Ceanothus x ‘Peg’s Pride’

Beautiful ground cover Ceanothus that bears dense sky blue flowers in a vivid carpet in April to May. To 2′ tall and mounding it stretches out to 8′ wide. The dense evergreen growth blocks weeds effectively. Very good on steep slopes. Loved by all pollinators and especially important to native bees. This is one of the cold hardier ground cover hybrids taking 5ºF with no issue. Excellent combined with Cistus and Halimiums. Fast growing to its ultimate size. Best in full sun but will tolerate light shade with sparser bloom. Regular water for the first season to establish then none in subsequent years. Supremely drought adapted. Very good at the Oregon coast and adaptable to sandy substrates.Mid green round leaves are semi gloss and handsome year round. Spectacular in bloom. Plant on 4′ centers for a large evergreen groundcover.

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Rubus parviflorus var. parviflorus

Western Thimble berry is a widespread relative of raspberries that grows in many biomes and is especially abundant west of the Cascades. The 5 petal pure white  flowers that arrive in spring are among the largest of any Rubus. Thimble berry also does not have thorns. YAY.  It forms imposing patches spreading by a creeping rhizome. The large maple shaped leaves can be up to 10 cm wide To 4′ tall and spreading – give it room and plan ahead. The sweet edible red berries appear in mid-late summer. They may be detached from a core on the end of the stem. It leaves a concave hollow berry- shaped like a thimble. Its fairly high in water content which means it does not ship well and its not big as a commercial crop. Nice looking large, opulent shrub for wild areas. Water to establish then none necessary in subsequent years. Thimble berry has a very long lifespan but it is also a seral species populating disturbed sites from fire, logging, roadsides. Full sun to quite a bit of shade with good air circulation- prone to powdery mildew in wet springs. It seldom causes permanent damage to the plant. Fall color is yellow to russet and lingers. Not bothered by deer  but birds will predate the fruit and then poop out a whole new colony. Wild areas, margins of forests.

Oregon native plant

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Podophyllum x ‘Red Panda’

Exquisite May apple hybrid done by the O’Byrnes near Eugene. New growth erupts out of the ground in March with leaves convex and stained in red. As the leaf unfurls it matures to a semi-glossy green. Large growing perennial to 3′ x as wide as it can spread. Often Podophyllums spend their first couple of years in stasis. It will get a bit larger but after a certain amount of time these plants will run. Give this shade loving, and shade causing perennial room to stretch out. Dark red flowers appear right after the leaf unfurls. They have an odd scent that is barely detectable, except for close up. Fun to grow, majestic perennial for part shade to shade in rich, moisture retentive soil. It adores rich conditions and you cannot add enough compost. Pay special attention during intense heat (above 97ºF) which can be tough on this plant. Water well and protect from hot afternoon sun. Leaves are up to 1′ across. Bold and wonderful. Winter deciduous. Limited availability.

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Erythronium oreganum

Oregon fawn lily is widespread in the western third of the state. In late winter and early spring leaves arrive mottled like a spring fawn. Soon the flowers follow on straight stems and yield a cream colored umbrella of petals. They reflex around a yellow center with protruding stamens. This glorious little plant is perfectly adapted to our climate. By mothers day it has set seed and gone back to sleep. Flowers are single on average plants or in poorer soil. In rich soil it soars to 20″ tall and can have a spike with two flowers. Gorgeous ephemeral plant that requires a dry rest period in summer. Competes well with invasives and in time it will seed itself to form patches. Seedlings of this bulb take approximately 2-3 years to bloom. Water to establish potted plants. Once established, only the rain that falls from the sky. Full sun to full shade in average soils, including clay soils. Do not water in summer or it will rot and die. In the wild its found under Oaks where it competes on the forest floor with Lonicera hispidula and other forbs. Blooms from early April to early May in the Willamette Valley- later at higher elevations. A wonderful native plant that should grace every garden. Found in the wild with Dodecatheon hendersonii, Nemophila menziesii var. atomaria, Carex tumulicola, Festuca roemeri var. roemeri and Festuca californica. Occurs on upland soils, never boggy. Extremely well adapted to our soils and climate. Wonderful woodland bulb. Best in part shade to shade, where the flowers last longer.  Oregon native plant.

 

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Pulmonaria ‘Benediction’

Fantastic early spring perennial that possesses arguably the bluest flowers in the genus. Large clusters of reverberating blue appear in late February and are showy until late April. The smaller than normal leaves posess the spots that makes this a classic Pulmonaria. To 2′ x 2′ and arching. Very easy to grow hardy perennial for part shade to full sun in rich, moisture retentive soil with regular summer irrigation. A substantial patch of this perennial is a sea of blue. Not bothered by slugs or other pests in general. Mixes ideally with white or yellow flowered Hellebores or grouped with hardy winter Cyclamen coum. Easy to grow and long lived. If you like blue, this prolific bloomer is the Pulmonaria for you.

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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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Allium amplectens

Slim leaved onion is very easy to identify in Western Oregon though it occupies more than one biome. Where I grew up it was always found in the same meadow. The meadow was primarily Festuca californica and Festuca roemeri. This onion was found between those grasses and usually intertwined at the base with native mountain strawberriy (Fragaria virginiana var. platyphylla) and rosy plectritis. Its ease of identification comes with a pinch of the leaf or flower- resinous onion odor. This 10″ tall allium supports clear white flowers (occasionally they range to pale pink in these seed grown plants). This is a petite but very ornamental native onion. Its bloom time coincides with onset of summer drought. June into July.  It forms enlarging bulbs and as soon as the starry flowers are spent the seed ripens and bursts casting it all around. Full sun and average to enriched soils. Water to establish potted plants then in subsequent years natural rainfall will suffice. This local native is sold in Europe as a cultivar called ‘Graceful Beauty’- its just the species A. amplectens but graceful is a great description of this wildflower. Excellent planted among Rosa nutkana and a perfect and natural accompaniment with native hardy annuals. Each bulb produces multiple flowers which increase over time. Attractive to a vast group of pollinators- local bees and hover flies make repeated visits. Adaptable to all soils that drain. Avoid standing water. Adaptable to clay soils.  Oregon native plant

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Carex pachystachya

Chamisso Sedge is a wonderful, common and extremely widespread sedge native to the W/NW parts of the US. Upright growing evergreen clumper to 10″ tall x 10″ wide in a season. The complex flowers are brown awns clustered in orbs at the top of very straight 20″ stems. Adaptable to a wide range of conditions from wet riparian zones to drier upland sites. In the wild it accompanies such perennials as Delphinium trollifolium, to Iris tenax. Good looking year round with just a slightly beat up look after the hardest winters. Spreads moderately fast in rich to average soil. Better year round appearance with a light application of compost. Excellent in a Willamette Valley meadow that is wet in winter and bone dry in summer. Each clump is dense enough to inhibit weed competition. Spreads very lightly by seed. Clumps that lose their luster in summer drought can be irrigated. Good garden performance. Great massed plant on 1′ centers.  Oregon native plant. 

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Cornus nuttalii

Pacific Dogwood is one of our most beloved native flowering trees. From BC south to the Sierra  Nevada of California this understory to margin tree alights in April and May in pristine white flowers. They perch on upward arching stems for a perfect display. This large conical shaped tree can achieve 35′ in great age. Water deeply and infrequently during its first summer in the ground, once it is firmly established it can go with natural rainfall. In full hot sun more irrigation may be needed. Native to the Portland city limits and a firm spring decoration on our freeways. Pacific dogwood contrasts wonderfully in bloom with deep green conifers. Average growth when young is 2′-3′ per year. In certain seedlings this spectacular species may re-bloom in August/September.  Its a fairly small percentage but when it occurs its a refreshing display at the end of hot summer. Fall color is pink/red/orange and is conspicuous in the understory. Full sun to overhead  shade in the understory. In autumn red fruits decorate the branch tips and are food for birds. Give this native tree good air circulation and mulch after planting. Oregon native plant.

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Corydalis solida ‘Purple Bird’

This species of fumitory is so useful as it blooms early and opulently then goes dormant quickly and endures dry summer conditions. The deep smokey purple tones of the nodding scapes of flowers is sublime. Pair with other early spring ephemerals, Erythronium, Calochortus, Dodecatheon, and lesser bulbs. To 6″ tall and forming spreading plant that increase annually. Once this plant is installed and watered in that should be the last liquid that it needs from you. Very easy to grow spring corm that lives for many years. In time it can self sow, never a pest in our climate and these volunteers are welcome. Not bothered by deer or slugs or snails (!) Disappears quickly and cleanly with real heat. Blooms March- May 4-6 weeks, a good long time. Delicate appearance of the foliage belies this plants ultimate toughness. This is a fairly new flower color form and its a winner. Part shade to high overhead shade or morning sun and afternoon shade.

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