In The Garden Now….. Go Native!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Mahonia aquifolium Tall Oregon Grape

Text and Photo by Victoria Gilleland

When Tall Oregon Grape begins to bloom it’s early spring!

Clusters of intense yellow flowers surrounded by glossy green leaves illuminate the garden. 

The fragrant flowers attract pollinators and are followed by dark blue or sometimes red berries that some of our wildlife friends enjoy.

Since 1899 Oregon Grape has been the official state flower of the state of Oregon. 

What an appropriate honor for a wonderful native plant!

Tall Oregon Grape is an easy to grow evergreen shrub that is good looking year round, disease resistant and will grow just about anywhere on the west side of the Cascade Mountains. Minimal water is required to keep plants healthy.

Plants are upright and often grow to 6 feet or more. Colonies form with spreading underground stems so they can be useful for stabilizing sloping terrain. Height and shape are easily controlled with pruning right after bloom time. Although the foliage resembles English Holly it is softer and not nearly so stiff and prickly.

Ever the resourceful homemaker, my sister-in-law collected the tart Oregon grape berries and turned them into jelly for the family to enjoy. This is just one of the many ways she used the food resources offered by the Oregon forests she loved and explored with my brother.

For garden success “Go Native!” Tall Oregon Grape is evergreen, blooms reliably, produces edible berries, supports wildlife, and is not fussy about location or sun exposure. It’s okay with drought and fits right into a mixed garden border. What’s not to like?

(Botanical Name: Mahonia aquifolium )

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 25 years. ( 


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