Ilex meserveae 'Blue Girl'

on Monday, 05 December 2016. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

Blue Girl Holly

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Holly may seem a bit pedestrian of a choice for a plant of the week, but it fits the season and the red berries brighten up these gray fall days.  Plus 'Blue Girl' Holly is deer resistant (although in Ashland, the deer are ignoring this advice), drought tolerant, tough, and can tolerate sun or shade.  The glossy dark green leaves do have spines but they are not as sharp as many other holly types or even barberry.  The leaves look fresh and clean and are complimented by purple stems and bright clusters of red berries.  You can keep this holly around 3'-4' if you like with occasional pruning or let it get 5-6' tall and 3-6' wide for a dense hedge.  You do need a  'Blue Boy' to keep the berry production up, but it seems that there is usually a holly bush in the neighborhood to assist with pollination.   This species is especially cold hardy and can handle clay soils, appreciating the typically acidic ph of clay soils.  Keep watering to the drier side of the spectrum, and prune back if needed in the winter.   'Blue Girl' Holly is not a fast grower so it is suitable in a container paired with other festive-colored plants, like Heuchera, Nandina, and ornamental grasses.

Hydrangea quercifolia

on Monday, 03 October 2016. Posted in Winter Interest, Showy Bark/Stems, Fall Color, Shade Plants, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Oakleaf Hydrangea

hydrangea-quercifolia

The oakleaf hydrangea offers a lot more four season interest over its showier mophead cousins and can be considered deer resistant due to its courser leaves.  In its native habitat as an understory shrub, it would appreciate protection from afternoon sun and is happiest growing under trees in dappled light or strong morning light.  A great choice for a woodland garden or dry shade, the oakleaf hydrangea grows from multiple shoots and can form a colony that gets around 6' tall and wide.  There are many smaller cultivars available that can easily can be pruned to the ground in spring to keep it 3' by 3'.   Its cone shaped clusters of white flowers differentiate it from the ball shaped flowering hydrangeas, as well as its brilliant burgundy fall color.  The flowers begin in July; lasting for months and are even pretty when dried.  The autumn changes the large, oakleaf shaped leaves into shades of red, burgundy, plum and orange.   The cinnamon-colored bark shows off in winter as it peels in thin flakes.  It can be drought tolerant once established but will make more flowers if kept well watered through the summer and keep it well mulched.  Please test its deer resistance in your neighborhood before you make a hedge out it- it may be more deer resistant in certain areas.  Let us know!

hydrangea-quercifolia-fall-color

Perovskia atriplicifolia

on Wednesday, 06 July 2016. Posted in Winter Interest, Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Russian Sage

perovskia

Perovskia or Russian Sage may seem ubiquitous but it is for a reason.  IT IS TOUGH.  And beautiful, adding long lasting color and texture to your garden.   Russian Sage is not a salvia or sage but has a pungent smell to the silvery, dissected leaves that may remind one of sage leaf.  This smell keeps the deer away so it is yet even more useful.  It is incredibly drought and heat tolerant and even looks pretty in the winter when the dried out sillouette and open branching catches the frost.  We like to wait to prune it back until spring arrives so that the crown stays protected from the winter wet.  When you see new growth emerge in mid spring that is the best to time to prune it back hard and freshen it up.  Perovskia is a woody stemmed perennial and does go winter dormant.   It requires good drainage and full sun and make sure to not keep it too wet.  The lavender blooms pair wonderfully with other heat lovers like yarrow, Rosemary and Salvia, as well as ornamental grasses or Yuccas.    Butterflies are attracted to the late summer flowers.  The straight species get quite large, as much as 4' tall and wide. But there are several newer varieties that stay more compact.  We like 'Little Spire' at 2-3' tall wide  and 'Peek a Blue' at 2' tall and wide.   We are also starting to grow Perovskia in 2 gallon pots as well as 1 gallons. They make quite a statement at the larger size and hold up better through the summer.

Penstemon pinifolius

on Wednesday, 11 May 2016. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Perennial, Ground Cover, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Pineleaf Penstemon

Penstemon pinufoliusPineleaf Penstemon makes me happy every time I see it.  So many benefits in such a compact package.  Penstemon have a reputation of not being very long lived, and many are not.  But this western native perennial is evergreen and one of the best for long term success in the garden.  It makes a great rock garden plant or edger at the front of a border.  The delicate tubular flowers should be appreciated up close if the hummingbirds will let you.  Pineleaf Penstemon do best in a well draining soil, especially on a slope and will be drought tolerant once established.  The needled foliage is evergreen and looks best when you can shear the spent flowers back.  In the same style as you would shear an Erica or Calluna after blooming.  In most areas, we have found them to be deer resistant.  They typically bloom in late spring, May and June here in southern Oregon and are great compliments to the other sun lovers like spring and summer blooming sages, sedums, lavenders, or even dwarf conifers.  They will stretch to about 2' wide and 12-18" tall and look comfortable among rocks and boulders.
The colors we usually carry are 'Mersea Yellow'- a nice soft yellow, 'Nearly Red'- you can figure that one out, and the straight species which is orange. 

Viburnum trilobum and V. plicatum var. tomentosum

on Tuesday, 19 April 2016. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Attracts Pollinators, Fall Color, Edible, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Cranberry and Doublefile Viburnum

photoViburnumPlicatumTomentosum-DoublefileViburnum250x166

There are a lot of Viburnum species out there and these are two of our favorites.  Simply elegant and easy, the Cranberry Viburnum (trilobum, photo at bottom) and Doublefile Viburnum (plicatum tomentosum, photo at top) sport a flower more similar to a lacecap hydrangea than the more common snowball Viburnum.  They are much easier and less fussy than the moisture-loving Hydrangeas.  The flower clusters are interesting to watch unfold over the late spring weeks adding a long term interest for a flowering shrub.  The flowers of both varieties turn to red fruit but the Cranberry Viburnum's fruit is technically edible and more profuse.  These deciduous Viburnums also get nice fall color, a wine red.  The Cranberry bush Viburnum has a lovely tiered, layered habit that fits nicely in a woodland or more naturalistic garden.  The horizontal branching of the Doublefile Viburnum gives it a nice form even through the bare days of winter.   We have a Cranberry Viburnum on the NW corner of our house and seems to take the afternoon heat and part shade in stride.  Their preference is probably not the hottest location you have but dappled light, part shade, or protection from all day sun, although once acclimated seem to tolerate it.