Regional Picks: Garden Staples – Northwest

Fine Gardening - Issue 142

1. Snowdrop

Name: Galanthus nivalis

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8

Size: 4 to 8 inches tall and 3 to 6 inches wide

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

The appearance of snowdrop blossoms is an eagerly awaited sign of spring for many gardeners. One of the first bulbs to peek through the soil or snow, snowdrop graces the garden with dainty, bell-shaped white flowers on short, arching stems. The plant is easy to grow and will often naturalize. It is best enjoyed when planted in drifts so that its lightly fragrant scent is maximized.


2. ‘Winter Glow’ Bergenia

Name: Bergenia cordifolia ‘Winter Glow’

Zones: 3 to 8

Size: 12 to 15 inches tall and 2 feet wide

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

Bergenia has been a garden staple for years, but ‘Winter Glow’ bears a new and improved look. Bright pink flowers appear on tall stalks in spring, while large, thick, glossy green leaves turn to rich burgundy with the cooler temperatures of autumn and winter. The color change is stunning when ‘Winter Glow’ is planted in masses. It is also deer and rabbit resistant.


3. ‘Aureola’ Japanese Forest Grass

Name: Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 18 to 24 inches tall and wide

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

This deciduous grass adds fabulous texture and movement to the garden. Its arching, brilliant yellow foliage with narrow green stripes is graceful and flowing, reminiscent of a waterfall. Its color is most vibrant in a location that’s not too shady. ‘Aureola’ Japanese forest grass pairs well with ferns and hostas, and looks equally good grouped beneath a Japanese maple tree. A drift of this grass blowing in the breeze adds a nice, relaxing element to the garden and lights up shady borders.


4. ‘Cape Blanco’ Sedum

Name: Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’

Zones:5 to 9

Size:3 to 6 inches tall and 8 inches wide

Conditions:Full sun; average, well-drained soil

‘Cape Blanco’ sedum looks like it would be happier in a warmer, drier climate, but it is a favorite native plant of the Northwest. Its silvery gray foliage grows in rosettes, which spread to form a thick, evergreen ground cover. Star-shaped yellow flowers bloom in clusters on short stalks in early summer. The plant is easy to grow and looks fabulous when planted en masse. It is also deer resistant.


Laurie O’Kane is a certified professional horticulturist for Hayes Nursery in Issaquah, Washington.

Photos, except where noted: Doreen Wynja; courtesy of Laurie O’Kane; Susan A. Roth; Stephanie Fagan
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