Western sword fern is one of the most ubiquitous plants on the west side of the Cascades. In many forests in the Coast Range and Cascade foothills it is the sole understory plant. Western sword fern is a large species with long arching fronds. Adaptable to a host of situations. Often self sown spore will show up in the oddest places. I’ve seen it as an epiphyte and even self sown into hot concrete steps. In rich, acidic soil this evergreen fern soar- provided soils rich in humus, organic matter and protected from direct sun with consistent access to water. Very well adapted to our winter wet/ summer dry climate- it will cruise through dry summers unscathed. In the garden it does useful duty in the toughest, dry, shadiest sites. Along with Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) and Ophiopogon (Lily turf) it is one of the best dry shade inhabitants. As an understory component it is often accompanied by Cascades Mahonia (Mahonia nervosa), Inside-out-flower, (Vancouveria hexandra), and Pacific Blackberry (Rubus ursinus). To 4′ x 4′ in ideal situations. Though it is evergreen western sword fern does go through a transitional period before new croziers unfurl in spring. The 3′ long fronds begin to lie flat on the ground by winter. This is the time to remove tired, old leaves. and make way for fresh, new, unfurling foliage. Though very tough western sword fern does look its best with consistent light water. Supremely deer and rabbit resistant. Long lived and not a slow grower. Oregon native plant.
Excellent symmetrical evergreen foliage on a dense dome shaped shrub. The sea green/blue cupped foliage surrounds deep mahogany stems. To 2′ tall by 3′ wide forming a moderately fast spreading plant. In spring and often again in late summer a parade of sparkling pink flowers. They look wonderful agains the foliage. Easy to grow lovely shrub with a year round handsome interest. Excellent performance at the Oregon coast. Good cold hardiness into the lower teens or lower for brief periods. Light consistent summer water in full sun to very light shade. Protect from subfreezing wind which won’t kill it but can make this Hebe unhappy. Good long term performance in gardens and a welcome flower color in a genus replete with purple, blue, and white. Nice looking shrub at all times. Best in enriched soil. Remove the first round of flowers to better view the second late summer display.
Yerba buena is a fine trailing herb native to southeast Alaska south into northern California. Its a common scrambling component of woods and forest margins. The round slightly scalloped leaves emit a sweet herb/mint fragrance that reminds me of childhood and they line trailing stems. This 4″ tall by 2′ wide perennial is commonly found among shrubs and clumping grasses as well as perennials. It can be found in the wild with such plants as Vancouveria hexandra (Inside out flower) and Whipplea modesta (Whipple Vine). In late spring to early summer barely conspicuous tiny white snapdragon flowers appear in the leaf axils. Evergreen. Often the leaves turn maroon red in cold weather. The sturdy semi-woody stems root where they attach to the ground and it may be used as a deer resistant small scale ground cover for stabilizing smaller scale slopes. This member of the mint family can be used to flavor iced tea or any cold drink. Shade to part shade in average to slightly enriched soil. Combines well with clumping grasses and smaller scale shrubs such as Symphoricarpos (Snow Berry). Good in containers as well. Yerba buena (the good herb). Excellent native pollinator perennial in the mint family. Oregon native plant.
Native to the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico and extreme west Texas this adorable columbine enchants us with its whimsical soft yellow flowers and fine blue foliage. To 18″ tall in bloom the petite flowers have long fantastic tails. They appear from April-June, and occasionally again if you remove spent flowers and prevent seed set. This smaller plant has wonderful finely divided blue green foliage that forms a fountain before and after bloom. Often self sows in open sites. The original plants live about 5 years but the distinctive leaves will give away the seedlings. They seem to favor cracks in pavement, stones. Full sun to very light shade in rich to average soil with regular summer water. Mix with our native Columbine (Aquilegia formosa) for a color echo on the yellow perianth of both. Very popular with pollinators including native pollinators. Winter deciduous. Moderate deer resistance. Charming and easy to grow wild flower.
One of Andy’s excellent seedlings this dapper shrub is ensconced in violet blue flowers fading to white on a raceme. He and his son Graham agreed on this great name. In full, massive bloom this is one impressive small evergreen shrub. To 2′ x 3′ in 5 years in enhanced soil with drainage. Avoid frost pockets. Locate in the warm part of your garden, Excellent performance at the Oregon coast. Blooms heavily from late spring to mid summer. Then it is a clean symmetrical evergreen shrub Locate out of the path of subfreezing wind. Light, consistent summer water. Good landscape/garden shrub. Loved by butterflies and several different bees. Mulch after planting. Very heavy bloom is showy and is great massed in odd numbers. Mix with Carex pansa ‘Chisai’.New growth that follows bloom is tinted red before settling to deep green. Impressive new Hebe introduction.
Xera Plants Introduction via Andy Stockton.
Lagerstroemia indica is big on flowers but its also susceptible to powdery mildew among other afflictions (the varieties we grow are resistant). In 1956 a botanist named John Creech located a single specimen of what was to become Lagerstroemia fauriei- Japanese crape myrtle. Its famous for its amazing orange, brown, tan mottled bark and mildew resistance. So, it was incorporated into an existing breeding program by Dr. Egolf at the National Arboretum to eliminate disease and provide crape myrtles in different sizes. It did but also importantly it imparted the wonderful red/ mahogany bark of this species. Lagerstroemia fauriei has a very limited range on the island of Yakushima in Japan. It has larger leaves, smaller, fragrant white flowers- in of itself a fantastic tree. This is where such hybrids as ‘Natchez’, ‘Osage’, ‘Pecos’ among other get their fantastic colorful bark. A little later a second specimen of Lagerstroemia fauriei was located. It was such a beautiful tree that it was named ‘Kiowa’. Pure orange deep mahogany brown trunks are the hallmark of this second specimen. Only one cultivar was the result of crossing Lagerstroemia indica with Lagerstroemia fauriei ‘Kiowa’ to produce this extraordinary cultivar. It was released in 1986. Unfortunately, nursery people didn’t take to it. Dr. Egolf had previously released a LOT of lavender flowered cultivars and this one got overlooked. So good is this tree and with a different genetic makeup than the first fauriei crosses. Importantly it received that deep brown and mottled orange bark as well as fragrant strong lavender flowers. The National Arboretum re-released this tree in 2017 in an effort to redevelop popularity for this extraordinary cultivar. ‘Apalachee; has many outstanding qualities. Its bark is phenomenal, deep glossy brown with orange patches- very striking. The mildew free foliage is dark, lustrous green, and the flowers are sweetly fragrant. Altogether great qualities in an 18′ tall by 8’ wide upright tree. Fall color is a remarkable orange to deep red. This tree has superior flowers to ‘Natchez’ and personally I think the bark is much more showy. Blooms heavily beginning in July. Peaks in a crescendo in August into October. We are very happy to offer this extraordinary tree. Full hot sun in rich soil with regular irrigation for the first several year. Easy and spectacular multi-dimensional tree. Available in 2022.
Columbia Coreopsis or Columbia tickseed is a locally native annual but more often biennial that is found along the Columbia River and into the gorge. Also, native throughout eastern North America. Its first season is spent as a rosette of curly, finely divided leaves that have a glossy sheen. The following early summer it erupts into groups of gold flowers, slightly reflexed petals and a red dot that surround a brown protruding cone. Loved by pollinators and they come en masse. To 22″ tall on average in bloom. For rich to average soil in full sun. The sun part is non-negotiable. Mix with native Oregon perennials and annuals such as Sidalcea virgata or Clarkia amoena var. lindleyi as well as Madia elegans for a summer long show. Very good butterfly plant. It has a scattered population in the Willamette Valley but should be grown here much more often. Self sows in open disturbed sites. Very prolific in bloom with clouds of golden flowers unobscured by pesky foliage. Nice cut flower. One stem can be an entire bouquet. light consistent summer water improves the show but this is a tough, climate adapted biennial. Moderate deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
Pacific Reed grass is a large and stately grass that is found close to the coast/ beach. A tall growing species with large flat green foliage and tall flowers that are at first green and then age to straw in summer. To 3′ tall on average, this plant can even perform as an epiphyte as is sometimes seen in forests adjacent to the beach. Spreads to form large clumps that are staunchly evergreen. Native from S. Alaska to N. California. This makes a wonderful casual plant with stiffly upright flower spikes. To 3′ wide and clumping. Average to amended soil, adaptable to clay soils. This is a great first line grass at the beach. It endures salt spray and poor soils. Easy to grow native grass for rough areas, meadows, forest verges. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. It may be cut back hard in the early spring, but appearance is very stable throughout the year. Deer resistant. Very easy to grow. Light consistent water inland, but drought adapted at the coast. Associated plants in the wild are Polypodium scopulorum, Picea sitchensis, Gaultheria shallon (Salal). One of our best native evergreen grasses for our gardens. Oregon native plant.
A sparkling little groundcover Hebe with emerald green leaves on trailing black stems and clouds of violet blue flowers in early summer. to 8″ tall spreading to 2′ wide. It covers the ground very densely. It may be used as a small scale ground cover but never more than 4′ x 4′ square feet. Rich to average soil with consistent light water though summer. Cold hardy below 10ºF. Very easy to grow and handsome plant. Hummingbird and Butterflies adore the flowers. Excellent rock garden subject. Very good performance at the coast. Nice trough plant. Good looking year round. Avoid hot wet soils and compacted droughty places. Ideally sited on a slight slope. Stems will eventually root where they touch. Combine with Penstemon pinifolius ‘Mersea Yellow’. New Zealand.
Fragrant Popcorn flower is a wildflower limited to western Oregon with its largest populations in the Willamette Valley. This hardy annual is an inhabitant of wet meadows and vernally wet fields. Closely related to forget me nots (Myosotis) this plant erupts into waves of pure white flowers with a tiny yellow eye. The flowers foam between grasses and shrubs for several weeks in late May to July. To 10″ tall unfurling flowers on a plant of small stature. Excellent performance in rain gardens and a very reliable re-seeding plant. Full sun and water potted plants to establish. Self sown seedlings get by with no supplemental irrigation. Excellent with Rosa nutkana, Camas, Ranunculus occidentale. Moderately deer resistant. On warm summer days a field in full bloom emits a sweet perfume.Very good performance in containers and is often superseded in its habitat by Downingia. Excellent native pollinator flower. Especially important to native bumbles. Oregon native plant.