Aspidistra elatior

Aspidistra elatior

Cast Iron Plant. Once you realize how incredibly useful and uniformly good looking this perennial of dry shade is- its as if there has been an awakening. Upright wide then tapered deep green evergreen foliage is famous for its ability to thrive in dust dry black shade. Well, its more adaptable than that. It makes a great evergreen texture, presence in any shady setting. It really does require protection from bright hot sun- it will discolor the leaves and recovery is a long slow process. To 2′ tall and forming a slowly spreading clump to several feet wide in a half dozen years. In summer brown, round flowers resemble pepperoni and appear at soil level. Curious. Well known as a houseplant its time to use it more in our gardens. Containers, sites in dense shade. Great winter appearance. To speed growth plant in enriched, well drained soil and water diligently during the heat of summer. Long lived plant.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure:
Biome:  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn7a 5º to 0ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Aucuba japonica 'Hosoba Hashifu'

Aucuba japonica ‘Hosoba Hashifu’

A dazzling female selection of Japanese Aucuba with long, thin, tapered leaves of deep green randomly splashed with yellow spots. Dense and slow growing evergreen to 5′ x 5′ in 7 years. This selection will produce clusters of large red berries if a male is present. Very showy. Tiny brown/green flowers in spring are not conspicuous. Part shade to quite a bit of shade in average to enriched well drained soil. Established plants are incredibly drought tolerant and this striking shrub adds light and texture to dry shade areas. It will take full sun with regular irrigation and the leaves will be not as dark lustrous green. A very handsome shrub year round with great cold hardiness. Regular water through the first season to establish. Then light water. Long lived, easy to grow shrub whose dense habit does not require pruning.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn6b 0º to -5ºF
Foliage color: ,  |  Foliage season:


Aucuba japonica 'Longifolia'

Aucuba japonica ‘Longifolia’

Tough and useful evergreen that is always at its shiny green best. Large growing for an Aucuba exceeding 6′ tall and as wide in 7 years. Moderate growth rate. Long glossy green leaves are slightly serrated and very pretty. Endures the deepest, densest dry shade conditions with no issues. Adaptable to full sun but not reflected heat. Tiny brown flowers are not conspicuous but this is a male and makes a great pollinator for female Aucuba (see A. ‘Rozannie). Established shrubs can get by with little to no summer water and not suffer. Pretty foliage shape is a great medium for contrast. Plant with Japanese Forest Grass or Dicentra formosa ‘Langtrees’. Incredibly cold tolerant- slightly below 0ºF. A good candidate for windy, cold gardens.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn6b 0º to -5ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Aucuba japonica 'Rozannie'

Aucuba japonica ‘Rozannie’

Rosanna Rosanna Danna is what I think of when I see this cute tough and useful shrub. I have no explanation, I just do. Slow growing broadleaved evergreen with deep forest green leaves that are glossy and pretty at all times. A female that is pretty much self fertile- My kind of woman, yeah 2018. Small green/brown flowers make themselves into glossy red berries. Bring a man around and the crop multiplies. Best in part shade in rich, well drained soil with light summer water. In reality once established Rozannie can go all summer and not miss a drink. To 3′ x 3′ and dense. Avoid blasting hot exposures which will yellow the leaves and rob the whole plant of luster. Supremely adapted to dry shade. Super cold hardy to quite a bit below 0ºF without any tragedy. Japan.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn6a -5º to -10ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Azara microphylla (Upright form)

Azara microphylla (Upright form)

We’ve chosen this distinct form of Azara microphylla which has a much more upright habit and is also hardier to cold. Fast growing light textured evergreen tree. The tiny leaves are deep forest green and glossy and good looking year round. In March on old wood from the previous year and beyond alights with tiny yellow filament flowers. They have the intense and penetrating perfume of hot candy. Well, thats my take, others frequently chime in that it smells like Cocoa or Vanilla. Its an odd sweet fragrance that carries for many feet on mild early spring days. Explosively fast growing tree for any well drained site with regular deep watering. This speeds up early growth to 3′- 4′ a year. The dark, fine foliage provides a great contrast with the light taupe/tan colored bark. In time it exfoliates to reveal bright orange and tan patterns. Excellent urban tree that is incredibly drought tolerant when established. Locate out of the path of the most violent subfreezing east wind. Ultimate height in 10 years is about 22′ tall and less than half as wide. Easy, satisfying tree native to southern Chile. Great performance at the Oregon Coast as well. Casts very light shade.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn7b 10º to 5ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


This is the Willamette Valley form of coyote brush (bush)- also known as chaparral broom. A relatively short lived evergreen shrub in the aster family. Indeed this form blooms in autumn through winter with small brushes of white plumed flowers on female plants. Smaller yellow flowers on males. Typical of the steepest cliffs abutting the ocean and in the Willamette Valley it populates recent road cuts and fire zones. Often it will be seen all alone in the center of a Willamette Valley field. Native inland from northern Marion country to Douglas county. Very fast growing and drought adapted daisy bush for rough sites and poor soil. Improved soil will yield an enormous shrub so its difficult to pin point an exact size but everything from 4′ tall in poor soil with no summer water to 12′ x 12′ in rich soil with irrigation. I suggest no irrigation after planting. Excellent fodder for insects and birds. It may be pruned heavily in spring and will quickly regenerate. Foliage is deep glossy green but fine textured. Not bothered by deer. Excellent native companion for Manzanita, Grevilleas. VERY EASY to grow. average life span 10 years. Good instant plant for a native garden, but not long term. Native from N. Oregon coast south to Baja California. A prominent component of the California beach chaparral and on the Oregon coast as well. Common associated plants on the coast are Salal (Gaultheria shallon) and Mahonia nervosa. In the Willamette Valley its primary role has been ursurped by Scot’s Broom. Too bad.  Oregon native plant.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn6b 0º to -5ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Banksia marginata 'Nana'

Banksia marginata ‘Nana’

MINIMARGE! This is a dwarf form of Banksia marginata that has been cold hardy in the Portland area. The key to cold hardiness is to establish the plant well. Unlike other members of the Proteaceae this small shrub likes the soil a bit richer, but that drains well. You can even add a small amount of compost when planting but nothing other than that. Water it until you see good new growth then taper off to once every two weeks. Full sun, in a warm, protected location. A south facing slope with protection from east wind is ideal. To 3′ x 3′ in 7 years. On older wood 4″ tall yellow cones are produced as flowers from spring to autumn. Protect young plants from severe cold. Very good performance on the Oregon coast. In time it will form a small lignotuber. A swollen woody base with dormant buds. It may then be cut back fairly hard and re-growth will commence. Avoid crowding this plant with others. Open and happy is how it likes to be. Great plant for a large rock garden. Hummingbirds adore the spectacular long lasting flowers. Foliage is deep green with an underside of silver and forms winding stems- never tidy. A plant for collectors primarily. This is not a plant for beginners. Heh. Avoid all fertilizers. Limited supply.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure:
Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn8a 15º to 10ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Berberis darwinii

Berberis darwinii

Darwin’s Barberry is probably one of the showiest barberries in bloom and has excellent performance in Western Oregon. Deep green, glossy, prickily small leaves clothe the frame of this dense and arching shrub. In March/April the whole plant is alight in chains of vivid orange/yellow pendant small flowers. They come in such abundance as to obscure the foliage. By summer those that found a pollinator transform into blue berries covered in a light powdery bloom. Full sun to very light shade in virtually any soil that does not experience standing water. This Chilean native loves our similar maritime climate and is supremely tolerant of summer drought as well. Typically grows to 4′ x 6′ moderately fast. High deer resistance. Locate out of the path of subfreezing wind (east wind) in Portland as it can burn the foliage in severe arctic events. Recovers quickly.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn7b 10º to 5ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Berberis x lologensis

Berberis x lologensis

Very cool, rare evergreen barberry hybrid that is naturally occurring in the far southern Andes of Chile/Argentina. Apparently where B. darwinii and B. linearis grow together you can get this lovely huge  evergreen flowering shrub. In early spring the arching stems are lined with pendant flowers that arrive as bright red buds and open to hot orange- both colors are present on the flowers which have the fragrance up close of coconut oil. Large growing arching shrub with kind of a wonky habit. Site it where you can spot the vivid flowers in March and then let this spiny creature fade into the background for the rest of the year. Completely drought adapted but will also take regular water. Virtually any soil apart from standing water. Perfectly hardy to cold. High deer resistance. Very difficult to propagate so we only have this fast growing handsome shrub on occasion. But no one else grows it so we list it. Long lived.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn7a 5º to 0ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Bergenia ciliata 'Susan Riley' flowers

Bergenia ciliata ‘Susan Riley’

To be honest we had quite a bit of employee pushback when we said we were growing a Bergenia- I’m sure they immediately thought of that hulking, horrible looking, weevil notched ground cover with clouds of pepto pink flowers in winter/spring. That old horribly abused plant is definitely not this. HUGE round leaves have light fur on the reverse and make a wonderful statement in part shade to full sun (with water). In very early spring this cultivar named by Richie Steffan of the Elizabeth Miller Garden in Seattle- sends up wide inflorescences of pink tinted white flowers. Best with overhead protection of trees to ensure a late freeze doesn’t damage the flowers. This is a DECIDUOUS species and doesn’t seem to be root weevil food or suffer a bad looking period. New leaves ensure freshness all season. Give it a LOT of room to spread. Tropical looking foliage adds bold dimension to borders, woodlands. Regular summer water in well drained rich soil. Thanks Richie.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure:
Biome: ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn6a -5º to -10ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season: