Articles in Category: Shade Plants

Helleborus orientalis

on Friday, 27 December 2019. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Lenten Rose

Hellebore 1

Hellebores, also known as Lenten Roses, are one of those perennials you didn't know you needed - until you see them blooming their hearts out during the dull gray months of late winter and early spring. They bring a smile every single time. And humans aren’t the only ones happy to see them. Hellebores are really popular with a variety of bees; providing them with both nectar and pollen at a time when few other plants are in bloom.

 

Hellebore 2Hellebores can be found in shades including pink, purple, cream, white, yellow, chartreus - even a deep purple-black! Their long-lasting blooms rise 12"-18"above robust, dark green foliage and have a nodding habit that is best appreciated massed in the foreground of a garden or viewed from below. Plants bloom for several months, and also make great cut flowers.

 

Green helleboreEven when they aren't blooming, Hellebore’s dramatic, divided leaves provide a nice contrast to daintier ferns and ornamental grasses. Like most evergreen perennials, if their leaves become older and battered-looking, it's best to cut them back completely and let fresh, new leaves flush out. Plants tolerate dry conditions once established, and do best in partial shade: think east exposure, or under the dappled light of larger trees and shrubs. 

 They look especially good as a mass groundcover under a specimen tree. Give them good organic soil with new mulch added each year and they will reward you with easy-care flowers and sculptural leaves for many years to come.  

 

White helleboreHellebores also do well in containers, and make a great addition to a shady porch potted arrangement with black mondo grass, Compact Mahonia, Heucheras, Ferns, and other shade lovers. They're also deer resistant - a real plus here in the Rogue Valley. Be aware, though: Hellebores are poisonous to humans and animals, so be careful when placing them near children's activity areas or dog runs.

 

Black helleboreIf you're looking to brighten up your winter garden this year, come on by the nursery and take a look at our Hellebores. They're a delightful reminder that spring is on the way!

Heaths and Heathers

on Thursday, 21 November 2019. Posted in Winter Interest, Evergreen, Fall Color, Shade Plants, Deer Resistant, Shrubs

Heaths and Heathers

EricaHeaths and Heathers are two closely-related evergreen shrubs that are great additions to the shade or partial shade garden. 

Heaths (Erica sp., see photo to the left) have needle-like leaves and bloom during the winter, a welcome sight during those cold, gray months! Plants are low growing - generally from 6" to 15" tall by 2' wide - and have flowers in shades of white, pink, and purple. Heaths can tolerate full sun, but are also happy in partial sun. 

CallunaHeathers (Calluna sp., see photo to the right), on the other hand, have scale-like leaves and bloom from summer through the fall. They get a bit larger than Heaths; generally growing from 1' to 2' tall by up to 3' wide. Flowers are also various shades of white, pink, and purple. Heathers do best in part-sun, and can be a little fussy about watering (they don't like being over-watered or under-watered).

Both Heaths and Heathers prefer well-drained soils, and are relatively deer-resistant and undemanding. As an extra bonus, many varieties of Heath and Heather have foliage that colors up nicely in fall weather, in shades ranging from copper to orange to red. If you plant a mixture of the two, you'll end up with something in bloom for most of the year - along with some great fall color!

Ribes odoratum 'Crandall'

on Wednesday, 27 February 2019. Posted in Berries Attract Wildlife, Fragrant Blooms, Attracts Pollinators, Fall Color, Shade Plants, Edible, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

'Crandall' Blackcurrant

CrandallHere is a stellar plant that is beautiful, fragrant, and delicious - as well as being good for the birds! 

'Crandall' Blackcurrant is woefully under-utilized, perhaps people haven't eaten a currant before or not visited the nursery when they are in bloom. But come visit in April and you will see a drift of them planted in part shade in our drought tolerant display garden; handily close enough to the rock pile for little hands to pick the fruit when they ripen in summer and beckoning you for a closer look with their clove scented, yellow blooms.

Appealing to hummingbirds and butterflies, the flowers develop into black, round fruit that are tart/sweet with a more mild currant flavor and especially high in Vitamin C. My daughter loves to pick them fresh but they can be made into preserves or baked goods or dried. The cool weather and shorter days of fall bring out gorgeous red foliage color, too.

Most currants would appreciate a spot out of extreme heat but will tolerate full sun with good water. Part shade or morning sun is ideal. They will get 4-5' tall and wide, and bear fruit on second-year growth. Currants can be drought tolerant once established and do best in a well-draining but compost-rich soil. They can be a great addition to a mixed use garden - full of edible and ornamental power!

Hydrangea quercifolia

on Monday, 03 October 2016. Posted in Winter Interest, Showy Bark/Stems, Fall Color, Shade Plants, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Oakleaf Hydrangea

hydrangea-quercifolia

Oakleaf hydrangea offers a lot more four-season interest than its showier mophead cousins, and can be considered deer resistant due to its courser leaves. In its native habitat as an understory shrub, it would appreciate protection from afternoon sun and is happiest growing under trees in dappled light or strong morning light.

hydrangea quercifolia fall colorA great choice for a woodland garden or dry shade, the oakleaf hydrangea grows from multiple shoots and can form a colony that gets around 6' tall and wide. There are many smaller cultivars available that can easily can be pruned to the ground in spring to keep it 3' by 3'. Its cone shaped clusters of white flowers differentiate it from the ball shaped flowering hydrangeas, as well as its brilliant burgundy fall color.

The flowers begin in July; lasting for months and are even pretty when dried. The autumn changes the large, oakleaf shaped leaves into shades of red, burgundy, plum and orange. The cinnamon-colored bark shows off in winter as it peels in thin flakes.  It can be drought tolerant once established but will make more flowers if kept well watered through the summer and keep it well mulched. Please test its deer resistance in your neighborhood before you make a hedge out it- it may be more deer resistant in certain areas.  Let us know!

Mahonia species

on Monday, 30 November 2015. Posted in Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Native, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Deer Resistant, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Oregon Grape

mahonia_compacta

Being a local native plant, Mahonias can take both our winter wet and summer dry, and can be very drought tolerant once established. Their thick leathery leaves and spiny edges also make them unpalatable to deer.

Most species of Oregon Grape are evergreen, but still turn a rainbow of colors in the fall and winter giving them more interest than the average evergreen shrub. Spikes of cheerful yellow, fragrant flowers emerge early in spring and turn to blue-black fruit that are edible but more appealing to birds than humans. Most varieties spread via underground runners and make a nice colony, so best to give them room to shine and do their thing! 

The ones we use the most in the Rogue Valley are:

Mahonia flowerMahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grape) - This is the taller species of the native Oregon Grape, getting to 6' or more and spreading by underground runners. They look best as a mass planting in a native woodland situation and perform best in shade, but will take some sun. Can be pruned hard if getting too leggy and will quickly fill in. Is resistant to oak root fungus so good choice under native oaks, as it also doesn't need much water. 

Mahonia aquifolium 'Compacta' (Compact Oregon Grape) - Pictured above left. This variety will stay about 2' tall  and makes a nice, broad colony. New foliage is glossy and becomes matte with age. This plant always looks good, staying full to the ground and cheering up the dark days of winter with its bronzy red winter color.

Mahonia repensMahonia repens (Creeping Mahonia) - This native has a spreading habit and will get about 2-3' tall.  It will tolerate more sun the the taller Oregon Grape as well as part shade and is very drought tolerant. It's leaves are usually more matte than the upright Mahonia but get the same yellow flowers and blue fruit. Great choice for mass groundcover or under oaks.

Mahonia nervosaMahonia nervosa (Longleaf Mahonia) -This Mahonia is a little more particular than the others, requiring more shade but still drought tolerant.  The leaves are more stiffly upright and bit longer.  Makes a nice low shrub or groundcover - around 2' tall - for a shady, woodland garden.