Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Nursery Owner's Garden: Xera Plants

Greg Shepherd, co-owner of Xera Plants, sent me a lovely, impromptu invitation to a garden party at his home on a very scalding hot Sunday afternoon. Be damned the heat; I was going! And since it was so close, I walked. What was I thinking in 93 degree weather at 5:30 in the afternoon? I wasn't. Thinking.
But the plants and Greg's sweet invitation lured me.

 As Greg is a nursery owner, I expected a great garden, but what I found left me a little speechless. It also has that je ne sais quoi quality of placement, of design, of magic. I took so many photos I went through a battery and a half.

Today, I present the front garden, small but jam-packed with xeric treasures that were especially appropriate for this ever-warming West Coast climate.



Greg and Christian's sweet home: The garden is not large, but it is inspiring in that every square inch is plant-inspired and rich with texture. No fancy hardscaping tricks here, it brings to mind Lauren and Scott Springer Ogden's Plant Driven Design book that (in a nutshell) touts the use of plants to create a sense of place rather than relying on hardscaping.

Established shrubs get no water here. Only smaller perennials and new plants receive a bit to get them established. Beyond that, they are adapted to our hot dry summers (which we are experiencing already) and our wet winters. That's what Xera Plants is all about, after all. There are lots of native plants in there, too, which I love. In fact, Greg shared with me that he plans to expand his selection of natives to add more interesting and harder-to-find varieties. I'm all for that and I plan on sending him my wish list.


A tapestry of hebe, fescue, penstemon and euphorbia in a dry river bed in the front garden captures the evening light and the plants in the hell strip in the background. The Hebes are Hebe ‘Karo Golden Esk’ from Xera, of course.


One of my favorites that does very well in my garden, Penstemon pinifolius, I believe this to be the cultivar 'Melon'. That it's evergreen is a wonderful thing.

From Xera's website:
Western Pine-leaved Penstemon has small needle-like leaves and in late spring and summer copious small brillant 1" long orange/red flowers. Forms a woody stems and is one of the longest lived perennial Penstemons. Full sun well drained soil with occasional water in summer. Great in rock gardens or on steep slopes. To 10" tall and about 2' wide. Cut back hard in early spring. Hummingbird heaven. Evergreen.


Hebe ‘Karo Golden Esk’ and fescues again. Someone mentioned that the fescues are self-sown.


Golden delights. This whole garden felt warm and glowing. Maybe it was  heatstroke or the wine talking. No, it really was golden.




A wider shot from the sidewalk. Many well-established shrubs hold down the fort and keep everything balanced. These are no ordinary, water-hungry shrubs à la rhododendrons and hydrangeas, rather these are the water-wise hebes, arctostaphylos and friends. Just as gorgeous and pollinator friendly, too.


Digitalis obscura, a plant I have in my garden and really appreciate. The fact that it's a perennial is a bonus.





Leptospermum humifusum (rupestre) 'Squiggly', a fabby New Zealand tea tree.

From Xera's website:
A cold hardy evergreen shrub with a very modern feel. Mahogany brown, wiry stems are clad with small olive green-gray leaves. In early summer profuse small white flowers open from pink buds. Twisting habit to 3' tall and 5' wide over time. Good looking year round in full sun and well drained soil. LOVE it with ornamental grasses and big bolders. Perfectly hardy to cold- undamaged in containers after 3 nights in the single digits. Wow. Myrtle family, from Tasmania. aka. L. rupestre. Occasional summer water. 


One of the many Arctostaphylos spp. in the garden of golden delights.


Erica arborea 'Alberts Gold'

From Xera's website:
Cold hardy form of Tree Heath with new foliage that emerges vivid chartreuse green. Slow growing at first it gains speed as it ages and in several years will attain 4' tall by 3' tall with an ulitmate height of 12'. Small white flowers emerge with the new growth in spring. Full sun and well drained soil. Water until you see new growth, drought tolerant when established. Long lived shrub of Mediterranean origin. Handsome year round.


Callistemon pityoidies 'Mt. Kosciusko' (probably)


Digitalis parviflora.


Halmium ocymoides 'Susan'

From the Xera website:
If space is at a premium this fantastic selection of golden rockrose is perfect. Compact habit with fine gray foliage to only 18" tall and 2' wide. Profuse golden flowers with an expanded ring of maroon around the center. Blooms for an extended period from late April to early July. Full hot sun and good drainage in soil that is not overly rich, little water when established. One of the smallest Halimiums and excellent in a rock garden or along a wall. Rare.


Antirrhinum sempervirens or silver snapdragon.

From the Xera website: 
We love this tough perennial Snapdragon that can bloom for months and months in summer. White flowers with a yellow lip cover the almost deep green succulent foliage. Becomes a semi-woody plant and dies back to a base in winter regrowing in spring. Full sun and very well drained soil with occasional water. Excellent in seasonal containers. Appreciates organic fertilizer in early spring. Cut back hard in early spring as well. 

The hellstrip is one of the loveliest around. There's the halmium in the foreground right again to get a sense of scale.


Euphorbia rigida in front.


Callistemon viridiflorus ‘Xera Compact’ in the center.


Here is an example of a tapestry. Evergreen shrubs in the background - leptospermum, arctostaphylos and grasses with shorter grasses and penstemons in the foreground. Greg tied it all together with large rocks and gravel.


View from the street looking over the hellstrip onto the sidewalk.


Sedums, euphorbia and Artemesia canescens on the left.


Agave bracteosa 'Calamar'. These stunners do very well in our climate. I would love to add these to the garden someday.


Euphorbia rigida adding prickly structure.


Euphorbia, opuntia and agave in the hot, baking sun and loving it.





Erodium chrysanthum on the right, a plant that Greg convinced me to get last year and I adore it.

There are many lessons for me to learn from this garden, one of which is the application of plant-driven design. I felt like a butterfly in the garden amongst the plants, it felt good to be there. The memory left was so intense, an experience beyond just gardening and plants. That's what I want to get from my garden. Each plant is pretty self-sufficient and tough. In my next garden I will borrow a lot of these ideas and go more towards xeric landscaping; it makes sense. I don't necessarily want to be out there watering every other day in super hot weather. Plus, when plants are this gorgeous, there's no reason not to choose them.

The palette is gorgeous, there are obviously many different directions one could go in a xeric landscape. Is it surprising that Oregon has this climate? We really always have, this is nothing new. I was born and raised in Portland and my memories of hot, dry barkdust in July are firmly set in my brain, as are the smells of baking asphalt and dry summer grasses.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you, Greg and Christian, for the lovely evening of garden talk, friends and wine. We all appreciated it.

As always, thank you for reading! Tune in for next time when we cover the silvery garden of Greg and Christian's backyard, it's a stunner. Oh boy...(you can see it here)!








33 comments :

  1. Yowsa, that's one gorgeous and well thought out front garden even in 90 degree heat! Thanks for taking us to Greg and Christian's place. Looking forward to seeing more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You bet, Peter! The back garden is gorgeous-er. Well, it's silver and different and oh-so wonderful....thanks for coming along on the virtual tour with me! :)

      Delete
  2. Great front garden! I´m impressed that you grow Digitalis obscura, as it is native from where I garden in Spain. They don´t sell it here and I´m trying to cultivate it for my garden, although my plant is still small :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heya, Lisa - If you want some seeds, I can send you some if you have a hard time getting ahold of them for some reason. Thanks for reading and commenting, Lisa! We love the D. obscura, it's sooo cool! (like you and all things Spanish!!)

      Delete
    2. Haha, thanks Tamara!!! I can get seeds of the Digitalis obscura around here, I just have to watch and see when they are ready... well...all things PNW Coast are cool for me too :)!

      Delete
  3. Stunning! I would love to do a garden like this but we get way to much rain! The Digitalis obscura is beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aaah, too much rain...well - you might still be able to, these do adapt to a variety of conditions. Either way, it is a beautiful garden. Thanks for checking it out and commenting!

      Delete
  4. Gorgeous plant palette! I'll have to add Penstemon pinifolius 'Melon' to my wishlist. I love that Erica. I wonder how it differs from Estrella Gold. Those Agave bracteosa are so beautifully grown that I may have to try them. I have a couple spots that might work...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it, Evan? The 'Melon' is a fresh color. So cool. I'm not sure how the Erica differs, check out their website, there are lots of good tidbits of info..you can also email Greg or contact them on their website, I'm sure. I'm going to try to find room for the Agaves too, for sure.

      Delete
  5. Oh, thank you for documenting your visit! I love that little Erodium chrys. too with the sulfur yellow flwrs. The scale and rhythm of the plantings are wonderful. More, please!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Denise! The Erodium is so tough and so sweet at the same time and can handle whatever you throw at it. I will give you more, you bet! Next week, to be sure :)

      Delete
  6. Your picture-taking couldn't have been timed better - the photos pick up the glow of the evening sun. I love that Hebe and have just added it to my wish list for fall planting. The Leptospermum is calling me too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, we all got super lucky with the gorgeous back lighting. The hebe is on my list, now that I have a few days off I"m going shopping at Xera...not that I have any room for anything but that never stopped me before! Glad you have a few new plants to try out, let us know how they do for you.

      Delete
  7. What a first rate front garden ! It has all those mound-y shapes I love with occasional pointiness for emphasis. Can't wait to see the back !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it a stunner? The back is silvery and so lovely, I'll post next week. Stay tuned!

      Delete
  8. Thank you for sharing your visit, love the casual yet well composed waterwise planting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so welcome! That's a good description, casual and well-composed....exactly!

      Delete
  9. I'm so glad you got to see Greg's garden, I was sad to miss the gathering but happy to have gotten to see it last year. What a beautiful garden it is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! Me too! I missed the last one but not this time, no way!

      Delete
  10. You beautifully captured the essence of the garden. It's a wonderful garden and I love seeing something so drastically different than my water sucking, high maintenance garden. Sorry we didn't get to chat more! I was having such a good time in the back garden, I missed out on all the plant talk with Greg out front!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Matthew! It is so gorgeous, just wow. I am sorry we didn't get to visit more, but I'm sure you had fun back there where the REAL party was :)

      Delete
  11. ooh, great tour, T! I bet that place looks great year round too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point, Fifi...very good point! I think I'll have to do a few winter time drive-by photo shoots and see :) Wanna join me??

      Delete
  12. This garden reminds me of my childhood in southern Oregon. In summer it was dry and the plants grew between the rocks on the river's shore. There is something really enchanting about its simplicity. I can't wait to see the backyard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really? That's interesting. It is enchanting, Grace - that's a very good description. Back garden to come next week!

      Delete
  13. What an awesome invite and an amazing garden!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! Both were pretty awesome...!

      Delete
  14. It is such a beautiful garden, and you captured it so well, T! And thank you for adding all the plant names. Honestly, I only had a half-baked guess for so many of them, so feeling much more educated now. :) Now that I know what it is - hat little Halmium is adorable!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aaaw, thanks Anna - YOUR photos are amazing...people, if you have a chance go to flutterandhum.wordpress.com and check out Anna's post - amazing pics, Anna....you are the best! Well, as far as I.D.ing the plants, I just had a bit more time and no kids, that's all! That Halmium is great, isn't it?

      Delete
  15. Great photos and garden desing Congratulations

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous2:38 PM PDT

    I was unable to find a contact e-mail for you. Would you be interested in a guest blogging opportunity with Gardening Know How? If so, please e-mail me (shelley AT gardeningknowhow.com) for details. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  17. It was wondering if I could use this write-up on my other website, I will link it back to your website though.Great Thanks. komposit

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rami, my apologies, this comment escaped me. Of course you can link it to your website, thank you for thinking of me and for asking! :)

      Delete

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