Flowers are always at a premium in shade, and late season bloomers for shade are not profuse. This wonderful white flowered form of this hardy Begonia is a sparkling white treat. Masses of snow white flowers on white pendant stems decorate the top of the plant from August to October. The foliage with leaves shaped like large deep green wings are an excellent back drop to feature the contrasting pure flowers. This is a wonderful and very different effect than the the much more common pink flowered selections. The purity of the flowers is divine and they seems to appear from nowhere often in the hottest days of summer. At our wholesale nursery I found myself stopping to look at this beautiful perennial every time I passed it. It is exceptionally pretty Part shade to high overhead shade in rich soil with regular summer irrigation. Though it will arrive smaller with less flowers without water. Not bothered by slugs or snails it rises with the opulent green foliage to about 2′ tall before flowering commences. Very easy and long lived perennial. It persists with quite a bit of neglect. Mulch after planting to even out soil moisture. Avoid blasting reflected heat and drought. Often self sows and also propagates by small bulbils. This is never out of control and is usually welcome. Forms expanding patches to several feet wide. Disappears entirely in winter, nada and it arrives late in spring (be patient) it is more than hardy to cold. Wonderful plant Thank you Peter for this plant.
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
Begonia grandis ‘Heron’s Piroutte’
Cold hardy Begonia that we love as a dependable and pretty late blooming perennial. Large wing shaped leaves have a reverse of light red. In late summer to early autumn to 30″ tall upright plants produce pendant clusters of pink/off white very showy flowers. Rich moisture retentive soil in part shade to shade. Great long lived plant for borders, shady glens. the shadows of ponds. Disappears entirely in winter. On occasion bulbils that appear in the leaf axils will detach and produce new plants. Move easily or share with friends. Not bothered by snails/slugs.
One of our all time favorite Begonias that is surprsingly hardy when established. Soft green angel wing shaped leaves fan out and are the great backdrop to masses of small, single soft orange flowers. Blooms continuously from late June to frost. Rich soil that drains in part shade to high overhead shade is ideal. Protect from blasting sun. Exquisite container subject that mixes well with other plants and adds a saucy orange to shade plantings. In the ground this plant requires a little more care. Rich soil in protected location – under shrubs or near the house and a little patience. Returns slowly in the ground- not usually showing its face until Mothers Day or later. Once growth proceeds it goes quickly. Nice self cleaning blooming plant. Spent flowers simple tumble off the plant and are replaced by a massive continual display. To 8″ x 8″ and wider with time. Winter deciduous. For plants growing in containers you’ll need to protect the container from excess wet and freezing. The best way to overwinter it is to put it under an eave or an unheated garage or greenhouse. Add organic fertilizer with the onset of growth. Lovely perennial that we adore at Xera.
Bergenia ciliata ‘Susan Riley’
To be honest we had quite a bit of employee pushback when we said we were growing a Bergenia- I’m sure they immediately thought of that hulking, horrible looking, weevil notched ground cover with clouds of pepto pink flowers in winter/spring. That old horribly abused plant is definitely not this. HUGE round leaves have light fur on the reverse and make a wonderful statement in part shade to full sun (with water). In very early spring this cultivar named by Richie Steffan of the Elizabeth Miller Garden in Seattle- sends up wide inflorescences of pink tinted white flowers. Best with overhead protection of trees to ensure a late freeze doesn’t damage the flowers. This is a DECIDUOUS species and doesn’t seem to be root weevil food or suffer a bad looking period. New leaves ensure freshness all season. Give it a LOT of room to spread. Tropical looking foliage adds bold dimension to borders, woodlands. Regular summer water in well drained rich soil. Thanks Richie.
Blechnum penna-marina (Austroblechnum penna-marina)
Antarctic Water Fern is a low creeping evergreen ground cover fern for moist shady sites. To just 5″ tall the new fronds emerge a bright red before settling to soft green. The pointed finely divided leaves overlap densely creating a cover that blocks weeds. Slowly expands up to 3′-4′ wide when really happy. Rich, moisture retentive soil with regular summer water. Avoid compacted dry clay- does not like. Easy to grow in woodlands, Excellent performance under large shrubs. Avoid hot sun. Good small scale shady ground cover. High deer resistance. Chile.
Calocasia antiquorum ‘Black Pearl’
Big, bold, and hardy, this is the cold hardiest Elephant’s ear that we’ve yet grown. Large (14″ long by 9″ wide) leaves with a distinct black dot in the center- the pearl. Large growing perennial to 4′ tall and running underground to spread as wide. Rich, moisture retentive soil with regular summer water. Excellent companion for other bold leaved plants- such as gold leaved Acanthus. Excellent for tropical effects w/ no fear of freezing out. Root hardy below 10ºF when clumps are established Give this large plant room to spread. Easy to grow for the most part. Goes deciduous with the first frost and emerges late in spring when the soil truly warms. Be patient. Not bothered by pests. Mulch for the first autumn. Great for big subtropical effects. Tolerates shallow water, but is not as hardy to cold.
Camassia quamash ssp. maxima
Common Camas one of the wests great wild flowers. ‘Maxima’ is the form that is most common in the Willamette Valley. In April to June meadows, glens, and floodplains turn sky blue. Occurs natively in vernally wet sites, that means that part of the winter it is submerged or very saturated. However, it does thrive in upland situations in heavy clay soils that are sodden for at least half the year. Prior to European development first nation people relied on this starchy bulb as a food source. They managed it by low intensity fires which cleared away the competition but did not injure the deep bulb. In turn the Camas thrived. They ate it baked or steamed like a small potato. An important pollinator plant that also attracts some critically endangered Willamette Valley butterflies. Nice cut flower. The spike of flowers opens at the base and moves to the top. To 20″ tall in bloom. The whole plant goes quickly dormant with summer heat. Leaves emerge in early spring and precede the flowers. Full sun. Common associated plants are Ranunculus occidentalis and Hosackia gracilis. (Photo credit Guy Meacham) Oregon native plant.
Camellia japonica ‘Nuccio’s Pearl’
One of the finest Camellias ever created. ‘Nuccio’s Pearl’ thrills us with perfectly symmetrical flowers that are technically a formal double. The outside petals are blushed with pink and as the center of the flower unfurls it becomes pearly white. The perfectly formed flowers appear in March and politely drop before discoloring. To 8′ tall and 4′ wide in 7 years in full sun to quite a bit of shade. Rich to average well drained soil that retains moisture. Moderately fast growing formal looking evergreen that is naturally dense with deep green glossy leaves. Light, consistent summer water. Late blooming. Excellent, long lived shrub.
Camellia x ‘Yume’
This exceptional hybrid between C. yuhsienensis x C. hiemlis ‘Kan tsubaki’ truly does bridge the winter gap blooming heavily from November to February. Each single flower is composed of alternating light pink and white petals and is imbued with a sweet rich fragrance. Low spreading evergreen for full sun to full shade. To 5′ x 5′ in 7 years. Excellent espalier subject which can protect the blossoms from the vagaries of weather. Rich, moisture retentive, but fast draining soils. Very heavy blooming, including in shade. In full sun it can set so many flower buds that blooms obscure the foliage. Deep almost black green leaves. The open flowers are cold hardy to about 26ºF but more will open if those are frozen. Very easy and carefree shrub. Drought tolerant when established.
Camellia x lutchuensis ‘Cinnamon Cindy’
She’s a great girl this Cindy. Small semi-double flowers open blush and change to sugar white. Intimately, they have the spicy sweet fragrance of cinnamon – especially on the warmest winter days. A profuse bloomer that grows as an open small tree in time. The handsome deep green semi-glossy foliage is good looking at all times. Before the flowers discolor they drop cleanly to the ground. Blooms late December to March. To 6′ tall and 3′ wide in 5 years. Average to rich, well drained soil with light, consistent summer moisture. Easy to grow wonderful fragrant reward of winter.
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