It’s not often that the Latin name of a plant tells us how tasty it is to eat. This month’s plant, Vaccinium deliciosum, has a name that does just that. Vaccinium is the genus for all the west coast blueberries and huckleberries. The species epithet, deliciosum, tells us that it has delicious berries. Continue reading
What looks like an oak, has acorns like an oak, but isn’t an oak? That would be tanoak, Lithocarpus densiflorus, a west coast native. This evergreen tree is also known as tanbark-oak. It has flowers like a chestnut but forms acorns rather than having its nuts enclosed by a spiny bur. Both Lithocarpus and Quercus are in the Beech family, the Fagaceae. Continue reading
Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’
Ornamental grasses come into their glory each autumn, shimmering in the golden rays of afternoon light, swaying in the gentlest breezes, and lending a strong vertical backdrop to soft drifts of colorful asters and sedums. One of the first tall grasses to bloom is ‘Karl Foerster’ Feather Reed Grass, Calamagrostis acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’.
This standout grass, which was the 2001 Perennial Plant of the Year, forms gradually expanding clumps 3-4 feet tall. It tolerates a wide range of conditions from zones 3 to 9 and is happiest in full sun, in moist to wet fertile soil. It thrives in clay soil, but will grow in dry sandy soils as well. It has no serious pest nor disease problems. I’ve never seen it become invasive and the seeds are sterile so it won’t self-seed. That’s important because out-of-control grasses can quickly take over.
Every garden should have at least one plant that makes every visitor stop in their tracks and ask “what’s that?” Maybe its even one your spouse questions why you’d grow it. Continue reading
Red-flowering Currant is one of the showiest and earliest blooming of the currants and gooseberries. The Latin name, Ribes sanguineum, also reflects the red of its blossoms. In the warmest and sunniest locations red-flowering currant starts blooming in March most years. The flowers last about three weeks.
One of the first of our northwest native shrubs to bloom is Tall Oregon Grape, Mahonia aquifolium. It also goes by the name Shining Oregon Grape because its foliage is a bright glossy green. Continue reading