Nifty foliage perennial that can double as a terrestrial border plant (with regular water in rich, moisture-retentive soil) or submerged as a border perennial in a water pot or the edge of the pond. The majority of the spikey 3′ tall leaves are composed of cream/ivory streaks with dramatic stripes of deep green. The effect is ghostly and vivid from quite a distance away. Forms large spreading clumps in time. To 4′ wide when things are going well. Full sun to part shade. Flowers are not very conspicuous spikes that hide within the foliage. Completely winter deciduous- this is nice, it makes cleaning up in late winter/spring easy and and no fuss and the plant begins anew and fresh each season. Not bothered by pests. If sunk in a pond or water pot use heavy clay soil- like from the ground and mulch with a layer of gravel. Long lived plant. High deer resistance. AKA. Ghost Sweet Flag.
Is this the best form of golden sweet flag or what? We love the vivid yellow leaves on a dense and arching evergold perennial. Clumps densely but the foliage is born in fans and spreads out. To only 6″ tall but spreading to 1′ wide. Best in part shade and either permanently wet sites or regular consistent water. Mine makes a happy home on the north side of my house at the base of the rain gutter. Plenty of water in winter- and I don’t forget to water it in summer. Good appearance year round. In spring little off-white spikes serve as flowers. Native to permanently wet sites. Give it a bit of shade. Moderately deer resistant.
This is a strain of Agapanthus from the very cold hardiest varieties that we grow. Not only are these perfectly hardy to cold they are naturally completely deciduous. Even better they wait to emerge until all danger of frost has past. Many ‘hardy’ CA varieties leaf out in the false spring of late winter and then get nipped hard by possible late freezes. Not at all fussy about soil but best in enriched soil with light consistent summer irrigation. Large globes of rich sky blue flowers are bigger than a grapefruit and wave at the top of 3′-4′ stems. Quite a bit taller than other hardy varieties. Full sun to very light shade and not fussy. They will live in containers for eons and bloom like crazy. Flowers appear from late June to early August and are very showy. This is a very pretty tall strain that is reliable and kind of hard to F up. If you’ve lost Agapanthus in a cold garden or unfortunate freeze this is the one to try. As with all Agapanthus they thrive and bloom in neutral to alkaline soil. Incorporate a handful of lime in the hole at planting time. Strappy clumps of mid-green leaves are handsome following bloom. As the plant multiplies it increases its blooms stem count markedly.
Xera Plants Introduction
Chives! Everyone needs these easy to grow, long-blooming, edible perennials in their garden. Late spring brings stems clad in rich lavender/purple flowers that are spicy and wonderful in salads. Cut back at any time and a new crop of tasty leaves will appear. To 18″ tall and forming clumps. Full sun and virtually any soil with consistent summer water. Moderate deer resistance. Often seeds around. These are easy to identify and dispatch or share with friends. A first-rate flowering border perennial as well. Winter deciduous.
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.
Mosquito Grass or Gramma Grass is a widespread native of the interior west. Slowly spreading to form substantial clumps of fine light green/gray leaves. To 18″ tall the funny flowers born at the tips of the fine stems feature a horizontal inflorescence- to me it resembles a little blond mustache. Blooms appear in midsummer and are attractive well into fall. Full, hot sun and rich to average well drained sites. Mass for a fine textured effect of a blowsy low meadow. In autumn as it enters dormancy it retains a dried to cere presence deep through winter. It may be cut back hard in spring. Light summer water though extremely drought tolerant when established. Oregon native plant.
Mendocino Reed grass is a regal plant from the northern California coast. Well scaled for gardens a 1′ x 2′ wide clump eventually forms with stiff, tidy blue green arching leaves that are blue with purple highlights. In spring to mid-summer 1′ tall spikes of flowers that begin russet and age to soft tan appear and are immensely showy and symmetrical. A back lit plant in bloom is a festival of brilliant tones. Best in light shade and average to rich, well drained soil with light summer water to improve vigor and appearance. A cool season grass that looks wonderful in winter as well as summer. Excellent garden plant that has proven to be easy and adaptable, Unfortunately, it can be hard to propagate and availability is spotty. Evergreen.
We found this unique foliage color in a seed batch of regular old green Carex comans. Such a cool khaki/olive color that we named it ‘Olive Oil’ and have been producing it ever since. To 1′ tall by up to 3′ wide in rich, moist soil in full sun to part shade. In summer much longer trailing stems hide little brown blooms that morph into very fecund seeds. Excellent combined with chartreuse/gold leaved plants. Great in containers. Not drought tolerant. Evergreen.
Xera Plants Introduction.
Aka ‘Hime kan suge’ Small clumping evergreen sedge that forms adorable fountains of fine green leaves lined in white. To 6″ x 6″ slowly increasing in rich, well drained moisture retentive conditions. Regular summer water. Wonderful massed in a local way or lining a path in a shady woodland. Good year round appearance. Not the fastest sedge so be patient and give it the conditions it wants. Full sun- with regular water to quite a bit of shade. 4″ spikes of tan flowers are cute in spring. Moderate deer resistance.
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.
California meadow sedge is native to stream banks, and vernally wet places at the beach from British Columbia south in to Baja. A deep green winter growing sedge which each plant reaches about 18″ across and 10″ or so inches high. It flops over gracefully and has a very uniform appearance through the year with light irrigation. This is a winter growing plant that resumes growing and greens up with winter rains. In very cold weather (below 20ºF) it can take on russet tints. A FANTASTIC LAWN SUBSTITUTE where it has been used extensively for that application in California. We should use it here too. Plant on 1′ centers for a lawn (faux lawn) cover from one gallons and water regularly through the first season. No water plantings can go summer dormant but in wetter environs this can be avoided and it will remain green and verdant. Water once a week in summer to remain green. Fantastic ground cover, slope cover as it will out compete weeds and form a uniform cover. Tolerates clay soils well, but some amending will reap rewards with a faster growing plant. Tolerates mowing very well. Oregon native plant.
Meadow 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. And remember Sedges have edges, rushes are round and grasses like asses have holes. HEH. Oregon native plant.
Several things about this sedge set it apart in this genus. Broad, wide leaves are soft green on the interior but lined boldly in cream. And its completely winter deciduous. Forms a spreading clump of great bolder texture that arches all in the same direction. Very nice. To 10″ tall and several feet across eventually. Rich, moisture retentive soil in part shade with consistent summer moisture. Excellent combined with the large leaves of Hosta. Line paths or use as a graceful punctuation in a woodland. Avoid really hot sunny dry locations- it will live but it won’t look so great. Completely deciduous in winter. Turns a tawny yellow in fall before leaves disappear.
We playfully refer to this large sedge as rootbeer grass. Its that color of ochre brown and it shine on this plant all year. One of the hardiest and longest lived New Zealand sedges for full sun, well drained soil and light consistent summer water. To 14″ tall but spreading up to 3′ across. Trailing stems hold little brown flowers in summer. Very good winter appearance and it has survived temperatures below 10ºF with good drainage and full sun. Elegant trailing down a hillside. Very good in large containers including winter containers. Easy to grow. Moderate deer resistance. Give it room to spread.
Wonderful orange Carex that is a great (if temporary] garden plant. Clumping and upright then broadly arching. Leaves take on intense copper tints for most of the year. Excellent plant for containers, winter containers. Evergreen and for full sun to light shade. Regular to rich, well drained soil- average summer water. Not drought tolerant over the long haul, so at least a soak once a week in summer. To 10″ tall x 20″ wide. Give it room to reach its full dimension. Containerized plants will drape gracefully over the edge. Do not cut back hard in spring- limit your tidying to removing dead/ratty leaves. If you do have to cut it back hard then make sure you apply some all organic fertilizer and water consistently to speed recovery. Average lifespan 3-5 years. Avoid full exposure to subfreezing wind. New Zealand.
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.
Snow Tussock from alpine New Zealand is a clump forming grass of great grace and texture. The fine upright growing blades are a soft taupe color that shines in the sunlight. Most often the tips of this grass become cere and it gives it a wilder look. To 2′ x 2′ and a tightly clumping evergreen that increases very slowly. In summer stems clad in tan oat like flowers dangle in a pretty way from the plants top. Full sun to part shade in Well drained, rich soil with light consistent summer moisture. Appreciates an open exposure- avoid neighbors that are too rambunctious or close. Stunning in a mass planting. A great grass for our climate. Do not divide, or move once established.
A very nice person from a climate far colder than ours gifted us this cute dwarf Restio. And I have to say it has performed wonderfully in my garden. It froze to the ground at 9ºF- but returned in spring right away. Seems to be one of the hardiest and easiest to grow that we have encountered. Really shines in containers where you can see the sheaths on the blue green segmented stems. Rises to about 20″ tall with many stems. In summer they are topped by clustered brown flower structures. Very nice. Well drained somewhat enriched soil (for a Restio thats odd). Full sun to very light shade. Grows fairly quickly given the conditions stated above. Light summer water. Protect containerized plants from temperatures below about 20ºF. Evergreen most winters including the bummer winter of 16/17. We’ll make as much as we possibly can. South Africa.
Tufted Fairy Grass is an Oregon native that forms bright green fine clumps but is in its glory in bloom when tall vertical stems display hazy tan flowers at the tips. Easy to grow grass that improves under cultivation. Native to semi-shady to sunny aspects in rich soil that drains but also retains moisture. Adaptable to wet sites that dry in summer. To 10″ x 1′ as a clump of foliage but rises to 3′ tall in bloom. Very wild looking grass that can be massed for a hazy meadow effect, or placed in straight lines a modern aesthetic that combines a wild plant with spaced symmetry. Excellent among shrubs and with other wild looking meadow perennials. Winter deciduous. Cut back dead growth in spring. Relatively long lived. Native in the Portland city limits. Graceful. Winter deciduous. A pan global plant- this is our local form. Click on the link for a video of the dried seed heads. Oregon native plant.
California Fescue native to the Willamette Valley from Multnomah county south and once widespread before being pushed to the margins by exotics and development. The best place to find this clump forming cool season evergreen grass now is on slopes, almost always underneath native Oaks. As you go farther south it becomes more widespread. Our seed grown plants come from exceptionally blue foliaged plants. Grows during the winter and looks clean and fresh then. In spring 3′ tall inflorescences arrive and are straight and airy. Following bloom in summer the stems of these blooms take on raspberry tints and remain standing. Totally summer drought adapted but a little irrigation will improve summer looks. To 1′ x 2′ as a clump of evergreen foliage. Full sun to part shade in average to enriched, soil where water never stands. Light summer water. Best in wild areas and margins. Looks a tad too wild for some. Check it out in person and see how you feel. Excels around Manzanitas, Cistus, Ceanothus and in dry shade in woodlands. A great garden plant. One of our best native grasses. Oregon native plant.
Roemer’s Fescue is a native bunchgrass found on upland prairies and slopes throughout the PNW. In the Willamette Valley it survives on the upward margins of woods, often under Oaks and accompanying California fescue. Roemer’s Fescue has much finer leaves and a tighter clumps than Festuca californica. Its immediately identifiable by this thin blue green foliage. A cool season grower it spends the winter in its freshest and lushest state by the onset of summer drought it has already gone cere (dry dormant). To 8″ tall and spreading. 1′ spikes with tan flowers appear in late spring and remain erect until the entire plant goes summer dormant. With regular water and good drainage this grass will avoid summer sleep and remain green and lush. A common component of Willamette Valley Oak Savanna and losing ground to invasive weeds. Excellent underplanting for drought adapted shrubs, or for the garden/wild lands interface. It spreads quickly by seed- its from here, you should expect that so keep it away from highly manicured areas. Its habitat in the Willamette Valley has shrunk to almost nothing. Bring this pretty native bunchgrass back to our gardens. Admirable lawn substitute. Evergreen. Oregon native plant.
A west coast native grass that ranges from British Columbia to Southern California- usually near the beach. This form is exceptionally blue and so pretty as a year round evergreen presence. To 9″ tall and spreading at a measured rate by stolons slowly expanding the plant to several feet wide. Forms an incredibly dense cover and weeds will seldom compete with this climate adapted grass. In late summer and not profuse 8″ stems hold gray floral spikes. This is along lived, easy to grow grass that does not die out in the center or poop out after a few years. In fact it would make an admirable lawn substitute. This form is from Humboldt, County in CA and was named for the small town where Greg lived as a child- so we had to grow it. And damn it turned out to be a fine, evergreen, native grass. Full sun to light shade and little to no summer water once established. Not fussy about soil and not a rambunctious thug unless soil is overly enriched- instead give it oxygenated average soil. Excellent among drought adapted shrubs and especially nice interplanted with Pacific Coast Iris. Fine dense foliage is bright blue in summer turning to more of a greenish hue during the cooler months. Excellent winter appearance. High deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
The all gold form of the legendary Japanese Forest Grass. Forms spreading clumps of arching gold foliage. A bit more upright than the variegated variety ‘Aureola’. To 2′ tall and 3′ wide in rich, well drained soil with regular summer moisture. Full sun (with water) to part shade. Fall color is rich amber. Winter deciduous. Mixes in a contrasting way with the glossy deep black/green foliage of Beesia and provides the texture and grace to many bulky Hosta plantings. Appreciates an annual application of all purpose fertilizer. And it appreciates well amended soil. Water regularly for the first summer to not only establish but grow the clump. A pacific northwest classic by way of Japan. It also emerges just in time to hide the fading foliage of spring bulbs. Planted in close proximity smaller Narcissus, Muscari, and Crocus will have foliage neatly disappear as the clump of forest grass expands. Very good under deciduous trees.
Legendary grass in the PNW. This striking form of Japanse forest grass has gold leaves striped in darker green. A clump forming perennial that arches gracefully. Lower growing than our other cultivar ‘All Gold’. Spreading to 3′ across in time this long lived deciduous beauty is indispensable in our climate. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer moisture. Full sun (but not reflected heat and with water) to part shade to quite a bit of high overhead shade. Woodland, walkways, borders, everywhere really where you need a touch of graceful elegance and a vivid color to brighten up dark days. Turns russet tones before losing its leaves in the fall.
Prairie June Grass is a widespread cool season grass that was widespread in the Willamette Valley. A tight clumping grass with soft blue/green foliage that rises to about 18″ tall forming a clump as wide. In June-August feathery gray/tan plume of flowers erupt and soar above the grassy clump. In bloom it is about 30″ tall. A long lived grass for virtually any soil in full sun. Rich soil results in a very large plant. Average soil that has been double dug to add oxygen is usually all thats necessary. Water the first season to establish then none in subsequent years. Mix with other native perennials and annuals. A great companion for Sidalceas as well as Solidago and Douglas aster. Will often self sow. Keep it away from highly manicured areas. Otherwise the clump keeps to itself. Very easy to grow perennial grass that is found throughout the northern hemisphere. An authentic grass for a Willamette Valley prairie. Winter appearance is green and verdant. Summer brings tan drought dormancy. Oregon native plant.
Spikey evergreen Iris relative that forms substantial clumps quickly. This species has leaf blades in a fashionable taupe. To 14″ tall and eventually getting wider. In summer three petalled pure white flowers appear on panicles within the foliage. These are followed by small showy yellow berries. Full sun and rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. Sharp drainage is important for cold hardiness. Put this on a hillside or in a gravel bed. Water faithfully to establish. AKA White flag. Native to New Zealand. Great in containers. Excellent performance at the Oregon coast.
Orange sword. Striking spiky ever orange monocot in the iris family. Forms upright spreading colonies in rich, well drained soil in full sun to light shade. The curving thin blades color brilliant orange with any kind of environmental stress. Hardier to cold when established. Runs by stolons give it room. In summer with in the evergreen foliage three petalled pure white flowers transform into yellow berry-like structures. Grows well in pots if left undisturbed and protected below 15ºF. In extreme cases it can freeze to the ground (below 10ºF) and will vigorously return. Avoid boggy situations. Moderate deer resistance.
Snowy woodrush is a great woodlander and has many seasons of interest. The thin arching blades on this clump forming plant are softly veiled in white hairs that gives a softness to the clump. To 10″ tall and as wide in a season. In late summer 2′ tall spikes appear and produce snowy white flowers. They sway in the breeze. A mass planting of this in bloom is magical. Rich, moisture retentive soil that drains in part shade to shade. Takes sun with regular water but nothing hot. Excellent long lived perennial. Can self sow when very happy. The hairy seedlings are easy to spot and move- or give away.
We’ve been impressed with this evergreen, ever lovely, ever symmetrical sedge from Europe. Tightly clumping deep green plant to 6″ tall x 11″ wide in time. Rich, moist, well drained soil is ideal. Protect from blasting sun and reflected heat. Excellent performance in woodlands, sunny, irrigated borders. Imparts both a natural look but its habit is so symmetrically round that it also gives a modern feel. May be massed for a profound soft effect. Regular summer water- especially during heatwaves. Excellent performance in containers. Easy to grow. Evergreen- but it can look a little burned if we have extreme cold- not to worry new growth quickly hides any tatty leaves in spring. Avoid dense, dry shade, dappled overhead shade is ideal. Deep green appearance year round.
Sylvatica- of the woodland and this woodland evergreen workhorse of a sedge is both easy to grow and always good looking. Forms bold rosettes of 1/2 wide deep green stems to about 2′ across. In early spring 1′ spikes hold metallic tan flowers. Very pretty. Full sun to dense shade in rich to average well drained soil with light summer water. More water will be needed the more sun it gets to remain deep green. Easy to grow and excellent massed for a uniform if somewhat wild look. Remove spent flower spikes to prevent seeding which will occur in open disturbed sites that you irrigate. These seedlings are easy to spot and move and it never becomes a pest. Long lived. Adaptable to very dry conditions in shade.
This! This is one of the coolest sedges for winter displays. It virtually glows in yellow/chartreuse and spreads to form large patches. Adaptable to both full sun (with water) to dense shade. it holds its gold coloring in shade but is more conspicuous in the cold months. In summer it turns lime green and can be site where it fades into the background. In early spring 1′ chartreuse stems display excellently contrasting warm, metallic brown flowers- they are quite showy and come in great quantity. Excellent in rich to average soil with regular summer water. Full sun (but not reflected heat) to dense shade. Very adaptable to dry shade conditions. We love this evergreen workhorse of a sedge that virtually glows. Great en masse or as a simple single glowing patch. This species of woodland sedge is native to Europe. Excellent plant.
This is the most common form of this tough and good looking woodland sedge. The wide curving leaves are finely lined in yellow on the margins. It give this useful plant extra dimension. To 18″ across and forming multiple rosettes. In spring 1′ spikes carrying showy tan flowers create a haze. Rich to average well drained soil with consistent summer moisture. Full sun (with regular summer water) to quite dense shade. Useful evergreen for winter containers. Excellent winter appearance. Long lived, easy to grow. Takes very dry shade when established.
Golden Millet grass we love for its bright and shining appearance in shady woodlands. The upright growing then strongly curled leaf blades appear very much like ribbons. In summer stems rise and then arch with little round seeds. The entire plant is the same shade of glowing chartreuse. To 2′ tall and forming slowly expanding clumps. Shade to part shade in rich, well drained soil with light summer irrigation. Avoid blasting hot sun- it will bleach horribly to an ugly appearance. The combination of the soft, ribbon-like foliage and the airy seed heads is a great texture to counter balance the bold appearance of Hosta or Bergenia ciliata. Completely winter deciduous. Seeds around- and seedling come true and are easy to spot and they move very well. Dies away to nothing by midwinter- seldom even have to cut it back.
Of all the big, huge Miscanthus on the market this one appeals to us the most. Fine vertical then arching blades have edges lined in white. It gives the whole mature clump (to 5′) a soft, texture and overall appearance. In late summer into autumn mahogany red feathery flower clusters decorate the stems tips. The rise another 10 inches above the clump. Easy to grow in full sun to very light shade in any rich to average soil with adequate summer moisture. Clumps expand quickly and can easily approach 3′ wide. Cut back in winter- this grass has a bad habit in winter dormancy of detaching in wind and blowing about. But you can also leave it skeleton for winter interest and cut it back in spring. Regular summer water improves appearance and leads to blooms. Fully hardy. Winter deciduous. Japan.
A purely awesome form of Moor grass that we find indispensable at Xera. A strongly clump forming grass that has comparatively wide leaf blades margined heavily in cream. The effect up close is alternative deep green and yellow/cream vertical stripes. Very handsome. In summer 2′ spike rise. The stems are the exact color of yellow/cream that appears on the leaves, it gives great continuity to the whole plant. At the tips of these bright vertical stems are deep tan inflorescences. Exciting. Forms a clump to 18″ wide fairly quickly. Responds best to enriched soil that is fertile, drains well and light, consistent summer water which will lead to a much less thirsty plant in the long run. Roots go down very very far, and an established clump is somewhat difficult to lift and divide. But it can go many, many years before this is needed. Completely winter deciduous- cut back the vertical stems any time it is dormant. A fine texture for great contrast in borders or massed. Long lived and very hardy grass.
Most grasses in this genus native to North America really do prefer a hotter, longer summer than we have. But this one has surprised us and we are in love with it. Strongly clump forming evergreen grass with thin blue/green blades that rise to about 1′ tall. In late summer spikes erupt and as they unfurl they reveal a long feather like inflorescence that is up to 2′ long. The sun shining through this taupe/white group of flowers is purely luminescent. To 4′ tall and 4′ wide for full sun and average, well drained soil full sun. Excels on slopes- especially hot slopes. It requires just light summer irrigation but established clumps get by with none and still perform. Wonderful grass to plant among such things as Arctostaphylos and Grevilleas. Cut back to the foliage in spring. Really good looking dryland grass from the Texas Big Bend country.
Deer grass is native to large areas of the west coast from west central Oregon south through California. Its a tough and wild looking grass that peaks in autumn with a crescendo of dramatic flowers. Dense and fountain forming evergreen grass. Foliage to 2′ x 3′ very quickly. In autumn spikes of light tan thin but feather columns emerge and point out in every direction. The rise to about 5′ tall and remain as stiff skeletons well into winter. Full sun to very light shade in any soil that drains. Excels on slopes and raised beds. Wonderful lining a path or mass planted. Water to establish the first season then none in subsequent years. Its fully adapted to our dust dry summers. Very wild looking grass which can be tamed somewhat by planting in rows or symmetrical pattern. Otherwise it fits in perfectly between drought tolerant native shrubs like Manzanita and Ceanothus. Oregon native plant.
Nodding needlegrass is a clump forming species native to western California south to northern Baja CA. Fine, fine medium green foliage appears in spring and is bright and fresh. In late spring stems rise to display the metallic tan, long needle like awns. They gracefully bend in every direction and are magical when tussled by the wind. They wave and sway gracefully and the light catches glints off the flowers. Very wild looking west coast grass that is at home in any well drained soil in full sun. Adaptable to light summer water and this improves the appearance and amount of blooms. To 2′ tall in bloom the basal clumps spread to about 1′ wide. Winter deciduous. Cut back hard in early spring before new growth starts. Completely adapted to summer drought once established and is a graceful and integral part of dry plantings. Seeds around a bit- expect this. Full sun.
Grass widows or Grass maidens is a beautiful and fascinating perennial bulb that is native over a wide but scattered part of our region. Most common east of the Cascades it finds a home in several drier portions of the Willamette Valley. The summit of Spencer’s Butte south of Eugene is one location as are appearances in dry prairie in Benton county. One of the very first conspicuous wildflowers to emerge in February/March. From shallow soils, it lifts to 8″ tall with a wide nodding purple flower- the exact hue of each plant is slightly different. A clump of leaves follows the flowers before going neatly summer dormant. Best in rock garden conditions where you rely only on natural rainfall. Spreads in time to form quaint colonies. Once a Sisyrinchium this member of the Iris family is one of the dearest wildflowers for our gardens. Full sun- no shade at all and amend the soil w/ a handful of pumice. Water after planting until summer heat induces dormancy. Then never again. Seed grown. Avoid crowding from other plants. It can and has been overwhelmed by invasive exotic grasses. High deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
Congested grass like lily turf that rises to less than 3″ high and forms dense colonies to mimic a lawn. Deep green foliage is handsome year round. Best in rich, moisture retentive soil with regular summer irrigation. Tolerates full sun with regular summer water otherwise takes shade, even dense shade. Inconspicuous flowers morph into turquoise blue berries in late summer/fall. Excellent in heavy soils with irrigation. Mulch annually with compost to increase luster and vigor. Foliage not blemished by the coldest winters. Good container plant.
AKA ‘Pam Harper’. Nice lily turf that brightens up shady areas with ribbon like evergreen leaves outlined in white. The interior of the leaves is soft green. In early to mid summer 8″ spikes produce lavender flowers. To 10″ x 12″ forming a spreading clump. In time it will spread to form a small scale ground cover. Good appearance year round. Part shade to shade in rich to average soil- including clay soils. Avoid compacted soils and regular summer water speeds up the growth rate. High deer resistance.
Probably the best looking and easiest to grow lily turf species for our climate. Tightly clumping deep green grasslike mounds of foliage are good looking YEAR ROUND- no scorching or freeze burn. To 8″ tall x 10″ wide eventually it thrives in quite a bit of shade to even sun if irrigation is consistent. Loves heavy clay soils and will happily live in standing water for part of the year. Established plants (1-2 years) are much more drought resistant even in full sun. The glossy leaves are just 3mm wide and 10cm long. In summer masses of white flowers appear within the foliage. These turn into masses of large, vivid sky blue berries which are showy well into winter. Excellent for massing (plant on 8″ centers) for a small scale ground cover. For this application it plays to amend the soil with compost and all organic fertilizer to speed growth and establishment. Excellent as a marginal plant near natural ponds and creeks. Very deer resistant. Native to eastern China.
Without a doubt one of the finest lily turf/liriopogons that I have ever grown. Dense clumps of fine deep green leaves are handsome at all time. Including unblemished after the hardest winters. In early summer with in the leaves small spikes of white flowers are not conspicuous and by autumn they have transformed in to luminescent turquoise berries. Not slow for a lily turf and tolerant of everything from compacted soils to intense dry shade. Will take full sun but with regular irrigation or foliage can yellow. To 8″ tall and expanding to almost a foot wide within several years. Line paths, mass as a ground cover. Carefree plant that always looks its best.
Native of the high grass prairies of the midwest this form of Switch Grass delights with soft blue foliage and foamy inflorescences and a staunchly upright habit. Blooms appear in early August and remain effective through winter. In autumn the whole plant is awash in tones of raspberry and red before going cere for winter. Surprisingly even in dry dormancy snow or ice and knock this grass over and when the thaw comes- pouf! It stands straight back up. Winter deciduous- but the clump does remain in place for the majority of winter. Cut back hard- to the ground in spring just before new growth appears. Full sun and rich, to average, well drained soil with consistent light summer water. Drought adapted when established- to an extent. Looks better with water. To 5′ tall and in bloom and forming an expanding clump to 2′ wide. Ultra hardy grass that can be planted en mass or alone as a vertical blue focal point.
Veldt grass from South Africa has easily turned into one of our favorite ornamental grasses. Spreads to form bright green evergreen foliage that rises to 20″ tall and spreads several feet wide. From late spring to early autumn a continuous supply of 3′ – 4′ stems that have a catkin like inflorescence at the tip. It begins white and slowly turns to to tan. They wave gracefully in the wind and point in every direction from the clump. Immensely graceful grass that has an incredibly long season of interest. Rich, well drained soil with little summer water once established. Remains good looking through winter. Cold hardy and easy for full sun. Creates and excellent instant meadow effect. Evergreen. Moderate deer resistance.
Ribbon lily or ribbon grass. Creeping evergreen perennial with ribbon like arching leaves arranged in fans. Spreads rapidly in rich, moisture retentive soil with protection from hot sun. To 8″ tall. In autumn, among the deep green leaves pink spikes open to white flowers. Not conspicuous but cute when you notice. Even more showy are the bright orange berries that persist through winter Great tough, low maintenance ground cover for part shade to shade. Accepts no summer water if there is protection from the sun. Great winter appearance even after the repeated arctic blasts and ice and snow of winter 2017. This tenacious plant has a real will to grow. It should be used everywhere. Not bothered by gastropods- surprisingly.
A fantastic grass that performs wonderfully well in our climate. A clumping grass with very upright blue foliage. In summer inflorescences rise above the leaves with fine fluffy whitish flowers- provides a dramatic hazy effect. In autumn the 28″ tall grass becomes a whole other color palette. Deep raspberry and purple with tints of red before going over to all all reddish orange. An excellent color trip not the way to dormancy. When dormant it remains a presence and looks nice through winter. Cut down to the ground in late winter/early spring to make way for fresh new foliage. Not evergreen. Average to enriched well drained soil with light summer water. Established plants in reasonably good soil will sale through summer drought with no ill effects. Clumps expand over time to 2′ wide. Full sun. Easy grass. May self sow in open disturbed soil.
An autumn moor grass with distinctive differences. Very blue upright, stiff foliage forms a large expanding clump. In mid summer through autumn (and beyond) 18″ straight vertical stems support gray/black flowers frosted with light yellow pollen. Excellent appearance year round for an evergreen grass to 1′ tall and 2′ wide in several seasons. Well drained average to enriched soil. Light, consistent summer water in full sun. Excellent massed, plant on 2′ centers. Flowers slowly decay over winter and spent stems may be cut away. Refrain from cutting this plant back to the ground. Winter damage will be covered quickly by new growth in late winter to early spring. Establishes quickly. Cold hardy below 0ºF. Native to Italy/Croatia- its adapted well to a summer dry climate. Nice looking grass.
Crazy cool grass that is handsome year round- not entering dormancy in winter and they bloom on compact plants for several months. This mediterranean native grass forms lose but not unkempt bunches of arching evergreen foliage. The floral spikes rise another several inches above the foliage for a complicated texture. Full sun, well drained soil, little water once established. To 14″ tall and 20″ wide. 1′ tall in bloom. Very drought tolerant and does not really go through a down time remaining the same aesthetically all year. Accepts regular irrigation with excellent drainage.
Sweet little blue eyed grass with a penchant for being different. Eschewing the purple and yellow and blue flowers commonly assigned to this genus this little freak puts out simple flowers with petals that alternate soft tan and purple. Its a groovy combination and adds a wild flower flare on long thin stalks to 18″ tall. Forms increasing clumps of grassy blue/green foliage. Deciduous in winter. Full sun and rich to average well drained soil with light but consistent summer water when established. A good sized clump can measure about 10″ across after several years. A charming perennial that we have found is excellently adapted to the open mindedness of the west coast as well as climate. Easy. Gay Iris relatives are few and far between. Treasure them. Moderate deer resistance.
PRECIOUS and showy blue eyed grass. Sometimes variegation really works on a plant and this is one of those cases. Grassy leaves are soft green with prominent ivory stripes. This backdrop virtually glows in combination with the relatively large purple/blue flowers. Blooms April-July and appreciates rich soil with regular water to really get going and colonize. Excellent rain garden subject. Its best position is possibly in containers. Upright leaves have a pointed top to 6″ tall in bloom. Excellent contrast between the variegation and the flower color. Full sun. Moderate deer resistance. Showy, sweet perennial. Mix with other low perennials. Combine with Acaena inermis ‘Purpurea’ and Dianthus ‘Pink Pyrenees’. Fun to grow. Flowers close tightly at night.
Silver Feather Grass- our favorite ornamental grass. From humble blue leaves that form an upright grassy clump stems rise to 4′. As the flower open they unfurl- curling 18″ long horizontally and covered in soft downy hairs. The slightest wind puts these streamers into graceful motion. Blooms June-July. When the flowers ripen and begin to detach they can be gathered and made into a bouquet and the tails will curl up and form a soft tan haze. An arrangement lasts forever. Often self sows in open conditions- and this is good because it is not an easy grass to germinate and does not work from division. Easy to move when small. Give it an open position where you can observe the streaming flowers unobstructed. Very hardy and little summer water once established. Full sun. Semi-evergreen foliage in winter. High deer resistance. Spectacular grass.
This is the giant straight species that is so popular for its soaring silver stems and golden drooping awns. To 12′ tall in bloom from a tight but large basal clump of fine deep green leaves. Perfectly evergreen with a great winter appearance. Very easy to grow grass that provides spectacular garden effects. Incredibly drought tolerant in any well drained soil- including clay if it is not allowed to become bone dry concrete. Flowers make a great see through “scrim” in gardens. Fun to grow. Moderate deer resistance.
As if a wonderful grass couldn’t get any better this smaller version thrills us with so many more applications. A low clump of arching dense dark green evergreen foliage has a nice presence year round. In spring and continuing all throughout summer into autumn 3′-4′ spikes terminate in clouds of metallic golden awns. They sparkle in full sun and sway in the breeze- but are determinedly upright. The basal clump of leaves spreads slowly to 2′ wide in 5 years. Full sun and well drained soil- bud adaptable to anything but a bog. Evergreen. Cut back spent flowers in winter- or let them stay and wave around beckoning birds and wildlife. Moderate deer resistance. Little to no summer water when established.