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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Aloiampelos (Aloe) striatula

We’ve grown a lot of Aloes with purported cold and wet hardiness and this is the one that has been the most successful. A large succulent shrubby plant with rosettes of deep green succulent foliage. In late summer to autumn a showy display of large yellow flower spikes can occur. Very pretty and loved by all nectar seeking folks. Give this South African perennial VERY GOOD DRAINAGE in full sun and a warm position.  A slope is always helpful. Amend the soil with plenty of gravel and sand as well as compost- these guys do need to eat- so a little handful of organic fertilizer is recommended. Capable of freezing to the ground (below 15ºF) and resprouting from the base when truly warm weather arrives. Plant on a south or west facing slope preferably against a warm wall or boulder for added reflected heat. Easy, if large, container plant that you should protect from temperatures in the teens. To 3′ x 3′ on average in our climate. Mostly evergreen here. Combine with Agave, Cactus which will also increase their growth rate if you provide light, consistent water during hot weather.

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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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Anigozanthos flavidus

Anigozanthos flavidus

A customer of ours from the N. Oregon Coast (Gearhart) brought us divisions of the large, green-flowered Kangaroo Paw species. It had thrived in her garden there for 20 years and formed a huge patch. She had divisions aplenty. We’ve since found that it isn’t quite hardy inland but it’s still a durable, cool, long-blooming plant. Easy container plant that you can protect if the temperature threatens to drop below 20ºF. In summer they send up 4′ spikes with their green, curiously fuzzy paw-shaped flowers. They remain in bloom for weeks. Full sun and fertile well-drained soil with regular water. Easy to divide. Multiples quickly.

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Antirrhinum sempervirens

Antirrhinum sempervirens

Cute little perennial Snapdragon species native to the mountains adjacent to the Mediterranean. Gray-green, almost succulent foliage is lush and is great with the profuse white snapdragon flowers which appear from late spring to mid summer. Full sun and rich to average, well-drained soil. Light summer water. Gets by with none but doesn’t look as good. Dies completely to the ground in winter and quickly resprouts from the base in spring. Rock gardens, gravel gardens, borders, hellstrips. Seeds around, and finds places that it likes. That could be the cracks in a wall or even pavement.

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Apocynum androsaemifolium

Spreading Dogbane is a pretty semi-shrubby native perennial that is found in every biome in our area. David Douglas mentioned this billowing perennial with clouds of light pink/white bells. Mostly he hated tripping over it in the Willamette Valley. This very permanent plant spreads to form big drifts in the wild. Streambanks, prairies, alpine meadows it can appear. The rounded downward pointing leaves emerge on semi-woody stems. In June-August clouds of flowers appear for weeks. Loved by pollinators and birds specifically attractive to native hummingbirds and butterflies. To 2′ tall and spreading by stolons to a wide area. Water to establish then none in subsequent years. Mulch after planting. Virtually any somewhat rich soil type including amended sand. Full sun to part shade. Wonderful plant and floral texture for meadows. I have great childhood memories of this plant in July in full bloom perched with our huge native black bumble bees. Very convenient bloom time- it begins to bloom just as most other natives are finished.  Dogbane is toxic when consumed by humans or animals- hence the common name. When stems are broken a milky sap is exuded. Moderate deer resistance.  Distantly related to milkweed. Once very common in the Willamette Valley its territory has shrunk. Great performance in hellstrips and verges that are lightly or completely non-irrigated. Give this plant room to spread and plan ahead. Limited availability. Oregon native plant

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The true strawberry tree of the Mediterranean this close relative of our Pacific Madrone is a small  rounded multi-trunked tree.  Evergreen long glossy foliage creates  dark shade. In the spring whitish/green urn shaped flowers transform into small, edible, red berries. These are loved by birds and people too, the dried fruit is reportedly extremely heavy in antioxidants. The bark exfoliates beautifully just like our own and it peels in summer to reveal a green glossy trunk that slowly changes to rusty brown and continues to be glossy. Seed of these trees was collected outside of Jerusalem. This small tree of of the Mediterranean region circles that whole sea and even results in hybrids with Arbutus unedo. Moderately fast growing tree to 30′  in great age. Beautiful tree that is extraordinarily drought adapted. Ideal for hot sunny slopes and perfect accompaniment to Manzanitas and our own Madrone. Avoid subfreezing wind and err on the side of  protected location, a west or south aspect is ideal. Water to establish the first season then none in subsequent years. Beautiful evergreen, lovely fruit, and bark. Gains cold hardiness with age.  AKA Greek Strawberry tree.

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Arbutus menziesii

Arbutus menziesii

Pacific Madrone, iconic tree of the Pacific Northwest. Famous for its glossy, russet orange sinuous trunks, exfoliating bark, and round, evergreen foliage. In spring, clusters of white flowers are showy and turn into vivid red berries by autumn. These are loved by birds- especially western tanagers who will quickly strip a tree as flocks move from one to the next. Must be grown from seed and it must be transplanted when small. Just the way it is. Plant it in average, well drained soil. Water lightly through the first summer in subsequent years leave it strictly alone. Full sun is best- tends to wander towards the sun in shade. Underplant with low water natives such as Arctostaphylos, Ceanothus, Vancouveria. Slow at first it picks up speed after about 4 years- then it can grow 2′-4′ a year. Somewhat messy tree- loses older leaves in summer and the bark exfoliates all over the place too. Know this and live with it. Ours are raised from seed of trees native to our wholesale nursery site- so its a local strain. Pacific madrone is native from the highest mountains of southern California to southern British Columbia. It is the northern-most broadleaved evergreen tree (native) in North America. Oregon native plant.

*Cultural note:  Pacific Madrone is best established with a little attention.  Remember that the first year is the most important.  Madrones are adaptable to a host of soil types, thats why you see them in such varied places but err on the side of good drainage, a slope etc.  If the soil is dry when you plant do this, dig a wide area and loosen the soil. This will add oxygen and allow the water to percolate and get to the roots. (If the soil is already moist plant as per your regular routine.) Water after planting to settle the soil.  Let the plant go dry and depending on aridity and heat- you may have to water more in hot weather, less in cool weather. This is only relevant in the first summer after planting.  To water give the Madrone seedling about 1/2 gallon of water. This will be just enough to wet the root ball and keep the seedling from wilting. It should grow a little bit too.  if the plant shows signs of wilting this amount of water will also revive it.  Stop watering when cooler weather arrives (September) and winter rains resume. In subsequent years you should not water your Madrone at all. Do not amend the soil at all, native unimproved soils are what they are adapted to.  Remember they are native right here and are perfectly adapted, trust this adaptation. Also, do not crowd your madrone immediately, mulch it  lightly with fine bark and give it good air circulation for its first several years.

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Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

This is the standard small tree form of Strawberry Tree that is so important in PNW horticulture. A good looking evergreen tree that eventually forms a rounded dense crown. To 16′ tall and a third as wide in 10 years. Excellent small patio tree- as long as you account for the prodigious autumn fruit drop. Birds and squirrels consume the fruit which is alluded to in the specific name unedo- which means ‘I eat only one.’ I know people who eat them and claim to like them. So to each their own. No denying the electric neon yellow to bright red fruit is striking September to December. White urn shaped flowers appear simultaneously with the fruits in autumn. In time the bark develops to dark brown and shredding. Native to the Mediterranean with a disjunct population in southern Ireland. Drought tolerant when established.

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