Spiraea splendens (densiflora)

Subalpine Rose Spiraea is native to the higher elevations of the the Cascades. Above 4500′ in sunny, moist glens it makes carpets of deep rose pink umbels from low rounded shrubs. To 30″ tall by 4′ wide in garden conditions, Rich soil with regular irrigation. Moderately fast growing to this dimension. The emerging soft green leaves take on hints of blue as they mature. Bloom at low elevation is May-July but in its highest native haunts bloom can be delayed to late summer. Deciduous shrub with wonderful orange/ red fall color if brief. Easy to grow native garden plant with regular irrigation. Established plants can take deep watering every two weeks. Remember that this as with all Spiraeas have little tolerance for drought and they don’t necessarily wilt going straight to crispy (a look not as fixable as wilting). Mulch heavily for the first few seasons. Avoid blasting, reflected heat and and hot dry situations. Wonderful combined with Rhododendrons and Azaleas for similar cultural conditions. In its native haunt it can be found with Pacific Rhododendron, Helenium, Delphiniums and Veratrum. I’ve never seen it afflicted by disease. Watch for aphids, hose those off if they appear. Beautiful in bloom. Very cold hardy. Oregon native plant.

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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. 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. Common associates are with Quercus garryana  ( Oregon White Oak) and Fraxinus latifolia ( Oregon Ash) as an understory component. It tolerant 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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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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A widespread perennial in the Pacific Northwest. There are two subspecies and this larger leaf form is the more common of the two. A mounding deciduous perennial for moisture retentive soils in light shade to shade. This perennial is often seen along creek banks and seeps where access to water is not very far away. In May-July 18″ spikes of clear starry white flowers crowd a vertical stem. Very pretty and light. An excellent native perennial for woodlands, stream banks. riparian areas. Spreads in rich soil to form extensive colonies foliage tops out at 8″. Excellent combined with native and non-native ferns. Very dark green leaves are handsome throughout the season on a tough and easy to grow plant. Fall color is red and orange before leaves go away. AKA Trifoliate Foam Flower, Northwest Foam Flower. Not bothered by disease or pests that includes snails and slugs. YAY. Oregon native plant

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Tiarella x ‘Steam Punk’

This seedling of the millions of Tiarellas that we’ve grown over the years is a stand out. Found at the edge of a shade hoop house it thrived for years before I realized, this is a really good plant. Palmate leaves are widely divided and stamped on the center with black. An edging of green surrounds this imprint. From mid spring to summer a continuous supply of spears of flowers that are tinted pink and open to white. Spreads to form prodigious colonies in rich, moisture retentive soil with regular irrigation. Lovely plant that brightens woodland in part shade. An annual top dressing of compost is greatly appreciated. To 1′ tall in bloom and leafy clumps spread out to several feet wide. Excellent along stream banks, ponds spreading love in dappled light. Semi-evergreen in winter.

Xera Plants Introduction 

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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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Tricyrtis ‘Blu-Shing Toad’

Excellent Toad Lily that delights us with a long long season of orchid-like flowers that glow a smooth blue. To 2′ tall and forming an increasing clump the ends of the stems produce flowers from August well into autumn- often into November if there is not an intervening freeze. The wavy leaves that line the stems hold spots that appear like small drops of dark oil. Very pretty. Part shade to shade in rich, moisture retentive soil. Excellent woodland performer. This variety as the other we grow (‘Spotted Toad’) seem to avoid a scorch that can afflict the leaves of many varieties. Don’t know why. We just got lucky. Pair with Japanese forest grass and Hosta. Easy, long lived perennial. Completely winter deciduous.

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Tricyrtis ‘Spotted Toad’

Toad lilies are the joy of late summer into autumn in the shade garden. This tall growing selection has leaves that are conspicuously spotted with maroon dots. In August to October 20″ stems support multiple orchid-like flowers. The flowers have three petals heavily marked with purple/blue dots. Very pretty. Surprisingly its a nice cut flower. Forms a spreading clump in time. Rich, moisture retentive soil in part shade to shade. It has the nice habit of winding through other plants and the cheery exotic flowers will show up quite far from the source. Very easy long lived perennial. Regular summer water. Avoid hot sun which will scorch the leaves. Completely deciduous in winter. Adapts to dry shade when established.

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Trifolium wormskioldii

Springbank Clover. Fascinating perennial clover that was once widespread in wet areas of the Willamette Valley and is now found in restricted sites there but is much more prevalent on the coast and east of the Cascades.  A pretty spreading spring wildflower with heads of brilliant magenta/purple flowers. Mainly in spring but also in summer if wet. To 4″ tall it can be up to 2′ wide in favorable conditions. Though mostly restricted to seeps and wet areas now it once made life under native white oaks and there indigenous people would use it as a food source. The creeping green stems root where they touch the ground. Stems were harvested and steamed as a vegetable and they replanted as they harvested the remaining stems ensuring another crop. Not a long lived perennial 3-5 years but it sets copious seed. Wet sites in moisture retentive soil. Mainly riparian in habitat.  It can dry considerably in summer and still thrive. But regular water is what it wants. Fun plant to grow that has lost a LOT of its native range. In habitat it is best seen on the wet cliffs adjacent to the beach. Great pollinator plant. Easily overwhelmed by invasive exotics.   Oregon native plant. 

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