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. 

Mahonia spp.

on Monday, 30 November 2015. Posted in Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Native, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Oregon Grape

mahonia_compacta

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:

Mahonia x media 'Charity'

on Tuesday, 10 November 2015. Posted in Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Charity Mahonia

Mahonia 'Charity'

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:

http://www.greatplantpicks.org/plantlists/view/977