Magnolia laevifolia

Excellent small scale evergreen Magnolia  with handsome rounded leaves touched with brown indumentum (fur) and in mid spring masses of large 4″ ivory white intensely fragrant flowers. The flowers have a rich and penetrating lemon aroma. Following bloom buds form immediately in the leaf axils for the following year and are clad in brown fur- they add to the over all sophisticated aesthetic of this 9′ x 6′ shrub. Formerly Michelia yunnanensis. Full sun to light shade and rich to average soil with light summer water. Very drought tolerant when established. This particular form we’ve grown for almost 20 years and it has proven to be a cold hardy clone (to 5ºF) year after year. In colder gardens provide a protected spot.  In time this species can develop what is called a lignotuber. That is a swollen woody root-like structure at the base. This adaptation is possibly for fires and a plant can regenerate very fast if the plant is damaged above the lignotuber. Shoots will appear from this and grow regaining apical dominance and forming a straight leader. This is seldom necessary. Pruning of any kind should be done directly AFTER flowering. SW China.

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Pelargonium ‘Vancouver Centennial’

One of the very finest Pelargoniums or (Geranium- annual) with stupendous jagged foliage and vivid flowers. Each palmate leaf has a center of dramatic bronze and is outlined in bright chartreuse green. The star shaped hot orange flower is a bright and elegant contrast with this foliage. Compact growing habit. Excellent seasonal container subject or even bedded out. To 20″ x 20″ by the end of the summer. Rich, well drained soil with light consistent summer moisture. Remove spent flower spikes to tidy, encourage more. Moderately deer resistant. Avoid over watering. This Pelargonium is a VERY HEAVY FEEDER. Use ample amounts of all organic fertilizer. It also responds to foliar feeding with liquid fish. But fertilizer is essential. Easy, striking plant and our favorite Pelargonium.

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Phormium tenax ‘Atropurpureum’

The most commonly seen New Zealand Flax in our climate and arguably one of the most hardy to cold. Deep maroon/purple evergreen foliage in a large clump to 5′ x 5′ ultimately in a hot position and full sun in rich, well drained soil. Regular summer water increases the growth rate which in turn establishes the plant more thoroughly. The more established the Flax the more vigorously it returns if it gets hit by cold. If it does, try not to cut the whole thing to the ground but leave as many viable leaves as possible for food to aid in the recovery. Great plant for hot hellstrips and containers. Borders. etc. Following mild winters (above 20ºF) it may send up 6′ spikes with duckbill shaped yellow flowers in summer. Thrives at the Oregon Coast where it seldom is ever bothered by cold and where it absorbs blasting salt laden winds happily. High deer resistance.

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Podophyllum x ‘Red Panda’

Exquisite May apple hybrid done by the O’Byrnes near Eugene. New growth erupts out of the ground in March with leaves convex and stained in red. As the leaf unfurls it matures to a semi-glossy green. Large growing perennial to 3′ x as wide as it can spread. Often Podophyllums spend their first couple of years in stasis. It will get a bit larger but after a certain amount of time these plants will run. Give this shade loving, and shade causing perennial room to stretch out. Dark red flowers appear right after the leaf unfurls. They have an odd scent that is barely detectable, except for close up. Fun to grow, majestic perennial for part shade to shade in rich, moisture retentive soil. It adores rich conditions and you cannot add enough compost. Pay special attention during intense heat (above 97ºF) which can be tough on this plant. Water well and protect from hot afternoon sun. Leaves are up to 1′ across. Bold and wonderful. Winter deciduous. Limited availability.

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 |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn4a -25º to -30ºF
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Selaginella braunii

Arborvitae fern, but it isn’t a fern at all! Actually its a really big spike moss! A moss with stems and arrow shaped fronds like a fern. To 10″ tall and forming a mounding colony in time. Bright green summer color is replaced by russet red and light brown with winter cold. Spreads slowly underground and new “fronds” unfurl out and up. With great age you’ll get a decent patch. So damn pretty for woodlands in the shade in rich, well drained soil that retains moisture. Regular summer moisture. Slow and easy does it. Its a moss! Can you dig it? Evergreen.

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Selaginella moelendorfii

Funny little spike moss that forms an upright clump of acid green to ochre foliage that turns bright russet red and pink in cooler weather. This moss is actually easy to grow in rich soil in a woodland with regular moisture. Forms little new platelets at the leaf tips and they drop off an wah lah  new plants. Thrives in containers. Protect from blasting sun and avoid total drought. They thrive in the most humid atmosphere you can find. Near a pond margin or in the spray zone of a waterfall. I even mist mine mine in the ground when it gets over 90ºF for an extended time. Mosses are cool. To 6″ x 6″.

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Solanum pyracanthum

My half hardy perennial can kick your perennials ass. And this spiky creature is a damned fine plant. Large lobed leaves are fiercely armed with bright orange spikes down the midrib. Violent orange spikes also cover every stem and virtually glow when backlit. All summer long this large tender plant (to 3′ x 2′) bears large solanaceous 5 petalled purple flowers with a central orange beak. The overall effect is beyond charming, its a fierce plant with attitude and we adore it. Great in containers but mind that this sucker does have a bite, locate away from traffic.  Very fun to grow in the ground as well. Hardy to the low 20’s and sometimes makes it through a mild winter. Orange fruits follow the flowers but are not assured. One of the amazing plants native to Madagascar. Full sun and rich soil with regular water. Basically grow it just like a tomato. Highly deer resistant.

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Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Ogon Nishiki’

This poor plant though spectacular has a bunch of silly marketing names attached to it. We stick with the original Japanese cultivar name- seems appropriate. No other evergreen vine/groundcover has a foliage display that matches this plant. New leaves emerge bright orange and then morph slowly to patches of light yellow surrounded by dark green. Delightful. We’ve never seen flowers on this cultivar and we don’t need to. Great small scale and vivid ground cover. Mounds and trails to 8″ tall and several feet wide in a single season. It has been surprisingly hardy to cold enduring temps below 10ºF with no harm. Best in part shade to shade in rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. This vine grows when its warm therefore you water it when its warm. Twins around thin objects and will eventually hoist itself skyward. Solidly evergreen. Excellent container plant. Moderate deer resistance.

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