Heuchera chlorantha

One of our prettiest native Heucheras that can be found in partly shady locations from the Willamette Valley to the Cascades. A low rosette of handsome maple shaped leaves looks good for most of the year. In late spring very vertical straight stems erupt and cruise to 14″ tall. They terminate in rows of green flowers. As the flowers fade and change to seed the erect stems turn a soft red. Blooms are effective for months. A colony forming plant that spreads in rich to average soil with regular summer irrigation. Best in moist shady locations but is amenable to full sun- which will dramatically increase the number of flowers. Climate adapted perennial that improves under cultivation. Mass for a soft green floral effect. Mix with other woodlanders or even in full sun in rock gardens. Semi-deciduous. To 18″ wide. Moderate deer resistance. Excellent plant for partly shady meadows, which is its native haunt. Native to the city limits of Portland.  Excellent plant. Oregon native plant.

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Iris tenax

Oregon iris or Tough leaved iris is the most northerly species of Pacifica Iris- extending its native zone as far as SW Washington. Its common throughout the western part of our state where it decorates grassy hillsides in full sun to quite a bit of shade with jolly purple flowers April-June. That was the most common color where I grew up SW of Eugene. Turns out this Iris comes in quite a few colors. Pink, blue, white, golden yellow, red- all hues that have been recorded for this species. Conspicuous also, among the 11 Pacifica species this is a winter deciduous perennial and its the hardiest of the lot. Forms grassy clumps in fan shaped displays to about 10″ tall.  A large clump can be 30″ across and filled with nearly 100 flowers- these rise on cantilevered stems to 14″ tall. Not very tolerant of disturbance and to be honest it has stymied us quite a few times. They HATE division. Therefore, we feature seed grown plants- local seed. These plants feature extra vigor and usually bloom with in 3 years. They also establish better.  Best in light shade, dappled shade on slopes. Average, clay soil is what it wants and you can increase vigor by double digging the hole very wide to incorporate oxygen in the soil and water lightly and consistently through the first summer. Then none to light in subsequent years. And admirable competitor with introduced invasives and as per all Iris it is supremely deer and even rabbit resistant.  Winter deciduous- also, it may go drought deciduous in extremely dry summers. Mixes well with native annuals. Established clumps live for decades. The flowers have the light fragrance of root beer (at least to me) and are the only fragrant Pacifica species that I can detect.  First nation people used the incredibly tough leaves to braid into ropes, traps. Which is cool.  Photo credit: East Multnomah Conservation District. Oregon native plant.

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Excellent all green form of Winter Daphne with dark pink buds that open to softer pink insanely fragrant flowers from January to April. One of the larger growing cultivars 4′ x 4′ in 6 years. Excellent in part shade to shade, including dry shade, where it will continue its fabulous bloom. ‘Zuiko Nishiki’ is known for superior cold hardiness as well, taking temperatures to 0ºF with little harm. This is a great cultivar for colder gardens. Moderate rate of growth about 10″ per year. Supremely deer resistant evergreen shrub that will never be bothered. Prune if needed very lightly after blooming has ended. Regular water to establish then very drought tolerant. Loves clay soils that dry in summer. Irrigate only when very dry. This increases the flower bud set for the following year. The sweet lemon fragrance fills the air for months. Somewhat formal appearing plant out of bloom.

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This seedling of the millions of Tiarellas that we’ve grown over the years is a stand out. Found at the edge of a shade hoop house it thrived for years before I realized, this is a really good plant. Palmate leaves are widely divided and stamped on the center with black. An edging of green surrounds this imprint. From mid spring to summer a continuous supply of spears of flowers that are tinted pink and open to white. Spreads to form prodigious colonies in rich, moisture retentive soil with regular irrigation. Lovely plant that brightens woodland in part shade. An annual top dressing of compost is greatly appreciated. To 1′ tall in bloom and leafy clumps spread out to several feet wide. Excellent along stream banks, ponds spreading love in dappled light. Semi-evergreen in winter.

Xera Plants Introduction 

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Extraordinary Higo Camellia that is wildly showy and fun to grow. Higo Camellias are a form where the stamens rather than being clustered together in the center are instead splayed out in the shape of a star against smaller flat petals.  They are surprisingly rare in the United States. Its a different look for a japonica and we love it.  Moderately fast growing handsome glossy evergreen shrub for full sun to shade. To 8′ x 5′ in 7 years. Regular summer water speeds growth and increases flower bud set. Mid-season bloomer with flowers opening from February on. Rich to average soil, definitely apply ample mulch when planting. Good looking shrub at all times- w/ a somewhat formal appearance until the blooms open. 4″ wide flowers have flat petals that are white striped and stippled in peppermint red. Takes low water conditions when established. Long lived.

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Our friend garden designer plantswoman extraordinaire Magi Treece spotted this Camellia and observed it over time. I too had noticed it around town- always large and VERY old. Its most conspicuous trait is to produce simple single fluted ivory flowers from pink buds. Up close these 3″ wide flowers have a decadent sweet scent. Its appearance is most like the species Camellia cuspidata which is a very cold hardy species known for its fragrant white flowers. Blooms appear from December (Often as early as November) and open until the end of February. The elegant flowers are tough and it takes some serious weather to impede or even damage the flowers. Deep green leaves are long and thin and very glossy/handsome with a sharp tip. The entire plant is good looking at all times. Ancient varieties around town are upwards of 15′ tall and 3/4 as wide. I’d say it would be an 8′ x 8′ shrub in 10 years. Regular water speeds growth and assists in bud set for the following season, this is only important in summer. Excellent specimen or hedge. This is one tough and beautiful Camellia.  Dig a large hole to disturb the soil around the planting site and set the plant in the hole even with the soil horizon. Backfill, water and mulch. Magi queried Camellia Forest about this plant with no luck. I queried Nuccio’s and their best guess was that it was a form of C. cuspidata or a hybrid close with it. Either way its one of our most favorite Camellias and we have our sweet friend Magi to thank. This Camellia looks and acts very much like an evergreen Magnolia and it could be used as a smaller substitute. The flower fragrance on warm days is a bit like a Gardenia. Moderately fast growing.

Xera Plants Introduction

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Graceful and formal at the same time. This low arching form of winter box is wonderful with curly thin, deep green pointed foliage on arching stems. In mid-winter to early spring the undersides of the stems are clad in fine powerfully FRAGRANT white flowers at every leaf axil. The fragrance spreads for quite a distance on mild winter days. Following the flowers are berries that turn black and arrive at red. Handsome low shrub to 2′ tall and 3′ wide suckering to form patches with time. Fast growing and easy to establish shrub in the BUXACEAE which means that this boxwood relative is also deer resistant. Excellent performance in part shade to shade but not low dense shade. Massed it performs as a large scale ground cover. Light consistent summer H20 for the best looks. Takes dry conditions in shade once established- especially if you apply mulch liberally. Unlike the species it does not lose leaves in bloom which is an important difference. Finds a home under dark stairwells and foundation plantings. Nice plant. China.

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Great Hounds Tongue or Giant Pacific Forget-me-Not is one of our most remarkable native perennials. On the property where I grew up near Eugene it was native. There was a clump of this majestic perennial that was there for nearly my whole life. Unfortunately, we sold the property but this plant was still there last I checked. In the Willamette Valley and out into the Columbia Gorge you see these enormous blue flowers on a sturdy spikes in the dry areas under oaks. Often seen with Wyethia -Mules ears. Large fleshy leaves form a substantial clump. In early to mid spring 2′ spikes reveal outrageously large versions of Forget-me-nots. Established plants will then go dormant with summer drought. Adapted to xeric clay soils that dry in summer. Not only does it not require it established plants can resent it and rot. Place in a wild, unwatered part of your garden. Amend the soil lightly with compost and water in well. Pairs well, of course with other native perennials such as Sidalceas. In the wild it is accompanied by Erythronium oreganum , Lathyrus nevadensis, Fritillaria lanceolata, Dodecatheon hendersonii, and Ranunculus occidentals. That is what grew with our patch, under white and black native oaks, with a madrone here and there. Impressive native perennial whose intense blue flowers are hard to convey in a photograph. Oregon native plant.

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Tea, the commercial source of black tea is a fine ornamental shrub in our climate as well. Its more than welcome in autumn when the small cup shaped fragrant white flowers peek from the stems. A rounded, good looking clean shrub with leaves that are deep green with more conspicuous venation on the surface. To 8′ x 8′ in 10 years for light shade to full sun. Great on an eastern exposure. Commercial black tea is produced by the fresh tips of the plant. These then go through a process of fermentation before it is edible. See more research. Easy to grow and somewhat more open than more commonly grown Camellias. And the leaves appear more matte as well. Regular summer water for the most verdant growth. Otherwise it accepts the same conditions as any Camellia. Blooms August to November. Blooms on wood from the previous year, prune if needed after flowering.

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Intriguing CLUMPING bamboo that rises to only 6′ tall but arches as wide. Fine, arrow shaped leaves protrude in the same direction giving an airy symmetry. Takes pruning very well and is recommended for small spots. In the open give it room to arch. The 1/3″ wide culms clusteer tightly forming a moderately fast increasing clump. After 10 years the base of culms will be no more than 2′ wide. Full sun to part shade to shade in rich soil with consistent summer irrigation. Established plants can take far less. Wonderful in a woodland or as an asian accent in themed gardens. This is a very hardy bamboo- tolerating temperatures slightly below 0ºF. A great bamboo for those in the line of east winds. Plant on 3′ centers for a dense hedge. Prune in spring if needed or allow it to gently repose with natural grace. Moderate deer resistance. SW China.

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