Articles in Category: Winter Interest

Ginkgo biloba

on Monday, 20 September 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Showy Bark/Stems, Fall Color, Trees

Maidenhair Tree

Autumn goldWhen most people think of fall color, their minds immediately go to the bright scarlets of maples and oaks. But we’re guessing that’s probably just because they’ve never seen a Ginkgo tree in its full fall color.

Ginkgos – or Maidenhair Trees - turn a rich, buttery gold in fall. They’re especially stunning when planted against a backdrop of dark green conifers. When the leaves finally do drop, they tend to do so all at once, forming a brilliant golden carpet around the base of the tree. They’re also tolerant of air pollution and a wide variety of soil types; making them valuable as a tough, long-lived street tree that works well in both urban or rural situations.

Big ginkgoThey’re also one of the oldest tree species in the world. Ginkgo leaves have been found in fossils that date back to over 250 million years ago, which means they were around when dinosaurs still walked the earth!

Ginkgos tend to be a long-lived, low-maintenance tree. They like at least a half-day sun, but will do fine in full sun as well. Once established. Trees do fine with deep, infrequent watering. Young trees tend to be slow growing, but once established they can put on 1-2’/year

We regularly carry the following varieties of Ginkgo here at Shooting Star Nursery:

Autumn Gold – Broadly pyramidal, 45’ by 35’. Angular, linear branches

Golden Colonnade – 45’x 25’, narrow, oval shape

Princeton Sentry – The most tightly columnar of the group – 40’ x 15’. Stiffly upright, narrow, pyramidal shape

The President - A big, glorious tree - 50' tall by 40' wide; broadly pyramidal to oval in shape.

Pennisetum orientale 'Karley Rose'

on Wednesday, 25 August 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Karley Rose Oriental Fountain Grass

Karley Rose edAn easy to grow, soft textured fountain grass, Pennisetum 'Karley Rose' will give you months of light pink blooms that are great for floral arrangements and beautiful accents in the garden, but aren't attractive to deer.

This Pennisetum is more cold hardy than the straight species (Pennisetum orientale) and blooms earlier than other varieties like 'Hamelyn'. The rose-pink blooms appear in early summer and continue on until frost. Once the blades and blooms dry out to an autumnal tan, the silhouette remains pretty in the frost of winter. Cut this grass back in early spring, as new growth begins to emerge. Aside from that, there is no special care for this drought tolerant, deer resistant grass.

When in bloom, 'Karley Rose' tops out at about 3' tall and 24-30" wide. ‘Karley Rose’ is easy to divide, to create a graceful, massed effect in your garden. It looks great backlit by early morning or late afternoon sun and pairs nicely with Sedums, Echinaceas and other large-flowered perennials. Full sun or light shade and well-draining soil is best – the one thing ‘Karley Rose’ doesn't like is wet, boggy soil.

Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition'

on Monday, 02 August 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Fall Color, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Drought Tolerant

'Blonde Ambition' Blue Grama Grass

Bouteloua1 edThis North American native prairie grass cultivar is a true performer. Many ornamental grasses don't start blooming until late summer, but ‘Blonde Ambition’ starts flowering in early summer and its blonde, horizontal, eyelash-like blooms persist well into winter. 

Bouteloua detail edAnyone who has visited Shooting Star Nursery knows that we love our ornamental grasses, and Bouteloua ‘Blonde Ambition’ remains one of our very favorites. Its narrow blue-green leaves would be reason enough to like it, but what really makes this grass stand out is its flowers, which start out chartreuse colored and fade to a lovely blonde shade.

It performs well in various garden locations, from well-drained clay to drier sandy soils. At a super useful size of 2-1/2'-3' tall to 3' wide, you can plant it en masse, or use it as a single specimen to contrast with flowering perennials. We like to plant it with other sturdy perennials like Agastache, Eupatorium, Echinacea, and Nepeta. It also combines well in mass plantings with other native grasses like Sporobolus, Schizachyrium, and Muhlenbergia.

 ‘Blonde Ambition’ is very cold hardy and is quite drought tolerant, but can also handle regular watering. Like most ornamental grasses, it is deer resistant and wintering songbirds enjoy eating the seedheads. We like to leave it up all winter as the stiff stems can hold up to snow and provide interest and texture in the winter garden. In early spring, when you see new growth emerging, you can cut back the old stems to about 3" above the soil line and scratch out any old growth. Bouteloua is also reported to tolerate being near Walnut trees, where most plants cannot thrive.

Amelanchier

on Wednesday, 16 June 2021. Posted in Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Fall Color, Edible, Trees, Shrubs

Serviceberry or Juneberry

Amelanchier Autumn Brilliance flower

For those of you who are not already familiar with Amelanchiers - aka: Serviceberry, Juneberry, Saskatoon (they have a LOT of common names), let this serve as an introduction to what might well become your new favorite shrub/small tree!

Serviceberries are one of those rare plants that provide year-round interest here in the Rogue Valley. In the spring, this charming member of the Rose family is covered by clouds of white flowers that are a big favorite with pollinators.

Summer brings truly delicious blue-black berries (hence the name Juneberry) that taste like a cross between a blueberry and an apple, and are as popular with birds as they are with humans.

The fall color of Serviceberries – especially ‘Autumn Brilliance’ – rivals maples for color and intensity. And even when they drop their leaves, the branching pattern of Serviceberries provides nice visual interest in the winter garden.

They’re also relatively carefree and easy to grow, and do well in full sun to light shade with average water. Most Serviceberries are somewhat drought-tolerant at maturity, and will only need deep watering once or twice a month during the summer.

Shooting Star Nursery regularly carries three varieties of Amelanchier:

 Autumn Brilliance plant crop edit'Autumn Brilliance': We are absolutely in love with this plant! It works well as either a small single-trunked tree or large multi-trunk shrub, reaching about 15’ to 20’ tall and wide at maturity. As the name suggests, ‘Autumn Brilliance’ puts on a truly spectacular show of color in the fall. 

Spring Flurry edit‘Spring Flurry’ has more of an upright tree form (28’ tall by about 20’ wide) than Autumn Brilliance’. It has a strong, dominant central leader and is a great choice for a small street tree: low maintenance, abundant spring flowers, and nice fall color too.  is generally available in tree form. 

Our native western serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) is a bit smaller than the two cultivars listed above - generally reaching about 12' by 6' at maturity - and can be found growing right here in the Rogue Valley and surrounding areas. They bloom and fruit about a month later, are easy to care for, and are excellent wildlife-friendly plants: the berries are heavily visited by a variety of pollinators, birds love the berries, and the plants also provide nice nesting sites for songbirds.

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.