Regional Picks: Big Blooms That Don’t Flop – Northwest

Fine Gardening – Issue 156

1. ‘Band of Nobles’ Lupine

Name: Lupinus ‘Band of Nobles’

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 8

Size: 3 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist, acidic, well-drained soil

This improved series of hybrid garden lupines produces strong, tall central flower spikes that arise from a leafy base of palmate foliage. The flowers of ‘Band of Nobles’ lupine come in a wide range of saturated colors—including ultramarine, carmine, crimson, and golden yellow—as well as bicolors. The plant’s robust growth is sturdy, adding height and structure to the border. This perennial is also satisfyingly easy to grow.


2. ‘Anna Rose Whitney’ Rhododendron

Name: Rhododendron ‘Anna Rose Whitney’

Zones: 6 to 9

Size: 6 to 12 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Partial shade; moist, acidic, well-drained soil

Rhododendrons in a Pacific Northwest garden can be a cliché, but this is one of the truly outstanding cultivars. ‘Anna Rose Whitney’ bears huge trusses of deep pink blooms in mid- to late spring, creating a brilliant display. The plant also has excellent foliage, with large leaves that provide bold texture. It has good vigor, so be sure to give it plenty of room to grow (in other words, don’t plant it under a living-room window). ‘Anna Rose Whitney’ looks best massed at the back of a border, used as an understory shrub in a forestlike setting, or placed against the blank side of a north-facing wall, which will silhouette its lovely shape.


3. ‘Snowflake’ Oakleaf Hydrangea

Name: Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

Oakleaf hydrangeas rank among my favorite four-season plants to use in the garden. Like the straight species, ‘Snowflake’ is a lovely shrub, with the same oak-shaped leaves that turn a rich bronzy purple in fall and attractive peeling orange-brown bark in winter. The flowers on this cultivar are stunning: Long conical clusters of sterile, rich white florets emerge in spring and then slowly turn pinkish purple throughout the summer. Be sure to give this shrub plenty of room to display itself at its full potential. It is excellent when used in masses, under tall trees at the edge of a woodland, or along a shady border.


4. Misaka™ Itoh Peony

Name: Paeonia ‘Smith Opus 1’

Zones: 4 to 8

Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

The Itoh series of peonies are hybrids developed from traditional herbaceous peonies and tree peonies. Misaka is one of the most beautiful of the Itohs, with large (reaching up to 8 inches in diameter) double-petaled flowers in an unusual orange shade that fades to peachy yellow. The center is graced with a deep red starlike pattern and feathery yellow stamens. The plant itself has a vigorous growth habit with strong stems that hold up the large blooms without staking. This is truly an eye-catching garden thriller for spring.


Patricia Acheff is the owner of Visionscapes Northwest, a landscape-design firm in Portland, Oregon.

Photos: (1, 2 and 4),; (3), Michelle Gervais

View Comments


Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest