Your shovel and spade have been collecting dust in the shed all winter. They’ve been itching to hit the soil for months now, and spring is finally here.
Some novice (and not-so-novice) gardeners may be wondering what to plant in their often damp, rarely sunny Pacific Northwest gardens. We’re here to help. In general, go with what’s native to the Northwest. Being the easiest to grow, most resistant to local bugs and diseases, and requiring minimal maintenance, these native plants are the best choice for your local gardens:
Native to western Washington, this fruit-bearing bush is easy on the eyes and can help stock the kitchen cupboards. This dense, leafy shrubbery is an essential for the Northwesterner’s hedgerow. Its full figure will fill empty space, and its flowers will attract butterflies to the garden all summer. Later in the year, around October or so, the Evergreen Huckleberry will begin to bear fruit, good for jam, and the leaves are good for tea.
PACIFIC BLEEDING HEART
This pink, perfect perennial’s heart-shaped flower clusters are loveable, attracting hummingbirds and deterring hungry deer. This West Coast native blooms all summer under proper care. It requires cool, shady surroundings and damp, well-drained soil. Under these conditions, the Pacific Bleeding Heart can reach up to 18 inches in height, and sprout numerous flowery stalks out of its feathery green foliage.
This is a trendy little succulent that offers gorgeous groundcover. For the majority of the year, the stonecrop boasts waxy spirals of blue-green leaves. During the summer, it yields star-shaped, bright yellow flowers beloved by butterflies. Put this plant in the problem spot in your garden, the spot that has the driest soil and never gets any shade. The stonecrop will grow happily.
Known as a native adapter, it’s originally from Yakushima Island in Japan but grows like a native plant here. With glossy and green leaves, its flowers blossom in clusters, starting out as bright pink buds that open to reveal white, bell-shaped petals. A favorite of Bellingham landscape architect Molly Maguire, this rhodie generally grows up to four feet in height and requires partial to full shade.
This local fern, often seen on wooded hikes, can give your garden a touch of wilderness without sacrificing manageability. It is especially helpful for hilly gardens, as its roots can help prevent erosion of steep areas. It plays well with other perennials, such as the Pacific Bleeding Heart, and offers a beautiful shade of evergreen as a backdrop for groundcover. The fern is extremely easy to plant and care for.
The natural, native strawberry is incomparable to the fruit available at the supermarket. Not only does it produce delicious berries, but its webs of roots help with soil stabilization and it requires minimal maintenance. It prefers more sun and sandy soil. Butterflies are drawn to their small, white flowers that blossom in early summer.
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