Such a good good plant. The purple-foliaged New Zealand Burr covers the ground in pinnate dark purple foliage. Low spreading evergreen ground cover for full sun to part shade in rich, well drained, moisture retentive soils. Avoid compacted dry soils- it will die out. Instead provide an annual mulch of compost- put it right over the leaves and let the foliage grow up through it. This will give you a dense spectacular ground cover of purple with blue tints. Excellent as an understory in containers as well. In summer sporadic 4″ stems support spiky maroon orbs- these are the flowers. Best as a small scale ground cover, 3’x 3′ is reasonable. It will flow around low shrubs such as Hebes and around paving stones. Regular water. New Zealand.
A mesic biome is one that enjoys a fairly constant supply of moisture. Some natural examples include riparian areas or streamsides, the edges of lakes or ponds, and springs and seeps. Irrigation, of course, can turn an otherwise summer-dry area into an effectively mesic biome. A true mesic plant does not handle drought stress at all, instead of wilting they often go straight to crispy. Simply lacking the mechanisms that conserve moisture for xeric plants. Liberal mulch and deep, rich, moisture retentive soil amended with compost all combine to make life easier for the gardener as well as plants. Group water loving mesic plants together to more efficiently irrigate. You’ll save time and water.
Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW
Vine Maple is perhaps our most beautiful native maple. Found from SW British Columbia to Northern California in the Shasta area. Its a pervasive understory tree throughout the western part of the state. It derives its name from its almost vine like habit in shade. This winding and sun seeking component leads to the most graceful natural forms. In full sun it is a compact, multi-trunked shrub. In autumn in both habitats it turns to shades of fiery orange and yellow and red. Vivid against the pure green trunks and stems. One of the most dramatic places you will see this shrub is at 4500′ on Belknap crater on McKenzie Pass where it lives among the lava. In early fall the brilliant colors of the maples contrasts wonderfully with the black lava. Its very hot and very dry but its also very high in elevation. The symmetrically serrated round leaves rival any Japanse maple. In shade established trees get by with little summer water. In the sun irrigation is welcome. Rich to average soil with regular applications of mulch. To 16′ tall in shade and again quite a bit shorter in full sun- very wide in shade. Avoid the reflected heat of south facing walls. This shrub/tree belongs on the north side or under substantial shade. Some deer resistance. Excellent underplanted with native ferns and Gaultheria. A common native that should be a more common ornamental. Tiny red flowers turn into sunny orange samaras by autumn and persist past the leaves. Avoid very dry shade of un-irrigated over hangs. This is a semi-mesic maple. Oregon native plant
Acer glabrum ssp. douglasii
Rocky mountain maple or locally also known as Douglas maple is our form of a widespread and sweet small tree that ranges from the Yukon in Canada to the highest mountains of northern Mexico. Our local variety is found in all of the mountainous parts of the state. This demure tree is the least planted of our native maples and deserves much more inclusion in our gardens. In the coast range it is found primarily above 2000′ and it can even be found lower in the Cascades. It follows the spine of the Ochocos in eastern Oregon up into the Blue mountains and Wallowa Mountains in the far north east. Rarely pole straight in stature its often multi-trunked and single trunked trees are in the minority in the wild. Ours are single trunks but multiple stems do not take away from the fresh green leaves and pretty to stunning fall color. The familiar maple leaves can achieve anything from dull yellow to shots of vermillion. Depending on the weather and tree. Soft gray bark. To 25′ tall moderately fast. Tiny green flowers morph into rosy hued samaras in autumn. Regular water for the first several years. This tree does appreciate rich soil that retains moisture in the Willamette Valley. Excellent woodland tree or even more appropriate on the edge of a stand of trees where it receives at least half a day of sun. The most recent years stems are often sanguine red, nice contrast with the grass green elegant leaves. The most striking fall color is achieved with more sun. A mesic maple that often follows water courses or lines wet ground. Single trunked trees are conical shaped and multi-trunked forms are more rounded and spreading. Deciduous. Avoid blasting heat and drought. Oregon native plant.
Acorus calamus ‘Variegata’
Nifty foliage perennial that can double as a terrestrial border plant (with regular water in rich, moisture-retentive soil) or submerged as a border perennial in a water pot or the edge of the pond. The majority of the spikey 3′ tall leaves are composed of cream/ivory streaks with dramatic stripes of deep green. The effect is ghostly and vivid from quite a distance away. Forms large spreading clumps in time. To 4′ wide when things are going well. Full sun to part shade. Flowers are not very conspicuous spikes that hide within the foliage. Completely winter deciduous- this is nice, it makes cleaning up in late winter/spring easy and and no fuss and the plant begins anew and fresh each season. Not bothered by pests. If sunk in a pond or water pot use heavy clay soil- like from the ground and mulch with a layer of gravel. Long lived plant. High deer resistance. AKA. Ghost Sweet Flag.
Acorus gramineus ‘Golden Lion’
Is this the best form of golden sweet flag or what? We love the vivid yellow leaves on a dense and arching evergold perennial. Clumps densely but the foliage is born in fans and spreads out. To only 6″ tall but spreading to 1′ wide. Best in part shade and either permanently wet sites or regular consistent water. Mine makes a happy home on the north side of my house at the base of the rain gutter. Plenty of water in winter- and I don’t forget to water it in summer. Good appearance year round. In spring little off-white spikes serve as flowers. Native to permanently wet sites. Give it a bit of shade. Moderately deer resistant.
Western Maiden Hair Fern is native from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska south mainly through shady wet spots in the west south as far as Chiahuahua, Mexico. Its even locally native from Maryland to New Foundland. Its a long lived and vigorous fully deciduous perennial for perpetually wet sites. To 2′ tall and spreading almost indefinitely where conditions suite it. Heavy clay soil that retains consistent moisture in part shade to shade. Often found lining water falls in Oregon or in deep cool moist gullies. The multi fingered leaves are a soft green and are held erect on jet black stems. Very good sited at the bottom of a downspout. Very easy to grow given consistent moisture. Oregon native plant.
Himalayan Maidenhair fern is one of our favorite groundcovers for shade and rich, moist soil. The divided fronds in the shape of an arrow are always soft and fresh. In spring this deciduous variety emerges with tones of amber and soft pink before taking on a mature soft green hue. These delicate leaflets are held on thin, wiry black stems to 10″ tall and it spreads prodigiously to form vast colonies. It doesn’t smother neighboring plants however, instead it seems to just flow around such woodland neighbors as Epimedium, Hellebores, even woodland bulbs like Erythronium. Regular summer water. Avoid hard, compacted dry soils. High deer resistance.
Agapanthus ‘Bee Bop’
I selected this seedling about 8 years ago and its been growing in my garden for all that time. A completely deciduous variety that does not show leaves until all chance of frost has passed. Forms a large clump with strappy arching green leaves – to 2′ across in 5 years. As the clump increases so do the amount of flower stalks. The orbs of flowers are neon to cobalt blue. An arresting, glowing blue. Slightly smaller in diameter than other varieties (about the size of a baseball) this plant packs a LOT of flowers onto a stalk- at least 50 and they reverberate above the clump for weeks in July to August. To 26″ in bloom. The stalks that support the vivid flowers are incredibly strong and they barely bend in a breeze. This is a wonderful perennial for full sun and rich, amended soil. Add a handful of lime at planting time to ensure neutral pH. Disappears cleanly in winter. Regular water though its bloom cycle. Pair with chartreuse foliage for a dynamic contrast. Loved by hummingbirds and bees. Best in the center of an ascending border from low plants to tall. Long lived, cold hardy selection that we love.
Xera Plants Introduction
Agapanthus ‘White Profusion’
Born and bred in the PNW this excellent compact and extremely floriferous white flowered Lily-of-the-Nile is a first rate selection. To 20″ tall and forming an expanding but compact clump. Flowers appear for 4-6 weeks in mid-summer. Clear, pristine white with abundant flower spikes- a small amount of leaves supports copious flower spikes- a great attribute of the best Agapanthus. Lots of flowers/few leaves. Full sun to very light shade in rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. Completely winter deciduous. Handsome pale green matte foliage. Long lived perennial. Mix with Blue Agapanthus for contrast. Bloom stems increase markedly with the size of the clump. Our favorite hardy white Lily of the Nile. Agapanthus do best in neutral to alkaline soil. Incorporate a handful of lime in the planting hole.
Agapanthus x ‘Summer Nights’
A northwest raised cold hardy selection with deciduous leaves and the most intense deep blue flower spikes to 28″ tall in June and July. Full sun, well drained soil and regular water. Deciduous Agapanthus (REALLY) appreciate good soil. Combine with other perennials for love, joy. Best with regular summer irrigation and annual applications of organic fertilizer. Has been a long lived, long term performer in landscapes from Vancouver, BC to Medford , Oregon. Selected for intense deep blue flower color combined with excellent hardiness to cold.
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