Muhlenbergia rigens

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.

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Nasella cernua

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.

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Olysinium douglasii

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.

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Ophiopogon ‘Kyoto Dwarf’

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.

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Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Pamela Harper’

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.

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Ophiopogon umbraticola

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.

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Ophiopogon umbraticola ‘Sparkler’

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.

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Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’

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.

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Pennisetum spatheolatum

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.

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Reineckea carnea

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.

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