Maianthemum stellatum

An incredibly widespread North American wildflower that is known by many different common names. In our region the preferred common moniker is Low False Solomons Seal.  This rhizomatous perennial forms expansive colonies when happy. It appears as strongly arching stems clad in alternate wide green leaves. In late spring to early summer and dependent upon altitude small, white, starry flowers appear at the tips. After bloom they slowly morph into black berries. These can easily be dispersed by birds. Part shade in naturally mesic sites, that means woods on the north side of a slope in the Willamette Valley in shade beneath Douglas Firs and often consorting with sword ferns. To 10″ tall and forming expanding colonies. Winter deciduous, fall color is often a lingering gold before the whole plant disappears. Tellima grandiflora (fringe cups) and Claytonia sibirica ( candy flower) are common associates. Part shade to shade in humus enriched soil with regular summer water. VERY established clumps can get by with natural rainfall. Avoid, hot dry sites, and stubborn dry clay. Mulch heavily after planting. Moderate deer resistance. Oregon native plant.

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Pyrossia lingua

Tongue fern from Asia is also known as a leather fern in reference to the robust thickness and texture of the leaves. These evergreen ferns creep stoloniferously to create patches. Not rocket fast, but you can enhance growth in rich, well drained soil with regular SUMMER water. This semi-subtropical-ish fern grows fastest during summer so thats when you supply water. Otherwise it is tolerant of very dry conditions and will make due with one spring moisture burst of growth. Very good appearance year round. Part shade to shade- reasonable shade, not a dark planter under the Brady Bunch stairway but bright shade. Mixes well with Aspidistra elatior (Cast Iron Plant) and Asarum splendens a green and textural combination that looks good year round. And sometimes in dry shade thats the best you can ask. HEH. To 18″ tall and spreading several feet wide with care. Long lived and cold hardy to about 5ºF. Avoid strong subfreezing east wind which can scorch the edges. Great in shady containers. Even successful as a houseplant. Moderate deer resistance.

 

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Begonia sutherlandii

Begonia sutherlandii

One of our all time favorite Begonias that is surprsingly hardy when established. Soft green angel wing shaped leaves fan out and are the great backdrop to masses of small, single soft orange flowers. Blooms continuously from late June to frost. Rich soil that drains in part shade to high overhead shade is ideal. Protect from blasting sun. Exquisite container subject that mixes well with other plants and adds a saucy orange to shade plantings. In the ground this plant requires a little more care. Rich soil in  protected location – under shrubs or near the house and a little patience. Returns slowly in the ground- not usually showing its face until Mothers Day or later. Once growth proceeds it goes quickly. Nice self cleaning  blooming plant. Spent flowers simple tumble off the plant and are replaced by a massive continual display. To 8″ x 8″ and wider with time. Winter deciduous. For plants growing in containers you’ll need to protect the container from excess wet and freezing. The best way to overwinter it is to put it under an eave or an unheated garage or greenhouse. Add organic fertilizer with the onset of growth. Lovely perennial that we adore at Xera.

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This is a seedling myrtle that showed up in our nursery. I moved it to a stock bed and observed it for several years. Its proven to be hardy to lower than 15ºF and its a dense and compact growing form.  Good looking evergreen that has deep forest green foliage with a slight gloss. Dense growth forms a shrub to 3′ x 3′ in 6 years- progressively larger after that. In late summer to early autumn a procession of pure white flowers with a central boss of exerted stamens. This aromatic shrub is adapted to hot dry conditions and light to little water once established. In fact, the more lean the conditions the hardier this myrtle will be to cold. Black elongated drupes follow the flowers. Formal appearance that can be even more formal with pruning. Though, its naturally dense habit makes pruning less likely. Great against baking hot south facing walls. Loves the zone of south facing planters that are asphalt on one side and a hot wall on the other.  Best as a specimen- not a hedge as it can be prone to damage in severe winters ( below 10ºF) which recovers quickly in spring but makes it less useful as a hedge. Great container subject. Moderate deer resistance. Tolerates VERY dry summer conditions.  Full sun to quite a bit of shade at the expense of a dense habit. Very durable urban shrub. Protected location. Locate out of the path of subfreezing east wind.

Xera Plants Intoduction

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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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Daphne odora 'Zuiko Nishiki'

Daphne odora ‘Zuiko Nishiki’

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 appearance out of bloom.

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Tiarella x ‘Steam Punk’

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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Camellia japonica 'Yamoto Nishiki'

Camellia japonica ‘Yamoto Nishiki’

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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Camellia x cuspidata 'Magi's Mystery'

Camellia x cuspidata ‘Magi’s Mystery’

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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