Articles in Category: Winter Interest

Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'

on Thursday, 11 June 2020. 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.

Rosa rugosa

on Thursday, 19 March 2020. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Fragrant Blooms, Attracts Pollinators, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Rugosa Rose

Hansa editThese amazingly tough roses provide us with intoxicatingly fragrant flowers; long lasting, vitamin-rich rose hips; interesting leaf texture - as well as drought tolerance, disease resistance, and deer resistance. They’ll even grow and bloom in partial shade. Why would you ever plant any other rose? 

Rugosa roses were originally wild roses native to Asia, but they’ve been cultivated and naturalized in many parts of the world. Both varieties we carry (see below) will grow to about 5’ to 7’ tall and wide and will spread by runners, making them a good barrier or hedge plant. Rugosas also look great in a mixed border, especially because they don't need the extra care of sprays that most other roses need. Flowers come in single or double petaled forms and range in color from deep magenta pink to red to pure white and yellows. Once established, rugosa roses only need an occasional soak and prefer full sun, although they will do fine in part sun.

 Here are the two varieties of rugosa roses Shooting Star Nursery carries regularly:

Alba cropAlba: Big white single flowers – up to 3.5” across - with yellow tufted stamens sit atop deep green, quilted leaves. These lovely, bushy plants are known for their hardiness and tolerance to salt sea conditions. Fat round bright red hips give a bonus of fall color, providing food for local wildlife. Flowers to 3.5” across. Moderate fragrance. American Rose Society rating of 9.2 - out of a possible 10 points.

 

Hansa: Raspberry-purple, semi-double flowers with a wonderful fragrance (shown above). Great for barrier plantings in cold climates, extremely hardy, large abundant rose hips. ARS rating 8.4 - out of a possible 10 points.

 Rugosa hipsFun fact: Rugosas have also been called “sea tomato roses” because of their large orange to bright-red rose hips that appear in fall and last throughout the winter; providing a great source of nourishment for overwintering birds like robins, cedar waxwings, and hermit thrushes. The rose hips are prized by humans too – they’re a great source of Vitamin C and a popular ingredient in tea blends.

Hamamelis x intermedia

on Thursday, 13 February 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Fragrant Blooms, Attracts Pollinators, Fall Color, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Witch Hazel

witch_hazel

Witch Hazels are one of our favorite shrubs at this time of year, as they cheer up these late winter days with their bright fringey blooms, and repeat the show all over again in the fall with spectacular leaf color. 

 

Hamamelis Arnolds PromiseMost Witch Hazels have a nice open form that is sculptural even when bare in winter. Their vase-shaped growth habit also provides a nice opportunity to use other plants at their base. Flowers unfurl in February and continue through March, with the textured leaves emerging afterwards. The thick leaves provide a great contrast with softer leaved plants like ferns, Euphorbias, or Geraniums. 

 

Hamamelis JelenaWitch Hazels are not the first choice for a hot spot in your yard, even though you will read that they will tolerate full sun (and you will see them looking spectacular in downtown Ashland in full sun). However, they will be prone to leaf burn and you will be watering more often if they are placed in full sun. Morning sun or at least half a day of sun is best. They also look wonderful in a wooded shade garden, just make sure they get some bright light for the best flower production and fall color. 

 

HamamelisWitch Hazels do best with regular water; deep soaks throughout the summer months and with a fertile, humus-rich soil. They are also generally deer resistant - we have seen them untouched in Ashland - but try one out first to make sure. 

 

Here are some of the varieties we generally carry (check our current retail availability for details):

'Amethyst' - Rounded shrub, 8' to 10' tall. with reddish-purple flowers

'Arnold's Promise'- Vase shaped with fragrant yellow flowers and yellow fall color

'Diane'- Rounded form with red flowers and orange-red fall color

'Jelena'- vase shaped vigorous grower with very fragrant large copper-orange flowers and orange-yellow fall color

'Sunburst'- upright, with lemon yellow blooms up to 1 inch long, early bloomer and yellow-orange fall color

Sarcococca

on Friday, 10 January 2020. 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 - like the north walls of a home - can be extremely challenging sites to plant. Sarcococca, or Sweetbox, is an ideal shrub for low-light situations like this. Thriving in everything from part sun to deep shade, Sweetbox is an attractive, broad-leafed evergreen with glossy dark green leaves that provides a good backdrop for airier ferns and flowering shade 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 true 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, vanilla-like fragrance that is sure to get attention. Add in red to black berries that lend a festive quality later in the year, and you've got a great 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. 

 

Here are some of our favorite types:

 

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. Its growth is slow to moderate and can easily be kept at 3’.

Sarcococca 'Fragrant Valley' is a compact yet vigorous selection growing to 18-24" tall and 3-4' wide. 

Sarcococca 'Fragrant Mountain' attains a slightly larger size at 2-3' tall and 3-4' wide, making it a great alternative to Skimmia japonica. 

All of these varieties 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!

Arctostaphylos 'John Dourley'

on Thursday, 02 January 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Showy Bark/Stems, Attracts Pollinators, Native, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

'John Dourley' Manzanita

Dourley editHere at Shooting Star Nursery, we love our manzanitas!

Manzanitas are native, evergreen, drought tolerant, low maintenance - and really, really pretty. They’re also an important source of nectar for overwintering Anna’s hummingbirds; providing the rich, sugary nectars these birds rely on. In fact, manzanitas are outstanding plants for wildlife-friendly gardens, providing shelter, a late winter/early spring nectar source for a variety of pollinators, and late summer fruits that feed birds and other critters.

One of the earliest blooming manzanita varieties for Rogue Valley gardens is Arctostaphylos ‘John Dourley’. Ours here at the nursery are already blooming happily in early January! ‘John Dourley’ is a hybrid of two species of manzanita: A. pajaroensis x A. bakeri. They’re one of the most garden tolerant manzanitas around, thrive in either full sun and partial sun, and can even be grown in clay soils. Plants generally reach 2’ to 4’ tall by 4’ to 6’ wide – making them great candidates for a low hedge. New growth is coppery red, which is set off nicely by their cinnamon colored bark.

Like most manzanitas, ‘John Dourley’ requires little to no water once established. Most species of manzanita are also Verticillium Wilt resistant and also do well with water high in Boron (since they hardly need water!). If you are planting ‘John Dourley’ in clay soil, plants will do best planted on a mound or hillside.

Warning: manzanitas are a bit like potato chips – you might find it hard to just plant one! For more information on the other species of manzanitas we generally carry here at Shooting Star, check out this article on our website.