Image: Kate Bryant
Xera sells over a dozen species and cultivars of poker plants (Kniphofia sp.), including some that flower throughout the summer, as well as in winter time.

Want to learn more about drought-tolerant gardening, natives and great design for our climate? Or just love plants? Luckily for you and me, there’s an excellent, local on-line resource for learning about and picking great plants for Pacific Northwest gardens.

If you haven’t seen it before, take a look at Xera Plants ’s website. Written and run by Paul Bonine and Greg Shepherd, two local powerhouse brains of horticultural knowledge, the website provides succinct, expert and authoritative information on growing plants that have proven themselves in our climate.

Mind you, it’s a wholesale nursery, and wholesalers must focus on growing plants. (In other words, you can’t exactly ring them up and ask questions – they are set up exclusively for interacting with their retail vendors and designer customers and sadly cannot field plant questions from the public.) But you can find their plants at local retail nurseries (see list of retailers) and co-owner Paul Bonine is a popular speaker on matters relating to PNW gardening, drought-tolerance, wild plant collecting and local weather patterns. This website, however, is always there, and is hands-down, the best way to access the plethora of horticultural information that’s stored in their collective minds.

Image: Kate Bryant

This fetching hardy GloxiniaSinningia tubiflora – is rarely offered in the nursery trade. It makes a gorgeous addition to the garden and has a sweet, lemony fragrance, to boot. It’s just one of many unusual offerings from Xera – here seen in one of their hoop-houses against a filigree of maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’).

 One of the nicest features of the website is their compilations of suitable plants for various conditions. You see these types of lists in gardening books and websites, but rarely are they specific to our Pacific Northwest climate. Click here to search for plants for dry shade, deer-resistance, low/no water, and western natives, as well as to search categories of plants they grow (perennials, shrubs, vines, trees, etc).

Check out Xera’s offerings at local retailers or spring plant sales (like the HPSO’s plant sale every April). The labels not only describe the plants’ assets, size, and zone, but often offer design suggestions on fool-proof plant pairings.

If you want to compare manzanita or crape myrtle species or cultivars that are hardy in our climate, they are undoubtedly the best local resource.

Poke around and you’re bound to discover plants you’ve never heard of, and come away with some inspiring ideas for your own garden.