Xera Plants’ small retail shop in Southeast Portland is always good for an armload of fabulous plants, but last weekend was double worth the trip since Roger Gossler of Gossler Farms was in town with a truckload of newly leafed out beauties, saving me the two hour trip to Springfield to score the monster fern I’ve been pining for. More on that in a second.

It’s always fun to catch up with Roger. He helped us out tremendously getting plant lust off the ground. He was our very first guinea pig on plant lust. We ran our idea by him long before launch, and we launched with only the Gossler Farms catalog on our site. 75 nurseries later, we still appreciate Roger’s continued encouragement and support.

Roger has always been generous with his time and gardening knowledge, so it makes perfect sense that he now offers garden coaching. He visits gardens around Oregon and Washington, and talks with people about what they have, how they should take care of it, and what they want to plant. He’s been visiting with a lot of gardeners who move in to a new house and aren’t sure what they have. The fee is a very reasonable $40, and comes with a 10% discount at the nursery.

I’ve got new neighbors on both sides of my house right now, and can’t help but think how valuable this kind of advice would be. I don’t think the new residents realize they’re digging and tossing special stuff. I did done some dumpster diving in their recycling bin last week to recover some Kniphofia and Eucomis that got weeded. I’m not above getting a little dirty in the name of “free” plants. Free is not exactly the right word, since I bought and planted those plants for the previous residents, but still, I have new plants I didn’t have to shop for this year, so I think it counts.

Most importantly, what were the best Xera/Gossler finds of the day? They had tons of good stuff, of course.

1. Athyrium nipponicum ‘Godzilla’

I have to thank the shopper who questioned Roger about this plant within earshot, or I might have mistaken it for one of the normal sized Japanese Painted Ferns. I am a sucker for a monster plant, and Athyrium nipponicum ‘Godzilla qualifies. While most Japanese Painted Ferns are 1-2 feet, Godzilla grows to 3 feet tall, 6 1/2 feet wide. 6 1/2 FEET! I can’t wait to watch this baby grow up.

Athyrium 'Godzilla'

2. Aralia californica

Aralia californica promises to grow 8 feet tall and wide in a single season, which is most welcome in my newly barren back yard which needs to built up again from practically nothing. I’m all over fast growing shortcuts to a mature looking garden this summer. Especially those that will bring berries and birds in the fall.
Aralia californica

3. Saruma heryi

I was so excited to find Saruma heryi at Xera last weekend. This was the plant I was most heartbroken to lose in the case of the overzealous weeding helper last year. I missed its dreamy carpet of velvety heart shaped leaves.

Saruma henryi

Saruma henryi

3. Selaginella krussiana ‘Bronwii’

I had a major case of Selaginella envy when neighbors mass planted Selaginella krussiana ‘Bronwii’ in their hell strip and side yard this spring. I think I know where they’ve been shopping, because I found some of my very own. I think soft feathery Selaginella leaves are quite magical. For those of you who appreciate a tactile garden, make sure you stop to pet the Selaginella.

Selaginella krussiana 'Brownii' at Xera.

4. Acanthus syriacus

I find it hard to resist a good Acanthus, and perhaps the especially prickly Acanthus syriacus will keep a certain steam roller devil dog from trampling right through the middle of the garden bed.

Acanthus syriacus

5. Eryngium x tripartitum

It’s not much to look at yet, but I’ll be anxiously awaiting the spiky “explosion of intense, metallic-blue flower heads” as promised by Annie’s Annuals’ description of Eryngium x tripartitum. Hopefully it will seed itself about just as reliably as Xera Plants says it will.

Eryngium x tripartitum

6. Potentilla gelida

Seduced by the silvery serrated leaves of Potentilla gelida with the promise of 2 foot rosettes that look wonderful in drifts. Serrated, silvery, velvety, rosettes, drifts? Some of the more irresistible words on a plant description.

Potentilla gelida

7. Sanguisorba tenuifolium ‘Atropurpureum’

Serrated leaves got me again. Sanguisorba tenuifolia Atropurpureum promises to be 6 feet tall with 4″ furry burgundy catkins that attract butterflies. I love the burgundy edged leaves. I’ll be planting this near the red banana, Ensete ‘Maurelii’, for the burgundy color echo.

Sanguisorba tenuifolium 'Atropurpureum'

8. Saxifraga stolonifera ‘Cuculiformes’

Saxifraga is a plant that I’ve learned to appreciate over the years. I used to think of it as a color spot of sorts, maybe I had it confused with a begonia, but it made an impression on me in Patricia’s old garden, where it spread to create a gorgeous ground cover. The texture always reminds me of an old dog’s gray muzzle, which makes me smile.

Saxifraga stolonifera 'Cusculiformis'

9. Lamium maculatum ‘Aureum’

If I am a hoarder of anything, it’s gold leaved ground covers. I can’t seem to pass one up. There just always seems to be a place where you could squeeze another one in. Just about anywhere you have visible dirt could use a sunny little cover up. Lamium maculatum ‘Aureum’ is up for the job in shade.

Lamium maculatum 'Aureum'

10. Reineckea carnea

The “Ribbon Grass,” Reineckea carnea looks a little plain-jane right now, but it’s a sleeper. Not a grass at all, fragrant pink flowers emerge from the base of the leaves, like they’ve risen straight from the ground, followed by orange berries. It is evergreen and spreads as a woodlandy understory ground cover, but not in a thuggish way.

Reineckia carnea

I should count out my plant shopping sprees regularly. Maybe I have some unknown compulsion to always buy exactly 10. Then again, it may be better not to keep too close a count. I’d be scared to know the total number of plants I’ve toted home over the years. Some things are better left to the imagination.

Happy planting season. I hope you have some exciting new additions in your garden.

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