Thursday, July 27, 2017

Nursery Visit: Xera Plants

A trip to Xera Plants is always special. Working at a nursery myself one would think I would tire of looking at plants. Not so. Xera Plants, which I have written about and visited before several times, is well worth repeated visits. Xera specializes in climate-appropriate plants for our region and consistently feature an exceptional collection. I think I love every plant they sell. Recently, Facilities Manager and I were in Portland so we made it a point to come here after a dental appointment. I deserved a very good reward after a good checkup, don't you think? Especially sandwiched in between the dentist and taking The Furry Ones to the vet later that day. Oy!
OK, less talk, more tour. Here we go!

Spikes up front always catch my attention. They also grow shade plants, crape myrtles, Arctostaphylos or manzanitas, succulents, grasses, shrubs, ferns, trees, perennials.



Xera's small retail nursery is full of a huge selection of the most interesting plants we can grow here in Oregon. They are a wholesale grower too (one can find their plants for sale in many area garden centers), but my favorite plant field trip is coming here to their SE 11th and Clay location in Portland, all Xera all the time.


You can stand in the middle of their shop and spin around and see the whole site quite easily. In other words, its' small. But jewel-box small. And full of treasures. Next door is Bob Hyland's wonderful shop Contained Exuberance where you can find the perfect container for that treasure you just purchased.


This area under the roof is where one can find the shade plants. The area behind it to the right is the shade garden, planted when they opened the shop a few years ago. My how time changes plants.


Across the store on the street (sunny) side is this warm vignette. Oranges from the Agastache play off of the table and chairs.



Lots of sun shrubs, grasses, trees and perennials for sun.


If you can make out the chain-link fence, you can see it's not a very large space. No matter, there are more great plants in this small location than in many other nurseries.


The shade area has filled in nicely. All along this wall textures and surprising foliage colors are so soothing on a hot summer's day. Let's see . . . I notice Dicentra, Lonicera, Fatshedera, Hakonechloa, Begonia...


Topiaries! I think this is a passion of Paul's (one of the two owners of Xera Plants, Paul Bonine and Greg Shepherd).


A Fuchsia topiary. Who knew?


Holly leaf sweetspire or Itea illicifolia. Xera says "Beautiful evergreen shrub with 1' long fragrant tassels all summer. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. To 10' x 6' in 10 years. Light summer water. Amazing espalier subject. Good looking foliage year round. Fast growing, elegant. Zone 7b." Wow! I'm sold! Actually we already have one of these beauties in our garden and, yes, it has put on quite a bit of new growth this year.


Abutilon 'Tangerine Scream'. If I were able to grow these semi-tender plants with no fuss, I would put this in my garden pronto. My self-imposed rule is: No tender plants in the ground.


This beauty Agave 'Sharkskin Shoes' was listed as zone 7b, which I can handle, but I wasn't ready to commit quite yet after my winter of Agavecide. Maybe next year.


Dasylirion wheeleri or desert spoon. I had two of these, which I had for several years, but they too perished this past winter. Again, I'm not quite ready to repeat that again, although I do love them. When backlit they are a stunning sight.


Choice plants everywhere!


Fremontodendron or flannel bush. I bought mine here at Xera a few years ago. It's struggling along, but hopefully this is the year it will put down some serious roots and take off. A California native, this tough evergreen shrub likes no summer water and lots of sunshine.


Oh, the shade area. Yes, foliage is king in the shade garden, that is very true.


This gorgeous fern is Pyrossia, "tough evergreen ferns for the deepest shade. Good looking year-round. Light summer water, carefree plants, avoid hot sun. Great in containers or as a houseplant. From Taiwan, hardy to zone 7b."



Here's that x Fatshedera lizei, a beautiful cross between Fatsia japonica and Hedera helix or ivy. Non-invasive and upright in form, it's one of the oddest but coolest shade plants I know. I had one at the old garden and regret leaving it there. D'OH!


Eye candy...


Since working for Joy Creek Nursery, I have come to appreciate hardy fuchsias. This is my favorite of them all, Fuchsia 'Hawkshead', a clean white with small star-like flowers when you view it from a few feet away. Mine survived the winter from hell and is growing quite well, thank you very much.



Metapanax davidii, a shade tree I had not been familiar with. Pretty cool evergreen tree, I might have to pick one up next time.


Xera is known for crape myrtles. As the sign says, three reasons to love them - flowers, fantastic bark and fall color. They have, in my mind, brought crape myrtles or Lagerstroemia species to the forefront of gardening minds in Portland. Thank you, Xera. These trees are awesome. I love seeing them as street trees in Portland, they are a great alternative to many other impractical choices.



They have so many to choose from.



Another specialty of the house are manzanitas or Arctostaphylos species.


Nearly every one of mine, some 20+, have been purchased at Xera. These guys know their plants and for the Pacific Northwest, this tree/shrub cannot be beat if you have a hot dry location with great drainage. Evergreen, exfoliating bark, leaves of all shapes and flowers that bumblebees love (in February, too!) . . . and a West Coast native plant. No water on hot days, thank you very much.


Here's that amazing silver oak or Quercus hypoleucoides that I bought at Gossler Farms earlier this year. An amazing evergreen tree, this thing sparkles in the sunlight. I'm so glad to see that Xera is growing it, too. If you are not in Xera purchasing distance, you might be able to get it at Gossler as they are also a mail-order nursery.


Knipfofia 'Timothy'


Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Somerset', a form of our native Lawson's cypress, caught my eye with its bright green new foliage. Grows to 9'. Looks like a keeper to me.


Hakea microcarpa is something I have never seen before. See, this is why I love Xera. "A prehistoric Proteaceous shrub that is pure architecture . . . full sun, to 8' tall and 4' wide."



Oregon natives! They not only grow them, they grow them well and offer many cultivars. Xera Plants are champions of a great selection.


Here's a cool grass - Sesleria nitida 'Campo Azul'. Tufted moor grass, from Italy, loves full sun to light shade.


Just a general shopping scene at Xera. So many groovy plants!




Hydrangea quercifolia 'Munchkin' - a favorite shrub of Xera (and me). "Bred by the National Arboretum that is a true dwarf to just 3 x 3' in 5 years. Incredible bloomer with huge 10" white cone flowers in summer. Fall color is maroon, burgundy. Full sun to part shade, regular water. From the Southeastern part of the U.S."


Last but not least, the bottlebrushses or Callistemons. Another heat-loving, evergreen shrub. We have about four in the garden, all from Xera.

When I think of Xera, I immediately think of hardy evergreen shrubs. I think of unusual genera that I may or may not have been familiar with, and I think of the many (many!) Xera plants I have in my garden that are true stalwarts. They hold the garden, they are the big boy shrubs and amazing grasses. They are the drought-tolerant and also shady wonders. Basically, I think of die-hard but oh-so-interesting plants. I only wish that everyone had their own Xera Plants to visit. We are so very lucky here in the Portland area to call Xera our own.

If you are in Portland, they are open Thursday - Sunday on S.E. 11th and Clay. Stop by and say hello, you won't be sorry.

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






21 comments :

  1. Thanks for the visit to this amazing nursery! I haven't been yet this year but Agave 'Sharkskin Shoes' is convincing me that perhaps a trip to Portland is in order!

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    1. Oh, you need that agave, Peter! Xera never disappoints, they always have something new. A trip is in order, and stop by on your way if you can, I'll give you plants!

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  2. What a fun, little nursery. I have a similar little nursery close to me that I love to just meander through. Thanks for sharing your shopping trip.

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    1. Oh, sweet! Where are you located? Aren't the little local nurseries the best?

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  3. Posts like this are dangerous - they trigger my plant shopping itch. Summer in SoCal is NOT planting season.

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    1. Danger danger! I'm just doing my part to keep the gardening economy going ;)

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  4. I'm sorry, what was that your wrote? You have 20+ Manzanita? Seriously? Wow. Just wow.

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    1. You know, I was considering ones I purchased for the old garden too, but I counted in my head last night while falling asleep and actually I do have that many here if you count the A. uva-ursi. The big ones? About 10. I should do an Arcto post, a Callistemon post, a Ceanothus post, a Cistus post, a Hydrangea post...because for some reason, I have *many* of each of these genera. How did that happen?

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  5. I simply must get up there this year. Great post, Tamara.

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    1. Oh, yes, do go and enjoy yourself, Grace!

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  6. What is the topiary plant (the one with white flowers)?

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    1. Hmm...I'm not sure...anyone else know?

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  7. So...your Itea illicifolia is alive and well? Mine turned up its toes and since it's the third one, I am inclined to give up. What's your secret?

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    1. Yes it is, Rickii. Hmm..secret? It's in mostly sun on the edge of a shady spot, slight slope, amended soil with compost. I hadn't been watering it much but started to when I noticed a few leaves drop. It's really happy now and putting on considerable growth.

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  8. What a fabulous place to visit! Such unusual and interesting plants. Definitely worth a visit...if it was even close to local.

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    1. Oh, it is totally worth it, Rebecca. Many wonderful and unusual plants. Thanks for reading and for commenting!

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  9. Always a fun place to visit and the guys are so helpful! My go to place for arctos, kniphofia and little fun plants I didn't know I could live without.

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    1. So true, Matthew! So many plants that we all treasure.

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  10. Well, this post is the next-best thing to being there -- thank you!

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    1. You are so welcome! Glad you enjoyed it :)

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