Asarum splendens

Asarum splendens

As a dry shade evergreen ground cover foliage plant this wonderful perennial excels. Large heart shaped leaves are marked with silver over a sage green background. Pretty. Spreads to form dense colonies in rich, well drained soil in part shade to full shade. Must have regular water for the best appearance but can endure very dry conditions by wilting and will quickly recover with a drink. Takes the most dense shade and is invaluable in planters, beds, containers that are sited under an overhanging roof. Great winter appearance- it should be used in all sorts of year round containers more often. Spreads underground by stolons but doesn’t travel far. Bait for snails and slugs. Small curious brown flowers occur at ground level under the foliage in summer. To 6″ tall and spreading in ideal conditions to several feet wide.

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Aucuba japonica 'Rozannie'

Aucuba japonica ‘Rozannie’

Rosanna Rosanna Danna is what I think of when I see this cute tough and useful shrub. I have no explanation, I just do. Slow growing broadleaved evergreen with deep forest green leaves that are glossy and pretty at all times. A female that is pretty much self fertile- My kind of woman, yeah 2018. Small green/brown flowers make themselves into glossy red berries. Bring a man around and the crop multiplies. Best in part shade in rich, well drained soil with light summer water. In reality once established Rozannie can go all summer and not miss a drink. To 3′ x 3′ and dense. Avoid blasting hot exposures which will yellow the leaves and rob the whole plant of luster. Supremely adapted to dry shade. Super cold hardy to quite a bit below 0ºF without any tragedy. Japan.

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Bergenia ciliata 'Susan Riley' flowers

Bergenia ciliata ‘Susan Riley’

To be honest we had quite a bit of employee pushback when we said we were growing a Bergenia- I’m sure they immediately thought of that hulking, horrible looking, weevil notched ground cover with clouds of pepto pink flowers in winter/spring. That old horribly abused plant is definitely not this. HUGE round leaves have light fur on the reverse and make a wonderful statement in part shade to full sun (with water). In very early spring this cultivar named by Richie Steffan of the Elizabeth Miller Garden in Seattle- sends up wide inflorescences of pink tinted white flowers. Best with overhead protection of trees to ensure a late freeze doesn’t damage the flowers. This is a DECIDUOUS species and doesn’t seem to be root weevil food or suffer a bad looking period. New leaves ensure freshness all season. Give it a LOT of room to spread. Tropical looking foliage adds bold dimension to borders, woodlands. Regular summer water in well drained rich soil. Thanks Richie.

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Bolax (Azorella) gummifera

Bolax (Azorella) gummifera

Incredibly useful and handsome and tough creeping evergreen ground cover. The fine interlaced leaves have a texture very much like plastic or tupperware. It creeps along forming tight rosettes that join. In summer the whole surface of this flush plant is covered in chartreuse yellow flowers. Not showy but conspicuous for a plant that looks uniform and green all year. One of the best ground covers between pavers as it can handle compacted soil better than other small scale ground covers. And this is a small scale ground cover, don’t try to cover acreage. Be reasonable and expect good coverage over a space no larger than 5′ x 5′.  Glossy foliage sparkles when wet. Regular summer water speeds growth though it is tolerant of dry periods  but not complete drought.  Expect each 4″ plant to expand to the size of an apple pie in a season. Completely deer resistant. Top dress with compost every few years- especially if it is between pavers. To 1/4″ tall by 1′ wide. Full sun to the very lightest shade. Carrot family.

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Calamagrostis nutkaensis

Pacific Reed grass is a large and stately grass that is found close to the coast/ beach. A tall growing species with large flat green foliage and tall flowers that are at first green and then age to straw in summer. To 3′ tall on average, this plant can even perform as an epiphyte as is sometimes seen in forests adjacent to the beach. Spreads to form large clumps that are staunchly evergreen. Native from S. Alaska to N. California. This makes a wonderful casual plant with stiffly upright flower spikes. To  3′ wide  and clumping.  Average to amended soil, adaptable to clay soils. This is a great first line grass at the beach. It endures salt spray and poor soils. Easy to grow native grass for rough areas, meadows, forest verges. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. It may be cut back hard in the early spring,  but appearance is very stable throughout the year. Deer resistant. Very easy to grow. Light consistent water  inland, but drought adapted at the coast. Associated plants in the wild are Polypodium scopulorum, Picea sitchensis, Gaultheria shallon (Salal). One of our best native evergreen grasses for our gardens. Oregon native plant.

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Carex oshimensis 'Evergold'

Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’

Common variegated sedge that is useful. The arching thin leaves have an interior of rich yellow with green lines on the sides. Dense forming evergreen tuft to 1′ tall by up to 2′ wide. Rich, moisture retentive soil with regular water in full sun to part shade. Tidy discolored leaves individually in spring- do not cut to the ground. It hates this. Gold stems support tan flowers in summer. Unfortunately, this sedge is often thrown into new landscapes and is marketed as a low maintenance carefree drought tolerant thing. Its not. It likes good care to look its best. Moderate deer resistance. Evergreen.

 

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Carex praegracilis

Carex praegracilis

Meadow Sedge  or Field Sedge is found primarily in meadows and grasslands east of the Cascades. An evergreen fine textured clumping sedge that is gracefully employed in mass plantings, lawn substitutes even freeway margins. Very adaptable plant for average soil with regular water for best appearance. It will make due with conditions that are much less optimal. To 14″ tall but bending immediately in a cascading motion that mimics movement by wind – even when its still. Forest margins, riparian sites. Very useful plant with good winter presence. Full sun to very light shade. Very useful in meadow plantings. Rarely seeds itself and is well behaved. And remember Sedges have edges, rushes are round and grasses like asses have holes. HEH.  Oregon native plant.

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Carex tumulicola

Foothill Sedge is commonly found from the central Willamette Valley south into California. A tightly clumping sedge with medium green foliage and 8″ wiry stems with attending flowers that are tan in spring/summer. In our region this plant can be found in upland situations where it is moist for at least half the year. Its also diminutive and almost hard to find in the wild. Under cultivation its an entirely different beast. Clumps are dense but expand with a pronounced weeping habit. To 8″ tall x 18″ wide for each individual plant. Good massed or as a lawn substitute. Takes mowing if its limited to once a year. Regular irrigation keeps it green and happy. Summer drought sees blades of tan as well as green and not so verdant. It does not run nor become a seeding pest- sticking surprisingly to itself. Plant on 1′ centers for a modern, mounding effect. Takes clay soils well. Water regularly to establish the first summer then taper off (continue watering if you want it to stay staunchly green).  Combines well with perennials including native perennials such as  Checkermallow (Sidalcea) and, Ranunculus occidentalis (Western Buttercup), as well as Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon) are found in closely related communities with this plant. Full sun to light shade, or high overhead shade. In California it is also known as Berkeley Sedge.  Oregon native plant.

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Catananche caerulea

Catananche caerulea

Cupid’s Dart is a simple to grow and wonderful perennial that blooms non-stop all summer long. The papery blue flowers with a deeper blue center attract all kinds of pollinators and are a specialty of Butterflies. Clump forming plant with tall wand like stems that support the flat flowers. Remove spent flowers to encourage more. Full sun and a host of soils that are sharply drained. Regular summer water though it makes due with dry conditions when established. Highly deer resistant. Wonderful companion for roses and perfect with Lavenders for a long blooming light textured wave of flowers. Each flower closes tightly at night. To 20″ x 20″ forming substantial clumps.

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Ceanothus integerrimus

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. These frothy blue, to pink 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.

Photo Credit: Dii Mazuz, Bruce Hegna

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