FEBRUARY 14, 2012
BORING YARD BUSTERS
This edition completes my year long series of columns on
creating year ‘round interest in our gardens.
Like I have always said, if we simply visit the garden center once a
month and buy one thing we will eventually have a garden of year ‘round
interest. If we do this for several yeas
then we will have a truly enchanting garden that will give us years of
enjoyment and inspiration. Let’s get
started on this last month.
Still in bloom from January are the witch hazels and the
variety of Viburnum called “Dawn”. Both
of these small trees have exquisite fragrance as well. And both of them can grow in either full sun or
full shade. How is that for
adaptability? My Cornus mas is finally
opening with its delicate spider-like yellow blooms which will hang around for
almost 6-8 weeks in our cool winter/spring weather. The catkins on filberts and birches and our
native alders are all starting to hang down and while not necessarily beautiful
they are still interesting and well worth the space in our gardens. As much as I love the early blooming
flowering almonds, apricots and peaches, they are so prone to brown rot that it
is not worth the effort to keep them growing.
Take a trip to the drier side of the state if you want to see them in a
Camellias will continue to impress us as they move from the
fall blooming sasanqua varieties to the japonica and hybrid ones. There are so many choices of camellias that
it would be impossible to list my favorites.
They come in early, mid and late flowering varieties which means as
early as December and as late as May.
And they can be almost tree form to sprawling or weeping. Newer selections can be hardy all the way
down to minus 10 degrees so don’t be afraid to plant them. Their glossy evergreen foliage is a nice
contrast to our conifers. In the
deciduous department is a delightful shrub called Winter hazel, not to be
confused with Witch Hazel. Winter Hazel
is a graceful mounding shrub with butter yellow blooms in February and
sometimes March. It prefers a bit of
afternoon shade and rich soil. Mine has
outgrown its location several times and I have cut out many of the larger stems
with it filling back in quite nicely by the end of the season. In other words, it will take a lot of pruning
abuse. If you are lucky enough to have a
filtered shade and good draining location then you should plant a winter
Daphne. Its fragrance is absolutely
incomparable. I have a very healthy one
by my front door which unfortunately is completely devoid of blooms this
year. I am not sure why it is barren but
I am thoroughly disgusted with it. And
of course no winter garden would be complete without a few drifts of winter
blooming heather. Heathers can stay in
bloom for up to 6 months, longer than any other tree or shrub out there.
February is high Hellebore season with the orientals and
hybrids decorating gardens all over the northwest. They come in doubles and singles, bicolors and
freckled and a range of colors from white to smoky black and with the exception
of occasional aphids and root weevils, these perennials are a piece of cake to
grow and hardly ever need dividing.
Plant them in shade and forget about them. Another favorite shade perennial is Lungwort
which is starting to bud up now with small tubular flowers that can be both
pink or blue on the same plant. This is
an easy perennial to grow and one that more gardeners should have in their
gardens. Look for it on the benches this
month. Of course February is the month
for primroses and my all time favorites are the double English ones. A new series called Bellarina is looking
quite promising with several colors to choose from.
Two bulbs are coming into bloom in my garden this month,
snow drops with their delicate white nodding bells and winter aconite with its
bright yellow, 3 inches high buttercup-like blooms. Both of these are such harbingers of spring
that my garden would not be complete without them.
This is certainly not an unabridged list of interesting
plants but it is a good start for those of us that want to have something to
excite us every time we venture out into the garden. Use this list as a springboard as you
continue to create a garden of 4 seasons of interest and every year add a few
more embellishments just for fun. Before
you know it, your garden will be anything but boring.
Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at the nursery at 425-334-2002 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org