RED Robin! Thats how we remember the name of this snappy Hens and Chicks. Tightly growing leaves in a medium sized rosette to 3″ across. The interior of the leaves are bright red with green leaf tips. Multiplies quickly. Retains these bright colors well throughout the year- where as some can become rather dull in winter. Spring – Autumn it may shoot up a 5″ spike bearing pink/red flowers. The rosette then dies but there are so many offsets that you would never know. Move them around the garden like furniture. Easy. Give them to friends, knock squirrels out of the tree with them. Fun to grow. Interact with your sempervivums and all will be good. Full sun and regular summer water to remain vigorous and bright and showy.
Biome: Hot Aspects
Its surprising in our climate that heat is as big of an issue as it is. But there are scores of sunburned and toasted plants littering our city by the end of summer. We average just 2.o” of rain during June-August and you have to take into account reflected heat. That could be heat emanating from an asphalt street such as occurs in a hellstrip or the accumulated heat of a hot wall. Both can conspire to fry plants. Luckily, we grow a LOT of plants adapted to excess heat. These plants won’t fry on the first day above 95ºF. Some plants revel in reflected heat, they come from hotter climates and need warmth to both bloom and to ripen wood for winter. That means it receives enough heating calories to ensure winter hardiness. Currently, Portland averages 14 days above 90ºF per year. By the next decade that number will have more than doubled. Part of gardening with climate change is to anticipate those effects and adapt to them. Increasingly, we will be considered a hot summer climate. We should garden accordingly.
Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW
Sempervivum arachnoides var. pittonii
Cob webs cover this adorable and fast multiplying Hens and chicks. The hairy webbing is a successful strategy to stop transpiration of liquid from the leaves and cool the surface as well. 2″ wide rosettes create many offsets in a short amount of time. It makes a good small scale ground cover From spring to autumn it may produce a 5″ stem directly from the center of the rosette and bear rows of rosy pink flowers. That rosette then dies but it produces prodigious amounts of babies. Full sun to part shade in enriched, well drained soil with light summer irrigation. Without irrigation it will survive but shrink. Containers, rock gardens, gravel gardens. Good appearance year round.
Moon carrot Moon carrot. Trendy, cool, avant garde and of course its an UMBEL! Umbels are in, Umbels are in! Full sun and well drained soil of average to rich fertility. The second season a crazy number of tall flowers yield groups of umbels. Umbels upon umbels. Can you dig it? To 30″ tall and as wide. Moderate deer resistance Great cut flower. Blooms for up to two months. Easy to grow. Dislikes shade intensely. Biennial or short lived perennial.
Sesleria autumnalis ‘Campo de Azul’
An autumn moor grass with distinctive differences. Very blue upright, stiff foliage forms a large expanding clump. In mid summer through autumn (and beyond) 18″ straight vertical stems support gray/black flowers frosted with light yellow pollen. Excellent appearance year round for an evergreen grass to 1′ tall and 2′ wide in several seasons. Well drained average to enriched soil. Light, consistent summer water in full sun. Excellent massed, plant on 2′ centers. Flowers slowly decay over winter and spent stems may be cut away. Refrain from cutting this plant back to the ground. Winter damage will be covered quickly by new growth in late winter to early spring. Establishes quickly. Cold hardy below 0ºF. Native to Italy/Croatia- its adapted well to a summer dry climate. Nice looking grass.
Sesleria autumnalis ‘Campo Verde’
Crazy cool grass that is handsome year round- not entering dormancy in winter and they bloom on compact plants for several months. This mediterranean native grass forms lose but not unkempt bunches of arching evergreen foliage. The floral spikes rise another several inches above the foliage for a complicated texture. Full sun, well drained soil, little water once established. To 14″ tall and 20″ wide. 1′ tall in bloom. Very drought tolerant and does not really go through a down time remaining the same aesthetically all year. Accepts regular irrigation with excellent drainage.
The Willamette Valley is the center of the Sidalcea universe. Willamette Checker Mallow is a fantastic long lived native perennial that thrives in gardens. In May-July and sporadically later stems rise up from low foliage to 14″-36″ and support many soft pink flowers. Loved by pollinators and very easy to grow. This perennial inhabits slopes around the Willamette Valley in very heavy clay soil that dries out to concrete in summer. Adaptable to richer conditions, it also encourages a longer bloom season. Full sun to part shade. Native in Oregon Oak woodlands with Oregon Iris, Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon hendersonii). Pretty meadow flower that combines well with native grasses and the aforementioned perennials. Established plants can get by with very little water. Forms a spreading clump to 2′ wide. This species and several others have a natural range that is defined by the Willamette Valley. Its a special member of the Valley biome. Common associates in the wild are Rosa nutkana var, nutkana as well as Lupinus of various kinds. Good cut flower. Winter deciduous Long lived perennial. Very important for native butterflies. Its a host plant for gray hairstreaks and a nectar source for Fendler’s Blue butterfly. Oregon native plant.
Sidalcea malvaflora ssp. asprella ‘Josephine’
Beautiful Oregon Native Checker mallow that has handsome deep green glossy scalloped leaves and for all of summer a continuous supply of long stems clad in rows of cup shaped pink flowers. Adapted to heavy soils that dry out completely. But improves greatly under cultivation. Flowering stems stretch horizontally and wind their way through neighboring plants. Cute cut flower. Excellent in borders or no water landscapes alike. To 18″ tall in bloom and spreading to about 3′ wide. Long lived and easy to grow. Native to western Oregon. Our selection of a deep pink and prolific bloomer. One of the naturally longest blooming varieties that can remain in bloom for months. Excellent perennial for drawing butterflies. The long stems of cup shaped luminous pink flowers work well as cut flowers. Light summer water and rich soil prolong its performance. Palmate leaves are glossy and good looking. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
Silene alpestris ‘Flore Pleno’
I love the crisp detailed pure white flowers that float like little pieces of perfect oragami on 6″ stems. Forms continuous evergreen patches in well drained soil with light summer irrigation. Full sun to very light shade. Incredibly long bloom season, March to November. And sometimes longer. Excellent in rock gardens, as a trough plant, or container plant in general. Hardy and easy to grow. Makes a precious delicate cut flower. So white. So, crisp and white. Not tolerant of shade. Excellent long blooming small scale ground cover to line paths, create a pool of crisp white flowers. Europe.
Sisyrinchium ‘Quaint and Queer’
Sweet little blue eyed grass with a penchant for being different. Eschewing the purple and yellow and blue flowers commonly assigned to this genus this little freak puts out simple flowers with petals that alternate soft tan and purple. Its a groovy combination and adds a wild flower flare on long thin stalks to 18″ tall. Forms increasing clumps of grassy blue/green foliage. Deciduous in winter. Full sun and rich to average well drained soil with light but consistent summer water when established. A good sized clump can measure about 10″ across after several years. A charming perennial that we have found is excellently adapted to the open mindedness of the west coast as well as climate. Easy. Gay Iris relatives are few and far between. Treasure them. Moderate deer resistance.
Solanum (laxum) jasminoides
White Potato Vine is an incredibly floriferous plant. Large and profuse clusters of stunning star shaped flowers are clear white and appear continuously from May to frost and if winter fails to materialize even longer. Semi-tender in our climate it requires protection for the base and rich, well drained soil. Vigorous climber to 12′ in single season. If it freezes the ground- this happens below about 20ºF it can break from the base and regrow quickly. In Portland this happens about every 3-4 years. Climbs by modified leaf petiole and requires substantial support. Personally, I think the best way to grow this everblooming vine is in containers, even window boxes where the plant will become a trailing cloud of white stars for months. Blooms on new wood, it may be pruned at anytime. Mulch the base in fall with compost or leaves and place against a warm wall or in-between close shrubs that will bolster further protection. Loved by bees and bumbles. Regular deep summer water produces the best results. Full sun to very light shade. Spectacular performance on the Oregon Coast. Native to Chile/Argentina.
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