Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Audio Play Icon Headphones Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon

Regional Picks: Four Season Interest – Northwest

Fine Gardening - Issue 148

1. Strawberry Tree

Strawberry Tree

Name: Arbutus unedo

USDA Hardiness Zones: 8 to 11

Size: 15 to 20 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide

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

A smaller relative of our native madrone (Arbutus menziesii, Zones 7–9), the strawberry tree carries bunches of 1-inch-wide orange and red fruit in fall. Don’t be misled: The “strawberries” here are an acquired taste—at best—but they are a feast for the eyes. Clusters of small urn-shaped white flowers join in the late-season show. This unique display is set against narrow evergreen leaves on gnarled branches.


2. ‘Firefly’ Heather

‘Firefly’ Heather

Name: Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’

Zones: 4 to 7

Size: 15 to 20 inches tall and 2 to 3 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil

Winter deals us a lot of gray in the Northwest. We, fortunately, have plants like ‘Firefly’ heather to dispel the gloom. Tiny scaly leaves give a soft wispiness to its upturned branches, which knit together beautifully in a mass planting. The summer foliage of this plant is a vivid lime green, accented with long sprays of tiny magenta flowers in July and August. Then the big show begins: Cool fall temperatures turn the foliage to a fiery orange-red, a heartwarming glow that lasts into spring. Heathers are naturals for sunny slopes and around rocks.


3. ‘Silver Dollar’ Hebe

‘Silver Dollar’ Hebe

Name: Hebe ‘Silver Dollar’

Zones: 8 to 11

Size: 2 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to light shade; well-drained soil

The ‘Silver Dollar’ hebe by my front step puts a smile on my face every time I come home, especially in winter. In that dark season, its small blue-gray leaves are blushed with bright pink along the edges. In the warmer months, the margins fade to creamy white as short clusters of lilac-purple flowers decorate the ends of the plant’s neat branches. Recent bad winters have hurt some hebes, but ‘Silver Dollar’ has shrugged them off. Mine makes a happy scene with maroon and variegated sedges (Carex spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9) and blue irises (Iris spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9).


4. Variegated Laurustinus

Variegated Laurustinus

Name: Viburnum tinus ‘Variegatum’

Zones: 8 to 10

Size: 6 to 8 feet tall and 5 to 8 feet wide

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

Laurustinus is an old standby in landscapes of the Northwest, but the variegated one is still all too scarce. Leathery, oval, 2- to 3-inch-long leaves give this drought-hardy evergreen a full figure. Starting in fall, clusters of pink buds open into fragrant white flowers that build through winter to a spring climax. Metallic blue berries follow, often holding on until the next flowering season. To this all-year show, the variegated laurustinus adds bold creamy leaf margins.


Michael Lee is a landscape architect and nursery owner in Seattle, Washington.

Photos: (#1), www.millettephotomedia.com; (#2), Bill Johnson; (#3), www.visionspictures.com; (#4), Courtesy of Rainy Side Gardeners

View Comments


Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest

Magazine Cover

Take your passion for plants to the next level

Subscribe today and save up to 44%

"As a recently identified gardening nut I have tried all the magazines and this one is head and shoulders above the pack."


View All

We hope you’ve enjoyed your free articles. To keep reading, become a member today.

Get complete site access to decades of expert advice, regional content, and more, plus the print magazine.

Start your FREE trial