Viburnum x burkwoodii ‘Anne Russell’

Really there is nothing like the clove/carnation/sweet fragrance of this shrub in late winter to early spring. The large clusters of flowers begin as pink buds and open to white. Nice bicolor effect along the way. Blooms 3-4 weeks. Evergreen to semi-evergreen to deciduous in arctic places. Large growing shrub that can attain tree like proportions with great age. To 8′ x 4′ in 7 years. Full sun to quite a bit of shade in rich to average well drained sites. Light consistent summer water speeds growth and increases spring flowering. Otherwise relatively drought adapted, especially in shade. Tolerate the most obnoxious sticky clay soils- especially on slopes. Plant where you can pass by the flowers and take a big ol whiff. Very easy to grow. Prune AFTER flowering.

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Viola ‘Tiger Eye’

We grew this just for fun last year and not only was it one of our most talked about plants it became one of our favorites as well. Each yellow/gold/burnt umber flower is intricately and completely marked in black lines. On very close inspection they almost look like a drawing of flowers. And its the most FRAGRANT viola we’ve ever smelled with a sweet perfume that carries quite a distance. Compact hardy annual to 6″ x 6″ for full sun to light shade. Excellent tolerance of cold (down to zone 7) as well as heat. All around its a winner of a viola, for containers, borders etc. Blooms non-stop, removing spent flowers does encourage more. Stop and smell the Violas and then stare at the patterns. Its a trip man.

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Viola corsica

One of the parents of modern violas this perennial is short lived but while its around its never out of bloom- year round. Slender indigo blue flowers are small but profuse on a compact plant to just 6″ tall and barely wider than that. Seeds itself around prolifically…how the seeds find their way so far from the parent plant is natures mystery. It will germinate anywhere – cracks, beneath rocks. Sun, Shade. Very hardy to way, way below 0ºF. Light summer water during the hottest weather. Part shade in nearly any texture soil. Mediterranean wild flower.

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Viola odorata (Parma) ‘Alba Plena’

This cool cultivar of Parma violet can be difficult to stumble upon. We love the plush double white flowers that sends its sweet perfume on the breeze in late winter to mid-spring. Parma violets are basically the Sicilian version of the common sweet violet (Viola odorata). They are not nearly as cold hardy or pernicious as the species and they tend to have much larger more opulent and fragrant flowers. Also, their leaves are distinctively glossy as opposed to matte. This little sweetie forms spreading patches and the long stems are a bit weak for the large double white flowers- they tend to bend. Excellent for small bouquets that you can sniff and sniff. In the garden they need a sheltered position away from the freeze and thaw and harsh conditions in the open. Instead coset them under large shrubs and among ephemeral early perennials such as Anemones, and small bulbs like species Crocus. Part shade- they bloom best with a bit of sun. Regular summer water encourages them to spread. This form seldom sets seed- I don’t think I’ve ever seen seed in fact. Pity. Rare plant.

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Viola praemorsa ssp. praemorsa

Canary violet or upland Violet has many subspecies in the PNW and west in general. This is our own Willamette Valley form of this intriguing handsome perennial. Large spoon shaped leaves have an underside with conspicuous hairs. The top of the leaf is glossier. In April-May bright yellow flowers appear. The bottom petal has conspicuous black whiskers. In our region this violet is local in the most undisturbed sites but it shows very good persistence in competition with non-native introduced grasses. My experience is that it favors rocky and scree sites that remain somewhat cool- for instance the north side of a steep slope. To 6″ tall and forming expanding plants. Winter deciduous. Arrives early in spring and can go summer dormant with high heat. Excellent planted in fall or winter and left to its own devices. Average to enriched soil yields the best results. This is one of the showiest violets native to the Willamette Valley. Fairly long lived. Little deer resistance. Some associated plants are Olysinium douglasii, Sedum spathulifolium, Dodecatheon hendersonii. Oregon native plant.

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Viola x cornuta ‘Xera’s Mix’

We’ve had a really good time selecting the most distinct flower colors of this mix of Violas. Brown, taupe, blue, gray, purple, are  among the colors in this vigorous strain. These reseed with abandon and will occupy all kinds of niches in a garden. Containerized plants seem to cast seed when you are least aware. They generally germinate in winter and bloom in spring before setting seed and going to sleep for summer heat. Fragrance is another aspect in our selection. You can’t have Violas without fragrance.  In autumn our winter mix has been chosen to handle the very worst cold and snow. Full sun to very light shade. Very easy and satisfying spring and autumn/winter extravaganza. They make sweetly scented, delightful bouquets.  Xera Plants Introduction.

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Vitex agnus-castus ‘Sensational’

Excellent California selection of Chaste tree with thicker, bluer flowers. Large growing shrub with aromatic finely divided leaves in mid-July in PDX spires of blue flowers erupt from each branch tip. It remains in bloom for 3-4 weeks. And if you remove spent flowers more will appear. Full sun and poor to average well drained soil. No summer water when established. Attains tree-like status with great age. May be pruned back hard in spring to contain the ultimate size. Blooms on new wood. Long lived and hardy below 0ºF. Leaves appear late in spring- often not until mid-May. Be patient. Loved by pollinators and bumble bees specifically. A shrub in full bloom will be a haze of drunken bumbles who after a day of working will often fall asleep in the flowers of this shrub. Tolerates the hottest sites and is very long lived.

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Watsonia latifolia

A true red flowered Watsonia and one of the hardiest of the genus. Wide green spikey leaves rise to 2′ tall in spring. In late spring to early summer 3′ tall spikes of tubular true red flowers line the stems. Loved by hummingbirds and cut flower aficionados alike. Rich soil in full sun in a protected position- a south or west facing wall is ideal. Freezes to the ground below 20ºF- re-sprouts in spring. Forms an expanding clump to several feet across. A fun genus to experiment with in our climate. Rated as zone 7 in its native high elevation South Africa.  We think its more like 10ºF in our climate. Plant with royal red Lobelia tupa and Rosa ‘Bengal Fire’ for a red extravaganza. Excellent performance at the Oregon Coast. Somewhat deer resistant.

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Watsonia pillansii

This is one of the hardiest species of Watsonia Lily. It forms large evergreen clumps of spikY foliage to 3′ tall. In early summer 6′ spikes of tubular brilliant orange flowers are stunning. They bloom for weeks. A protected location such as close to a south or west facing wall. Capable of freezing to the ground in extreme cold (below 20ºF) but regrowing vigorously and still blooming in late spring to early summer. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer moisture. If allowed to go completely dry in summer this as with other Watsonias will go dry dormant. It returns with the first rains in autumn. Amazing cut flower. Mulch your clump in autumn. Wonderful South African perennial that is glorious at the Oregon Coast. To 3′ wide eventually.

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Whipplea modesta

Yerba de Selva or whipple vine, a wonderful small scale evergreen native ground cover. Related to Hydrangeas but this trailer is actually very droughtadapted.e In late spring clouds of small white flowers have  the same perfume. Scrambling plant to about 8″ tall and 2′ wide. Full sun to considerable shade. From Portland south this is a common understory component of the herb field. It grew happily in our back 40 where I grew up. There it made pretty scrambling patches between Vancouveria, snow berry and hairy honeysuckle. Often you would see our native columbine ( Aquilegia formosa) as an associate. Its very drought adapted when established but it improves with a few soaks over summer- never perpetually wet and never hot and wet. Otherwise an easy native that should be grown a lot more. Just the fragrance of the foliage endears it to me. For use as a small scale ground cover plant on 10″ centers. It will also gracefully trail over rockeries and walls. Butterflies adore the flowers. Competes well with invasives. Some deer resistance. It may be cut back in early spring to refresh. Once native in the Portland city limits. This is a great native understory for Arctostaphylos, which is frequently seen in the wild.    Oregon native plant.

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