Nigella sativa

Wonderful multi-use hardy annual that we love for its flowers, seed heads, and edible seeds. Love-in-a-Mist is the common name in reference to the mostly dark blue flowers that are ensconced in a haze of fine green stems. This is a charming cut flower.  Upon finishing the ovaries transform to a ballon shaped structure full of yummy black seeds. You can then detach that as a cut flower as well. The dried black seeds have a peppery taste and are excellent sprinkled on salads. Be sure to sprinkle them on the ground where next year’s crop will be. Truth is once you plant this it is pretty much as permanent as a perennial, so reliable and prolific a re-seeding plant. The ferny seedlings are easy to spot, move or dispatch. Let them flow through your perennial borders. They make a wonderful addition to a cutting garden. Best in rich, open, disturbed soil with supplemental H20 all the way until seed are produced- though not entirely necessary it produces larger plants- and there fore stems, flowers, and more seeds. Blooms June-July. Full sun to light shade. VERY EASY.

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Dahlia ‘Bednall’s Beauty’

We grow just a select few Dahlias now but over the decades we’ve been able to observe hardiness by cultivar. This is consistently one of the hardiest. And its a wonderful perennial. Finely divided foliage is dark, nearly black on a compact plant to 2′ x 2′ with stunning black/velvet red single flowers. These appear consistently from June to frost. Shorter stems lead to a smaller cut flower but it is still wonderful none-the-less. The intense deep flower color is a perfect match for the foliage yielding a dark tinted plant. Provide contrasting light to golden colored foliage for extra depth. Excellent border perennial for full sun and rich, well drained soil with regular summer irrigation. This hardy perennial requires very little protection other than a layer of mulch in autumn. Even a layer of leaves will provide a modicum of cover. Emerges with truly warm weather in spring. Protect emerging plants from snails/slugs. Full grown plants seem less affected. Loved by pollinators and moderately deer resistant. Far from 100% but still one of the last they will munch.

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Allium sikkimense

Blue is an elusive color in Alliums but there are several that achieve that hue. This small bunch forming onion is a delight with clusters of nodding blue flower in mid-late summer. To 10″ tall a multiplying clump will spread to 1′ wide over time. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. Excellent in rock gardens, the front of borders and even hellstrips. Very easy to grow herbaceous perennial that blooms for 4-6 weeks. Cute little cutflower and loved by pollinators. Winter decidiuous for full sun- no fudging here. Long lived and hardy in containers. Moderate deer resistance.

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Probably one of our very favorite bulbs and a gift from a friend w/ VERY good taste and I’m happy to say we are going to have a steady supply in the future. For the moment quantities are limited. Why so special? This is the enormously huge version of that precious blue allium caeruleum. Flower size on the species which is very available are comparable to a nickel to a quarter size. This form cranks it up w/ flowerheads the size of golf balls and larger. Spectacular. This very rare form is so superior and still charming that I’ve put it all over my garden. It needs full sun and rich soil that drains. Not difficult by any stretch- though full sun is required. and I suspect more water than I give mine. I put one in then 3, then like 9 and I had to stop myself. Sky blue orbs. This plant needs to build up some bulk to bloom, which means you need a certain amount of leaves and bulb heft for them to bloom. I say this because its possible to sell them out of bloom because they are that freaking cool. <pant, pant> Semi evergreen leaves are low, thin and pungent. Possibly deer resistant- I don’t know yet. And bunnies. Well, Bunnies suck.

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Is this hardy? Why, yes, yes it is. Mexican Shellflower or just Tigridia is a fun bulb that produces large, immensely showy flowers that last but a day. Three large petals emanate from a wildly speckled center. White, red, orange, yellow, and pink flowers are all represented in this mix. Rich, well drained soil in a warm position- mine are on the south side of my house in average soil and they not only multiply year to year they self sow. The wonderful flowers appear individually for weeks in mid to late summer. Add a handful of all purpose fertilizer when planting and water consistently through bloom. Full sun- no fudging here. Very easy to grow. To 20″ tall in bloom on average. Flowers 3″ wide. -Emerges late in the spring- usually mid-May. Patience.

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Solanum pyracanthum

My half hardy perennial can kick your perennials ass. And this spiky creature is a damned fine plant. Large lobed leaves are fiercely armed with bright orange spikes down the midrib. Violent orange spikes also cover every stem and virtually glow when backlit. All summer long this large tender plant (to 3′ x 2′) bears large solanaceous 5 petalled purple flowers with a central orange beak. The overall effect is beyond charming, its a fierce plant with attitude and we adore it. Great in containers but mind that this sucker does have a bite, locate away from traffic.  Very fun to grow in the ground as well. Hardy to the low 20’s and sometimes makes it through a mild winter. Orange fruits follow the flowers but are not assured. One of the amazing plants native to Madagascar. Full sun and rich soil with regular water. Basically grow it just like a tomato. Highly deer resistant.

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Cuphea micropetala

Groovy Cuphea that we grow as an annual. In mild winters and with good drainage this rainbow of a plant may over winter. Either way its a long, long blooming plant from June to frost. Spikes appear continuously holding tubular shaped flowers- they begin yellow and age to orange for a multicolor effect that yields a dramatic show. To 10″ x 1′ forming an expanding clump. Full sun and rich well drained soil with regular summer irrigation. Best on the edge of a container where the spikes which protrude nearly horizontally will showcase the flowers. Loved by hummingbirds, bumble bees and just about any pollinator. Remove spent flower spikes to encourage more. Very easy to grow. Mexico.

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Helianthus bolanderi

Serpentine Sunflower or Bolander’s Sunflower. Who doesn’t like sunflowers? I don’t know about you but they make me smile. There are several native sunflowers but this one is the cream of the crop. Native east of the Cascades in S. Oregon and extreme N. California this wonderful plant shines on the most difficult soils. Known as Serpentine Sunflower – Serpentine soil is a special substrate full of heavy metals- zinc, iron, copper. It prevents many plants from growing. Widespread especially in Southern Oregon into California, where this soil reaches the surface it produces zones of very specialized plants- they LOVE the harsh conditions and poor nutrients and tolerate the toxic elements. It can be quite a transition in plant communities from normal soil to serpentine- in just a few steps. This lovely annual sunflower though is EASY to grow in average to enriched soil- It handles just about everything so long as there is full sun. To 3′ tall and forming multiple spikes of 3″ electric yellow flowers with a contrasting black center. Amazing cut flower and if you remove flowers it will encourage more . Nice long stems for summer bouquets. And a pollinator madhouse. Blooms June- October- one of our longest blooming native annuals. Forms a mutibranched plant with shining flowers sticking out in all directions.  Light consistent irrigation in summer. Makes a fantastic hedge of flowers in summer. Re-seeds in open disturbed sites. Moderate deer resistance. Easy to grow. Oregon native plant.

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We love ultra hardy Fuchsias, they are so carefree and they bloom and bloom. We found this Fuchsia in a garden near our shop. It was identified by our friend Annie Hayes at Annie’s annuals. Large growing subshrub to 5′ x 6′ in time. Red sepals surround a deep purple corolla with each petal marked with a strip of hot pink. Lovely. Flowers are large for a hardy Fuchsia and are profuse from June to frost. Fuchsia mite resistant. Very easy to grow in light shade to full sun. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer water is ideal. Very established plants can make due with less. Freezes to the ground in the low 20’s- but not every year. Wait until new growth emerges then remove the frozen material. Loved by hummingbirds as well as gardeners. Lustrous  deep green foliage outlines the pendant flowers. You’ll never lose this long lived plant to winter. Good to try where rabbits are a problem.

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Bare stem biscuit root is a locally native perennial that is found in rocky dry areas among clumping native grasses. The stemless rosette bears upright entire glabrous blue leaves. 6″ stems rise up in late spring to earl summer with umbels of sulphur yellow flowers (sometimes purple). To establish, water thoroughly through the first month in the ground. Winter deciduous it emerges very early in spring. Loved by pollinators of all kinds. In the Willamette Valley this biscuit root grows in various biomes but is most common on dry hillsides. Festuca californica and Festuca roemeri are two native grasses seen with this plant in the wild. Full sun to light deciduous shade. Avoid standing water in winter. Long lived perennial once established. Excellent in gravel gardens.  Leaves remain handsome after blooming. Spreads slowly to form colonies. Locally native in the Portland city limits. Drought adapted when established. Moderate deer resistance.  Oregon native plant. 

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