Symphoricarpos albus

Common snowberry is very widespread in our state and is found in a host of biomes This small, deciduous, suckering shrub begins spring with leaves of the freshest green, so fresh they flutter on the late spring early summer breeze. After several weeks of foliage the small white tinted pink flowers are shaped like small bowls and line the stem at every leaf axil. These morph into plush, plump pure white berries that are quite a bit larger than the relatively insignificant flowers. The berries (drupes) are perched in groups on the stems. Their pure white hue is easy to spot for humans and especially birds.They relish the berries while they are toxic for humans.  To 32″ tall forming a dome shaped suckering shrub twice as wide. Water to establish the first season then none in subsequent years. Mulch heavily.  The berries last well into winter before becoming animal snacks. The gray thin arching stems create a haze on the forest floor that becomes acid green as leaves appear. Spreads by stolons underground to expand its territory. Its adaptable to both upland quite dry situations as well as vernally wet spots in floodplains and fields. In the Willamette Valley its common associates are with Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir)  Quercus garryana  ( Oregon White Oak) and Fraxinus latifolia ( Oregon Ash) as an understory component. Its tolerant of dense shade as long as its deciduous to full hot sun, Very well adapted to the driest summers. In summer the acid green leaves change to a dark blue green and are often afflicted by a strain of powdery mildew- my whole life I’ve known this shrub and I’ve never seen powdery mildew cause any permanent damage- mostly its just a poor aesthetic look for late summer to autumn. Fall color is soft yellow and brief. Branches may be carefully cut in berry and will hold them in arrangements for quite a few days. An excellent forage and cover plant for native fauna.  A great native shrub for beginners. This is the taller form of the two species that we grow. Native to the Portland city limits. Moderate deer resistance. One of our best shrubs for seasonally dry shade.  Oregon native plant.

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Symphoricarpos mollis

Creeping snowberry is widespread in western Oregon and indeed throughout the state. Its a low suckering deciduous shrub that can occupy large areas. To 30″ tall spread is indefinite in rich to average soil with regular water for the first year to establish. Mulch is extremely beneficial and will suppress weeds for the first few years which can arrive in the middle of a patch of this spreading plant. Leaves are fresh green in spring turning blue green with the heat of summer. Small pinkish flowers occur in late spring and morph over the summer into plush white squishy berries. They line the bare stems and are showy until birds make off with them or they remain and rot. The berries are toxic for humans. Fall color is light yellow to very little. Common on undisturbed slopes on the edges of the valley and in the eastern foothills of the Coast Range and western Cascades. Snow berry is often afflicted with powdery mildew in the driest parts of summer. No harm will come to the plant. A wonderful habitat plant. Oregon native plant.

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Telopea x ‘Braidwood Seedlings’

Waratah of Australia, this extraordinary shrub produces some of the most alluring flowers in the flower kingdom. A tall growing evergreen shrub with handsome leaves. In spring and often again in late summer crown shaped flowers emerge purple and open to circular red flowers at the branch tips. These are seedlings of Telopea x ‘Braidwood Brilliant’ which is a hybrid selected for excellent cold hardiness for the cut flower trade. Protea- which means you should avoid fertilizer and too much compost. Rich to average soils- pure loam is ideal in a protected location in full sun to part shade. Avoid reflected heat. Light summer water. Not the easiest shrub to establish but the care and patience are worth it in the end. Cold hardy to approximately 5ºF. Protect from subfreezing wind. Amazing cut flower that lasts for weeks in a vase- if you can spare a stem. Excellent performance at the Oregon Coast.  To 12′ x 8′.

Xera Plants Introduction.

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Ternstroemia gymnanthera

Obscure but exceedingly handsome and reliable shrub for hedges, specimens, eventually a small tree. Rounded leaves are good looking year round and especially when they first emerge brilliant salmon red before settling to dark green. This is the most showy display on this plant and it lasts for weeks. In mid-late summer small pendant white/cream flowers are nestled among the leaves, you really have to look to see them. Clean evergreen whose foliage is never marred by fungus or cold. Full sun to high overhead shade. To 8′-10′ tall and about half as wide. With great age and no pruning it can achieve small tree status and it forms attractive cloud like crowns of foliage. As a hedge  it excels. Plant 2 gallon plants on 3′ centers and mulch. Irrigate about once a week until you see good new growth. Established plants are very tolerant of dry conditions. Theaceae- Camellia family. Excellent cold hardiness to 0ºF, tolerates some subfreezing wind. Excellent companion plant for Rhododendrons, Pieris, Illicium. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. Native to Japan.  Good looking tough plant. Light deer resistance.

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Tetrapanax papyifera ‘Steroidal Giant’

Big form of the already big Japanese Rice Paper plant. Enormous 3′ wide leaves look jurassic and erupt in spring from seemingly spindly bare stalks. Fast growing deciduous shrub/tree that also suckers to form wide colonies. To 18′ tall in 5 years with multiple trunks in deep rich soil with regular irrigation. Full sun to part shade. Be aware that this plant travels. It moves stealthily underground and can be many feet away from the parent plant before you notice it. The more root disturbance the more errant suckering. Give it room and respect. Light summer water. Almost blooms each autumn before running out of heat and daylength. Bare sticks in winter. It may also be contained the same as bamboo. It is, however, easy to pull the suckers by hand. Wait until they grow several leaves and then grab it by the stem and wiggle, slowly at first then in wide arcs and pull. It will pull right up. Also, there is a conspicuous indumentum (brown fur) all over the plant and especially the leaves, these tiny hairs when rubbed off or disturbed can cause skin irritation in some people. Wear gloves and a rain coat while pruning.

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Teucridium parviflorum

A stylish shrub/subshrub that is native to the drier parts of New Zealand, and offers great fine texture. The stems which are the only thing that differentiates this from the genus Coprosma- they are square. are golden orange woody stems that  rise up to about 4′ tall by 3′ wide.  Tiny round green leaves decorate these stems and in late spring and early summer small white flowers appear in the leaf axils. This plant can quickly return from the roots if chopped back severely or frozen to the ground. Established plants can regain their stature in several months. Average to enriched soil that is never boggy in summer. The fine foliage  common adaptation in New Zealand, most likely the fine texture of the shrub was to foil grazing giant moa birds and other predators. Very good in containers ( it will be less hardy in a container as with  everything) and it can be crowded heavily and still thrive. In the ground give it enriched soil and regular summer water for its first season. Let it grow as much as possible and develop a resilient root system- in the case of an arctic event it will be well prepared to regrow.. Mulch in fall for the first year. The luminous stems and see through appearance make it combine well with bolder textured plants. Regiar water in summer speeds growth and establishment the first year, in subsequent years it only requires irrigation once every two weeks. Freezes the ground at about 20ºF, returns quickly in spring when the soil warms. Not bothered by deer, not sure about rabbits. Excellent architectural plant. We took a break from growing this plant for years, we’re happy that its back.

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Teucrium fruticans

Silver Germander is a wiry shrub with gray foliage and even lighter gray/white stems. All summer it bears pale blue small flowers with a prominent central lip. Traditionally used in topiary or as a trimmed hedge, it takes amazingly well to heavy shearing. It responds by becoming incredibly dense. Its malleability  leads people to also trim it into any whimsical shape they can dream of. Full sun, average, well drained soil. Little to light summer water when established. Requires full sun and a hot position with protection from subfreezing wind. Classic mediterranean shrub. Grows as well at the cool coast as it does in the hot inland areas. To 4′ x 4′ if left unpruned.

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Elk Horn Cedar is originally from Japan but is grown around the globe This layered and refreshing glossy green conifer grows very slowly and looks fantastic year round. Slow growing to 3′ x 3′ in 10 years. Excellent in mixed borders or shrub borders. Water well to establish the first summer then occasional deep soaks in summer. Unlike any other comfier the name elk horn refers to the flat leaflets that look to me like a form of giant moss. Works well in winter containers. The flattened scales are glossy on the surface and dull beneath. This is the darker green of two varieties in the nursery trade. It would make a challenging bonsai. Full sun to light shade in rich to average soil .  Not often deer food, very worth trying. Cold hardy below 0ºF for short periods. Excellent performance in the Columbia Gorge.

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Vaccinium ovatum

Evergreen huckleberry is a fantastic native broadleaf shrub. It is well adapted to shady sites and will accept full sun with regular irrigation. Well established shrubs require less water. Rich, humusy woodland soil is its favorite haunt and it will grow moderately fast to a rounded outline of 8′ tall and 6′ wide. The new growth is a beautiful salmon pink before changing to deep green. In spring and early summer small white urn shaped flowers are pretty and transform into tasty black fruits in autumn. Amazing in muffins, pies.It has an interesting natural distribution along the immediate coast in most of Oregon but veering inland at Douglas County to almost the Cascade foothills. In Puget Sound it seems to be most prominent within sight of salt water.  Easy to grow good garden plant. Increase your chance of pollination by planting more than two shrubs. The theory is that berries like to party- and I’ve observed it to be true.  Oregon native plant.

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Viburnum atrocyaneum var. harryanum

Unique and we think very pretty evergreen Viburnum. Small perfectly round leaves are placed in threes around the stems. In summer the terminal branches host clouds, or cymes I should say of tiny white flowers. They have no fragrance but are pretty  to look at.. Moderately growing rounded shrub of great symmetry to 4′ x 6′ in 7 years. Full sun to part shade in rich, well drained soil with light but consistent summer moisture. Takes very dry conditions when established. At first glance this does not look like a Viburnum- which is charming. Its a very pretty dense growing first rate evergreen.

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