An exciting shrub/small tree with paddle shaped blue evergreen phyllodes for foliage and in late winter to early spring a massive display of luminous yellow flowers. I’ve always loved Australian wattles so it was with great excitement that we decided to grow this striking plant. Moderately fast growing to 16′ tall and 8′ wide forming either multiple or a single trunk. The bark is chocolate brown and smooth. Very few Australian Acacias will thrive in Portland, its just about 5 degrees too cold in our coldest years. This one is different, (a few species will live for 4-6 years before they finally succumb to Jack Frost. Acacia pravissima etc.) This, however, is the cold hardiest that we have grown. It is hardy to just below 10ºF for brief stints- good enough for long term survival. This is a rare limited endemic to the high mountains of New South Wales but is popular as a garden subject the world over. The small, fluffy, balls of electric yellow flowers foam among the blue leaves – incredibly pretty. Full sun and a protected location – against a south facing wall is ideal for a very pretty fun to grow tree. Once fully open the flowering stems may be cut for long lasting bouquets. Blooms on wood from the previous season, prune if needed after flowering has ended. Light consistent water to establish . Not fussy about soils and happiest in full, all day sun. Protect from subfreezing east wind. Bloom time is concurrent with several earlier Ceanothus (‘Blue Jeans’, ‘Dark Star’, ‘Concha’) and creates a vivid early spring yellow and blue display not soon to be forgotten. Drought adapted when established. Not bothered by deer/elk- not entirely sure about rabbits- if they are profuse in your neighborhood it wouldn’t hurt to protect the plant with chicken wire when young. Beautiful year round and spectacular in bloom. AKA Blue Bush.
The blue form of New Zealand Burr with finely divided pinnate evergreen foliage that forms a vigorous creeping ground cover. In summer 3″ stems support round white flowers that appear for several weeks. Easy to grow dense-growing plant to 3″ tall and covering up to 3 square feet in a year. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer moisture to speed growth and keep the appearance fresh. Best in part shade to shade- seems to resent hot sun and permanently dry positions. Excellent for a fast cover that blocks weeds and roots as it grows- perfect erosion control for steep shady slopes. Plant on 1′ centers for a fast cover. Adaptable to dry conditions when established.
Sweet little evergreen shrublet with fine blue foliage. Atop a rounded form in spring, masses of light pink flowers are incredibly showy for such a diminutive plant. To about 8″ x 1′ forming a bun. This member of the brassica tribe is excellent in rock gardens or even on hot dry sunny slopes. Full sun and average, well drained soil. Light to little summer water. Blooms for 3-4 weeks in mid to late spring. Cut back hard after blooming- new blue foliage will flush out almost immediately. Troughs, rock gardens. Low care rock garden classic.
Tender <sigh> but perhaps the most spectacular variegated Agave. It makes a great container plant for LARGE containers. To 5′ x 5′, it grows a little slower in containers. Make sure it’s sturdy and well built too because this puppy has been known to grow so vigorously as to shatter its own home. Use well drained cactus mix and add a handful of all organic fertilizer. Move to a freeze free environment such as an unheated garage if temperatures threaten to drop below 20ºF. Otherwise move it to a dry place for winter- under a south facing eave is ideal. Move it back out in the open when rain dwindles. Light summer water will speed growth. Leaves on this form are blue on the edges with a dramatic pure white stripe down the center. Wow.
Spikes! A very upright and pokey Agave with steel blue/gray foliage that forms large rosettes. To 3′ across eventually this cold hardy Agave demands excellent drainage but is worth the effort. VERY well drained soil- amend with liberal amounts of pumice and gravel. Excellent on a slope. Plant with the rosette tilted to shed winter water. Makes new pups happily and they will often come up quite a distance from the parent plant. To 3′ tall when up and established. Great in containers that you protect from winter wet. Move to a covered place in fall- a south facing eave is sufficient. Cold hardy below 0ºF- when established. Best to plant in March or April so that it has the longest possible season to develop a root system going into its first winter. Light summer water to none. High deer resistance.
A real winner in our climate this is perhaps among the easiest bold Agaves to cultivate. Large rosettes of flared deadly leaves are a luminous light blue. The whole rosette can achieve 3′ wide and nearly as tall but smaller is more common. Excellent tolerance of the combination of cold and wet that Agaves mostly despise. This plant also is less prone to injury from necrosis of damage- slugs, snails etc. Full sun to a surprising amount of shade, though you’ll want to avoid the overhead detritus of trees into the rosette. In full sun such as a bare parking strip it revels in heat, exposure and fast drainage. Amend the soil to at least 1/2 pumice and 1/2 virgin native soil. Water to establish then only what falls from the sky. Obviously site away from paths- stab wounds suck, literally. In Mexico they planted large agaves in front of the bedroom windows of their female children. The idea I guess was to deter suitors with bad intentions. But its a neat story and you could see how it would work. Obvious awesome deer resistance. Sometimes called Whale Tongue Agave.
From the very far north end of this variable species range in Northern Arizona near—‘Flagstaff’. High elevation form that is found above 7000′ in the wild. Very cold hardy moderately large Agave. Full sun and very well drained soil. You must amend the soil with pumice and gravel to avoid wet accumulating around the crown in winter. This is made all the more easy by placing on a slope. The rosettes should be tilted to shed winter wet. Very stiff and sharply tipped steel blue leaves form a rosette that is at first upright then spreads out a little. Remove leaves from deciduous plants that collect in the rosette in autumn- they blow in from god knows where and leaving them can encourage rot. Excellent in containers. Move containerized plants under an eave or overhang to keep it dry in winter. No water required after initial establishment. Beautiful form of this cold hardy species. High deer resistance.
A really pretty pale blue Agave with sharp angular leaves in a remarkably symmetrical rosette with age. Cold hardy and it requires very well drained soil in a hot position. A south facing slope is ideal in soil that has been amended with liberal amounts of pumice and gravel. And you should tilt the rosette so that water does not collect in winter. This variety is a little slower than others. Aside from perfect drainage it requires a little bit of heat and patience. To 20″ tall by 30″ wide in time. Great container subject- make sure the container is sturdy and large enough to accommodate both a spreading primary rosette and prolific pups which crowd the base. In time it can form bold colonies. Move containerized plants to a dry location in winter. Remove deciduous tree leaves that collect in the rosette in autumn to stave off rot. SW U.S. High deer resistance.
New Mexico Agave is a spike wonder. Much more upright-growing than the species with sharp-tipped leaves that terminate in a blood red thorn. OW. Forms a very symmetrical plant with many leaves of steel blue. Full sun and VERY WELL-DRAINED soil. Excellent on hot slopes where it will tilt the rosette to avoid winter wet. Pups, heh, freely and you will soon have many rosettes. Amend the soil with pumice and gravel. Make sure there is plenty of air in the soil and no place where water could collect. Fantastic specimen plant for a dry garden/gravel garden. Water through the first summer to establish then none in subsequent years. Clean out the rosette when deciduous leaves collect in there- a shop vac works great. The leaves will cause rot when they decompose….so they must go. Great in containers- large, sturdy containers. Cold hardy. High deer resistance.
Stunning columbine native to the American SW that we cherish for its huge flowers trailed by improbably long tails held against blue foliage. Easy to grow late spring bloomer that thrives in many soil types in part shade to full sun with regular summer irrigation. To 14″ tall and becoming a long lived perennial. Winter deciduous. Mix with gold foliaged plants for- a flower color echo. Lovely flower form that hummingbirds and butterflies find delectable. Easy to grow. High deer resistance. Soaring wonderful, whimsical flowers.
A little wacky columbine sex in our nursery between our native orange and yellow flowering Aquilegia formosa and the brown and green flowered (and fragrant) Aquilegia viridiflora. The color range of the flowers is truly insane. And many of them are fragrant. They also have inherited the very good leaves of A. formosa- which are decidedly blue and delicate looking. They appear to be long lived perennials just as their parents and you just know that these buggers are going to reseed themselves. Part shade to full sun with regular water.
Xera Plants Introduction.
We’re intent on expanding our offerings of our cold hardy native Hairy Manzanita. This form we found in the Hood River Valley and it was conspicuous to us for several reasons. The plant which has long pointed blue leaves was exceptionally disease resistant. It also was tolerant of quite a bit of shade as well. Hairy Manzanita from this part of the state is exceptionally cold tolerant. It will happily live on both sides of the Cascades. The long blue/gray foliage is perpendicular to large stems. The bark becomes deep mahogany and glossy with age. Best in unimproved native soils. To establish water it regularly once a week until you see good new growth then set it free. Drought adapted. To 5′ x 6′ a large shrub that grows quickly to its ultimate size. Full sun to quite a bit of high overhead shade. Always good air circulation. The very early spring flowers are pure white and large on this cultivar. Russet berries that follow attract wildlife. Wonderful shrub, easier to grow than ‘Wolf Creek’. Cold hardy well below 0ºF. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
This exceptional form of hairy manzanita we discovered on the north side of Mount Hood. The large foliage is distinctively blue and is held perpendicular to the stems. In very late winter to early spring pearl pink/white flowers decorate the branch tips and appeal to both hummingbirds and native bees. A large rounded shrub to 6′ x 8′ forming a wide dome. Its best attribute is its distinctive deep mahogany glossy bark which contrasts with the blue foliage. Russst berries follow the flowers and are consumed by wild life. Full sun to very high overhead shade in average to poor unimproved soil. Water once a week to establish, when new growth begins taper off then drought adaptation is exceptional. Its also exceptionally hardy to cold to at least -15ºF and is as happy in the Willamette Valley as Central Oregon. Moderately fast growing. Disease resistant, Best to grow Arctostaphylos columbiana as lean as possible. Give it just enough water to establish and then only bark/chip mulch. A very pretty cultivar that is one of our favorite manzanitas. Oregon native plant
Xera Plants Introduction
Virtually the same as ‘Warren Roberts’ it is completely interchangeable with that cultivar. Why do we grow ‘Lester’? Aside from having amazing blue foliage and clusters of deep pink flowers from January to March we LOVE Lester Rowntree. She was an amazing, intrepid self-taught botanist who roamed California in the 1930’s in her simple pickup truck camping and botanizing throughout that state. Her incredible book ‘Hardy Californians’ is a must read for any gardener on the west coast. And its not just about plants- Check it out. This shrub is large in time to about 4′ tall by 8′ wide. The pink flowers born on the blue foliage is a sublime combination. Following bloom new spring growth is a fantastic red/ orange before settling to blue. Bark is a smooth mahogany with time and the trunks are sinuous and winding. This is an excellent shrub in our climate. Once established it requires absolutely no supplemental water- ever. Sailing through temps in the 100’s and bone dry with NO visible signs of stress. Our kind of shrub. It is cold hardy and completely climate adapted. Hell strips, dry borders, informal shrubberies. Mix with Ceanothus, Grevilleas, Halimiums. Very pretty year round.
Always at the top of the list of Arcto Afficianados this is not often seen in gardens. An excellent winter blooming Manzanita that has been a fantastic performer in the PNW. Upright growing shrub with blue foliage- new growth is briefly tinted red. In January to March copious bright pink clusters of urn shaped flowers appear. Anna’s hummingbirds are not far behind. To 5′ x 5′ in 6 years in full sun and average, well drained soil. No summer water when established. Excellent winter blooming shrub that is always good looking. This is a reliable cultivar for spectacular floral shows. Place close to an exit or entrance where you can stare into the pendulous pink flowers and the winding branch structure. Supply good air circulation. Photos by Chris Hembree
Big beautiful Manzanita that has thrived at our very cold wholesale nursery for almost 20 years and has never been harmed by weather. To 4′ tall and up to 8′ wide the new growth emerges a fiery orange red before settling down to a nice gray/blue. In late winter pink tinted urn shaped flowers decorate the whole shrub. The combination of the blue foliage and strongly pink flowers is magical in winter. Well drained average to poor soil in full sun is ideal but it can get by with less than ideal conditions. Water to establish the first summer then none in subsequent years. This is a great landscape shrub that retains its good looks year round. Very adaptable to garden situations where water is curtailed. Long season of bloom in February to April. Blushed small apple shaped fruits are stripped quickly by wildlife. Foundations, hillsides, sterile road cuts. Adaptable and very pretty shrub.
Surprisingly happy in our climate in its native Monterey Bay area of California its known colloquially as Dune manzanita. Very gray blue leaves are not huge and hug the stems tightly on a compact moderately growing Manzanita. To 5′ tall and wider over time. In mid winter to early spring white flowers tinted pink appear in clusters at the tips of the plant. The trunk becomes deep mahogany brown over time and contrasts greatly with the light colored foliage. All around fantastic shrub for full sun and average, unimproved soils with little irrigation once established. Not as fast growing as other Manzanitas, usually less than 5″ per year.Very pretty plant that mixes wonderfully in droughty shrub borders, and even as a foundation shrub. Makes a nice life in a containers for years. Long lived. Probably harbors some deer resistance. Extraordinarily drought adapted. Native to a restricted range on the central California coast. Great performance on the Oregon coast.
Exceptional low growing Manzanita with new growth emerging electric red and settling to a mature gray/blue. In late fall to early spring copious pale pink flowers appear- very pretty in concert with the vibrant new foliage and older blue leaves. To just 3′ tall by 6′ wide very shortly. Bark is cinnamon colored in time. Full sun and average well drained soil with great air circulation. Little to no summer irrigation. Extremely drought adapted hybrid that many consider to be one of the best. Excellent slope cover. Good appearance at all times. This durable and adaptable Manzanita is excellent for landscapes where little maintenance is required. Its handsome mounding dense habit precludes pruning and it blooms for an extended period, often beginning as early as November and continuing to spring. Great drought adapted, weed smothering evergreen shrub that is constantly attended by Anna’s hummingbirds in bloom. Very easy to grow.
This is a relatively cold hardy and spectacular bottlebrush. Very upright growth on a vertical growing plant with distinctly blue leaves. In late spring soft yellow thick bottle brush flowers appear in a massive display. Hummingbirds and people come running. The glowing flower color set against a blue backdrop is sublime. Full sun (no shade, don’t even try) in a warm, protected location such as a south facing wall or fence. Moderately fast growing in the ground to 12′ tall and 4′ wide in 7 years. It can suffer considerable damage in our coldest winters, but established plants have recovered from temperatures below 10ºF. Blooms on wood from the previous year. Prune if needed after blooming has ended. Rows of button shaped woody seed capsule follow and persist for several years. Spectacular and easy at the coast. Aromatic foliage has some deer resistance. Protect containerized plants from temperatures below 20ºF. Blooms well in a container. Tasmania. Water to establish then occasionally in summer. Avoid strong subfreezing wind.
Cool mediterranean annual that we love for its complex combination of bract and flower colors. To 14″ tall the nodding bell shaped flowers are blue with a white ring around the lip. The base of these flowers is yellow. Large bracts protect the flowers and turn from blue green to shades of indigo as they mature. A cool season annual that often self sows. These seedlings cruise through winter without much of a hitch and are up and blooming by mid spring. By the heat of july they quickly die setting profuse seed and disappearing. Light additional water besides rainfall will lengthen the show. Seedlings appear where they are happy- this can even be the cracks in the sidewalk. Seedlings are easy to spot and move or dispatch if unwanted. Nice in spring containers. Plant with early blooming Euphorbias for a real picture of yellow and blue contrast.
LOCO WEED. We discovered this native SW perennial growing very high up east of the cost of the Sierra at above 6500′. Damn it gets chilly up there. Herbaceous perennial that emerges with large, bold, silver-blue leaves. Sprawling to several feet wide in a full, hot position with exceptional drainage. All summer huge white goblet like flowers unfurl from curiously colored gray buds. You can literally watch the flowers open in the evening. They glow in the moon light and emit a soft fragrance. By 2:00 the following day the flower has withered. <sad face> but more are in the wings. Begins blooming in late June and repeats to frost. Completely deciduous (gone) in winter. Good drainage in a hot position- where the soil warms early. Spectacular. Toxic- but what garden plants are not? High deer resistance. Native to the american southwest and northwest Mexico. It has become naturalized in arts of the Willamette Valley, Columbia Gorge, and Eastern Oregon. Rarely seeds itself in our climate. The seedpods that develop following the flowers are round and spiney.
Xera Plants Introduction.
We love this selection of Dianthus that includes masses of white flowers with a bold maroon eye and tight handsome foliage. The incredibly fragrant flowers appear from April to frost- repeating quickly if spent flowers are removed. Good blue foliage is handsome at all times forming a dense dome. To 8″ tall for full sun and rich, well drained soil with light but consistent summer water. Great color echos can be achieved when planted in concert with purple foliaged plants. Cute, fragrant cut flower. One of the best re-blooming pinks.
We received this as a gift from the O’Byrnes who aside from breeding the very best Hellebores on the planet have a garden that is to die for. Drifts of Erythroniums, Trilliums, Epimediums, Pacific Coast Iris wash around dry rock areas. Thats where you will find this compact growing but wildly floriferous species pink. The O’Byrnes collected the seed of this fragrant soft pink wildflower in the Pyrenees. And after years of attempting to find the exact species we have given up. So ‘Pink Pyrenees’ is the name. Beginning in late April and blooming solidly until mid june the 8″ wiry stems support subtle clove scented flowers. Excellent in small bouquets, you can cut a bunch and not even notice- so prolific are the blooms. Full sun and lean to gritty soil with light consistent summer water. Takes dry conditions when established. The blue green leaves form a tight bun less than 1′ wide in several years. Deer leave the foliage alone but will nosh on the flowers.
She’s a strange one this Chomley. Found in a garden in Ireland this amazing carnation is astounding in the color of the flowers. Completely GRAY fully double flowers are streaked throughout with hot pink. I remember several raves in this color realm. Amazing cut flower and easy to grow border perennial. The long stems support the flowers in a vase nicely, but not necessarily when in the ground. Expect some flop. Full sun and average to rich, well drained soil with low/regular summer water. Blooms May-July. To 18″ tall and a little wider. Gray blue foliage is evergreen in our climate. Wowza, Carnations on acid.
Eileen is a little bun of fun. A tight mounding Dianthus that forms a dome of prickly blue/green foliage 8″ wide and just 2″ tall. In May-June this foliage is obscured by a solid mass of brilliant pink flowers. They emit the treasured clove fragrance so loved in this genus. A first rate rock garden perennial, or for troughs or even amenable with drainage to the front of borders, dry gardens and even Hellstrips. Gritty soil is what most dianthus buns crave, and you can achieve this by simply amending the soil with a handful of sharp gravel. Otherwise this cuties is adapted to not many nutrients but must have full sun. Light consistent summer irrigation makes the slowly expanding bun speed up. Just a touch. Not difficult and stunning in bloom. Buns, we love the buns of fun. Thanks Eileen. Evergreen. Cut off spent flowers for a clean and neater appearance. Very good to try where bunnies and deer are an issue. They tend to completely overlook this plant. Long lived perennial.
Dutch Man’s Breetches. One of the first wildflowers that I learned mostly because of the funny common name. Native to selected spots in Oregon- in the Columbia River Gorge as well as along parts of the Clackamas River. Adorable little thing closely related to bleeding hearts. Ferny blue foliage emerges in early spring and is followed by a precious display of two spurred upside down white flowers. Each patch holds many. By the time hot weather has arrived this true spring ephemeral has disappeared completely- a good rest during the summer drought. Part shade to high overhead shade in a protected location in rich, moisture retentive soil. Occasional summer water is good- even though it is dormant. Mix with other spring delights like Erythronium (Dog tooth violets) and mid spring small bulbs like Scilla or Chionodoxa. Moderate deer resistance. 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.
Giant Chalk Dudleya or Giant Live Forever, this is in our estimation the largest and showiest of this genus native to the West Coast of North America from Oregon to Mexico. This spectacular succulent is native to the northern coast of Baja where it attaches to volcanic cliffs above the ocean. To 12″-18″ wide in a year or two the softly spiked rosette is covered in fine white powder (bloom) that can be rubbed off- that can result in a less pristine white form. Avoid pawing or poking the foliage. In spring to summer 18″ stems support clusters of orange/pink/yellow downward pointing flowers. Very pretty and it draws hummingbirds and butterflies. A fantastic container plant that can live for years happily in succulent cactus mix. Protect from severe cold (below 26ºF) and put containers in a cool unheated greenhouse in autumn. Or move to a dry under eave position. Water deeply and infrequently and able to tolerate summer water much better than others. Our Oregon native Dudleya farinosa can be kind fussy about that. Very easy to grow. Part shade to full sun. Shockingly beautiful plant. This and many Dudleyas have been vastly and illegally over collected in the wild. Ours are raised from seed which is not difficult and is even more of a pity that they are stolen in the wild.
A great plant in all of its parts. Beautiful intricate large blue gray leaves with an underside of white form substantial clumps. In high summer flower spikes rise up to 3′ bearing dense sky blue orbs of flowers- the structure of the orbs gives them a metallic glint. Amazing. Obviously where it got its common name of globe thistle. Long lived herbaceous perennial for fast draining rich soils in full, hot sun. Spreads to form substantial clumps in time. Avoid sodden soils and heavy un-amended clay. Great on slopes. Completely deciduous in winter. These flowers seem to be made for butterflies- all sorts visit the flowers frequently. Light deer resistance. Plant with other large sun loving perennials to match the vigor and scale of this plant.
Very blue, oh so blue shorter Sea Holly that has pretty unusual leaves as well as stunning flowers. Crinkly sage green leaves are prickly and outlined in fine white. From this batch of foliage the flowering spike attains about 20″ inches before producing the metallic sky blue star shaped flowers. Very pretty and it will instantly draw pollinators. Remains in bloom for 4-6 weeks from early to mid summer. Full sun, rich, well drained soil and little summer water when established. Tough but pretty perennial that is very long lived. Increases in width each year to 2′ wide. Excellent candidate for the hellstrip, the front of the border or gravel gardens. High deer resistance. Completely deciduous in winter.
One of my favorite separate strains of CA poppy. ‘Purple’ gleam is a tiny bit of an over statement. More accurate its pink w/ purple overtones and a lighter center. Blooms from April August in a wave of big flowers that tossles over compact plants with filigree blue foliage. Full sun and average to even poor soil. Often potted Eschscholzia will perennialize and live for a year or two in the ground. Otherwise its an annual and will succumb when the whole plant blooms itself out. To 10″ x 12″ forming a spreading plant. Remove spent flowers to continue the show. Many plants will take a break over summer and then resume blooming w/ cooler autumn rains. Great pollinator plant. Containers, dry areas, borders. Reseeds reliably w/ about 80% true to parent type. Wonderful with Clarkia unguiculata ‘White’ and Collinsia grandiflora. High deer resistance. Leave open disturbed soil for it to reseed. Light summer H20. Oregon native plant
Just about every gardener is aware of our west coast native California Poppy. It has a huge range from far southern Washington State to Mexico. There are several subspecies, but this one is exceptional. This PERENNIAL California Poppy is very different than the species. ‘Martima’ or Coastal California Poppy is a low, tidy, mat that erupts in wave after wave of flowers from spring to autumn. The tight congested foliage is handsome blue green and pairs well with the golden flowers that have a central area of orange. This plant is native to sand/very well drained soils and if you replicate that in your garden this is a very long lived plant. It also excels in the very well drained soil of containers and will drape over the edge and follow the contours closely. Ideally this plant is adapted to slopes with just light water during the summer. No need to dead head this plant is naturally remontant- re-blooming without any intervention from the gardener. Loved by all native pollinators and cherished by big black and yellow native bumbles. To 4″ tall as foliage – 8″ in flower its spread on average is about 2′ x 3′ in a year. Detests all shade, do not even try. Eschscholzia californica maritima is native to the northern and central California coast. Avoid compost and enriched soils, average soil is best. Not bothered by deer, rabbits, slugs, snails. So, why isn’t everyone growing this fantastic plant?
Alpine Cider Gum from high elevations in Tasmania has proven to be one of the reliable species of Eucalyptus for our region. Juvenile (young) growth is perfoliate and very very light gray blue- this is the foliage used as popular cut material. The tree may be cut back nearly to the ground regularly to retain this foliage- The tree must be established at least a year before you do this. Otherwise the adult foliage is totally different. Bright green and elongated leaves with a round tip hang densely on an upright growing nice looking tree. Eventually, the bark becomes amazing with pink and gray striations. Blooms in early spring with white flowers. Extremely fast growing tree to 35′ tall + that is a great evergreen garden tree. Good looking year round. Handles ice and snow like a champ- shedding snow and bending under ice without breaking. Full sun and rich to average soil with regular summer water through the first year. High deer resistance. Hardier to cold with age.
Snow gum is a wonderful cold hardy tree for the Pacific Northwest. Lance shaped gray foliage is pendant and handsome year round. This rapidly growing tree thrives in full sun and virtually any soil save for boggy conditions. In just a few years it develops amazing python mottled bark in tones of gray/tan/olive green. The bark sheds in mid-summer and can be a bit messy. Site accordingly. Grows 4′-5′ a year when young. Irrigation just increases this growth rate. Stake only when VERY young then let it form a sturdy trunk on its own. The vast majority of this Snow gum will form multiple trunks. Its possible to select one sturdy main trunk when young- pay close attention as they grow very fast. To 30′ tall and half as wide in 10 years. Snow gums have a weird habit of growing horizontally before reaching upwards. This is natural. Handles ice and snow no problem. Cold hardy to brief dips to 0ºF- but not lower. Mountains of Australia. White fluffy flowers in clusters in winter. Avoid all shade.
Spinning wheel gum is one of the prettiest of the cold hardier Eucalyptus. Named for its striking blue/gray perfoliate round foliage as a juvenile. In time as the foliage morphs to adulthood each new leaf becomes longer and more pendulous. A small tree in our climate to 18′ tall with a widely spreading crown. Fast growing tree, especially in youth. It may be damaged in our coldest winters- losing branches or even freezing to the ground if temperatures drop below about 8ºF. Re-growth which will be juvenile is rapid in spring and it can recover its full height in just two or three seasons. Damage occurs about once every 7 years- and slightly more often in rural settings. Best in the warmest possible part of the garden- and not for cold gardens or subfreezing wind prone sites. Excellent, highly aromatic cut foliage. White flowers line the stems like small sea anemones in winter. In time it develops a strongly weeping habit.
This plant is an early spring blooming staple of gravel gardens and pairs great, vivid, chartreuse flowers with symmetrical blue/gray succulent trailing foliage. To 18″ tall and up to 3′ wide when happy. Vivid flowers first color up in late winter and remain shockingly beautiful well into spring. Often re-seeds in open disturbed sites. Seedlings are easy to spot and dispatch or move. Give this trailing plant room to grow in full sun and very well drained soil of average to poor fertility. it thrives in rich soil and may become a tad rambunctious and may be shorter lived. Average conditions. A natural friend for blue flowered plants.
Well behaved lovely early summer blooming Euphorbia hybrid with fine blue foliage and umbels of chartreuse flowers that remain effective on the plant for 4-6 weeks. Easy to grow clump forming perennial that is winter deciduous. Foliage to 10″ tall supporting the flowers to 14″ high. Sterile hybrid- will not reseed or become a pest. Long lived perennial for full sun and rich to average well drained soil. Light summer water. Excellent en masse. Cut back spent stalks in winter to make way for a whole new crop of stems/flowers. Good deer resistance. Drought tolerant.
California Fescue native to the Willamette Valley from Multnomah county south and once widespread before being pushed to the margins by exotics and development. The best place to find this clump forming cool season evergreen grass now is on slopes, almost always underneath native Oaks. As you go farther south it becomes more widespread. Our seed grown plants come from exceptionally blue foliaged plants. Grows during the winter and looks clean and fresh then. In spring 3′ tall inflorescences arrive and are straight and airy. Following bloom in summer the stems of these blooms take on raspberry tints and remain standing. Totally summer drought adapted but a little irrigation will improve summer looks. To 1′ x 2′ as a clump of evergreen foliage. Full sun to part shade in average to enriched, soil where water never stands. Light summer water. Best in wild areas and margins. Looks a tad too wild for some. Check it out in person and see how you feel. Excels around Manzanitas, Cistus, Ceanothus and in dry shade in woodlands. A great garden plant. One of our best native grasses. Oregon native plant.
A west coast native grass that ranges from British Columbia to Southern California- usually near the beach. This form is exceptionally blue and so pretty as a year round evergreen presence. To 9″ tall and spreading at a measured rate by stolons slowly expanding the plant to several feet wide. Forms an incredibly dense cover and weeds will seldom compete with this climate adapted grass. In late summer and not profuse 8″ stems hold gray floral spikes. This is along lived, easy to grow grass that does not die out in the center or poop out after a few years. In fact it would make an admirable lawn substitute. This form is from Humboldt, County in CA and was named for the small town where Greg lived as a child- so we had to grow it. And damn it turned out to be a fine, evergreen, native grass. Full sun to light shade and little to no summer water once established. Not fussy about soil and not a rambunctious thug unless soil is overly enriched- instead give it oxygenated average soil. Excellent among drought adapted shrubs and especially nice interplanted with Pacific Coast Iris. Fine dense foliage is bright blue in summer turning to more of a greenish hue during the cooler months. Excellent winter appearance. High deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
Yellow Horned Poppy is a Xera favorite perennial. This true poppy bears a long season of large irredesant light yellow flowers. They appear in succession for 6-8 weeks into the middle of summer. Flowers are replaced by long “horns” which are the seed pods. Incredibly blue glabrous rubbery foliage is wonderful with the glowing flowers. Full sun, well drained poor to average soil- adapts to rich soil with less water. Light summer water though established plants get by with nothing. To 2′ x 2′ in a single season. Dies back to a low rosette of leaves in winter. Will often seed around and you want this to happen cause the more of these the better. Average lifespan: 3-5 years. moderately deer resistant. No other pests. Excels in gravel gardens.
The brilliant ORANGE flowered horn poppy. Variety is the spice of life and we had of course to grow this form of one of our favorite perennials. HUGE true orange flowers are up to 5″ across and they glow from quite a distance. In combination with the blue rubbery foliage- WOW. Full sun and well drained poor to average soil with light to no summer water. Adapts to richer conditions but this will shorten its lifespan. Large blue long “horns” protrude from every direction where a flower was present. Self sows and comes true from seed. Leave the seedling where they are- transplanting this genus can be dicey. Enjoy it as the feral wildflower that it is. High deer resistance. 2′ x 2′. Dies to a low rosette in winter. Average lifespan: 3-5 years.
Indispensible alpine cold hardy Hebe with an astonishingly uniform dense habit. Rounded to 30″ tall and up to 4′ wide in time. Blue gray foliage is handsome at all times. In summer sporadic white flower spikes dot the plant. Full sun to light shade in average to rich well drained soil Light, but consistent summer irrigation. Especially important for it to be well hydrated before extreme heat (above 100ºF). Excellent hedge, massed as a tall ground cover. Very cold hardy- not bothered by our coldest winters and of alpine derivation in its home in New Zealand. Formerly known as Hebe sutherlandii. Excellent as low informal hedge or even massed as a symmetrical ground cover.This form has been consistently hardy down to 0ºF. Excellent performance in cold rural gardens. Tolerates some subfreezing wind. Xera favorite shrub.
Adorable blue leaved dwarf Hosta that we adore for brightening up shady corners and small spots. The thick leaves are slightly corrugated. In july 1′ stems support fragrant tubular light lavender flowers. To 8″ tall and forming an increasing clump to 1′ wide. Excellent in containers or rock gardens. Part shade to high overhead shade. The blue Hosta really do need protection from the sun. Protect emerging plants in April from slugs/snails. Rich soil with regular summer water. Extremely long lived perennial. A great dwarf Hiosta with real substance. Protect from deer and rabbits. Completely winter deciduous- disappears in September. Mix with white wood rush (Luzula nivea) and Carex tumulicola ‘Willamette Gold’.
We found this sport in our batch of one of our favorite Hostas ‘Blue Mouse Ears’. This dwarf Hosta has yielded a lovely form with interior leaves of blue green with a margin of chartreuse/light green and the variegation is remarkably stable. To just 6″ tall it spreads to form multiple rosettes several feet across. Always neat and tidy looking. The thicker than average leaves are somewhat resistant to slug/snail damage but protect just as they are emerging. In early summer a 10″ thick spike supports rows of dense dark lavender fragrant flowers. They add to this very smart looking little perennial that is long lived in part shade to shade in rich soil with regular water. Excellent container plant, it will be even easier to water and protect from gastropods. In the garden its a natural with Golden Japanese Forest Grass and Disporum flavescens. Very easy to grow. Avoid hot sun and dry conditions.
Xera Plants Introduction
If you are going to grow a juniper then it better be good. This useful selection has new growth tipped yellow before turning to blue/green. The outside of the plant is always bright and the interior softer and darker- a happy combination. Low and spreading to 18″ high by 4′ across. Excellent drought tolerant easy to grow evergreen for tough sites. Banks, hellstrips, places where you would rather not have the pets potty. Full sun to very light shade. Regular summer water to establish and then none is necessary. Grows faster in better soil- slower where its impoverished. Either way it will grow and thats what you want.
Low growing incredibly blue common juniper that we found on the slopes of Mt. Hood on the eastern side of Multnomah county. To just 10″ tall but usually much lower it creeps slowly and densely to 3′ wide in 5 years. Rich, well drained soil in full sun though it makes due with less than ideal conditions. Handsome blue cast to the foliage is nice looking all the time. Growth is dense and blocks out weeds. Nice to have a locally native Juniper from a relatively low elevation. Long lived and care free. Water or once established do not. Oregon native plant.
A hybrid between two European species has yielded one of the best climbing honeysuckles we can grow. Less prone to pests and disease this prolific blooming vine produces huge trusses of pink/yellow/cream highly fragrant flowers from late spring to autumn. A non-twining semi-evergreen vine that requires the support of something in which the canes can interweave and be supported. Often bare at the base- plan for this. To 12′ tall and as wide. Massive initial display of flowers in late spring and then sporadically until Sept. Full sun to light shade and regular summer water to increase vigor, spur re-bloom. The fragrance is not sweet and cloying rather a complex blend of cloves, cologne and petunia. It carries for quite a distance. A good sized specimen will perfume the entire block.
Plume poppy is one of our favorite big bold perennials. A true poppy it rises to 8′ tall and spreads vigorously forming large stands. Give it room to spread in average well drained soil with light summer water. In summer at the top of blue deeply lobed leaves (with a white underside) foam with coral colored plumes of bloom. All around a good looking plant. Doubles as a lush tropical looking presence. Plant with such things as the hardy banana ‘Musa Basjoo’ and large leaf Cannas. Spectacular. Moderate deer resistance. Drought adapted when established. Long lived perennial that is totally herbaceous in winter.
Wow what an interesting plant. This perennial member of the carrot family from Mexico almost immediately recalls a Hellebore. Nope. Clumps of blue divided leaves are very pretty and surprisingly evergreen even through the coldest temperatures. In spring the stem elongates to carry acid green cupped shaped flowers on a circular arranged inflorescence. Part shade to shade in rich, well drained soil. There is only the male form on the market in the U.S. as far as we can tell so no seed set. Tends to flop or lean on other plants…just what it does. To 30″ tall and 4′ wide. Rich, well drained soil with light summer water. Looks absolutely nothing like a carrot.
Big and bold and blue this remarkable plant known for its enormous pinnate foliage makes a statement. To 7′ tall and as wide in time. Following mild years madder red rubbery flower spikes bear black flowers. yep. Its very important to establish your Melianthus happily before its first winter. That means you give it rich, well drained soil in full sun with REGULAR summer water. The bigger the root system the more vigorous the plant will return if frozen to the ground (below 20ºF). Luckily in the city this usually happens every four years or so. In colder outlying areas plant it next to a hot south facing wall and nurture the hell out of it. Mulch before arctic episodes is a good thing. Moderate deer resistance. South Africa.
We’ve grown this extraordinarily cold hardy european olive selection for years. And its performance in the city of Portland is stellar. Fast growing somewhat wild looking, ever-silver tree to 20′ tall and 15′ wide in 10 years. In time it develops a gnarled trunk adding to the trees character. This is a self fertile selection and sets fruit very heavily even on singular trees. The fleshy moderately sized fruits are most prized for oil. They may be brined. (Follow any recipe on the internet). Be aware of autumn and winter fruit drop- not for patios, instead plant a large ground cover at the base for the unwanted fruit to drop and hide. Birds will eat the olives too- especially larger birds. Overall, its a pretty tree when the thin blue gray leaves are tossed by the wind revealing their silvery undersides. Fast growing especially if watering is frequent and diligent during youth. Water like crazy for the first summer to spur growth and establishment. Olive trees gain cold hardiness with age/size. Small plants are tender to dead below 15ºF but a three year old, well watered of the same variety will be undamaged at much colder temperatures than that. Excellent performance in ice and snow (see picture below)- bends but does not break. Protect containerized plants from temperatures below 15ºF. Drought adapted when established. A warm position.
A chance hybrid announced itself in our nursery with these insanely long hop flowered blooms. A low spreading perennial with distinctively blue foliage. In summer many, many stems emerge bearing clusters of flowers. They are shaped like long skinny hop fruits with tiny violet flowers that protrude through the layers of the hop structure. That structure is remarkable. Taking on purple and blue tints it begins to elongate and doesn’t stop until its fully 4″ long. They come in multitudes- this plant lives to bloom. Full sun and rich, well drained soil with light summer water. To 1′ tall and 2 wide in a season. The floral display goes on well into fall. Place near a wall where it will happily cascade. Excellent in large containers. Hardy and easy to grow. Cut back old material in early spring. A new low batch of foliage will already be present.
Xera Plants Introduction.
Photo credit: Chris Hembree
Native of the high grass prairies of the midwest this form of Switch Grass delights with soft blue foliage and foamy inflorescences and a staunchly upright habit. Blooms appear in early August and remain effective through winter. In autumn the whole plant is awash in tones of raspberry and red before going cere for winter. Surprisingly even in dry dormancy snow or ice and knock this grass over and when the thaw comes- pouf! It stands straight back up. Winter deciduous- but the clump does remain in place for the majority of winter. Cut back hard- to the ground in spring just before new growth appears. Full sun and rich, to average, well drained soil with consistent light summer water. Drought adapted when established- to an extent. Looks better with water. To 5′ tall and in bloom and forming an expanding clump to 2′ wide. Ultra hardy grass that can be planted en mass or alone as a vertical blue focal point.
A poppy with chartreuse green flowers? Yes it exists. From a small rosette of blue green leaves a continuous supply of large flowers from May to August. The flowers are supported by 4″ stems and virtually glow against the blue foliage- also when backlit by the sun. Full sun and RICH, well drained soil with regular summer water. Excellent for a solitary ledge in a rock garden or in containers. Do not let this plant be crowded by others. It will die, instead leave it out in the open and give it the good stuff.
“It looks like a Eucalyptus!!! Well yes this evergreen trailing perennial does possess perfoliate round leaves that wrap around the stem. To 30” tall upright and then sprawling. In mid summer soft periwinkle lilac flower spikes appear and are showy for weeks. Full sun and rich, well drained soil. Forms an expanding clump. Unique perennial endemic to Tasmania and closely related to Hebes. Tired bedraggled plants may be cut to the ground in early spring to regrow. Mulch in fall. Light, regular summer water. Aka ‘Digger’s Speedwell’ Combine with larger perennials which can act as standards holding it when it flops. The more sun the less flopping. Evergreen to about 15ºF but resprouts from the base if frozen. Fun and easy to grow.
Wonderful dense, arching and low growing conifer for full sun and only occasional water when established. This cold hardy conifer is native to the highest elevations of Tasmania up into eastern Australia. In the summer the fine but substantial needles turn to dusty blue. The arrival of colder weather brings a distinct and beautiful soft purple cast. To 2′ tall and arching to 5′ tall in 7 years. Long lived and carefree conifer for full sun to very light shade. Dense and blocks weeds. Excellent large scale, weed supressing low water shrub. This cultivar originated in New Zealand and was released as a cultivar in 1994. Very good deer and rabbit resistance. Excellent appearance year round. It has been hardy slightly below 0ºF. Easy to grow.
Improved version of the Matilija Poppy that we love to let colonize our dry hillsides. Enormous 8″ wide ruffled pure white flower petals surround a furry central yellow zone. This cultivar has bigger flowers, more of them and bluer foliage. Unfortunately, it is no less vigorous and will take all the real estate you can give it. Thats easily 10′ x 35′ in 5 years. Best in contained areas. Full sun and average, well drained soil. To 8′ tall in bloom. Transplant very carefully, do not disturb the roots- rather dig a hole and gently set the whole undisturbed rootball in there. Water regularly for the first season to establish then none in subsequent years. Stems will usually freeze to the ground in winter. Removes these in February before new growth starts. Strongly deer resistant. Native to S.California.
A fantastic grass that performs wonderfully well in our climate. A clumping grass with very upright blue foliage. In summer inflorescences rise above the leaves with fine fluffy whitish flowers- provides a dramatic hazy effect. In autumn the 28″ tall grass becomes a whole other color palette. Deep raspberry and purple with tints of red before going over to all all reddish orange. An excellent color trip not the way to dormancy. When dormant it remains a presence and looks nice through winter. Cut down to the ground in late winter/early spring to make way for fresh new foliage. Not evergreen. Average to enriched well drained soil with light summer water. Established plants in reasonably good soil will sale through summer drought with no ill effects. Clumps expand over time to 2′ wide. Full sun. Easy grass. May self sow in open disturbed soil.
One of the very best Sedums that we grow. Trailing stems hold relatively large rosettes of fleshy blue gray leaves. Superficially it resembles a tender echeveria etc. But, its totally hardy and incredibly adaptable. Forming mounded spreading colonies from a dome shape and encompassing an area several feet wide shortly. Adaptable to full sun and no water but also a surprising amount of shade. Its best application is perhaps in containers and specifically winter containers. Excellent winter appearance. In early spring it erupts in clouds of bright yellow flowers. To 6″ tall x 2′ wide in rich to average, well drained soil. Not a fussy succulent by any stretch it persists with just average conditions. Native to the highest elevations of Mexico. Cold hardy (when not saturated) to at least 0ºF. Widely used in seasonal and permanent containers in Europe. Picture a Sempervivum (Hens and chicks) on a slightly trailing stem. Light consistent summer H20 but accepts drought. Very easy to propagate by moving stems from one location to the next. Even share with your neighbors. Easy.
A really good Sedum that I got from a friend who collected it on the Iberian Peninsula in the Spanish mountains. Very soft blue gray foliage is shaped like pine needles lining trailing stems. Forms a good ground cover very fast. In summer 10″ vertical stems support clouds of soft off white flowers. Very different from so many other Sedums that bloom yellow. This soft color is very effective in the garden and of course draws pollinators from miles around. When spent the stems remain erect and turn gray- they may easily be collected by simply giving each a soft tug- or a whole a handful and they will break cleanly. Full sun to very light shade. Average to enriched soil that is not compacted. Good looking year round appearance. Not quite as dense or prolific as Sedum reflexum but still good. Slopes, between shrubs, as competition for weeds. Roots along the ground as it grows. Moves with ease and may be used as a temporary place holder while you think of what to plant next. Simply scoop up the foliage and move it to another place. Actual planting is not necessary. Share with friends. Great in seasonal as well as winter containers. To several feet wide. Light summer water or none when established. Easy plant.
Xera Plants Introduction.
An autumn moor grass with distinctive differences. Very blue upright, stiff foliage forms a large expanding clump. In mid summer through autumn (and beyond) 18″ straight vertical stems support gray/black flowers frosted with light yellow pollen. Excellent appearance year round for an evergreen grass to 1′ tall and 2′ wide in several seasons. Well drained average to enriched soil. Light, consistent summer water in full sun. Excellent massed, plant on 2′ centers. Flowers slowly decay over winter and spent stems may be cut away. Refrain from cutting this plant back to the ground. Winter damage will be covered quickly by new growth in late winter to early spring. Establishes quickly. Cold hardy below 0ºF. Native to Italy/Croatia- its adapted well to a summer dry climate. Nice looking grass.
Common snowberry is very widespread in our state and is found in a host of biomes This small, deciduous, suckering shrub begins spring with leaves of the freshest green, so fresh they flutter on the late spring early summer breeze. After several weeks of foliage the small white tinted pink flowers are shaped like small bowls and line the stem at every leaf axil. These morph into plush, plump pure white berries that are quite a bit larger than the relatively insignificant flowers. The berries (drupes) are perched in groups on the stems. Their pure white hue is easy to spot for humans and especially birds.They relish the berries while they are toxic for humans. To 32″ tall forming a dome shaped suckering shrub twice as wide. Water to establish the first season then none in subsequent years. Mulch heavily. The berries last well into winter before becoming animal snacks. The gray thin arching stems create a haze on the forest floor that becomes acid green as leaves appear. Spreads by stolons underground to expand its territory. Its adaptable to both upland quite dry situations as well as vernally wet spots in floodplains and fields. In the Willamette Valley its common associates are with Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir) Quercus garryana ( Oregon White Oak) and Fraxinus latifolia ( Oregon Ash) as an understory component. Its tolerant of dense shade as long as its deciduous to full hot sun, Very well adapted to the driest summers. In summer the acid green leaves change to a dark blue green and are often afflicted by a strain of powdery mildew- my whole life I’ve known this shrub and I’ve never seen powdery mildew cause any permanent damage- mostly its just a poor aesthetic look for late summer to autumn. Fall color is soft yellow and brief. Branches may be carefully cut in berry and will hold them in arrangements for quite a few days. An excellent forage and cover plant for native fauna. A great native shrub for beginners. This is the taller form of the two species that we grow. Native to the Portland city limits. Moderate deer resistance. One of our best shrubs for seasonally dry shade. 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.
Beaked Yucca does fantastically well in our climate and is one of the Yucca species that will form a dramatic trunk. Blue thin leaves radiate out in a perfectly round orb. Slowly rises to 8′ tall in our climate. Full hot all day sun in a warm position. Very well drained soil with light summer water during the hottest stretches to encourage growth. Occasionally, with age 4′ spikes appear holding large trusses of ivory flowers. Perfectly hardy to cold, way below 0ºF. Avoid cold wet sites- to really do well it needs heat and exposure. Not prone to bacterial leaf blight that affects other Yucca species. Good air circulation. Lives happily in large containers for eons. Focal point in many of the best gardens in our region. High deer resistance. Evergreen.