Corydalis solida ‘Purple Bird’

This species of fumitory is so useful as it blooms early and opulently then goes dormant quickly and endures dry summer conditions. The deep smokey purple tones of the nodding scapes of flowers is sublime. Pair with other early spring ephemerals, Erythronium, Calochortus, Dodecatheon, and lesser bulbs. To 6″ tall and forming spreading plant that increase annually. Once this plant is installed and watered in that should be the last liquid that it needs from you. Very easy to grow spring corm that lives for many years. In time it can self sow, never a pest in our climate and these volunteers are welcome. Not bothered by deer or slugs or snails (!) Disappears quickly and cleanly with real heat. Blooms March- May 4-6 weeks, a good long time. Delicate appearance of the foliage belies this plants ultimate toughness. This is a fairly new flower color form and its a winner. Part shade to high overhead shade or morning sun and afternoon shade.

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Deerbrush is a widespread species in Oregon favoring areas with extensive summer drought. Its found primarily in the southern 1/3 of southwest Oregon  and the north central part of the state into southern Washington. A small population exists on Skinners Butte in Eugene.  Wide spreading semi-deciduous to deciduous shrub with young stems that remain green. Locally it is most common from about Dog mountain in the Gorge to the east and is extensive throughout Hood River and Wasco counties. This is an ideal shrub for revegetation areas, it naturally responds to fire, in fact the seeds must be exposed to boiling water to germinate. This species comes in a very wide range of colors. from clear white to deep blue and occasional shades of lilac pink. It may only be raised from seed so flower color is naturally variable. The plumes of flowers are large and airy displaying the color of the flower vividly. The most common flower color in Oregon is light blue. In late May and June a wonderful wildflower drive is up the Hood River Valley. This frothy blue to white flowers literally foam out from under native oaks and conifers. Its very conspicuous at that time too on the Rowena plateau. A word of warning not only does this shrub encourage deer browse it is also the unfortunate home of many deer ticks. Photograph carefully. Here it is found with such associates as Holodiscus, Toxicodendron, Symphoricarpos and Arctostaphylos.  This brushy plant derives its name from the familiar site of black tail deer breast height chomping away in extensive groves. Not a long lived shrub 7-10 years but it fixes nitrogen efficiently and improves the soil for successors. Full sun to very light shade, best on a dry slope. Water to establish then only what falls from the sky in subsequent years. Very hardy to cold enduring subzero temperatures. Beautiful pollinator heaven in bloom. To 3-7′ tall and as wide in several years. Oregon native plant.

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Oso berry is a classic west coast shrub. Its one of the earliest shrubs to burst into leaf and flower long before anyone else- often as early as early February.  Exceptionally fresh green leaves emerge vertically and for a time appear as rabbit ears lining the stems. On female plants fragrant chains of white flowers are showy in a very spring like way. Following pollination chains of charming fruit (the berries or plums)first turn yellow then red/orange and arrive at deep purple. They are reputed to be good. And even though I’ve known this plant my entire life i’ve never tasted a ripe berry. Seems like they disappear to wildlife very fast. There was a thicket of this early spring shrub near the bottom of our long driveway and it would leaf out and bloom in February and March. When I spotted those acid green leaves I knew that winter was over. To 8′ x 8′ quickly from a massively suckering central shrub. Branches soar up and arch out. All the better to observe the colorful fruit. Native, often under Oregon white oaks and in dry woods with Holodiscus discolor/ Ocean spray, Corylus cornuta californica /Western Hazel. By late spring this shrub has all but faded into the background. Often it will lose many or all leaves in a very dry summer, but its drought tolerance is phenomenal.  Fall color is soft yellow and shows up nicely on the dark forest floor. Its natural range is from the N. Bay area in CA north to extreme SW British Columbia. Always on the west side of the mountains. Stems force well when brought inside in December- January. Deer resistant and possibly rabbit resistant. This is a very wild looking shrub, goes well with other plants of that mein. Stirs early pollinators and even Anna’s Hummers. These are unsexed seedlings. Best in part shade to shade though it will tolerate full sun with a less refined overall look. Water lightly but consistently for the first summer then none in subsequent years. Virtually any soil type including heavy clay. Simultaneous bloom with flowering currants (Ribes sanguineum). A great garden pairing.  Oregon native plant.

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white flowers of Tritelia hyacinthina

Triteleia hyacinthina

Fool’s Onion, though this close relative of Brodiaea is easy to tell apart from Allium as the leaves and stem have no onion odor. A sunny native perennial bulb that forms colonies of white in May-July in meadows, glens, and swales. To 15″ tall in bloom but usually shorter the leaves emerge in mid winter and persist until summer drought. About that time the flowers erupt into clusters of white flowers. Great native bulb for naturalizing, Water if planting from a pot, otherwise it requires only what falls from the sky with a distinct dry period in summer. Associated  plants are Ranunculus occidentalis- Western Buttercup, and Brodiaea elegans- Cluster lily, and Plectritis congesta- Sea Blush.  Native in clay soils that dry completely in summer. Goes very  neatly dormant in summer- nothing is left. Excellent in rock garden conditions. Full sun to very light shade. Moderate deer resistance. Native though out western Oregon. Sweet cutflower Very good for butterflies as well. This plant once occupied large areas of the Willamette Valley, that territory has shrunk considerably.  Oregon native plant.

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Cynoglossum (Adelinia) grande

Cynoglossum (Adelinia) grande

Great Hounds Tongue or Giant Pacific Forget-me-Not is one of our most remarkable native perennials. On the property where I grew up near Eugene it was native. There was a clump of this majestic perennial that was there for nearly my whole life. Unfortunately, we sold the property but this plant was still there last I checked. In the Willamette Valley and out into the Columbia Gorge you see these enormous blue flowers on a sturdy spikes in the dry areas under oaks. Often seen with Wyethia -Mules ears. Large fleshy leaves form a substantial clump. In early to mid spring 2′ spikes reveal outrageously large versions of Forget-me-nots. Established plants will then go dormant with summer drought. Adapted to xeric clay soils that dry in summer. Not only does it not require water established plants can resent it and rot. Place in a wild, unwatered part of your garden. Amend the soil lightly with compost and water in well. Pairs well, of course with other native perennials such as Sidalceas. In the wild it is accompanied by Erythronium oreganum , Lathyrus nevadensis, Fritillaria lanceolata, Dodecatheon hendersonii, and Ranunculus occidentalis. That is what grew with our patch, under white and black native oaks, with a madrone here and there. Impressive native perennial whose intense blue flowers are hard to convey in a photograph. Oregon native plant.

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Ranunculus occidentalis

Western Buttercup is our own wonderful wildflower. This is the real thing and NOT the invasive Ranunculus ficaria or repens. Traditionally it occupies open Oregon Oak woodlands and meadows including vernally wet meadows. Though it handles winter inundation it is also adapted to upland situations and in every biome it goes quickly summer dormant. Rosettes of pretty pinked leaves elongate in bloom to an airy spray of bright yellow flowers. Intimately, the petals have a glossy sheen. And growing up in the country it was traditional to put a picked flower under your chin and the reflected color yellow revealed that indeed you did like butter. Great cut flower that peaks on May Day and has made many a wild flower bouquet with purple Oregon Iris and purple Dodecatheon hendersonii- Shooting stars. Pictured here with Common Camas Camassia quamash at the Camassia reserve in West Linn, Oregon. Blooms from mid-April to early June. Vast meadows of western Oregon still harbor this sweet short lived perennial. Adapted to heavy clay soils- reseeds when happy. Suitable for mowed meadows as long as it has gone to seed by the time you mow. Wait until June.  Good competitor with invasives and absolutely integral to a Willamette Valley meadow. High deer resistance. Oregon native plant

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Claytonia sibirica

Claytonia sibirica

Lovely ubiquitous woodland flower that brings waves of glorious airy stars for weeks in late spring to mid summer. Occasionally pink the flowers most often are white. Handsome somewhat bold foliage provides a plant that is more than suited to competition on the forest floor. Often self sows and this is welcome. Plant containerized plants in spring and water faithfully through the first summer- but never boggy. Then it is yours. Let it romp among ferns, Hosta, Japanese Forest Grass for a sparkling NATIVE treat. Mix with other natives such as Vancouveria and deer fern. Very easy to grow. Blooms for a very long time and longer if we have a cool beginning to summer. AKA Candy flower. To 10″ x 10″ on average. Summer deciduous and emerges early in spring. Not bothered by pests. Forms spreading colonies in rich, humus enriched soil in part shade to shade. Locally native in the Portland city limits.  Oregon native plant. 

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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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Plectritis congesta

Sea Blush, or more commonly Rosy Plectritis is a locally native hardy annual in the Valerian family. In April-June it swarms meadows and glens with orbicular globes of dense fragrant pink flowers. They rise on average to about 10″ tall.  Rich soil will yield larger plants. Excellent bulb cover for late narcissus, tulips etc. Fun to grow heavily reseeding annual that also makes  a sweet cut flower. It can be found in the western third of the state. Also wonderful with Pacific Coast Iris as they bloom concurrently.  Sets seed and dies by mid summer when the spent carcasses may be removed- when doing that give them a shake where you want next years display to occur. Make sure not to cover the seed, native annual seed requires light to germinate and it will very quickly sprout with the first cool fall rains. Traditionally, Rosy Plectritis can be found in a mix of perennial and annual communities. In its many habitats it can be found with Oregon Iris (Iris tenax) and often Giant Blue Eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora). Water to establish as plants- then none. Full sun to very light shade. New seedlings have paddle shaped true leaves with a rubbery texture. High deer resistance. Native in the Portland city limits.  Oregon native plant.

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Romanzoffia californica

Mist Maidens are an integral part of spring in western Oregon. These delicate looking beauties are actually iron tough. Clouds of white flowers sway above rubbery scalloped foliage beginning in early March and continuing to early June. They have the light fragrance of vanilla. Hot weather shuts them down and they quickly retreat to their bulbous roots to wait out summer in dormancy. Once established they require little interevention from humans. Let them romp around in the spring border with such similar perennials as Primula sieboldii and Viola corsica. Just don’t forget that they are there when they magically disappear.  To 10″ tall and about as wide. In favored circumstances this Oregon native will happily self sow. Pretty and fresh as spring. Found locally in the coast range in Washington and Yamhill county. Once much more widespread. Its common name is derived from its predilection for growing at the edge of seasonal water falls.  Pretty leaves, pretty flowers, easy to please.  Oregon native plant.

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