Garden Photo of the Day

Does Spring Play Favorites?

A field of sunshine in the Skagit Valley

Spring has a mind of it's own, and it seems to favor Washington State over Wisconsin. See what's blooming in transplant Linda O'Connell's Whidbey Island garden!

"My husband, Dan and I are recent transplants to Whidbey Island, WA and after spending most of our lives in WI, we are still delighted at how early spring arrives here and how long it lasts. Here is a glimpse at what is flowering now in February."

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Lobularia 'Snow Princess' from last year

Vinca Minor, 'Bowle's Variety'


Daphne ' O Zuiko Nishiki'

Euphorbia 'myrsinites'

Sorbaria sorbifolia 'Sem' showing it's new growth


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  1. user-7007498 03/01/2016

    Linda: thanks for posting the lovely photos. The Skagit Valley picture is stunning. Rub it in. Snow just melted off my front yard today. Light snow predicted for Friday. I want to get into the garden so bad.

    I love the new growth on the Sorbaria. The plant looks so cool. I planted one about 7 years ago. It was such a thug in my garden. By year 2, it had invaded into every other plant in the bed. How are you doing with it?

    1. User avater
      LindaonWhidbey 03/01/2016

      Kevin, a spring trip to the Skagit Valley is like going to the Netherlands, but cheaper:) It's especially stunning once the tulips start blooming. You're right about the Sorbaria, it's beautiful but can be a nuisance. We have 3 rather large ones that I routinely need to "clean up". The babies get stashed in a corner garden in the back of our 2 acres where they can spread without concern. Oh, and just to make you feel better, today it's rainy and windy here and not very spring-like.

  2. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/01/2016

    I'm sure you are going to be in for a lot of growing zone happy surprises going from Wisconsin to your current much milder locale, Linda. Is the daphne you pictured one with a lovely fragrance? I had a 'Carol Mackie' once upon a time and I couldn't believe how the sweetness of its blooms filled the air in spring. It thrived until it didn't...bam, it seemed all I did was blink and one morning it was dead.
    The flowers on your edgeworthia are so interesting. I'm not familiar with that plant...going to have to go off on a google search and read. Thanks for bringing your spring to us.

    1. garden1953 03/01/2016

      Carol Mackie is on my plant list this year. May I ask what your zone and location is? I'm at 7,500' in Colorado zone 4b. It's on the Plant Select list for Colorado.

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 03/01/2016

        I live outside of Knoxville TN and our zone teases back and forth between 6b and 7a. I was so pleased with my 'Carol Mackie' and thought (rather smugly) that mine had escaped the unexpected death phenomenon that I had read about. It lived and grew well for about 5 years and then, kaput. We have a lot of summer heat and humidity so that would be quite different from your area. Good luck if you get one!

      2. willysmom 03/01/2016

        Cherie, I had a Carol Mackie in Zone 4b (foothills of Maine) that lived beautifully for over 15 years - then it did die suddenly. But it was so worth it! Daphnes are notorious for sudden unexplained deaths, but they do require very good drainage yet constant moisture (but not too much!). I don't think it's the winter cold that does them in, but rather the lack of drainage over winter that kills the roots. I have a young one now in zone 5b, in a raised bed, just two years old - we'll see! It's a wonderful plant and definitely worth a try - or two.

      3. sheila_schultz 03/01/2016

        Cherie... where are you in CO? What would we do without Plant Select?

    2. User avater
      HelloFromMD 03/01/2016

      I bet you could grow an Edgeworthia, Aren't you a zone warmer in Tenn.? A really neat shrub. I believe Carolyn's shade garden blog has some nice pictures of it from Charles Cresson's garden.

    3. User avater
      LindaonWhidbey 03/01/2016

      This is a very fragrant Daphne. We tried unsuccessfully to grow them in WI, but they seem much hardier here. Of course, we've gone from Zone 5 to 8a. There is a beautiful Edgeworthia growing in a public garden near Granville Is. In Vancouver, BC that we always admired and it was almost the first thing that got planted in our new garden. I've enclosed a full photo.

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 03/01/2016

        Thanks for the more expanded view of the Edgeworthia. The color of the woody branching seems to have warm cinnamon tones which is also very appealing. It's definitely a neat plant.

      2. User avater
        meander_michaele 03/01/2016

        What a coincidence, Linda...just today somebody on facebook shared a picture of a craftsman's fun little structure and when I did a follow up google search on whether or not he had a website, lo and behold, he did and he was from your new home of Whidbey island. Might be an interesting place to visit and see his work in person.

        1. User avater
          LindaonWhidbey 03/02/2016

          Oh, I love Bob Bowling's work. He just had a nice display at the NW Flower and Garden Show and is from the south part of Whidbey.

        2. User avater
          Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/02/2016

          Glad I scrolled through to see this link, Michaele. Those are some great structures. I even see some rust. I'm a pushover for rust!

          1. User avater
            meander_michaele 03/02/2016

            Ah, yes, I, too, respond to the siren song of rust. Sometimes, I wonder if it's because I'm lazy and it's just easier not to fight it.

      3. user-7007940 03/01/2016

        I have had my Edgeworthia now for four years and it hasn't matured enough for me yet. I had two blooms last year and only one this year. I live 11 miles east of Seattle. I cover it when it is freezing temps. I hope it starts to bloom more. I have a variegated Winter Daphne right next to it and it is doing well. Tons of blooms.

        1. User avater
          LindaonWhidbey 03/02/2016

          Joe, our Edgeworthia is also about 4 years old but has flowered every year. However, we are zone 8a here and we have it in a fairly protected area of our garden. Are you in the foothills where it is slightly colder? Actually, we are getting a bit concerned that our plant is getting too large for it's location but we rather like it so will just make it fit.

          1. user-7007940 03/02/2016

            I live in Newcastle. It is 8b. It does get colder over here. However, the one in your photo above is doing well and that is in Vancouver, BC where it is much colder. I'm going to hope it just takes longer to get established.

  3. wGardens 03/01/2016

    Ah, beautiful sights as to what is coming our way! Our snowdrops are blooming now.The foliage on the Sobaria is wonderful!

  4. user-4691082 03/01/2016

    I am not too far from Kevin, so I will echo his comments! Of course, having 70 degree temps @ Christmas made the spring bulbs pop out of the ground, but that's it! We will have to enjoy Kevin's bark a while longer.. His trees, that is! Thanks for sharing those beautiful photos!

  5. User avater
    HelloFromMD 03/01/2016

    Very nice. So far here Arnold's Promise witch hazel, snow drops, and the crocuses, the Tommies. Very cool that spring lasts a long time. We often get 90 degree weather for a few days in May and that quickly ends the late tulips and daffodils. I tried to grow an Edgeworthia, but we had two very cold winters in a row and that ended with a loss in the hardiness gamble.

  6. greengenes 03/01/2016

    Well...welcome to Washington state Linda and Dan! Whidbey Island is a wonderful and beautiful place to live! It looks like spring is for sure already happening there! Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing!

  7. annek 03/01/2016

    What a great move - to Whidby! - especially if you're a gardener. Your photos are lovely and I'm sure your mind is reeling, trying to encompass all the things you can do in your new garden. Hope to see some before and after photos (before in Wisconsin and after in Whidby)

  8. GrannyMay 03/01/2016

    Beautiful photos! Welcome to year-round gardening and gardeners' paradise, Linda and Dan.

    1. User avater
      LindaonWhidbey 03/02/2016

      Thanks. Thoroughly enjoying it and taking advantage of the wonderful botanical gardens in this area.

  9. Chris_N 03/01/2016

    Wow! Field of sunshine for sure. Meanwhile, back here in Wisconsin, the weekend was in the 50's so I worked on a garden project that was supposed to have been done last fall. Now, two days later - 2" of snow! At least we didn't get the 6" they were predicting. Vernal witch hazel and snowdrops are blooming here. I love your Edgeworthia.

    1. User avater
      LindaonWhidbey 03/02/2016

      Thanks Chris. If I'm remembering correctly you are in charge of the beautiful gardens at Oakwood East? One of the things that we truly miss from Madison is Olbrich Gardens. Our first glimpse of a Vernal Witch Hazel was walking around there in the winter. I think that when spring arrives there it is very special especially after a harsh winter. Go Badgers!

      1. Chris_N 03/02/2016

        Olbrich is an amazing botanical garden. It's a little known gem that anyone who visits the area should see. And, yes, I'm in charge of the playing in the dirt at Oakwood East.

  10. sheila_schultz 03/01/2016

    Thanks, Linda, for sharing these gorgeous Spring images with all of us yearning for color in our gardens! And here I was happy yesterday when I noticed that one yellow crocus started blooming... it's the little things in life, you know ;)

    1. User avater
      LindaonWhidbey 03/02/2016

      After many years in zone 5, I totally understand.

  11. GrannyCC 03/01/2016

    Gorgeous photos. Welcome to the PNW I live on Vancouver Island and we are having our Annual Flower Count. Always happens in the Spring. I love the Tulip Festival in your area.

  12. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/01/2016

    Well, I like to think that spring is using PNW as a dry run, to make sure it gets it right for those of us still waiting for spring. Not that I am jealous.... :)
    Great shots of some really enviable plants. Beautiful. Edgeworthia is a regular on my 'wish-I-could-grow-it-in-zone-6' list!

    1. User avater
      LindaonWhidbey 03/02/2016

      Thanks Tim. Other than the fact that our children decided to move to Vancouver, BC, and marry Canadians, our decision to move here was made much easier by the gardening opportunities. The first plant that we acquired here was our Edgeworthia. It has not disappointed. However, many plants that we enjoyed in WI do rather poorly here unless you have a tomatoes. Here is the full picture of our prized Edgeworthia.

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/02/2016

        Thanks for the beautiful, beautiful photo, Linda. There's something about a pendant blossom that seems so decorative to me, I guess because any decorations that we string up hang like that. I have a small Rhododendron cinnabarinum (which survived two brutal winters outdoors-barely-and now is recuperating in a container) that is supposed to have lovely pendant blossoms as well. Edworthia 'Akebono' looks to be a stunner, too.
        Best of luck in your new community. Such a beautiful part of the country! (And it doesn't hurt that Vancouver and Victoria are not far away....)

  13. user-7007940 03/01/2016

    I live in the Pacific Northwest and love this time of the year.

  14. user-7007964 03/03/2016

    Spring is here! We are so lucky to have mother nature on our side. If you have a green thumb and are interested in growing gorgeous Orchids then don't miss out!
    Clink the link below

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