Regional Picks: Plants to Grow Together – Mountain West

Fine Gardening - Issue 145


Plant This


First Snow® spirea (Spiraea cinerea ‘Grefsheim’)

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 7

Size: 5 to 6 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

A hardy, fast-growing shrub, First Snow® spirea comes to life in spring with an abundance of white flowers that cascade from its branches. Its gray-green foliage blends perfectly with the existing soft green colors of our native landscape. And because wildlife does not bother this graceful shrub, it grows unimpeded in a variety of soils throughout the Mountain West.


With That:


Tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa)

Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and 18 to 24 inches wide

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

A semievergreen Mon­tana native, tufted hairgrass provides structure to beds year-round. This cool-season grass looks great planted en masse and performs well in high-elevation gardens. Its slender, vertical shape and loose, airy seed heads nicely mimic the weeping branches of First Snow® spirea.


Snowdrop anemone (Anemone sylvestris)

Zones: 3 to 9

Size: 12 to 18 inches tall and wide

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

This deer-resistant, drought-tolerant perennial thrives in Montana. It spreads vigorously in rich, loose soil and less quickly in heavy clay. Snowdrop anemone’s white blossoms make a fine pairing for the spring-flowering First Snow® spirea, and its upright shape repeats the vertical lines of tufted hairgrass.



Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum)

Zones: 5 to 8

Size: 6 inches tall and 1 foot wide

Conditions: Partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

This is one ground cover that has no trouble mingling with its neighbors. In this composition, sweet woodruff’s tiny white flowers harmonize with the blossoms of snowdrop anemone and First Snow® spirea, and its mat of delicate leaves contrasts with the bold mounds of tufted hairgrass. Hot, dry summer days may cause sweet woodruff to die back, but it often reemerges for one last hurrah in fall.


Beth MacFawn is a garden designer and the owner of Beth MacFawn Landscape Design in Bozeman, Montana.

Photos: Paula Mozen; Doreen Wynja; Jerry Pavia;; Joshua McCullough/ Illustration: Elara Tanguy

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