Thursday, June 18, 2015

Xera Plants: The Silver Garden

Last week we looked at the front garden of Greg Shepherd, co-owner of Xera Plants, with promises of tours of the back garden this week. In contrast to the glowing warm tones of Penstemon pinifolius 'Melon' and sunny Halmium ocymoides 'Susan', Greg has made this back garden a shimmering silver wonderland. Let us take that tour and visit a few of the plants that really caught my eye.

Stipa barbata was placed throughout. It became the magic icing on the cake that tied the whole thing together and made me want to run out and purchase about 10 of these plants and tuck them in all over the garden. Its wispy arms floated on air tickling the other plants, adding a bit of drama.


The bronze, grass-like plant in the foreground right is Arthropodium candidum 'Purpureum' or New Zealand rock lily. It's a sweet little grass-like ground cover that sports small white flowers and reseeds politely. The white-flowered plant in the background is Dicentra formosa ‘Langtrees', which I adore, a native woodland (or can take sun) little plant.


Now here's a study in drought-tolerant beauty. Between the rosemary and the hebes in the back there are a dozen incredible plants. The simplicity of design works - the large pavers are very effective here against a backdrop of silver plants. The ground cover of gravel echoes the plant colors too, creating continuity and harmony. Many plants throughout both the front and back are repeated - this also creates continuity.


What decent Portland garden would be without kale, I ask you?


The veggie patch with onions, asparagus and kale.


Hebe 'Quicksilver' (a favorite of mine) in the lower foreground, I believe Ozothamnus hookeri 'Sussex Silver', the large shrub on the right.


Leptospermum humifusum (rupestre) 'Squiggly' again. This is also in the front garden.


Potenilla gelida

From Xera's website:  WOW! Spectacular foliage. An herbaceous Potentilla from the Himalaya with shockingly silver pinnate leaves. Forms a rosette to 2' wide and in mid summer silvery spires of deep yellow flowers. It is for the foliage though that this plant shines. Literally. Full sun that is well drained, summer water. Best where you can see the entire rosette of leaves. Deciduous. Wonderful in drifts. Excellent with Molinia caerulea 'Variegata'. Thanks, Dan




I asked Greg which Eryngium this was; I had it all wrong. It's an artichoke. And gorgeous. Cynara baetica ssp. maroccana.


Pachystegia insignis.


Here's Eryngium giganteum.

Artemisia canescens on the right, artichoke again on the left. 

Here's what Xera's website says about it:
A superb foliage plant for dry sunny areas, this Artemesia from Iran mixes very well with other perennials. Intricate foliage forms a gray haze on an evergreen dome shaped plant to 14" tall and 20" wide. Full sun and well drained soil. May be cut back to the base in early spring to refresh. Occasional summer water, but not soggy. Excellent on slopes with such plants as Zauschneria and hardy Geraniums.


Even the weathered wood of the fence echoes the colors in the garden. It reminds me of the colors and breezes at the coast, the weathered wood, the waves of grasses...


Arctostaphylos, a stump, and some pavers.


Asparagus fronds in the evening light.


Artemesia canescens on the right.


Stipa barbata

Here's what Xera's website says about the grass:
Everything that you could ask for in a grass, grace, beauty and fantastic form
this is sure to become a garden classic. Long smokey tails become the inflorescence on this beautiful plant. Tightly clumping and somewhat sparse
growing at the base its true beauty is in bloom when wiry stems display
long silken trailing tails up to 18” LONG! They wave and gently sway in the finest breath of a breeze. Their constant motion is mesmerizing in a garden. As the flowers mature they slowly twist in an effort to mature and then eventually take flight and literally wind themselves into the ground. Unfortunately, they rarely germinate (damn!) This deserves a place in EVERY garden in full sun and well drained soil. Tolerant of great drought when established. Blooms appear in June and are effective through early August. Spectacular and rare unfortunately.



I leave you with a parting shot of the beautiful Stipa barbata, for that is the signature plant that left its impression on my wine-filled mind as I left Greg and Christian's incredible garden.

I took away a lot of impressions from this garden, the golden glow of the shrubs out front and the wispy silvers of the private back garden. Both have such personality and beauty in a xeric setting. When it comes time for me to design new gardens for myself I am going to definitely revisit these ideas that Greg, an incredibly experienced and knowledgeable plantsman, has put into play in his own garden of exceptional beauty and serenity.

I thank him and Christian again for opening their home and garden to a bunch of plant nuts on a hot Sunday afternoon, it was a delight and I look forward to the next visit. I think it's time to visit Xera's retail shop once again, even if I have no room left in my own garden!

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens, as always, thank you for reading and happy gardening!

17 comments :

  1. An extra-ordinary beautiful garden. I think that Artichoke specie is a pretty one and so many different wonderful grasses.

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    1. Yes, it is extra-ordinary Janneke. That artichoke is amazing, I hope Greg will propagate many of those, I think they are some of the super stars of the garden.

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  2. Those artichokes look like tillandsias mounted on spikes, cool!!

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    1. Aren't they the MOST? Good description! I love it!

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  3. Gorgeous post. I love seeing a garden through your artistic eyes. I'm buying a couple of those Stipa barbata when he brings them to the shop next month. So amazing.

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    1. Thank you Laura - coming from you that's saying something as YOURS are the best photos around, hands down! :) I want a couple of those Stipas too - Greg.....are you out there? :) We'll take twelve!

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  4. Really great, and you've convinced me that I need to try some of that Stipa!

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    1. Oooh, great! I just went down to Xera yesterday and asked Greg to hold a few for me when they come in...yay! It's such a cool grass....

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  5. I found a couple of that stipa local and can't wait to see them bloom. So many wonderful plants (that cynara!)

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    1. Great! Oh, that Cynara is incredible, isn't it? Everything is very well-chosen here for not only incredible beauty but drought tolerance too.

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  6. That Stipa certainly is cool and drool-worthy, and the artichoke is fab too. I'm so glad to hear that you misidentified it, I do stuff like that all the time and always feel like such an idiot after. Nice to know I'm not the only one.

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    1. Oh, Alison, if you only knew :) I too do silly things like that all the time, I"m always getting plant names swapped around....**sigh** I guess I'm not a walking encyclopedia. Oh well, we still love the plants, though which is what counts!

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  7. Wow wow, wow. What a garden. The Potenilla gelida! The Artemesia! The Artichoke!

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  8. Hebe 'Quicksilver' is a favorite of mine, too. That stipa is pretty fantastic! And that artichoke! Wow!

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  9. Biiiiiig fan of your garden, really starting to come along. :)

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  10. It took me some time to find the perfect moment to read this great and interesting post. I love the idea of a silver garden...there are several species I really like, but what I enjoyed the most was the sight of Stipa barbata, native to where I live in Spain too...I've always thought it is wonderful for the garden, and Greg´s garden proves it!

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  11. I bought Stipa barbata last year. It didn't do much. This year, however it is amazing this year. And you know what that means. I want ten more. :) Great post.

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