Articles in Category: Winter Interest

Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Rotundifolius'

on Tuesday, 07 April 2015. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Evergreen, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Rounded Hollyleaf Osmanthus (False Holly)


This evergreen shrub is being highlighted because it looks good all year round. No leaf spot, no diseases or weird pests, no old brown leaves, just glossy, thick leaves that start out light green and darken to a beautiful holly-like blue green.  The Holly Tea Olive or Rounded Hollyleaf Osmanthus is very easy to grow and seems to be happy in any location.  We have one planted on the east, west, and north sides of buildings and all seem to be thriving.  It may not be the first choice for a hot spot against a south wall but they seem to acclimate to where they are placed and will even tolerate clay soil.  They will be more drought tolerant in a shadier location but our established ones are rudely ignored and haven't complained.  A thick mulch layer will help any evergreen shrub, or any plant for that matter, retain moisture and withstand the changes in temperature.  This Osmanthus is hardy to Zone 6 and has shown no winter damage through Rogue Valley winters.  Like most Osmanthus it produces small, white, fragrant flowers, typically in the fall.  This variety will get about 4'x4' but can be pruned a bit tighter.  It is not fast growing but puts on steady growth each year and won't overrun it's location.  It is a great foundation plant or background for showier perennials. If the spines of Hollies are not your favorite this could be a good substitute since the rounded leaves only have slight spines- nothing to cause damage to the pruning gardener.   It can be deer resistant once established since it has thick, leathery leaves.  But in heavy deer country it can have a hard time getting settled if the deer constantly eat the new growth.  So cage it until it can get big enough to withstand the occasional deer browsing or test it out first- it seems to depend on the deer population on this one. 

Here's a photo from Xera Plants of a 5 year old Osmanthus:


on Wednesday, 28 January 2015. 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!

Pinus thunbergii 'Thunderhead'

on Monday, 20 October 2014. Posted in Winter Interest, Conifer, Evergreen, Deer Resistant, Trees, Drought Tolerant

Thunderhead Dwarf Japanese Black Pine


'Thunderhead' Japanese Black Pine is a wonderful compact specimen conifer.  Like most pines it is drought tolerant and deer resistant but what sets it apart from other pines is it's tight, dense form and handsome white candles in spring that stand out from the dark green needles.  It is a slow to medium grower ranging from 5-10' tall and 5-8' wide but keeps it's dense form over time.  This Japanese Black Pine will tolerate drier, sandy soils or moister soil as long as it's well drained and requires full sun. They look striking in trios or as a specimen in a smaller garden.  Makes a great pairing with the white bark of birches, or yellow Spirea 'Ogon', or purple Smokebush.

Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo'

on Monday, 09 June 2014. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Fall Color, Shade Plants, Perennial, Ground Cover, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

'Biokovo' Hardy Geranium (Cranesbill)


This versatile and easy hardy geranium is a great choice for an evergreen perennial that is deer resistant, drought tolerant in part shade, and even gets fall color.  When looking for deer resistant plants it's always imortant to seek out scented plants, especially leaves with a strong smell.  'Biokovo' Geranium is one of the rare perennials to have a strong, spicy scent that is not Meditteranean or needing lots of sun. It performs best in a cool location with morning sun or at least protection from the hottest part of the day.  The broad, lobed leaves provide striking contrast to finer leafed perennials and grasses. 'Biokovo' spreads by rhizomes to make a nice spreading mound about 6-10" tall and 2-3' wide and can be a bit aggressive so make sure it's neighbors can hold its own.  Dainty, pale pink to white flowers with pink stamens emerge in late spring through summer, but this perennial remains interesting all year.  The variety 'Cambridge Blue' is similar except with a lavender-blue flower.  We usually have at least 10 or so varieties of hardy Geranium in stock, great tough, long-blooming perennials!

Veronica peduncularis 'Georgia Blue'

on Sunday, 16 March 2014. Posted in Winter Interest, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Perennial, Ground Cover, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Georgia Blue Speedwell


This easy maintenance, perennial groundcover adds a beautiful cobalt blue to the edge of any garden.  We love the dainty deep blue flowers that start blooming as early as February and are heaviest in April, continuing into early summer.  Besides the blooms, the best part about 'Georgia Blue' is that  it remains evergreen, turning lovely shades of burgundy in the colder weather.  It is a great companion to early spring bulbs, especially the yellow of daffodils, and can mask the untidy foliage bulbs leave behind as they fade.  This Veronica is good for spilling over edges, out of containers, or as a mass groundcover.  It may need shearing back after blooming once in a while to refresh it but otherwise it is low maintenance.  You can plan on it getting about 6" tall and spreading 12-24" wide.  It will tolerate full sun to part shade and can even take a little drought; but looks best with moderate water and good mulch.  It has proven deer resistant in some gardens (Jacksonville, Applegate Valley) in the Rogue Valley but not others (Griffin Creek area of Medford), so try it out first.  Butterflies and hummingbirds are known to visit the cheerful flowers.  Georgia Blue Speedwell looks great planted next to purple toned Euphorbia, Black Mondo Grass, Mahonias, and other broader leaved shrubs and perennials.