Arbutus andrachne

The true strawberry tree of the Mediterranean this close relative of our Pacific Madrone is a small  rounded multi-trunked tree.  Evergreen long glossy foliage creates  dark shade. In the spring whitish/green urn shaped flowers transform into small, edible, red berries. These are loved by birds and people too, the dried fruit is reportedly extremely heavy in antioxidants. The bark exfoliates beautifully just like our own and it peels in summer to reveal a green glossy trunk that slowly changes to rusty brown and continues to be glossy. Seed of these trees was collected outside of Jerusalem. This small tree of of the Mediterranean region circles that whole sea and even results in hybrids with Arbutus unedo. Moderately fast growing tree to 30′  in great age. Beautiful tree that is extraordinarily drought adapted. Ideal for hot sunny slopes and perfect accompaniment to Manzanitas and our own Madrone. Avoid subfreezing wind and err on the side of  protected location, a west or south aspect is ideal. Water to establish the first season then none in subsequent years. Beautiful evergreen, lovely fruit, and bark. Gains cold hardiness with age.  AKA Greek Strawberry tree.

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This wonderful grape vine was originally found along the Russian River by Roger Raiche and is absolutely stunning in autumn. This very large growing deciduous grape will eventually grow to 20′ and develop a sturdy, gnarled trunk. Grows about 3′-6′ per year. This is a wild hybrid between the European Wine grape and our native  vitis californica. What that yields is one tough plant that handles our climate like a champion. Best used in wild areas and if you are going to plant it to grow up a tree make sure the vine you start with is small and the tree you put it in is big. In September-November a long display of brilliant claret red foliage- the individual leaves can be 10″ across. Simultaneously it will sport dark purple edible fruit in large clumps. The medium green foliage is leathery and is best in part shade to full sun. Especially brilliant draping evergreen oaks as it was found in the wild. Climbs by tendrils but provide very strong support at least #4 copper wire.  Leaves arrive in mid spring. Very drought adapted when established. Water for the first season to establish then set it free. Vitis californica can be found in bot the Rogue and Umpqua river basins in Oregon.

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Willow leaved Podocarpus is a large tree native to Chile. Its defined by thin willowy deep green foliage that is dense and somewhat pendulous and reddish shredding bark. In our climate it mostly takes the form of a large shrub. Its ultimate height of 66′, will take decades and decades in our climate and this dense evergreen takes very well to pruning. The somewhat waxy foliage is pretty and verdant year round. To 15′ all in 10 year in Portland. Excellent trimmed hedge or specimen. Prune directly before new growth begins in Spring.  Small olive green pillar shaped flower morph into small blue fruits. Native between 36º south and 43º south this forest tree in areas of high precipitation has become very endangered in the wild.  Excellent shrub/tree for large container. Rich to average soil that drains with regular water during the summer. In time it gains drought tolerance. Very good year round appearance Very dense and useful as a large screen or hedge. Gains cold hardiness with establishment and we’ve seen no issues down to 5ºF. F. Full sun to very light shade.  Lightly deer resistant.

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Rosa ‘Sally Holmes’

This is one of the very best of all shrub roses. Huge, single white flowers open in trusses . Each flower is 5″ across and open from dainty pointed blush pink buds. The enormous truss of flowers can have as many as 60 individual flowers and n full bloom it will obscure the foliage. Continual blooming after a huge initial late spring display this shrub is recommended as one of the very best of all white roses. Compact, upright habit is always good looking. The large foliage is disease  free and in scale matches the large flowers nicely. Deciduous and the last round of flowers can be left to produce small red hips at the tips. To 5′ x 5′ for full sun to very light shade, in rich soil with regular irrigation  (once per week in summer). Good looking from bloom to deciduous with red hips. This is a Xera favorite endorsed by each one of us. Blooms on new wood. Light fragrance.. Also attracts insects including bees. On its own roots.

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This is a very handsome and dependable hardy Agapanthus bred in Ireland.  It forms a spreading clump and in mid summer 3′ tall stems support multiple pendant midnight blue flowers.. Full sun and rich soil. Add a handful of lime to the planting hole. Our soils are acidic and this perennial likes neutral (7) Alkaline (sweet) soils to perform at its best. You can also plant it next to a concrete sidewalk which will also give it the alkalinity that is craves. The clump of scrappy mid green leaves is shorter than most varieties and maintains a tidy plant both before and AFTER bloom so it makes an exemplary garden and landscape perennial. Regular water is crucial through the bloom period, July /August when flowering ends and you cut away the dead stalks it remains good looking until it totally disappears in mid autumn. Irish and UK Agapanthus appear to have much greater cold tolerance than American selections,  they wait to emerge until all threat of a freeze has passed. Very cold hardy easy to grow wonderful pendant tower of cobalt blue. The truss of flowers is very large and showy. Good cut flower, loved by pollinators too. Limited quantities. One of the finest lily of the niles for our gardens.

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Cyperus alternifolius ‘Zero’

Umbrella palm or a close relative of Papyrus this normally zone 9 (20ºF) perennial is hardier and forms expanding clumps. This selection weathered 0ºF and lived, hence the name. Tall perennial for perpetually moist soils or shallow water in ponds. Also very useful in container water gardens. To 4′ tall the slender green stems sport an umbrella top of leaves. The radial leaves become decorated w/ small brown flowers in midsummer. This indeed has been very hardy for us. We’ve never lost it to cold. Easy to grow wetland plant that demands a lot of irrigation in open ground. The first hard freeze takes it down half way and by the end of winter is is usually completely deciduous. Returns in mid-late spring with real heat.  Full sun- very intolerant of shade. Forms a compact but slowly expanding clumps. Very easy.

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Calycanthus occidentalis

Western Spice bush is native throughout semi shady and shady glens primarily in central and northern California with outliers in Oregon found north of Medford. A large deciduous shrub with a lush quality. The late leaves are medium glossy green and large. In summer double petalled madder red /brown flowers appear. The 2″ wide flowers have the distinct fragrance of a wine cask. Its most noticeable up close, but a large shrub in full bloom is a fruitful fragrant cloud. To 7′ x 7′ and adaptable to full sun to quite a bit of shade. Water to establish in its first year and then only occasional. This very tough drought adapted shrub should be used a lot more in our climate. Fall color is bright yellow but does not stop traffic. Tends to hit its ultimate height and then spreads laterally from there. In habitat its associates are Ceanothus, Aristolochia, Aesculus, Smilax. Very easy and long lived Oregon native shrub. Plant with Frangula, Ceanothus, etc in shrub borders or as an informal hedge. The more flowers you have the more dramatic the perfume. Seed heads that follow the flowers are large round semi woody urns and they are showy as well. Loved by hummingbirds and native insects. Moderately deer resistant  protect when young.   Oregon native plant.

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Fuchsia ‘Debron’s Smokey Blues’

There is a plethora of Fuchsias and many are hardy – while many are not. This spectacular Fuchsia has proven to be ultra hardy for us. An upright compact sub-shrub with masses of elegant deeply hued flowers for months. The sepals are a deep wine color- very dark and it pairs with a semi double corolla of the deepest smokey purple black. Full sun in rich soil with ample water adaptable to quite a bit of shade w/ a little less blooming and a lankier outline. It has even proven to be root hardy in containers. Regular water speeds growth through summer and establishment. Plant it w/ the crown about 2″ below the soils surface- this immediately increases the hardiness of the plant. Blooms prolifically from July to October. Often harassed by hummingbirds in our hoop house. To 2′ x 3′. The foliage is deep green, lustrous and healthy. Give it as much water in the ground as you would give it in a container for the first year and it will soar.

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Trachelospermum asiaticum ‘Fragrant Form’

About 30 years ago I was introduced to this form of Asian Star Jasmine in Eugene. It was passed around as a clone that survived the disastrous freezes of 1989 and 1990. Its also sweetly fragrant where most varieties of Asian Star Jasmine are not or faint. This is an actual pleasant aroma, not as heady as the more common Star Jasmine Trachelospermum jasminoides,  but pleasantly sweet. The parchment colored flowers appear for an extended period from June to September. A huge flush of flowers in early summer and then sporadically for  months. Rich to average soil with regular summer water to establish and speed growth. Asian Star Jasmine waits to grow until truly warm weather is consistent. Regular water + warmth leads to a spreading ground cover or in wind free places it can self attach to surfaces and climb. To 12′ tall as a vine 18″ tall x 3′ as a ground cover. Full sun to considerable shade but not competition from tree roots. Very cold hardy form tolerating temperatures below 5ºF for short periods. Glossy undulate leaves are handsome year round. Wonderful, durable, ground cover.  Establish this plant well before its first winter and mulch for added protection. One of our favorite forms of Asian Star Jasmine. This performs just as consistently as other clones that have proved their durability. Not bothered by deer. Tolerates dry shade when very well established. Both as a ground cover and as a vine it clothes itself densely in foliage never any bare knees. Roots along the ground as it goes, great on slopes.

Xera Plants Introduction 

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Nevin’s mahonia or barberry is a remarkably tough evergreen shrub for the roughest locations. A moderately fast growing evergreen with somewhat fiercely armed blue green leaves. New growth of divided leaves is conspicuously tinted red. In spring small yellow flowers appear and cover the whole shrub, by late summer these have morphed into translucent red berries relished by birds. Native to southern California and surprisingly cold tolerant – like zone 4b tolerant thats -25ºF. Its kind of funny that we didn’t go for this remarkable durable plant. a long time ago, instead we were saddled with the horror of English holly.  Once established it requires absolutely no further irrigation.  It’s perfectly adapted to our winter wet summer dry climate. Full sun is non-negotiable Excellent shrub for rural areas as it is incredibly resistant to deer and even rabbits, In time it becomes a dense rounded shrub- very handsome. Excellent shrub to deter unwanted folks or animals. I’ve often thought this would be an ideal rural hedge with little care beyond planting and watering to establish- then set it free. Virtually any well drained soil. Avoid standing water at any time of the year. Beautiful, tough west coast native shrub. 8′ by 6′ in 7 years.

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