Columbia Coreopsis or Columbia tickseed is a locally native annual but more often biennial that is found along the Columbia River and into the gorge. Also, native throughout eastern North America. Its first season is spent as a rosette of curly, finely divided leaves that have a glossy sheen. The following early summer it erupts into groups of gold flowers, slightly reflexed petals and a red dot that surround a brown protruding cone. Loved by pollinators and they come en masse. To 22″ tall on average in bloom. For rich to average soil in full sun. The sun part is non-negotiable. Mix with native Oregon perennials and annuals such as Sidalcea virgata or Clarkia amoena var. lindleyi as well as Madia elegans for a summer long show. Very good butterfly plant. It has a scattered population in the Willamette Valley but should be grown here much more often. Self sows in open disturbed sites. Very prolific in bloom with clouds of golden flowers unobscured by pesky foliage. Nice cut flower. One stem can be an entire bouquet. light consistent summer water improves the show but this is a tough, climate adapted biennial. Reseeds itself prolifically, Moderate deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
Pacific Dogwood is one of our most beloved native flowering trees. From BC south to the Sierra Nevada of California this understory to margin tree alights in April and May in pristine white bracts/ true flowers appear. They perch on upward arching stems for a perfect display. This large conical shaped tree can achieve 35′ in great age. Water deeply and infrequently during its first summer in the ground, once it is firmly established it can go with natural rainfall. In full hot sun more irrigation may be needed. Native to the Portland city limits and a firm spring decoration on our freeways. Pacific dogwood contrasts wonderfully in bloom with deep green conifers. Average growth when young is 2′-3′ per year. In certain seedlings this spectacular species may re-bloom in August/September. Its a fairly small percentage but when it occurs its a refreshing display at the end of hot summer. Fall color is pink/red/orange and is conspicuous in the understory. Full sun to overhead shade in the understory. In autumn red fruits decorate the branch tips and are food for birds. Give this native tree good air circulation and mulch after planting. Oregon native plant.
Menzie’s Larkspur is one of the most widespread species west of the Cascades. That doesn’t mean it easy to grow, and as a crop it can be a pain, That said its one of the ultimate spring flowers and its lost immense amounts of its range in the Willamette Valley to development. This widespread perennial is a grassland Delphinium that can be found in oak woodlands with Dodecatheon hendersonii, and Plectritis congesta and Romanzoffia californica. The soils that it inhabits run the gamut from sand near the beach to xeric clay in and around the Willamette Valley. This can be a tricky species to establish, my best advice is to double dig a wide area where there is very little competition from other plants. Add a small amount of all organic fertilizer to the hole. Water in well and water again once a week until June. Then you can permanently taper off. That means in subsequent years it will rely on natural rainfall alone. Upright perennial to 20″ tall multiple brilliant blue flowers often with a lighter bee. I’ve also seen them in a deep black/blue velvet purple. Sets seed and goes dormant in mid-summer. Its very very important to protect the emerging plant or seedling from snails and slugs. Bait heavily when you first see growth in late winter. Though widespread but no longer common this Delphinium seems to adapt best to cultivation with a light gravel mulch. This protects the plant from slugs and provides a perfect medium to germinate the seeds. Very popular pollinator plant visited by all sorts of bees, fly bees, hover flies, butterflies and more. The seedlings are conspicuous and the leaves mimic the parent plant. Full sun to light shade. Oregon native plant.
Giant Larkspur or Cow Poison, I prefer the first common name for this stunning large growing native Delphinium. In vernally wet sites to moist upland sites it forms large spectacular colonies. In late spring and early summer stems that soar to nearly 4′ tall are loosely decorated with marine blue flowers with a lighter central bee. In habitat its common associates are Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolius) and Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) where it can be found in the shade of these deciduous trees. The one variable with this Delphinium is that it is found in cool places- never hot and dry. These shadowy environs can make this plant hard to spot even in full bloom. Often they will be in standing water during the winter months and they are adapted to very heavy wet clay soils. In cultivation the need for moist conditions continues and it does appreciate at least an application of all organic fertilizer and compost at planting time. Keep it well watered through its bloom cycle, then it can go drier but never dust dry- in time it can handle much less irrigation. An annual mulch is beneficial. Wonderful, bold cut flower , but its loved by pollinators as well ( what is it about blue flowers? ). Forms spreading colonies in time. Give it room to stretch out. Its often found with our native Cow Parsnip (Hieracleum maximum) and great Camas ( Camassia leichtlinii) in habitat. This could easily be replicated in a garden. Native to the Willamette Valley into the Columbia River Gorge. Once widespread in the Willamette Valley its territory has shrunk precipitously. Long lived perennial. Very good deer resistance. Extremely showy in bloom. Oregon native plant.
Tufted Fairy Grass is an Oregon native that forms bright green fine clumps but is in its glory in bloom when tall vertical stems display hazy tan flowers at the tips. Easy to grow grass that improves under cultivation. Native to semi-shady to sunny aspects in rich soil that drains but also retains moisture. Adaptable to wet sites that dry in summer. To 10″ x 1′ as a clump of foliage but rises to 3′ tall in bloom. Very wild looking grass that can be massed for a hazy meadow effect, or placed in straight lines a modern aesthetic that combines a wild plant with spaced symmetry. Excellent among shrubs and with other wild looking meadow perennials. Winter deciduous. Cut back dead growth in spring. Relatively long lived. Native in the Portland city limits. Graceful. Winter deciduous. A pan global plant- this is our local form. Click on the link for a video of the dried seed heads. Oregon native plant.
Oregon bleeding heart is a widespread lush, long blooming perennial wildflower for moist conditions in shade to full sun. A somewhat rambunctious plant that spreads quickly by stolons. Do not plant it near shy or small plants that can become swamped. It tolerates quite a bit of shade and if in full sun it thrives with supplemental water and a massive flower display. Divided soft green foliage is very good looking, in April-July a continuous supply of rose colored downward pointing clumps of flowers on an 18″ spike. The foliage rises on average to half that height. Responds vigorously to amended soils and regular irrigation. In hot dry situations it will go quickly summer dormant. In the shade with water leaves persist to autumn and re-bloom occurs. Not bothered by pests, including deer and snails and slugs. Frequently found in shady ditches in the Willamette Valley. Winter deciduous, if not already summer drought deciduous. An easy to grow, self sufficient perennial for wild areas. Mix with other vigorous and scaled plants. Very easy to grow. Oregon native plant
Excellent form of our native bleeding heart that is an incredibly long blooming perennial for gardens. Remarkable blue foliage is beautiful if it never produced 1′ spikes of clear white pendant flowers. Blooms begin in spring and with regular summer water in rich soil continue throughout summer. Shade to full sun (with regular water). Forms widely spreading colonies. Give it room to spread. This tough, adaptable plant handles any soil situation from perpetually moist to quite dry. Resistant to pests- that includes slugs and snails as well as deer. (They will briefly browse it before ditching it for better things- it recovers quickly). Completely winter deciduous. Oregon native plant.
OOKOW. The common name for this wonderful native bulb. A naked lily closely related to Brodiaea. Also, referred to as cluster lily though that isn’t even remotely as fun to say as OOKOW. Stems to 22″ tall support 6 to 15 showy purple flowers clustered at the stem tip. Dry sunny hillsides in clay soils to meadows throughout western Oregon. Its native range goes a bit to the north into Washington and south to central California. This happy bulb spreads to form colonies in time. It will also spread by seed. An integral part of Willamette Valley meadows. Excellent cut flower that lasts a week in a vase. Water to establish when planting from containers. In subsequent years it will rely only on what falls from the sky. in habitat it can be found with native clumping grasses such as Koeleria and Festuca roemeri var. roemeri. Sisyrinchium idahoense is a frequent associate. The flowers do not nod on the stems as other closely related species Smalll grassy foliage appears in early spring and disappears cleanly following bloom. Adapted to heavy clay soils that are wet for 6 months of the year that dries in summer. Full sun. Loved by Hummingbirds and butterflies. Native to the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.
Firecracker flower. This bulb is native from southern Lane County in west central Oregon south into California. Its an easy to grow showy bulb that performs very well in gardens. It should be grown more often. I first saw this plant in the wild near Elkton, Oregon. I was driving by not very slowly and I saw a flash of red in front of a fence. i went back to investigate and found this plant in full bloom. In its habitat it occupies dry sunny slopes that face south. Soil is loam to clay but all of them dry completely in summer. Blooms mid- to late spring for an extended length of time for a bulb. A handful of scrappy leaves forms a rosette . And the blooms extend to about 18″ tall. They are not always straight and can wind, vinelike around and through other plants. The red buds reflex when open to reveal a yellow interior. I’ve had many hummingbirds visit mine. Let it go completely dry in summer- in fact it excels in wild environments and competes very well with weeds. Leaves disappear quickly after bloom. Increases over time. Deer resistant. Oregon native plant.
Henderson’s shooting star or more appropriately foothill shooting star. Thats where you see them in meadows and glens usually underneath or near Oregon white oaks. Common composition of the flora seen with this plant are giant baby blue eyes Nemophila m. ‘atomaria’., Ranunculus occidentalis – western buttercup as well as Lithophragma- Prairie Stars. Rubbery near round leaves emerge in mid winter and persist as rosettes for months until real heat pushes them into sleep. The charming flowers rise up to 14″ on tall straight stems. The nodding flowers gives away its familial association with Cyclamen and Primrose and reflexed magenta purple petals shoot straight up. The interior of the flower is a spike decorated like a single cake with a red brick a brack design if you look closely. Great cut flower and where ever you throw the spent flowers they will still ripen and set seed and quickly a new patch will be created. Full sun to part shade in clay soils that dry in summer. No water once established. They quickly go dormant and disappear to escape summer heat and dry. Relatively easy native wildflower to grow. Deer resistant. Native from northern California north to SW British Columbia. Found throughout the western half of the state. This wildflower made extensive colonies around my childhood home near Eugene. It always bloomed around my birthday and over the years I built up huge colonies. It was so charming with Erythronium oreganum- Oregon fawn lily- they grew side by side. In our ‘backyard’ there were huge colonies of native Dodecatheon. I would pick bouquets of them from the backyard and when the flowers were spent I would chuck them off the front deck into the woods. Over time I realized they were still setting viable seed as we had a huge population in the front in a few years, . Blooms late March to early May. Oregon native plant.