Articles in Category: Fall Color

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

on Monday, 06 September 2021. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Fall Color, Ground Cover, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Dwarf Plumbago

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

By September, many of the summer-blooming perennials that have brightened our gardens for the past few months are beginning to look a little tired and worn, so it’s really nice to find a something that looks bright and fresh, and is just getting started up as summer winds down.

It’s especially nice if the plant in question is covered with vivid blue flowers that contrast beautifully against the dark green foliage, like our Plant of the Week – Dwarf Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides). Even better, those lovely dark green leaves turn a dark, burgundy-red in fall; providing brilliant show of fall color.

Dwarf Plumbago is just a delight in the garden. It’s an herbaceous groundcover (meaning it dies to the ground in the winter and comes back up again the following spring) that grows well in a variety of situations from full sun to part shade, is extremely easy to care for, is relatively drought tolerant, attracts butterflies and other pollinators, and is even deer resistant! Plants grow to about 6 to 8” tall by 18” wide, and spread slowly via undergrounds stems. It begins flowering around mid-summer, and here in the Rogue Valley it will generally remain in bloom up until the first frost of fall.

Dwarf Plumbago combines beautifully with plants like Coreopsis, Echinacea, Anemone, and Croscosmia. It’s also a great companion plant for spring-flowering bulbs. The bulbs appear and flower before the Dwarf Plumbago leafs out, but by the time your bulbs have finished blooming, the Dwarf Plumbago is filling in your bed with its lovely deep green leaves; giving your flower bed a smooth transition into late spring/early summer.

Pistachia chinensis

on Tuesday, 31 August 2021. Posted in Fall Color, Trees, Drought Tolerant

Chinese Pistache Tree

Pistache2smPistache trees deserve more use in the Rogue Valley - they thrive in our hot, dry summers, provide long lasting fall color, and have interesting leaf texture.

Chinese Pistache are used a lot as street trees in the hot valleys of northern California, giving us a clue to how they well they would work here,especially in urban situations.  Being a Zone 7 tree, the Rogue Valley usually doesn't get cold enough to cause any problems for the Pistache. Placing it in full sun, in well draining soil will help it survive any cold snaps.

pistacheThese trees provide a spectacular fall color show of reds, oranges, crimsons, and yellows. Chinese Pistache will tolerate regular irrigation but are also relatively drought-tolerant and require no summer watering once established. The form of Pistache is not very uniform when young but they get a nice, dense canopy with age.

Being a slow growing tree - on average they will be about 25-30' tall and wide - but much older specimens can reach 50' tall.  Pistache are prone to verticillum wilt if you have it in your soil (not overwatering will help avoid this problem) but are resistant to oak root fungus. This is one of our best choices for a drought tolerant shade tree that can be used in many situations. 'Keith Davey' is a named variety that is a fruitless male and has red-orange fall color. The straight species, if it is a female tree, will form blue to black berries. 

Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'

on Monday, 02 August 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Fall Color, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant

'Blonde Ambition' Blue Grama Grass

Bouteloua1 edThis North American native prairie grass cultivar is a true performer. Many ornamental grasses don't start blooming until late summer, but ‘Blonde Ambition’ starts flowering in early summer and its blonde, horizontal, eyelash-like blooms persist well into winter. 

Bouteloua detail edAnyone who has visited Shooting Star Nursery knows that we love our ornamental grasses, and Bouteloua ‘Blonde Ambition’ remains one of our very favorites. Its narrow blue-green leaves would be reason enough to like it, but what really makes this grass stand out is its flowers, which start out chartreuse colored and fade to a lovely blonde shade.

It performs well in various garden locations, from well-drained clay to drier sandy soils. At a super useful size of 2-1/2'-3' tall to 3' wide, you can plant it en masse, or use it as a single specimen to contrast with flowering perennials. We like to plant it with other sturdy perennials like Agastache, Eupatorium, Echinacea, and Nepeta. It also combines well in mass plantings with other native grasses like Sporobolus, Schizachyrium, and Muhlenbergia.

 ‘Blonde Ambition’ is very cold hardy and is quite drought tolerant, but can also handle regular watering. Like most ornamental grasses, it is deer resistant and wintering songbirds enjoy eating the seedheads. 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 early 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.

Amelanchier

on Wednesday, 16 June 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Fall Color, Edible, Trees, Shrubs

Serviceberry or Juneberry

Amelanchier Autumn Brilliance flower

For those of you who are not already familiar with Amelanchiers - aka: Serviceberry, Juneberry, Saskatoon (they have a LOT of common names), let this serve as an introduction to what might well become your new favorite shrub/small tree!

Serviceberries are one of those rare plants that provide year-round interest here in the Rogue Valley. In the spring, this charming member of the Rose family is covered by clouds of white flowers that are a big favorite with pollinators.

Summer brings truly delicious blue-black berries (hence the name Juneberry) that taste like a cross between a blueberry and an apple, and are as popular with birds as they are with humans.

The fall color of Serviceberries – especially ‘Autumn Brilliance’ – rivals maples for color and intensity. And even when they drop their leaves, the branching pattern of Serviceberries provides nice visual interest in the winter garden.

They’re also relatively carefree and easy to grow, and do well in full sun to light shade with average water. Most Serviceberries are somewhat drought-tolerant at maturity, and will only need deep watering once or twice a month during the summer.

Shooting Star Nursery regularly carries three varieties of Amelanchier:

 Autumn Brilliance plant crop edit'Autumn Brilliance': We are absolutely in love with this plant! It works well as either a small single-trunked tree or large multi-trunk shrub, reaching about 15’ to 20’ tall and wide at maturity. As the name suggests, ‘Autumn Brilliance’ puts on a truly spectacular show of color in the fall. 

Spring Flurry edit‘Spring Flurry’ has more of an upright tree form (28’ tall by about 20’ wide) than Autumn Brilliance’. It has a strong, dominant central leader and is a great choice for a small street tree: low maintenance, abundant spring flowers, and nice fall color too.  is generally available in tree form. 

Our native western serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) is a bit smaller than the two cultivars listed above - generally reaching about 12' by 6' at maturity - and can be found growing right here in the Rogue Valley and surrounding areas. They bloom and fruit about a month later, are easy to care for, and are excellent wildlife-friendly plants: the berries are heavily visited by a variety of pollinators, birds love the berries, and the plants also provide nice nesting sites for songbirds.

Amsonia 'Blue Ice'

on Monday, 31 May 2021. Posted in Attracts Pollinators, Native, Fall Color, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Flowering Plants

'Blue Ice' Bluestar

Amsonia Blue Ice edit

The American Horticultural Society named Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ as one of its “75 Great Plants for American Gardens’, and it is easy to see why! Easy to grow, attractive foliage, lovely periwinkle-blue flowers, and great fall color: Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ deserves a space in any sunny perennial garden.

 

‘Blue Ice’ is native to the southeastern US, but is finding increasing popularity here on the West Coast. It gets about 15” tall by 24” wide and has a nice, soft clumping shape, which helps it blend in nicely with other plants in a mixed border. Late spring/early summer flowers put on a great show – and in the fall, the foliage turns a warm golden color.

 

Plants grow best in full sun – they get a little soft and floppy in partial shade - and deadheading will help prolong flowering. ‘Blue Ice’ is tolerant of most soils; even clay soil, as long as the soil isn’t waterlogged. As an added bonus, the latex sap in plant stems makes it unpalatable to deer, but butterflies and other pollinators find the flowers irresistible!