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!

Native Iris

on Thursday, 10 March 2022. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Native Iris species

Iris innominata resizeHere in southern Oregon, we’re fortunate to have a nice selection of native Iris available for our gardens. While our native Iris lack the in-your-face showiness of their Bearded Iris relatives, they do have a lovely, refined look to them that many gardeners prefer. They’re also tough, sturdy plants that are both deer-resistant and relatively drought tolerant.

Native Iris do best in sunny to light-shade areas, and work beautifully in borders, or as part of a woodland garden. They bloom from March into late June (depending upon species) and only require occasional water during the summer months – because these plants are already adapted to our summer-dry Mediterranean climate. In addition, most species feature colorful ‘veins’ on the flowers that serve as nectar guides for bees and other pollinators.

The one requirement these plants do have is that they require well-drained soil. If your soil tends toward clay, plant them on a slight mound so excess water can drain away from their crowns quickly – or plant them in pots!

Here are a few species of native Iris that Shooting Star carries regularly:

 

Iris bracteata2Iris bracteata: Also known as Siskiyou Iris, this lovely plant is endemic to the Klamath-Siskiyou region of southern Oregon and northern California. Flowers are generally creamy white to pale yellow, with contrasting veins of a rich brownish-purple. Plants feature slender leaves, and grow between 6-12” tall. 

 

Iris chrysophylla2Iris chrysophylla: Another Iris from southern Oregon and Del Norte County, California. Iris chrysophylla is generally a pale yellow with contrasting purple veins. Plants range from 6”-2’ tall, and are easily distinguished from I. bracteata by their extremely long floral tube.  

Douglas Iris2Iris douglasiana: Named after Scottish botanist David Douglas, Iris douglasiana can vary widely in color – from nearly white with blue accents to a rich deep purple. They also prefer part-sun to full shade in the garden, and like water every 2 to 4 weeks during the summer months. If you have encountered a blue Iris while hiking along the coast, it was probably Douglas Iris! 

 

Iris tenax: Also known as Tough-Leafed Iris, ranging from southwest Washington to northern Oregon. In the wild, it is usually found along roadsides and in grasslands and forest openings. Flowers are generally lavender-blue in color, and plants grow in tight clumps – about 1-1/5’ tall. Unlike most other Iris, Tough-leafed Iris does not like to be divided.

 

Pac CoasrPacific Coast Hybrids: Pacific Coast Iris hybrids are the real showstoppers of the group. Flowers come in an incredible range of colors – blues, purples, reds, oranges, browns, and multicolors; often with showy ruffled petals. They’re also the fussiest of the bunch (but well worth the effort!): they don’t tolerate clay soils or watering during the heat of the day, and prefer not to be divided every year.

 

If you’d like to try creating your own native Iris hybrids, it’s easy to do – and a lot of fun. Since most of the Iris described above have similar cultural requirements, you can create mixed plantings of several species. Iris hybridize freely – just collect the seeds when they are ripe, grow them out, and see what exciting color variations you come up with!

Sarcococca

on Monday, 28 February 2022. Posted in Winter Interest, Fragrant Blooms, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Ground Cover, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Fragrant Sweetbox

Sarcococca ruscifolia

Dark and shady places - like the north walls of a home - can be extremely challenging sites to plant. Sarcococca, or Sweetbox, is an ideal shrub for low-light situations like this. Thriving in everything from part sun to deep shade, Sweetbox is an attractive, broad-leafed evergreen with glossy dark green leaves that provides a good backdrop for airier ferns and flowering shade perennials. 

There are a handful of different species ranging from upright shrubs to slowly spreading groundcovers. They all have simple leathery leaves and are for the most part deer resistant, making this genus a true problem solver in a myriad of ways. Not to mention they bloom in late winter when most plants haven't even broken dormancy! 

Even though their small fringy flowers are not what you would consider showy, they amply make up for it with a powerfully sweet, vanilla-like fragrance that is sure to get attention. Add in red to black berries that lend a festive quality later in the year, and you've got a great four-season plant!

In return, this understated plant merely asks for moderately fertile soil with decent drainage and regular water throughout the hotter months. That is not to say Sweetbox wouldn't prefer rich, humusy and acidic soil, but it is quite adaptable once established. 

 Here are some of our favorite types:

Sarcococca confusa gets 3-5' tall and wide at maturity, with a moderat growth rate; perfect for a low hedge or evergreen border in a shade bed! It is such an easy, reliable shrub to grow that it has received an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

Sarcococca ruscifolia or Fragrant Sweetbox is the largest of the more common species reaching 3-6' high and wide with an arching habit and more rounded leaves. It is known to naturally espalier itself against a house and thus can be useful in tight spots and under windows. Its growth is slow to moderate and can easily be kept at 3’.

Sarcococca 'Fragrant Valley' is a compact yet vigorous selection growing to 18-24" tall and 3-4' wide. 

Sarcococca 'Fragrant Mountain' attains a slightly larger size at 2-3' tall and 3-4' wide, making it a great alternative to Skimmia japonica. 

Sarcococca humilis (Dwarf Sweet Box) is the smallest member of the group, reaching just 1-2' tall and 8-12" tall at maturity. It's an elegant little shrub though, with slender, tapered, glossy dark-green leaves.

All of these varieties are disease resistant and tolerant of drier soils and less than ideal conditions. Sarcococca species are great supporting cast members for the shady garden (…we can't all be stars...) - and a must have for lovers of fragrant plants!

Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward'

on Tuesday, 22 February 2022. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Attracts Pollinators, Native, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

'King Edward' Red Flowering Currant

Ribes King EdwardFlowering currants are one of the glories of the early Spring garden, with their cascades of brightly-colored flowers and soft green, scalloped leaves. And one of our very favorite flowering currants is Ribes sanguineum ‘King Edward’.

A cultivar of our native Ribes sanguineum, 'King Edward' has darker pink flowers than the native species, followed by dark blue berries in the summer. Both ‘King Edward’ and the native species are absolute magnets for hummingbirds and other pollinators. Later in the seasons, berry-loving songbirds like robins, thrushes, grosbeaks, cedar waxwings, etc., flock to the berries (which taste better to them than they do to humans, so we’re happy to share!).

Flowering currants will bloom heaviest when in full sun, but in hotter areas like the Rogue Valley, they also appreciate a bit of afternoon shade. In fact, they’re also a great choice for dry shade gardens or for planting under an oak or other large tree. ‘King Edward’ will grow in a variety of soils but does require good drainage; if you plant in clay, place it on a mound or along a slope. Being a native plant, they are used to dry summers and wet winters, and will do best if you can mimic those conditions in your garden.

'King Edward' grows quickly and has a lovely open habit that mixes well with other plants. They can get at least 4-5' tall and wide, and are also relatively drought tolerant once established.

Exciting Stone Fruit Hybrids

on Monday, 14 February 2022. Posted in Edible, Trees

Pluerrys, Pluots, and Nectaplums – Oh My!

Flavor Punch PluerryPluerrys, Pluots, and NectaPlums combine the flavors of your favorite stone fruits in new and exciting ways. These hybrid stone fruits have been growing in popularity over the past few years, probably because they are so darned tasty! In fact, all of the varieties carried by Shooting Star are frequent taste-test winners.
 
 In general terms: NectaPlums are nectarine-peach-plum hybrids, Pluerrys are plum-cherry hybrids, pluots are apricot-plum hybrids – just imagine the flavor possibilities! Note: hybrids are the result of cross-pollinating two different varieties of a plant, producing an offspring - or hybrid - that contains some of the traits of each of the parents. Hybrids are the result of a natural process - not to be confused with GMO's!
Spice Zee NectaPlum is the only self-fruitful one of the bunch; the others require a pollinizer in order to set fruit – generally another pluot or a Japanese plum (Santa Rosa, sometimes Burgundy). 

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean taking up more space in your yard with a second tree. Many backyard orchardists are now planting multiple fruit trees – sometimes up to four - in a single hole – which means you could plant a Pluerry, a few Pluots, and a Plum in the same space that one tree would take. In addition to saving space, planting multiple trees in a single hole tends to have a dwarfing effect on all the trees – making them easier to harvest. For more information on this technique, check out Dave Wilson Nursery’s Backyard Orchard Culture article here. Here are some of the varieties Shooting Star currently has available in bareroot.

spicezeeSpice Zee NectaPlum: A white-fleshed, nectarine-peach-plum hybrid. Skin is dark maroon at fruit set, and turns pale pink when ripe. Fully ripe, this fruit is unparalleled in flavor and both nectarine and plum traits are easily detectable. Tremendous purplish pink bloom in the spring, followed by a flourish of red leaves which mature into lush green in mid to late summer. Self-fruitful. Very productive.

 

Flavor Punch Pluerry: Small to medium (golf ball size) fruit with orange-red exterior and bright orange interior. Firm texture with unique sweet tropical punch flavor. Late season harvest, September into October. Requires another Pluerry, Plum or Pluot as pollinizer.

 

sweet treat pluerrySweet Treat Pluerry: This taste-test favorite is a complex interspecific hybrid, predominantly of plum and cherry, combining the sweetness of a cherry with that summer fresh plum zing. Much larger than a cherry, this precocious and prolific variety will hang on the tree for over a month, and the colorful fruit make Sweet Treat a true ornamental. Pollinizer required: Burgundy or Santa Rosa plum, or Flavor King Pluot.

 

flavorqueenFlavor Queen Pluot: Exquisite plum/apricot hybrid with candy-like sweet, wonderfully pleasing flavor. Greenish-yellow skin, amber-orange flesh. Prolonged harvest in mid to late summer. Pollinized by Flavor Supreme Pluot or by a Japanese plum (Burgundy or Santa Rosa).

 

flavorgrenadeFlavor Grenade Pluot: Elongated green fruit with red blush. Crisp texture, explosive flavor. Hangs on the tree for 4-6 weeks. Late summer to early fall harvest. Pollinized by Flavor King Pluot or Santa Rosa plum.

 

flavorkingFlavor King Pluot: Unique plum-apricot hybrid with sensational bouquet and sweet, spicy flavor. Reddish-purple skin, crimson flesh. Harvest mid to late summer. Naturally small tree. Pollinized by Flavor Supreme Pluot or Santa Rosa plum.

 

Geo Pride 2011Geo Pride Pluot: Red-skinned, yellow flesh plum-apricot hybrid. Balanced acid and sugar to predominantly sweet with unique plum-apricot flavor. Medium-sized, very heavy production. Harvest early summer, just ahead of Flavor Queen Pluot. Pollinized by Flavor Supreme Pluot, Santa Rosa plum. Good pollinizer for other plum and Pluot varieties.