MORE WESTERN AND SOUTHWESTERN PLANTS

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Aesculus californica - CALIFORNIA BUCKEYE
$14
Sapindaceae (Hippocastanaceae) · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to -15°F or below.

This California native has come up with a rather interesting way of adapting to drought. It is one of the first hardy shrubs to leaf out in the spring, but when summer drought gets severe the leaves can just drop off without any harm to the plant. So it is not strictly winter deciduous or summer deciduous, but in most gardens it behaves more like a winter deciduous tree. The large palmately compound leaves resemble those of Horsechestnut, but slightly smaller; and showy white flowers appear on mature plants. These are followed by huge seeds in cool spiny husks in late fall. It is a vigorous grower without getting too tall - 15' being a common mature height - and tends to be multi-stemmed if not trained to a single trunk. It can handle sun or part shade, and dry or irrigated garden conditions. Our collection shared with us by George Guthrie from the Medford, Oregon area (the northern extent of its range) should be hardy to at least -15°F.

Agave
See under Succulents.

Arctostaphylos - MANZANITA

Manzanita, español for "little apple" is one of the West's most beautiful native plants, yet they remain difficult to find in nurseries. Why? Because most large wholesale nurseries, where our plants come from, either fail to recognize gardeners' interest in them, or find them to be unamenable to their highly standardized growing regime of heavy soil and daily overhead irrigation. Manzanitas are splendidly adapted to dry summers and wet winters, deserving of much wider use in the Pacific Northwest and anywhere with dry summers and well-drained soil. Manzanitas have fine, fibrous root systems and appreciate being mulched. Think of them as drought tolerant "Rhododendrons" (indeed, they are in the same family!).

NOTE: If you order one that is described as having bluish, grayish, or silvery leaves, it may arrive looking more green than you expect. The color on individual plants varies significantly according to the time of year and how much water they receive (we water and fertilize our potted manzanitas heavily as their legendary drought adaptability only applies once the plants are established). Generally they are much more blue/silver in summer, and in the ground; and tend to be much more green in winter and spring, and when growing in their pots. Once planted out they should assume their proper color over time - be patient!

Arctostaphylos bakeri 'Louis Edmonds'
$12
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 - 5 · Hardy to about 5°F

You've always wanted a shrub with a purple trunk, and now, at last, your dreams can come true! That's right, this manzanita has smooth bark with a distinct purple coloration. But wait; there's more! It also has dusky green-grey leaves, and pink flowers followed by reddish berries! And, if you call right now, we'll throw in a rugged, contorted growth habit. Like most manzanitas, this will appreciate a mostly sunny site with excellent drainage and no summer irrigation once established. Hardy to about 5°F.


Arctostaphylos columbiana - HAIRY MANZANITA

Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to 0 to -25°F depending on origin.

It may be hairy, but don't worry, this plant won't shed! One of four Arctostaphylos species native to Washington, A. columbiana may eventually reach a height of 8 - 10' in gardens. It is ornamental at all seasons, with beautiful blue-green to greyish leaves, racemes of pendulous white spring flowers, red berries in fall, and of course the peeling cinnamon bark and alluring rugged branch structure shared by all manzanitas. Although best on a sunny slope, it will even tolerate a little shade, and in gravelly soil it can endure a great amount of rain (as it does in the wild in Mason County), as long as it can go dry for a couple months in summer. Cold tolerance varies according to the origin of the plant: the more northerly, inland, and higher up, the colder temperatures it ought to be able to tolerate. In general, plants from the Oregon Coast can be expected to have hardiness in the 0 - 5°F range, while plants from the coldest parts of its range ought to handle -20°F and perhaps a little lower.

Arctostaphylos columbiana IB550
New Spring 2013!
$14
This collection originates from a rocky outcrop at 3,900' in the sunny northeast corner of the Olympic Mountains. Wow that's pretty high up! It seems pretty trouble-free in cultivation so far.
Arctostaphylos columbiana x A. hookeri
$10
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to about 0°F

This natural hybrid from California combines the rugged character of our native hairy manzanita with the more graceful habit of A. hookeri. The foliage color is closer to the grayish A. columbiana, but the leaves are smaller and it has a more spreading habit. White spring flowers are followed by red berries, and of course the smooth red bark is great too. Interestingly, it seems to be much more resistant to disease and leaf spotting than A. columbiana, making it an excellent garden subject for the Pacific Northwest, even in wetter areas as long as drainage is good.

Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard
McMinn'
$10
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to about 0 - 5°F

An attractive plant, it has a generous covering of white spring bell flowers, and the usual red fruits and smooth red bark characteristic of manzanita. Leaves are a rich, deep green with red highlights. It is usually purported to reach 3 - 6' tall, but I've seen it reach at least 12' tall and wider in Seattle. This is perhaps the most commonly available manzanita in nurseries, being considered "one of the most dependable and adaptable" of the bunch. What that really means is that people managing nurseries and gardens with heavy watering regimes and less than adequate drainage are less likely to kill it than other species - not that there's anything wrong with the other species. It prefers full sun and tolerates a wide range of soil types as long as drainage is decent. Hardy to about 0 - 5°F.

Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Sentinel' - SENTINEL MANZANITA
$12
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 - 5 · Hardy to 5°F

This popular selection of a northern California native forms an upright shrub to 6' tall and as wide. Dark leaves and smooth red-brown bark are offset by generous clusters of pink flowers that cover the plant in spring. Relatively easy to grow, it is not afflicted with leaf spots or other ailments, but it does require perfect drainage and no summer water except in the hottest climates. Full sun please!

 
Arctostaphylos x 'Emerald Carpet'
$9
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 3 · Hardy to about 5 - 10°F

A low growing, slightly mounding plant with glossy, small, deep green leaves and white flowers. It might be the same as Arctostaphylos x 'Emerald Carpet', a hybrid of A. uva-ursi and A. nummularifolia; however, it's mounding up a little more than 'Emerald Carpet' is supposed to, so I can't be certain. Whatever it is, it's very easy to please and seems to be very much at home in our climate.

Arctostaphylos glandulosa IB644 - EASTWOOD'S MANZANITA
New Fall 2013!
$14
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to -20°F?

Eastwood's manzanita is one of the most variable and difficult manzanitas to define. This particular form was, when I found it, a rounded shrub (to 4' tall and wider) with deep green leaves resulting in a plant that looks quite a lot like A. patula. Also like A. patula, it ought to be very cold hardy since it comes from an altitude of 3,800' on the Oregon/California border and is covered in snow every winter. Nursery folk will be interested to know that I found it very easy to root from cuttings on my first attempt. So that's exciting. Try something different.

 
Arctostaphylos sp. aff. glandulosa IB642
New Fall 2013!
$12
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to -20°F?

Eastwood's manzanita is one of the most variable and difficult manzanitas to define, and this one is so weird that I am not even sure it is A. glandulosa. It may be a hybrid. Its unique features are bristly hairs covering the plant, suggesting genetic input from A. columbiana; and it is remarkably sticky. It's still a nice looking plant though, with pale green leaves, and ought to be very cold hardy as it comes from about 3,800' southeast of Grants Pass, Oregon. It ought to reach at least 5 - 6' tall, we think.

Arctostaphylos manzanita IB687 - MANZANITA
New Fall 2013!
$10
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to -5°F or below

Arctostaphylos manzanita is a vigorous, treelike species from California that is very easy to grow in the Pacific Northwest, yet remains undeservedly rare. Like most manzanitas it has the characteristic red bark, round leaves and red berries in fall. In this species the berries are dark red and flowers are white. This collection comes from near Orleans, California along the Klamath River, where it grows into beautiful broad trees approaching 20' tall with pale green foliage. Since this collection comes from the northern end of its natural range, we think this ought to be one of the hardiest forms of this species, and could possibly be worth attempting in interior Northwest gardens.

Arctostaphylos sp. aff. manzanita IB680
New Fall 2013!
$10
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to -5°F or below

Along the Klamath River between Happy Camp and Orleans, California, Arctostaphylos viscida and A. manzanita seem to intergrade so well that you can hardly tell which is which. This is one of those intermediate forms and seems to be about midway between the two, with floral features a bit closer to A. manzanita but stems that look very viscida-ish to me. The leaves were a very nice pale green and I would expect it to reach 8 - 10' tall and wide over time. It should have excellent cold hardiness as well. Be among the first to try this exciting new introduction!


Arctostaphylos x media

Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 3 - 4 · Hardiness varies depending on origin, from around -10 to -30°F

This name is given to the natural hybrids of A. uva-ursi and A. columbiana, which are found in various scattered locations around western Washington (and, less commonly, British Columbia, Oregon, and California) frequently in places where its two parent species are growing in proximity. Many variants of this hybrid exist, some looking more like A. columbiana and others looking more like A. uva-ursi. Although the latter species is widespread, this hybrid remains rare in cultivation. We offer the following selections.

Arctostaphylos x media 'Fair Weather Friend' IB568
New Spring 2013!
$10
Sometimes plants pleasantly surprise you. I collected this up the Dungeness Canyon with Mark and Lila Muller, basically just because Mark pointed it out. It was growing on a very nutrient-poor rocky outcrop and didn't look like much at all. However it has turned out to be a very vigorous form in cultivation with a low, spreading habit and fabulous round leaves.
 
Arctostaphylos x media 'Martha Ewan'
$10
This superior form of our native hybrid manzanita was selected from the north Oregon Coast by Xera Plants. Its main features are a neat and compact appearance, exceptionally large fruit, and (apparently in our experience) excellent resistance to leaf spot. Dimensions listed by Xera are 30" tall by 5' wide, but it is likely to be slow-growing. It should handle a little shade and temperatures to at least 0°F.
Arctostaphylos x media 'Olympic Spreader' IB567
New Spring 2013!
$10
Originating from the Dungeness Canyon south of Sequim at about 3,200', this broadly spreading plant was flawless in appearance with deep green leaves having no spots, and a nice dense habit. The thin-textured leaves and low habit suggests that one parent was a very diminutive form of A. uva-ursi sometimes found in this area.
Arctostaphylos x 'Monica'
$12
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to about 0°F

This unique hybrid of Arctostaphylos densiflora and A. manzanita is beautiful and easy to grow. Its pink flowers appear more like those of A. densiflora on a plant with the tall-growing habit of A. manzanita. The peeling red bark is particularly attractive and it grows quickly and easily on a sunny site in the garden. A fabulous plant that remains far too rare in cultivation.

Arctostaphylos sp. aff. nevadensis IB464
New Fall 2013!
$10
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to about -30°F

In just a few places in southwest Washington, Arctostaphylos nevadensis (pinemat manzanita) ranges west of the Cascade crest, and this may be one of them. This idea is of interest because a form of A. nevadensis that can handle wet conditions, especially in winter ought to be useful in the garden. The only question is whether this is really A. nevadensis. Out of a swarm of hybrids on a rock outcrop near Packwood looking mostly like A. x media, and a few that looked a bit like A. columbiana, and A. nevadensis; this one looked the most like A. nevadensis. It may in fact be A. nevadensis since A. nevadensis has been recorded from within a mile or two of here, and I have seen it myself just 15 miles or so to the east over White Pass. So there you go. It's a nice native groundcover with white flowers, grey-green leaves and red berries, that will want full sun (or nearly) and good drainage.

Arctostaphylos x 'Pacific Mist' - PACIFIC MIST MANZANITA
$12
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 - 5 · Hardy to about 5°F

No, contrary to popular belief, Pacific Mist is not what falls out of the Seattle sky eleven months out of the year. It is the name for this wonderful manzanita hybrid, the silvery-grey leaves of which, when you desperately desire relief from the heat and drought as you long for those rainy winter days to hydrate your garden, will recall those nice drizzly winter afternoons. This cultivar has less conspicuous flowers than some, but the leaves, red stems and pink new growth are very attractive, and of course, the smooth red bark is too. This plant might be classed as a tall groundcover, forming a broad, low mound to about 2' high and 10' wide, and growing much more quickly than most manzanitas. One of the easiest Arctostaphylos to grow, it will readily adapt to most soils and tolerate a little summer water, but not too much. It will even handle a little bit of shade, especially in hot climates.

Arctostaphylos pajaroensis 'Paradise' - PARADISE MANZANITA
New Spring 2013!
$12
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to about 5°F

May the bird of paradise fly up your nose. This wonderful plant is one of the longest blooming of the manzanita clan, as well as being very easy to grow. It makes a low, mounding shrub to about 4' tall and 8' across with all the usual wonderful manzanita features: smooth red bark, red berries, and lots of flowers, which in this case are a nice, deep pink! Ideal for that dry spot in your garden, it doesn't mind a little occasional water either so long as drainage is adequate.

Arctostaphylos patula x columbiana IB585
New Fall 2013!
$14
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 - 5 · Hardy to -30°F

We think it is exciting to find our two very hardy, northwest native manzanitas coming together to form hybrid swarms in the wild. Many of the resulting plants are very attractive (in form, foliage and fruit), and easier to grow than both parents, making them highly desirable. This plant from Hood River County, Oregon has a tight compact habit (to perhaps 4' tall, 6' wide) and an exceptionally profuse display of fruit. The blue-green leaves look perfectly intermediate between the two parent species.

Arctostaphylos patula x nevadensis IB498
New Spring 2013!
$12
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to -30°F

Here's a way cool Washington native broadleaf evergreen that almost no one knows about. Rising to about 8 - 10" high with a spread of several feet, it makes a nice carpet of deep green leaves. In spring you get white bell shaped flowers which are followed by the usual red manzanita berries. It may be slow to establish but should grow at a moderate pace in an ideal site with good care (mulch!). This collection comes from Klickitat County, Washington, where it is found in dry, open pine and garry oak forest with Ceanothus prostratus, C. velutinus and Mahonia aquifolium.

Arctostaphylos rudis - SHAGBARK
MANZANITA
$18 (1 gallon)
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to about 5 - 10°F

You may have noticed a recurring theme as I describe each of these manzanitas: smooth red bark, smooth red bark, smooth red bark, blah, blah, blah. But here, at long last, we finally have something different! Not just your ordinary smooth red bark, my friends, but rough, stringy, even shaggy bark! Wow. Other than that, this species shares most of the same characteristics as the other manzanitas, including its contorted branching habit and small, attractive, rounded leaves. Actually, I find the foliar texture of this species to be exceptionally pleasing, as are the clusters of soft white flowers. It will prefer a sunny, well drained location, where it may reach a height of 4 - 6' or more with greater spread over time. It performs splendidly in Seattle, yet is widely adaptable.

 
Arctostaphylos rudis 'Vandenburg'
- SHAGBARK MANZANITA
$18 (1 gallon)
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to about 5 - 10°F

This form of shagbark manzanita was salvaged from the Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. Like the species, it has shaggy red bark and soft white flowers followed by red berries. It is vigorous and easy to grow, with very small, cute, soft leaves. What's not to like? I know, we say that about most of our plants. Hardy to 10°F.

Arctostaphylos x 'Sunset' - SUNSET MANZANITA
$10
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to about 5°F

This selection of a natural hybrid of A. pajaroensis and A. hookeri has proven to be one of the most reliable and easily grown manzanitas in cultivation. As such, it seems to be one of the most common in Northwest cultivation along with A. densiflora 'Howard McMinn'. Growing vigorously to 6' (taller after many years) with equal spread, it has smooth red bark, apple-green leaves on white stems, and amazing bronzy new growth. It is at home in any sunny garden with well drained soil, and while it prefers a period of summer drought, it can handle a little bit of occasional irrigation.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'Point Reyes'
New Fall 2013!
$10
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to at least 0°F

This form from California looks quite different from other forms of this species in cultivation, having a tendency to point many of its leaves upwards. It is vigorous and tolerates heat and drought better than many forms, reliably making a dense carpet the garden. Planting this all over western Washington instead of the ill-adapted 'Massachusetts' would be a grand idea. It's not as cold hardy as the other forms, but still handles at least 0°F without any trouble, and perhaps lower.

Arctostaphylos sp. aff. uva-ursi IB439
New Spring 2013!
$9
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to roughly -30°F

This looks a bit different from usual for A. uva-ursi; in fact we originally collected it as A. nevadensis, though now A. uva-ursi seems more likely. We thought we would go with that for now, then sort things out when they flower. It is a nice plant anyway with deep green leaves and a slowly spreading habit. It comes from the same area we found A. x coloradensis in the Entiat River drainage and should be very cold hardy.

Artemisia tridentata IB482 - BIG SAGEBRUSH
New Spring 2013!
$12
Asteraceae · Drought resistance code 6 · Hardy to at least -40°F

One man's trash is another man's treasure? OK, so this stuff is everywhere in eastern Washington, and when I bring it to plant sales I get a few chuckles now and then from people who are trying to clear it from their land so they can feed their cows. Whatever. It's a vigorous, silvery, aromatic shrub that thrives in the harshest of dry, sunny conditions without a care - what's not to like? Although not difficult to grow, it's all about drainage, drainage, drainage west of the Cascades. Put it in the driest and sunniest spot in your yard. It can eventually reach 6' or taller with similar spread. This particular selection is from the confluence of the Naches and Tieton Rivers west of Yakima, where it was growing with Ribes cereum, Opuntia columbiana and Quercus garryana. I selected it because it did not flower when all the other ones did but made a nice compact mound of broader than usual leaves - no guarantees in cultivation though.

Baccharis pilularis IB695 - COYOTE BRUSH
New Spring 2013!
$10
Asteraceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to at least 0°F

If you're one of those people who demands instant gratification, this is the plant for you - it grows FAST. A popular wildlife shrub in California, this evergreen with silvery-green little leaves will tolerate any well drained soil in sun or part shade (though you'll get the best leaf color in sun). It is so tough that you can pretty much plant it, water it in, and forget about it. Primarily a foliage plant, its flowers are not very exciting and result in fluffy little seed pods. This collection was from a population of exceptionally robust and vigorous appearing plants with the deepest of green leaves right on the ocean in Del Norte County, California. They looked too happy for their own good so I had to snip a few pieces off.

Ceanothus x 'Blue Jeans'
$9
Rhamnaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to around 0 - 5°F

So you want a Ceanothus, but you want to be sure you have something hardy that won't get too big. Well do we have just the plant for you! 'Blue Jeans' is an attractive cultivar with small shallowly lobed leaves resembling those of C. gloriosus, but smaller. Unlike most forms of C. gloriosus it is an upright grower reaching about 4 - 5' tall and wide. The flower color is a wonderful deep blue! Like all Ceanothus it prefers a dry and sunny location in the garden (partial shade is tolerated but flowering will be greatly reduced). A little hardier than many of the common Ceanothus hybrids grown in the Northwest, it can handle about 0 - 5°F once established.

Ceanothus cuneatus - BUCKBRUSH
$18 (1 gallon)
Rhamnaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to at least -15°F

Another western native plant that deserves wider promotion, this evergreen shrub is very easy to grow in a dry, sunny location; and always looks great, with tough little deep green leaves. In spring it produces on a respectable show of white flowers, which cover the plant. It may eventually reach 6' tall or more with an irregular, spreading habit. We have Sean Hogan at Cistus Nursery to thank for this special collection from the northernmost outpost of its native range near Dallas, OR.

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus IB691
New Fall 2013!
$10
Rhamnaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to about 5°F

This evergreen native shrub produces a profusion of bright blue flowers in spring. Its dark, glossy evergreen leaves are larger than usual for the species, since this was collected at the southwestern end of its range (near Arcata, California) where it starts to intergrade with C. griseus. Also due to the C. griseus influence, we expect this plant to max out at just 8 - 10' rather than growing into a giant tree. Probably. You never know with these things.

Chamaecyparis
See under Conifers (if available).
Cupressus (Hesperocyparis)
See under Conifers (if available).
Dendromecon harfordii - ISLAND TREE POPPY
New Fall 2013!
$14
Papaveraceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to about 15 - 18°F

This wonderful drought tolerant, evergreen shrub is covered in late spring through the fall with cheery yellow poppy-like flowers. The blue-green leaves look nice at any time of the year as well. Plan on a height around 5 - 6' with greater spread, though it may eventually grow larger with age. Although not completely cold hardy in the Northwest, a fine specimen can be seen at the entrance to Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend that has gone through the last few winters unscathed.

Fremontodendron californicum IB102 - FLANNEL BUSH
New Fall 2013!
$16
Malvaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to about -10°F

An enigma of the California chaparral, flannel bush is a large shrub that is covered with showy, bright yellow flowers in spring. Its leaves and stems are covered in fuzzy brown indumentum that remind of flannel, but the hairs can be irritating to some people. The most important thing to remember about growing Fremontodendron is that it requires excellent drainage, dry summers (most forms) and sun. Generally a moderate to fast grower, it may achieve a height of 10 - 15' with equal spread if it is happy. This collection originates at 7,000' in Kern County, California and should offer excellent frost hardiness extending the range of cultivation for this species into colder areas than it is usually seen. Coming from a summer-dry area, it absolutely cannot be watered more than the very minimum required to get established, and will not tolerate summer irrigation (including regular heavy rains) once established. In fact, we have trouble keeping them going in the nursery because of this; hence, plants we offer may be on the small side (i.e. the less we push them to grow quickly, the better they survive). Hurry and buy a few before we kill them all.

Juniperus
See under Conifers.
 
Mahonia pinnata subsp. insularis 'Schnilemoon' - ISLAND BARBERRY
New Fall 2013!
$14
Berberidaceae · Drought resistance code 4 - 5 · Hardy to about 5 - 10°F

This unique plant combines the showy yellow early spring flowers of our native Mahonias (but perhaps larger) with lustrous green leaves that have far fewer spines than our native forms, and bronze new growth! Endemic to Santa Cruz Island, it is perfectly drought tolerant in Northwest Gardens and hardy enough for most of us west of the Cascades. It is perfect for that dry sunny border or bank, where it may reach 5' tall with equal spread. This species is extremely rare and endangered in the wild, but fortunately it is very easy to grow, perhaps more so than our native Mahonias. Unlike some California natives it does not seem to be all that fussy about whether it gets irrigated or not.

Opuntia
See under Cacti.
Paxistima myrsinites - MOUNTAIN BOXWOOD
$10
Celastraceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to -30°F or below

Mountain boxwood is native to drier montane areas of the Pacific Northwest, where it is found on rocky outcrops and in drier, open forests. It somewhat resembles Lonicera pileata, but it is more delicate in appearance, though much tougher in its tolerance of difficult conditions. The tiny red spring flowers are cute up close. This underused Northwest native is ideal for sun or shade, requiring virtually no care once established.


Penstemon - BEARDTONGUE

We can't figure out why our western native Penstemons are not far more common than they are in Northwest Gardens. They are really the perfect plants for the dry garden: evergreen, perennial, drought tolerant, perfectly adapted, always beautiful in flower; and great for xeric beds, hell strips and rockeries. We have decided to start accumulating and producing a lot more of them. Generally, they are immensely easy to grow and very rewarding, and will even tolerate somewhat heavy soil if sunlight is adequate and summer water is withheld.

Since many Penstemons exhibit considerable variation in leaf size, flower color, and form; and the species hybridize readily, sometimes forming vast swarms of intermediate plants; Penstemons are notoriously difficult to identify, including some of our own collections. We place the abbreviation "aff." before the specific epithet to indicate where a particular plant has a close affinity with the suggested species but we are not entirely certain. In any case, be assured that these are all great garden plants, regardless of what their true identity is; it's pretty hard to go wrong with our native Penstemons!

 
Penstemon sp. aff. fruticosus IB511
$10
Scrophulariaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to -30°F or below

This vigorously growing mat former produces purple spring flowers on spikes to about 8 - 10" tall. From Skamania County, Washington at 2,300'. We note that this collection has wider-spaced flowers than P. fruticosus is usually supposed to have, leading us to suspect hybridization.

 
Penstemon sp. IB474
$10
Scrophulariaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to -30°F or below

This collection from east of White Pass at 2,900' forms large, spreading mats of little leaves to about 4" tall and 2 - 3' across, with a copious supply of light purple flowers. It's certainly very nice; darned if we can key it out though!

 
Penstemon sp. aff. speciosus IB490 - SHOWY PENSTEMON
$10
Scrophulariaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to -30°F or below

Along the Klickitat River a ways north of the scenic Columbia Gorge we found this Penstemon forming quite large mats (to 4' across) of surprisingly long, thick leaves. It has turned out to be very easy to grow, rewarding virtually no effort with vigorous, lush growth and lots of mid-purple flowers on spikes held well above the foliage to at least 1' tall. Wow! In this case, we are nearly certain we do in fact have P. speciosus - how about that. Yay us.

Philadelphus lewisii IB430 - MOCK ORANGE
New Spring 2013!
$10
Hydrangeaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to -35°F or below

It takes a really saucy plant to make fun of oranges. OK, so this Northwest native is one of the relatively more common species found in gardens, but it is certainly a useful and attractive plant. Seeing it so often on the east side of the Cascades, often in very hot and dry, rocky forest clearings, reminds us that it is actually a very valuable addition to the dry garden, and one of those natives that will actually do well if it is planted in a tough spot. Having light green leaves and an elegant arching habit, its showy white flowers have a nice "orangey" fragrance when they appear in late spring. It can also be coppiced if desired, and will usually grow back from the base after fire. Who knew? This collection is from Chelan County, Washington.

Prunus ilicifolia - HOLLYLEAF CHERRY
New Spring 2013!
$10
Rosaceae · Drought resistance code 3 · Hardy to 5°F or below

This large shrub or small tree is an important member of the Western chaparral community, where it is common from central California down to the Baja Peninsula. It grows at a steady pace into a large shrub with nice, deep green leaves that are smaller and tougher than other Prunus, an adaptation to drought. There is no reason it should not be employed more in Pacific Northwest gardens, as it makes an ideal backdrop or hedge plant that does not require any watering once established (and won't turn yellow without it!). It also produces large berries that attract to birds and other wildlife, and are edible (reportedly quite sweet in fact) for humans too, despite the huge seeds. You'll want to plant two or more for fruit.

Quercus
See under Oaks and Friends.
Rhamnus
See Frangula.
Ribes speciosum
NEW Spring 2013!
$12
Grossulariaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to about 10°F

This semi-evergreen shrub has the ultimate adaptation to summer drought: it may drop all its leaves when the soil gets dry, only to regrow them again when rains return. It is one of the few drought-deciduous shrubs we can grow in the Northwest. Hummingbirds will go nuts for this plant for the two months or so in spring when it is in bloom, the branches covered with hanging, fuchsia-like flowers. It may reach 4 - 5' tall with slightly greater spread, and it is covered in spines, so don't plant it too close to a walkway. Although native to central California, it does fine in milder Northwest gardens, occasional leaf drop notwithstanding.

 
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus - CORALBERRY
NEW Fall 2013!
$9
Caprifoliaceae · Drought resistance code 4 · Hardy to about -50°F

It extends as far west as Colorado, so I can call it Western, right? I hope so. Anyway, it's certainly as drought tolerant as any western native. Although eventually an upright, deciduous shrub to 4', this shrub is very appealing in its younger stages when it spreads to make a mat of soft little round leaves as a mounding groundcover of sorts. In the fall, pink berries appear which remain on the plant over the winter to feed the birds. A very easy plant to grow, it is unparticular about soil and can handle sun or part to moderately deep shade.

 
Umbellularia californica - OREGON MYRTLE
$9
Lauraceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to -10°F or below

One of those special plants from the Siskyou-Klamath bio-region, this avocado relative is a most unique member of our West Coast flora. A slow-growing evergreen tree with tough, very dark green leaves; it can also be compared to Laurus nobilis (bay laurel) from the Mediterranean region in habit and uses, though it is hardier and may eventually grow much larger in the Northwest. All parts of the plant have an exceptionally strong aroma which is pleasing in small doses but can be overpowering if you aren't prepared for it! And it even makes fruit that look like little avocados - don't try eating them, though - yuck! It also posesses excellent quality wood that is strong, smooth-grained, pleasingly fragrant, and prized by woodworkers. A moderate grower (slow on dry sites), in Seattle it eventually grows as tall as 60-90' and often reseeds itself: it could easily be native here if time and chance had allowed. If 90' seems a bit much, it can also be clipped into a low maintenance hedge. Although perfectly drought tolerant, access to moisture will encourage much faster growth. It's generally easy to grow and I think deserves more experimentation in other parts of the USA. Not a good permanent outdoor container specimen, despite its impressive top-hardiness, if the roots are subject to a hard freeze it's dead.

 
Vaccinium ovatum - EVERGREEN HUCKLEBERRY
$8
Ericaceae · Drought resistance code 5 · Hardy to -10°F or below

This Northwest native broadleaf evergreen has been a popular garden plant for many years. We like its tough little leaves, bronzy or bright red new growth, and showy spring bell-like flowers. These are followed by little dark blue fruits in autumn that birds also appreciate. It may eventually reach 6' tall or more, but it usually slow growing and easy to keep smaller if needed. Its ecology is not always well understood by gardeners: although it sometimes grows on dry, poor sites in the wild; it does not like dry, exposed sites, compacted soil, or poor drainage in cultivation. Grown in full sun, it requires moist, well amended soil; in shade, it is less particular. Hardy to at least -10°F once established, but new growth may be damaged by frost if not hardened off.

Yucca
See under Succulents.