Plants to Love: Spanish Shawl (Heterocentron elegans)


This sweet little groundcover looks simple and refined when not in bloom, like a larger-leaved, deeper-green version of Baby’s Tears. But once it comes into bloom, it is a serious showstopper, with red hairy bracts holding disproportionately large fuchsia blooms. It flowers during the entire growing season, spring to fall, and the cheery red bracts […]

Plants to Love: Rainbow Drooping Leucothoe (Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’)


I know you’re wondering, so let’s get this out of the way: it’s loo-kow-thow-ee. You only have to say the name once though, when you’re looking for it at the nursery, and then you can call it anything you like. “That gorgeous variegated thing” is what most people call it. Andrew of Garden Smackdown suggests […]

Coastal Gardening: Screens and Hedges for the Sea Coast Garden


If you’re gardening on the sea coast, the wind can make it hard to enjoy being outdoors. Using fast-growing hedges or screening plants can help you block the wind and enjoy hanging out and working in your garden. How to use hedges and screens successfully to block wind: First, think of what direction the wind […]

Coastal Gardening: Groundcover Plants for the Sea Coast


Using groundcovers in sea coast gardens can give you easy low-maintenance color. I love to use ground-covering plants in masses because the waves of color kind of echo the broad waves of the ocean. Planting groundcovers also avoids a lot of the issues found when planting individual shrubs or trees. When planted in masses, the […]

Coastal Gardening: Shade-Loving Plants for the Sea Coast

A collection of shade plants that grow well on the coast. from

Sea coast gardening is challenging enough in full sun, but choosing wind- and salt-tolerant plants for the shade can be downright daunting. Most shade plants didn’t evolve in unprotected, windy zones – they are used to the shelter of trees. Not to worry – there are a few beautiful plants that can help give your […]

Coastal Gardening: Perennial Flowers for the Sea Coast

Sea Coast Perennial Flowers

Recently I discussed some of the challenges people face when gardening in windy coastal  conditions, and some counter-intuitive tips for gardening on the sea coast. The biggest struggle is finding plants that will thrive and bloom even with all that wind and salt. Trial and error is a big part of gardening, but it’s nice […]

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 […]

Disease-Resistant Roses for Damp Coastal Climates

It’s bare-root season, guys, and the roses are cheap and plentiful! I’ve written before about how to select a bare-root rose and about some disease-resistant rose varieties for the coastal Pacific Northwest. I wanted to follow up with some additional suggestions that our local rose expert, Cynthia Graebner of Fickle Hill Old Rose Nursery, left […]

Do Landscapers Listen to Our Own Advice? Plants We’d Never Plant at Home (Part Two)


In part one, I discussed some of the beautiful and useful plants that landscapers recommend or maintain for clients, that we wouldn’t plant in our own home gardens. Whether hard to maintain, prickly, or just overused – these are perfectly good plants in many ways – but often have one fatal flaw us pro-gardeners just […]