Stachys lavandulifolia

Curious and pretty small perennial that has lovely leaves that have symmetrical black veins. As the plant expands it sends up spikes clad in frosty hairs around violet purple flowers. The don’t exactly go straight up but wind around a little bit. This gives the whole plant an overall haze that is truly fantastic. Appreciate sunny dry environs with sharp drainage but  as rich of soil as you can muster. Ideally it finds a home in a dry border or rock garden. Winter deciduous perennial to 18″ x 18″ in a season. Blooms repeatedly all summer. Light summer H20 and drought adapted when very established. Mixes well with Cranesbill (Erodium) and Scutellaria suffrutescens. Pretty little cut flower that acts as a boa in a small arrangements. Very good butterfly and pollinator perennial. Absorbs blasting hot locations. Flowers when spent turn to light brown wands of fuzz- this extends this plants season of interest.

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Stipa barbata

Silver Feather Grass- our favorite ornamental grass. From humble blue leaves that form an upright grassy clump stems rise to 4′. As the flower open they unfurl- curling 18″ long horizontally and covered in soft downy hairs. The slightest wind puts these streamers into graceful motion. Blooms June-July. When the flowers ripen and begin to detach they can be gathered and made into a bouquet and the tails will curl up and form a soft tan haze. An arrangement lasts forever. Often self sows in open conditions- and this is good because it is not an easy grass to germinate and does not work from division. Easy to move when small. Give it an open position where you can observe the streaming flowers unobstructed. Very hardy and little summer water once established. Full sun. Semi-evergreen foliage in winter. High deer resistance. Spectacular grass. See video below.

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Stipa gigantea

This is the giant straight species that is so popular for its soaring silver stems and golden drooping awns. To 12′ tall in bloom from a tight but large basal clump of fine deep green leaves. Perfectly evergreen with a great winter appearance. Very easy to grow grass that provides spectacular garden effects. Incredibly drought tolerant in any well drained soil- including clay if it is not allowed to become bone dry concrete. Flowers make a great see through “scrim” in gardens. Fun to grow. Moderate deer resistance. Site where you want a see through hedge or texture that towers above you. Very cold hardy. Native to countries adjacent to the mediterranean.  See video below IMG. 6620.

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Stipa gigantea ‘Little Giant’

As if a wonderful grass couldn’t get any better this smaller version thrills us with so many more applications. A low clump of arching dense dark green evergreen foliage has a nice presence year round. In spring and continuing all throughout summer into autumn 3′-4′ spikes terminate in clouds of metallic golden awns. They sparkle in full sun and sway in the breeze- but are determinedly upright. The basal clump of leaves spreads slowly to 2′ wide in 5 years. Full sun and well drained soil- bud adaptable to anything but a bog. Evergreen. Cut back spent flowers in winter- or let them stay and wave around beckoning birds and wildlife. Moderate deer resistance. Little to no summer water when established.

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Symphyotrichum chilense

Pacific Aster is a Xera favorite late blooming native perennial. Masses of thick soft periwinkle flowers with a yellow center on an upright growing plant to 30″ tall forming an expanding clump. Blooms which are loved by native pollinators – they instantly appear, you don’t even have to be patient- are a soft color and open on the plant first on top and then down the sides eventually filling in. Its a cloud of periwinkle. Sometime afflicted with harmless powdery mildew. This is more of a problem near winter and afflicted material can be cut away and disposed then. Otherwise leave it standing and dead to thrill bush tits or some creatures like that. Rich soil with deep infrequent irrigation during summer. Once established it can perform reliably on rainfall alone (it will happily accept regular irrigation as well). Excellent mid-border late perennial that is fantastic with the green flowered late blooming Kniphofia pumila, and  Golden rod Solidago canadensis elongate. Long lived. It may be divided after several years. This plant is common around the Pacific Rim in temperate to colder regions. Its natural range is enormous- notice the specific epithet refers to its Chilean origin,, it is just as native and prolific on the Oregon coast. Often found at the edge of woods or scrublands in the transition to grassland/ dune lands. Its common associates in habitat are Fragaria chilense (another Pacific Rim resident)- we grow the variety ‘Aulon’, as well as Pacific reed grass ( Calamagrostis nutkaenasis). Long blooming. ( AKA Chilean Aster- but that is confusing as it is native in Oregon as well. Great performance at its native Oregon coast on sand to clay soils.  Oregon native plant.

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Symphyotrichum chilense ‘Short Sands Purple’

Pacific Aster. Our selection of a widespread beach aster species that circles much of the temperate Pacific Rim. This form tops out at a compact 30″ on an upright plant that forms expanding clumps in rich to average soil ‘Short Sands’ is a purple form from seed of a very dark purple specimen that Greg found.  It is by far the darkest purple that we have encountered in this species. The majority are white to very light lavender. Most often its habitat is adjacent or very near the coastal strand. Its adapted to all kinds of soils from sand to clay and it appreciates deep infrequent water during the summer season. Blooms begin in August and open until mid November. This aster is often seen along the sides of HWY 101. In fleeting glimpse you can capture small periwinkle daisies late in the season. A pollinator master piece. All sorts of natives recognize this showy perennial. Full sun to light shade. It seems to be most vertical in full sun and average soil. Over amended soils, too much water, or too much shade will lead to a splaying flop. The flat upturned daisies come in rows of two for a fuller look and are a natural landing pad for butterflies.  Winter deciduous, very tolerant of dry conditions when established but does better with deep infrequent summer drinks. Cut back hard in spring- a new batch of leaves will just be arriving. This sophisticated  native is at home in pampered borders or wild areas. Associated plants in habitat are Mianthemum dilitatum, Calamagrostis nutkensis, and Vaccinium ovatum. Its habitat is dwindling as Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus latifolius) and Ox Eye Daisy (Dendranthema) have crowded this special plant out  Excellent garden plant.  Oregon native plant

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Symphyotrichum hallii

Hall’s Aster might as well be known as Willamette Valley Aster as this charming smaller perennial is found primarily there. To 20″ tall and spreading to form a wider clump this native aster begins blooming in August and continues into Autumn. The small daisy flowers have rays that are primarily white, though light pink and lavender are also seen. The reverse of the petals is always a darker color- primarily very light lavender. Excellent native pollinator plant for late in the season. Full sun to very light shade in rich to average soil. Adaptable to xeric clay soils that dry in summer. In the garden deep infrequent soaks will yield the healthiest and most floriferous plants. Spreads moderately underground by stolons. Not bothered by deer. Nice little cut flower as filler for bolder arrangements. Climate adapted perennial that is a native for a Willamette Valley prairie. Not as vigorous and space consuming as Symphyotrichum subspicatum – Douglas aster. Hall’s aster fits in much smaller spaces. Easy to grow, winter deciduous. Associated plants in the wild are Sidalcea m. ‘Virgata’, Eriophyllum lanatum, Achillea millefolium.  Takes intense dry conditions with establishment. Oregon native plant.

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Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’

Outstanding form of New England Aster that has the most intense deep purple flowers on a non-splitting compact plant. To 18″ tall by 22″ wide, it arrives in bloom in September and continues through October. Rich soil with regular irrigation in full sun to very light shade. An excellent late border perennial and it would be located in the middle to the front of a border. The dense, compact habit of resists splitting in our first fall rains- not all cultivars do. Loved by pollinators including natives. Spent stems can be left erect through winter as food for birds and insects. A basal rosette of green leaves will just be emerging at the base. Easy, reliable, hardy perennial.  The flower stems last quite a while in a vase. Mix with the pink clouds of that outstanding fall blooming grass Muhlenbergia riverchonii. Very long lived. Mildew resistant. Good deer resistance.

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Symphyotrichum subspicatum ‘Sauvie Snow’

We selected this form of our locally native Douglas Aster for its snow white flowers. The species in our area ranges from blue/lavender/blue-white. So, this is a nice color break. One of the very best pollinator perennials that we grow. In bloom from July-October it is virtually swarmed by every flying insect you can imagine. A constant buzz of activity. This is a large, rambunctious perennial that is not good with delicate neighbors. Douglas Aster belongs in the wild where it can consort with other similarly over-adapted natives. Virtually any soil in full sun to light shade. In bloom it rises to nearly 30″ and the spread is nearly indefinite This is a rugged perennial for tough sites, even areas submerged during the wet season. Not a bad cut flower. Mix with large ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis  ‘Morning Light’ or Panicum virgatum ‘ Heavy Metal’. Mix with native shrubs- Mahonia aquifolium, Oregon Grape and Holodiscus discolor ‘Ocean Spray’. Drought adapted when established but it appreciates a soak now and again to prolong the bloom period.   Oregon native plant.

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Symphyotrichum subspicatum ‘Sauvie Star’

One of our color selections of the locally native Douglas Aster. This cultivar originates from seed collected on Sauvie Island. This is the predominant wild Aster of the Willamette Valley. A boisterous long blooming perennial at home in wild areas. Rich to average soil with light summer water. Blooms- in this case, periwinkle blue open in early August and continue unabated  to October. They are beacons to all pollinators and are constantly in motion as they bloom. To 32″ tall  forming wide patches. Runs by underground stolons. Nice cut flower. Wetland remediation, forest verges, denuded road cuts. Those are jobs for you Douglas Aster. Oregon native plant.

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