Articles in Category: Shrubs
Lycium barbarum, 'Goji berry'
Also known as 'Wolfberry', the goji berry is recognized as a superfood with high nutrient and anti-oxidant properties, so of course, it would make a great addition to your edible landscape. Both the bright orange-red berries and shiny, oval green leaves are edible with an appealing spicy, nutty flavor. The leaves are traditionally enjoyed as a tea, and the berries can be used as a tea or for snacking, baking, or preserving.
Goji berry is self-fruitful producing small, purple-pink flowers in late spring/early summer that are highly attractive to the bees. It can take up to two years to bear fruit which will be loved by the birds and other browsing animals. Harvest the small, oval, bright orange-red fruit from summer through fall by shaking each branch so the ripe berries fall onto a large basket or bowl. Avoid touching them to avoid oxidizing the skin which turns them black. It's best to enjoy them fresh, frozen, or dried after washing, or refrigerate the berries unwashed for up to two weeks.
This is a vigorously growing, thorny bush with woody stems and should be seasonally maintained to keep suckers that grow from the base in check. Luckily, they are well adapted for growing in containers. Deer will be attracted to the edible leaves and berries, but this might be one situation where they could be a welcome helper.
Once established, goji berries are heat tolerant and drought tolerant. They perform best when planted in full sun, (with mid-afternoon shade during the high heat of summer), out of the wind, and in well-draining, neutral to slightly alkaline soil. They can grow 8-12 feet tall and wide at full maturity and can be easily pruned to any desired size.
Hick's Yew is a distinctive shrub with a lot of character. When compared to other evergreen trees or shrubs used for privacy screening, its long, graceful, upright branches covered with lush, petite, glossy, dark evergreen foliage make it an easy maintenance plant for narrow spaces.
Its resilience as a popular choice for a privacy screen is because of its dense, columnar growth that responds exceptionally well to heavy shearing or pruning by becoming denser. It is a slow grower at about 12” per year in ideal conditions, reaching a moderate height of about 10-20 feet tall and 3-6 feet wide.
For added interest, Hick’s Yew produces red berries in the fall that can be toxic if ingested. If you are in need of seedless variety, then the male ‘H.M. Eddie’ is a good alternate. It grows a little slower reaching 10-15 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide.
'Hick’s' and 'H.M. Eddie' yews are equally happy in full sun or full shade. So whether you live in hot and bright, or cool and shady climates and locations, you are bound to have success. Yews can tolerate a wide range of soils but do best in a well-draining area. To help encourage robust and healthy root growth, make sure it is adequately watered for at least the first few months after planting.
Adding a few inches of leaf or wood chip mulch will help insulate the roots from extreme winter and summer temperatures, and retain moisture throughout the year. Once established, they are drought tolerant but will grow best when it is watered after the soil has been allowed to dry out.
Coffeeberry is a great candidate for that hard-to-fill niche of an evergreen native shrub that also attracts birds and pollinators; is drought tolerant, deer resistant, and fire resistant; and even makes a good hedge or screen. In fact, it may well be the only plant that fills that niche!
Coffeeberry is a west coast native; occurring from southern Oregon all the way south into Baja California. It gets its common name from its fruit: berries that change from green to red to almost black over the course of the year. The flowers are inconspicuous (although pollinators notice them just fine) but the birds definitely notice the colorful berries.
Rhamnus makes a great hedge, usually growing at a medium rate to 6-8' tall and wide, with the potential to get larger in more wooded areas. The named variety 'Eve Case’ has broader and brighter, green foliage and will stay a bit more compact at 4-8' wide and tall. Its leaves are long and pointed and are a matte green with a paler underside.
Coffeeberry prefers full sun but can also be happy in part shade or a more wooded garden. In the Rogue Valley, it can tolerate the heat and most soils, although it prefers a sandy, well-draining soil. This is truly a drought-tolerant plant - once established, it can survive on no irrigation. To keep it more fire resistant, though, we recommend giving it a deep soak every two weeks during the summer months. We have found Coffeeberry to be deer resistant in most situations, especially once established. Deer may have a tendency to chew the new growth, but will leave plants alone when they get some size on them.
If you are new to growing native plants, this is a great plant to start with. Try it out to see how easy, attractive, and sustainable native plants can be in your garden!
Figs are native to the Fertile Crescent region of the Middle East and thrive in our hot, dry summers. These rich, almost decadent-tasting fruits are also surprisingly undemanding, low-maintenance plants. They’re fast growing, begin bearing fruit at just two years old, and will often bear two crops a year. Few pests (including deer!) bother them. Figs enjoy well-drained soils and only require deep, infrequent watering once they’re established. They're also self fertile, and are actually pollinated on the inside of the fruit by a special wasp.
Here in the Rogue Valley, figs tend to grow more as tall, multi-trunked shrubs than full-sized trees. That’s actually an asset for home gardeners, because it makes their fruit easier to harvest. Plants bear fruit primarily on year-old growth, and are most productive when pruned annually in mid-winter. A harsh winter in the first few years of being planted can cause a fig to have some branch die back. They are quick to rebound from the roots though once warm weather returns. Give them as much heat as possible to enhance their ripening.
We carry a good assortment of figs here at Shooting Star Nursery, and always try to carry varieties that are more likely to ripen in our shorter heat season, compared to several better-known types that perform better in California. Our selection generally includes dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties like Olympian, Little Ruby, Stella, and Black Jack (perfect for small yards); Pacific Northwest specialties like Desert King; and old favorites like Brown Turkey and Peter’s Honey.
What can you do with the abundance of figs you’re already imagining harvesting? That’s where the fun really begins. Figs can be eaten fresh off the tree (make sure they are quite soft before picking), dried, or turned into a variety of tasty jams and preserves. But why stop there? Fire up your broiler or grill and try broiled figs stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Or make your own dolmas! See what we mean about decadent?
Here are a few of the varieties we generally have in stock:
Black Spanish - Dark purple skin w/sweet amber flesh, reliable & productive, naturally dwarf
Brown Turkey – Medium-large fruit, sweet purplish/brown skin w/light pink flesh
Chicago Hardy – Medium fruit, brown to violet skin w/strawberry pink flesh, excellent flavor
Desert King - Large, green skin w/strawberry flesh, can bear 2 crops
Little Ruby – Medium fruit, reddish-brown skin w/ruby flesh, prolific bearer, dwarf variety
Olympian - Super hardy, purple skin w/red flesh, very sweet, dwarf variety
Peter's Honey - Deliciously sweet, yellow/green skin w/amber flesh, likes hot/protected exposure