Collinsia grandiflora

Native annuals often get over looked in our gardens. They occupied vast stretches of the Willamette Valley and civilization has caused those displays to suffer. In our gardens they are precious reminders that we should include every category of native plant. Giant Blue Eyed Mary is one of our most delicate looking and stunning in floral detail,  It makes a hazy cloud of beautiful blue and white small snapdragon flowers from late April to Mid June. A true annual that dies once the floral display is done. But leave the skeletons of the plant for several weeks longer to form and shed seeds for next years display. This 20″ tall grassy plant occupies open sunny sites as well as the margins of forests. In our gardens it appreciates open slightly disturbed soil. Seedlings germinate in autumn and over winter as small plants. Excellent plant to succeed mid and late spring bulbs. Water lightly after planting and  to establish then none required. Native to the Portland city limits as well. Fantastic displays of this plant can be seen at Camassia in West Linn all through late spring.  Oregon native plant.

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Cuphea cyanea ‘Strybing Sunset’

We originally grew this wonderful vivid free blooming bat flower as an annual. But after years of growing it in the ground we’ve found that its remarkably root hardy. To 20″ tall forming a semi-woody shrublet it produces sprays of small but vivid flowers from May to frost. Full sun and rich, WELL DRAINED soil in the ground and patience- it takes a while to come back in spring- usually not until truly hot days appear in  May. Once up- with regular supplemental water it zooms and blooms and resumes its previous stature quickly. Good drainage in a hot position seems to be the key as a perennial. Mine has happily lived in the ground in my garden in North Portland for 7 years- returning from the coldest winters. It will freeze to the ground below about 28ºF- but it always returns. Great seasonal plant in containers and it will draw hummingbirds from 5 counties around. Nice plant. Blooms continuously without intervention. My kind of plant.

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Cypella herbertii

Adorable little bulb that forms grassy colonies. Beginning in early summer and continuing to fall 10″ stems support amber orange intricate three petalled flowers. Each lasts just one day but new flowers appear seemingly from nowhere from the stems so do not remove. Grassy medium green corrugated leaves accompany the flowers. Open sites with little competition from other plants. Sharp drainage in average to rich soil with regular summer irrigation. Full sun to light shade. Surprisingly cold hardy. Rock gardens, containers.

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Deschampsia caespitosa

Tufted Fairy Grass is an Oregon native that forms bright green fine clumps but is in its glory in bloom when tall vertical stems display hazy tan flowers at the tips. Easy to grow grass that improves under cultivation. Native to semi-shady to sunny aspects in rich soil that drains but also retains moisture. Adaptable to wet sites that dry in summer. To 10″ x 1′ as a clump of foliage but rises to 3′ tall in bloom. Very wild looking grass that can be massed for a hazy meadow effect, or placed in straight lines a modern aesthetic that combines a wild plant with spaced symmetry. Excellent among shrubs and with other wild looking meadow perennials. Winter deciduous. Cut back dead growth in spring. Relatively long lived. Native in the Portland city limits. Graceful.  Oregon native plant.

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Disporum sessile ‘Variegatum’

Shade plays by its own rules and to be honest flowers are often pretty modest. Therefore we rely on foliage to brighten dark corners and add texture and contrast. This elegant perennial is 18″ tall and arching stems have large opposite leaves delicately feathered in white. In spring small white bells droop gracefully along the stem. Deep, rich, hummus rich woodland soils that retain moisture. Regular summer water. Winter deciduous.

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Edgeworthia chrysantha

A sure sign that spring is on the way when this large interesting shrub’s buds begin to swell in January. First white, then silver and finally open sesame fragrant golden yellow. Its a fascinating procession. Large deciduous shrub with sweetly fragrant late winter flowers. Best in light shade with a bit of overhead protection so a late freeze doesn’t wreck the show. Truthfully, that rarely happens. Light shade and well drained, somewhat enriched soil. Overly rich soil can lead to a host of problems among which are fungal root diseases and rank huge growth which shortens the shrubs lifespan and leaves it vulnerable to tipping. Average soil- steady as she goes and regular summer water. Fascinating Daphne relative native to China thats been cultivated for so long its actually naturalized in Japan and is considered weedy. Ah, well. We still love it. Forms a framework of several trunks and then suckers like crazy. Do not prune the top half of this shrub- not that there is any legit reason too. It HATES being pruned. Remove the suckers and plant them around your yard. Have a whole freakin forest of this plant once used to manufacture paper. Size depends on the fertility of the soil.

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Ellisiophyllum pinnatum

Taiwan Starflower is an adorable and useful ground cover for rich, moist soil in part shade to full sun. Intricate mid-green spreading foliage is deciduous in the coldest winters. Continuously from spring to fall star shaped white flowers appear happily over the mounding plant. The flowers are reminiscent of the annual Bacopa. Spreads to form happy patches under established shrubs, in the front of borders. A simple and useful summer container plant as well. Avoid hard compacted soils and heavy clay. Mulch with compost annually to refreshen  and bring nutrients. Regular summer water.

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Epimedium grandiflorum var. higoense ‘Bandit’

We love this little multidimensional barrenwort that pairs fresh green leaves outlined in black in spring while simultaneously producing clouds of star shaped crystal white flowers. A compact smaller growing plant to 10′ tall and with good care spreading to 18″ wide. The remarkable new growth morphs to solid fresh green in summer. Blooms March to May in part to full shade (really doesn’t like sun so don’t fudge it). Regular summer water. Rich, moisture retentive hummus rich soil. Add an annual application of compost and even a  handful of organic fertilizer in spring to increase vigor- give it a good life. Completely winter deciduous. Long lived perennial.

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Epimedium wushanense ‘Spiny Leaved Form’

Beautiful barrenwort selection of an already beautiful species. Large spiny leaves with a glossy sheen begin in shades of vivid salmon red with darker mottling on new growth changing slowly to medium green by mid summer. A really good evergreen perennial that always looks its best. Evergreen leaves over winter fairly well, and if they get beaten up simply chop the leaves to the ground in February. In March, accompanying the stellar new growth tall spikes of many congest off white and pale yellow flowers seem to pour out between the new leaves.  All in all its a great color coordinated perennial, dynamic and always changing. Clumps expand markedly in rich, moisture retentive woodland soil. Avoid blasting bright sun. To 2′ x 2′ shortly. Moderate deer resistance. Adapts quickly to dry shade conditions.

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Erodium chrysanthum

Cranesbills come in all colors but this is one of the most garden worthy, in fact its one of the best perennials for our climate. A GREAT PLANT PICK. Tightly clumping perennial with frilly silver intricate leaves. Beginning in spring and continuously to frost a constant supply of soft yellow cupped flowers on 5″ stems. Pale yellow with silver. YUM. Full sun and rich to average WELL DRAINED soil. Light to little summer water- actually once its established I never water it and everything is just fine. Nice en mass. Rock gardens- thrives in the hellstrip. Not a fan of shade. Winter deciduous- unusual for an Erodium. Long lived.

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