Vancouveria chrysantha

Rare perennial Siskiyou Inside-out-Flower is a much more drought tolerant version of our locally native Vancouveria hexandra (Inside out flower). This yellow flowered species tolerates extreme dry shade and colonizes even compacted dry soils to create a handsome ground cover. The delicate looking interestingly shaped leaves create a soft mound of shapes in cool green and edged slightly in red. In April-June 20″ wiry spikes suspend small downward pointing flowers- they appear to float above the foliage reminding me of a group of fireflies. (Wish we had those). Mostly evergreen if temperatures stay above about 15ºF.  Basically this is our version of Epimedium (to which it is related) but with more tolerance for summer drought. To 8″ tall and spreading to several feet wide in richer, moisture retentive soil. Light summer water increases growth.  This is an extraordinarily elegant native that should find a happy home in gardens too. Part shade to full shade. Not bothered by pests. Excellent perennial under large shrubs or within tree roots. In the wild it is the understory plant to Arctostaphylos, Rhododendron, Vaccinium, Notholithocarpus densiflorus var. echinoides.  Associate perennials were Oxalis oreganus and Mianthemum as well as viola semperivrens- Redwood violet. Easy community to replicate in your garden. Oregon native plant.

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Veronica liawanensis

Turkish speedwell is an excellent low water creeping ground cover that performs wonderfully in our climate. Flush with the ground this evergreen creeps in well drained average to enriched soil to several feet wide in several seasons. In April to May carpets of sky blue flowers obscure the entire plant. Very pretty. Roots as it grows, excellent for erosion control on a small scale on steep slopes. Regular summer water speeds growth but once established it takes summer drought very well. Full sun to the very lightest shade. Dies out in compacted soils- make sure to double dig the area around where it is to go to incorporate oxygen in the soil. For tired plantings simple overspread compost on top of it and let it settle between the leaves in early spring. Easy to grow hardy little ground cover. Moderate deer resistance.

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Whipplea modesta

Yerba de Selva or whipple vine, a wonderful small scale evergreen native ground cover. Related to Hydrangeas but this trailer is actually very aromatic with a sweet penetrating aroma if you disturb the foliage. In late spring clouds of small white flowers have  the same perfume. Scrambling plant to about 8″ tall and 2′ wide. Full sun to considerable shade. From Portland south this is a common understory component of the herb field. It grew happily in our back 40 where I grew up. There it made pretty scrambling patches between Vancouveria, snow berry and hairy honeysuckle. Often you would see our native columbine ( Aquilegia formosa) as an associate. Its very drought adapted when established but it improves with a few soaks over summer- never perpetually wet and never hot and wet. Otherwise an easy native that should be grown a lot more. Just the fragrance of the foliage endears it to me. For use as a small scale ground cover plant on 10″ centers. It will also gracefully trail over rockeries and walls. Butterflies adore the flowers. Competes well with invasives. Some deer resistance. It may be cut back in early spring to refresh. Once native in the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.

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Biome: , , , , ,  |  USDA Hardiness zone: Zn5b -10º to -15ºF
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