Articles in Category: Evergreen

Distylium

on Thursday, 09 December 2021. Posted in Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

Winter Hazel

Distylium2Distylium isn’t a ‘household name’ sort of plant yet – but it should be! It offers Rogue Valley gardeners a great alternative to some of the standard (but often overused) evergreen shrubs like Boxwood, Raphiolepis, Holly, and Skip Laurel.

Not only is Distylium low-maintenance, drought tolerant, and deer resistant; but it also tolerates clay soils well, and is a lovely and graceful-looking shrub. Its leaves are a glossy, rich green and slightly elongated.

Distylium flowersDistylium is related to Witch Hazels (one of its common names is Winter Hazel), and like Witch Hazels they have tiny, exquisite reddish flowers that line the branches in late winter and early spring. They aren’t the sort of flowers that put on a show from a distance, but they’re delightful to see close-up!

Shooting Star Nursery carries several different varieties; giving you a nice range of options for size and shape. There’s basically a Distylium for virtually every place in your garden that needs an evergreen shrub! We generally have the following varieties in stock:

Distylium Emerald HeightsEmerald Heights: Dark green, glossy foliage. Compact with a rounded, spreading shape. 5’ x 5’.

Swing Low: The shortest of the Distylium varieties we carry – about 2-3’ tall by 4-6’ wide.

Vintage Jade: Lovely, layered-looking branches give it a gentle, graceful look (a quality not often associated with evergreen shrubs…). Grows into a spreading, mounded shape – about 3’ tall by 4’ wide.

Distylium LinebackerLinebacker: A taller variety (8-10’ tall by 6-8’ wide), making it a really nice option as a hedge plant. Upright and dense, new growth is reddish-orange, which gradually turns green as the leaves mature.

Distylium grows best in full sun to light shade. These plants are generally disease-free and very low maintenance. A bit of light tip-pruning once a year will help keep plants nice and dense, but even that’s not necessary!

Euphorbias

on Saturday, 04 December 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Wood Spurges

Euphorbia-with-Allium

Another plant we love to sing the praises of: evergreen, usually compact, deer resistant and drought tolerant - with flowers that last 3 months or more. The only thing you have to do to enjoy them is to not overwater, and to prune the flower stems back to the base of the plant after blooming is done.

This photo shows a Euphorbia characias variety in full bloom, with Allium 'Purple Sensation' in the foreground. Flowering begins in early spring and will easily last into July. The flowers are set off by the larger bracts, thus lasting longer than a typical petaled flower. When flowering stalks start to brown or look faded, just prune the flower stem all the way to the ground so the new stems can fill in.

As an added bonus, Euphorbias are evergreen in all but the coldest Rogue Valley winters, and their foliage tends to color up in winter; providing a nice visual interest in the winter garden. Euphorbias will take full sun to half a day of sun and need well draining soil. They all have a white sap in their stems keeping the deer at bay but can also cause a rash in some people, so wear gloves when pruning Euphorbias.

There are many, many varieties of Euphorbia, here are some of our favorites:

Prunus lusitanica

on Wednesday, 24 November 2021. Posted in Good for Screening, Berries Attract Wildlife, Fragrant Blooms, Showy Bark/Stems, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Deer Resistant

Portuguese Laurel

portugueseLaurelCloseEvergreen hedges are a great way to create a privacy screen, a windbreak, or even a ‘green wall’ to use as a backdrop for a selection of vibrant, colorful selection of shrubs and perennials.

One of the challenges to creating a good hedge here in the Rogue Valley is that you’ll want an evergreen shrub that is both relatively fast-growing AND deer resistant. And one of the very best options we’ve found for meeting both of those criteria is Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica).

portugueseLaurelFlowersPortuguese Laurel has dark, glossy, leathery leaves that contrast nicely with its wine-red stems. In spring, plants are covered with 6-10” long spikes of tiny, fragrant white flowers, which are extremely popular with bees and other pollinators.

The flowers are followed by berries that start out red, and ripen to dark blue-black. These berries are a big treat for wintering songbirds, but should be avoided by humans - like many members of the genus Prunus, their seeds contain cyanide. Want to avoid the berries altogether? Do your main pruning in early summer once the plants have finished blooming.

portugueseLaurel2Left untrimmed, mature Portuguese Laurels can reach between 20’-30’ tall and will get about 10’ wide. These plants tolerate pruning well, though, and can be kept to 10’ or so with regular pruning. Ideally, they should be planted around 10’ apart. But if you’re in a big hurry to not see what’s on the other side of your hedge, they an be planted as closely as every 6’. Plants generally grow about 18” or so per year, although this is variable and dependent on the type of soil they’re growing in - plants in clay soils tend to grow slower than plants in loamy or sandy soils.

Portuguese Laurel grows best in full sun, but will also tolerate a bit of afternoon shade. They do prefer well-drained soil; if you are planting in clay, you’ll either want to plant them with a high crown or on a slight mound. During the first year or so, they’ll prefer a good, deep soaking once a week. Once established, they are relatively drought tolerant and will only need deep watering a few times a month.

Mahonia 'Soft Caress'

on Friday, 19 November 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Drought Tolerant

Threadleaf Mahonia

Mahonia Soft Caress edIf you’re looking for a compact, easy care evergreen shrub that provides year-round interest - and will thrive in a dry shade garden - consider Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’!

I like to think of Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ as the gentler, more approachable relative of our beloved native Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium). Like Oregon Grape, ‘Soft Caress’ is a drought-tolerant evergreen shrub with fragrant sunny-yellow flowers. However, unlike Oregon Grape, its leaves and stems are thornless and soft rather than sharply poky and leathery.

‘Soft Caress’ is a great plant to use if you’re looking to bring a bit of texture into your dry shade garden. Its leaves look a bit like palm leaves – with slender, thread-like leaflets arrayed along a graceful central stem. For maximum effect, try planting it with some of the broader-leafed shade loving shrubs like Hosta, Hellebore, Osmanthus, and Viburnum davidii – or underplant it with dry shade-loving perennials like Epimedium and Heuchera.

From late fall to early spring, flowers appear in long ‘candles’ held above the foliage. These flowers not only help to brighten the winter garden, they’re also a great source of nectar for pollinators and other beneficial insects during the winter and spring, when few other plants are in bloom. The flowers are followed by decorative silvery-blue berries that add to the visual interest of the plant – and are popular with songbirds.

Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ gets about 3’ by 3’ and maturity. It prefers part shade (morning sun is ok) to full shade and well-drained soils, and does well in containers as well as in the ground. This graceful, low maintenance shrub will be a welcome addition to your shady garden!

Polystichum munitum

on Thursday, 21 October 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Native, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Western Sword Fern

Western Sword FernThe sculptural fronds of ferns provide lots of winter interest, and Western Sword Fern is one of the toughest, most drought tolerant, and easiest ferns to grow in the Rogue Valley. 

This native fern can tolerate our dry summers and wet winters and even take a little sun. It prefers to be an understory plant but established ferns in good, composty soil will tolerate quite a bit of sun. The key is to get them well established with deep waterings the first few summers and applications of yearly leaf mulch or compost mulch. Western Sword Fern has a courser texture than some more delicate ferns but that makes their fronds last longer, allowing them to be used in cut flower arrangements. The leathery, dark green fronds can be 2-4' tall depending where they are grown and can be used alone or look especially good in clumps or drifts. 

Polystichum detailWe like to use Western Sword Ferns under large trees - like oaks, combined with Euphorbia purpurea, Heuchera sanguinea or the purple leafed varieties of Coral bells, Mahonia repens, and other dry shade perennials and shrubs. All ferns are deer resistant and the Western Sword Fern is no exception. They are evergreen but will look their best with an annual shearing of the oldest fronds in spring to allow the new fronds to uncurl. Leave the old, pruned fronds as a natural mulch.  Ferns are always interesting to watch throughout the seasons and Western Sword Fern makes an especially nice evergreen specimen in the shade garden.