Abutilon megapotamicum

Abutilon (Callianthe) megapotamicum (a)

Lantern plant. The hardiest flowering Maple by far, sailing through all but our most treacherous winters. Large-growing lax shrub with large red calyxes that contrast with the protruding yellow petals. Masses of flowers appear on new wood from June to frost. To 6′ tall and as wide in full sun to part shade. Plant in a protected spot. Near a wall or within shrubs that can shield the crown. Water winter-damaged plants in the ground very heavily and they will make a surprise re-emergence. Hummingbirds.

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Abutilon (Callianthe) megapotamicum (a) ‘Marianne’

Improved selection of the Chinese Lantern Plant- which is actually from South America, and this form has larger more flared yellow petals. They extend and recurve from the bold red calyx. This arching multi-stemmed shrub blooms almost non-stop from June to frost and often longer. Vigorous to 6′ tall and 4′ wide forming a large patch in time. The arching thin stems and skinny pointed leaves display the rows of flowers perfectly. A hummingbird delight. One of the hardiest to cold this behaves as a sub-shrub in the coldest winters- freezing back but returning boldly from the ground when the soil warms. Most winters, damage is restricted to burned tips and the majority of leaves which will drop. Plant with the base in a protected location- for instance between low shrubs to protect the crown, or near the base of a wall. Mulch if arctic (below 20ºF) weather threatens. Following a freeze the plant will look absolutely awful. Refrain from cutting it back until you see new growth emerge- either from the base or vertical stems. In any case water it consistently and heavily until you see vigorous new growth- the transformation with regular water is remarkable. So, don’t by any means give it up for dead. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. A bit tall and lanky for containers- just plan for this. Rich, WELL DRAINED soil improves both cold hardiness and speeds recovery. Excellent performance at the Oregon Coast.

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Abutilon (Callianthe) megapotamicum (a) ‘Red’

Everything about this form of hardy flowering maple is identical  to the species except the molten red flowers with deeper veins shot through. The 2″ pendant flowers appear from May to October on a large growing sub-shrub. To 6′ in a single season It makes rapid growth as temperature rise above 70ºF. Full sun, in a protected location in rich soil with regular summer irrigation. Abutilons look absolutely horrific in spring even after a normal winter. Expect this. The solution is to water, water, water especially as the temperatures rise. It blooms on new wood and flowers are continuous as the shrub grows. Mostly deciduous but it can be evergreen at the coast or in protected places in mild winters. Loved  by hummingbirds who are lured by the lurid red flowers filled with nectar. Cut back by 1/2 after all danger of frost has passed. Supply a handful of all organic fertilizer and water faithfully. Excellent performance at the Oregon coast. Inland it is best with the protection of a shrub covering its roots so that the soil does not freeze. In this situations it can live even thrive for many many years. Mulch with compost. Native to the mountains of Brazil. Root hardy to about 10ºF. Long lithe stems can be woven through a fence or a lattice.

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Acacia covenyi

An exciting shrub/small tree with paddle shaped blue evergreen phyllodes for foliage and in late winter to early spring a massive display of luminous yellow flowers. I’ve always loved Australian wattles so it was with great excitement that we decided to grow this striking plant. Moderately fast growing to 16′ tall and 8′ wide forming either multiple or a single trunk. The bark is chocolate brown and smooth. Very few Australian Acacias will thrive in Portland,  its just about 5 degrees too  cold in our coldest years. This one is different, (a few species will live for 4-6 years before they finally succumb to Jack Frost. Acacia pravissima etc.) This, however, is the cold hardiest  that we have grown. It is hardy to just below 10ºF for brief stints- good enough for long term survival. This is a rare limited endemic to the high mountains of New South Wales but is popular as a garden subject the world over.  The small, fluffy,  balls of electric yellow flowers foam among the blue leaves – incredibly pretty. Full sun and a protected location – against a south facing wall is ideal for a very pretty fun to grow tree. Once fully open the flowering stems may be cut for long lasting bouquets. Blooms on wood from the previous season, prune if needed after flowering has ended. Light consistent water to establish . Not fussy about soils and happiest in full, all day sun. Protect from subfreezing east wind. Bloom time is concurrent with several earlier Ceanothus  (‘Blue Jeans’, ‘Dark Star’, ‘Concha’) and creates a vivid early spring  yellow and blue display not soon to be forgotten. Drought adapted when established. Not bothered by deer/elk- not entirely sure about rabbits- if they are profuse in your neighborhood it wouldn’t hurt to protect the plant with chicken wire when young. Beautiful year round and spectacular in bloom. AKA Blue Bush.

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Acanthus mollis 'Tasmanian Angel'

Acanthus mollis ‘Tasmanian Angel’

Variegated Bear’s Breeches or just plain old Acanthus with dramatically white-splashed leaves. There is great contrast between the white and the dark green sections of the leaves/stems. In summer this spreading perennial produces a 3′ spike with pure white flower bracts enclosing the pink flowers. Its a big ol party chalice of goodness. Not the hardiest Acanthus (yeah- that might be good). Plant in a protected location with RICH, well drained soil- add compost and all organic fertilizer. Completely deciduous in winter here. Each leaf extends to 2′ long with intricate indentation- aside from the variegation. To 3′ across eventually. Excellent plant for containers. Protect containers from temps below 15ºF (move to an unheated garage, porch). Emerges in mid-spring. Mulch the crown in autumn for the first few seasons.

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Aloiampelos (Aloe) striatula

We’ve grown a lot of Aloes with purported cold and wet hardiness and this is the one that has been the most successful. A large succulent shrubby plant with rosettes of deep green succulent foliage. In late summer to autumn a showy display of large yellow flower spikes can occur. Very pretty and loved by all nectar seeking folks. Give this South African perennial VERY GOOD DRAINAGE in full sun and a warm position.  A slope is always helpful. Amend the soil with plenty of gravel and sand as well as compost- these guys do need to eat- so a little handful of organic fertilizer is recommended. Capable of freezing to the ground (below 15ºF) and resprouting from the base when truly warm weather arrives. Plant on a south or west facing slope preferably against a warm wall or boulder for added reflected heat. Easy, if large, container plant that you should protect from temperatures in the teens. To 3′ x 3′ on average in our climate. Mostly evergreen here. Combine with Agave, Cactus which will also increase their growth rate if you provide light, consistent water during hot weather.

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Anemanthele lessoniana

Anemanthele lessoniana

Pheasant Tail Grass is a clumping large arching grass with colorful surprises throughout the year. To 30″ tall and a little wider the army green arching foliage takes on dramatic orange and red tints if given just a little stress. In summer fine tawny orange/brown glossy seedheads arch gracefully within the foliage. Full sun to very light shade in rich, well drained soil with consistent summer moisture- a little dryness and wham! You get those fiery tints. Requires a protected location in gardens, avoid full on exposure and cold winds. Its best application though is as a large graceful container subject. And the drainage adds to cold hardiness. Remove seedheads before they mature as it does like to seed around. Mulch for arctic weather. Moderate deer resistance. New Zealand.

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Arthropodium maculatum 'Purpureum'

Arthropodium maculatum ‘Purpureum’

AKA Arthropodium maculatum ‘Candidum’ New Zealand Rock Lily. Intersting clump forming lily relative that has fine strappy leaves in a dense configuration that are dotted with brown over a madder red overlay. Wonderful little foliage plant for part shade in rich, moisture retentive soil. In summer masses of 4″ stems support clouds of tiny nodding white flowers. Fun. Rock gardens, the front of borders, massed together for a more profound effect. To about 10″ wide. Completely winter deciduous. Nice summer container plant.

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Astelia nivicola 'Red Gem'

Astelia nivicola ‘Red Gem’

Smaller growing Silver Spear that forms spreading colonies in part shade, rich soil and a protected location. Red tinted silver arching evergreen perennial that requires protection form hot dry conditions in summer and subfreezing winds in winter. To 8″ tall and twice as wide. Excellent in containers, protect containers from temperatures below 20ºF. This has been a long term performer in protected urban environments. Cover if temperatures threaten to drop below the upper teens. Added protection can’t hurt. Regular summer water speeds the increase of the clump. Handsome plant. Try it in a protected woodland- you’ll like it. Trust me. Heh. Wonderful performance at the Oregon Coast.

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Astelia nivicola 'Westland'

Astelia nivicola ‘Westland’

Much hardier to cold but quite a bit smaller this Astelia has thrived in Portland gardens for years. Part shade and rich, moisture retentive soil that drains well is ideal. It seems to adore unamended loam as well. Rosette forming monocot with silver leaves that have a distinct red tint. Avoid blasting hot dry situations- this species hates that. Spreads slowly to form showy evergreen patches. Mix in borders, among shrubs- which adds winter protection or in containers. Protect containers from temperatures below 20ºF. In the ground it is hardy in to the low teens. With a little added extra protection- remay, leaves, even a dry towel during arctic events and it it will take lower. Little spikes of green flowers occasionally transfer into bright orange fruits. To 1′ x 1′ slowly. Regular summer water.

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