Tucked between the Cascade Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Portland has a temperate climate, one that you would normally find much further south. The modest average annual rainfall is delivered in the form on light misty rains that last for days. Portland is a “green” city, one of the most ecologically conscious in the world. Native landscaping is one of many conservation efforts, and the list of native plants is long.
Put together the warm, dry summers and the damp, cool – but not freezing – winters, and you have the right conditions for a land of giants. Douglas fir, grand fir, ponderosa pine, western hemlock, and western cedar are conifers that can soar 200 feet or more. Large, native deciduous trees may not reach the height of the conifers – only 50 – 90 feet, but their branches spread wide to form a large canopy. Try bigleaf maple, Oregon white oak, and quaking aspen.
Evergreen shrubs serve many functional roles. They help anchor the house or other structure visually to the land, direct foot traffic, provide wind, noise and view barriers, hide unsightly utilities, and make a perfect backdrop showcasing flowering plants. Let’s not forget the wildlife. Evergreens provide food, shelter, and nesting sites for many birds. Consider Hairy Manzanita, Snowbrush, and tall Oregon grape.
Deciduous flowering shrubs provide year-round interest in the landscape – flowers in the spring, lush greenery in the summer, brilliant leaf color in the fall. Plant Lewis’ mock orange and western azalea for their showy flowers and sweet fragrance. Red flowering currant, thimbleberry, and red elderberry are magnets for hummingbirds. And no Portland landscape is complete without roses. Try Nootka rose, swamp rose, or baldhip rose.
Ferns thrive in slow misty rains, so it comes as no surprise that there are quite a few that are native to the area. Deer fern, licorice fern, and sword fern are evergreen ferns, a good option for groundcovers and container plantings in shady areas.
See also: Hillside Landscapes