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.
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..
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.
A really interesting and wonderful vine that we grow as an annual but its a perennial in warmer climates and can be here too if you treat it right. Arrow shaped leaves have modified petioles that attach and hoists this climber to 8′ in a single season. A continuous supply of tubular (snapdragon shaped) purple blue flowers with a white throat. Loved by hummers this native of the driest parts of the mediterranean is adapted to being dry in the winter and wet in summer. If wet and saturated the whole vine is only hardy to about 26ºF. However, if the plant is kept dry in the winter it is hardy to MUCH colder. In a former garden I had it planted against the south facing side of my house under the eaves. It was bone dry in winter and to my shock it lived for 7 years with temperatures down to 10ºF. I offer this information as interesting but its a primo delicate vine with beautiful flowers that appear continuously all season which makes a lovely seasonal bower. Great on a tripod, or teutier in containers. Full sun to very light shade in rich, well drained soil. Excellent on spring blooming shrubs that are quiet in summer- its a fine textured plant that will never smother the host. Excellent plant.
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.
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. Non-blooming youngsters may need a year or two in the ground to commence blooming heavily. Patience is all that is required. This shrub loves the hottest spot in the garden. Pick a place that would be unbearable on a hot day and you’ve found the home for this sun lover. Bipinnate leaves close with darkness. Each flower opens for just one day but a procession of buds releases them over a period of many weeks. Blooms on new wood, growth from the current season.
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.
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.
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.
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.