Oregon iris or Tough leaved iris is the most northerly species of Pacifica Iris- extending its native zone as far as SW Washington. Its common throughout the western part of our state where it decorates grassy hillsides in full sun to quite a bit of shade with jolly purple flowers April-June. That was the most common color where I grew up SW of Eugene. Turns out this Iris comes in quite a few colors. Pink, blue, white, golden yellow, red- all hues that have been recorded for this species. Conspicuous also, among the 11 Pacifica species this is a winter deciduous perennial and its the hardiest of the lot. Forms grassy clumps in fan shaped displays to about 10″ tall. A large clump can be 30″ across and filled with nearly 100 flowers- these rise on cantilevered stems to 14″ tall. Not very tolerant of disturbance and to be honest it has stymied us quite a few times. They HATE division. Therefore, we feature seed grown plants- local seed. These plants feature extra vigor and usually bloom with in 3 years. They also establish better. Best in light shade, dappled shade on slopes. Average, clay soil is what it wants and you can increase vigor by double digging the hole very wide to incorporate oxygen in the soil and water lightly and consistently through the first summer. Then none to light in subsequent years. And admirable competitor with introduced invasives and as per all Iris it is supremely deer and even rabbit resistant. Winter deciduous- also, it may go drought deciduous in extremely dry summers. Mixes well with native annuals. Established clumps live for decades. The flowers have the light fragrance of root beer (at least to me) and are the only fragrant Pacifica species that I can detect. First nation people used the incredibly tough leaves to braid into ropes, traps. Which is cool. Photo credit: East Multnomah Conservation District. Oregon native plant.
This seedling of the millions of Tiarellas that we’ve grown over the years is a stand out. Found at the edge of a shade hoop house it thrived for years before I realized, this is a really good plant. Palmate leaves are widely divided and stamped on the center with black. An edging of green surrounds this imprint. From mid spring to summer a continuous supply of spears of flowers that are tinted pink and open to white. Spreads to form prodigious colonies in rich, moisture retentive soil with regular irrigation. Lovely plant that brightens woodland in part shade. An annual top dressing of compost is greatly appreciated. To 1′ tall in bloom and leafy clumps spread out to several feet wide. Excellent along stream banks, ponds spreading love in dappled light. Semi-evergreen in winter.
Xera Plants Introduction
We once grew this form of Gilia capitata as our own local species. WRONG. We compared it to the southern Oregon Coastal variety ssp. Pacifica. That form is shorter but blooms are a distinctly darker blue. Everything as for the species Reseeds faithfully in OPEN disturbed sites with little competition from invasive weeds/turf grasses. This thick, stout variety makes a wonderful cut flower. It also has the same attractive properties that make it one of the best native pollinator plants. To 18″ tall and forming patches that reliably re-sows each year. See above care. WE love both forms of this Gilly Flower made famous by early European settlers. They’ve spread this wild flower around the globe where it has become naturalized in parts of New England into E. Canada. Not a bad weed but an example of something from here with adaptation to another climate. Oregon native plant.
A really interesting and wonderful vine that we grow as an annual but its a perennial in warmer climates and can be here too if you treat it right. Arrow shaped leaves have modified petioles that attach and hoists this climber to 8′ in a single season. A continuous supply of tubular (snapdragon shaped) purple blue flowers with a white throat. Loved by hummers this native of the driest parts of the mediterranean is adapted to being dry in the winter and wet in summer. If wet and saturated the whole vine is only hardy to about 26ºF. However, if the plant is kept dry in the winter it is hardy to MUCH colder. In a former garden I had it planted against the south facing side of my house under the eaves. It was bone dry in winter and to my shock it lived for 7 years with temperatures down to 10ºF. I offer this information as interesting but its a primo delicate vine with beautiful flowers that appear continuously all season which makes a lovely seasonal bower. Great on a tripod, or teutier in containers. Full sun to very light shade in rich, well drained soil. Excellent on spring blooming shrubs that are quiet in summer- its a fine textured plant that will never smother the host. Excellent plant.
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 it 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 occidentals. 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.
Slender Cinquefoil is a common, somewhat quiet but easy to grow long lived native perennial. Palmate leaves are conspicuously serrated on long stems. In early to mid summer 20″ stems support multiple clumps of sunny single yellow flowers. Full sun to part shade in average to enriched soil. Water to establish the first season then let it go with seasonal rainfall. Wild looking perennial that shines in borders, among shrubs and along the urban wild lands interface. Very pretty clustered at the foot of Holodiscus whose bloom is simultaneous. Loved by pollinators and an important food source for many butterflies. Native from SW. British Columbia south to San Diego County California. Often found in Ponderosa pine forests. Blooms much more heavily in full sun and improves under cultivation. Winter deciduous. Little deer resistance. Rose family. These are seed raised from Willamette Valley populations so it is the local form. Oregon native plant.
Sumptuous zonal geranium with deep black and green foliage and vibrant coral pink flowers non-stop for months. To 20″ tall and as wide. Seems to go up for a while but always ends up with horizontal stems. Blooms heavily and constantly- Very pretty delicate appearing flowers. This is a fantastic zonal for containers, its thrives in rich soil with regular irrigation. Rich, soil that drains. Add a table spoon of all organic fertilizer at planting. This guy loves food. Tender to cold. Over winter in an unheated but not arctic garage or try something new next year. This plant has become a real favorite of ours. Its also a fantastic conservatory plant and might work as a houseplant in a very sunny window. Full sun to very light shade.
Our selection of a superior deep black leaved Dahlia. Finely divided leaves are symmetrical on towering stems to 4′ tall. In mid summer to fall a constant procession of vibrant red single flowers. They harmonize greatly with the leaf color. Full sun and enriched soil with regular summer water. Soil that does not become sodden and frozen in winter will yield the cold hardiest plants. Mulch in fall. Nice cut flower, arrangement material. Multiplies into large clumps in time. This selection has survived the coldest winters of the past 15 years. We’ve kind of let Jack frost do our selecting for us.
Xera Plants Introduction
American smoke tree has a surprisingly limited natural range in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma but its an exceedingly adaptable tree. Large round leaves are soft green when they emerge. In mid summer the tips of the branches are covered in clouds of beige smoke- which is not as prolific as the hybrids or the species Cotinus coggygria. Rounded medium sized tree to 22′ tall and handsome. Moderately slow growing 1-2′ per year when young. Full sun and regular irrigation to established then fully summer drought established. Deep rich soils yield the best performance. Autumn is its time of true glory. The large soft leaves transform into electric shades of orange/red/yellow. It holds this color for weeks before dropping. An amazing show that outshines just about any other deciduous tree. Limited supply. Accepts some summer irrigation. It is being used as a street tree in Portland, where its arboreal habit is superior to Cotinus coggygria and its hybrids.
Big, bold, and hardy, this is the cold hardiest Elephant’s ear that we’ve yet grown. Large (14″ long by 9″ wide) leaves with a distinct black dot in the center- the pearl. Large growing perennial to 4′ tall and running underground to spread as wide. Rich, moisture retentive soil with regular summer water. Excellent companion for other bold leaved plants- such as gold leaved Acanthus. Excellent for tropical effects w/ no fear of freezing out. Root hardy below 10ºF when clumps are established Give this large plant room to spread. Easy to grow for the most part. Goes deciduous with the first frost and emerges late in spring when the soil truly warms. Be patient. Not bothered by pests. Mulch for the first autumn. Great for big subtropical effects. Tolerates shallow water, but is not as hardy to cold.