local plant obsessions

(Edited 10/8/22 — grey shrub is Olearia moschata, thanks to the folks at Xera Plants)

late September visit to Old House Dahlias, about a 15-minute drive south on Hwy 101

On this isolated part of the Oregon coast, sourcing plants has been its own adventure. Mail order has been a huge resource, but some plants have defied any means of procurement.

on local walks I discovered a mature stand of dierama growing in an unirrigated front yard

On neighborhood walks I’ve been surveying the local plant scene for clues into what grows well here and have discovered a couple of offbeat stalwarts, one whose identity I knew from books, Euphorbia griffithii, while the other remains a mystery.

my new walking buddy — gratuitous grandma photo of my little friend’s first walk on the beach, now joining me in walks around the neighborhood

The euphorbia was notable for looking fabulous from very early spring to…well, to this moment. Same with the unknown shrub, except it’s been evergreen fabulous year-round. In both cases the plants seemed to have been deployed and forgotten, one in a neglected private garden and the other in a commercial planting, where many of the plants were dying during the dry summer. Except for my stellar, grey-leaved enigma, which I’d love to see clipped into orbs against the gravel in my back garden.

phone photo of unknown shrub which looked amazingly dapper all winter and was covered in tiny white flowers in summer. There are multiples of this shrub along the long western wall of a well-known local brewery in town, both in ground and in stock tanks. Olearia? Osmanthus of some kind?

I became fixated on these two handsome plants, convinced my garden wouldn’t be the same without them. Meandering walks became more focused to include these two destinations almost daily to check on how they held up through the seasons. Diligent attempts to contact the owner of the euphorbia, offering cash for cuttings, via door knock, notes in the mailbox, talking to neighbors, failed to produce a response. And the owner of the brewery couldn’t remember who did the landscape, so that avenue into identifying the shrub was stymied too. It reminds me of the dwarf olive ‘Little Ollie,’ but the leaves are more silver and less tapered. (Image searches suggest a possibility may be Olearia x oleifolia — all opinions welcome!)

Secret Garden Growers Colors of Fall Festival 9/24-25/22 — a really good sale with loads of plants

With the owner ignoring my overtures, I built a mail order around Euphorbia griffithii from the one source I could find, only to have the order arrive with everything but the euphorbia, which was last-minute out of stock. (This euphorbia can be invasive in the right conditions, but this neighbor’s planting seemed to be staying put, large and healthy but very few runners.)

a colorist’s dream — red stems, orange bracts in spring with lime green flowers

Last weekend, at the Secret Garden Growers Colors of Fall festival, I was thrilled to finally get my hands on Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’ — they said it is so popular that it’s difficult to keep in stock.

Canna ‘Cleopatra’ also from Secret Garden Growers sale
Kniphofia caulescens — the SGG sale had a great selection of “kniffies”
IMG_6449 2
the farm stand, single-stemmed snaps planted in July were not a waste of money. Cut back, they thickened up in August and September, and are now throwing dozens of spikes. Just starting to bloom, tiny daisies are from Aster lateriflorus var. horizontalis ‘Lady in Black’
with flower buds forming sometime in June/July

I’ve made no progress on the ID of the silver shrub. Any ideas?

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9 Responses to local plant obsessions

  1. ks says:

    Could it be a Brachyglottis ? I pine over coastal Dahlias-so near yet so far away. E.’Fireglow’ used to be seen quite often in nurseries around here-I don’t see it much anymore.

  2. Elaine says:

    Can’t beat dahlias for stunning saturated colours. The dierama leaning over the fence is drool worthy too. Your shrub does look like a Brachyglottis but most have yellow daisy flowers. Let us know when you get a positive id. I’m curious now.

  3. Kris P says:

    Your granddaughter clearly has a sense of curiosity – and a fabulous head of hair! Your mystery silvery shrub is interesting. It does look a like an Olearia but, if it’s been there for years, it seems small for that genus. Do you have a plant ID app on your phone? For kicks, I tried taking a photo of your photo on my iPhone but it only came up with Leucophyllum frutescens, which I’d say it definitely is not. My iPhone app doesn’t have an especially high success rate but it sometimes gives me leads. It doesn’t do more than provide a genus even when it’s on the right track, though.

  4. Denise says:

    @Kathy, as Elaine points out, senecio/brachyglottis has the typical yellow flowers. This shrub has small white flowers — I really suspect olearia aka the daisy bushes!
    @Elaine, I walked those growing fields for a long time, just mesmerizing.
    @Kris, so funny you mention the plant ID app, because I did try and got leucophyllum as well! I kind of gave up after that. A Facebook plant ID site might be useful.

  5. sue fitz says:

    I’d email a photo over to Cistus Nursery in the Portland area. Sean would know what it is, and might even have it in stock.

  6. Your walking buddy is adorable! But you already know that.

    So glad you got to SGG, it’s a fav. Pat and team do a wonderful job. Oh and that dierama is stunning!

  7. Denise Maher says:

    @Sue, I think that’s what I’ll do. I found a reference that Cistus at one time listed Olearia x oleifolia, so I’ll run a photo by them, thanks.
    @Loree, I thought that fall plant sale was great, so many plants, much bigger than I anticipated. Someone you share a book with, Gail Barnard, mentioned it to me, otherwise I’d have missed it. I must have walked by that clump of dierama a zillion times, not know what it was until it bloomed!

  8. Dqvis Smyph says:

    Looks a bit like Olearia traversii.

  9. Denise says:

    It does! And if that’s the case, I hope it’s the form ‘Compacta’!

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