Five Steps to a Beautiful, Drought Tolerant Garden

on Saturday, 09 April 2022. Posted in Drought tolerant

Drought proof

It’s no secret that we’re in for another low-water summer here in the Rogue Valley. But don't despair! There are a lot of things you can do right now to have a yard that is both beautiful and drought resistant this summer.

Here are five simple steps to get you started:   

Plant Now: Drought doesn’t mean you can’t add new plants to your garden this year – but you do want to plant before the summer heat moves in to stay. Plan on doing most of your major planting this month, so your new plants have time to get their roots established before our prolonged hot weather arrives.

In fact, this is a great time to consider adding some drought tolerant and native plants to your garden. These plants are beautifully adapted to our hot, dry summers and are generally low-maintenance and easy to care for. Instead of growing ‘thirstier’ plants that you’ll need to continuously coddle and fuss over, you can have a garden full of plants that thrive here in the Rogue Valley – many of which are also deer resistant and pollinator friendly.

 Water Wisely: Your plants will actually be a lot healthier if you water slowly, deeply, and infrequently; rather than sprinkling them once (or even twice) a day – and you’ll end up using a lot less water overall. Check out our Watering 101 blog post for more information. If you start implementing these waterwise guidelines now, by your new plants will only need occasional water – anywhere from twice a week to once or twice a month, depending on the plants you select.

 Mulch: Once you get that water into your soil, you want to keep it there for your plants to use – not lose it to evaporation! Mulches like hemlock or shredded fir bark, compost, and even gravel act like an insulating blanket for your soil; keeping your plant’s roots cooler and reducing water loss due to evaporation.

 Go Easy on the Fertilizer: Fertilizers are designed to push fast new top growth in plants – that’s why they’re popular! But growing fast isn’t always in the best interest of your plants – particularly during a dry year. Those tender new leaves require a lot of water to keep them healthy until they harden off. This spring, consider skipping the fertilizer and let your plants get themselves established at their own pace. Instead, they can focus on putting on deep roots to successfully weather the high summer temperatures.

 Try One of our Waterwise Collections: Not sure where to start? Not to worry! Shooting Star Nursery has designed two curated ‘waterwise’ plant collections –a Waterwise Jewel Tones collection and a Waterwise Pastel Tones collection. These collections include plants for a 90-100 sq. foot garden bed, design vignettes that provide year-round interest, plant descriptions, and spacing guidelines. If you’re new to drought tolerant plants, our collections are a great place to start!

Books for Garden Inspiration!

on Friday, 14 January 2022.

Summerdry edOne of my favorite things to do during the slow days of midwinter is to settle down with a good garden-related book or two; to fuel my imagination and get me inspired for the upcoming garden season. If that’s something you enjoy too, we’ve got a few recommendations for you.

One of our recommendations (Gardening in Summer-Dry Climates) is a fairly straightforward gardening book; two (The Bees in Your Backyard and Entangled Life) focus on some of the non-plant neighbors you’ll meet in your yard; and one (Braiding Sweetgrass) is a lovely, lyrical celebration of the interrelationships between humans and the green world. Find yourself a comfy chair, grab a cup of tea, and let’s take a look!


Gardening in Summer-Dry Climates by Nora Harlow and Saxon Holt (above left): This is the gardening book we need right now; specifically written for the summer-dry climates of California, Oregon, and Washington. It’s also the first gardening book I’ve come across that not only deals with things like living with wildfire, adapting your gardens for a changing climate, and learning to ‘garden where you are’; but also gets you excited and hopeful about the process. The book has a huge plant list that includes lots of native plants, with information about where the plants are originally from and what their cultural preferences and water needs are. Best of all, Gardening in Summer-Dry Climates is loaded with gorgeous photos and inspiring ideas that prove that you can have a beautiful garden that is both lush and water-conscious.

BraidingBraiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer: One of my all-time favorite books about plants and the natural world. Robin Wall Kimmerer is, in her own words, ‘a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’. Braiding Sweetgrass effortlessly combines these different perspectives and ways of understanding the world. This is one of those rare books that actually changed me as a reader and enriched the ways in which I relate to the natural world. You should read it!

Entangled smEntangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake: And now, a book that focuses on all the strange and mysterious things that happen in your garden below ground and out of sight. If we think of fungi at all, we tend to think of their fruiting bodies: from Chanterelles and Morels to Amanitas and Psilocybin. But the wonderful world of fungi is much bigger and stranger than that. Take a journey into this fascinating world and see ‘how fungi make our worlds, change our minds, and shape our futures’. A really fun and eye-opening read.

BeesBackyard smThe Bees in Your Backyard by Joseph S. Wilson and Olivia Messinger Carril: When someone says “bees”, most people probably think of the European Honeybee – but there are actually over 4,000 native bee species found in North America (approximately 500 are found in Oregon!). This book is a great introduction to the incredible variety of bees that can be found in your own pollinator-friendly garden. Great photos, ID tips, and information about the different plants that these bees rely on; The Bees in Your Backyard will open your eyes to the beauty and fascinating life histories of our native bees.

What’s on your garden bookshelf this winter? Stop by the nursery and let us know!

It's Time for Bareroots!

on Saturday, 08 January 2022. Posted in Edibles, Fruit trees

Fruit Tree and Berry Season

homeWinter2017 Bare Root Fruit Trees and Berries

Foggy mornings, cold nights, and soggy ground - that means it’s a perfect time for planting bare-root trees and shrubs! Our first shipment of bare-root berries and shrubs have already arrived, and our bareroot fruit trees will all be coming in over the next few weeks. This is a great time to start putting together your 2022 edible landscape wish list.

Bareroots, for those unfamiliar with them, are dormant plants (generally fruiting trees and shrubs) that are sold with exposed roots. We hold them here at the nursery in bins filled with soil, to keep the roots from drying out. When you buy them, we dig them out, pop them into a plastic bag, and you’re on your way! And although bareroots look a little…unimpressive…at first glance, there are a lot of great reasons to consider planting a few this winter.

              Selection: You’ll find the biggest selection of fruiting trees and shrubs of the year during bareroot season - ranging from nut trees (walnut, pecan, and pistachio) and hard-to-find food plants like quince, jujube, elderberry, and currants; to a larger selection of sizes (dwarf, semi-dwarf, and full-sized) and varieties of fruit (four kinds of strawberries, four kinds of grapes, ten kinds of peaches and three persimmons!).

              Price: Because these are bareroots, nurseries have a lot fewer costs invested in them: no containers, no soil, no fertilizer - and they haven’t spent months (or years) caring for them as they’re growing out. Those savings are passed along to the buyer, and they can be significant.

              Mid-winter is a great time to plant: It might seem counter-intuitive, but this is a wonderful time for planting trees and shrubs. The ground is moist and plants are dormant, so plants are far less likely to go into transplant shock than they are during warmer and drier times of the year. In addition, because the ground is soft, tree-sized holes are a lot easier to dig!

              Getting to the root of it all: Plant roots are amazing structures: they hold plants in place, pull water out of the soil, and store the nutrients plants need to grow and be healthy. And root structures are incredibly variable. Some plants produce lots of thin, fibrous roots; some rely on a long taproot; and others have root structures that branch as widely and intricately as the above-ground part of the plant. And yet, we rarely get to see them! This is probably the only time you’ll have the opportunity to see the whole plant you’re working with. And that can help give you a better understanding of what your trees and shrubs need in order to grow and thrive.

blackberriesapple treepeach

There are just a few things you’ll need to keep in mind when planting bareroots, in order to get your new plants off to the best start possible:

  • Try to get them planted within a few hours of getting them home. Your bareroot plants are dormant, but they’re not indestructible. If you can’t get them planted immediately, make sure you keep roots from drying out between the time you bring your plants home and the time you get them planted. You can keep them moist inside the plastic bag for a couple of days, but it's best to heel them into some soil or moist bark if you can’t plant them right away.
  • Hold off on fertilizing your new plants until all risk of frost has passed. Fertilizing too soon can push leaf growth before their roots have had a chance to get established. In addition, new leaves are thin and tender and can be killed by late frosts.
  • It is best to prune back the branches of your bareroot tree.  You want the top of the tree to be more in line with the root system.  This will help give the roots a better chance at supporting what is up top. 
  • Please feel free to ask us questions! The staff here at Shooting Star is happy to help you with suggestions about the best varieties to plant, how much space your plants will need, and what pollenizers (if any) your plants will need in order to produce fruits. We can even give you a few simple pruning suggestions to get you started on the right foot with your new plants.