flowers. Regular water but will take drought if in the shade. Easy, indispensible native plant.  Forms new plants directly from the center of each leaf. Cool trick. Also grown as a houseplant. Good in containers. Oregon native plant.

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Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Chirofu Chirimen’

Cool little Asian Star Jasmine with tiny variegated leaves that forms dense mounds as a ground cover or in time it can reach up as a cute and not strangling vine. Each leaf is margined and splashed with white. New growth has distinct pink tints for a distinct multicolor effect. Forms a fine textured plant but as a small scale ground cover it will block weeds. To 1′ tall x 30″ wide as a ground cover. To 8′ tall or higher as a self clinging vine in wind free places. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. Definitely double dig the soil before planting to incorporate oxygen as well as assist in absorption of water. Add organic fertilizer as well. Trachelospermums appreciate good drainage and regular summer irrigation to do their best. Otherwise drought tolerant but slow growing. Nice on fences or screens or up the trunk of a Trachycarpus (Windmill Palm). Good deer resistance. Evergreen.

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Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Ogon Nishiki’

This poor plant though spectacular has a bunch of silly marketing names attached to it. We stick with the original Japanese cultivar name- seems appropriate. No other evergreen vine/groundcover has a foliage display that matches this plant. New leaves emerge bright orange and then morph slowly to patches of light yellow surrounded by dark green. Delightful. We’ve never seen flowers on this cultivar and we don’t need to. Great small scale and vivid ground cover. Mounds and trails to 8″ tall and several feet wide in a single season. It has been surprisingly hardy to cold enduring temps below 10ºF with no harm. Best in part shade to shade in rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. This vine grows when its warm therefore you water it when its warm. Twins around thin objects and will eventually hoist itself skyward. Solidly evergreen. Excellent container plant. Moderate deer resistance.

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Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Red Top’

We’ve grown this excellent small scale groundcover for 20 years and it never fails to find a useful place in gardens. ‘Red Top’ Asian Star Jasmine is named for its bright red new growth which settles down to green with  white veins. Each leaf is very pretty but as the plant mounds up and becomes dense its downright elegant. Thick growing ground cover for full sun to full shade in rich, moisture retentive soil. Takes very dry conditions once it has rooted in a bit. Trailing stems will root as they touch the soil providing erosion control. In wind free places with support it will actually  climb as a vine and become self adhering to any rough surface. Adult foliage has leaves that are nearly circular and will produce a long season of ivory propeller shaped non-fragrant flowers June – August. Moderate deer resistance. To 10″ tall and 3′ wide as a ground cover. Regular water significantly speeds growth. Good winter appearance. Easy to grow plant.

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Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Variegatum’

Variegated Asian Star Jasmine.  Excellent evergreen ground cover with playful foliage that looks great year round. Lovely entire leaves are spaced and outlined in cream. Great contrast to the sage green leaf interior. Trailing ground cover (occasionally it can rise up to be a vine- in windfree locations with support) but mainly its value is a year round showy and consistent look. Mounding and trailing it will root into the ground when it feels like it. To 10″ tall and 3′ wide as a ground cover. To 10′ tall as a vine. Full sun to dense shade in rich, well drained soil. But it adapts to harsher sites if given regular water. Excellent under trees, shrubs. Dense enough to discourage weeds. Very cold and drought tolerant. Seldom blooms. Moderate deer resistance. This and all Trachelsospermum asiaticum have two distinct forms of foliage. Juvenile and adult. Juvenile foliage is associated with long trailing and vining material. In wind free, still locations it can rise up as vine and thats when it becomes adult. This plant ONLY BLOOMS ON ADULT foliage. So, that is one reason you seldom see flowers on Asian star jasmine. Over time adult foliage will appear on ground covers. Its less vining and more bushy. Again, until adult foliage forms there will be no flowers.

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Trachelospermum jasminoides

Not a true Jasmine at all but Star Jasmine is a classic summer blooming evergreen vine in our region. One of the most popular vines and rightly so with its clouds of ivory colored propeller shaped sweetly fragrant flowers for all of summer. Twining vine, provide support- easily guided with the help of #4 gauge copper wire. It has the enviable trait of clothing itself to the ground in evergreen foliage- seldom has bare knees. Full sun to quite a bit of shade, including dry shade. To 12′ tall and 4′ wide in 6 years. Cold hardy to the single digits when established. Can be slightly tender when vines are young- hence the myth that it is not hardy. Regular water in summer speeds  growth measurably and should be applied for the first few years. Blooms on wood from the current season. Prune before or after blooming. In warmer climates this vine is only a spring bloomer. In our milder summers with cooler overnight lows in summer it spurs Star Jasmine to bloom for all of our summer. Lucky us. Moderate deer resistance. Drought adapted with age. See below- trained as a free standing hedge in Laurelhurst. Kind of cool.

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