Cranberry and Doublefile Viburnum
Cranberry and Doublefile Viburnum
Hellebores are another plant to make us smile in winter as well as being a valuable dry shade perennial. The Lenten Rose comes in shades of pink, purple, cream, white, and chartreuse or splashed with darker spots; with more variety being available every year. If a plant is not labeled as a certain color than it will be a surprise when it starts blooming in late winter; so if you want a certain shade- buy it when they are in bloom. The long-lasting blooms rise 12"-18"above large, dark green foliage and have a nodding habit that is best appreciated in the foreground of a garden or from below. They make great cut flowers and will bloom for several months. When these evergreen perennials aren't blooming the dramatic, divided leaves provide nice contrast to daintier ferns and ornamental grasses. Like most evergreens, once some leaves become older and ratty it is best to cut them back completely and let new ones flush out. They will tolerate dry conditions once established and do best in partial shade- an east exposure or under the dappled light of larger trees and shrubs. They look especially good as a mass groundcover under a specimen tree. Give them good organic soil with new mulch added each year and they will reward you with easy care flowers and sculptural leaves. They should also be deer resistant. Hellebores do well in a container and make a great addition to a shady porch potted arrangement with black mondo grass, Compact Mahonia, Heucheras, Ferns, and other shade lovers. Hellebores are poisonous to humans and animals so be careful when placing them near children's activity areas.
There are many different species and hybrids that have desirable qualities. Come visit to see the latest selections.
Oregon grape may seem too common to mention but it has so many merits that it is a go to plant for many situations in the Rogue Valley. Being a native plant, Mahonias can take 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 the average evergreen shrub. The spikes of cheerful yellow flowers emerge early in spring and turn to blue-black fruit that are edible but more appealing to birds than humans. Most varieties grow by underground runners and make a nice colony so best to give them room to shine.
The ones we use the most in the Rogue Valley are:
Looking for a dramatic addition to your drought tolerant shade garden that is plagued by deer? Mahonia 'Charity' is a large, upright, evergreen shrub for shade to morning sun and provides extra large spikes of yellow flowers in early spring making it stand out from other Oregon Grape. This Mahonia is very drought tolerant once established and it's toothed, coarse leaves make it very deer resistant. Best in protected spot- hardy to Zone 7. Would look great in a red container or tucked in a shady corner that needs a large filler. This gets large- 6-10' tall and 5' wide. We saw this Mahonia used in front of a more modern looking series of townhomes in Portland and it really made a statement from a distance. Very striking and sculptural and clean.
More reading about it here:
'Blonde Ambition' Blue Grama Grass
This little North American native prairie grass is a true performer. Many ornamental grasses don't start blooming until late summer, but this variety of Blue Grama Grass, produces it's blonde, eyebrow-like blooms in the early summer and persist into winter. It also performs well in various garden locations, from clay to a more well draining or sandy soil. At a super useful size of 2-1/2'-3' tall to 3' wide, you can use it on masse or as a single specimen to contrast with flowering perennials. Everyone who comes into the nursery notices it, because of it's unusual horizontal bloom and that it always looks good. It is very cold hardy, to Zone 4. and is drought tolerant but can also handle regular watering. Like most ornamtental grasses it's fine textured, gray-green foliage is deer resistant. 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 mid 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.