Western Maiden Hair Fern is native from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska south mainly through shady wet spots in the west south as far as Chiahuahua, Mexico. Its even locally native from Maryland to New Foundland. Its a long lived and vigorous fully deciduous perennial for perpetually wet sites. To 2′ tall and spreading almost indefinitely where conditions suite it. Heavy clay soil that retains consistent moisture in part shade to shade. Often found lining water falls in Oregon or in deep cool moist gullies. The multi fingered leaves are a soft green and are held erect on jet black stems. Very good sited at the bottom of a downspout. Very easy to grow given consistent moisture. Oregon native plant.
Zone: Zn5a -15º to -20ºF
Himalayan Maidenhair fern is one of our favorite groundcovers for shade and rich, moist soil. The divided fronds in the shape of an arrow are always soft and fresh. In spring this deciduous variety emerges with tones of amber and soft pink before taking on a mature soft green hue. These delicate leaflets are held on thin, wiry black stems to 10″ tall and it spreads prodigiously to form vast colonies. It doesn’t smother neighboring plants however, instead it seems to just flow around such woodland neighbors as Epimedium, Hellebores, even woodland bulbs like Erythronium. Regular summer water. Avoid hard, compacted dry soils. High deer resistance.
Anemone nemorosa ‘Alba Plena’
Excellently climate adapted, there are many forms of Anemone nemorosa but this is by far our favorite. Pure white flowers with a congested bunch of petals in the center. Natures pin cushion. Blooms late March to early May. Spreads to form large colonies in rich well-drained soil with ample irrigation. The whole plant goes completely dormant by summer, cleanly disappearing before you have time to notice it. Part shade to full sun. Not bothered by pests or animals. Even though it goes summer dormant it’s still beneficial for these plants to receive regular water. You’ll notice the difference the following spring.
Yerba mansa is a water loving perennial herb that is native in south central Oregon south into California. It comes into our state from the south in Klamath County. There it is found in vernally wet to permanently wet sites. The only member of its genus this plant with large round leathery leaves organized in basal rosettes roams by long runners to colonize large areas. The cheerful flowers appear from late spring into early summer. Excellent perennial for bios wales as it handles inundation and even limited drought. To 5″ tall in the foliage with spikes displaying true flowers on a tall cone surrounded by pure white lower bracts to 14″ tall. This plant performs very well in rich soil with regular summer H20 as well. It has been used as a medicinal herb by both indigenous groups and early settlers. Winter deciduous and cold hardy. Great for sunny stream banks, vernally wet sites, and even containers. Oregon native plant.
Deeply colored foliage and clusters of white umbel flowers combine to give this easy to grow biennial an important place in the garden. The finely divided leaves are almost black but have a bluish hue on the surface that reflects the light in opalescent waves. The first year it produces only this gorgeous foliage. Combine with chartreuse/gold leaved perennials and/or shrubs for excellent contrast. In the second season the foliage extends and masses of pure white umbels wave to 3′ tall above the plant. Light and airy which is cool for a plant with deep, brooding foliage. Self sows prolifically and the seedlings are easy to spot, move, thin, dispatch. Full sun to quite a bit of shade in rich, moisture-retentive soil with light but consistent summer moisture. Excellent in woodlands or sunny borders. It makes a surprisingly good cut flower as well. Umbels…these days its all about umbels. Winter deciduous.
Artemesia versicolor ‘Seafoam’
Lovely, soft gray curls make up the foliage of this low spreading perennial. Easy to grow and long lived plant for full sun and well drained soil. Little summer water when established. Takes the hottest aspects with aplomb and remains good looking all season. At the end of summer stems extend to produce small white flowers. Not really showy but it expands the overall texture of the plant. Completely winter deciduous. Cut back hard in early spring. Forms woody stems at the base and is a quite permanent plant. Flows in and around other plants gracefully. Moderate deer resistance. To 1′ x 3′ in a season.
Aruncus dioicus var. acuminatus
Goats Beard is a big bold and easy to grow perennial for part shade and perpetually wet sites. To 4′ tall and as wide with large fountains of pure white flowers in late spring to early summer. Native in seeps and along watercourses, mimic those conditions in your garden and you’ll have success. Long lived plant that develops a woody base. Completely winter deciduous. Excellent combined with other mesic water loving plants. Tolerates some inundation but not during the growing season. Often found on cliffs away from the browse of deer. Very large permanent perennial in time. Fall color is often yellow. Widespread in the PNW. Native in the Portland City limits. Oregon native plant.
Narrow leaved milkweed is an Oregonian butterfly weed that has a great wildflower demeanor and is just as attractive to pollinators as well as Lepidoptera (butterflies). Full sun and well drained soil, though it accepts clay soil on slopes that are strictly unwatered in summer , otherwise light consistent irrigation to establish- then natural rainfall alone. To 22″ tall and making a spreading plant. Mix with fine textured ornamental grasses,such as Tufted fairy grass – Deschampsia caespitosa and tall spiky perennials such as simultaneously blooming Kniphofias. Light summer water when companion planted. Flower color is most often creamy white but ranges to light pink. Often seen on road cuts and in ditches in the Willamette Valley. Blends in with grasses and other plants but pollinators find it no matter what. Spreads to form colonies by underground stolons to 2′-3′ wide. Nice cutflower. Important food source for Fendler’s Blue Butterfly which is very endangered and locally indigenous. Winter deciduous. Blooms open in June and persist to August. The large seed heads are pointed and release their downy seeds on the wind in August-September. Oregon native plant.
Athyrium x ‘Ghost’
A hybrid fern discovred in Oregon and it has become a garden staple. Soft gray/sage green intricately divided fronds arch out from a central rosette. To 2′ tall and as wide in rich, well drained moisture retentive soil in part shade to shade. Loves regular irrigation and bulks up more quickly then. More adaptable than its harder to grow parent Japanese painted fern. Completely deciduous in winter. Takes poorly drained sites. Mix with chartreuse leaved Lamium maculatum ‘Aureum’ and Vancouveria chyrsantha for wonderful woodland trio. Emerges in March- not bothered by snails/slugs or deer. Excellent in shady, perennial containers. Good appearance thought hot summers with irrigation. A classic.
Blechnum spicant (Struthiopteris spicant)
The second most common fern in western Oregon Deer fern is a lovely native evergreen clumping perennial that is invaluable. The tiered upright and then settling to horizontal mid green glossy fronds are handsome all the time. To 2′ wide and 2′ tall (when fronds are emerging). Rich, moisture retentive soil high in organic matter. Light summer water in part shade to shade. Familiar fern of the Oregon Cascades but very widespread. High deer resistance. Excellent native fern for life between Rhododendrons and Pieris that are ancient. This fern loves part shade and cool moist soils but has a bit of drought adaptation as well. Its supremely adapted to to the rough life of competition. Useful plant that looks very good year round. Design by Vanessa Gardner Nagel Seasons Design. Oregon native plant.
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