‘Christmas Bells’

Sandersonia aurantiaca

Sandersonia aurantiaca, a member of the Colchicaceae family, is a native grassland plant in the eastern areas of South Africa.  It’s often called ‘Christmas bells’ because in the southern hemisphere it blooms in December. Sometimes it is also referred to as Chinese Lanterns.  Highly prized for a long-lasting cut flower, New Zealand cultivates them for the cut flower industry.


Warning: Japanese Barberry!

Japanese Barberry  (Berberis thunbergii)
has been on the USDA invasive species Japanese Barberrylist since the 1980s. With its high seed production and 90% germination rate, this plant has taken over forest floors, wetlands and open spaces at an alarming rate. It is now found in the wild in 31 states; throughout all eastern and mid-western states, and areas of Wyoming and Washington.

Deer Tick_blacklegged tickRecently an alarming side effect of this plant’s escape into the wild has been discovered.  Japanese Barberry creates a humid microclimate creating a highly favorable environment for tick survival and reproduction cycles. This humid environment is especially suited for Deer Ticks (aka: Blacklegged Ticks) ( Ixodes scapularis), vectors of Lyme Disease!   And indeed, studies show Lyme Disease has increased where Japanese Barberry is prevalent.  This plant’s encroachment has now created a public health issue, which has BLM, USDA, and Agriculture Mangers  stepping up efforts to eradicate it in the wild.

Public education is key to controlling invasive species, but inexcusably this highly invasive shrub is still sold in nurseries and written about in garden magazines and nursery catalogs publicizing it as a suitable plant for urban landscapes!  Many states now prohibit the sell of Japanese Barberry, but they are still sold in Oregon, so please research plants before you buy them.  Be a Conscientious Gardener!

Invasive Plant Atlas:  https://www.invasiveplantatlas.org/index.html

Entomology Today: https://entomologytoday.org/2017/10/04/the-5-year-plan-manage-japanese-barberry-to-keep-tick-levels-low-reduce-lyme-risk/

Scientific American: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/barberry-bambi-and-bugs-the-link-between-japanese-barberry-and-lyme-disease/

Oregon Invasive Species: http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/Weeds/OregonNoxiousWeeds/Pages/AboutOregonWeeds.aspx

Article by: Carlotta Lucas

Horticulture Report: Dwarf Purple Willow

Plant Name:        Salix purpurea ‘ Nana’Salix_purpurea_Nana
Common Name: Dwarf Purple Willow
Plant type:          Deciduous shrub
Height:                 6 ft
Spread:                6 ft
Blooms:              April – May
Flowers Color:  White, Green
Exposure:          Full Sun to Part Shade

Soil Requirements:  Lean, well-drained
Water Needs: Evenly Moist, somewhat drought tolerant when established.
Attributes:  Prized for it’s blue-green foliage  and deep purple stems. Quick growing. Deer resistant. Showy flowers attracts butterflies & hummingbirds.
Note: Can be kept smaller with winter pruning to the ground. Tolerates Black Walnut.
Uses:  Pollinator garden, Good for wet areas,  Beds and borders, Foundation planting, Rain garden. Whips used in basket making. Pond and Creek-side plantings.
Native to: Europe and Western Asia
USDA Hardiness Zone: 3a-8b

Horticulture Report: Disanthus cercidifolius

Plant Name: Disanthus cercidifolius
Common Name: Redbud Hazel

Plant type: Broadleaf deciduous shrub
Height: 6-10 ft
Spread:   8-10 ft
Bloom Time: Fall
Flower Color:  Dark purple
Exposure: Part to Full Shade
Soil Requirements: Acidic well-drained soil
Water Needs: Even Moisture
Attributes:   Dramatic kaleidoscope of fall color. Multi-stemmed shrub with heart-shaped leaves. Interesting slightly aromatic miniature 5 petal star shaped flowers. Tolerates full shade.
Note:  Deer love to eat it!  Protect from wind. Reportedly not easy to establish.
Uses:  Woodland gardens, Shade garden, Naturalized Gardens
Native to:  Japan & China
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8

Photo By Alpsdake
[CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons