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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Veronica peduncularis ‘Georgia Blue’

Its been around for a long time and its an introduction that has stood the test of time. This low mounding evergreen perennial is beyond delightful when it alights in masses of deep blue flowers from late February to late April. Each simple blue flower has a small white eye but the effect from a distance is a pool of blue. To 8″ tall and forming large 2′ x 2′ wide patches in full sun in rich to average well drained soil. It excels on slopes and in rock gardens. The new growth that follows is tinted mahogany before become strong glossy green. Cut back by 1/3rd after blooming to create a much denser and ultimately more floriferous plant. Light, consistent summer water. Excellent bold backdrop to early and mid blooming bulbs. We suggest large white Crocus vernus followed by Narcissus ‘Blushing Lady’. Very easy to grow. Long lived for a speedwell.

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Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Adoration’

Sturdy spire of a perennial with symmetry in mind. Whorls of pointed foliage lines the stems on the 5′  tall plants. At the top vertical spikes of fine periwinkle blue/rose flowers appear and grow. They remain pretty for weeks. In fall the still standing stems take on bright yellow fall tones and holds it for several weeks. Full sun and rich, well drained soil with regular summer irrigation Becomes more tolerant of drought with age and establishment. This form is popular for its occasional tendency to fasciate. A harmless contortion of the flower spikes. Cool cut flower. Blooms June/July and mixes ideally with perennials of the same soft vertical texture. Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ is an ideal candidate. Loved by butterflies and hover flies as well as bumbles. Long lived perennial. Emerges annually in mid-spring. Excellent prairie component.

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Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Album’

The white flowered form of culvers root- but seldom called that in the PNW. Slender perennial with multiple vertical stems clad in symmetrically space pointed foliage surrounding the stem. At the tips in early summer multiple spires of pure white flowers give a really cool ethereal effect. Massed it is simply one of the coolest plants. Our form rises to just 4′ tall and forms slowly increasing clumps. In autumn the foliage that lines the stems often turns bright yellow and remains for a while- a second season of interest. Full sun to the very lightest shade in any soil of good fertility. Does well even in unamended clay as long as summer water is dependable. Long lived perennial that never requires division or fussing. Cool cut flower for big wild arrangements. Bees love it.

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Viola corsica

One of the parents of modern violas this perennial is short lived but while its around its never out of bloom- year round. Slender indigo blue flowers are small but profuse on a compact plant to just 6″ tall and barely wider than that. Seeds itself around prolifically…how the seeds find their way so far from the parent plant is natures mystery. It will germinate anywhere – cracks, beneath rocks. Sun, Shade. Very hardy to way, way below 0ºF. Light summer water during the hottest weather. Part shade in nearly any texture soil. Mediterranean wild flower.

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Viola odorata (Parma) ‘Alba Plena’

This cool cultivar of Parma violet can be difficult to stumble upon. We love the plush double white flowers that sends its sweet perfume on the breeze in late winter to mid-spring. Parma violets are basically the Sicilian version of the common sweet violet (Viola odorata). They are not nearly as cold hardy or pernicious as the species and they tend to have much larger more opulent and fragrant flowers. Also, their leaves are distinctively glossy as opposed to matte. This little sweetie forms spreading patches and the long stems are a bit weak for the large double white flowers- they tend to bend. Excellent for small bouquets that you can sniff and sniff. In the garden they need a sheltered position away from the freeze and thaw and harsh conditions in the open. Instead coset them under large shrubs and among ephemeral early perennials such as Anemones, and small bulbs like species Crocus. Part shade- they bloom best with a bit of sun. Regular summer water encourages them to spread. This form seldom sets seed- I don’t think I’ve ever seen seed in fact. Pity. Rare plant.

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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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