Lomatia tinctoria

AKA Guitar Plant from Tasmania. Still can’t tell why its called that. Perhaps the shape of the finely divided leaves? I dunno. Awesome shrub though that only reaches about 4′ high and 3′ wide in 7 years. In mid-late spring amazing 1′ long spikes rise and unfurl a multitude of curly ivory colored flowers. The effect is pure Monet. Compact evergreen for poor to average well drained soil. Little to no summer water when established. Does not do shade, of any kind. Do not try. Best sited in a protected location- against a south or west facing wall for instance. Elegant thing. Thanks, Tasmania.

Photo credit: Loree Bohl (Danger Garden)

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Lomatium utriculatum

Spring Gold or Biscuitroot is a widespread spring perennial from British Columbia south into northern California. In our area it occupies steep slopes and delights in mid-late spring with complex umbels of brilliant gold/yellow flowers. This tap rooted plant requires regular water for the first season- but never boggy, In enriched to average well drained soil. Excellent performance on slopes. Over time the rosette increases in width and spring flowers. Adapted life between native clumping grasses. This is easily replicated in a garden. An important native pollinator plant that was also used by native Americans as a food source. To 6″ tall in bloom a plant will achieve 2′ wide in half a dozen years. Strongly resents disturbance and a happy plant will live for decades. Not bothered by pests. Once native in the Portland area, its original range in W. Oregon has been substantially diminished. Great companion plant with Manzanita. Goes quietly dormant over summer. Moderately deer resistant.

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Luzula nivea

Snowy woodrush is a great woodlander and has many seasons of interest. The thin arching blades on this clump forming plant are softly veiled in white hairs that gives a softness to the clump. To 10″ tall and as wide in a season. In late summer 2′ tall spikes appear and produce snowy white flowers. They sway in the breeze. A mass planting of this in bloom is magical. Rich, moisture retentive soil that drains in part shade to shade. Takes sun with regular water  but nothing hot. Excellent long lived perennial. Can self sow when very happy. The hairy seedlings are easy to spot and move- or give away.

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Matteuccia struthiopteris ‘The King’

First rate, cold hardy and excellently adapted to permanently wet sites in part shade to shade. This larger form of the Ostrich Fern forms a large crown in time. It supports very vertical soft green fronds to 3′ tall. In time the clumps increase in size. Rich, moisture retentive soil with regular summer irrigation. Creek margins, bogs, the edge of ponds. Completely deciduous in winter. Often turns showy russet orange before dying down. Returns in mid spring. Loathes drought and avoid hot sun. Opulent fern and a great selection. Moderate deer resistance.

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Honey swamp myrtle hails from wet locations in Tasmania.  Its a tender shrub inland but it thrives in zone 9 on the Oregon coast. A fur clad fine leaved shrub that is a true myrtle. In April-May the whole plant is home to stamen dominated purple bottlebrush flowers.  Exquisite. Very easy container subject that can be moved to a protected place if severe cold (below 20ºF) threatens. Excellent shrub for sandy substrates though it takes well to heavy clay too. Light consistent summer water. To 5′ tall by 2′ wide in 7 years. Great plant for hummingbirds and butterflies. Inland we have yet to test the cold hardiness in the ground. It should easily take 15ºF but probably not lower. Evergreen foliage is fragrant when disturbed. Good deer and rabbit resistance. Absolutely titillating in bloom. Native to mid and high elevations of Tasmania. Seed grown.

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Moraea alticola

Cool Iris relative from South Africa in a genus that is common in warmer climates. This cold hardy high elevation species is peculiar in that it produces just a few very long evergreen leaves that mostly splay out on the ground. At the base of the leaves are fine netting- bulb netting that protects the bottom from damage. In May-July it sends up usually, just one solitary stem. At the top a large Iris flower of the softest yellow opens. The lower petals (the falls) are intricately marked with gray veining around a brighter yellow spot. Its a beautiful flower. But don’t remove it when its done because there are more to come from that very same stem- seemingly from no where a parade of flowers will erupt for weeks. Full sun and well drained rich to average soil. Very easy to grow and long lived. Avoid compacted clay and competition from other plants…it doesn’t like that. Thrives in the baking heat of hellstrips or in rock gardens. A very pretty flower that is an exceptional color. Moderate deer resistance.

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Muhlenbergia rigens

Deer grass is native to large areas of the west coast from west central Oregon south through California. Its a tough and wild looking grass that peaks in autumn with a crescendo of dramatic flowers. Dense and fountain forming evergreen grass. Foliage to 2′ x 3′ very quickly. In autumn spikes of light tan thin but feather columns emerge and point out in every direction. The rise to about 5′ tall and remain as stiff skeletons well into winter. Full sun to very light shade in any soil that drains. Excels on slopes and raised beds. Wonderful lining a path or mass planted. Water to establish the first season then none in subsequent years. Its fully adapted to our dust dry summers. Very wild looking grass which can be tamed somewhat by planting in rows or symmetrical pattern. Otherwise it fits in perfectly between drought tolerant native shrubs like Manzanita and Ceanothus. Oregon native plant.

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Nemophila maculata

Five spot is a showy and adorable west coast native true hardy annual that delights under oaks with 1″ wide white and blue flowers. One deep blue dot at the tip of each of the five petals. To 4″ tall and sprawling to 8″ wide the cheery flowers appear from late March to June before the plant completes its life cycle and dies and goes to seed. Reseeds reliably in open disturbed sites. Fine leaves on small rosettes tell the story in autumn. Self sown plants require no supplemental water. One potted plant will yield hundreds of seedlings for the following spring. West coast annuals are cool. Found in a small part of Josephine and Jackson counties in southern Oregon. Oregon native plant.

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Nemophila menziesii

Baby Blue Eyes is a hardy annual wildflower native to the southern coast in the blue form. In the Willamette Valley up to about Portland the variety Nemophila menziesii ssp. Atomaria is the native form.  It has large cup shaped flowers that are white on the inside w/ fine intricate black spotting and blue on the reverse of the petals. That is the form that I grew up with in the country near Eugene. This is a fascinating annual that is adapted to just about any soil that is not boggy. Finely divided foliage forms sprawling rosettes that support the nickel sized sky blue to pale blue flowers. Blooms April to June. Reliably reseeds in open disturbed sites and with a little protection from slugs and lack of competition.  The whole plant is dead and chucking seed by the heat of summer and ultimately disappears on its own. Adaptable to full sun to light shade. Self sown plants get by with no supplemental irrigation- plants from containers seem to like regular water. In habitat it occupies slopes usually under the canopy of Oaks.  To 4″ tall and 1′ wide. Excellent, long, showy display in reconstructed Willamette Valley meadows. and laugh at summer drought by finishing their life cycle and simply spreading anew by seed. We are actively searching for the ssp. atomaria but the seed is hard to obtain. Occurs natively with  Erythronium oreganum, Dodecatheon hendersonii, Ranunculus occidentalis as well as Plectritis congesta.  Oregon native plant.

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Nevuisia alabamensis

Cool shrub in the rose family that is native to the state of Alabama. To 5′ x 5′ light green serrated leaves are pretty. In April/May the entire shrub is smothered in white flowers made up entirely of stamens. No petals here. Graceful and durable deciduous shrub for part shade to high overhead shade. Regular soil including heavy clay soils. Light, consistent summer water. Soak once every 2 weeks. Fall color is yellow to light orange. Long lived and easy to grow unusual shrub of great grace. Avoid blasting sun and extreme drought.

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