Articles in Category: Winter Interest

Calamagrostis brachytricha

on Monday, 03 May 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Deer Resistant, Grasses

Korean Feather Reed Grass

Calamagrostis2 edAnyone who’s ever visited Shooting Star Nursery knows how much we love our ornamental grasses, and this week we are highlighting one of our favorites that is (undeservedly!) less well-known than some of its flashier relatives like Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’. 

Calamagrostis brachytricha – also known as Korean Feather Reed Grass – is a truly lovely ornamental grass. Plants reach about 3’ tall and 2’ wide at maturity, and are topped with foot-long feathery pink inflorescences in late summer. These blooms last on the plant throughout the winter, and also will hold up nicely in cut flower arrangements.

Korean Feather Reed Grass prefers a bit of afternoon and moderate watering in order to look its best, and will also tolerate clay soils. It’s also fairly deer resistant, and wintering birds will enjoy eating the seeds (which are sterile, so they won’t spread throughout your garden).

Like most other ornamental grasses, Korean Feather Reed Grass is lovely on its own, but it really shines when you combine it with other plants – especially fall-blooming perennials like Asters, Solidago, and Rudbeckia. It works beautifully in a mixed border, alongside a water feature, or even just softening the sharp edges of a building. For a real visual treat, plant it where it can be backlit – either by the morning sun catching the droplets of dew, or by the afternoon sun enhancing the rosy glow of the bloom.

During the winter months, the inflorescences turn a tawny gold; providing a nice visual interest in the winter garden – especially when frost crystals cover the inflorescences on a crisp January morning. Leave these blooms on throughout the winter, and cut the plant back to a few inches tall in early spring once the new growth begins to appear.

Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Rotundifolius'

on Wednesday, 28 April 2021. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Evergreen, Shrubs, Flowering Plants

Rounded Hollyleaf Osmanthus (False Holly)

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This is one evergreen shrub that looks great all year round. No leaf spot, no diseases or weird pests, no old brown leaves - just glossy, thick leaves that start out light green and darken to a beautiful holly-like blue green.

The Rounded Hollyleaf Osmanthus is very easy to grow and seems to be happy in any location. We have one planted on the east, west, and north sides of buildings and all seem to be thriving. It wouldn't necessarily be our first choice for a hot spot against a south wall, but they do seem to acclimate to where they are placed and will even tolerate clay soil.

Rounded Hollyleaf Osmanthus will be more drought tolerant in a shadier location, but our established ones are rudely ignored and haven't complained. A thick mulch layer will help any evergreen shrub - or any plant for that matter - retain moisture and withstand the changes in temperature. This variety of Osmanthus is hardy to Zone 6 and has shown no winter damage through Rogue Valley winters. Like most Osmanthus it produces small, white, fragrant flowers, typically in the fall.

Rounded Hollyleaf Osmanthus will get about 4'x4', but can be pruned a bit tighter. It is not fast growing but puts on steady growth each year and won't overrun it's location. It is a great foundation plant or background for showier perennials. If the spines of Hollies are not your favorite this could be a good substitute since the rounded leaves only have slight spines - nothing to cause damage to the pruning gardener.

It can be deer resistant once established since it has thick, leathery leaves. But in heavy deer country it can have a hard time getting settled if the deer constantly eat the new growth. So cage it until it can get big enough to withstand the occasional deer browsing or test it out first - it seems to depend on the deer population on this one. 

Veronica 'Georgia Blue'

on Friday, 02 April 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Perennial, Ground Cover, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Georgia Blue Speedwell

Veronica Georgia BlueThis modest little groundcover happens to be one of our most popular perennials! Veronica ‘Georgia Blue’ adds a generous splash of rich cobalt blue to the edge of any garden or container planting.  

Dainty deep blue flowers with white eyes begin blooming as early as February and are heaviest in April. If you deadhead plants once the first flush of bloom is finished, you can easily extend their flowering season into early summer. The flowers are also attractive to a variety of pollinators including butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

Besides the blooms, the best part about 'Georgia Blue' is that it remains evergreen; with leaves turning lovely shades of burgundy in the colder weather. 'Georgia Blue' is a great companion to early spring bulbs - especially daffodils and species tulips - and can mask the untidy foliage bulbs leave behind as they fade.

Georgia Blue smThis Veronica is a great choice for spilling over the edges of walls or out of containers, or as a densely massed groundcover. Plants will get about 6" tall and spread between 12-24" wide. 'Georgia Blue' will tolerate full sun to part shade and can even take a little drought; but looks best with moderate water and good mulch.

'Georgia Blue' has proven deer resistant in some gardens (Jacksonville, Applegate Valley) in the Rogue Valley but not others (Griffin Creek area of Medford), so try it out first. It looks great planted next to purple toned Euphorbia, Black Mondo Grass, Mahonias, and other broader leaved shrubs and perennials, or as a fill between stepping stones – as you can see in Shooting Star’s Demonstration garden.

Shooting Star also regularly carries these other Veronicas:

Veronica WhitewaterVeronica ‘Waterperry’ and Veronica ‘Whitewater’ both have similar growth habits to ‘Georgia Blue’. ‘Waterperry’ is a softer, lighter blue than ‘Georgia Blue’ and ‘Whitewater’, as the name suggests, is a lovely clear white.

veronica pectinataVeronica pectinata: Also known as Woolly Veronica, this Veronica is more drought-tolerant than the others and is also lower growing (to about 2”).

Taxus media, 'Hick's Yew'

on Tuesday, 26 January 2021. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Evergreen, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

1/26/21

taxusHicksiiHicksYew

Hick's Yew is a distinctive shrub with a lot of character. When compared to other evergreen trees or shrubs used for privacy screening, its long, graceful, upright branches covered with lush, petite, glossy, dark evergreen foliage make it an easy maintenance plant for narrow spaces

Its resilience as a popular choice for a privacy screen is because of its dense, columnar growth that responds exceptionally well to heavy shearing or pruning by becoming denser. It is a slow grower at about 12” per year in ideal conditions, reaching a moderate height of about 10-20 taxusHicksYewBerries2feet tall and 3-6 feet wide. 

For added interest, Hick’s Yew produces red berries in the fall that can be toxic if ingested. If you are in need of seedless variety, then the male ‘H.M. Eddie’ is a good alternate. It grows a little slower reaching 10-15 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide.

'Hick’s' and 'H.M. Eddie' yews are equally happy in full sun or full shade. So whether you live in hot and bright, or cool and shady climates and locations, you are bound to have success. Yews can tolerate a wide range of soils but do best in a well-draining area. To help encourage robust and healthy root growth, make sure it is adequately watered for at least the first few months after planting.

Adding a few inches of leaf or wood chip mulch will help insulate the roots from extreme winter and summer temperatures, and retain moisture throughout the year. Once established, they are drought tolerant but will grow best when it is watered after the soil has been allowed to dry out.