Articles in Category: Winter Interest

Panicum virgatum

on Thursday, 01 October 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Fall Color, Deer Resistant, Grasses, Flowering Plants

Switchgrass

Echinacea and PanicumPanicum virgatum – also known as Switchgrass – is native to the tallgrass prairies of the Great Plains. Its height, texture, and stunning fall color have made it a favorite of gardeners throughout the Rogue Valley.

Switchgrass is drought tolerant and deer resistant, but will also tolerate clay soils well. Plants prefer full sun and relatively lean soil (over-fertilized plants can get floppy). Light, airy flower heads appear in mid-summer and remain attractive through the winter months; providing four-season interest in the garden.

As with all ornamental grasses here in the Rogue Valley, we recommend leaving the grasses standing through the winter (the leaves provide habitat for beneficial insects and the seeds are beloved by overwintering birds) and cut back in late winter/early spring.

We carry three different varieties of Switchgrass here at Shooting Star Nursery:

Panicum Heavy MetalHeavy Metal – Striking metallic blue-gray leaves with airy buff-pink flower heads. Plants reach 5-6’ tall by 2-3’ wide.

 

Northwind – Strong, upright growth habit; blue-green leaves turn a lovely tawny gold in the fall. Reaches 6’ by 3’. Northwind was the 2014 Perennial Plant of the Year. See photo at top of the page.

 

Panicum2cropShenandoah – During the growing season, green leaves are tipped with reddish-purple and the whole plant turns red and orange in the fall. Truly striking! 3-4’ tall by 18” wide.

Polystichum munitum

on Wednesday, 30 September 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Native, Evergreen, Shade Plants, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Western Sword Fern

Western Sword FernThe sculptural fronds of ferns provide lots of winter interest, and Western Sword Fern is one of the toughest, most drought tolerant, and easiest ferns to grow in the Rogue Valley. 

This native fern can tolerate our dry summers and wet winters and even take a little sun. It prefers to be an understory plant but established ferns in good, composty soil will tolerate quite a bit of sun. The key is to get them well established with deep waterings the first few summers and applications of yearly leaf mulch or compost mulch. Western Sword Fern has a courser texture than some more delicate ferns but that makes their fronds last longer, allowing them to be used in cut flower arrangements. The leathery, dark green fronds can be 2-4' tall depending where they are grown and can be used alone or look especially good in clumps or drifts. 

fiddleheadWe like to use Western Sword Ferns under large trees, like oaks, combined with Euphorbia purpurea, Heuchera sanguinea or the purple leafed varieties of Coral bells, Mahonia repens, and other dry shade perennials and shrubs. All ferns are deer resistant and the Western Sword Fern is no exception. They are evergreen but will look their best with an annual shearing of the oldest fronds in spring to allow the new fronds to uncurl. Leave the old, pruned fronds as a natural mulch.  Ferns are always interesting to watch throughout the seasons and Western Sword Fern makes an especially nice evergreen specimen in the shade garden.

Euphorbias

on Wednesday, 30 September 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Attracts Pollinators, Evergreen, Perennial, Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Flowering Plants

Spurges

Euphorbia-with-Allium

Another plant we love to sing the praises of: evergreen, usually compact, deer resistant and drought tolerant - with flowers that last 3 months or more. And the only thing you have to do to enjoy them is to not overwater and prune the flower stems back to the base of the plant after blooming is done. This photo shows a Euphorbia characias variety with a Allium 'Purple Sensation' in the foreground. Flowering begins in early spring and will easily last into July. The flowers are set off by the larger bracts, thus lasting longer than a typical petaled flower. When flowering stalks start to brown or look faded, just prune the flower stem all the way to the ground so the new stems can fill in.

As an added bonus, Euphorbias are evergreen in all but the coldest Rogue Valley winters, and their foliage tends to color up in winter; providing a nice visual interest in the winter garden. Euphorbias will take full sun to half a day of sun and need well draining soil. They all have a white sap in their stems keeping the deer at bay but can also cause a rash in some people, so wear gloves when pruning Euphorbias.

There are many varieties of Euphorbia and here are some of our favorites that we usually carry:

Rhamnus californica

on Friday, 18 September 2020. Posted in Good for Screening, Winter Interest, Berries Attract Wildlife, Native, Evergreen, Shrubs, Drought Tolerant

California Coffeeberry

Coffeeberry

Coffeeberry is a great candidate for that hard-to-fill niche of an evergreen native shrub that also attracts birds and pollinators; is drought tolerant, deer resistant, and fire resistant; and even makes a good hedge or screen. In fact, it may well be the only plant that fills that niche!

Coffeeberry is a west coast native; occurring from southern Oregon all the way south into Baja California. It gets its common name from its fruit: berries that change from green to red to almost black over the course of the year. The flowers are inconspicuous (although pollinators notice them just fine) but the birds definitely notice the colorful berries.

Rhamnus makes a great hedge, usually growing at a medium rate to 6-8' tall and wide, with the potential to get larger in more wooded areas. The named variety 'Eve Case’ has broader and brighter, green foliage and will stay a bit more compact at 4-8' wide and tall. Its leaves are long and pointed and are a matte green with a paler underside.

Coffeeberry prefers full sun but can also be happy in part shade or a more wooded garden. In the Rogue Valley, it can tolerate the heat and most soils, although it prefers a sandy, well-draining soil. This is truly a drought-tolerant plant - once established, it can survive on no irrigation. To keep it more fire resistant, though, we recommend giving it a deep soak every two weeks during the summer months. We have found Coffeeberry to be deer resistant in most situations, especially once established. Deer may have a tendency to chew the new growth, but will leave plants alone when they get some size on them.

If you are new to growing native plants, this is a great plant to start with. Try it out to see how easy, attractive, and sustainable native plants can be in your garden!

Parrotia persica

on Friday, 18 September 2020. Posted in Winter Interest, Showy Bark/Stems, Fall Color, Trees

Persian Ironwood

parrotia persica logiegarden ras 09 2011 03 gpp fallParrotia persica – or Persian Ironwood – is one of the fall foliage season’s best-kept secrets – and that’s a real shame. If you’d like to broaden your yard’s fall color palette beyond the usual flaming red maples, we’d highly recommend this tree!

Parrotia flowerIn fact, Parrotia provides true four-season interest in the landscape. In late winter, tiny red flowers – similar to witch hazel flowers – appear, followed by bronzy-colored new leaves. As the leaves unfurl, they turn a rich green, providing a nice dense canopy of shade during the summer months.

parrotia persica ras 04 2012 01 gpp barkFall, though, is when Parrotias really begin to shine; putting a great show of color, with foliage turning shades of yellow, orange, and red. Even when the leaves drop, there’s still plenty to look at. As Parrotias mature, their bark begins to exfoliate; leaving dappled patches of color along the trunk.

A small to medium-sized shade tree, Parrotia will get between 20-30’ tall, and about 20’ wide. They’re generally unfussy trees and are tolerant of a wide variety of conditions, including clay soil and air pollution. Their compact size also makes them great street trees.

Looking for something narrower to fit into a small space? There are two varieties of Parrotia that will do the trick! Persian Spire gets about 25’ tall, and just 10’ wide; growing in a lovely upright, columnar shape. Vanessa is a bit larger: about 28’ by 14’, and was given an Award of Garden Excellence by Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society in 2020.