Collinsia grandiflora

Native annuals often get over looked in our gardens. They occupied vast stretches of the Willamette Valley and civilization has caused those displays to suffer. In our gardens they are precious reminders that we should include every category of native plant. Giant Blue Eyed Mary is one of our most delicate looking and stunning in floral detail,  It makes a hazy cloud of beautiful blue and white small snapdragon flowers from late April to Mid June. A true annual that dies once the floral display is done. But leave the skeletons of the plant for several weeks longer to form and shed seeds for next years display. This 20″ tall grassy plant occupies open sunny sites as well as the margins of forests. In our gardens it appreciates open slightly disturbed soil. Seedlings germinate in autumn and over winter as small plants. They will heavily occupy an area about the size of a 9″ pie.  Excellent plant to succeed mid and late spring bulbs. Water lightly after planting and  to establish then none required. Native to the Portland city limits as well. Fantastic displays of this plant can be seen at Camassia in West Linn all through late spring. This is a very reliable re-seeder if you give it some open ground and check for slugs. Seedlings germinate quickly following the first rains and are incredibly cold hardy and drought tolerant. Don’t worry, they are from here, they know what to do. Attracts a wide variety of native pollinators including a wealth of smaller hover flies.  Oregon native plant.

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Collomia grandiflora

Collomia grandiflora

Wild Phlox is a native hardy annual that occurs from the prairies of the Willamette Valley to the sage brush country east of the Cascades. Clusters of flowers open sherbet orange and then fade to white with conspicuous blue pollen for a multi colored effect. Adaptable plant that will occupy any open disturbed site. Reseeds prolifically. To 2′ tall. Cute cut flower. Nice native to let wander your garden. Low water. Locally native in the city of Portland and to our nursery site in Sherwood. A charming plant that should be given average conditions and not pampered- otherwise it will contract powdery mildew which is harmless but kind of ugly. The unique, nearly indescribable color of this flower certainly is not. Oregon native plant.

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Coreopsis tinctoria var. atkinsoniana

Columbia Coreopsis or Columbia tickseed is a locally native annual but more often biennial that is found along the Columbia River and into the gorge. Also, native throughout eastern North America. Its first season is spent as a rosette of curly, finely divided leaves that have a glossy sheen. The following early summer it erupts into groups of gold flowers, slightly reflexed petals and a red dot that surround a brown protruding cone. Loved by pollinators and they come en masse. To 22″ tall on average in bloom. For rich to average soil in full sun. The sun part is non-negotiable. Mix with native Oregon perennials and annuals such as Sidalcea virgata or Clarkia amoena var. lindleyi as well as Madia elegans for a summer long show. Very good butterfly plant. It has a scattered population in the Willamette Valley but should be grown here much more often. Self sows in open disturbed sites. Very prolific in bloom with clouds of golden flowers unobscured by pesky foliage. Nice cut flower. One stem can be an entire bouquet. light consistent summer water improves the show but this is a tough, climate adapted biennial. Reseeds itself prolifically, Moderate deer resistance. Oregon native plant.

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Cuphea cyanea var. subhirtella

Cuphea cyanea var. subhirtella

This plant has been a real surprise. Most Cupheas are decidedly tender to cold in our climate, however, this variety soars above the rest. Its been a long term reliable perennial for us. Perhaps just a smidge hardier than the species. This charming little bat flower delights with multicolor flowers- tubular and shades of pink and yellow. The petals that serve as the bats ears are maroon. Wonderful long blooming plant- flowers continuously all summer to autumn. To 1′ tall and as wide. As a perennial it excels in rich, well drained soil with regular summer water in full sun. Just when you think it won’t return in spring it quickly arrives with warm weather and commences blooming almost straight away. Loved by hummingbirds, butterflies and pollinators in general. Treat it well – water and establish and mulch for the first winter. As an annual it is wonderful as a continuous flowering container subject. Native to Mexico.

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Cuphea cyanea 'Strybing Sunset'

Cuphea cyanea ‘Strybing Sunset’

We originally grew this wonderful vivid free blooming bat flower as an annual. But after years of growing it in the ground we’ve found that its remarkably root hardy. To 20″ tall forming a semi-woody shrublet it produces sprays of small but vivid flowers from May to frost. Full sun and rich, WELL DRAINED soil in the ground and patience- it takes a while to come back in spring- usually not until truly hot days appear in  May. Once up- with regular supplemental water it zooms and blooms and resumes its previous stature quickly. Good drainage in a hot position seems to be the key as a perennial. Mine has happily lived in the ground in my garden in North Portland for 7 years- returning from the coldest winters. It will freeze to the ground below about 28ºF- but it always returns. Great seasonal plant in containers and it will draw hummingbirds from 5 counties around. Nice plant. Blooms continuously without intervention. My kind of plant.

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Cuphea micropetala

Cuphea micropetala

Groovy Cuphea that we grow as an annual. In mild winters and with good drainage this rainbow of a plant may over winter. Either way its a long, long blooming plant from June to frost. Spikes appear continuously holding tubular shaped flowers- they begin yellow and age to orange for a multicolor effect that yields a dramatic show. To 10″ x 1′ forming an expanding clump. Full sun and rich well drained soil with regular summer irrigation. Best on the edge of a container where the spikes which protrude nearly horizontally will showcase the flowers. Loved by hummingbirds, bumble bees and just about any pollinator. Remove spent flower spikes to encourage more. Very easy to grow. Mexico.

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Downingia elegans

Calico flower is a widespread showy annual of vernally wet sites throughout our region.  A low spreading plant that rises up in bloom to reveal shovel shaped blue and white flowers. They closely resemble annual Lobelia (Lobelia erinus) to which it is closely related. Blooms appear from Mid May to early August. Rich soil with regular summer water. Downingia is native to areas that are often submerged in winter. And in the garden it appreciates ample water. Full sun and resists competition from other plants. Very good in rain gardens. One potted plant will expand to 2′ with rising showy flowers. Loved by pollinators of all kinds. Excellent container plant. You can simply remove it when it has completed its life cycle- replace with warm season annuals. A food source for the endangered Willamette Valley endemic Fendler’s Blue Butterfly. Leave established plants in place once they have died to distribute seed for the following year in the ground.  Oregon native plant

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Echium wildprettii

Echium wildprettii

Huge, stately, bold biennial that we kind of consider the king of all biennials. The first season it forms a huge rosette of thin silver foliage. Showy in its own right. If we have a mild winter (above 15ºF) the whole plant soars to 6′ tall the second year and is a tower of red/purple borage flowers. Pollinators lose their little collecting minds and even hummers show up. Not entirely hardy but we think its such an incredible foliage plant in its first year that is is definitely worth the risk.  Following bloom it sets seed- man does it set seed and seedling will appear all over the garden. They are easy to identify- rosettes of thin leaves with a sandpapery texture. You can move them or mass them for a cool effect. Rich to average, well drained soil with light summer water. Full sun and position out of high winds which can topple the plant in its blooming stage. Excellent performance at the Oregon Coast. Native to the Canary Islands.

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Epilobium densiflorum

Spike primrose is a quiet but important long season hardy annual. It rises up to 2′ tall when happy. A dense thick spike of buds rises and the small pink flowers decorate the spike in a circle. Loved by pollinators and especially popular with butterflies. This drought adapted annual blooms from July to October. Mix with other hardy native annuals. Especially nice with Madia elegans as their bloom period are the same. Full sun in virtually any soil. Water in potted plants well and you will likely see seedlings in open disturbed sites in the spring. The seedlings of this Epilobium mimic several more weedy types (they are native but kind of rambunctious). This plant is never showy but its a primary nectar source for late in the summer. Very easy, climate adapted native hardy annual. Native in the Portland city limits. Found primarily in stable meadows on both sides of the Cascades.  Oregon native plant.

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Eryngium giganteum

Eryngium giganteum

Miss Wilmotts Ghost. As the legend goes Miss Wilmott would stealthily drop the seeds of this biennial into the gardens of those she visited. Sneaky girl. The plant would germinate and produce a low inconspicuous rosette of leaves the next year. The following year a tower of ghostly gray collared huge flowers on branched stems would appear- seemingly form nowhere. Freak. But my kind of freak. A really cool looking plant in bloom that photographs amazingly well by the way. To 3′ tall for full sun and open disturbed sites. It will reseed reliably in those conditions. The seedlings are easy to spot  and move when they are very young if you desire a new spot.  Makes a groovy large cut flower. This is the flower on our logo. High deer resistance. Drought adapted.

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