Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’

Purple Chilean Potato Vine is a flowering powerhouse. It may be grown as a free standing shrub but its true habit lends it to the treatment of a vine. Fast growing huge canes soar up and then over all the while branching. At the tips dramatic deep purple/blue clusters of flowers each with a yellow central “Beak”. The effect is reminiscent of a hydrangea in form.- and flowers obscure the foliage for the first two months in bloom. To 12′ tall in short order and then larger.  Allowed to scale a sufficient tree it can clamber up to 20′ tall in no time. Blooms April to October. Large flush of flowers in late spring then sporadic clusters to autumn. Semi-evergreen to deciduous. Blooms on wood from the current season prune before or after blooming. Regular summer water extends the bloom time well into autumn. Sometimes forms yellow berries- not particularly showy but not messy. Full sun to part shade in rich, well drained soil with light summer water. Hardy to 5ºF and not below. Long bloom time makes it an excellent pollinator plant. VERY showy in bloom.

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Solanum pyracanthum

My half hardy perennial can kick your perennials ass. And this spiky creature is a damned fine plant. Large lobed leaves are fiercely armed with bright orange spikes down the midrib. Violent orange spikes also cover every stem and virtually glow when backlit. All summer long this large tender plant (to 3′ x 2′) bears large solanaceous 5 petalled purple flowers with a central orange beak. The overall effect is beyond charming, its a fierce plant with attitude and we adore it. Great in containers but mind that this sucker does have a bite, locate away from traffic.  Very fun to grow in the ground as well. Hardy to the low 20’s and sometimes makes it through a mild winter. Orange fruits follow the flowers but are not assured. One of the amazing plants native to Madagascar. Full sun and rich soil with regular water. Basically grow it just like a tomato. Highly deer resistant.

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Solidago canadensis var. elongata

Our own west coast form of Golden Rod which can be found in vernally wet locations or even fence rows. Vigorous, strong growing perennial that erupts in plumes of golden flowers from August to October.  Spreading via runners it can take up quite a bit of space in lush environs. Best to grow it in un-amended soil with light summer water. Full sun to very light shade. Handsome mid-green leaves line nearly woody stems to 32″ tall. Spreads as far as you let it. Sleeps the first year- LEAPS the second and you have been warned. That having been said its a wonderful romping native perennial for late season pollinators. Its very easy to grow and long blooming. I wouldn’t plant a Willamette Valley meadow without this plant. And my, do you get good bugs. VERY good bugs. Lightly fragrant flowers are great in late season arrangements. Best to pair it with a companion that is just as rambunctious- we select Symphyotrichum subspicatum our native Douglas Aster. Not only do they match each other they make a splendid floral complement and bloom simultaneously. And it will triple the amount of pollinators. Foliage can take on orange/yellow tints in late fall. Cut back in early spring. – but fairly self sufficient.  Oregon native plant.

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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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Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida

Underused native Spiraea from the western United States and native in Oregon including the immediate Portland area.  Low mounding deciduous shrub to 2′ x 3′. This is the locally native form. Often the straight species is for sale- its from Asia and is 4 times the size of ours. Pink buds open to foamy white flat clusters of flowers appear in late spring. In autumn it turns amazingly vivid colors of red/orange/gold and it holds its color for weeks. One of the most drought tolerant of the genus requiring light summer water to very little. Full sun and rich soil. Spreads to form patches. Locally native and plentiful near the Columbia Gorge and throughout the mountains whose diminutive habit means that pruning is seldom necessary. Blooms on wood from the previous season. Long lived and an excellent landscape shrub. Birch Leaf Spiraea or glossy leaved Spiraea. Native in the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.

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Spiraea thunbergii ‘Fujino Pinky’

This is a charming hardy, deciduous shrub with quite a few fine attributes. In late winter to early spring red flower buds line the arching fine stems and open to white/light pink. The effect is a classic apple blossom scheme. The fine leaves are thin and and a pleasant fresh green in summer. I think its finest hour is autumn when the whole shrub becomes a glowing ball of red/ orange/ pink. The chemical that causes the the pink in the flowers is most evident in the fall color. Tough rounded and then arching shrub of fine texture. Blooms on wood from the previous season, prune directly AFTER blooming if necessary. Size is somewhat dependent on irrigation. To 4′ x  4′ in 5 years in rich to average soil with regular summer water to establish. Then just avoid severe aridity. Long lived, cold hardy plant that is best with a hard pruning every 6 or so years to refresh. Good for wild areas, not deer resistant but admirably adapted to dryness. Excellent performance in the Columbia Gorge and east of the Cascades. Mix with Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida for summer bloom but a simultaneous spectacular long show in fall. Native to Japan.

 

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Spiraea x pyramidata

This is our local form of the Pyramid Spiraea an attractive naturally occurring hybrid between two local species. Spiraea douglasii (dark pink flowered) and Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida (white flowered).  Its a larger plant and much more controlled than  its parent S. douglasii and it inherits some of the drought adaptation of Birch leaf Spiraea. To 5′ tall and 4′ wide this upright growing shrub produces pyramid shaped inflorescences of the softest pink- intermediate between the two species. This form was found just east of Portland. Full sun and occasional deep soaks in dry summers. Tolerates part shade at the expense of a tidy, upright habit. Blooms on wood from the previous season, prune if needed after flowering. Adaptable to wild areas. Deciduous shrub that turns to tones of yellow and flaming orange in mid autumn. This twiggy shrub would make a great hedgerow plant. Blooms late May to early July. Flowers turn to tan seed heads that persist on the plant. Cold hardy and not difficult to grow. Not bothered by pests or disease. Not fussy about soils adaptable from sand to clay. 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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