Amelanchier

on Wednesday, 16 June 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Fall Color, Edible, Trees, Shrubs

Serviceberry or Juneberry

Amelanchier Autumn Brilliance flower

For those of you who are not already familiar with Amelanchiers - aka: Serviceberry, Juneberry, Saskatoon (they have a LOT of common names), let this serve as an introduction to what might well become your new favorite shrub/small tree!

Serviceberries are one of those rare plants that provide year-round interest here in the Rogue Valley. In the spring, this charming member of the Rose family is covered by clouds of white flowers that are a big favorite with pollinators.

Summer brings truly delicious blue-black berries (hence the name Juneberry) that taste like a cross between a blueberry and an apple, and are as popular with birds as they are with humans.

The fall color of Serviceberries – especially ‘Autumn Brilliance’ – rivals maples for color and intensity. And even when they drop their leaves, the branching pattern of Serviceberries provides nice visual interest in the winter garden.

They’re also relatively carefree and easy to grow, and do well in full sun to light shade with average water. Most Serviceberries are somewhat drought-tolerant at maturity, and will only need deep watering once or twice a month during the summer.

Shooting Star Nursery regularly carries three varieties of Amelanchier:

 Autumn Brilliance plant crop edit'Autumn Brilliance': We are absolutely in love with this plant! It works well as either a small single-trunked tree or large multi-trunk shrub, reaching about 15’ to 20’ tall and wide at maturity. As the name suggests, ‘Autumn Brilliance’ puts on a truly spectacular show of color in the fall. 

Spring Flurry edit‘Spring Flurry’ has more of an upright tree form (28’ tall by about 20’ wide) than Autumn Brilliance’. It has a strong, dominant central leader and is a great choice for a small street tree: low maintenance, abundant spring flowers, and nice fall color too.  is generally available in tree form. 

Our native western serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) is a bit smaller than the two cultivars listed above - generally reaching about 12' by 6' at maturity - and can be found growing right here in the Rogue Valley and surrounding areas. They bloom and fruit about a month later, are easy to care for, and are excellent wildlife-friendly plants: the berries are heavily visited by a variety of pollinators, birds love the berries, and the plants also provide nice nesting sites for songbirds.

Penstemon 'Margarita BOP'

on Monday, 31 May 2021. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

MBop2Seeing a mass of blue flowers in the summer garden is like a deep drink of cool water on a hot afternoon. And few perennials do blue better than Penstemon ‘Margarita BOP’.

‘Margarita BOP’ is a natural hybrid of two native Penstemons (P. heterophylla and P. laetus) and was discovered by the late Bert Wilson of Las Pilitas Nursery in Santa Margarita, CA, where it had volunteered at the base of his porch (the BOP in ‘Margarita BOP’ stands for ‘Bottom Of Porch’). Plants are long-lived, have a long bloom season, and are very drought tolerant once established.

Surprisingly enough for such a blue flower, the flower buds start off as pale yellow with a rosy base. But once the buds have opened, the flowers are a gorgeous shade of deep violet-blue. Plants are evergreen, and get to around 2’ by 2’ at maturity. The tubular shape of the flowers makes them extremely popular with hummingbirds, who are their primary pollinators. They’re also a favorite of bumblebees, who often bite their way into the base of the flower to steal some nectar (without providing any pollination services…). Let’s face it, Margarita BOP is just plain irresistible!

MargaritaBOP1‘Margarita BOP’ prefers full sun and well drained soil, and plants are relatively deer resistant. Plant them en masse for a truly gasp-worthy effect, or combine with other drought-tolerant sun lovers like Erigeron, Zauschneria, Eriogonum, Monardella, Agastache, Salvia, or Eriophyllum lanatum.

Amsonia 'Blue Ice'

on Monday, 31 May 2021. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Fall Color, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Flowering Plants

'Blue Ice' Bluestar

Amsonia Blue Ice edit

The American Horticultural Society named Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ as one of its “75 Great Plants for American Gardens’, and it is easy to see why! Easy to grow, attractive foliage, lovely periwinkle-blue flowers, and great fall color: Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ deserves a space in any sunny perennial garden.

 

‘Blue Ice’ is native to the southeastern US, but is finding increasing popularity here on the West Coast. It gets about 15” tall by 24” wide and has a nice, soft clumping shape, which helps it blend in nicely with other plants in a mixed border. Late spring/early summer flowers put on a great show – and in the fall, the foliage turns a warm golden color.

 

Plants grow best in full sun – they get a little soft and floppy in partial shade - and deadheading will help prolong flowering. ‘Blue Ice’ is tolerant of most soils; even clay soil, as long as the soil isn’t waterlogged. As an added bonus, the latex sap in plant stems makes it unpalatable to deer, but butterflies and other pollinators find the flowers irresistible!

Phlomis fruticosa

on Sunday, 30 May 2021. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Jerusalem Sage

PhlomisJerusalem Sage is a very striking and unusual plant to add to your drought tolerant or deer resistant garden. The fuzzy gray-green leaves seem to be unpalatable to deer, and being a Mediterranean native makes it a great choice for our dry summers.

Phlomis acts as more of a shrub than perennial; staying evergreen in all but the coldest winters. Ours died back a few years ago when it got to 7 degrees, but came back full and lush the next summer. It can grow to 4' tall and wide but can be pruned in fall to keep it more compact. We have found it to be fully deer resistant even in the hills of east Medford and seems to be tolerating the clay there as well, as long as it is not overwatered. The large, fuzzy leaves make a nice contrast to the finer leaves of most drought tolerant plants, and Phlomis also brings a strong structural element to your landscape design!

Phlomis2Starting in May, the yellow flowers emerge in whorls along the sturdy stems and attract bees and butterflies throughout the summer. Phlomis will take full sun to light shade and will tolerate poor soil, requiring good drainage, and even tolerating some clay if not overwatered.

Phlomis russeliana is a similar looking Jerusalem Sage that we sometimes carry; it tends to spread by runners instead of staying in one clump and stays a bit shorter, but will stay within bounds.

Both species remain attractive even after the blooms fade, their seedheads keeping an architectural sillouette throughout the colder months and providing seed for birds. They look great with ornamental grasses, Lavenders, Nepetas, Asters, Sages, Vitex, and other Meditteranean type plants. Just prune back the flower stems when you're done with them and that's about all you have to do to maintain them.

Teucrium

on Tuesday, 25 May 2021. Posted in Fragrant Blooms, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Perennial, Ground Cover, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Germander

Teucrium aroaniumTeucriums – also known as Germanders – often get overlooked when folks are planning their gardens, and here at Shooting Star Nursery we’re on a mission to change that!

 

If you’re not yet familiar with Germanders, this is a great time to get acquainted. These versatile evergreen groundcovers and subshrubs thrive in full sun, are drought tolerant and deer resistant, and are absolutely beloved by pollinators (maybe because their flowers smell like honey!).

 

All Germanders will take well to light shearing throughout the year, making them good candidates for a low, formal border. In fact, this feature made them extremely popular as border plants in formal Elizabethan knot gardens.

 

Shooting Star regularly carries the following varieties of Germander:

Gray Creeping Germander (Teucrium aroanium): Narrow soft gray foliage with pinkish-purple flowers; 2-3’ tall by 1.5 – 2’ wide. Both foliage and flowers are fragrant. See photo above.

 

Teucrium chamaedryasWall Germander (Teucrium chamaedryas): Glossy dark green leaves topped with small spikes of rosy lavender flower. Shear after blooming to help maintain shape. 1-2’ tall by 2-3’ wide.

 

Dwarf Wall Germander (T. chamaedryas ‘Prostrata’): Same coloring Wall Germander, but plants only reach 6-8” tall by 18” wide at maturity.

Teucrium Summer Sunshine‘Summer Sunshine’ (T. chamaedryas ‘Summer Sunshine’): New leaves are golden green, darkening to chartreuse later in the season; rosy purple flowers; 6-8” tall by 12-18” wide.