Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'

on Thursday, 11 June 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Fall Color, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant

'Blonde Ambition' Blue Grama Grass

Bouteloua1 edThis North American native prairie grass cultivar is a true performer. Many ornamental grasses don't start blooming until late summer, but ‘Blonde Ambition’ starts flowering in early summer and its blonde, horizontal, eyelash-like blooms persist well into winter. 

Bouteloua detail edAnyone who has visited Shooting Star Nursery knows that we love our ornamental grasses, and Bouteloua ‘Blonde Ambition’ remains one of our very favorites. Its narrow blue-green leaves would be reason enough to like it, but what really makes this grass stand out is its flowers, which start out chartreuse colored and fade to a lovely blonde shade.

It performs well in various garden locations, from well-drained clay to drier sandy soils. At a super useful size of 2-1/2'-3' tall to 3' wide, you can plant it en masse, or use it as a single specimen to contrast with flowering perennials. We like to plant it with other sturdy perennials like Agastache, Eupatorium, Echinacea, and Nepeta. It also combines well in mass plantings with other native grasses like Sporobolus, Schizachyrium, and Muhlenbergia.

 ‘Blonde Ambition’ is very cold hardy and is quite drought tolerant, but can also handle regular watering. Like most ornamental grasses, it is deer resistant and wintering songbirds enjoy eating the seedheads. We like to leave it up all winter as the stiff stems can hold up to snow and provide interest and texture in the winter garden. In early spring, when you see new growth emerging, you can cut back the old stems to about 3" above the soil line and scratch out any old growth. Bouteloua is also reported to tolerate being near Walnut trees, where most plants cannot thrive.

Callirhoe involucrata

on Tuesday, 09 June 2020. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Ground Cover, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Wine Cups Poppy Mallow

CallirhoeOne look at Callirhoe involucrata in bloom and you’ll instantly understand how it got its common name: Wine Cup Poppy Mallow. Callirhoe’s large (up to 2” across), brilliant magenta flowers are held upright – like brilliant cups of wine – over its rich, dark green foliage.

Callirhoe is native to the central United States, with a range that runs from North Dakota south to Arkansas, Texas, and Arizona. Its native habitat is dry meadows and prairies and it combines well with other prairie natives including Liatris, Echinacea, Schizachyrium, Amsonia, and Solidago.

Callirhoe plant edThese fast-growing plants form a low growing mat about 6-12” tall, and between 3-4’ wide. Place them at the front of a perennial bed, or even let them spill over a garden wall where they’ll provide a vibrant show of color all summer long. Callirhoe does best in full sun and well-drained soils. Once established, they’re drought tolerant, deer resistant, and wonderful pollinator plants, as you can see from the photo to the left. They will grow in clay soils as long as they are well-drained (e.g.: on a slope or berm), but will not tolerate heavy wet soils.

Note: Callirhoe involucrata will self-seed. If you’d prefer to control its spread, just pinch off the dead flowers before they set seed!

Achillea 'Strawberry Seduction'

on Thursday, 04 June 2020. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Yarrows: a Versatile and Sturdy Perennial

Achillea Strawberry Seduction crop editIf you're thinking of planting a pollinator garden this year, Achillea 'Strawberry Seduction' is a great place to start.

Achilleas (aka Yarrows) are incredibly sturdy, long-flowering perennials that thrive in sunny perennial garden. Low-maintenance, drought tolerant, pollinator friendly, deer resistant, and tolerant of clay soils (as long as they aren’t overwatered); there’s a lot to love about Yarrows!

While our native Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) has modest white flowers, Achillea ‘Strawberry Seduction’ features large cherry-red flowers with a yellow center. Flowers are offset by dark green, ferny/feathery foliage that has a pleasantly spicy fragrance. Strawberry Seduction has a gratifyingly long flowering season – generally from late May through September or October. Want to prolong your enjoyment of these lovely flowers? Consider growing them as a flower you can cut and dry! They hold their color well, and are a great choice for using in wreaths or dried arrangements. 1-2’ tall and wide.

Like most Yarrows, ‘Strawberry Seduction’ is drought tolerant once established, and is a great nectar source for pollinators; attracting a wide variety of insects including butterflies, native bees, and honeybees as well as beneficial/predatory insects like lacewings. They provide a reliable splash of long-lasting color in your garden, especially when combined with plants like Nepeta, Salvia, and Penstemon. Deadheading ‘Strawberry Seduction’ after its first flush of blooms will help you prolong its flowering season.

Once you start planting Yarrows, you’ll probably want to try growing other varieties as well. Here are a few others we carry regularly:

 Achillea Pink Grapefruit crop editAchillea ‘Pink Grapefruit’ – 2’ by 1.5’. Dusty pink flower heads fade to a soft rosy pink as the flowers age.

 

 Achillea Moonshine editAchillea ‘Moonshine’ – A bit different than ‘Strawberry Seduction’ and ‘Pink Grapefruit’ – Achillea ‘Moonshine’ has golden yellow flowers that contrast beautifully with its soft, grayish-green leaves. 18” by 24”.

 

Fun fact: Yarrows are part of a group of plants known as “composites”, because what looks like a single flower is actually a collection of many small flowers. In Yarrows, this is even more pronounced because the larger flower heads are composed of clusters of small flowers, which are - in turn - composed of groups of smaller disc and ray flowers. Next time you are out in your garden, take a moment to take a closer look!

Eriogonums

on Thursday, 21 May 2020. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Fall Color, Perennial, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Flowering Buckwheat

Display garden2In our opinion, Eriogonums – also known as Buckwheats – deserve a place in pretty much every sunny garden in the Rogue Valley! Eriogonums are one of those plants that check all of our boxes here at Shooting Star. Drought tolerant? Check. Good pollinator plant? Check. Native plant? Check. Really, really pretty? Check. We are frankly amazed that we haven’t featured it as a plant of the week before this!

In general, Eriogonums prefer full sun and well-drained soils. They’re a perfect plant for that hot spot in your yard that gets blasted by afternoon sun. Despite their toughness and resilience, they are covered with showy displays of delicately beautiful-looking flowers from mid-summer into early fall. They look great in a mixed planting combined with other sun-loving, drought-tolerant plants like Salvias, Agastache, Zauschneria, and Monardella, and Ceanothus.

They’re also one of the best pollinator plants around; providing larval food for butterflies and moths, and abundant nectar for a truly dazzling variety of pollinators: tiny native bees, bumblebees, honeybees, butterflies, and beetles. Seriously - one of my favorite things to do with Eriogonums in the garden is just sit next to one on a sunny day and watch who comes to visit!

We regularly carry the following varieties:

E. compositum flower detailEriogonum compositum (Arrowleaf buckwheat): To 2’ tall by 1’ wide. Soft grayish-green, arrow-shaped leaves. Flowers – which are borne in clusters up to 3” across - are white, tinged with a soft pink, and fading to a rusty red. E. compositum is somewhat more tolerant of heavy soils than E. umbellatum – although it would still prefer well drained soil. As an extra bonus, f you leave the seed heads on the plants in the fall, you will be extremely popular with seed-eating birds like goldfinches!

 

Eriogonum ed cropEriogonum umbellatum (Sulphur-flower buckwheat): As the name suggests, these plants feature bright, sulphur-yellow flowers. Their leaves are a darker green than E. compositum, and more rounded. Plant size can be variable: they get between 6-12” tall by 1-3’ wide.

 

Kannah CreekKannah Creek: A cultivar of E. umbellatum, slightly more compact and consistent in size and shape. Kannah Creek gets about 12-15” tall by 15-24” wide. As an extra bonus, they provide outstanding fall color, with foliage turning a bright burgundy color as cold weather moves in.

  

Phlomis fruticosa

on Thursday, 30 April 2020. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Jerusalem Sage

Phlomis in garden crop

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 Mediterranean 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 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.