Viola odorata (Parma) ‘Duchess du Parme’

There’s nothing like the smell of sweet violets in late winter and early spring. But the regular species in our climate is nothing less than a thug. It seeds and grows where you really would rather not have it. Well, forget that. Enter this exquisite fully double flowering Parma Violet. The rich violet blue flowers appear on long stems from January to April. Parma violets are the Mediterranean form of V. odorata and they are less hardy to cold and not so rampant. This form we have never seen set seed- but there are always exceptions. Very glossy green foliage frames the flowers well. Excellent in containers in an unheated greenhouse, conservatory. In the garden choose a protected spot (under evergreen shrubs for example) and give this violet rich soil with regular summer moisture. Tolerates full sun but looks better with some shade. Flowers tend to lean horizontally, they are great for cutting and making little fragrant winter posies. Spreads by runners to form a nice patch in time. Tolerates summer drought when established.

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Viola praemorsa ssp. praemorsa

Canary violet or upland Violet has many subspecies in the PNW and west in general. This is our own Willamette Valley form of this intriguing handsome perennial. Large spoon shaped leaves have an underside with conspicuous hairs. The top of the leaf is glossier. In April-May bright yellow flowers appear. The bottom petal has conspicuous black whiskers. In our region this violet is local in the most undisturbed sites but it shows very good persistence in competition with non-native introduced grasses. My experience is that it favors rocky and scree sites that remain somewhat cool- for instance the north side of a steep slope. To 6″ tall and forming expanding plants. Winter deciduous. Arrives early in spring and can go summer dormant with high heat. Excellent planted in fall or winter and left to its own devices. Average to enriched soil yields the best results. This is one of the showiest violets native to the Willamette Valley. Fairly long lived. Little deer resistance. Some associated plants are Olysinium douglasii, Sedum spathulifolium, Dodecatheon hendersonii. Oregon native plant.

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Watsonia latifolia

A true red flowered Watsonia and one of the hardiest of the genus. Wide green spikey leaves rise to 2′ tall in spring. In late spring to early summer 3′ tall spikes of tubular true red flowers line the stems. Loved by hummingbirds and cut flower aficionados alike. Rich soil in full sun in a protected position- a south or west facing wall is ideal. Freezes to the ground below 20ºF- re-sprouts in spring. Forms an expanding clump to several feet across. A fun genus to experiment with in our climate. Rated as zone 7 in its native high elevation South Africa.  We think its more like 10ºF in our climate. Plant with royal red Lobelia tupa and Rosa ‘Bengal Fire’ for a red extravaganza. Excellent performance at the Oregon Coast. Somewhat deer resistant.

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Watsonia pillansii

This is one of the hardiest species of Watsonia Lily. It forms large evergreen clumps of spikY foliage to 3′ tall. In early summer 6′ spikes of tubular brilliant orange flowers are stunning. They bloom for weeks. A protected location such as close to a south or west facing wall. Capable of freezing to the ground in extreme cold (below 20ºF) but regrowing vigorously and still blooming in late spring to early summer. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer moisture. If allowed to go completely dry in summer this as with other Watsonias will go dry dormant. It returns with the first rains in autumn. Amazing cut flower. Mulch your clump in autumn. Wonderful South African perennial that is glorious at the Oregon Coast. To 3′ wide eventually.

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Watsonia x pillansii ‘Coral and Hardy’

We love Watsonias but the most successful climate is truly on the coast. This form is seed from a persistently hardy, well blooming plant that has survived in Portland. The majority of these seedlings will be coral/ orange/ light pink. To 20″ tall forming clumps in RICH, well composted soil in full sun. Regular summer water increases both the growth rate and the cold hardiness. Larger more established clumps are hardier to cold. Amazing cut flower that will produce several dozen spikes off of one good clump. Mostly evergreen. Foliage looks burnt below 20ºF and can freeze to the ground. This winter growing bulb is also immensely drought tolerant with a period of summer drought inducing dormancy. Place in a warm, protected location Near a south facing wall or fence. Mulch for the first few winters with dry leaves. Place in a location where summer dormancy is not an issue. Very fun to grow South African bulb. Excellent performance at the Oregon Coast. Not bothered by deer or elk- well the elk might step on them but they won’t eat them. Fantastic cut flower and clumps become huge there.

Xera Plants Introduction

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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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Woodwardia fimbriata

Our native Giant Chain Fern that occupies specific spots in seeps randomly from CA to BC. Large pendant and trailing 3′ long glossy fronds form huge rosettes. Usually occupying permanently wet seeps on shady hillsides in cool places. The entire plant may be up to 5′ across. Evergreen but it benefits greatly from some early spring tidying of spent and aging old leaves. Part shade to shade in rich well drained soil with regular consistent moisture for the best look. Highly deer resistant. We’re honored to grow this, one of our most spectacular native ferns. Oregon native plant.

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Woodwardia unigemmata

Relatively new fern with a great future ahead. Large growing evergreen chain fern from Asia with new growth lavishly dyed red- it settles to soft green with time. To 3′ across the fronds are held atop relatively long stems. The rubbery green leaves are finely divided with surprisingly soft lobes. Rich, moisture retentive soil in bright shade to shade. Spectacular plant at all times we have observed it. So far it has not suffered damage in my garden below 10ºF and appearance following a rough winter was good. Highly deer resistant. Spectacular.

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Wulfenia x schwarzii

Obscure perennial hybrid that has yielded a wonderful perennial. Evergreen rosettes of fleshy scalloped green leaves look good year round. From February to June (yep.) 10″ spikes are covered in violet blue tubular flowers. The display is continuous for months. Part shade in rich, well drained soil with regular summer water. Mass for a stunning effect for months. A natural for PNW woodlands. Cold hardy and easy to grow. Not bothered by slugs or snails. Excellent perennial that has amazed us with its long, uninterrupted bloom period which is continuously showy with no intervention from the gardener. Mix with spring blooming perennials. Mine makes its life with regular old wild Primula vulgaris. I love the soft yellow flowers paired with this violet-blue hue. Easy, showy, and carefree perennial. This plant has everything needed for greatness. Too bad its so obscure. We intend to change that.

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Wyethia angustifolia

Mules Ears are rare in cultivation. These cheery bold perennials make the transition of our wild flowers from spring into real summer. So named for its long leaves it forms very permanent spreading colonies in clay soils in habitat. The brilliant yellow sun flower blossoms rise up on sturdy stems directly from the ground. Each ebullient large flower is about 4″ across. Blooms appear from late April to early June. This plant usually finishes blooming just as summer drought commences. Its a memorable sight in wild meadows where it blooms simultaneously with native Rosa nutkana and Farewell to spring (Clarkia amoena var. lindleyi) and Giant blue eyed mary (Collinsia grandiflora). Wonderful cut flower and immediate and popular pollinator perennial. This plant was once very common in the Willamette Valley but civilization has immensely shrunk its native range. Good, long lived garden plant that goes summer dormant quickly after blooming has ended. The leaves turn gray and brittle and can easily be removed then. Give it a summer rest w/ little to no summer water once established. Full sun to very light shade. Water to establish its first season then none in subsequent years. Fun to grow and LONG lived. To 14″ in bloom forming a plant several feet across. Moderate deer resistance. Native to the Portland city limits. Very slow to finish in a salable size. Patience. Limited quantities. Oregon native plant

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