Watsonia latifolia

A true red flowered Watsonia and one of the hardiest of the genus. Wide green spikey leaves rise to 2′ tall in spring. In late spring to early summer 3′ tall spikes of tubular true red flowers line the stems. Loved by hummingbirds and cut flower aficionados alike. Rich soil in full sun in a protected position- a south or west facing wall is ideal. Freezes to the ground below 20ºF- re-sprouts in spring. Forms an expanding clump to several feet across. A fun genus to experiment with in our climate. Rated as zone 7 in its native high elevation South Africa.  We think its more like 10ºF in our climate. Plant with royal red Lobelia tupa and Rosa ‘Bengal Fire’ for a red extravaganza. Excellent performance at the Oregon Coast. Somewhat deer resistant.

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Watsonia pillansii

This is one of the hardiest species of Watsonia Lily. It forms large evergreen clumps of spikY foliage to 3′ tall. In early summer 6′ spikes of tubular brilliant orange flowers are stunning. They bloom for weeks. A protected location such as close to a south or west facing wall. Capable of freezing to the ground in extreme cold (below 20ºF) but regrowing vigorously and still blooming in late spring to early summer. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer moisture. If allowed to go completely dry in summer this as with other Watsonias will go dry dormant. It returns with the first rains in autumn. Amazing cut flower. Mulch your clump in autumn. Wonderful South African perennial that is glorious at the Oregon Coast. To 3′ wide eventually.

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Watsonia x pillansii ‘Coral and Hardy’

We love Watsonias but the most successful climate is truly on the coast. This form is seed from a persistently hardy, well blooming plant that has survived in Portland. The majority of these seedlings will be coral/ orange/ light pink. To 20″ tall forming clumps in RICH, well composted soil in full sun. Regular summer water increases both the growth rate and the cold hardiness. Larger more established clumps are hardier to cold. Amazing cut flower that will produce several dozen spikes off of one good clump. Mostly evergreen. Foliage looks burnt below 20ºF and can freeze to the ground. This winter growing bulb is also immensely drought tolerant with a period of summer drought inducing dormancy. Place in a warm, protected location Near a south facing wall or fence. Mulch for the first few winters with dry leaves. Place in a location where summer dormancy is not an issue. Very fun to grow South African bulb. Excellent performance at the Oregon Coast. Not bothered by deer or elk- well the elk might step on them but they won’t eat them. Fantastic cut flower and clumps become huge there.

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Whipplea modesta

Yerba de Selva or whipple vine, a wonderful small scale evergreen native ground cover. Related to Hydrangeas but this trailer is actually very aromatic with a sweet penetrating aroma if you disturb the foliage. In late spring clouds of small white flowers have  the same perfume. Scrambling plant to about 8″ tall and 2′ wide. Full sun to considerable shade. From Portland south this is a common understory component of the herb field. It grew happily in our back 40 where I grew up. There it made pretty scrambling patches between Vancouveria, snow berry and hairy honeysuckle. Often you would see our native columbine ( Aquilegia formosa) as an associate. Its very drought adapted when established but it improves with a few soaks over summer- never perpetually wet and never hot and wet. Otherwise an easy native that should be grown a lot more. Just the fragrance of the foliage endears it to me. For use as a small scale ground cover plant on 10″ centers. It will also gracefully trail over rockeries and walls. Butterflies adore the flowers. Competes well with invasives. Some deer resistance. It may be cut back in early spring to refresh. Once native in the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.

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Woodwardia fimbriata

Our native Giant Chain Fern that occupies specific spots in seeps randomly from CA to BC. Large pendant and trailing 3′ long glossy fronds form huge rosettes. Usually occupying permanently wet seeps on shady hillsides in cool places. The entire plant may be up to 5′ across. Evergreen but it benefits greatly from some early spring tidying of spent and aging old leaves. Part shade to shade in rich well drained soil with regular consistent moisture for the best look. Highly deer resistant. We’re honored to grow this, one of our most spectacular native ferns. Oregon native plant.

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Woodwardia unigemmata

Relatively new fern with a great future ahead. Large growing evergreen chain fern from Asia with new growth lavishly dyed red- it settles to soft green with time. To 3′ across the fronds are held atop relatively long stems. The rubbery green leaves are finely divided with surprisingly soft lobes. Rich, moisture retentive soil in bright shade to shade. Spectacular plant at all times we have observed it. So far it has not suffered damage in my garden below 10ºF and appearance following a rough winter was good. Highly deer resistant. Spectacular.

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Wulfenia x schwarzii

Obscure perennial hybrid that has yielded a wonderful perennial. Evergreen rosettes of fleshy scalloped green leaves look good year round. From February to June (yep.) 10″ spikes are covered in violet blue tubular flowers. The display is continuous for months. Part shade in rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. Mass for a stunning effect for months. A natural for PNW woodlands. Cold hardy and easy to grow. Not bothered by slugs or snails. Excellent perennial that has amazed us with its long, uninterrupted bloom period which is continuously showy with no intervention from the gardener. Mix with spring blooming perennials. Mine makes its life with regular old wild Primula vulgaris. I love the soft yellow flowers paired with this violet-blue hue. Easy, showy, and carefree perennial. This plant has everything needed for greatness. Too bad its so obscure. We intend to change that.

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Yushania confusa

Intriguing CLUMPING bamboo that rises to only 6′ tall but arches as wide. Fine, arrow shaped leaves protrude in the same direction giving an airy symmetry. Takes pruning very well and is recommended for small spots. In the open give it room to arch. The 1/3″ wide culms clusteer tightly forming a moderately fast increasing clump. After 10 years the base of culms will be no more than 2′ wide. Full sun to part shade to shade in rich soil with consistent summer irrigation. Established plants can take far less. Wonderful in a woodland or as an asian accent in themed gardens. This is a very hardy bamboo- tolerating temperatures slightly below 0ºF. A great bamboo for those in the line of east winds. Plant on 3′ centers for a dense hedge. Prune in spring if needed or allow it to gently repose with natural grace. Moderate deer resistance. SW China.

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Zantedeschia aethiopica

Calla Lily- the dream of many gardeners and an heirloom perennial that has been grown in our region for eons. Large clump forming perennial with dramatic pure white flowers with the familiar form. They begin in early spring with a large flush of bloom and then sporadically until frost. The large boisterous foliage is mostly evergreen and rises to 2′ tall with flower spikes twice as tall. Deer resistant. In cold gardens it is traditionally grown agains warm foundations. But I have seen it thrive in the wide open in the coldest parts of the Willamette  Valley. Amenable to saturated soils and can reside as a marginal plant in a pond. Rich, well drained soil is ideal.  Water VERY heavily the first summer to establish- then light consistent water in summer. Full sun to quite a bit of shade but at the expense of flowering. Can be a little tricky to establish and ironically it can be a little hard to get rid of once you have it. Lives for many decades. South Africa.

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