I love native plants, from the soft texture of fringed sagebrush to the dazzling display of yellow blooms that encompass Oregon sunshine. Each native plant adds a unique texture and color to a Heritage Garden (HG). When we developed the HG Program we realized that natives, although dazzling to our eyes, may not provide the long lasting color that most traditional gardeners expect from their gardens (remember the kaleidoscope of color provided by natives’ peaks in the spring). Enter the allowed 25% non-native plants to the HG criteria. This percentage can be comprised of popular low water-use non-natives from the southwestern United States (Firecracker Penstemon for example) or you can include cultivars.
What are cultivars and how can they be used to enhance your Heritage Garden? A cultivar is a plant or grouping of plants selected for desirable characteristics that can be maintained by propagation. Most cultivars have arisen in cultivation but a few are special selections from the wild. Cultivars may bloom longer, and have bigger and/or brighter blooms. Let’s take a look at some of the low water-use cultivars that we recommend for inclusion in your Heritage Garden.
The native Blanket Flower boasts yellow petals with an orange center. Blanket flower cultivars provide a showy long lasting display of an orange/red center radiating out to bright yellow petals at the end. If you want to add a blanket flower cultivar make sure it is a drought tolerant variety.
Be a friend to birds and bees with the addition of Coneflower (Echinacea) to your Heritage Garden. Cultivars offer an important source of food for pollinators during the summer and early fall. Leave the seed heads intact in the winter to provide food for our feathered friends.