Regional Picks: Plant This, Not That – Northwest

Fine Gardening - Issue 153
‘Standishii’ Yew


Overused: Arborvitae

(Thuja occidentalis cvs.)

Photo: Michelle Gervais

1. ‘Standishii’ Yew

Name: Taxus baccata ‘Standishii’

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 8

Size: Up to 10 feet tall and 2 feet wide

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

There is a reason why the great English designers plant yews: They are dramatic. Not for the timid, ‘Standishii’ yew punctuates space and captures light in a way that few architectural plants can match. There’s no need to prune it as this plant has a handsome form. It works both as a single feature and en masse, creating a wall or enhancing a pathway. Bonus winter berries decorate and contrast beautifully with the winter-induced golden foliage.


‘Looking Glass’ Brunnera


Overused: Hosta

(Hosta spp. and cvs.)

Photo: Michelle Gervais

2. ‘Looking Glass’ Brunnera

Name: Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’

Zones: 3 to 7

Size: 2 feet tall and 2½ feet wide

Conditions: Partial to full shade; average to moist, well-drained soil

‘Looking Glass’ brunnera shimmers in the garden. Sprays of small blue flowers in spring and rounded, heart-shaped silver leaves throughout the growing season define this hosta alternative. And unlike many hostas, slugs avoid it and deer ignore it. ‘Looking Glass’ plays well with other plants, especially woodland asters (Eurybia divaricata, Zones 4–8), hellebores (Helleborus spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9), and saxifrages (Saxifraga spp. and cvs., Zones 1–9).


White Cupid’s Dart


Overused: Daisy

(Leucanthemum spp. and cvs.)

Photo: Joshua McCullough

3. White Cupid’s Dart

Name: Catananche caerulea ‘Alba’

Zones: 3 to 8

Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and 12 to 14 inches wide

Conditions: Full sun; excellent drainage

If you love those nostalgic summer days of daisies waving in the wind, this flower will re-create it. But white Cupid’s dart takes a more subtle and sophisticated approach than the daisies of your childhood. It is almost grasslike in its linear quality but has a surprisingly terrific floral top hat. Mix it with grasses and you have a slam-dunk beachy scene. This is a short-lived perennial, especially if grown in heavy or wet soil.


Sylvia Matlock is co-owner of DIG Floral & Garden in Vashon, Washington.

Photos, except where noted:

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