Agave bracteosa

Far and away the easiest Agave to cultivate in our climate and the handsome contorted sage green leaves are free of a deadly spike at the tip. Don’t be fooled, though. The leaves are lined in fine serrations that can cause a cut if you rub your person against them. To 3′ tall and as wide for very well-drained soils in full sun to very light shade. Amend the soil with pumice to sharpen drainage if needed. Ideally adapted to slopes. Good dimensions as a large focal point in a rock garden or clustered into clumps in the gravel bed. Accepts the highest reflected heat. Light summer water speeds growth.

My Favorites

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


Alstroemeria ‘The Third Harmonic’

A good Alstro is hard to find. The dwarf varieties are ever plagued by snails/slugs, Many of the most exquisite varieties (patented) are poor garden performers, lacking vigor or something. Enter this most fave cultivar. First of all its orange and many will confuse it with the more diminutively flowering A. aurantiacus which can become an ineradicable weed. THIS IS NOT THAT. Its a polite clumper with enough vigor to send up fully 30″ flowering stems repeatedly for up to 6 weeks in summer. Speaking of which the individual flower will last up to two weeks in a vase. Do not cut them (which injures the plant – it bleeds out) rather gently rock the base of the stem back and forth to detach. This will help and not hurt it. Regular summer irrigation in rich, moisture retentive soil. Winter deciduous. To 2′ wide..

My Favorites

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


Amsonia hubrichtii

Threadleaf Bluestar is a fantastic native North American perennial with many seasons of interest. To 4′ tall this strongly clump-forming perennial has thread-like green leaves that line the sturdy, very vertical stems. Upon rising in late spring they host clusters of star shaped, fragrant (yep) blue flowers. Very pretty. The green, fine-textured foliage holds space as a blowsy presence in borders, gravel gardens, hellstrips. In autumn the entire plant turns shocking yellow and stays that way for weeks. Fall color at ground level and it rocks. Light but consistent summer water to aid in establishment. Very drought tolerant then. Full sun in any soil type but for permanently boggy. Good deer resistance. They will try it once but not again- for what it’s worth. Completely deciduous in winter.  Emerges mid-spring. Very long lived, no-fuss perennial. Mix with ornamental grasses, cacti, just about anything.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure: ,
Biome: ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn4b -20º to -25ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Asclepias fascicularis

Native Oregonian butterfly weed that has a great wildflower demeanor and is just as attractive to pollinators as well as Lepidoptera (butterflies). Full sun and well drained soil, though it accepts clay soil on slopes that are strictly unwatered in summer. To 22″ tall and making a clump in time. Mix with fine textured ornamental grasses, tall spiky perennials. Light summer water. Flower color is most often creamy white but ranges to light pink. Often seen on road cuts and in ditches in the Willamette Valley. Blends in with grasses and other plants but pollinators find it no matter what. Nice cutflower. Important food source for Fendler’s Blue Butterfly which is very endangered and locally indigenous. Winter deciduous. Oregon native plant.

My Favorites

Plant type:  |  Sun exposure:
Biome: , , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn5a -15º to -20ºF
Foliage color:  |  Foliage season:


Caesalpinia gilliesii

Bird of Paradise shrub is an incredibly showy flowering plant that is surprisingly adaptable to the Willamette Valley. Native to Argentina/ Uruguay the exotic large yellow flowers in whorls each with 3″ strings of blood red stamens protruding. Each flower lasts but a day but a truss carries many individual flowers. Fine divided foliage is light gray green and a great foil for the exotic flowers. Full hot, all day sun in a hot site. Ideally, it should be located against a south facing wall- this heat lover is slow to break dormancy in spring and doesn’t normally begin flowering until mid-summer and continuing until cool weather. To 8′ x 8′ drought adapted but water speeds growth. Deciduous. Spectacular.

My Favorites

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


Callistemon ‘Woodlander’s Hardy Red’

This has become the standard cold hardy red flowering bottlebrush in our climate. 4″ brushes of raspberry red occur en mass in May/June and sporadically there after on established plants. Low, spreading arching habit. Give it horizontal space to grow. Virtually any soil type and incredibly drought adapted when established. Accepts regular irrigation as well. Must have full, all day sun to perform. Avoid exposure to subfreezing east winds, err on the side of protection. Cold hardy to a little below 10ºF but has vigorously recovered from subzero lows returning from the base. If damaged by cold cut back in spring- then supply regular irrigation and recovery is rapid. Moderate deer resistance. To 3′ x 5′ wide in 6 years.

My Favorites

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


Carex siderostricha ‘Variegata’

Several things about this sedge set it apart in this genus. Broad, wide leaves are soft green on the interior but lined boldly in cream. And its completely winter deciduous. Forms a spreading clump of great bolder texture that arches all in the same direction. Very nice. To 10″ tall and several feet across eventually. Rich, moisture retentive soil in part shade with consistent summer moisture. Excellent combined with the large leaves of Hosta. Line paths or use as a graceful punctuation in a woodland. Avoid really hot sunny dry locations- it will live but it won’t look so great. Completely deciduous in winter. Turns a tawny yellow in fall before leaves disappear.

My Favorites

Plant type: ,  |  Sun exposure:
Biome: ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn5a -15º to -20ºF
Foliage color: ,  |  Foliage season:


Chitalpa x tashkentensis ‘White Cloud’

A very pretty  intergeneric hybrid tree between Catalpa and Chilopsis (Desert Willow). We really like this small tree that forms an umbrella shaped crown in time. To 20′ tall and continuously producing opulent large white flower clusters- the interior of the flower is marked with purple veining- much like an exotic orchid. The flowers appear on new growth and are continuous from June to September. The long thin tapered light green leaves have a nice texture. They do not color up appreciably in fall- making due with light yellow to off green before abandoning the tree. Excellent garden tree. We prefer the white flowered form as the often planted pink variety …..well, lets just say Portland has a LOT of pink flowering trees. Fast growing in youth-especially if well watered in summer. Otherwise, supremely tolerant of drought as well as rough, hot urban conditions. Casts moderate shade in time. Breaks dormancy late- usually late April. Be patient.

My Favorites

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


Choisya x ‘Aztec Pearl’

Interesting hybrid between two Mexican Oranges and wow, you get an incredible shrub that adores this climate. Rounded evergreen shrub to 5′ x 5′ after 6 years. In spring (and again in autumn) the whole bush becomes a cloud of fragrant white blossoms. They show up well with the finely divided leaves. Easy to grow shrub that is very forgiving. Drought tolerant when established and it has been hardy to near 0ºF. It takes very well to pruning which will increase both the shrubs density but the amount of flowers as well. The palmate leaves look like thin fingers or even bamboo  especially as it becomes dense and layered. Moderate deer resistance. Perfectly adapted to the climate of Western Oregon. Full sun to part shade. Any reasonably well drained soil.

My Favorites

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


Clarkia amoena ‘Dwarf White’

Excellent little selection of our locally native wildflower ‘Farewell to Spring’. To just 10″ tall this plant(s) become a solid dome of white flowers from May-August. Cute little cut flower. Full sun in rich, to average well drained soil with just light competition from other plants. Re-seeds reliably in open disturbed sites. A great native derivative for hell strips and even containers. Regular summer water – or it will shut down go dormant and think its time to set seed and then make its melon. Rough areas, cut flower. Oregon native plant.

My Favorites

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