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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The most widespread native Ceanothus in our region. Its known by two common names, red stem Ceanothus which is fairly self explanartory and Oregon tea. A large growing shrub to small tree with conspicuous sanguine stems clad in large mid green leaves, this completely deciduous shrub is not known for fall color making due with yellow and off green before abandoning the plant. Fast growing to 12′ tall in May-July depending on elevation frothy white, fragrant flowers loosely decorate this sparse plant. In full sun and with regular irrigation it achieves tree-like status quickly. In the shade it makes rounded twiggy plant that is much less graceful. A wonderful native for pollinators and birds. Pollinators relish the flowers and birds make off with the black and brown seeds. Very graceful when well grown and that means average soil and water to establish then none in subsequent years. Excellent bordering woods and thickets. Naturally occurring with Frangula (Rhamnus) purshiana and Rosa nutkatensis var. nutkatensis. Tolerates more summer water than most Ceanothus but none is necessary. Not deer resistant. Native in the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.
Oregon Viburnum or Western Way Faring tree is a moderate to large native deciduous shrub. It stretches a little bit into W. Washington where it is rare but its primary populations are in western Oregon and south into N. California. Its found in moist to dry woods often on the margin where its can get at least half a day sun. It also thrives only much larger and lankier in outline in the shade. It easily tolerates winter inundation but is found on well developed soils in upland situations as well. Its common associates in the wild are Oregon white oak/Quercus garryana, Oregon Ash/Fraxinus latifolius, Cornus stolonifera. Leaves are round, glossy and scalloped and are very handsome on a well proportioned fountain shaped shrub. Shorter in full sun, taller in shade. This plant needs just a modicum of light watering for its first year and once it is thoroughly established you can set it free. In late spring off white cymes of flowers have the fragrance to me of raw potatoes. We had a large specimen of this shrub in our back 40 where I grew up near Eugene. In certain years it can produce quite a fall show with orange/red tinted leaves and translucent blue fruits. Blooms on wood from the previous year. Prune if needed AFTER blooming has ended. June. To 5′ tall in the sun to much taller in shade. Protect young plants from deer. Oregon native plant.
Oso berry is a classic west coast shrub. Its one of the earliest shrubs to burst into leaf and flower long before anyone else- often as early as early February. Exceptionally fresh green leaves emerge vertically and for a time appear as rabbit ears lining the stems. On female plants fragrant chains of white flowers are showy in a very spring like way. Following pollination chains of charming fruit (the berries or plums)first turn yellow then red/orange and arrive at deep purple. They are reputed to be good. And even though I’ve known this plant my entire life i’ve never tasted a ripe berry. Seems like they disappear to wildlife very fast. There was a thicket of this early spring shrub near the bottom of our long driveway and it would leaf out and bloom in February and March. When I spotted those acid green leaves I knew that winter was over. To 8′ x 8′ quickly from a massively suckering central shrub. Branches soar up and arch out. All the better to observe the colorful fruit. Native, often under Oregon white oaks and in dry woods with Holodiscus discolor/ Ocean spray, Corylus cornuta californica /Western Hazel. By late spring this shrub has all but faded into the background. Often it will lose many or all leaves in a very dry summer, but its drought tolerance is phenomenal. Fall color is soft yellow and shows up nicely on the dark forest floor. Its natural range is from the N. Bay area in CA north to extreme SW British Columbia. Always on the west side of the mountains. Stems force well when brought inside in December- January. Deer resistant and possibly rabbit resistant. This is a very wild looking shrub, goes well with other plants of that mein. Stirs early pollinators and even Anna’s Hummers. These are unsexed seedlings. Best in part shade to shade though it will tolerate full sun with a less refined overall look. Water lightly but consistently for the first summer then none in subsequent years. Virtually any soil type including heavy clay. Simultaneous bloom with flowering currants (Ribes sanguineum). A great garden pairing. Oregon native plant.
Western sword fern is one of the most ubiquitous plants on the west side of the Cascades. In many forests in the Coast Range and Cascade foothills it is the sole understory plant. Western sword fern is a large species with long arching fronds. Adaptable to a host of situations. Often self sown spore will show up in the oddest places. I’ve seen it as an epiphyte and even self sown into hot concrete steps. In rich, acidic soil this evergreen fern soar- provided soils rich in humus, organic matter and protected from direct sun with consistent access to water. Very well adapted to our winter wet/ summer dry climate- it will cruise through dry summers unscathed. In the garden it does useful duty in the toughest, dry, shadiest sites. Along with Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) and Ophiopogon (Lily turf) it is one of the best dry shade inhabitants. As an understory component it is often accompanied by Cascades Mahonia (Mahonia nervosa), Inside-out-flower, (Vancouveria hexandra), and Pacific Blackberry (Rubus ursinus). To 4′ x 4′ in ideal situations. Though it is evergreen western sword fern does go through a transitional period before new croziers unfurl in spring. The 3′ long fronds begin to lie flat on the ground by winter. This is the time to remove tired, old leaves. and make way for fresh, new, unfurling foliage. Though very tough western sword fern does look its best with consistent light water. Supremely deer and rabbit resistant. Long lived and not a slow grower. Oregon native plant.