Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database
|Northwest Native Plant Newsletter and Journal, July - August 2000|
Pacific Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum)
1 - "To Do" List For
Native Plants For Summer 2000
A - Be
careful about using fertilizer for the rest of the year. You do not want
to stimulate growth that will put tender growth at risk from early frosts.
B - Get rid
of weeds along paths, roads, etc before they go to seed. Cut and haul
away, burn (careful!), kill with mild Round Up (nothing stronger), rent
some goats, or whatever.
C - Collect
seeds of native perennials, shrubs and trees. Dry a bit, label and store
and process later as appropriate. As we have discussed many times, some
seeds can be planted directly in the fall, other must be treated to break
D - Keep
watering young plants through August and maybe a bit in September, but
then taper off to prepare the plants for first frost.
E - Start
planning fall plantings! Mostly plant in late September and October. The
ground is warm and even though deciduous plants lose their leaves, the
roots will grow and get ready for Spring, 2001!
2 - Pacific Rhododendrons &
Western Azaleas- Beautiful Natives!
These two related species really
represent the beauty of the northwest. One is evergreen, one is deciduous.
Use these two plants generously in your native gardens and larger
beautiful and sturdy evergreen shrubs get to 10 ft. and larger. They thrive
from British Columbia to northern California and part way up the Cascades,
perhaps to the 1000 ft. level. Sun or shade but seem to prefer light shade,
often on the edge of heavily forested areas. Large clumps of pink-purple
flowers. This is one of my favorites. You northwest folks should use this
Rhodie as your basic larger evergreen shrub. This Rhodie is a "sprouter."
If the above ground portion is cut off or burned, it will sprout again -
like the mythical Phoenix Bird that arises from the ashes!
and grow your own. Collect fresh in the fall and sow at once on a bed of
damp, fine peat moss. Do not add any peat moss cover but keep covered with
plastic until the seeds germinate. You can also propagate by cuttings or
Root Weevil likes Rhodies. Watch for neat square notches in the leaves.
This is caused by the insect form of the root weevil - notched leaves may
be unsightly but not serious damaged. - The real trouble-makers are the
grubs that hatch from the eggs that the flies deposit in the soil at the
base of the shrub. These nasty little varmints eat up the roots and may
"do in" the plant. Orthene is the best spray for the fly in July
and August. To go after the grubs, I suggest beneficial nematodes when the
soil is 50 degrees or warmer. They can be purchased in packages, contained
on small sponges. Put the sponge in water, stir and pour about one quart
around each plant. These beneficial nematodes eat up the grubs.
fine native Rhodies for hedges and borders and in dense clumps at
attractive spots in your gardens.
This is the
deciduous cousin of the Pacific Rhodie, but not quite so hardy. Found from
southwest Oregon to southern California. A loosely branched shrub to 10
ft. Beautiful white flowers, tinged with pink. Will grow in sun or shade -
probably very light shade the best (a little more sun that Pacific
Rhodie). I grow from seed, treated almost the same as the Pacific Rhodie,
Azalea is a beauty in its own right but also serves as a parent for many
lovely hybrids. As you look at the many hybrid azaleas in
"regular" garden stores, remember that in many, the
"blood" of the Western Azalea runs strong and deep. Why not have
the original beautiful charmer in your garden? What a delightful companion
to the native Pacific Rhodie.
3 - Native Plants As Food For Early
As you learn about native plants, as
you appreciate their beauty and dignity, you might begin to wonder which
of these plants were used as food by the early Native Americans. The
answer is interesting and may enhance your appreciation of our Pacific
Early Native Americans in western
Washington and western Oregon lived on fish, game, insects, roots, berries
and nuts that abounded here. The game, fish and insects are another
matter. Here is my list and comments on native plants eaten by early
Native Americans, gathered from research and tempered by experience.
Garry Oak (Quercus garryana var.
(Mahonia) - berries: tart & seedy, but good.
(Amalanchier alnifolia) - fruit: nice.
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
- fruit: fairly good.
Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta var.
Blackberry (Rubus ursinus) - fruit: what wonderful pies!!
(Allium) - whole plant: OK, typical onion.
Strawberry (Fragaria vesca) - fruit: small but very tasty.
Tiger Lily (Lilium columbiana) -
bulb: nutritious but not very tasty.
Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria affinis) - bulb: same as Tiger.
-- new shoots: a main food - you can survive!
Bittercherry (Prunus emarginata)
- fruit: OK if starving.
Blackcap (Rubus leucodermis) -
fruit: quite nice - a raspberry.
Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana) - fruit: fair for dessert!
Huckleberry (Vaccinium caespitosum) - fruit: tasty.
Huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum) - fruit: the very best!
Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium) - fruit: tart but OK.
Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) - fruit: small but good huck flavor.
(Heracleum lanatum) - Don't mix with Giant Cow Parsnip - Deadly Poison!
Wild Carrot -
roots: never tried this one.
Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) -
fruit: good for Sunday early breakfast.
(Rubus parviflorus) - fruit: good with cream.
Fireweed (Chaerion angustifolium
var. canescens) -
Never tried this.
Wapato (Sagittaria latifolia) -
roots: Lewis & Clark ate Wapato and Elk meat when in Oregon.
Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) -
new shoots: will keep you alive during a famine (starvation diet).
Madia) - Burn off tar and use seeds for food: (Good??)
4 - Semi-Hardwood Cuttings in July and August
Semi-hardwood cuttings are usually
taken in late June, July and August. These cuttings are taken as the new
growth hardens. If you go too late into the summer, you will not get
enough roots to survive through the winter. I suggest you try some of
these native shrubs: Blueblossom
Western Clematis (Clematis ligusticifolia),
Salal (Gaultheria shallon),
Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor),
Honeysuckle (Lonicera), Mock Orange
(Philadelphus lewisii), Nine Bark (Physicarpus), Crabapple (Malus),
Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana),
Cascara (Rhamnus purshiana).
Rhodies, Red Flowering Currant
(Ribes sanguineum), Roses, Elderberry (Sambucus), Spirea and Snowberry (Symphoricarpos).
Select clean new growth stems and collect in early morning when cool. Cut
a section of stem with two or more buds or leaves on the stem. The lower
cut is just below a bud and the upper just above a bud. Strip off all but
1 or 2 leaves on top. The base end of the cutting is dipped in rooting
hormone and then "stuck" in a tray containing a moist mix of
pumice or sand and peat moss. Have an arrangement to keep the plants
constantly moist (nearly 100% humidity) and in a position to receive
sunlight (but do not overheat.) You can achieve 100% humidity by rigging
an enclosed plastic environment, or misting frequently by hand or through
controlled misting nozzles. Semi-hardwood cuttings must have frequent
"misting." Be patient. It takes weeks for roots to develop.
Don't keep pulling out plants to see if they have roots. You can tell if
roots are developing if you tug gently on the stem and there is
Maybe this involves a lot of attention
and why not just buy the plant? Well, it is like going fishing. You spend
hundreds of dollars for $3.00 worth of fish - there are some things that
are not measured in dollars and creating a new plant with your own hands
and skills may well be worth the effort!
5 - Seductive Beauties of the
Northwest - Tiger Lilies & Leopard Lilies
In the early Spring, the Trilliums bloom in the damp forests - drifts of beautiful white, prim and proper little Nuns - members of some mysterious woodland order with strict rules and behavior codes. In the summer the forest and prairie mood changes and the seductive Tiger Lilies and Leopard Lilies flaunt their stunning beauty in warm, flashy colors - shameless little hussies inviting the bees to visit them - how I love them!
These can get 8 ft. tall, but in my garden they are much shorter. Each stem can have from 6 to 10 pendulous turk's cap blossoms in wonderful yellow to orange red colors with spots. The lower leaves are whorled and the upper leaves are scattered. This is a hardy plant, found on both sides of the Cascades from British Columbia to California and into Idaho and Nevada, Large white segmented bulbs. I propagate by breaking off bulb scales and placing in plastic bags with some fine pumice and a herbicide powder. Then I keep in the warm house and watch every week. Many send out small roots and then, with extreme loving care, you have a new plant. You will need to wait several years for blooming size. Seeds germinate well, but it takes several years again to grow up. Native Americans in the northwest dug and ate these bulbs, spring, summer and fall. They were boiled or roasted and sometimes dried after cooking for winter use.
southwestern Oregon. They are not as hardy
as Tiger Lilies, but sooooo beautiful. Again, they have pendulous turk's
cap blossoms - orange red to crimson with deep maroon spots. Can get to 10
ft. tall, but not in my gardens. I propagate these just like Tiger Lilies -
a rather slow process.
Both of these native lilies
are hard to find. Try to find locally. Best bet is to find plants and get permission to
collect the seeds. Plant in the fall in a peat moss soil, dampened and
covered with plastic to keep from drying out. Plant as soon as the seeds
are ripe. May take two years to germinate. If you have bulbs, you can
break off a few segments when the bulb is dormant and proceed as I
mentioned above. The bulb will still grow OK.
6 - Follow Up On Keeping Deer Out Of
In an earlier issue, I discussed the
common problem of keeping deer out of your native plant gardens. In the
early spring I needed to protect an area about 100 ft. by 200 feet from a
gang of bold deer. I use this gravel area to place plastic pots containing
various native plants for the summer growing season. The area is irrigated
by overhead sprinklers, on a daily basis. I found a catalog from a company
named Gempler's in Wisconsin. They advertised a 7 ft. high black tough
plastic netting, nearly invisible, at about $50 for a 100 ft. roll. I
bought enough rolls of netting and then located 10 ft. steel posts. We
drove these into the ground 2 ft., at 15 ft. intervals and rigged two gates
of the same netting. Results? So far, very very good. The deer will not
jump this "fence," the top of which is 8 feet above the ground.
The netting is not ugly and hardly noticeable. We installed the
"fence" in three hours. You need some device to pound in the
tall steel posts. I hope this helps some of you who have fought this
battle for a long time. Maybe your local garden or farm store carries this
Cupressus bakeri, often called Modoc
Cypress, Baker Cypress and Siskiyou Cypress. This is the only cypress that
I know of, that gets into Oregon. This rare tree is found only in small.
Isolated areas in southwest Oregon and in northern California. Most garden
folks have never heard about it. To get to the Oregon sites, one must hike
in. Modoc refers to a tribe of American Indians in southwestern Oregon - there was
some flare-ups earlier between the Modocs and the white settlers.
Modoc Cypress is a beautiful tree,
about 50 ft. tall and a foot or so in diameter. The foliage is beautiful - a sort of gray green, hard to explain color. It
will be interesting and important to get some stands of this unique tree,
established in other northwest areas. Open, spreading branches with
aromatic twigs. Modoc cypress likes well drained soil. It's usual home is
in the 3000 to 7000 ft. level.
Modoc Cypress reproduces by seed only.
The cones are unique. They only open from heat or very old age. Seeds are
dropped from the cones to the ground, months after a fire. Reproduction in
natural areas occurs only after fires - a crop of seedlings shoot up after
a fire occurs every 20 - 50 years. The mother trees probably die in the
fire. What a survival mechanism, what a design, what a plan! This native
likes sun - no shade please! And do not overwater small seedlings. I hope
some of you will grow this rare native!
8 - Personal Notes
Summertime! The Gentle Season! The
frenzied energy of Spring has given way to a gentle, reflective mood.
Enjoy your gardens, large or small, especially in the cool of the evening.
Savor the moment - the fleeting hour. Gardens soften life. Gardens evoke
memories of childhood, perhaps a childhood that never really was as we
remember. Somehow, the emotions, feelings, imagination. mystery and wonder
as we became aware of our world, lingers on. Maybe it is good -healthy to
revisit and remember and renew. We cannot be a child again, but can we in
some way renew and enrich our lives in our gardens?
I have a four year old Grandson, Ethan
- a city boy (lives in an apartment). Last week he visited here at my
nursery and gardens. He is a very gentle boy. Somehow, when here, he
became a country boy. He went into a wilder part of my gardens and soon
brought me, ever so gently and careful in his tanned little hands, two
baby hummingbirds. We, of course, hurried to the nest - (how sharp his
eyes to ever see the nest!) - on a stout Himalayan Blackberry vine,
camouflaged so skillfully! The inside of the nest was built by a master
builder - soft down, seamless, clean, perfect. Ethan gently put the baby
hummingbirds back, in the nest while the Mama swooped overhead. The babies
were so fat they filled the small nest to the brim! Afterward, I thought
of that wonderful poem by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807 - 1892). The
Barefoot Boy. Let me quote a few lines:
I hope the child in you never goes away
- keep some of the wonder of the little girl or the little boy with you
always. We never really grow up, you know. Gardens both bring us close to
nature and the good things of life and renews our sense of awe and mystery
of youth which is also a part of reality.
As our amazing scientists unlock
genetic codes and some of life's mysteries, more mysteries and wonders
appear! The more we know, the less we know. Learn all you can of science
and pure knowledge but keep a strong hold on that other part of your being
that may be found in your gardens - that deeper part that reaches back
into the womb of time.
9 - Next Issue
Topics planned include:
A -- Get ready for those easy Winter Cuttings!
B -- Pacific Wax Myrtle - A Little Known Native
C -- Recommended Natives For Fall Planting
D -- About Using Native Bareroot Plants This Winter
E -- And Much
E-mail comments are welcome. (Note from Jennifer: As did Wally, I also welcome your email comments!)