Plants to Love: Snowmound Spirea (Spirea x nipponica ‘Snowmound’)


‘Snowmound’ Spirea (USDA Zones 4-9) is a lovely thing, with deep green leaves, reddish stems, a graceful arching habit and rounded form. It loses its leaves, but doesn’t make a mess about it, and the white flowers in spring make you forget that you missed it all winter. ‘ Snowmound’ needs full sun to do […]

Plants to Love: New Zealand Wind Grass (Stipa arundinacea/ Anemanthele lessoniana)


New Zealand Wind Grass is a stunning low-maintenance grass that keeps its glowing orange foliage all winter long. I occasionally have to prune out some dead bits here or there, which I do by grasping a small clump of dead foliage and cutting it out at the base so you don’t notice it’s been pruned. […]

Monday Miscellany: Pacific Northwest Plants, Homemade Deer Deterrent, Book Rec’s, and MORE Garden Cocktails


Great Plant Picks This week I’ve re-discovered a fantastic resource for Pacific Northwest Gardeners: Great Plant Picks. Plant info online can be hard to rely on – either nurseries are stretching the zones and touting a plant’s greatness so they can sell more of them, or home gardeners are giving anecdotal information that is useful, […]

Plants to Love: Fragrant Sweet Box (Sarcococca ruscifolia)


This unassuming little shade shrub is one that people often don’t notice at first. There’s nothing particularly showy about its graceful arching stems, deep green leaves, or the tiny white flowers that hang from its branches in winter. But when those small blooms open, people walk around sniffing all the big, showy flowers in the […]

Bulletproof Rhododendrons: Rhodies for Sea Coast Wind and Other Tough Conditions


Rhododendrons are tough performers in our Pacific Northwest climate, and have become a standby for landscapers looking for a plant that’s sure to thrive. But not all Rhodies are created equal; some are more suited to tough conditions than others, as evidenced by the horrible-looking Rhodies in so many local parking lots. Finding the right […]

Plants to Love: Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima/ Stipa tenuissima)


This waving blonde grass is a great way of bringing a sense of movement to your garden. It looks great massed, and brings a beachy feel to the garden with its bleached straw-colored seedheads. Nassella tenuissima does need to be cut to the ground once a year, but I’ve had great luck doing it at […]

Plants to Love: Purple Catmint (Nepeta faassenii)


Simple, lush, gorgeous. This sun-lover attracts bees and beneficial insects, resists deer, takes salty seacoast wind, and looks great with any number of plants. All it asks in return is good drainage and full sun. I love it with just about any ornamental grass, pink or yellow roses (it attracts the beneficial bugs that eat […]

Callunas, Ericas, Daboecias, Oh My! Demystifying the Different Kinds of Heather


I first heard about the heather plant when I was 10, reading an old-fashioned British book about a group of children who escaped their abusive guardians and made a home together on a secret island. They built a willow house out of live willow stems, so their home grew lush and protected, and they used […]

Fall-Blooming Heathers for Autumn Color

Fall blooming heather varieties for the autumn garden

In all the time I’ve been designing gardens, I have never had anyone tell me, “please, no heathers!”. Thank goodness, because heathers are my secret weapon for extending any season’s interest. By the end of summer many perennials have stopped blooming, but the winter bloomers and fall colors haven’t started in earnest to continue the […]

Rhododendrons – Little-Known Favorites for Winter


If you’ve been following my Fall Planting Series, you’ll know why fall is such a great time of year to plant! This is also the perfect time to see where your garden is lacking in winter interest, and to add some year-round stars to perk things up. Rhododendrons are one of my favorite plants now, […]