Juniperus communis ‘Hoodview’

Low growing incredibly blue common juniper that we found on the slopes of Mt. Hood on the eastern side of Multnomah county. To just 10″ tall  but usually much lower it creeps slowly and densely to 3′ wide in 5 years. Rich, well drained soil in full sun though it makes due with less than ideal conditions. Handsome blue cast to the foliage is nice looking all the time. Growth is dense and blocks out weeds. Nice to have a locally native Juniper from a relatively low elevation. Long lived and care free. Water or once established do not. Oregon native plant.

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Juniperus conferta ‘All Gold’

Nice, nice creeping juniper for lighting up hillsides or hellstrips. The needles on this low spreading plant are actually closer to chartreuse/lime green than gold. But its a vivid color and the 1′ tall x 5′ wide plant shines. Full sun and well drained soil. Light to little summer water when established. Excellent ground cover for a steep dry bank. Endures extreme cold as well as heat. Tiny flowers turn into blue fruits that contrast nicely with the foliage. Very easy to grow and good looking year round. Moderate deer resistance. Great performance at the Oregon Coast. Tolerates dense clay on slopes. Striking winter and spring appearance that glows from a distance. Well behaved plant. Combine with blue and gray leaved foliage for extra contrast. Hebe pinguifolia ‘Sutherlandii’ or Arctostaphylos pajaroensis ‘Warren Roberts’. You really can’t go wrong with blue/gray and chartreuse foliage. It provides just enough contrast that you can see the texture of each plant but is not an overall jarring contrast. Excellent garden juniper that we’ve all grown to love.

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Juniperus horizontalis ‘Pancake’

So many junipers and so few that are really interesting. This guy caught our attention for its relatively soft growth (to the touch) that is incredibly dense and flat to the ground (prostrate).  In summer the foliage is a soft blue green and in winter it changes to soft lavender buff. Very pretty. Excellent solution for tough dry sites where you need to cover the ground completely. To just inches tall a single plant will spread 3′-4′ wide. Light to little summer water in full sun to very light shade. Easy to grow, useful plant. Nice looking year round. Growth flows around any obstruction- around, up and over. Excellent flowing over rock walls.  Moderate deer resistance. This has been used as a groundcover/ lawn substitute and it really does work. As with all ground covers the object is not to cover the whole planet but to cover perfectly the space you need (be realistic) and this plant quickly does that. Pretty at the front of borders and combined with winter blooming Cyclamen coum. In time the stems will layer and aid in erosion control- it takes a few years for this process to kick in. Plant on 2′ centers for a fast and total cover.  Water to establish and speed growth and then back off.

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Lamium maculatum ‘Aureum’

This golden form of dead nettle is surprisingly vigorous and makes a glowing small scale ground cover. Mostly evergreen- unless it drops below 15ºF. From early spring to fall a continuous supply of spikes of light purple flowers. Each leaf is decked with a silver chevron. Part shade to full sun with regular summer water. To 6″ tall and 2′ wide when happy. Add a yearly layer of compost to increase vigor. A wonderful plant for lighting up the garden. Moderate deer resistance.

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Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’

Its important that a ground cover be successful. They are meant after all to cover the ground, block weeds, discourage erosion, provide a uniform look. After trying many ground covers and the famed “squashables” as we call them (plants don’t like to be stepped on- that why we play football on grass and not Corsican Mint). This is a vigorous evergreen (black) dense growing plant that literally crowds out the competition rather than obscuring it. Tiny, ferny foliage takes on dramatic black tones when mature or the lightest bit stressed. It prefers non-compacted loose friable soil to roam with regular summer water. Full sun creates the darkest foliage and creates the densest plant. If planting in between pavers know that repeat stepping on the stones will compact the soil around them- not many plants especially ground covers like this. To combat this spread a layer of compost right over the plant in early spring. it will quickly grow through it and love the nutrients and oxygen in the soil that it provides. Little inconspicuous button flowers are easy to miss. To 1j/2″ tall and several feet wide.

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Leptospermum rupestre (Low Form)

Creeping form of Alpine tea tree from the highest mountains of Tasmania. Low evergreen shrub with deep green tiny leaves set densely on the stems. Forms a complete ground cover in time with the ability to inhibit weeds. The new stems are an attractive cinnamon red before switching to gray. In early summer tiny pink buds open to starry white flowers. For several weeks they obscure the foliage. To 1′ tall but usually much lower and spreading to 3′ x 3′ in several years. Full sun and rich, well drained soil with light but consistent summer irrigation. Drought adapted when established. Best on warm south or west facing aspects. Avoid exposure to intense subfreezing east wind- in those areas plant it in a protected location. Always handsome ground cover shrub. Amazing at the edge of containers or near boulders as this plant will faithfully follow every contour. Cool.

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Lonicera hispidula

Hairy Honeysuckle or wild pink honeysuckle is a common vine in the western part of our state. Ranging rom S. British Columbia to California. This sprawling and twining plant is most associated with the cover under white oak woodlands. This vine can crawl to impressive heights into trees. As a child near Eugene this grew extensively on our property. It would climb pole sized trees and I would strip the winding canes off the trees and use them as a trellis for annual vines. The strong wood lasted 10 years or more. It derives its name from the conspicuous hairs on the leaves. At terminal ends of the branches soft pink curly flowers appear in cymes from June to September. These are followed by brilliant red berries that are food for birds. It has no fragrance. Excellent plant for stabilizing banks and hillsides where its incredible tenacity and drought tolerance is an advantage. Never a tidy plant this vine can be sent up a trellis or large tree. Water to establish then set it free. This honeysuckle can be afflicted with aphids early in the season but I’ve never seen it actually inhibit the plant. Just make sure not to look to closely at the plant in May-June. Evergreen to semi-evergreen with round leaves that surrounding the stem nearest the ends just before the flowers appear. Best in wild areas.- for some it can lack the sophistication of our other native honeysuckle Lonicera ciliosa. and is not as immediately beautiful. In habitat it consorts with Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana) Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversifolia) and Creeping snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus). Often found clambering up steep rocky slopes in dry woods. Oregon native plant.

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Incredibly long blooming native sub-shrub with clouds of fragrant purple flowers for all of summer into autumn. To 2′ x 2′ forming a semi-woody base. The aromatic round leaves cup the flower buds as the stems elongate. Loved by all native pollinators. A wonderful plant in the mint family that is very easy to grow and long lived for this genus. This selection sports slightly darker purple and longer blooming flowers. Found from Douglas County, Oregon south throughout California.  Freezes back in very cold winters but sprouts quickly with warm weather in spring and commences bloom quickly. Great as a mass planting and ideal in a meadow. Also, adaptable to rock gardens and indeed thats where you find it in the wild- among gravel, rocks, and boulders. Mix with other long blooming native perennials such as Erigeron glaucus (sp & cvs) and among California fescue (Festuca californica). A very climate adapted plant. Cut back spent flowers and more will follow.  Nice cut flower. Very long blooming. Light summer water to very little when established. Some deer resistance. AKA Showy coyote mint. Oregon native plant.

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Omphalodes verna

A wonderful, incredibly long blooming perennial with clouds of true blue flowers waving above substantial spreading foliage. Easy to grow, long lived and very hardy plant to just 8″ tall in bloom but spreading to several feet wide. Rich, moisture retentive, well drained soil is where this plant for woodland margins thrives. Regular summer water. Avoid drought and compacted soil but this is a forgiving perennial. Blooms March-June. Plant bulbs among the foliage for a great spring floral display. Winter deciduous. Protect new growth from slugs.

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Omphalodes verna ‘Alba’

Easy to grow, long lived spreading perennial that blooms for an incredibly long three months in spring. Fresh white forget-me-not flowers appear in clouds on wiry stems. The solid corrugated green foliage is an ideal foil. Creeping to several feet across in rich to average well drained soil with regular summer moisture. Thrives in part shade and finds a perfect home under large shrubs, at the base of trees. Fresh and white. To 8″ tall.

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