Sollya (Billardiera) heterophylla

Australian blue bell creeper is a tender evergreen vine that we adore for seasonal containers and its long season of bloom. Oblong mid green foliage lines woody twining stems. On wood from the previous season and new wood a continuous display of pendant small sky blue flowers. The clusters are both nestled in the foliage and on the exterior of the plant for a very complete show. Blooms continuously from May to as late as early August. Lozenged shaped blue drupes follow the flowers. A reserved growing vine to 6′ in a single season and branching well. Best in a container with a sturdy support such as a metal obelisk. Cold hardy to about 22ºF – and has great performance on the Oregon coast. Move containerized plants to an unseated garage to protect from temperatures below 20ºF. Most winters it is semi-deciduous no matter the weather, quickly gaining new foliage in spring. The dainty, profuse flowers give this member of the Pittosporum family charm. Very easy to grow. You may cut it almost to the ground in Spring to refresh and definitely apply a handful of all organic fertilizer. This vine can expend the nutrients from a container in a season. Regular H20 speeds new growth which in turn produces new flowers. Native to South Australia where it has escaped as an invasive in other parts of that continent. No problems here. Very pretty.

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Sphaeralcea ‘Hot Pink’

Globe Mallow. Fun and easy to grow perennial that behaves like a sub-shrub. Semi woody wands of very silvery small maple shaped leaves wave to 3′ tall. Lining these silver stems are bowl shaped hot pink flowers. They begin as early as late May and continue unabated for months. As time goes on this perennial for dry, hot locations with good drainage becomes a showy hot pink mass of blooms. Excellent on hot slopes with light but consistent summer water. Very drought adapted but light water appears to improve the performance. Loved by bees, butterflies and other pollinators. By autumn this 3′ x 3′ shrub should be left intact to over winter. In spring when new growth is breaking from the base it may be cut back hard and recovery to bloom is rapid with the onset of warmer weather. Cold hardier if given very good drainage. As far as I can surmise it will take temperatures down to about 10ºF.  A selection or possible hybrid from two southwestern globe mallows.

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Sphaeralcea ‘Newleaze Coral’

An American western native wildflower that was selected for its unique flower color in the UK. Well, welcome home my pretty globe mallow.  A tall growing semi-woody perennial with soft gray/green foliage. From June to September and longer cupped vivid coral flowers line the 3′ stems. It blooms non-stop for up to two months. Very pretty. Full, hot sun and rich, to average WELL DRAINED soil. A natural for a slope or included in a border where you water just on occasion. Very drought adapted for full hot sun. Do not cut this big wavy perennial back in autumn- leave the top growth as added winter protection. Cut back by 2/3 when you see new growth pushing in spring. Good drainage is key for the combination of wet + arctic air. Dry its hardy way below 0ºF- moist- well, a lot warmer. Excellent long blooming tall plant for seasonal containers as well. Does not like shade. Don’t even try. To 2′ wide.

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Sphaeralcea incana

We’ve been impressed with the performance of this striking very upright globe mallow. Spikes clad in soft orange flowers appear continuously for months in summer. To 4′ tall ultimately this forms a semi-woody clump to 2′ wide. Full, HOT sun and WELL DRAINED soil with light summer water. Freezes back in winter almost to the ground and vigorously resprouts for the base and grows quickly when hot weather arrives. Excellent on slopes, hot gravel gardens. Not bothered by rust or other diseases that can afflict mallows. Mulch lightly for the first winter for added protection. Stunning in bloom and carefree once established. Cut back dead top growth in mid-spring. Some deer resistance. Takes blasting reflected heat well.  SW native plant.

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This is the true Varnished leaf Spiraea that is  native in the Portland area. The large fluffy inflorescences – almost furry and true  tiny petals.   This too is a wonderful shrub that is tolerant of a host of situations. It is native in the Portland, city limits and knowing where it grows will lead to success with this easy going native. To about 3′ x 3′ and increasing laterally by stolons. This low deciduous shrub is primarily  a resident of high douglas fir overstory, but it can alsmost make appearance at the wetter end of oak savanna. The flowers appear from late spring to early summer. They are natural landing pads for butterflies even hummingbirds appear.  Best in an open north exposure with regular H20 then the following year less to none. Its naturally one of the most drought adapted of this genus. Give this plant room to spread, interweave its way around Holodiscus and Symphoricarpos, Gaulthria shallon. in rich soil ( to begin its life and establish)  Fall color can be yellow to peach and can also not really happen. Wonderful plant. Oregon native plant.

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Stachys coccinea ‘Coral’

For flowers in this genus this is THE plant. Upright growing plant from a clump that rises to 2′ and produces multiple spikes of bright coral colored flowers. They are arranged in symmetrical whorls up the stem. Loved by hummingbirds who constantly seek nectar from the flowers that appear from late spring to late summer. When flower spikes are spent simply cut them away and water and more will arrive. Very easy to grow long blooming perennial for full sun to part shade in rich, well drained soil with light but consistent summer water. Very drought adapted when established. Works well in borders and even seasonal containers. The leaves have a very familiar lemon lime aroma. Dies to a low clump of foliage in winter.

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Stachys lavandulifolia

Curious and pretty small perennial that has lovely leaves that have symmetrical black veins. As the plant expands it sends up spikes clad in frosty hairs around violet purple flowers. The don’t exactly go straight up but wind around a little bit. This gives the whole plant an overall haze that is truly fantastic. Appreciate sunny dry environs with sharp drainage but  as rich of soil as you can muster. Ideally it finds a home in a dry border or rock garden. Winter deciduous perennial to 18″ x 18″ in a season. Blooms repeatedly all summer. Light summer H20 and drought adapted when very established. Mixes well with Cranesbill (Erodium) and Scutellaria suffrutescens. Pretty little cut flower that acts as a boa in a small arrangements. Very good butterfly and pollinator perennial. Absorbs blasting hot locations. Flowers when spent turn to light brown wands of fuzz- this extends this plants season of interest.

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Stipa barbata

Silver Feather Grass- our favorite ornamental grass. From humble blue leaves that form an upright grassy clump stems rise to 4′. As the flower open they unfurl- curling 18″ long horizontally and covered in soft downy hairs. The slightest wind puts these streamers into graceful motion. Blooms June-July. When the flowers ripen and begin to detach they can be gathered and made into a bouquet and the tails will curl up and form a soft tan haze. An arrangement lasts forever. Often self sows in open conditions- and this is good because it is not an easy grass to germinate and does not work from division. Easy to move when small. Give it an open position where you can observe the streaming flowers unobstructed. Very hardy and little summer water once established. Full sun. Semi-evergreen foliage in winter. High deer resistance. Spectacular grass. See video below.

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Stipa gigantea

This is the giant straight species that is so popular for its soaring silver stems and golden drooping awns. To 12′ tall in bloom from a tight but large basal clump of fine deep green leaves. Perfectly evergreen with a great winter appearance. Very easy to grow grass that provides spectacular garden effects. Incredibly drought tolerant in any well drained soil- including clay if it is not allowed to become bone dry concrete. Flowers make a great see through “scrim” in gardens. Fun to grow. Moderate deer resistance. Site where you want a see through hedge or texture that towers above you. Very cold hardy. Native to countries adjacent to the mediterranean.  See video below IMG. 6620.

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Stipa gigantea ‘Little Giant’

As if a wonderful grass couldn’t get any better this smaller version thrills us with so many more applications. A low clump of arching dense dark green evergreen foliage has a nice presence year round. In spring and continuing all throughout summer into autumn 3′-4′ spikes terminate in clouds of metallic golden awns. They sparkle in full sun and sway in the breeze- but are determinedly upright. The basal clump of leaves spreads slowly to 2′ wide in 5 years. Full sun and well drained soil- bud adaptable to anything but a bog. Evergreen. Cut back spent flowers in winter- or let them stay and wave around beckoning birds and wildlife. Moderate deer resistance. Little to no summer water when established.

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