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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An incredibly widespread North American wildflower that is known by many different common names. In our region the preferred common moniker is Low False Solomons Seal.  This rhizomatous perennial forms expansive colonies when happy. It appears as strongly arching stems clad in alternate wide green leaves. In late spring to early summer and dependent upon altitude small, white, starry flowers appear at the tips. After bloom they slowly morph into black berries. These can easily be dispersed by birds. Part shade in naturally mesic sites, that means woods on the north side of a slope in the Willamette Valley in shade beneath Douglas Firs and often consorting with sword ferns. To 10″ tall and forming expanding colonies. Winter deciduous, fall color is often a lingering gold before the whole plant disappears. Tellima grandiflora (fringe cups) and Claytonia sibirica ( candy flower) are also common associates. Part shade to shade in humus enriched soil with regular summer water. VERY established clumps can get by with natural rainfall. Avoid, hot dry sites, and stubborn dry clay. Mulch heavily after planting. Moderate deer resistance. Oregon native plant.

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Giant Larkspur or Cow Poison, I prefer the first common name for this stunning large growing native Delphinium. In vernally wet sites to moist upland sites  it forms large spectacular colonies. In late spring and early summer stems that soar to nearly 4′ tall are loosely decorated with marine blue flowers with a lighter central bee. In habitat its common associates are Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolius) and Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) where it can be found in the shade of these deciduous trees. The one variable with this Delphinium is that it is found in cool places- never hot and dry.  Often they will be in standing water during the winter months and they are adapted to very heavy wet clay soils. In cultivation the need for moist conditions continues and it does appreciate at least an application of all organic fertilizer and compost at planting time. Keep it well watered through its bloom cycle, then it can go drier but never dust dry- in time it can handle much less irrigation. An annual mulch is beneficial. Wonderful, bold cut flower , but its loved by pollinators as well ( what is it about blue flowers? ). Forms spreading colonies in time. Give it room to stretch out. Its often found with our native Cow Parsnip (Hieracleum maximum) and great Camas ( Camassia leichtlinii) in habitat. This could easily be replicated in a garden. Native to the Willamette Valley into the Columbia River Gorge. Once widespread in the Willamette Valley its territory has shrunk precipitously. Long lived perennial. Very good deer resistance. Extremely showy in bloom.   Oregon native plant.

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Digitalis ambigua (grandiflora)

If you are a victim of deer and rabbits let me introduce you to the vast world of Foxgloves beyond the weedy bi-ennial purpurea. They are all supremely deer and pest resistant in general. This relatively long lived perennial sends up 20″ spike of the softest yellow tubular flowers. They appear in late May- July. If you remove the spent spike often more flowers will occur. This soft color – staunchly in the realm of pastel goes so well with other colors. Its a harmonious hue and this is an adaptable plant. Rich to average soil- go for rich, with regular summer water. Requires FULL SUN to bloom its best. Excellent cut flower. Winter deciduous but it returns very early in spring. Plant with Euphorbia ‘Dean’s Hybrid’ for a close tone on tone color scheme. Very pretty with Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Electric Blue’. and purple/blue Salvia cohuilensis ‘Nuevo Leon’. Very cold hardy and easy to grow.

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Begonia sutherlandii

One of our all time favorite Begonias that is surprsingly hardy when established. Soft green angel wing shaped leaves fan out and are the great backdrop to masses of small, single soft orange flowers. Blooms continuously from late June to frost. Rich soil that drains in part shade to high overhead shade is ideal. Protect from blasting sun. Exquisite container subject that mixes well with other plants and adds a saucy orange to shade plantings. In the ground this plant requires a little more care. Rich soil in  protected location – under shrubs or near the house and a little patience. Returns slowly in the ground- not usually showing its face until Mothers Day or later. Once growth proceeds it goes quickly. Nice self cleaning  blooming plant. Spent flowers simple tumble off the plant and are replaced by a massive continual display. To 8″ x 8″ and wider with time. Winter deciduous. For plants growing in containers you’ll need to protect the container from excess wet and freezing. The best way to overwinter it is to put it under an eave or an unheated garage or greenhouse. Add organic fertilizer with the onset of growth. Lovely perennial that we adore at Xera.

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Fuchsia magellanica ‘Aurea’

Striking and useful ultra hardy Fuchsia with brilliant lime/gold leaves and curtains of simple elongated red and purple flowers. This is a very tough sub-shrub and even tolerates quite dry conditions when established.  To 3′  x 3′ forming a semi woody arching clump. Woody top growth is hardy to about 22ºF and below that this Fuchsia will likely freeze to the ground. In mid-spring an eruption of new growth arrives at the base and if winter was not too harsh woody stems may re-leaf. Best in part shade or morning sun and afternoon shade. Rich soil with regular summer irrigation. Completely hardy and very long lived. Glows in the landscape and the lipstick red flowers are very conspicuous. Blooms late June to frost. Loved by hummingbirds. Excellent even rambunctious performance at the Oregon coast. Wait to cut back frozen/dead growth until you see new growth in spring. This will tell you how much you need to remove. Establishes very quickly. Easy and hardy.

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A very unusual plumbago species that we love for its clouds of sky blue flowers on long wand-like stems in autumn. A rounded bushy plant that usually starts from the base each spring. Over summer it develops into a rounded plant. By late summer long thread like wands push up to 14″ long and erupt in clusters of sky blue flowers. The display is light and flowery and it makes a fantastic compatriot with fall asters and and mums. Very easy to grow late blooming perennial from SW China. This does not spread like the much more common Ceratostigma plumbaginoides… instead it forms a distinct shrublike plant unto its own. The luminous flowers have intricately patterned petals which are conspicuous. To 22″ tall and about 1/2 as wide. Rich to average soil that is never boggy. Mulch in November in very cold gardens. Otherwise we’ve not lost it to cold. Great in autumn bouquets. The long stemmed flowers last well in a vase. A welcome color, texture, and height for the autumn garden. Even visited by hummingbirds. Leaves often turn bright red in winter following bloom. Full sun to very light shade. Light summer water- tolerates heat and drought when established. Blooms better in the autumn with deep infrequent soaks if fall rains stall.

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Dichelostemma ida-maia

This bulb is native from southern Lane County in west central Oregon south into California. Its an easy to grow showy bulb that performs very well in gardens. It should be grown more often. I first saw this plant in the wild near Elkton, Oregon. I was driving by not very slowly and I saw a flash of red in front of a fence. i went back to investigate and found this plant in full bloom. In its habitat it occupies dry sunny slopes that face south. Soil is loam to clay but all of them dry completely in summer. Blooms mid- to late spring for an extended length of time for a bulb. A handful of scrappy leaves forms a rosette . And the blooms extend to about 18″ tall. They are not always straight and can wind, vinelike around and through other plants. The red buds reflex when open to reveal a yellow interior. I’ve had many hummingbirds visit mine. Let it go completely dry in summer- in fact it excels in wild environments and competes very well with weeds. Leaves disappear quickly after bloom. Increases over time. Deer resistant. Oregon native plant.

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Stachys lavandulifolia

Curious and pretty small perennial that has lovely leaves that have symmetrical black veins. As the plant expands it sends up spikes clad in frosty hairs around violet purple flowers. The don’t exactly go straight up but wind around a little bit. This gives the whole plant an overall haze that is truly fantastic. Appreciate sunny dry environs with sharp drainage but  as rich of soil as you can muster. Ideally it finds a home in a dry border or rock garden. Winter deciduous perennial to 18″ x 18″ in a season. Blooms repeatedly all summer. Light summer H20 and drought adapted when very established. Mixes well with Cranesbill (Erodium) and Scutellaria suffrutescens. Pretty little cut flower that acts as a boa in a small arrangements. Very good butterfly and pollinator perennial. Absorbs blasting hot locations.

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Spiraea thunbergii ‘Fujino Pinky’

This is a charming hardy, deciduous shrub with quite a few fine attributes. In late winter to early spring red flower buds line the arching fine stems and open to white/light pink. The effect is a classic apple blossom scheme. The fine leaves are thin and and a pleasant fresh green in summer. I think its finest hour is autumn when the whole shrub becomes a glowing ball of red/ orange/ pink. The chemical that causes the the pink in the flowers is most evident in the fall color. Tough rounded and then arching shrub of fine texture. Blooms on wood from the previous season, prune directly AFTER blooming if necessary. Size is somewhat dependent on irrigation. To 4′ x  4′ in 5 years in rich to average soil with regular summer water to establish. Then just avoid severe aridity. Long lived, cold hardy plant that is best with a hard pruning every 6 or so years to refresh. Good for wild areas, not deer resistant but admirably adapted to dryness. Excellent performance in the Columbia Gorge and east of the Cascades. Mix with Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida for summer bloom but a simultaneous spectacular long show in fall. Native to Japan.

 

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