Digitalis ambigua (grandiflora)

Digitalis ambigua (grandiflora)

If you are a victim of deer and rabbits let me introduce you to the vast world of Foxgloves beyond the weedy bi-ennial purpurea. They are all supremely deer and pest resistant in general. This relatively long lived perennial sends up 20″ spike of the softest yellow tubular flowers. They appear in late May- July. If you remove the spent spike often more flowers will occur. This soft color – staunchly in the realm of pastel goes so well with other colors. Its a harmonious hue and this is an adaptable plant. Rich to average soil- go for rich, with regular summer water. Requires FULL SUN to bloom its best. Excellent cut flower. Winter deciduous but it returns very early in spring. Plant with Euphorbia ‘Dean’s Hybrid’ for a close tone on tone color scheme. Very pretty with Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Electric Blue’. and purple/blue Salvia cohuilensis ‘Nuevo Leon’. Very cold hardy and easy to grow.

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Disporum sessile 'Variegatum'

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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Downingia elegans

Calico flower is a widespread showy annual of vernally wet sites throughout our region.  A low spreading plant that rises up in bloom to reveal shovel shaped blue and white flowers. They closely resemble annual Lobelia (Lobelia erinus) to which it is closely related. Blooms appear from Mid May to early August. Rich soil with regular summer water. Downingia is native to areas that are often submerged in winter. And in the garden it appreciates ample water. Full sun and resists competition from other plants. Very good in rain gardens. One potted plant will expand to 2′ with rising showy flowers. Loved by pollinators of all kinds. Excellent container plant. You can simply remove it when it has completed its life cycle- replace with warm season annuals. A food source for the endangered Willamette Valley endemic Fendler’s Blue Butterfly. Leave established plants in place once they have died to distribute seed for the following year in the ground.  Oregon native plant

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Eccremocarpus scaber 'Pink'

Eccremocarpus scaber ‘Pink’

The bodaciously named Chilean Glory Vine is a great low weight, long and strong blooming perennial vine in our climate. Filligree intricately divided leaves and petioles wind this deciduous vine  up to 10′ in a season. Most years it returns to the ground and resprouts in spring and that isn’t a bad thing. It gives you the opportunity to clear away the previous seasons chaff. If we have a mild enough winter it will retain some green but you may still cut it back in early spring. Waves of long stemmed tubular flowers are soft pink with a recurved lip tipped in yellow. Its an exquisite show that goes unabated from late May to September. We’re very attracted to this orchid like coloration of this form and we find it accommodating for mixing colors. It also comes in red, orange, yellow, and cream- in time we will offer those. Hummingbirds LOVE this vine and will immediately show up when flowering commences. Much easier than cleaning and refilling a feeder. Remove spent flowers and that will encourage more flowers. Blooms on new growth. As it grows it blooms. Fantastic on the wall of a chicken coop providing ample shade. Rich soil that drains and regular summer water. Mulch the base- protect the crown in the first winter.

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Edgeworthia chrysantha 'Nanjing Beauty'

Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Nanjing Beauty’

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 to. 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.Not invasive in our summer dry climate.

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Epilobium densiflorum

Spike primrose is a quiet but important long season hardy annual. It rises up to 2′ tall when happy. A dense thick spike of buds rises and the small pink flowers decorate the spike in a circle. Loved by pollinators and especially popular with butterflies. This drought adapted annual blooms from July to October. Mix with other hardy native annuals. Especially nice with Madia elegans as their bloom period are the same. Full sun in virtually any soil. Water in potted plants well and you will likely see seedlings in open disturbed sites in the spring. The seedlings of this Epilobium mimic several more weedy types (they are native but kind of rambunctious). This plant is never showy but its a primary nectar source for late in the summer. Very easy, climate adapted native hardy annual. Native in the Portland city limits. Found primarily in stable meadows on both sides of the Cascades.  Oregon native plant.

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Epimedium grandiflorum var. higoense 'Bandit'

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'

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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Erigeron speciosus

Showy daisy- though that is far too vague for this tough and graceful wildflower. Native in separate parts of the state this summer blooming perennial inhabits meadows and fields of the Willamette Valley. Rows of very fine soft pink petals surround a green/yellow center on 18″ stems June-August. The pretty daisies come in a group and then appear sporadically until frost. Loved by pollinators this is an authentic component of Willamette Valley meadows. Average to enriched soil with regular water to establish, in subsequent years it can survive on rainfall alone. Plant with  Prunella vulgaris var, lanceolata,  and Erigeron glaucus for a midsummer blooming native vignette. Long lived low maintenance perennial that goes completely deciduous. Widespread in the northwestern states of the US. Our version is from seed native to the Willamette Valley. Loved by butterflies and even good beetles. Clump expands to 2′ wide in time. Not bothered by deer. Simple, tough, wonderful native perennial. Full sun. Oregon native plant.

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Erodium chrysanthum

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. They come in waves through the season. 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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