Hydrangea integrifolia

Very good evergreen climbing Hydrangea that is a tough and reliable vine for shady walls. Large slightly indented leaves are glossy green year round. Self clinging vine that will adhere to virtually any surface- not for the walls of houses or porches- better on fences, rock walls and even as a ground cover. In June large white buds explode into a doily of 6″ wide white flowers. Blooms 2-3 years after planting. To 15′ tall and as wide. Part shade to shade- regular water in full sun. Rich, well drained soil. Excellent cold hardiness to 0ºF. Gains speed as it ages. Avoid blasting hot locations. Woodlands are ideal.

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Selaginella braunii

We love this fantastic dense growing acid green moss. It finds its best home in containers- not quite tough enough for life in the ground. Slowly expanding rounded dense clumps are beautiful all the time. Excellent as the understory to potted plants where it inhabits the most constrained roots with no problem. To 3″ x 6″ in a season. Very easy container plant. Regular water in rich, well drained soil. Regular water. Smooth and modern.

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Arisaema ringens

Cobra lily or Jack in the Pulpit from Japan with exotic striped flowers in mid-spring but the bold and glossy foliage steals the show. Forming large patches in rich, WELL DRAINED soil with regular summer irrigation. Shade- protect the amazing leaves from blasting sun. They will stand prominently up to 2′ tall- triple lobed, glossy and good looking. One of the more reliable of the genus. Mix with other bold shade perennials. Mulch with compost annually. Disappears entirely in winter. A Xera favorite perennial.

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Helleborus x ‘Blue Diamond’ Winter Jewels ®

Well, blue may be a stretch but this difficult to photograph hue at least attains hints of the color. More aptly its a luminous pewter shade that seems to reflect light in a metallic way. Strong growing perennial for part shade to shade in rich, well composted soils. Regular summer water- though it takes dry conditions in the shade. In extreme drought the leaves will simply lie on the ground- rising up almost immediately with water. Blooms appear from late January and are effective until April. To 2′ tall and as wide in several years. Excellent in combination with the yellow flowered series ‘Golden Sunrise’. Highly deer resistant and long lived. Remove self sown seedlings which will unlikely come true to the parent. A special color.

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Ribes laurifolium

Curious low, evergreen, winter blooming shrub that erupts in 3″ long pale, ghost green flowers from January to March. To just 2′ tall and spreading twice as wide its large rubbery, dark evergreen leaves are a great backdrop to the flowers. Just as nice the leaf petioles are a dramatic madder red. Rich, well drained soil with regular summer moisture. Part shade to high overhead shade. Excellent combined with Hellebores, Cardamine, Cyclamen coum- which all desire the same cultural requirements. Strongly horizontal habit. Blooms on wood from the previous year prune (very lightly) if needed after flowering has ended. Moderate deer resistance. AKA Laurel Leaf Currant. Wonderful on shady hillsides where it lights the winter months.

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Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Variegatus’

Excellent cold hardy, drought tolerant shrub that reaches tree like proportions with great age. The pretty variegation presents as prickly leaves outlined in white. With age/maturity the leaves lose their prickles and become smooth and entire. The variegation on this plant is incredibly stable. I have yet to see a reversion of any consequence. Ancient specimens that are now 20′ trees can be found in old, old gardens. Its obviously been grown in this climate for eons. Very, very cold hardy evergreen that is not only hardy below 0ºF it makes a great hedge even near the Gorge where it endures subfreezing wind with no ill effects. Tolerates regular irrigation which increases the rate of growth- on average about 2′-3′ per year can be expected. 8′ x 6′ in 7 years is typical. Full sun to shade. Avoid permanently boggy soils- otherwise very adaptable- including heavy dry summertime clay. In October-December tiny fragrant white flowers crowd the stems. Moderate deer resistance. Long lived.

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Illicium floridanum ‘Pink Stars’

This form of the aromatic Florida Anise shrub which is native to the SE United states bears showy 2″, spidery star-like flowers of the palest pink. The entire large shrub displays these outward facing flowers in March to April and again in September to October. The flowers have an odd scent up close- mothballs or fish- but in our climate it blooms when it is cool and the odor does not carry. More importantly its a handsome broadleaf evergreen shrub with sharply pointed long leaves that have a sweet delicious anise flavor when bruised or brushed. Upright and then spreading shrub to 8′ x 6′ in 7 years. Best with light shade to shade for the deepest green foliage. Tolerates full sun as long as there is not the reflected heat of a wall. Flowers are showy from quite a distance. Excellent among rhododendrons, as an understory shrub for interest, joy. Very hardy to cold, enduring subzero readings with no damage. Nice hedge. Moderate deer resistance. Rare, cultivar. Light consistent summer moisture. Established plants are summer drought tolerant.  Easy.

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Abutilon megapotamicum ‘Marianne’

Improved selection of the Chinese Lantern Plant- which is actually from South America, and this form has larger more flared yellow petals. They extend and recurve from the bold red calyx. This arching multi-stemmed shrub blooms almost non-stop from June to frost and often longer. Vigorous to 6′ tall and 4′ wide forming a large patch in time. The arching thin stems and skinny pointed leaves display the rows of flowers perfectly. A hummingbird delight. One of the hardiest to cold this behaves as a sub-shrub in the coldest winters- freezing back but returning boldly from the ground when the soil warms. Most winters, damage is restricted to burned tips and the majority of leaves which will drop. Plant with the base in a protected location- for instance between low shrubs to protect the crown, or near the base of a wall. Mulch if arctic (below 20ºF) weather threatens. Following a freeze the plant will look absolutely awful. Refrain from cutting it back until you see new growth emerge- either from the base or vertical stems. In any case water it consistently and heavily until you see vigorous new growth- the transformation with regular water is remarkable. So, don’t by any means give it up for dead. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. A bit tall and lanky for containers- just plan for this. Rich, WELL DRAINED soil improves both cold hardiness and speeds recovery. Excellent performance at the Oregon Coast.

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Camellia sasanqua ‘Hugh Evans’

Rare, obscure, insanely heavy blooming fall and winter blooming Camellia sasanqua. Individual flowers are not formal or stiff, instead the the petals are separated, loose and vivid pink. They appear en masse from October to January and decorate the lithe arching stems in pretty cascades of flowers. Blooms are exceptionally cold tolerant for a sasanqua enduring temperatures into the low 20’s and still remaining fresh. No bother though as a parade of buds exists to replace spoiled blooms. Full sun to quite a bit of shade- without the expense of blooming. Fast growing, vigorous open shrub that takes well to pruning in spring to encourage density- build blooming wood. Rich, to average well drained soil with light consistent summer water.  A very wild and informal appearing Camellia and we love it. Glossy deep green foliage. To 5′ x 7′ and arching. Light flower fragrance.

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Camellia x williamsii ‘Waterlily’

Extraordinary hybrid that combines all the great attributes of a Camellia with larger, more dramatic flowers and more of them, and excellent cold hardiness as well as garden adaptation. Large growing glossy evergreen shrub with fetching deep green leaves. In late January to early March- and often longer than that depending on the weather 5″ flat fully formal double clear pink flowers are stunning. You really have to see them up close to get a handle on the size and perfection of each flower. Upright growing shrub to 9′ tall by 7′ wide in 10 years. Full sun to quite a bit of shade in well drained soil that retains moisture. Light consistent summer moisture aids establishment and also increases the amount of flowers the following season.  Established plants can endure quite a bit of drought. Exceptional cold hardiness. Flowers shed cleanly- they shatter without clinging and discoloring.

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