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.
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.
One of Oregon’s greatest wildflowers. This native of the Siskiyous and the SW part of the state makes an outstanding garden plant. Ours are divisions from well marked leaves and flowers with a deep maroon/black hue. To 18″ tall in bloom it responds readily to rich, humus filled soil with regular summer water. In very dry conditions it will go happily summer dormant. And it usually does anyway by the end of the hot season. The black and green leaves are dramatic but a great collar to the tall upright dark flowers. Blooms appear in Portland in April/May and last for weeks. Part shade to shade- avoid blasting hot sun- it will grow in sun but go dormant very quickly. Roots very deep into the ground- difficult to move once established so pick its home carefully. Multiplies into a substantial patch with good care. One of our favorite native wildflowers. Limited quantities. Oregon native plant.
Fool’s Onion, though this close relative of Brodiaea is easy to tell apart from Allium as the leaves and stem have no onion odor. A sunny native perennial bulb that forms colonies of white in May-July in meadows, glens, and swales. To 15″ tall in bloom but usually shorter the leaves emerge in mid winter and persist until summer drought. About that time the flowers erupt into clusters of white flowers. Great native bulb for naturalizing, Water if planting from a pot, otherwise it requires only what falls from the sky with a distinct dry period in summer. Associated plants are Ranunculus occidentalis- Western Buttercup, and Brodiaea elegans- Cluster lily, and Plectritis congesta- Sea Blush. Native in clay soils that dry completely in summer. Goes very neatly dormant in summer- nothing is left. Excellent in rock garden conditions. Full sun to very light shade. Moderate deer resistance. Native though out western Oregon. Sweet cutflower Very good for butterflies as well. This plant once occupied large areas of the Willamette Valley, that territory has shrunk considerably. Oregon native plant.
This has turned into one of our favorite annuals. An ancient Nasturtium variety from the 1880’s it is a chameleon of a flower in color. Neat round, water lily leaves are distinctly blue on a compact cultivar. Almost instantly ruffled fragrant flower appear above the foliage. They take on various colors, often starting yellow sanguineous red will begin in the creases of the petals and spread throughout the flower. It appears to be dependent on the amount of heat. So, all matter of colors dominate on the flower as heat waxes and wanes. This selection appreciates full sun but not in a blazing position. Avoid the heat of reflected walls. An open north exposure is ideal. To 8″ tall x 1′ wide. Great in containers. Nice, exotic cut flower and fun to grow. Blooms all summer and cooler weather and fall rains re-invigorate the plant and sets an explosion of flowers that persist until a truly hard frost. Charming nasturtium that we love. Consistent summer moisture in AVERAGE, well drained soil.
Cute little perennial Society garlic with wonderfully sweet fragrant flowers, Best described as intense violets. To 10″ tall and forming expanding but diminutive clumps that are deciduous in hard freezes. Blooms May-August. Excellent for warm rock gardens or containers. Protect containers from temperatures below 20ºF. In the ground it has survived slightly below 10ºF in rich, well drained soil and full sun. Best in a warm position where you can catch a whiff of the wonderful soft lilac colored flowers. Wonderful and sweet cut flower. The foliage on this species lacks the pungency of the more common T. violacea. Moderate deer resistance. Light, consistent summer water. Mulch with leaves if extreme cold threatens. South Africa.
Society garlic. This form of the popular South African perennial has performed fantastically in our garden. Aromatic clump forming foliage that rises to 10″ tall and to 2’wide in time. In June and continuously until frost spikes emerge, to 2′ and hold clumps of luminous, soft lavender flowers. Each spike is in bloom for a week or more. New flowers are continuously produced. Remove spent spikes to tidy. Full sun and WELL DRAINED rich soil with regular summer water. Very drought adapted when established. In cold gardens its best on hot slopes. Freezes to the ground in winter, returns quickly in mid spring. Foliage is intensely aromatic of garlic when disturbed. Useful, pretty, long blooming. Moderate deer resistance. This form was selected in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Himalayan Whortleberry. Cool, compact, slow growing very nice looking evergreen blueberry relative from the Himalayas. Small round leaves are dense on the stem and very symmetrical. New growth arrives bright red before settling to deep green. In spring striking red and white striped pendant flowers arrive in clusters. If pollinated they produce small blue/black tasty berries ( so far this has been rare for us). To 3′ x 3′ in 6 years for full shade to part shade in rich, well drained soil. Regular summer moisture. Excellent performance in a woodland or along a margin. Avoid dry compact soils which it intensely dislikes. An annual application of mulch will keep the roots cool and moist during the heat of summer.
Evergreen huckleberry is a fantastic native broadleaf shrub. It is well adapted to shady sites and will accept full sun with regular irrigation. Well established shrubs require less water. Rich, humusy woodland soil is its favorite haunt and it will grow moderately fast to a rounded outline of 8′ tall and 6′ wide. The new growth is a beautiful salmon pink before changing to deep green. In spring and early summer small white urn shaped flowers are pretty and transform into tasty black fruits in autumn. Amazing in muffins, pies.It has an interesting natural distribution along the immediate coast in most of Oregon but veering inland at Douglas County to almost the Cascade foothills. In Puget Sound it seems to be most prominent within sight of salt water. Easy to grow good garden plant. Oregon native plant.
Rare perennial Siskiyou Inside-out-Flower is a much more drought tolerant version of our locally native Vancouveria hexandra (Inside out flower). This yellow flowered species tolerates extreme dry shade and colonizes even compacted dry soils to create a handsome ground cover. The delicate looking interestingly shaped leaves create a soft mound of shapes in cool green and edged slightly in red. In April-June 20″ wiry spikes suspend small downward pointing flowers- they appear to float above the foliage reminding me of a group of fireflies. (Wish we had those). Mostly evergreen if temperatures stay above about 15ºF. Basically this is our version of Epimedium (to which it is related) but with more tolerance for summer drought. To 8″ tall and spreading to several feet wide in richer, moisture retentive soil. Light summer water increases growth. This is an extraordinarily elegant native that should find a happy home in gardens too. Part shade to full shade. Not bothered by pests. Excellent perennial under large shrubs or within tree roots. In the wild it is the understory plant to Arctostaphylos, Rhododendron, Vaccinium, Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides. Associate perennials were Oxalis oreganus and Mianthemum as well as viola semperivrens- Redwood violet. Easy community to replicate in your garden. Oregon native plant.