Sarcococca spp.

on Wednesday, 28 January 2015. 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 such as the north walls of a home can be challenging sites to plant.  Sarcococca is an ideal shrub for lowlight situations like these.  Thriving in everything from part sun to deep shade, Sweetbox is an attractive and glossy broad-leaf evergreen providing a good backdrop for airier ferns and 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 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 fragrance that is sure to get attention.  Add red to black berries that lend a festive quality later in the year and you've got a 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. 

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.   It's growth is slow to moderate and can easily be kept at 3’.  Sarcococca hookeriana v. humilis has narrower, more elongated leaves and spreads slowly by stolons from 4-8' wide with stems reaching 18" tall.  Also called Himalayan Sweetbox, it is a great companion under trees or at the base of more colorful deciduous shrubs due to it's colonizing nature and tolerance of root competition.  There are a few newer hybrids of this Himalayan species that bridge the gap between the two aforementioned Sarcococcas.  'Fragrant Valley' is a compact yet vigorous selection growing to 18-24" tall and 3-4' wide.  'Fragrant Mountain' attains a slightly larger size at 2-3' tall and 3-4' wide, making it a great alternative to Skimmia japonica.  Both cultivars 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.

Pinus thunbergii 'Thunderhead'

on Monday, 20 October 2014. Posted in Winter Interest, Conifer, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Trees, Drought Tolerant

Thunderhead Dwarf Japanese Black Pine

thunderhead-pine-plant-of-t

'Thunderhead' Japanese Black Pine is a wonderful compact specimen conifer.  Like most pines it is drought tolerant and deer resistant but what sets it apart from other pines is it's tight, dense form and handsome white candles in spring that stand out from the dark green needles.  It is a slow to medium grower ranging from 5-10' tall and 5-8' wide but keeps it's dense form over time.  This Japanese Black Pine will tolerate drier, sandy soils or moister soil as long as it's well drained and requires full sun. They look striking in trios or as a specimen in a smaller garden.  Makes a great pairing with the white bark of birches, or yellow Spirea 'Ogon', or purple Smokebush.

Amsonia hubrichtii

on Monday, 25 August 2014. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Fall Color, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Flowering Plants

Threadleaf Blue Star

amsonia closeupWe are excited to start growing and offering this harder to find and low maintenance perennial.  Threadleaf Blue Star has a long season of interest, beginning with starry sky blue flowers, fading to white in late spring followed by wispy light green foliage that turns a gorgeous golden yellow in fall. This SE American native is one of the longest lasting perennials for fall color.  It does go winter dormant but the dried foliage can persist through winter adding interest that combines well with the seedheads and blades of ornamental grasses.   Amsonia gets about 3' tall and 3-4' wide and requires regular watering to look its best but can tolerate some drought.  Full to part sun is ideal and give it at least two years to really show off.    We are anxious to try it out in deer country, because most sources say it is deer resistant and rabbit resistant.  So come on Rogue Valley, let's try it out!   Use it on masse, as a cut flower, or butterfly and bee attractor.

 

Fantastic fall color of Amsonia with Miscanthus and Buddleia 'Blue Chip'- Photo from University of Missouri

 

Amsonia-SchJourlCtYd-sm

Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo'

on Monday, 09 June 2014. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Fall Color, Shade Plants, Perennial, Ground Cover, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

'Biokovo' Hardy Geranium (Cranesbill)

geranium-biokovo

This versatile and easy hardy geranium is a great choice for an evergreen perennial that is deer resistant, drought tolerant in part shade, and even gets fall color.  When looking for deer resistant plants it's always imortant to seek out scented plants, especially leaves with a strong smell.  'Biokovo' Geranium is one of the rare perennials to have a strong, spicy scent that is not Meditteranean or needing lots of sun. It performs best in a cool location with morning sun or at least protection from the hottest part of the day.  The broad, lobed leaves provide striking contrast to finer leafed perennials and grasses. 'Biokovo' spreads by rhizomes to make a nice spreading mound about 6-10" tall and 2-3' wide and can be a bit aggressive so make sure it's neighbors can hold its own.  Dainty, pale pink to white flowers with pink stamens emerge in late spring through summer, but this perennial remains interesting all year.  The variety 'Cambridge Blue' is similar except with a lavender-blue flower.  We usually have at least 10 or so varieties of hardy Geranium in stock, great tough, long-blooming perennials!

Baptisia australis

on Wednesday, 07 May 2014. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Blue False Indigo

baptisia-australis--plant-o

Baptisia or Blue False Indigo may not be all that familiar but it should be for it's striking purple flower stalks and refreshing blue-green foliage.  It has what we always look for- drought tolerant (has deep roots), deer resistant (poisonous), good cut flowers (blooms in late spring), long lived (so can require some age to bloom and is slower growing), North American prairie native (can tolerate clay or sandy soils), and butterfly attractor.  The easy to care for Baptisia can get 3-4' tall and 18"-3' wide and is rather vase shaped, so low growing perennials at it's base might be nice. Looks great with chartreuse Euphorbias, round headed Alliums, or silver Artemesia nearby. The sweet pea-like flowers make a great contrast with grasses as well. We have an exciting new variety called 'Solar Flare' -  a sulphur yellow that just grabs your attention.