Achillea 'Little Moonshine'

on Tuesday, 26 April 2022. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

A New Compact Yarrow for your Garden!

Achillea Little Moonshine

Achillea 'Little Moonshine' is the yarrow you didn't know that you needed - but once you see it you'll immediately start thinking about where you can use it in your garden. Because, clearly, you DO need this delightful little plant!

As the name suggests, 'Little Moonshine' is a compact version of 'Moonshine' yarrow. 'Little Moonshine' shares the large, buttery-yellow flowerheads and soft gray-green foliage of its namesake, but only reaches 9" to 12" tall and wide at maturity. Flowering begins in early summer and continues through October if the spent flowers are cut back. Like most yarrows, 'Little Moonshine' prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Plants are sturdy and drought-tolerant when established, and attract a wide variety of pollinators. Their fragrant foliage also helps make them deer and rabbit resistant. 

Here's some fun plant trivia: Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War. He is said to have used yarrow to staunch the bleeding and heal the wounds of his warriors, so the genus is named for him. Achillea continues to be used as a medicinal herb today! 

Achillea 'Strawberry Seduction'

on Tuesday, 26 April 2022. 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!

Amsonia 'Blue Ice'

on Friday, 22 April 2022. 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!

Shooting Star Nursery also carries another great Amsonia: Amsonia 'Storm Cloud'

Amsonia Storm Cloud smWhat a perfect name for this striking cultivar! 'Storm Cloud' has dark green leaves with silvery veins that are borne on near-black stems - which contrast beautifully with its periwinkle blue flowers. 2-3' tall by 3-4' wide, and absolutely stunning.

Veronica pectinata

on Sunday, 10 April 2022. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Perennial, Ground Cover, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Wooly Speedwell

Veronica pectinata3 smWooly Speedwell (Veronica pectinta) is a charming evergreen groundcover that forms a thick, vivid carpet of bright blue when it bursts into bloom in mid-spring.

This sturdy, undemanding perennial only gets about 2” tall and will spread to about 18” wide. Wooly Speedwell loves full sun, prefers well-drained soil, and is drought tolerant, pollinator-friendly, and deer resistant – it will even take light foot traffic!

Veronica pectinata1 cropOnce the first flush of flowers is finished in late May/early June, deadhead the plants and give them a good ‘haircut’ while you enjoy the look of the wooly, gray-green foliage. Plants will generally begin reblooming a few weeks later, and will continue flowering through the growing season.

Wooly Speedwell is a great choice for planting in mixed containers, or at the edge of a perennial border. You can also let it cascade over a rock wall, or plant it between stepping stones on a garden path. It will even do well out in a hot sunny “hellstrip” between a sidewalk and the street. It looks especially wonderful planted as a mass, so be sure to get several plants for maximum effect!

Redbud (Cercis sp.)

on Saturday, 09 April 2022. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Fall Color, Deer Resistant, Trees, Drought Tolerant

Redbud editRedbuds are lovely small trees: sturdy and adaptable, with rosy-pink spring flowers. Their size – 20’ tall or less – also makes them an excellent landscape choice when you don’t have the room for a larger tree. 

Redbud flowers appear in early spring, cloaking the bare branches in small sweet pea-shaped blooms. The flowers are followed by beautiful heart-shaped leaves in a variety of colors, depending upon variety (see below). In general, redbuds prefer full sun and well-drained soil, and are relatively drought tolerant when established.

Redbuds are also pollinator friendly and even relatively deer resistant. The one place where they can get a little picky is that they don’t like to have their roots disturbed. When planting a redbud, avoid loosening the roots before transplanting – the less root disturbance they have, the happier they are!

 

Here are some of the redbud varieties Shooting Star generally has available: 

Oklahoma 2‘Oklahoma’: Oklahoma is one of the most heat tolerant redbuds we carry. Intensely red-pink buds open to a bright magenta pink. New leaves have a coppery tinge that matures into a dark, glossy green. Mature trees can get to be 20’ tall by 25’ wide.

 

Cercis Merlot‘Merlot’: Merlot’s emerging foliage is a stunningly deep purple that contrasts beautifully with their bright rose-colored flowers. Mature leaves retain a bronzy purple coloring that turns bright yellow in fall. Mature trees are 18’ tall by 20’ wide, with a nice rounded canopy.

 

western redbudWestern Redbud (Cercis occidentalis): This is our local native redbud. Anyone who has driven down I-5 into Redding in the early spring has noticed these tough beauties growing on the hillside. Western redbud is extremely drought tolerant and also tolerates heavy soils better than other redbuds. Slow growing; 15’ tall and wide.