Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'

on Wednesday, 22 April 2015. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Fall Color, Edible, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry

amelanchier_closeup

We are in love with this serviceberry.  It is a great small tree or large shrub; we like it multi stem but we have single stem available as well.  It is interesting in all four seasons starting with leaves that emerge bronze, then become a lovely blue-green in summer and turn fiery orange and red in fall.  The white flowers start out as a fuzzy, peach color and seem to last longer than the flowering cherries, at least 3 weeks and then form blue-black fruit that the birds enjoy.  They also are not prone to damage from late spring frosts.   Provide full to half day sun.  Well draining soil and our dry summers should help prevent some of the humidity based diseases it can get.  Can be drought tolerant once established and grows 15-25 feet tall.  Good replacement in sun for multi trunked Japanese Maple.  Looks great with dark green pines or other evergreen as backdrop.

Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Rotundifolius'

on Tuesday, 07 April 2015. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Evergreen, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Rounded Hollyleaf Osmanthus (False Holly)

osmanthus_rotundifolia

This evergreen shrub is being highlighted because it looks good all year round. No leaf spot, no diseases or weird pests, no old brown leaves, just glossy, thick leaves that start out light green and darken to a beautiful holly-like blue green.  The Holly Tea Olive or Rounded Hollyleaf Osmanthus is very easy to grow and seems to be happy in any location.  We have one planted on the east, west, and north sides of buildings and all seem to be thriving.  It may not be the first choice for a hot spot against a south wall but they seem to acclimate to where they are placed and will even tolerate clay soil.  They will be more drought tolerant in a shadier location but our established ones are rudely ignored and haven't complained.  A thick mulch layer will help any evergreen shrub, or any plant for that matter, retain moisture and withstand the changes in temperature.  This Osmanthus is hardy to Zone 6 and has shown no winter damage through Rogue Valley winters.  Like most Osmanthus it produces small, white, fragrant flowers, typically in the fall.  This variety will get about 4'x4' but can be pruned a bit tighter.  It is not fast growing but puts on steady growth each year and won't overrun it's location.  It is a great foundation plant or background for showier perennials. If the spines of Hollies are not your favorite this could be a good substitute since the rounded leaves only have slight spines- nothing to cause damage to the pruning gardener.   It can be deer resistant once established since it has thick, leathery leaves.  But in heavy deer country it can have a hard time getting settled if the deer constantly eat the new growth.  So cage it until it can get big enough to withstand the occasional deer browsing or test it out first- it seems to depend on the deer population on this one. 

Here's a photo from Xera Plants of a 5 year old Osmanthus: http://www.xeraplants.com/Xera/Osman._Rotundifolius_files/Osmanthus%20rotundifolius.jpg

Cornus mas

on Tuesday, 03 March 2015. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Showy Bark/Stems, Fall Color, Trees, Flowering Plants

Cornelian Cherry

cornus-mas

Cornelian Cherry is a dogwood relative that is a beacon of light in the gloomy days of early spring.  It is rare to find a yellow blooming tree and since Cornus mas bloom so early, the blooms last an extra long time- up to two months.  Blooming so early means they may be susceptible to a late spring frost if it coincides with the blooms emerging but once open they can take the occasional freeze.  The small yellow inflorescences just glow in the low light of spring and look especially good with a dark green background of pines or doug firs.  Like most dogwoods they do best in dappled light or as an understory tree but these species seem to take more sun than a regular dogwood.  We have observed some in full sun in the Rogue Valley surviving just fine.  After the flower show, small, shiny, oval leaves with a curved margin emerge and get yellow or red/purple fall color.  More interesting are the red, oblong, up to 3/4", fruits that come on in the fall and hang on until birds feed on them.  They are edible, best for preserves as they are a bit sour.  The Cornelian Cherry is a great choice for a small, disease and pest resistant tree that provides multi-season interest and easy care.  They typically will get 15-20' wide and tall at a slow to medium growth rate.

There is a beautiful specimen at the OSU Extension Office on Hanley Rd. in Central Point.

Sarcococca spp.

on Wednesday, 28 January 2015. Posted in Winter Interest, Fragrant Blooms, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Ground Cover, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Fragrant Sweetbox

Sarcococca ruscifolia

Dark and shady places such as the north walls of a home can be challenging sites to plant.  Sarcococca is an ideal shrub for lowlight situations like these.  Thriving in everything from part sun to deep shade, Sweetbox is an attractive and glossy broad-leaf evergreen providing a good backdrop for airier ferns and perennials.  There are a handful of different species ranging from upright shrubs to slowly spreading groundcovers.  They all have simple leathery leaves and are for the most part deer resistant, making this genus a problem solver in a myriad of ways.  Not to mention they bloom in late winter when most plants haven't even broken dormancy!  Even though their small fringy flowers are not what you would consider showy, they amply make up for it with a powerfully sweet fragrance that is sure to get attention.  Add red to black berries that lend a festive quality later in the year and you've got a four season plant!  In return this understated plant merely asks for moderately fertile soil with decent drainage and regular water throughout the hotter months.  That is not to say Sweetbox wouldn't prefer rich, humusy and acidic soil, but it is quite adaptable once established. 

Sarcococca ruscifolia or Fragrant Sweetbox is the largest of the more common species reaching 3-6' high and wide with an arching habit and more rounded leaves.  It is known to naturally espalier itself against a house and thus can be useful in tight spots and under windows.   It's growth is slow to moderate and can easily be kept at 3’.  Sarcococca hookeriana v. humilis has narrower, more elongated leaves and spreads slowly by stolons from 4-8' wide with stems reaching 18" tall.  Also called Himalayan Sweetbox, it is a great companion under trees or at the base of more colorful deciduous shrubs due to it's colonizing nature and tolerance of root competition.  There are a few newer hybrids of this Himalayan species that bridge the gap between the two aforementioned Sarcococcas.  'Fragrant Valley' is a compact yet vigorous selection growing to 18-24" tall and 3-4' wide.  'Fragrant Mountain' attains a slightly larger size at 2-3' tall and 3-4' wide, making it a great alternative to Skimmia japonica.  Both cultivars are disease resistant and tolerant of drier soils and less than ideal conditions.  Sarcococca species are great supporting cast members for the shady garden (…we can't all be stars!) - and a must have for lovers of fragrant plants.

Arbutus unedo 'Compacta'

on Thursday, 20 November 2014. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Showy Bark/Stems, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Compact Strawberry tree

arbutus-unedo-plant-of-the-

Compact Strawberry tree is one of our favorites for so many reasons- it can tolerate sun or shade, drought tolerant, provides fall flowers for the hummingbirds, has long lasting, spectacularly colored fruit, and it's evergreen!  You can see how this relative of our native Madrone gets its common name of Strawberry tree- the orange and red fruits resemble strawberries- although edible, they are more for wildlife as they are bland  and mealy in texture.  The honey scented, white, urn-shaped flowers can appear from fall into early spring and the fruits often come on at the same time or not long after.  Some years seem to have heavier fruit set than others, but the fruits are so decorative and long lasting that they don't qualify as messy.  With leathery, dark green, oblong leaves, reddish new stems and shaggy auburn bark it is handsome all year.   It is not the most fast growing evergreen shrub but will grow steadily to 5-7' tall and wide (eventually larger).  With annual pruning it can be kept tighter and smaller.  It is one of those rare plants that is happy in sun or part shade making it a great choice for a hedge with varied conditons.  It is also tolerant of various climates and soils.  We have some planted on the north side of our house that have done wonderfully with no supplemental water after their first year and even survived the 7 degree winter with no damage!  In extreme cold they will show some damage; so best to plant where they are not completely exposed to cold winds.  They can take little to regular water and are tolerant of many soil types.  We wish they were deer resistant but unfortunately the tips get chewed too much to be reliable.   Arbutus unedo 'Compacta' is great in foundation plantings  or hedges.  You will be hardpressed to find an evergreen shrub with more year round interest, plus the hummingbirds will thank you for providing a much needed winter nectar source.