Mahonia species

on Monday, 04 April 2022. Posted in Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Attracts Pollinators, Native, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Oregon Grape

mahonia_compacta

Being a local native plant, Mahonias can take both our winter wet and summer dry, and can be very drought tolerant once established. Their thick leathery leaves and spiny edges also make them unpalatable to deer.

Most species of Oregon Grape are evergreen, but still turn a rainbow of colors in the fall and winter, giving them more interest than your average evergreen shrub. Spikes of cheerful, fragrant yellow flowers emerge early in spring and turn to blue-black fruit that are edible but more appealing to birds than humans. Most varieties spread via underground runners and make a nice colony, so best to give them room to shine and do their thing! 

The ones we use the most here in the Rogue Valley are:

Mahonia flowerMahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grape) - This is the taller species of our native Oregon Grape, getting to 6' or more and spreading by underground runners. They look best as a mass planting in a native woodland situation and perform best in shade, but will take some sun. Can be pruned hard if getting too leggy and will quickly fill in. Mahonia aquifolium is resistant to oak root fungus - it's a great plant to grow under native oaks, as it also doesn't need much water. 

Mahonia aquifolium 'Compacta' (Compact Oregon Grape) - Pictured above left. This variety will stay about 2' tall  and makes a nice, broad colony. New foliage is glossy and becomes matte with age. This plant always looks good, staying full to the ground and cheering up the dark days of winter with its bronzy red winter color.

Mahonia repensMahonia repens (Creeping Mahonia) - This native has a spreading habit and will get about 2-3' tall. It tolerates more sun the the taller Oregon Grape, as well as growing well in part shade, and is very drought tolerant. Its leaves are usually more matte than the upright Mahonia but get the same yellow flowers and blue fruit. Great choice for mass groundcover or under oaks.

Mahonia nervosaMahonia nervosa (Longleaf Mahonia) - This Mahonia is a little more particular than the other native species; requiring more shade. But it's every bit as drought tolerant as M. aquifolium and M. repens.  The leaves are more stiffly upright and bit longer. Makes a nice low shrub or groundcover - around 2' tall - for a shady, woodland garden.

Deciduous Magnolias

on Tuesday, 29 March 2022. Posted in Fragrant Blooms, Trees

Magnolia lead photo sm

Among the many spring-flowering trees that grace Rogue Valley gardens, there’s one that stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of glorious, over-the-top showiness. Lavish displays, huge flowers, intoxicating fragrance - Deciduous Magnolias have it all!

In general, deciduous Magnolias are relatively slow-growing, small to medium-sized trees; ranging in height from 10’ to 25’. Their flowers are a perfect palette of springtime colors: clear white, canary yellow, soft pink, and even a rich purple-red. They bloom from early spring into summer, depending upon variety, and all varieties are deliciously fragrant.

Deciduous Magnolias prefer full sun to part shade, and will grow well in most soils – including clay – but they do need good drainage (plant them on a mound in clay soils). They prefer soils that are rich in organic material, and will benefit from having some compost or a good soil amendment worked into the soil at planting time. One note of caution: Magnolia roots are tender and fleshy. Take extra care when you’re planting them to not injure the roots, and handle them as little as possible during the planting process.

Here's a ‘who’s who’ of the deciduous Magnolia varieties we currently carry here at Shooting Star, arranged by height at maturity.

To 15’ tall:

*Ann: Flowers 3-4” across – reddish purple outside contrasting with pale pinkish-white inside. 10-12’ tall and wide.

Magnolia betty*Betty (right): Flowers up to 8” across, reddish-purple outside with a white interior. To 15’ tall and wide.

Leonard Messel: Petals are rosy-purple outside and creamy white inside, flowers 4-6” across. 10-15- tall by 4-6’ wide.

Magnolia royal StarRoyal Star (left): Lovely clear white, star-shaped flowers up to 6” across. 10-15’ tall by 10-12’ wide.

*Susan: Flowers 4-6” across, deep red-purple inside and out. 12-15’ tall by 15’ wide.

Vulcan: Huge (10-12” across) magenta-pink flowers. 10-15’ tall and wide.

* Note: Ann, Betty, and Susan are all part of the Little Girl series of Magnolias (a cross between M. stellata and M. liliiflora). They are all compact in stature, and all bloom several weeks later than most other deciduous Magnolias.

15-20’ tall:

Magnolia black tulipBlack Tulip (right): Large (up to 6” across) rich purple-black, tulip-shaped flowers. 15-20’ by 6-10’.

Waterlily: Pinkish in bud opening to 5” wide white flowers with lots and lots of petals. 15-20’ by 8-15’.

Over 20’ tall:

Magnolia ButterfliesButterflies (left): One of the best yellow-flowered Magnolias. Canary-yellow flowers, 4-5” across. 25-30’ by 10-15’.

Galaxy: Rose-purple flowers up to 10” across. Pyramidal shape – 30-40’ by 20-25’ at maturity.

Rustica Rubra: Saucer-shaped flowers measure 5” across when fully open; rosy-pink outside and white inside. 20-25’ tall and wide.

Wada’s Memory: 7” semi-double white flowers smell like orange blossoms. Strongly pyramidal, 25-30’ tall by 12-20’ wide.

Pieris 'Cavatine'

on Wednesday, 23 March 2022. Posted in Evergreen, Shade Plants, Deer Resistant

Pieris japonica Cavatine cropWe really, really like Pieris. They’re evergreen, deer resistant, relatively low-maintenance shrubs that grow well in part sun to full shade. They even grow well in containers! In short, they’re pretty versatile plants that come in a variety of sizes - from just 2’ tall up to 8’ tall.

Of all the Pieris varieties out there, though, there’s one that is our hands-down favorite (even though, like parents, we’re not supposed to have favorites...): Meet Pieris ‘Cavatine’.

Cavatine detail cropCavatine is a gorgeous dwarf variety, reaching roughly 2’ – 3’ tall and wide. The dark green foliage really sets off the abundant spring bloom of white, lightly fragrant bell-shaped flowers that look a bit like lily-of-the-valley. Even when the bloom is finished, the dark green leaves are a wonderful complement to other shade-loving perennials including Heuchera, Aquilegia, Erica, and Hellebore.

Another thing in Cavatine’s favor? It provides year-round interest in the garden. Pale green flower buds appear in the winter, contrasting nicely with the evergreen foliage. Cascades of pure white flowers arrive in early spring, followed by bright red new growth that gradually changes to dark green as the plant matures.

Pieris ‘Cavatine’ is available right now 1-gallon, 2-gallon, and 5-gallon sizes. We’re guessing it will quickly become a favorite of yours too!

 

Cornus

on Thursday, 17 March 2022. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Fall Color, Trees

Dogwoods

Better general dogwood cropFew flowering trees are more beloved than the Dogwoods. Seeing one in full bloom - their branches covered with clouds of white (or occasionally, pink) flowers – makes you immediately start thinking about where you might have room for one in your yard!

The tree dogwoods we carry here at Shooting Star Nursery fall into three groups: Cornus florida, which is native to the eastern US; Cornus kousa, which is native to eastern Asia; and Cornus nuttallii, which is native to the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

One of the keys to keeping your dogwoods happy lies in understanding what their native habitat is like. In the wild, most types of dogwoods grow as understory trees; protected from the heat of afternoon sun. They also tend to prefer well-drained soils that are rich in organic materials. In general, Cornus florida and its cultivars prefer afternoon shade and a good layer of mulch to keep the roots cool and moist during the summer. Cornus kousa is more sun and heat tolerant than C. florida, and most of the best cultivars for the Rogue Valley have C. kousa as one of the parent species. While we rarely carry Cornus nuttallii, two of the largest-flowering dogwoods we carry have C. nuttallii as a parent.

Here are a few of the Dogwoods varieties Shooting Star carries regularly:

 

Cornus florida Cultivars:
Cherokee Brave: Flowers feature dark pink to reddish bracts that fade to white in the center. Red foliage in fall. 25’ tall by 20-25’ wide.

 

cornus florida rubra sm crop2Rubra: Another pink-flowered Dogwood, a softer shade of pink than Cherokee Brave. 20’ tall and wide.

 

  

Cornus kousa Cultivars:
Galilean: Creamy white floral bracts come to a point at the tip. Flowers are large, and are followed by bright red fruits in fall, which is much appreciated by birds like Robins and Cedar Waxwings! 20’ tall and wide.

 

Cornus kousa Milkyway 1000x1000Milky Way: Pure white, long-lasting flowers and abundant fall fruit. One of the smaller Dogwoods – generally 15’ by 15’.

 

 

Cornus Hybrids:
Celestial: A C. florida x C. kousa hybrid. Celestial is a sterile variety (no fruit) with white flowers that turn pink as they mature. 20’ by 20’. 

 

Eddies White WonderEddie’s White Wonder: A C. florida x C. nuttallii hybrid. Big white flowers - 3-4” across - on a large tree. To 40’ tall and wide. 

 

 

Starlight: A C. kousa x C. nuttallii hybrid. White flowers. Prefers partial shade. 30’ x 20’. 

 

venus dogwood cropVenus: Another C. kousa x C. nuttalli hybrid. Venus has absolutely huge white flowers - up to 6” across! 25’ x 25’. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pinus nigra 'Oregon Green'

on Tuesday, 15 March 2022. Posted in Good for Screening, Conifer, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

'Oregon Green' Austrian Pine

Oregon Green Pine crop smIf you love the look of Pines, but just don’t have the room for something like a 60’ tall Ponderosa, ‘Oregon Green’ Pine might just be the tree you’ve been waiting for.

'Oregon Green’ is a lovely conifer, with dense dark-green needles, an open branching structure, and a classic pyramidal shape. In the spring, branches are tipped with showy silvery-white ‘candles’ of new growth that darken as they mature.

Unlike most of the other pines you’re probably familiar with, ‘Oregon Green’ grows relatively slowly – maybe 1’/year – and gets about 15’ tall by 12’ wide at maturity. This makes it a great choice as both a focal plant in smaller yards, or as part of a privacy screen or windbreak.

Easy to grow, versatile, drought tolerant and deer resistant when established, and beloved as a nesting place for songbirds; ‘Oregon Green’ Pine packs a lot of great attributes into a compact and elegant tree!