1. Globe Artichoke
Name: Cynara scolymus
USDA Hardiness Zones: 8 to 10
Size: 5 to 6 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide
Conditions: Full sun; well-drained soil
Unique gray-green foliage and low water requirements make this artichoke an inspired choice for an ornamental garden as well as a vegetable bed. The buds are known for their use in herbal remedies and gourmet recipes; those that are not harvested open into showstopping flowers. The iridescent periwinkle blooms lure bees with their abundant nectar. Globe artichoke, a Mediterranean native, does well in Northwest gardens but requires a thick layer of mulch to protect it when temperatures fall below freezing.
2. Yellow Storksbill
Name: Erodium chrysanthum
Zones: 7 to 8
Size: 6 inches tall and 1 foot wide
Conditions: Full sun; regular to lean, well-drained soil
Some storksbills spread their seeds with abandon, but this tough little gem stays in tidy mounds and grows under dry conditions. Pale yellow flowers appear all summer and are a bonus to the lacy gray evergreen foliage. Yellow storksbill is easy to propagate by separating segments and sticking them in soil. The plant is equally at home in a rockery, in a hypertufa container, or at the front of a sunny border.
3. Hedge Fern
Name: Polystichum setiferum
Zones: 5 to 9
Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide
Conditions: Partial to full shade; fertile, well-drained soil
Though not usually thought of as a summer plant, hedge fern has lacy fronds that stand up beautifully to summer heat and drought. This plant will grow larger in rich, moist soil but can adapt surprisingly well to poor soils, sometimes even growing out of a crack in a wall. Its dark, evergreen foliage is much finer than native sword fern (P. munitum, Zones 3–8) and blends gracefully with cottage perennials, modern grasses, or woodland flowers. It is not bothered by pests and seems to thrive on neglect.
4. ‘Sunshine Blue’ Dwarf Blueberry
Name: Vaccinium ‘Sunshine Blue’
Zones: 5 to 10
Size: 4 feet tall and wide
Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist, acidic, well-drained soil
Blueberries do well in the Northwest’s acidic soil and cool, wet weather. ‘Sunshine Blue’ dwarf blueberry offers even more benefits: compact size; attractive, greenish blue leaves; and copious amounts of colorful summer berries. It is pretty enough to be the focal point of a pot on a patio and practical enough to be massed together to make a low hedge.
Pat Reh is a landscape designer and general manager of Northwest Botanicals in Seattle, Washington.
Photos: courtesy of Doreen Wynja/Monrovia, courtesy of Pat Reh, Bill Johnson, courtesy of San Marcos Growers
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