Molinia caerulea ‘Variegata’

A purely awesome form of Moor grass that we find indispensable at Xera. A strongly clump forming grass that has comparatively wide leaf blades margined heavily in cream. The effect up close is alternative deep green and yellow/cream vertical stripes. Very handsome. In summer 2′ spike rise. The stems are the exact color of yellow/cream that appears on the leaves, it gives great continuity to the whole plant. At the tips of these bright vertical stems are deep tan inflorescences. Exciting. Forms a clump to 18″ wide fairly quickly. Responds best to enriched soil that is fertile, drains well and light, consistent summer water which will lead to a much less thirsty plant in the long run. Roots go down very very far, and an established clump is somewhat difficult to lift and divide. But it can go many, many years before this is needed. Completely winter deciduous- cut back the vertical stems any time it is dormant. A fine texture for great contrast in borders or massed. Long lived and very hardy grass.

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Myrtus communis compacta ‘variegata’

We love Myrtles they are so drought tolerant and they smell so good and we’re finding more and more cultivars that are hardy in Portland. This one is a real surprise because the green form of ‘Compacta’ is not nearly as hardy as this charming variegated version. A slow growing perfectly round shrub with light green leaves edged in cream- brush them- they smell so good. To 3′ x 3′ in 8 years. In summer small white flowers have a sexy little brush of white stamens. CUTE. Full sun to very light shade in a warm protected position. Mine are against my house on the south side and they’ve grown into a little hedge. They have only had slight tip damage in the coldest winters, but spring recovery is rapid. In fact it can freeze to the ground and resprout and regain its stature in a season.  Don’t go planting this shrub out in the open, exposed to wind. It will fry. Instead keep it close and it will be fine. Extremely drought tolerant.

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Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Pamela Harper’

AKA ‘Pam Harper’. Nice lily turf that brightens up shady areas with ribbon like evergreen leaves outlined in white. The interior of the leaves is soft green. In early to mid summer 8″ spikes produce lavender flowers. To 10″ x 12″ forming a spreading clump. In time it will spread to form a small scale ground cover. Good appearance year round. Part shade to shade in rich to average soil- including clay soils. Avoid compacted soils and regular summer water speeds up the growth rate. High deer resistance.

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Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’

Wonderful, useful, well scaled variegated hardy Tea Olive that is also incredibly hardy to cold. To 4′ x 4′ in 8 years this slow growing dense shrub has new leaves that emerge tinted pink, mostly cream and then settles to green leaves with splashes of cream. Excellent appearance year round. Great shrub where subfreezing winds are brutal. In October to November the tiny white flowers cluster around the leaf stems and crowd the twigs- they emit a sweet perfume detectable quite far away on mild days. Good deer resistance when established. Average to enriched, well drained soil. Light summer water. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. Very drought tolerant when established. Pretty.

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Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Variegatus’

Excellent cold hardy, drought tolerant shrub that reaches tree like proportions with great age. The pretty variegation presents as prickly leaves outlined in white. With age/maturity the leaves lose their prickles and become smooth and entire. The variegation on this plant is incredibly stable. I have yet to see a reversion of any consequence. Ancient specimens that are now 20′ trees can be found in old, old gardens. Its obviously been grown in this climate for eons. Very, very cold hardy evergreen that is not only hardy below 0ºF it makes a great hedge even near the Gorge where it endures subfreezing wind with no ill effects. Tolerates regular irrigation which increases the rate of growth- on average about 2′-3′ per year can be expected. 8′ x 6′ in 7 years is typical. Full sun to shade. Avoid permanently boggy soils- otherwise very adaptable- including heavy dry summertime clay. In October-December tiny fragrant white flowers crowd the stems. Moderate deer resistance. Long lived.

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Pieris japonica ‘Little Heath’

One of the best variegated Pieris on the market. This plant was brought to the U.S. by Gossler Farms in Springfield, Oregon and has gained great popularity. In our experience the ‘little’ refers not to the overall size of the plant- which is eventually large 5′ x 5′- but to the smaller size of the leaves. And each leaf is outlined in white with a darker green center. In full sun this shrub sets tons of chains of pink buds which open to white flowers in Feb/March. The overall fine texture combined with the white variegation gives this plant a very graceful mein. New growth emerges salmon and ages to light yellow before its final destination of green and white.  Occasionally shows all green reversions. Simply cut these away.  Full sun to quite a bit of shade in rich to average well drained soil. Grows more quickly with regular summer irrigation but established plants sail through summer with a minimum. Very hardy to cold- and tolerates subfreezing wind well.

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Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Garnettii’

One of the cold hardiest selections of this species native to New Zealand. This stunning evergreen shrub of unknown origin shines in the garden with round leaves edged in white with an interior of soft green. And these bright leaves are held on dramatic black stems. In spring small black to maroon flowers decorate the leaf axils. Moderately fast growing pyramidal shrub to 8′ tall x 4 wide in 7 years- and gradually larger. In winter the leaves become even more colorful taking on bright pink tints. Requires a somewhat protected location- avoid exposure to subfreezing winds directly. Best sited with protection from east winds. Full sun to high over head shade. Accepts regular summer water which will increase the rate of growth- but established plants are remarkably summer drought tolerant. Excellent cut foliage for arrangements. A luminous shrub that virtually glows in the landscape. Cold damage begins at about 10ºF- but spring recovery is rapid.  Limited quantities.

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Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Marjory Channon’

Surprisingly hardy and spectacular variegated evergreen shrub for protected locations. Each sage green glossy leaf is margined in white and held on contrasting black stems. Very very pretty shrub to 5′ x 4′ in 7 years. In spring small jet black flowers emerge from the leaf axils. Best surrounded by other evergreen shrubs against a wall or with light overhead protection. This cultivar has come through low’s below 10ºF with only light tip damage and recovery was complete in spring. Slightly tender when a young plant it gains cold hardiness with establishment. Takes pruning very well which will increase the plants density. Great in containers that you protect from lows below about 18ºF. Excellent performance at the Oregon Coast. Do not plant this in a location exposed to strong subfreezing east wind- keep it close with friends. New Zealand. Extremely drought tolerant in full sun to part shade.

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Pittosporum tobira ‘Variegata’

An old shrub that deserves a new lease on life. Venerable old specimens are found throughout Portland proving its durability over time. The rounded evergreen leaves are edged in cream with an interior of soft sage green. In May/June masses of small white  deliciously citrus-blossom scented flowers perfume a wide area. Not as dense or fast growing as the species- and prone to losing older leaves in colder than normal winters- so it can have an open appearance. Excellent evergreen specimen shrub for a hot location. A south or west facing wall is ideal and it can withstand the most withering afternoon heat. Slow growing to 6′ x 6′ in 10 years. Very drought adapted when established, but it will happily take regular summer water. The foliage is so fetching that it is often seen for sale as cut material in bouquets. It lasts for several weeks in a vase. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. Nice foundation shrub. Established shrubs are cold hardy to about 5ºF. Avoid exposure to strong subfreezing winds. Easy and pretty urban plant.

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Pyrrosia lingua ‘Variegata’

Variegated tongue fern. So called for the tall oblong shaped evergreen fronds that rise up vertically. This form has new growth marked with chartreuse stripes that fade a bit with maturity. Spreads to form colonies by furry stolons on the surface of the soil. Rich, well drained soil in part shade to dense shade. A great evergreen presence for really dry, dark spots. Avoid hot sun. Regular summer water increases the growth rate which is typically slow. May suffer some damage in the coldest winters (below 10ºF) remove those fronds and more will appear. Mix with other denizens of the dark- Aspidistra, Ophiopogon etc. Moderate deer resistance. Taiwan.

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