Fragrant hardy Abelia is just that- not only is it ultra cold hardy, it possesses as far as we can surmise, the best fragrance of an already fragrant genus and basically a spot on redux of citrus blossom sweetness. A long procession of pink buds that open in clusters to powerfully fragrant white flowers. The fragrance carries for quite a distance on the summer air. Blooms June-Sept. Full sun to very light shade in rich soil with regular summer water. Not entirely drought adapted pair with other summer water cohorts. Forms a vase shaped twiggy deciduous shrub to 4′ x 4′ in time. Blooms on wood from the previous season prune after flowering if needed. Usually pruning is limited to tired non blooming wood which is self evident. Cold hardy to below -20ºF Fall color is often dark red with pink tints and often lacking Beware this shrub if drought stressed goes straight to crispy. Establish well before setting it free. One of the most fantastic floral fragrances. Deciduous shrubs are not a hot category for several reasons but the fragrance of this ultra hardy shrub should be enjoyed everywhere. Delicious flower fragrance.
Plant Type: Shrub
Shrubs are the backbone of Pacific Northwest Gardens. We’re able to grow an incredible amount from all over the world. Evergreen to deciduous the choices are vast. We focus on mostly (but not all) low water species and many native western species. Shrubs are often much less thirsty than other plants and live for a long time if properly sited. They can sport amazing foliage or showy flowers. From Manzanita to Ceanothus and even Grevilleas nothing makes a garden look more western. Our choice of shrubs is from years of experience growing them in our own gardens.
The best treatment leads to success
Treat all shrubs well when you plant. Dig a large hole and apply ample mulch and water to establish well. Do not let the shrub dry out completely until you are sure it is established and make a point to mulch each shrub. This is particularly important if you are creating a hedge or massing shrubs. Treating them all consistently well is the difference between continuity and chaos.
Pruning shrubs 101
The most daunting thing about growing shrubs is pruning. I try to include information about pruning each individual plant – but there are several rules that I adhere to when I prune a shrub that I am unfamiliar with. First, if you do not know the shrub let it bloom. Take note if it blooms on established wood from the previous season or if it grows and then blooms- an indication that it blooms on new wood. If it blooms on wood from the previous season – or ‘old wood’ then you can prune it directly AFTER blooming is done. That way you have less chance of eliminating bloom for the coming season and if it blooms on new wood you are safe too. Plants that bloom on new wood can be pruned in early spring some examples are Lagerstromia, Abelia, Indigofera. Once you understand this it makes pruning MUCH less intimidating. Make sure that you have very sharp pruners and it hurts nothing to sterilize them first. 1 TBS bleach to a bucket of water and a quick dip. Pruning can introduce disease so this is prudent.
New compact plants preclude pruning
Over the eons and more so lately nursery people have been selecting shrubs for more compact habits as well as vibrant bloom. Take advantage of these slower and smaller growing tendencies in the garden. Choosing the right size plant saves work in the future and eliminates the need to prune at all.
Many shrubs will morph into trees over time
In time many shrubs can pose as small trees and this should always be figured into a design. It is far easier and more natural to let a shrub become arboreal than the tortured look and continual work of making it small. Some shrubs that go on to become trees in time are Osmanthus (many) Phillyrea, Camellias, Manzanita (many). Leptospermum. Many reach tree like proportions in a decade or so. They may have their lower limbs removed to reveal shady planting space beneath and to accentuate the view of the bark which can be quite showy. They may also be trained to single leader to produce compact appropriately sized trees for courtyards and smaller gardens for a more formal appearance.
Topiary- a precise art
Topiary is an art that we dabble in at Xera. More than just torturing plants it is a process that takes a bit of planning and plant choice. It introduces a little discipline to the gardener in the form of regular maintenance and the effects are worth the effort. For the best effects and adaptability we use the tried and true forms of myrtle. They’ve been the subject of topiary for eons and we know why. They take a lot of pruning with no harm. They live long lives in containers are drought adapted and we choose the cold hardiest cultivars. The flowers which are adorable are in perfect scale with the leaves, Topiaries can introduce small amounts of formality in a garden and we love the way this plays in larger wild landscapes.
Rely on our soils own fertility
Shrubs in our climate and soils for the most part do not need fertilizer. In fact, over time I’ve seen more ill effects of overfertilization than I have seen benefits. Most often the plant is not getting enough water and the solution is a layer of mulch and a more consistent irrigation program. Often very drought adapted shrubs will react to added water in a dramatic way- Ceanothus, Grevilleas, Leptospermums, Arctostaphylos are genus’ that respond to water in a big way- in fact they react as if having been fertilized with no improvement to the soil at all and they explode in growth. Therefore, we recommend no supplemental irrigation for these genera when established but if they are slow to take off don’t be afraid to water, Irrigation requirements are in each description as well.
Shrubs- furniture for the garden
We need to shift our definition of shrubs. For too long they’ve been the tortured class of plants. The recent trend of grasses mixes excellently with shrubs but not if they are pruned into submission. Take the time to pick the correct plant for the site and be realistic. Plants grow fast in Oregon.
Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW
Abelia (Linnaea) x grandiflora ‘Francis Mason’
Tough, durable, and pretty evergold shrub that becomes a fountain of crystal white tubular fragrant flowers from July to November. Fast growing to 4′ x 4′ in just three years. Gold foliage contrasts well with madder red stems and calyxes of the flowers. Adaptable to both full sun and to part shade. Leaves are more vivid in full sun. Regular water to establish then just occasional water. Amenable to all types of pruning. Sheared, chopped, lightly cut doesn’t matter, it regrows fast and blooms on new wood so you aren’t messing anything up. Hedges, specimens. The parking lot at Fred Meyers. Lovely shrub.
Abelia (Linnaea) x grandiflora ‘Rose Creek’
Compact and very flowery this form of the dependable Abelia fits into smaller areas and perfumes the late summer to autumn gardens with masses of small white flowers. To just 4′ x 4′ in 7 years for full sun to light shade and most soils. Drought adapted when established, it will also accept regular summer irrigation. Slow growing and cold hardy evergreen. Following the massive bloom, the calyx of each flower remains and turns madder red. A second season of showiness that persists as a red glow through winter. This dense shrub retains its good looks for year without needing much pruning. Pruning should be done in early spring. Blooms on wood from the current season.
An exciting shrub/small tree with paddle shaped blue evergreen phyllodes for foliage and in late winter to early spring a massive display of luminous yellow flowers. I’ve always loved Australian wattles so it was with great excitement that we decided to grow this striking plant. Moderately fast growing to 16′ tall and 8′ wide forming either multiple or a single trunk. The bark is chocolate brown and smooth. Very few Australian Acacias will thrive in Portland, its just about 5 degrees too cold in our coldest years. This one is different, (a few species will live for 4-6 years before they finally succumb to Jack Frost. Acacia pravissima etc.) This, however, is the cold hardiest that we have grown. It is hardy to just below 10ºF for brief stints- good enough for long term survival. This is a rare limited endemic to the high mountains of New South Wales but is popular as a garden subject the world over. The small, fluffy, balls of electric yellow flowers foam among the blue leaves – incredibly pretty. Full sun and a protected location – against a south facing wall is ideal for a very pretty fun to grow tree. Once fully open the flowering stems may be cut for long lasting bouquets. Blooms on wood from the previous season, prune if needed after flowering has ended. Light consistent water to establish . Not fussy about soils and happiest in full, all day sun. Protect from subfreezing east wind. Bloom time is concurrent with several earlier Ceanothus (‘Blue Jeans’, ‘Dark Star’, ‘Concha’) and creates a vivid early spring yellow and blue display not soon to be forgotten. Drought adapted when established. Not bothered by deer/elk- not entirely sure about rabbits- if they are profuse in your neighborhood it wouldn’t hurt to protect the plant with chicken wire when young. Beautiful year round and spectacular in bloom. AKA Blue Bush.
Mudgee Wattle or simply showy wattle this is an extremely pretty small tree that requires a very protected location to thrive. Blue/green bipinnate leaves are intricate and pretty. In very late winter to early spring a stunning show of electric yellow puff ball flowers. It covers the whole tree weighing down the limbs in full bloom. To 12′-15′ tall in rich to average soil and it absolutely requires full sun. Excellent against a south facing wall. The flowers truly are showy and glow from quite a distance. Native to New South Wales and southern Queensland on table lands. Cold hardy to at least 18ºF- it should take colder temperatures if sited correctly. As with all Acacias it is extremely fast growing when young. Consistent summer water. Loved by hummingbirds and insects in general. This special small tree can begin its life in a spindly way. Full sun and regular water strengthens this growth. Excellent, and best adapted for the Oregon coast. It adapts to life on sand (with supplemental water) as well as well developed soils. Not bothered by deer. The large delicate leaves are blue/gray and are pretty year round. This Acacia is not as cold hardy as Acacia covenyi and is hardier than Acacia pravissima. Following bloom long dusty purple seed pods contrast against the blue/gray foliate. Bark is black to dark brown. Inland it is considered experimental. Eastern Australia.
Vine Maple is perhaps our most beautiful native maple. Found from SW British Columbia to Northern California in the Shasta area. Its a pervasive understory tree throughout the western part of the state. It derives its name from its almost vine like habit in shade. This winding and sun seeking component leads to the most graceful natural forms. In full sun it is a compact, multi-trunked shrub. In autumn in both habitats it turns to shades of fiery orange and yellow and red. Vivid against the pure green trunks and stems. One of the most dramatic places you will see this shrub is at 4500′ on Belknap crater on McKenzie Pass where it lives among the lava. In early fall the brilliant colors of the maples contrasts wonderfully with the black lava. Its very hot and very dry but its also very high in elevation. The symmetrically serrated round leaves rival any Japanse maple. In shade established trees get by with little summer water. In the sun irrigation is welcome. Rich to average soil with regular applications of mulch. To 16′ tall in shade and again quite a bit shorter in full sun- very wide in shade. Avoid the reflected heat of south facing walls. This shrub/tree belongs on the north side or under substantial shade. Some deer resistance. Excellent underplanted with native ferns and Gaultheria. A common native that should be a more common ornamental. Tiny red flowers turn into sunny orange samaras by autumn and persist past the leaves. Avoid very dry shade of un-irrigated over hangs. This is a semi-mesic maple. Oregon native plant
Unusual Myrtle from Chile that I’ve grown for many years and though it is difficult to root from cuttings we still offer it. Glossy small leaves have the distinct fragrance of citrus when bruised. A tall rainforest tree in its home, in my garden it is a columnar evergreen shrub to 8′ x 2′ in 7 years. In early summer it produces clusters of pretty off-white flowers that are lightly fragrant too. They often turn into clusters of black berries by autumn. Slow growing in youth it picks up a little with age. Full sun to part shade in a protected location. Mine is against an east facing wall and it’s never been damaged by cold – save for a few burned tips below 10ºF. Surprising. If you are a collector and you’d like something different give this handsome shrub/tree a try. It will thrive at the Oregon Coast and likely grow much, much bigger. A water loving tree that requires regular irrigation during summer- this encourages growth and lustrous foliage. Chile.
This is the standard small tree form of Strawberry Tree that is so important in PNW horticulture. A good looking evergreen tree that eventually forms a rounded dense crown. To 16′ tall and a third as wide in 10 years. Excellent small patio tree- as long as you account for the prodigious autumn fruit drop. Birds and squirrels consume the fruit which is alluded to in the specific name unedo- which means ‘I eat only one.’ I know people who eat them and claim to like them. So to each their own. No denying the electric neon yellow to bright red fruit is striking September to December. White urn shaped flowers appear simultaneously with the fruits in autumn. In time the bark develops to dark brown and shredding. Native to the Mediterranean with a disjunct population in southern Ireland. Drought tolerant when established.
Arbutus unedo ‘Elfin King’
Compact, everblooming form of Strawberry Tree with a huge attendant crop of vivid fruit in autumn. To 9′ tall and 8′ wide in 10 years in any well drained soil with light summer irrigation- completely drought adapted when established. Good looking, climate adapted evergreen native to the Mediterranean as well as Ireland. Nice specimen or small garden tree. Avoid the coldest, windiest sites. Handsome shredded mid-brown/red bark. Provide good air circulation. Quite a bit slower growing than the species. In time it develops into a rather dense upright shrub- just a tad smaller than the species. Locate away from paths, patios as fruit drop can be messy. A great, easy, dependable broad leaved evergreen for our climate. Related to our native Madrone. Native to Ireland down to Portugal and in to the mediterranean. Prune in early spring if needed.
Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp. glandulosa ‘Demeter’
Our employee Adinah spotted this distinct form of our native glandular manzanita in extreme SW Oregon. This form boasts very silver foliage with sharply pointed leaves and the conspicuous glands that identify the species. In mid winter to early spring clusters of pink buds open to pendant urn shaped white flowers. Loved by over wintering Anna’s hummingbirds. A low and spreading Manzanita to 4′ tall by 6′ wide in 7 years. Not as rapid of growth as other varieties. Full sun and average, well drained soil. Do not amend the soil but rely on our own native soils perfect fertility. To further enhance success double dig a wide area around the plants new home. This incorporates oxygen into the soil in a wide area and also allows the percolation of water. Mulch after planting with a coarse bark. Very pretty, very gray dome shaped shrub which eventually reveals contrasting mahogany glossy peeling trunks. A very pretty species that is uncommon in Oregon but whose range extends south all the way to Baja Norte. Once established, do not water- neglect and perfect climate adaptation will do the rest. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
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