Abutilon (Callianthe) ‘Nabob’

Odd name for a wonderful flowering maple. This Abutilon has earned its fame with large deep red/black red pendant flowers for months on end. In one season it will form a substantial sub-shrub and bloom continuously as it grows.  Rounded habit to 4’x 3′. Its best home is in containers where you can inspect the intensity of the flower color up close. Each globe shaped flower is 1 1/2″ wide and they occur in a huge display for months. Loved by hummingbirds and pollinators as well. Rich soil with regular irrigation. In spring if the winter has been normal to mild it will often resprout from the base when warm weather returns. Mulch in autumn to protect the base. The early spring appearance is pretty awful the solution  is to water, water, water, and add a 1/2 cup of all purpose organic fertilizer. Recovery is rapid as the weather warms. If in a mobile container it may be moved into an unheated garage and watered once a month through winter. Bring out, fertilize and water when all threat of frost has passed. Classic flowering maple.

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Spreading Dogbane is a pretty semi-shrubby native perennial that is found in every biome in our area. David Douglas mentioned this billowing perennial with clouds of light pink/white bells. Mostly he hated tripping over it in the Willamette Valley. This very permanent plant spreads to form big drifts in the wild. Streambanks, prairies, alpine meadows it can appear. The rounded downward pointing leaves emerge on semi-woody stems. In June-August clouds of flowers appear for weeks. Loved by pollinators and birds specifically attractive to native hummingbirds and butterflies. To 2′ tall and spreading by stolons to a wide area. Water to establish then none in subsequent years. Mulch after planting. Virtually any somewhat rich soil type including amended sand. Full sun to part shade. Wonderful plant and floral texture for meadows. I have great childhood memories of this plant in July in full bloom perched with our huge native black bumble bees. Very convenient bloom time- it begins to bloom just as most other natives are finished.  Dogbane is toxic when consumed by humans or animals- hence the common name. When stems are broken a milky sap is exuded. Moderate deer resistance.  Distantly related to milkweed. Once very common in the Willamette Valley its territory has shrunk. Great performance in hellstrips and verges that are lightly or completely non-irrigated. Give this plant room to spread and plan ahead. Limited availability. Oregon native plant

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Cold hardy and very showy  Hebe that is an excellent small scale ground cover. To just inches high it expands over time to up to 4′ wide. The gray evergreen foliage is handsome year round. In early summer the tips of the plant are ensconced in violet- blue colored flowers. This showy display draws pollinators and butterflies. One of the showiest of the very cold hardy varieties. Takes temperatures below 10ºF with no damage. Excellent on slopes. Expanding branches can root where they touch the ground, making this spreader excellent for erosion control. It also grows with such density to block weeds. Very easy to grow. Mix with perennials and in-between shrubs in full sun to very light shade. Light CONSISTENT summer irrigation. The small gray leaves line the black stems for more exquisite detail. Excellent at the top of a wall where it will trail and follow the contours exactly. Moderate deer resistance.

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Lilium formosanum var. pricei

A really wonderful dwarf Lily that doesn’t have you pulling down pollen covered flowers to get a smell. This lily tops out at about 14″ tall so, you’ll be bending down or even better, in a container where you can observe the intricate coloration and sweet perfume. Very thin leaves are like strings and give the small trunk a fine texture. In June/July relatively huge maroon buds open to reveal an extremely fragrant flower with an ivory interior- each individual blossom is 4″ long- very large for the overall size of the plant. Blooms continuously for 3-4 weeks. Full sun and regular water. Not bothered by lily diseases and very easy to grow. This hardy perennial increases by multiplying bulbs as well as bulbils and seed. The fragrance is not closely like most oriental lilies. Instead its a mild perfume that lingers. Plant with other smaller scale perennials. Diascia ‘Blue Bonnet’, Dianthus ‘Dainty Dame’. In time a clump will sport 3-5 flower spikes.

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Abutilon (Callianthe) megapotamicum (a) ‘Red’

Everything about this form of hardy flowering maple is identical  to the species except the molten red flowers with deeper veins shot through. The 2″ pendant flowers appear from May to October on a large growing sub-shrub. To 6′ in a single season It makes rapid growth as temperature rise above 70ºF. Full sun, in a protected location in rich soil with regular summer irrigation. Abutilons look absolutely horrific in spring even after a normal winter. Expect this. The solution is to water, water, water especially as the temperatures rise. It blooms on new wood and flowers are continuous as the shrub grows. Mostly deciduous but it can be evergreen at the coast or in protected places in mild winters. Loved  by hummingbirds who are lured by the lurid red flowers filled with nectar. Cut back by 1/2 after all danger of frost has passed. Supply a handful of all organic fertilizer and water faithfully. Excellent performance at the Oregon coast. Inland it is best with the protection of a shrub covering its roots so that the soil does not freeze. In this situations it can live even thrive for many many years. Mulch with compost. Native to the mountains of Brazil. Root hardy to about 10ºF. Long lithe stems can be woven through a fence or a lattice.

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Sierra gooseberry or sticky gooseberry is a pretty if prickly native deciduous shrub for rough areas. Charming in bloom , the 1/2″ pendant flowers have sepals that are reflexed and red around a pendant white corolla. After opening they both change to light red and remain showy for several weeks. They line zig zagging stems with three thorns at each node. That means  you must site this 7′ tall by 4′ wide arching plant carefully. The flowers are pretty viewed up close and turn into prickly translucent green/red drupes. These are eaten by a huge variety of wildlife and especially smaller birds. Often the shrub will be completely stripped of berries by the time the soft orange fall color appears. Native from the Cascades of Marion county south throughout inland California down to San Diego county CA. Its most often found in dry gravelly areas on slopes in full sun to deep woods where its habit is more restrained and open. Blooms appear in mid spring. Water lightly to establish the first summer then only what falls from the sky in subsequent years. Adaptable to dry shade if it is not completely dark. Moderate deer resistance. Very similar to another native Gooseberry Ribes lobbii which is discrete in its dull non sticky leaves. Wonderful native shrub.Rarely seen in habitat below 1000′.  Oregon native plant

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Clackamas Iris is a rare endemic to only three counties in northern Oregon. Though it appears in scale with Pacific Coast Iris, it is not related and is more closely aligned with bearded Iris. Pale green 15mm wide leaves first emerge vertically before settling to a more horizontal position. Light lavender buds unfurl to white with yellow on the falls in May-July. In its native range this smaller iris is everywhere which  begs the question; Why isn’t its natural range larger? Not bothered by deer or pests this is a supremely climate adapted perennial. To 12″ tall in bloom the arching leaves equal that and spreads out. Light consistent summer water to establish, then only what falls from the sky. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. In habitat it is an understory component with Sword Ferns and shrubs such as Hazel, Oso Berry, and Viburnum. Provide deep rich soil and room to spread. This Iris makes very large colonies quickly- to 3′ wide.  The broad leaves are winter deciduous. Wonderful Iris for gardens and wild areas.  Oregon native plant.

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Dicentra formosa

Oregon bleeding heart is a widespread lush, long blooming perennial wildflower for moist conditions in shade to full sun. A somewhat rambunctious plant that spreads quickly by stolons. Do not plant it near shy or small plants that can become swamped. It tolerates quite a bit of shade and if in full sun it thrives with supplemental water and a massive flower display. Divided soft green foliage is very good looking, in April-July a continuous supply of rose colored downward pointing clumps of flowers on an 18″ spike. The foliage rises on average to half that height. Responds vigorously to amended soils and regular irrigation. In hot dry situations it will go quickly summer dormant. In the shade with water leaves persist to autumn and re-bloom  occurs. Not bothered by pests, including deer and snails and slugs. Frequently found in shady ditches in the Willamette Valley. Winter deciduous, if not already summer drought deciduous. An easy to grow, self sufficient perennial for wild areas. Mix with other vigorous and scaled plants. Very easy to grow.  Oregon native plant

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Frangula (Rhamnus) purshiana

AKA Cascara or Cascara sagrada. This is a widespread small tree to shrub in the northwestern part of the United states. West of the Cascades  its found in almost every biome. It can be a wind contorted shrub on blasting headlands at the coast. In the Willamette Valley its common where birds drop the berries/seeds on fence rows. Its even found in the Bitteroot mountains in Montana/Idaho. It was frequently used by indigenous people as a laxative. Cascara is a small round crowned tree/shrub. In drier locations it is more shrub like but in deep, rich soil with access to water it can grow to be a thirty five foot tree. Large round alternate leaves turn dark green and glossy in summer. In May and June the tiny greenish flower appear and transform into red fruits by autumn. This is the mechanism that makes this plant so widespread, its dispersal by birds. A lovely little straight trunked shade tree that requires almost no water once established. It functions as an understory component as well. Full sun to quite a bit of shade, including dry shade. Easy to grow and climate adapted. Average life span 35 years. In winter its very symmetrical open branch structure is handsome. Fall color is soft yellow to chartreuse and not especially showy. Oregon native plant

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Allium acuminatum

This delightful onion has a wide range in our state. Primarily you see it in dry, exposed sites a little way up from the bottom of the Willamette Valley. Mid green slightly fragrant grassy leaves give way to an 8″ stems in May-June with a chalice of multiple pink/lavender pink upward facing flowers. Full sun to part shade and adaptable to many soils as long as there is a dry rest in summer. This onion quickly goes summer dormant directly after seed set and disappears entirely by mid summer. Great pollinator bulb for Willamette Valley meadows. Its nearly always on a slope where it is found. Replicate this and give it only the rain that falls from the sky in subsequent years. In time the bulb multiplies and it can also self sow. Leave a disturbed area around the plant and keep it free of weeds and they can mature and bloom in several years. Light deer resistance. aka Slender leaved onion. Very attractive food source for butterflies.  Oregon native plant.

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