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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Signs of Spring

Iris tenax

 Last week I saw the first Oregon iris, Iris tenax, flowering in the woods near our house.  This welcome sight follows several weeks of enjoying early flowering wildflowers like the stately Trillium ovatum, their snow white flowers already deepening to a dark rose, along with patches of yellow trailing violet, Viola sempervirens, mixed with blue Spring Queen, Synthyris reniformis.   Bright red salmonberry flowers, Rubus spectabilis, entice hummingbirds into the forest openings to sample nectar from flowers illuminated in bright lit streamside stands.  Bird songs fill the air.  All sure signs of spring that make a nature lover like myself feel happy and content!

Lewisia table
There is so much going on in the nursery and in the gardens, too.   The recent warm weather has created an explosion of color on the Lewisia tables with one of our most colorful spring displays ever.  For those who enjoy picking out Lewisia in bloom, there is no better time to make selections.
Primula sieboldii
Several years ago we grew a group of Primula sieboldii from seed and have been making selections and growing these colorful primroses ever since.  This group deserves its own blog, but suffice it to say that it is another color hotspot in the nursery and also in the garden where they grow in a mass planting under a Japanese maple.

Telesonix jamesii in tufa
Perhaps more subtle but no less interesting is Telesonix jamesii which is coming into flower in nursery pots and also in our tufa rock garden.  This saxifrage relative has a reputation for being difficult to grow but thrives in the cool environment of tufa.

Kalmiopsis fragrans
Also making a good show this year is Kalmiopsis fragrans.  This small evergreen shrub from the Umpqua River drainage of Southern Oregon thrives in our rock garden in partial shade.  Another favorite NW native plant is the evergreen Penstemondavidsonii var menziesii.  This low growing groundcover with tiny, glossy green foliage and full-size flowers is a natural for the trough or alpine garden.

Penstemon davidsonii var menziesii
We have set aside an entire weekend to celebrate the PacificCoast iris this year on May 18th and 19th and I am sure there will plenty of color in the gardens to see.  Plants in the nursery don’t grow by the calendar and we already have early season varieties in peak and gorgeous flower.  Visitors who make the trek to the nursery this weekend will not be disappointed with the selection.  The glorious flowering period will continue for several more weeks.

Pacific Coast Native Iris
The nursery will be closed May 2nd through the 5th and locals will find us at The Spring Garden Fair at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby where we will surely have a fabulous display of flowering plants.  As always, we encourage those who want to visit the nursery to check our website for the latest open hours and event information. 


  1. Curious as to the make-up of the woods on your property: Conifers, Deciduous, or a mix?

  2. Skip, I assume you mean the woods where we walk the dogs and enjoy the wildflowers. It is a mixed forest canyon with areas of dense conifers, logged clearings, and a year-round stream with deciduous bigleaf maples and alders. Each area has its own group of wildflowers although the Trilliums can be found from top to bottom. We feel very fortunate to have such a great place for our daily walk!

    1. Fortunate, indeed! Of course, my question comes from the awareness that "woodland plants" are picky about their type of woods/forest. Our Upper Woodland area at Pittock is fairly dense conifer, but the Lower
      Woodland area is more open and has a mix. It sure helps to know which plants do better in each environment.

  3. These are good things to think about. The availability of light and water throughout the year should be important considerations in plant selection.