Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy 2015! More Garden-Worthy Native Plants to Try This Year

Happy New Year!
It's been a busy gardening year here at Chickadee Gardens: tours, open gardens, replanting, moving and replacing plants from winter damage, nursery visits, gardens abroad and meeting new garden friends. Through it all the thread that ties it together is my love of nature and a self-imposed responsibility to garden sustainably. I do so by not using pesticides or herbicides, providing habitat for critters, managing storm-water, removing invasive plants and planting native plants. Native plants often get a bad rap so I try to incorporate them into my garden so it doesn't scream "native habitat" but rather "wow...what a garden!" That's the goal, anyhow. To continue last year's New Year's post about native plants, let's look at two dozen wonderful native plants to hopefully spark the imagination.
When I speak of native plants in this context, I am speaking of plants indigenous to the Willamette Valley of Oregon and the West Coast. First up is Lewisia cotelydon. A lovely spring bloomer, mostly evergreen. Loves sharp drainage and alpine conditions if you can provide them.


Blooms spring forth like fireworks from a central rosette.


Next up is vine maple or Acer circinatum. A lovely branching small tree that can handle sun or shade.




It can have great fall color if it receives a good amount of sun. It can be very elegant in its structure, very much at home in an Asian-inspired garden as well as woodland gardens or formal landscapes.


Here we have the ubiquitous sword fern or Polystichum munitum. It blankets woodland areas, city lots and gardens both tended and neglected. It is evergreen, tough and a work horse.


This is a woodland grove full of new spring fronds in Forest Park, Portland.


Sword fern unfurling in the garden this past spring.


Red twig dogwood or Cornus sericea. It may look like nothing special here, but look what else it can do:


Beautiful white berries for the birds.


Gorgeous red bark in the fall and winter.


Glowing leaves before they drop in the fall.


The red glows on a cold winter day. They are great for naturalizing open areas, especially overly wet ones where erosion may be an issue.


Here is a great small tree or large shrub called flowering currant or Ribes sanguineum.  This photo was taken in February or March showing off the soft-green foliage.


This is it in flower also early spring. This photo was taken at Elk Rock garden at Bishop's Close in Portland.


This bloom is from a plant in my garden. The shades of pink vary from very soft almost white to nearly florescent magenta.


Here is flowering currant in the wild seen in Forest Park this past April.


Oh, one of my favorites, Aruncis dioicus or goat's beard. It thrives in woodland settings and also does well with a bit of sun on the edge of a forest. Completely deciduous, it comes back bigger and better every year. I have several.



Here are some blooms close up.


Here it is in its home setting in my garden. Ceanothus blooming on the right.


Two native sedums, Sedum oreganum on the left and Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco' on the right. Both are evergreen, can handle the wet Willamette Valley winters and shade. I have planted both of these everywhere as they are very versatile and serve as a great edging plant. Both have bright yellow flowers in the spring that attract pollinators.


Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco' again showing off its versatile color forms.


 This sweet little plant is Antennaria dioica 'Rubra' or pink pussy toes. It's a reliable plant, drought tolerant, fun blooms in spring. I cut them back after they are finished blooming to give more of a ground-cover look.


Here it happily mingles with Sedum spathulifolim and Sedum oreganum. It is evergreen, also. A great, tough, full-sun ground cover plant that spreads slowly and steadily. It has sharp drainage here.


Manzanita or arctostaphylos. Not sure which species, but its tell-tale dark bark and glowing leaves are hard to beat for sun and well-drained locations. Evergreen and a lot of wonderful varieties out there in many shapes and forms. Cistus and Xera Plants are both great local growers of arctostaphylos species.


I know I have featured this before but it's worth repeating. Asclepias speciosa or showy milkweed - asclepias is the only host plant for monarch butterflies. Can take harsh conditions such as full hot sun, and it is drought tolerant. This plant is in my hell strip and gets no attention but grows larger every year. The first year I planted it, it disappeared, I thought to its end. I was wrong, however. From what I understand it needs to form a long tap root so does go a bit dormant at first. If you are interested in growing it, there is an organization called the Milkweed Project where you can obtain or donate seeds. In Oregon there is also the Oregon Milkweed Project, there are many others if you are outside Oregon. Since pollinators are on the decline due to habitat loss and over-use of pesticides like Round-up, it's a wonderful thing to provide for the monarchs.


And here's our first customer in our garden! We named him Mikey, he was a special visitor, I blogged about him here.


Here it is in bloom. Bees and other butterflies are also very attracted to this plant.


Speaking of monarchs, here's another asclepias species that plays butterfly host, Asclepias tuberosa or butterfly weed. Wow, how about that orange! Hot dry conditions, easy. Not technically native to Oregon but most of the US and if it helps monarchs, I'm all over it.


Solidago or goldenrod. This particular species is 'Little Lemon'. This brings up a point about natives that are cultivars, sometimes known as "nativars." The question is whether they are indeed considered true natives. The answer lies within your own definition of natives, but I also believe it should be defined with the bigger picture in mind. To me, they are so close to natives but with other perhaps more desirable characteristics. They are not invasive and the insects still love them, so for me they count. That's just my personal take, however. I know not everyone agrees with that, but I think they are more beneficial to the garden than not.


A closeup of 'Little Lemon' that only gets about 18 inches tall vs. three or more feet in the native species. For me, the smaller version fits well where I have it planted under taller evergreen shrubs.


Here is another cultivar called 'Fireworks' which can't be beat for fall blooms. Bees adore this plant. It gets huge and often flops over where I have it but that happens very late in the season and I don't mind.


Another workhorse in my garden, Vaccinium ovatum or evergreen huckleberry. Produces blooms for the pollinators, berries for the birds and people and evergreen foliage for the year-round garden. I know many who list this as full sun or shade but I have found they fry in full sun here. Gorgeous bronze color on young leaves.


Dainty spring blooms on Vaccinium ovatum.


A wonderful native vine, Lonicera hispidula or California honeysuckle. Its pink blooms took about four years before they appeared but are a favorite of hummingbirds when in bloom. It is semi-evergreen and can handle sun or shade, even ramble along a forest (or garden) floor. I found this at Bosky Dell Natives in West Linn, Oregon.



Here's the hairy part of the plant.





This lovely fern was here all along, lady fern or Athyrium filix-fermina. Completely deciduous, it comes back fresh every year. It takes shade or a bit of sun, too.


One of our most cherished woodland plants Trillium ovatum or wakerobin. This photo was taken at Bishop's Close at Elk Rock garden as I do not have any in my own garden. It is a good idea to buy this at a nursery rather than to try to gather it from the wild as they often don't survive.



Here's a beautiful sun plant, Sidalcea campestris, checkermallow. It's so cheerful, very easy and again, great for the pollinators.


A wider shot with its palmate leaves and seemingly ever-blooming pastel flowers.


A bumbler getting busy.


This is mock orange or Philadelphus lewisii. This is also a very easy woody shrub or small tree with lovely orange-scented blooms. The foliage is nothing fab but I have it out in the hell strip where it gets no attention and does just fine. It does act as a great backdrop for other plants. This is the state flower of Idaho and is tolerant of many conditions so it's a good choice for areas with no attention or for a summer privacy hedge, the scent alone is worth it. The bees adore it, another great reason to grow it.


Sweet Spiraea betulifolia or birchleaf spiraea. This has the sweetest white blooms, is a small woody shrub at only a couple of feet tall. It likes a bit of sun but can handle some shade and it has the prettiest fresh green leaves in early spring. It does have fall color and is completely deciduous. They were somewhat hard for me to find but I did eventually find them at a great native plant nursery in Oregon City called Echo Valley Natives - and I found them in four-inch pots. I have several sprinkled throughout the garden as an essential small shrub used in semi-sunny locations.


Sea thrift or Armeria maritima. This stuff is bullet proof, evergreen tufts of green grass like clumps, ever blooming all season long and slowly spreading to larger clumps. Does not require anything special other than perhaps good drainage but can handle all kinds of weather - full baking sun, shade, wet wet wet Oregon winters and cold blasting winds. I adore this little edging plant and have it sprinkled all over. I also found a white-flowered version that goes great in the white shady garden. It does, as the name suggests, come from coastal areas where salt water doesn't phase it.



Spent blooms, and if you deadhead it will keep going until frost.


Here is my favorite variety, 'Victor Reiter'. It is a more profuse bloomer with shorter, slightly glaucous leaves and a more compact habit. I love this plant and so do the insects. These can easily be divided and spread about the garden.



Oh, ceanothus, I love you so...an evergreen shrub with crazy blue flowers the bees fight after. Also known as California lilac. A great background plant and can handle hot, baking sun. I did lose my Ceanothus 'Dark Star' to the awful frozen tundra wasteland winds last February (not the one pictured here) but it was only a few months old and not established. These pictured here were on closeout at a local store and have grown steadily ever since. I've been pruning them up so there is more air circulation below which seems to be beneficial.


They don't like summer water at all, give them what they want...hot and dry and they will serve the garden well for years. There are many hybrids of this plant and the bees seem to like them all. This one is a NOID - as I mentioned I found it half price at a local store without a tag but I bet these two are 'Victoria'.


How about that for no-fuss bloom?


Sweet little Viola glabella or streambank violet. Loves wet wet wet and lightly sows itself around and is a completely deciduous. A little harder to find in nurseries, I found several at Portland Nursery. I see them in very untouched woodland areas in Portland from time to time.



Penstemon serrulatus or Cascade penstemon. It is a semi-evergreen, semi-woody plant with profuse blooms in the spring. When mine gets too leggy after a hard summer rain I chop it back for a second bloom. The bees love it, it is said to self-sow readily but I have not found that to be an issue at all. I got this from Bosky Dell Natives, a wonderful nursery in West Linn.



Snowberry or Symphoricarpos albus. This is a woodland spreader with tiny flowers in spring that strangely, the hummingbirds seek out. White berries in the winter add a touch of interest in an otherwise bleak setting. I have creeping snowberry or Symhoricarpos mollis and it does spread in the back of my woodland border. It is a great plant for hedgerows, woodland setting or shady areas.


Zauschneria californica or California fuchsia. Loves hot dry dry dry when established, and is a true hummingbird magnet. This particular bunch is on a hot dry south facing roadside with lots of traffic and asphalt around and no summer water, it does wonderfully.



I saw this at a local nursery Garden Fever and thought it an appropriate ending to this post. Yes, I do garden as though I will live forever and my garden will too, that's why I try to find some kind of balance for the wildlife that my garden supports. Native plants can be beautiful as well as beneficial, and even if you plant just one, it does make a difference. I love the sheer variety of birds we see year round in the garden, it's truly amazing and wow, the bees and butterflies and dragonflies and other beneficials are plentiful. I try to garden to leave the ground healthier than before so that beyond me, it will continue to nurture.

That's a wrap, and quite a long list, indeed. I had to cut out about twelve plants just to make this post reasonable...there are many many others. My go-to resource (besides Bosky Dell Natives, Echo Valley Natives, Humble Roots nursery, Xera Plants, Portland Nursery and Garden Fever nursery) for natives on the west coast is the Encyclopedia of Northwest Native Plants by Robso, Richter and Filbert, published by Timber Press. It's worth the price, and I think on sale this week from Timber Press.

Thank you for reading and until next week happy gardening!

34 comments :

  1. You mentioned lots of my favorites too! Great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Alison, glad you like them too!

      Delete
  2. It is exciting to read about your favorite native plants. I have many of them, but you've definitely given me ideas for more to add to my wish list!
    Just ordered books from Timber Press--they are a great company for every gardener's book needs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, that's great! And Timber Press can't be beat, they are top-notch. I think the sale ends today.

      Delete
  3. Great post, Tamara! You are right! There are so many great ones that there is no reason not to include at least a few. So, are you writing a second post with the twelve you cut out? You're leaving us hanging... ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least a few! So true, that's what I hope to get across that even one makes a difference. Well, I could write a second post...perhaps I will :) Stay tuned!

      Delete
  4. LOVE this post. I have trouble organizing info in one spot. I'll be back to make a list. thx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Patricia! Come by any time :) Glad it was helpful for you, and as Anna suggests, I may do version two to round out the list (fairly soon).

      Delete
  5. What a fascinating and informative post Tamara, so many of what you listed are fab garden plants!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks you guys! You know, I don't know what is native to the UK - I should do some homework :)

      Delete
  6. So many great ones -- some that I can even grow here! Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! Many of these plants are native to vast regions of the US, not just here :)

      Delete
  7. I got a similar Sildacea (Sildacea oregano) at a plant sale at the Audubon Society a few years ago...and was so unimpressed in how it always flopped everywhere. I pulled it out and composted it. The next year, I noticed dozens of seedlings in the area and decided to leave them. To my surprise and delight, they are wonderful this way, scattered around throughout the area...and these new, self-seeded plants never get leggy or floppy...they add a nice airy lightness to the garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good story, Scott. Sometimes the volunteers are better...funny you mention that, mine was a volunteer in another four inch pot from Bosky Dell Natives....she's notorious for letting lots of seedlings just be anywhere they happen to land :) I'm glad you like the plant...they do add a lightness indeed.....happy new year to you both!

      Delete
  8. I have quite a few of these and am surprised to learn that some of them are natives. So many nurseries started out intending to feature mainly native plants, only to find that they didn't sell. More posts like this one could go a long way towards changing that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes....and I agree, if one could see them full grown and in a garden setting perhaps they would be more appealing. I plan on continuing with these posts, thanks for the feedback!

      Delete
  9. So many plants to love. Fantastic post, Tamara. The Native sword ferns... how could any Oregon garden be without them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Grace! I know...sword ferns are sooo Oregon! Go ferns!

      Delete
  10. I've long considered planting Aruncis dioicus in my garden, thanks for the push. Also I love that quote from Garden Fever, so good on so many levels. Happy New Year Tamara!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Loree, it's so lovely...I think you'd really like it. And as the name suggests, there are male and female plants, no way of knowing which is which so I planted a lot. The one pictured is a male and in the wider shot with the Ceanothus also in view there is a female in between. They are nearly indistinguishable, however, just that the males have a bit more...."fluff"....hahha

      Delete
  11. I have many of these Natives ! I sometimes only discover that they are our natives , though reading my favorite old garden writers : Elizabeth Lawrence, E.A. Bowles ,etc.
    Happy New Year , Tamara !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! So glad to hear that! Interesting that's how you find out :) A good plant is a good plant in my book. I think that British and European gardeners discovered our natives long before we did. Happy New Year to you too!! :)

      Delete
  12. Wonderful post Tamara! Such an enjoyable read and reminder to keep adding more natives into my landscape! Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jennifer! Yay! Glad to hear you are interested in adding more. If you need volunteers, I'd be happy to share :) Happy New Year!

      Delete
  13. You've done a great job of using natives in your garden. I'm always tempted by the Lewisia when I see it in the local nurseries but it isn't really suited to conditions here. My last native introduction here is Solanum xantii, which I'm very impressed with thus far. Best wishes for a happy new year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Kris! Aah, yes, that's key. Just because they are native does not mean that you plant and leave them, they still have cultural requirements - full sun, shade, moist, dry, etc. I will have to look up Solanum - it sounds familiar...perhaps I'll have to add one more to the garden. Happy new year to you too!!

      Delete
  14. So many beautiful natives! Thanks for sharing these. Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Outlaw! Happy New Year to you too!

      Delete
  15. I just nominated your blog for a Liebster award. If you accept, just answer the questions on my latest post, and go from there! Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh, wow - what a fantastic post!!! Some of the plants you're showing are growing in my little garden too but some of them I should definitely put on my list! Thank you so much for sharing and introducing to me!
    All my best from an Austrian Gardener and Happy New Year
    Elisabeth

    ReplyDelete
  17. My wife is a flowers and gardening fan. She has been having a hard time and work and I want to show some extra love. I want to buy something that she can plant in her garden. What is a great flower that grows really well in Hobart?
    http://www.stonemans.com.au

    ReplyDelete
  18. GREAT post! That first Lewisia photo is to die for. I became obsessed after buying my first one two years ago. A few that I have now bloom all summer long. I absolutely love them. All the plants on the list are either in my garden, or have been in the past. I did dig a snowberry out of my parking strip last year, but I'm sure it will take me ten to get rid of it. I love them, but they are better suited in a pot at my house. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Just found your site and love this post. I'm in Portland, do you ever have days for public visits? Wonderful to meet other local gardeners & see their gardens!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Debi! We used to have open gardens through the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon. I highly recommend you join, for there is a publication that comes out soon with a list of open gardens in the area with dates, descriptions and addresses. Highly valuable alone, not to mention classes, plant sales, etc.

      Since we moved to Saint Helens last year, we have not opened our garden -- yet -- but will do so probably the following year. If you do join HPSO and want to open your own garden, the deadline is Feb. 15 I believe. Thanks for writing and the note! Happy gardening!

      http://www.hardyplantsociety.org/

      Delete

Thank you for your comments! I love hearing them, I will approve comments as soon as I can. Yay!