For thousands of years, volcanic eruptions, westward travelers, seafaring explorers, floods, and earthquakes have planted the seeds for flora found in Oregon today. From the north have come blueberries, roses, and juniper. The South has contributed lemon balm and popcorn flower. Oregon's ferns, pines, and lilies have arrived on its lands from locations throughout broader North America and the Pacific Northwest. I can tell you that yes, these species are all vastly different. So how did they end up here?
For thousands of years, Oregon's diverse landscapes were shaped by human hands and natural forces. The first inhabitants (Paleo-Indians) arrived about 15,000 years ago. By the 1500s, a number of native American groups called Oregon and the Pacific Northwest home. Each incoming tribe brought its own way of life and most successful plants and flowers. Later in the 16th Century, European explorers reached the coast by land and sea. They also brought flora and fauna to the region. The pioneers arrived in droves during the 1800s, which expanded the state's population until soldiers were called in for service during the Civil War.
Climate and Geography
Along with people, Oregon's landscapes have been shaped by its climate and geography. I'll be the first to tell you that Oregon is a land of juxtapositions. Its landscapes range from a wet, rainy coastline to deserts characterized by more snow, warmer summers, colder winters, and minimal rainfall. This diversity has also led to the state's ability to support one of the most diverse collections of plant life that you'll find in the continental United States. Over thousands of years, the state's geography has been shaped by earthquakes, floods, and multiple volcanic eruptions.
Depending on where you live in the state, Better Homes & Gardens recommends excellent options for a garden. If you want an edible garden, hardy and delicious varieties like the Alaskan blueberry, Adobe parsley, or the American wild carrot are ideal. If you can't choose between them, try planting them all! I can tell you that you will never be disappointed by having fresh fruits and vegetables growing right outside your door.
If you live in one of the more arid parts of the state, I recommend getting some hardy but attractive plants and grasses that will fair well through fluctuations in temperature and precipitation. For partial sun and shade, the goatsbeard, which produces elegant white flowers in the summer, is a great choice. Camass, which delivers stunning blue star-shaped flowers, lives in an equally varied environment. The Pacific Bleeding Heart, which is identifiable for its beautiful bell-shaped flowers, is a good choice if you live in a shadier spot with more moisture throughout the year. If you live in a sunnier place, consider Blanket Flower or Blue Columbine, which also attracts pollinators.
When you walk down the street, take a look at the flowers and plants around you. Who knew that human and natural activities over the years had produced the native vegetation you see today? Now that you have some idea of what kinds of native plants to get for your Oregon garden give local landscaping a try. Of course, we are here and happy to assist if you need recommendations or have questions.