California meadow sedge is native to stream banks, and vernally wet places at the beach from British Columbia south in to Baja. A deep green winter growing sedge which each plant reaches about 18″ across and 10″ or so inches high. It flops over gracefully and has a very uniform appearance through the year with light irrigation. This is a winter growing plant that resumes growing and greens up with winter rains. In very cold weather (below 20ºF) it can take on russet tints. A FANTASTIC LAWN SUBSTITUTE where it has been used extensively for that application in California. We should use it here too. Plant on 1′ centers for a lawn (faux lawn) cover from one gallons and water regularly through the first season. No water plantings can go summer dormant but in wetter environs this can be avoided and it will remain green and verdant. Water once a week in summer to remain green.  Fantastic ground cover, slope cover as it will out compete weeds and form a uniform cover. Tolerates clay soils well, but some amending will reap rewards with a faster growing plant. Tolerates mowing very well. Oregon native plant. 

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Carex siderostricha ‘Variegata’

Several things about this sedge set it apart in this genus. Broad, wide leaves are soft green on the interior but lined boldly in cream. And its completely winter deciduous. Forms a spreading clump of great bolder texture that arches all in the same direction. Very nice. To 10″ tall and several feet across eventually. Rich, moisture retentive soil in part shade with consistent summer moisture. Excellent combined with the large leaves of Hosta. Line paths or use as a graceful punctuation in a woodland. Avoid really hot sunny dry locations- it will live but it won’t look so great. Completely deciduous in winter. Turns a tawny yellow in fall before leaves disappear.

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Centaurea simplicicaulis

This is a really good perennial that combines pretty evergreen foliage and wiry stems that rise to 8″ and open pale pink fluffy Bachelors Button flowers in late spring and early summer. The low mounding foliage is dense and remains good looking through most seasons. It requires full sun and rich, fast draining soils to establish and spread. Line paths, rock gardens, gravel gardens, hellstrips. Light consistent summer water- not at all shade tolerant. Spreads to 2′ wide in time. Perennial containers. Native to Turkey.

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Chondropetalum elephantinum

A striking perennial that immediately recalls a rush, though it has very different requirements. Thin vertical stems are slightly swollen at the base and have a slight zig-zag as they rise. Sage green year round this is one of the cold hardiest Restios. Eventually reaching 30” tall it forms a tidy and tight clump eventually to 1’ wide. Full sun and well drained soil with average water needs. Excellent container subject. Evergreen.

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Lovely ubiquitous woodland flower that brings waves of glorious airy stars for weeks in late spring to mid summer. Occasionally pink the flowers most often are white. Handsome somewhat bold foliage provides a plant that is more than suited to competition on the forest floor. Often self sows and this is welcome. Plant containerized plants in spring and water faithfully through the first summer- but never boggy. Then it is yours. Let it romp among ferns, Hosta, Japanese Forest Grass for a sparkling NATIVE treat. Mix with other natives such as Vancouveria and deer fern. Very easy to grow. Blooms for a very long time and longer if we have a cool beginning to summer. AKA Candy flower. To 10″ x 10″ on average. Summer deciduous and emerges early in spring. Not bothered by pests. Forms spreading colonies in rich, humus enriched soil in part shade to shade. Locally native in the Portland city limits.  Oregon native plant. 

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Clethra barbinervis ‘Takaeda Nishiki’

Variegated form of Japanese summer sweet with amazing white splashed foliage and masses of powerfully fragrant white flowers all summer. To 10′ tall moderately fast in part shade to full sun in rich, moisture retentive soil. Regular summer water. In time it forms a trunk that displays mottled exfoliating bark which is very pretty. . Wonderful woodland tree that endures full sun with regular irrigation. Light yellow fall color. Graceful at all times. Nice branching pattern in symmetrical whorls. The clusters of flowers dry and cling to the tree in winter. These can be removed by the fastidious gardener or left to hang and decompose with the effect of spanish moss.  Blooms continuously most of the summer. The clusters of pendant white flowers emit an intoxicating perfume that is most notable on warm to hot days. It will perfume the entire garden- its not a cloying sweetness either but a much more sophisticated aroma that has you seeking more. Water regularly, not drought adapted. Lovely, lovely specimen tree. Avoid hot dry sites.

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Corokia cotoneaster xera plants

Corokia cotoneaster

Why, its not a Cotoneaster at all, in fact Corokia is a wildly architectural  shrub and evolved its twisted zigzagging stems (the official term is divaricating) and tiny leaves to fend off grazing by giant Moa birds in New Zealand. The birds are now extinct and we are left with this shrub as an evolutionary natural bonsai. To 5′ tall and 3′ wide in 7 years. Average to enriched soil.  Full sun to part shade. Flowers are more profuse in sun. Regular water. Great container plant. The yellow flowers in May are often followed by red /orange berries that don’t last long. I assume the brilliant color draws birds.  Established plants accept both regular irrigation as well as summer drought. Irrigation encourages growth. Left to contend with summer drought the plant is naturally smaller. Cold hardy to 5ºF or lower for brief periods. Excellent landscape or garden plant that imparts a haze on the landscape from a distance but thrills with up close views of the zig zagging branches and tiny black shovel shaped leaves. Excellent long lived container subject and will thrive even with constricted roots. We love this shrub  for its silvery winter appearance in containers and in container combinations. Mix with Sasanqua Camellias and  Western Blue Fescue (Festuca californica) for months long entertainment. Seldom bothered by deer.

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Our selection of a superior deep black leaved Dahlia. Finely divided leaves are symmetrical on towering stems to 4′ tall. In mid summer to fall a constant procession of vibrant red single flowers. They harmonize greatly with the leaf color. Full sun and enriched soil with regular summer water. Soil that does not become sodden and frozen in winter will yield the cold hardiest plants. Mulch in fall. Nice cut flower, arrangement material. Multiplies into large clumps in time. This selection has survived the coldest winters of the past 15 years. We’ve kind of let Jack frost do our selecting for us.

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Dahlia ‘Towering Blonde’

We promised this very tall dahlia that it didn’t have to play basketball. And she agreed to produce a constant supply of amber/blonde single flowers that we love. This is a very old variety for us. In the past 20 years we’ve let our original seed and cutting raised plants dwindle as they are taken out by horrible freezes. What we’ve found is that we lose Dahlias by variety which implies two things. One,  Dahlia’s cold hardiness is different for every cultivar let alone species. And  (two) we’ve let nature do the selecting for us. The varieties that are left are the very cold hardiest Dahlias, and we’ve been very impressed with their performance. Rich soil that is never boggy but is moisture retentive with regular summer irrigation. Full sun and this variety also sports dark foliage which is highlighted by the lighter colored flowers. To 5′ tall sporting long flower stems. Dahlias as best planted in a warm full sun position in our climate where the soil seldom freezes. A thick mulch in fall is added insurance. Our varieties have been reliably hardy down to 5ºF with no issues. If you live in a colder zone you can lift and store the tubers over the winter.  Replant when all danger of frost has past.

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Disporum cantonense ‘Night Heron’

Amazing perennial that is a great release from the former Heronswood Nursery. A tall growing evergreen fairy bells that emerges in spring with new growth dyed distinctly black- stems and leaves. They eventually turn to a medium green in summer. White the new growth unfurls its bearing small green/white bell shaped flowers. The effect is sublime. To 4′ tall ( or taller) it rises up to a finely divided scape of leaves in an arching fan construction. Excellent perennial that may be cut back to the ground in late winter to showcase the dramatic new growth. Woodland conditions, rich, humusy soil with regular summer water. Great in containers. Resistant to slugs and snails. I have not tried this perennial in deer land so I’m not sure how it would fare. Please let us know if you have experience with that.

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