Vitex agnus-castus

on Saturday, 07 July 2018. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Attracts Pollinators, Deer Resistant, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Chaste tree

vitex-plant-of-the-week

Our hot summers allow us to enjoy this Mediterranean native that is drought tolerant and deer resistant.  Heat is neccessary for profuse blooms, and profuse it is once it gets going in July and August.  The blooms slowly open from the base to the tips eventually reaching up to 12 inches long and last at least 4 to 5 weeks.  The color can vary from pale lavender to a darker purple and attract bees and hummingbirds from far and wide.  The fragrant leaves are very attractive on their own- they are divided similar to a laceleaf Japanese Maple and are a very pleasant shade of soft blue-green and gray-green underneath.  Chaste tree is late to leaf out in the spring, helping it avoid damage from our late spring frosts; but makes a good small shade tree in the heat of summer.  One of the fun things about Vitex is that you can grow it into whatever form you like, multi-trunk or single trunk tree or a large, broad shrub.   We have seen older specimens around the valley that are 10' tall by about 12-15' wide, meaning they are cold hardy once established and can get quite large.  However, they can be maintained at 6' tall and wide or trained up as a small shade tree. They take very well to a severe pruning, even all the way back to the ground if needed.  We have also seen them be used successfully in large containers against hot walls and parking lots.  Vitex grow slower with drought conditions and grow fairly rapidly with regular water and richer soil but will tolerate both conditions well.   We have been very impressed with the cold hardiness and drought tolerance of these shrubs as well as their many uses.  Vitex are one of the few choices for a small tree or large shrub that thrives in the heat and have lovely blooms late in the season.  

Phlomis fruticosa

on Monday, 30 April 2018. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Jerusalem Sage

phlomis fruticosa

Jerusalem Sage is a very striking and unusual plant to add to your drought tolerant or deer resistant garden. The fuzzy gray-green leaves seem unpalatable to deer and being a Meditteranean native makes it a great choice for our dry summers. It acts as more of a shrub than perennial, staying evergreen in all but the coldest winters. Ours died back to the ground this past winter, when it got to 7 degrees but came back full and lush this summer. It can grow to 4' tall and wide but can be pruned in fall to keep it more compact.

Amelanchier x grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance'

on Wednesday, 04 April 2018. 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.

Asian Persimmons

on Thursday, 01 March 2018. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Fall Color, Edible, Trees, Drought Tolerant

Persimmon trees

hachiya persimmon 1Persimmons are the fruit you didn't know you needed.  So decorative!  So versatile! And fall color as a bonus in an edible tree.  Asian Persimmons are the main type for home gardeners to grow, even though there are American Persimmons (just not as edible).   There are astringent types (used for cooking and eaten soft and fruits have a pointed bottom), and the non-astringent types (can be eaten fresh when firm or soft and fruits have a flat bottom).  See below for the main types we carry.  The non-astringent varieties can keep for 3 weeks at room temperature while the astringent varieties need to be used right away.  Dried Persimmon is a delectable treat that can add vitamin A and C and beta ceratine to your winter days.  Persimmons can be used in baked goods and there are lots of recipes out there showing ways to use this gorgeous fruit.

 

persimmonPersimmons are self fertile so you can get away with one tree and offer vibrant orange fall color.  They are one of the last fruits to harvest in the late fall, usually October even into November.   Trees can typically get 20-25' tall and wide and are not super fast growing.  They appreciate a well draining soil and full sun.   Most Asian Persimmons are hardy to zone 7.  Plase them so you can enjoy the glowing orange pumpkin like fruit hanging from bare branches in late fall.  

 

Edible Figs

on Wednesday, 31 January 2018. Posted in Edible, Deer Resistant, Trees, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

Fig trees

If you’re thinking of adding some new fruiting trees and shrub to your yard this year to create an edible landscape, figs are a great place to start!

figsFigs are native to the Fertile Crescent region of the Middle East and thrive in our hot, dry summers. These rich, almost decadent-tasting fruits are also surprisingly undemanding, low-maintenance plants. They’re fast growing, begin bearing fruit at just two years old, and will often bear two crops a year. Few pests (including deer!) bother them. Figs also enjoy well-drained soil and only require deep, infrequent watering once they’re established.  One of their assets is that they are self fertile, being pollinated on the insde of the fruit by a special wasp.

Here in the Rogue Valley, figs tend to grow more as tall, multi-trunked shrubs than full-sized trees. That’s actually an asset for home gardeners, because it makes their fruit easier to harvest. Plants bear fruit primarily on year-old growth, and are most productive when pruned annually in mid-winter.  A harsh winter in the first few years of being planted can cause a fig to have some branch die back.  They are quick to rebound from the roots though once warm weather returns. Give them as much heat as possible to enhance their ripening.

figleavesWe carry a good assortment of figs at Shooting Star and always try to carry varieties that are more likely to ripen in our shorter heat season, compared to the Black Mission and other types that perform better in California. Our selection includes dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties like Olympian and Black Jack (perfect for small yards); Pacific Northwest specialties like Oregon Prolific, Desert King, and Osborne Prolific; and old favorites like Brown Turkey and Latturula (Italian Honey Fig- yum!)  See our fruit tree description list for more details on skin color and ripening..

 

 

Figs are one of those fruits that don't keep well at the market, so you are lucky to have your own crop.  What can you do with the abundance of figs you’re already imagining harvesting? That’s where the fun really begins! Figs can be eaten fresh off the tree (make sure they are quite soft before picking), dried, or turned into a variety of tasty jams and preserves. But why stop there? Fire up your broiler or grill and try broiled figs stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Or make your own dolmas!  See what we mean about decadent?

 

FIG VARIETIES FOR THE NW:

Fig 'Black Jack'

large, sweet purple skin w/strawberry flesh, semi-dwarf

 

Fig 'Black Spanish' **

dark purple skin w/sweet amber flesh, reliable & productive, naturally dwarf

 

Fig 'Brown Turkey' 

Med-lrg, sweet purplish/brown skin w/lt. pink flesh, big

 

Fig 'Desert King'

large, green skin w/strawberry flesh, can bear 2 crops

 

Fig 'Lattarula' (Italian Honey Fig) **

large, lt. green skin w/ amber flesh, can bear 2 crops

 

Fig 'Olympian'

Super hardy, purple skin w/red flesh, very sweet, dwarf

 

Fig 'Oregon Prolific' 

vigorous, yellow skin w/ white flesh, great for Pac. NW

 

Fig 'Osborne Prolific'

Purple brown skin w/sweet amber flesh, hardy & productive, good in PNW

 

Fig 'Peter's Honey' **

deliciously sweet, yellow/green skin w/amber flesh, likes hot/protected exposure

 

Fig 'Scott's Black'

Thin purple skin w/red flesh, sweet, closed eye

 

Fig 'Vern's Brown Turkey'  **

Brown skin w/amber flesh, sweet/flavorful, can produce 2 crops a season