Friday, July 22, 2016

Plant Shopping at Xera

Gardeners in the Portland area are blessed with an abundance of incredible nurseries and plant choices. Even I who work in a nursery get such joy from visiting other nurseries and, well, it gets me out of the house so to speak. Xera Plants is my favorite, hands down. On a trip to Portland this week, I made a little extra time to visit and pick up a few plants. Join me as we revisit this wonderful small retail nursery in the heart of Portland.


As many of you know, Xera is known for climate appropriate plants for the Pacific Northwest. They have a large wholesale operation outside of Portland and for the longest time, only sold wholesale. Lucky for us they have a retail shop, albeit small but packed with plants, in Southeast Portland. They do have a few semi-tender plants that are of great interest and worthy of bringing in the garage over the winter.


The shop is the former home of a gas station, I believe.


There are hundreds of plant choices here. Xera grows perennials, shrubs, grasses, succulents, vines, trees, ferns, shade garden and sun plants. They do it well, too. Every plant I have ever purchased from them (probably in the hundreds, no exaggeration) has been in wonderful shape. Great root development and never root-bound. Just a dream for a gardener to pop a plant out of its container and see beautiful roots waiting to get into the ground.



Sweet vignettes are particularly effective in this small space. It gives ideas for the small urban garden.




When I think of particular plants such as crape myrtle, I think of Xera. They have a few genera that they specialize in of which this is one. Additionally they have introduced many of their own varieties of this and other plants as they wish to consistently offer the best plants available.


Passaflora 'Damsel's Delight'


Fuzzy silver leaves of Potentilla gelida. This sweet plant will have a home in my garden at some point, but I am busy getting shrubs into the ground first so will wait a while for this small charming accent.


West Coast native plants are a key feature at Xera. They have many perennials, shrubs, grasses, groundcovers in their native plants section. I have purchased many. They also have some especially lovely cultivars.


Frangula (Rhamnus) californica 'Eve Case', a plant fairly new to me. A West Coast native coffee berry. I have a low-growing form planted at the new garden, these are more upright at 6 - 8 feet high and wide. A lovely evergreen plant that produces berries for wildlife. Handles dry or wet, easy, drought tolerant shrub.


Here is Frangula californica 'Leather Leaf', looking more like a small rhododendron with the added benefit of hosting many beneficial insects. This one also gets about 8 feet high and wide.


Arbutus menziesii, our native madrone. What a wonderful tree with a reputation for being difficult to propagate and grow in the garden. I lost one I planted this spring, so can attest to its difficulty. These, however, look incredibly healthy so I have hope I will successfully grow one someday. It is arguably one of the most attractive trees out there with smooth rusty colored bark that exfoliates and evergreen attractive leaves. It grows to 50 - 100 feet tall, so not for every situation. If you have the space and right conditions for this, it is a stunning tree that also supports beneficial wildlife.


Here some California fuchsia (Zauschneria spp), Juncus effusus and Geum triflorum adorn the natives table.


Moving on to other plants besides natives. Agastache in one of the permanent containers. It has seeded beyond the fence of the property on to the sidewalk to lovely effect. Wonderful.


Abutilon 'Gingerbomb' with its alluring translucent petals. Oh, how I want this but these are likely not hardy for me as I'm slightly colder in Saint Helens. A Xera plants introduction.


In the shade plant section is a lovely planting of appropriate plants. Loree from Danger Garden blogged about this area when Xera opened some three years ago and mentioned watching it fill in over time. It has done so very nicely. You can revisit her post about that here.


Hellebores and Loniceras...oh my! Looking amazing.




Yes, I would say it has filled in beautifully.


Here's a conversation starter, a sedum tree - Sedum oxypetalum, only hardy to zone 9b so must be protected. Oh, how I'd adore having this plant.



A lovely oxalis, Oxalis vulcanicola 'Copper Glow', an annual foliage plant great for container gardening. To 5" tall and spreading.


Oh, Albizia tree, your leaves make me hungry. Wait, what?


Chocolate. So rich.


Bottlebrush or callistemons are another Xera specialty. These evergreen Australian shrubs are great for our climate, too. A variety of sizes and bloom color, the flowers are bottlebrush shaped, ideal for hummingbirds. I have a few in my garden and they add wonderful textural evergreen elements.



This Tetrapanax is doing its thing in the shady corner.


Hardy Fuchsia 'California', a somewhat unexpected plant to find at Xera but they really embrace a wide variety of genera. It is lovely and with proper planting, hardy for us.

Crape myrtle, grasses, oh my. Greg mentioned that they will likely be replanted. What a display, though!


The shade area has many choice grasses, I have most of these I think.


A lovely colored salvia caught my eye, Salvia 'Silke's Dream', hardy to zone 7b.


Mahonia 'Charity'.




Another specialty, manzanita or Arctostaphylos. I have blogged about them before, Xera is THE best place to go for a variety of species and cultivars. I have purchased probably 15 from them over the years, one of my top 10 plants of all time. Oh, and did I mention they are native to the West Coast and evergreen? With prostrate and huge upright forms and everything in between, if you can give great drainage and sunshine, there is one for you if you live on the West Coast.


Oh, perennials, sedums, agaves....such eye candy.




Bloom of my favorite hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia - this one is Sike's Dwarf, hardy to zone 5a.


Eucomis or pineapple lily. These always remind me of Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons when their little top hats fill in.


I did not go there to just drool, after all I have a new garden to plant, right? Here is my haul, well - to be accurate part 2 of my haul as I was also out there last week and purchased a flat of Festuca rubra 'Patrick's Point' per Greg's recommendation and I love it. I needed a few more, plus an Olearia lineata 'Dartonii' which I forgot to actually put in my car last week, a couple hebes, manzanitas and ceanothus. Oh, let the planting begin continue.


Thank you Greg and Paul! Happy gardening to you, too! Thank you for being there and, well, you make me a happy gardener.

That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you for reading and until next time, happy gardening!


24 comments :

  1. All that and a sale starting next week! Be still my heart...

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    1. Really? Maybe a third trip is in order!

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  2. I really need to drive up to Portland with a few hundred dollars in my pocket. Oh the joy!!

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    1. Yes, yes you do :) And let us all know when you plan on coming up so we can all go together!

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  3. You really do live in a very nursery-rich environment! That Sedum oxypetalum is now on my wish list. Why have I never seen it here?!

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    1. Yes I do, Kris - very spoiled that way. The sedum is amazing - yes, seek it out, my photo does not do it justice.

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  4. I think I've mentioned that my mom lives within walking distance of there. Yet, somehow, I haven't been yet this year. Your post has definitely made me want to visit, stat.

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  5. A wonderful nursery, excellent array of plants, looking very well grown. Thank you for the tour!

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    1. All amazing plants, all so healthy. You are so welcome!

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  6. Have been thinking I need to make it down there this weekend. Now you've REALLY made me want to go!

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    1. Yes, Miss Anna, you need to go.

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  7. Thanks for the fun tour, TamarašŸ’š. Motivating me to get out there again ASAP!

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  8. Just when I think I've sworn off abutilon forever, and I remember Potentilla gelida well from the Fling. The Dry Garden in Berkeley was also formerly a gas station. The lot size and layout seems to work nicely with an urban nursery.

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    1. Oh, I know. That Abutilon is yummy. SOOOO subtle and gorgeous, blends with all kinds of colors.

      Funny about the gas station aspect - it's small but it works so perfectly. There are actually more plant choices in this small space than many of the larger nurseries. Interesting...

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  9. This place always has so much cool stuff! Thanks for the virtual visit - can't wait to visit again myself.

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    1. You are so welcome, Peter :) When you come out next (with Alison??) let us know, maybe we can rendez-vous at Xera and then lunch.

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  10. I really enjoyed that visit to the nursery. I particularly love the Gingerbomb Abutilon. I'd have to keep it in the greenhouse over winter. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Oh, that Gingerbomb! Yes, it's worthy of a greenhouse if you have one. It's divine.

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  11. You give new meaning to the term "busman's holiday". We really are addicts, aren't we?

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    1. Ricki we need a support therapy group. I'll go if you go with me.

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  12. Thank you for showing us around in this wonderful American plant nursery. Sigh....I saw so many lovely plants, for instance the chocolate Albizia or the orange Agastache....

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    1. Oh, you are so welcome! :) You have such wonderful plants too, just a different selection I imagine in The Netherlands? The Albizia is gorgeous and oh, that Agastache too. Xera grows them both so well.

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