Category Archives: Introducing the Xera Blog- PDX Gardener

The Xera Plants Blog Introduction

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Hello from Xera

Welcome to Xera Plants new blog.  I’ll be updating this site on a regular basis. This blog will feature a lot of different things. I’ll be profiling plants that are new, interesting, or over looked and they will be available at our our retail shop.

I’ll have discussions on design, native plants, weather/climate….well just about anything else that seems important. Its geared specifically towards the Portland area- I’ll try to include information for other parts of the country as best I can. I’ll reserve the right to go into full geek mode. Since I am a geek and so are most plant people. (Embrace it, it is good).

Our Gardening world

We love to garden here and at Xera we firmly believe this is one of the best places to garden in the world. We have (mostly) mild winters (USDA Zn8a-8b), plentiful rainfall- but very dry summers. Our summer heat- though not sweltering is sufficient to expand our list and success with many plants. These favorable conditions tempt the most intrepid gardeners to try just about anything. There are successes and failures- but above all this leads to education and savvy gardeners use these lessons to expand the envelope even further.

Plants + Climate + Soil

Xera Plants focuses on what we call ‘Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW’. This takes into account several ideas. We believe that working with the climate rather than against it is a smart way to conserve resources. Match the plant to the site- plants occupy every conceivable niche in the world. We seek out plants that are adapted to specific soils, sites, and irrigation. That lessens the need for continually modified soil. And this saves not only on water but fertilizer which unfortunately ends up as run off into our water ways- which is detrimental. Of course many plants require compost enriched and fertilizer enhanced soil but not all. Each plant should be considered on a case by case basis- and then organized into similar communities. Good sound garden practices will lead to the most success.

Efficient plants, efficient water use

That means plants that are adapted to our winter wet/summer dry climate- that still thrive and do not limp through summer pathetically without constant irrigation . An emphasis on plants that survive our winters as well- though gardeners like to experiment and that is where ‘For Gardeners in the PNW ‘ is important. We do not necessarily grow generic landscape plants but a wide array of plants that gardeners can experiment with and that can require more specific care than, say, the ultitarian and (tortured) plants found in commercial landscapes. But if a common plant is good or exceptional you may be surprised to see it on our shelves.

Why did my special plant freeze?

Inherent in gardening is the interaction between plants and weather. I try to offer my very best estimation of a plants hardiness to cold based on careful (some say obsessive) observation.  Its not as simple as a single temperature. Plant health, establishment, weather preceding a freeze, duration of freeze, cultivar, a plants natural adaptation and origin, provenance….damn I consider all that and try to distill it down to a a five degree spread. Thats where the A and B appear in the USDA Zones.  Considering all those parameters it really just comes down to a gut feeling. Every plant is different, every freeze is different. If a plant consistently croaks in just slightly below average temperatures- its a candidate for the compost heap of time. Pushing the limits of your climate is a time honored tradition in gardening and know that it leads to great discoveries and horrible disappointments. I’m a weather geek and a plant geek and combine the two to learn. And I swear to you that the minute a plant freezes out and we discontinue it I find or hear about the same plant as large as a Baluga whale thriving away in someones garden. I try.

We grow local, buy local

We grow all of our plants at our facility in Sherwood and we are very proud of this. We grow local so you can buy local. Its imperative that gardeners be supplied with the healthiest and most well grown plants. Poorly grown plants seldom recover or need exceptional coddling. Thats a pact that we make with gardeners. Also- we have dropped nearly all pesticides at our facility. We rely on good horticultural practices to discourage pests. Diversity, correct irrigation, and appropriate potting medium and culture are the key. Whenever we can we rely on organic fertilizer- if you are interested to know which we use we will be happy to share. If a plant is prone to disease or pests and proves to be too difficult to grow- and will offer problems to the gardener- it will be evaluated and can be dropped. There’s an infinite number of plants in the great vegetable kingdom. And, if it shows a propensity to poor behavior, become a headache for gardeners, and generally invade into the wild. We won’t grow it. (though its a little hard to compete with the rampant weeds that are already here…Hedera, Ilex, Rubus, Pyrus, Prunus avium, Buddleia davidii, Cytisus – and your ilk- I’m talking to you.).

Plants from the west are the best

We love our native plants and they should be included in our gardens. We don’t confine native to just the Willamette Valley though but the entire west. Plants don’t observe  political borders in their natural ranges and neither do we.

I’ll try not to be too long winded so you don’t have to plow through a novel. Its my promise to be succinct and easy to understand.

Thank you,

Paul Bonine

And come back to visit ‘The PDX Gardener’- The Xera Plants Blog again and again. Updates will also appear on our website and you can find these plants at our retail nursery at 1114 SE Clay St. Portland Oregon 97217 it is open from February to the first of November Thursday to Sunday 10am-6pm (503) 236.8563

We do not do mail order at this time. For wholesale info call (503)612.9950