Flowers of purple sage and gooseberry brighten traffic islands in communities throughout the Willamette Valley. Many of these drought-tolerant shrubs, tough enough for city curbs and beautiful enough for home gardens, were first tested at OSU’s research station in Aurora. Neil Bell, OSU community horticulturist, began the Northwest Plant Evaluation Program, testing hardy ornamentals such as Hebe. Soon, he focused on drought resistance in Ceanothus, Cistus, and Halimium shrubs. Currently, he’s testing dozens of manzanita and Grevillea varieties. Following Bell’s findings, nurseries have collected cuttings from OSU’s successes, helping to beautify western Oregon. No water? No problem.