Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Mahonia repens is my favorite plant in the garden - this week

It's late October and our Portland rains have returned in full force. Some of you who know me are aware that I suffer this seasonal change with little grace or enthusiasm. But this week my eye has turned to a plant that flourishes in this autumnal wetness. And unlike me, it looks gorgeous splashed all over with raindrops. I give you Mahonia repens.
We have a number of these Northwest natives in the garden here at Longview Ranch. Here, one snuggles in with some Pacific Coast Iris, and a Beach Daisy.

Pine duff shows off their gleaming green foliage perfectly.
I don't get the credit for my favorite plant this week, because they're in the Northwest Territory of our garden, master-planned by the Mulch Man. Their inclusion is his choice and I couldn't be happier about it.

But I'll confess, the first time I saw Mahonia repens, I was less than overwhelmed. A dusty, parched area of the Oregon Garden held a number of PNW natives, and although their M. repens seemed to be surviving, they weren't stellar examples.

But in our much smaller garden, a trickle of summer water and a little judicious pruning has paid off. What's more, these plants are looking like it's spring in the middle of October. And they've put on this beautiful fresh growth all year long.

There's just the faintest blush of red on some of the new growth.

Here's what Plant Lust has to say about Mahonia repens:

Zone: 6a to 9b
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 3-4 feet
Water: Drought tolerant to regular water
Exposure: Sun to part-shade
Soil: Well-drained

Like most Mahonia, these have the characteristic bunches of small, yellow flowers with blue berries that follow.  Here's a picture of the blossom from this past March. Yes, it was wet then, too.

In several inhospitable locations in the garden, these Northwest natives have been surprisingly unfazed by scorching late afternoon sun. The occasional brilliant red leaf has been the only sign of any stress.
I'm joining with danger garden this week to share this favorite plant. Check the comments there for more plants that are catching garden bloggers' eyes in late October.


  1. I have this plant in my garden too, and I love it. It's completely care-free and thriving.

  2. Nice size and I love how the new leaves are bright green.

  3. Perhaps I need to add a couple of these, I love the bright green new growth!

    As for the rain, seriously? Could we just ease into this nonsense rather than jumping off the cliff?

  4. Love them! Thanks for sharing the natives in all their glory!

  5. Again, I didn't know any mahonias were hardy to z6 -- I'll have to give them a try! BTW, one of my favorite things about the PNW are not your native plants, but your native boulders! So smooth.

  6. Like Alan, I am continually impressed by the smooth rock border in the Northwest Territory. The Mahonias nestle up to them charmingly.

  7. Never met a mahonia that I didn't like and this lovely native is no exception! A great favorite!

  8. I recently came home with a bunch of these - 50% off at Loen's fall sale. Thanks for sharing these lovely shots -- can't wait to see my own get established!

  9. Love the foliage, especially how the water beads.


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