Allium amplectens

Slim leaved onion is very easy to identify in Western Oregon though it occupies more than one biome. Where I grew up it was always found in the same meadow. The meadow was primarily Festuca californica and Festuca roemeri. This onion was found between those grasses and usually intertwined at the base with native mountain strawberriy (Fragaria virginiana var. platyphylla) and rosy plectritis. Its ease of identification comes with a pinch of the leaf or flower- resinous onion odor. This 10″ tall allium supports clear white flowers (occasionally they range to pale pink in these seed grown plants). This is a petite but very ornamental native onion. Its bloom time coincides with onset of summer drought. June into July.  It forms enlarging bulbs and as soon as the starry flowers are spent the seed ripens and bursts casting it all around. Full sun and average to enriched soils. Water to establish potted plants then in subsequent years natural rainfall will suffice. This local native is sold in Europe as a cultivar called ‘Graceful Beauty’- its just the species A. amplectens but graceful is a great description of this wildflower. Excellent planted among Rosa nutkana and a perfect and natural accompaniment with native hardy annuals. Each bulb produces multiple flowers which increase over time. Attractive to a vast group of pollinators- local bees and hover flies make repeated visits. Adaptable to all soils that drain. Avoid standing water. Adaptable to clay soils.  Oregon native plant

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Allium caeruleum 'Heacock Form'

Allium caeruleum ‘Heacock Form’

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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Allium sikkimense

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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Amsonia hubrichtii

Amsonia hubrichtii

Threadleaf Bluestar is a fantastic native North American perennial with many seasons of interest. To 4′ tall this strongly clump-forming perennial has thread-like green leaves that line the sturdy, very vertical stems. Upon rising in late spring they host clusters of star shaped, fragrant (yep) blue flowers. Very pretty. The green, fine-textured foliage holds space as a blowsy presence in borders, gravel gardens, hellstrips. In autumn the entire plant turns shocking yellow and stays that way for weeks. Fall color at ground level and it rocks. Light but consistent summer water to aid in establishment. Very drought tolerant then. Full sun in any soil type but for permanently boggy. Good deer resistance. They will try it once but not again- for what it’s worth. Completely deciduous in winter.  Emerges mid-spring. Very long lived, no-fuss perennial. Mix with ornamental grasses, cacti, just about anything.

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Anemone x lipsiensis

Anemone x lipsiensis

Delicate in appearance but actually pretty tough and long lived, this pale yellow-flowered Anemone spreads to form large colonies. To 5″ tall and blooming from March to April. Remains in bloom for several weeks. Rich, well drained soil that retains moisture. Goes completely dormant by the arrival of hot weather- still keep watering – Anemones appreciate that even though they are fast asleep. Very pretty as a color echo with golden foliage such as the acid yellow emerging foliage of Hakonechloa (Japanese Forest Grass).

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Spreading Dogbane is a pretty semi-shrubby native perennial that is found in every biome in our area. David Douglas mentioned this billowing perennial with clouds of light pink/white bells. Mostly he hated tripping over it in the Willamette Valley. This very permanent plant spreads to form big drifts in the wild. Streambanks, prairies, alpine meadows it can appear. The rounded downward pointing leaves emerge on semi-woody stems. In June-August clouds of flowers appear for weeks. Loved by pollinators and birds specifically attractive to native hummingbirds and butterflies. To 2′ tall and spreading by stolons to a wide area. Water to establish then none in subsequent years. Mulch after planting. Virtually any somewhat rich soil type including amended sand. Full sun to part shade. Wonderful plant and floral texture for meadows. I have great childhood memories of this plant in July in full bloom perched with our huge native black bumble bees. Very convenient bloom time- it begins to bloom just as most other natives are finished.  Dogbane is toxic when consumed by humans or animals- hence the common name. When stems are broken a milky sap is exuded. Moderate deer resistance.  Distantly related to milkweed. Once very common in the Willamette Valley its territory has shrunk. Great performance in hellstrips and verges that are lightly or completely non-irrigated. Give this plant room to spread and plan ahead. Limited availability. Oregon native plant

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Aquilegia chaplinii

Native to the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico and extreme west Texas this adorable columbine enchants us with its whimsical soft yellow flowers and fine blue foliage. To 18″ tall in bloom the petite flowers have long fantastic tails. They appear from April-June, and occasionally again if you remove spent flowers and prevent seed set. This smaller plant has wonderful finely divided blue green foliage that forms a fountain before and after bloom. Often self sows in open sites. The original plants live about 5 years but the distinctive leaves will give away the seedlings. They seem to favor cracks in pavement, stones. Full sun to very light shade in rich to average soil with regular summer water. Mix with our native Columbine (Aquilegia formosa) for a color echo on the yellow perianth of both. Very popular with pollinators including native pollinators. Winter deciduous.  Moderate deer resistance. Charming and easy to grow wild flower.

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Aquilegia longissima ‘Long Spurred’

Stunning columbine native to the American SW that we cherish for its huge flowers trailed by improbably long tails held against blue foliage. Easy to grow late spring bloomer that thrives in many soil types in part shade to full sun with regular summer irrigation. To 14″ tall and becoming a long lived perennial. Winter deciduous. Mix with gold foliaged plants for- a flower color echo. Lovely flower form that hummingbirds and butterflies find delectable.  Easy to grow. High deer resistance. Soaring wonderful, whimsical flowers.

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Arctostaphylos x coloradensis ‘Panchito’

Several wonderful attributes makes this a great Manzanita for widespread use. Its extremely cold hardy, a naturally occurring hybrid from southern Colorado- it can handle temperatures lower than -20ºF. Its a great size- slow growing to just 3′ x 3′ in 8+ years. The matte green foliage is dense (almost boxwood-esque) and is a great foil for the clusters of pink buds that relax to lighter pink when open. Full sun and average, unimproved soil. Water to establish then only what falls from the sky. This dainty almost formal looking shrub finds a happy home in smaller gardens, rock gardens, and thrives in Central Oregon. In time the trunks exfoliate to glossy maroon- it take quite a few years for this to be an outstanding feature. Mounded and dense for the first part of its life- expect just several inches of growth per year.. Open exposure with good air circulation. Great performance in Gorge outflow.  A perfect substitute for ‘Greensphere’ that is both hardier to cold and a little easier to cultivate. Russet red berries that follow are a treat for the birds that get there first. Accepts the hottest aspects, drought, and brutal cold. Bienvenidos, Panchito!

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Calamintha nepeta 'Montrose White'

Calamintha nepeta ‘Montrose White’

Wow- one of the best perennials that we grow. Easy to grow, so useful, pretty and even a nice edible that we enjoy in summer iced teas. A dome shaped perennial that is virtually everblooming. Clouds of tiny white flowers are absolutely LOVED by pollinators of every kind. A well grown clump in bloom is a buzzing fountain of activity. Blooms May to September unabated. Full sun, rich to average well drained soil with light but consistent summer irrigation. The fine white clouds of flowers work well as filler in borders or as a low cloud supporting taller flowers. Winter deciduous. Loved by the kitties. To 2′ tall and 2′ wide in a single season. Cold hardy and low water. Exceptional plant. See video below. No other plant we grow is as popular with pollinators as this. Takes a second for the video to load.

 

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