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.
Plant Type: Grass or Grass-like
Grasses impart grace and continuity to the garden. They are immensely popular and for good reason. The fine textures and waving motions are synonymous with the best gardens. Appreciation of grasses and their beauty reflects a profound shift in aesthetic acceptance. Most people find them integral now to gardening. Lawns are not the only game in town.The colors offered by the thin blades cover the rainbow. We search for grasses that are not only evergreen but thrive in a host of environments. Remember that grasses make elegant container subjects. Grasses native to Oregon are important to us. They complete any native landscape and make great garden plants. The perfect component in a climate adapted garden. There is great interest in massing sedges and grasses in landscapes and it is growing. Some tips. Look at the eventual spread of the grass. There is nothing more irritating than pulling weeds and invasive grasses out of ornamental stands. And we try to shy away from grasses that require frequent division to thrive. These and several mediterranean species such as Seslerias fit well in our climate as they are winter growers. Truly, in western Oregon the land turns green with the first rains and we should take advantage of those qualities. Nothing wrong with sear, golden stands through winter but we think there are more appropriate choices.
Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW
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.
Festuca californica var. californica
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.
Festuca roemeri var. roemeri
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 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.
Festuca rubra var. juncea ‘Patrick’s Point’
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.
Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’
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.
Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’
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 common 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.