Pacific Dogwood is one of our most beloved native flowering trees. From BC south to the Sierra  Nevada of California this understory to margin tree alights in April and May in pristine white flowers. They perch on upward arching stems for a perfect display. This large conical shaped tree can achieve 35′ in great age. Water deeply and infrequently during its first summer in the ground, once it is firmly established it can go with natural rainfall. In full hot sun more irrigation may be needed. Native to the Portland city limits and a firm spring decoration on our freeways. Pacific dogwood contrasts wonderfully in bloom with deep green conifers. Average growth when young is 2′-3′ per year. In certain seedlings this spectacular species may re-bloom in August/September.  Its a fairly small percentage but when it occurs its a refreshing display at the end of hot summer. Fall color is pink/red/orange and is conspicuous in the understory. Full sun to overhead understory shade. In autumn red fruits decorate the branch tips and are food for birds. Give this native tree good air circulation and mulch after planting. Oregon native plant.

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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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I selected this seedling about 8 years ago and its been growing in my garden for all that time. A completely deciduous variety that does not show leaves until all chance of frost has passed. Forms a large clump with strappy arching green leaves – to 2′ across in 5 years. As the clump increases so do the amount of flower stalks. The orbs of flowers are neon to cobalt blue. An arresting, glowing blue. Slightly smaller in diameter than other varieties (about the size of a baseball) this plant packs a LOT of flowers onto a stalk- at least 50 and they reverberate above the clump for weeks in July to August. To 26″ in bloom. The stalks that support the vivid flowers are incredibly strong and they barely bend in a breeze. This is a wonderful perennial for full sun and rich, amended soil. Add a handful of lime at planting time to ensure neutral pH. Disappears cleanly in winter. Regular water though its bloom cycle. Pair with chartreuse foliage for a dynamic contrast. Loved by hummingbirds and bees. Best in the center of an ascending border from low plants to tall. Long lived, cold hardy selection that we love.

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Extraordinarily rare and wonderful dwarf/smaller Crape Myrtle. This is one of the first crape myrtles in my garden to bloom each year. By the last week of June spectacular, fluffy, pure white flowers obscure the whole plant. Slow growing  because it shoots into bloom very early. Cutting wood, therefore, is limited and so is the amount we can produce. To 5′ tall in 8 years and 3′ across, it will double that size in 10 more years. Extensive bloom period from June solidly through September. RICH soil that has been amended and a handful or two of all organic fertilizer will spur it to grow and bloom even better. REGULAR summer water and only in full, all day sun in a hot position. Wonderfully called for hell strips and small gardens. In just several years the stems exfoliate to a glossy sheen and though not large in diameter this is a showy feature in fall. Autumn color is bright yellow and brief. Mildew resistant. This L. indica variety is rare but was well known to the supreme crape myrtle breeder Donald Egolf at the National Arboretum. He used it extensively as a parent and in combination with Lagerstroemia fauriei to produce some of the most famous hybrids. Cleaner white than ‘Natchez’ and similar white purity to ‘Acoma’ but much, much smaller. Excellent crape myrtle for our climate with low heat requirements to bloom. Fantastic in bloom. Very limited quantities.

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Fantastic cold hardy lily of the nile cultivar that is easy to grow and spectacular in bloom. This selection made in Scotland forms large clumps of strappy leaves and deep navy blue buds open to lighter sky blue flowers. Tall growing Agapanthus to 3′-4′ in bloom and flowers appear from late June to early August. Loved by hummingbirds and bees this is naturally deciduous variety. The leaves disappear to nothing in winter- a good trick because this UK variety shares a common trait among those from there, it holds off  on sprouting in spring until all threat of a frost has passed. Its very cold hardy too, solidly zone 7. Excellent long blooming dramatic perennial for hell strips, borders. The contrast between the dark buds and lighter open flowers is a joy. Flower heads are about the size of a soft ball or larger. Regular water in rich soil. Apply a handful of horticultural lime in the planting hole. Agapanthus prefer and bloom better in neutral soil (ours are acidic to strongly acidic). A four year old clump will be 2′ across with 10 or more large flower stalks. They increase yearly from there.

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Rocky mountain maple or locally also known as Douglas maple is our form of a widespread and sweet small tree that ranges from the Yukon in Canada  to the highest  mountains of  northern Mexico. Our local variety is found in all of the mountainous parts of the state. This demure tree is the least planted of our native maples and deserves much more inclusion in our gardens. In the coast range it is found primarily above 2000′ and it can even be found lower in the Cascades. It follows the spine of the Ochocos in eastern Oregon up into the Blue mountains and Wallowa Mountains in the far north east. Rarely pole straight in stature its often multi-trunked and single trunked trees are in the minority in the wild. Ours are single trunks but multiple stems do not take away from the fresh green leaves and pretty to stunning fall color. The familiar maple leaves can achieve anything from dull yellow to shots of vermillion. Depending on the weather and tree. Soft gray bark.  To 25′ tall moderately fast. Tiny green flowers morph into rosy hued samaras in autumn. Regular water for the first several years. This tree does appreciate rich soil that retains moisture in the Willamette Valley. Excellent woodland tree or even more appropriate on the edge of a stand of trees where it receives at least half a day of sun. The most recent years stems are often sanguine red, nice contrast with the grass green elegant leaves. The most striking fall color is achieved with more sun. A mesic maple that often follows water courses or lines wet ground.  Single trunked trees are conical shaped and multi-trunked forms are more rounded and spreading. Deciduous.  Avoid blasting heat and sun. Oregon native plant.

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The most widespread native Ceanothus in our region. Its known by two common names, red stem Ceanothus which is fairly self explanartory and Oregon tea. A large growing shrub to small tree with conspicuous sanguine stems clad in large mid green leaves, this completely deciduous shrub is not known for fall color making due with yellow and off green before abandoning the plant. Fast growing to 12′ tall in May-July depending on elevation frothy white, fragrant flowers loosely decorate this sparse plant. In full sun and with regular irrigation it achieves tree-like status quickly. In the shade it makes rounded twiggy plant that is much less graceful. A wonderful native for pollinators and birds. Pollinators relish the flowers and birds make off with the black and brown seeds. Very graceful when well grown and that means average soil and water to establish then none in subsequent years. Excellent bordering woods and thickets. Naturally occurring with Frangula (Rhamnus) purshiana and Rosa nutkatensis var. nutkatensis. Tolerates more summer water than most Ceanothus but none is necessary. Not deer resistant.  Native in the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.

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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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Lobelia ‘Bruce Wakefield’

Years ago, a long time ago our friend and intrepid gardener Bruce Wakefield gave us a piece of this sumptuous, tropical appearing Lobelia. Turns out that Bruce got it from ANOTHER friend of mine. Jackson Muldoon of the now defunct Transpacific nursery found this “lobelia” in central Mexico. Its a cold hardy, vigorous, and long blooming large perennial that displays tubular flowers with an interior of yellow and orange and an  exterior of red. To 4′ tall in bloom it spreads stoloniferously underground to form big patches. Give this spreading plant room in full sun and rich soil with regular consistent irrigation. Bloom begins in June and continues sporadically until frost. Loved by hummingbirds and flower arrangers. This is likely no longer a Lobelia and there are several options to choose from, until I am certain we will continue to refer to this as lobelia. Completely winter deciduous with the first hard freeze. Emerges in spring when truly warm weather arrives- Mother’s day. Mulch for the first winter to aid establishment. Once its yours expect a long lived plant. Thank you to our friends Jackson and Bruce. Photo credit: Bob Hyland.

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Dahlia ‘Sangria’

This is a brilliantly colored dahlia with large single  deep pink flowers that contrast wonderfully with midnight black foliage. To 34″ tall and increasing by tubers. Excellent cut flower but it makes a better garden subject where the contrast in foliage and flower color shine. Blooms late June to frost. This is a vigorous and hardy dahlia that is very easy to grow. Amend the soil heavily with compost and add all purpose organic fertilizer to the planting hole. Wonderful with the brilliant orange flowers of Epilobium (Zauschneria).  Mulch in fall or lift after frost and store in shredded paper in a cool dry place. Replant after all threat of frost has passed and the soil is sufficiently warm. Regular summer water in full sun.

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