Coptis laciniata

Oregon cut leaf gold thread is a widespread but not common evergreen perennial that is found in dry shade on the west side of the Cascades. Native primarily to Oregon it extends north into Washington and is rare south into California.  A colony creating perennial that has handsome, intricate deep green foliage. The arrow shaped leaves are arranged in rosettes along the expanding yellow stolons. The effect is a dense cover that expands at a slow rate. In spring sparse thread like flowers are curious followed by swollen seed pods arranged in a circle. Rich to average soil in shade to dappled shade, though if pushed it can tolerate  a little sun. Good year round appearance. It may be cut back at the end of winter, but I haven’t really found this to be necessary. Use its best attributes, adaptation to dry shade and evergreen good looks as a limited groundcover beneath woodland perennials or at its best on the forest floor. Not a wide scale groundcover and clumps expand at a slow/moderate pace. Not adapted to compacted or clay soils. Best in heavy duff on the forest floor. Great in shade containers at the foot of Aspidistra . Not bothered by deer. Limited quantities. It derives its common name from the bright yellow roots and stolons. Water until you see good new growth then set it free.  Oregon native plant.

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Delphinium menziesii

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.

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Delphinium nudicaule

Delphinium nudicaule

Brilliant orange/red tubular flowers each with  two spurs on the rear of the flower. They appear to be swarming around the green wiry stems that support them. To 20″ tall, blooms rising from a basal rosette of leaves. Blooms May-July in Portland. Somewhat tricky southern Oregon native wildflowers that needs a bit of care and correct siting to establish and become perennial. Rich, well drained soil with light but consistent summer moisture. Native to very steep slopes and cliffs with excellent drainage but with groundwater in the form of seeps near by. Wild areas, gravel gardens for the ultimate wildflower effect. Established plants will often re-bloom if spent flower spikes are removed. Hummingbirds. Moderate deer resistance. Oregon native plant.

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Delphinium trolliifolium

Delphinium trolliifolium

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.

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Downingia elegans

Calico flower is a widespread showy annual of vernally wet sites throughout our region.  A low spreading plant that rises up in bloom to reveal shovel shaped blue and white flowers. They closely resemble annual Lobelia (Lobelia erinus) to which it is closely related. Blooms appear from Mid May to early August. Rich soil with regular summer water. Downingia is native to areas that are often submerged in winter. And in the garden it appreciates ample water. Full sun and resists competition from other plants. Very good in rain gardens. One potted plant will expand to 2′ with rising showy flowers. Loved by pollinators of all kinds. Excellent container plant. You can simply remove it when it has completed its life cycle- replace with warm season annuals. A food source for the endangered Willamette Valley endemic Fendler’s Blue Butterfly. Leave established plants in place once they have died to distribute seed for the following year in the ground.  Oregon native plant

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Helleborus x ‘Amethyst Glow’ Winter Jewels ®

Kind of a nifty color breakthrough for the breeding team Ernie and Marietta O’byrne. We’ve been delighted with this soft pewter purple color on a vigorous group of plants that produce enormous blooms. To 2′ x 2′ for shade to part shade in rich, well composted soil. Light summer water. High deer resistance.

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Helleborus x ‘Apricot Blush’ Winter Jewels ®

One of our favorite strains of Hellebore hybrids by the O’Byrnes at Northwest Garden Nursery. Single, large flowers are blushed apricot, russet, to almost orange. Blooms January-April. Vigorous plants. Regular summer water in well composted soil in shade to part shade. To 2′ x 2′.  Great deer resistance.

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Helleborus x ‘Black Diamond’ Winter Jewels ®

The darkest black flowers on a Hellebore that we have encountered. Jet black flowers have a sheen. Great in combination with the deep maroon/purple new foliage. To 2′ x 2′ blooming from January-April. Light, consistent summer water in part shade to shade. Completely deer resistant.

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Helleborus x ‘Blue Diamond’ Winter Jewels ®

Well, blue may be a stretch but this difficult to photograph hue at least attains hints of the color. More aptly its a luminous pewter shade that seems to reflect light in a metallic way. Strong growing perennial for part shade to shade in rich, well composted soils. Regular summer water- though it takes dry conditions in the shade. In extreme drought the leaves will simply lie on the ground- rising up almost immediately with water. Blooms appear from late January and are effective until April. To 2′ tall and as wide in several years. Excellent in combination with the yellow flowered series ‘Golden Sunrise’. Highly deer resistant and long lived. Remove self sown seedlings which will unlikely come true to the parent. A special color.

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Helleborus x ‘Cherry Blossom’ Winter Jewels ®

One of the best strains from the master Hellebore breeders the O’Byrnes. The majority of these seedling feature semi-double or double blushed pink flowers. Even the single flowered plants are well formed and vivid. Part shade to shade in well composted soil with light consistent summer water. To 2′ x 2′ shortly. High deer resistance.

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