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. 

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Carex praegracilis

Meadow Sedge native to the west coast and beyond. 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.

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Carex siderostricha ‘Variegata’

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.

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Carex tenuiculmis

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.

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Carex testacea

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.

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Chionochloa rubra

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.

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Chondrapetalum tectorum ‘Dwarf’

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.

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Deschampsia caespitosa

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. Oregon native plant.

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Festuca californica

Native to the Willamette Valley and once widespread before being pushed to the margins by exotics and development. The best place to find this clump forming evergreen grass now is on slopes, almost always underneath 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, well drained soil. 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. Oregon native plant.

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Festuca roemeri

Idaho 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 as it is also called has much finer leaves and a tighter clump 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. 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.

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