The pacific northwest list of Great Plant Picks was released by the Elizabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden last week. It’s a wonderful blend of old favorites and new teasers. Here are a couple of notes on some of the plants:
I love to use Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Album’ as a foamy, fluffy filler under larger perennials or roses. It is a lovely combination of pale, clear pink flowers and grayish green foliage. (Plus it smells good!) As the Geranium thrives in the sun, the Epimedium thrives in the shade. Epimedium x rubrum (Epimedium) is a tried and true performer in a dry, shady situation. I love the early spring flowers and look forward to the fall color every year.
Calocedrus decurrens (Incense Cedar), Mahonia nervosa (Oregon Grape), Cyclamen coum (Hardy Cyclamen), Colchicum ‘Waterlily’ (Autumn Crocus), and Vaccinium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry) are all favorite woodland performers. I’ve been on a campaign to convince people that they need more Oregon Grape. Though not listed as a Great Plant Pick this year, Mahonia ‘Charity’ is simply stunning. Another common and slightly old fashioned name for Colchicum is Naked Ladies. (I have to admit I snicker every time I say it). Whatever you call it, Autumn Crocus is a welcome shot of soft mauve that pairs beautifully with Chrysanthemum or at the base of waning ornamental grasses.
Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Bush) and Acer circinatum (Vine Maple) are northwest favorites that thrive in our climate. For me they often function as garden ‘neutrals’. They blend in with many different types of gardens and offer great seasonal interest.
In closing, I have just a small word on Cistus x hybridus (White Rock Rose). I’ve used this plant many times in the last few years with mixed results. It’s hard not to love the soft, grayish green foliage and simple, happy white flowers. However, the winter season is not kind to this Cistus. Last year we replaced a great number of the plants and in many cases offered alternative plant choices. The late winter/early spring freeze we get every year seems to hit them hard.