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Search Results for: Perennials | Search the catalog for: Perennials

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Shrubs, Garden design, Perennials

I have an asymmetrical flower bed in front of my house. It faces southeast and the house is white, with reflection of light. I purchase plants for full sun but they tend to get fried. I am interested in finding perennials to provide interest 12 months of the year. I prefer shrubs with a variety of texture. Plants that attract butterflies would be nice, and any grasses that are known not to grow out of control. What plants do you recommend that would give me a lush, year-round garden?


You may want to plant a mixture of perennials and shrubs, particularly those which tolerate bright light. An excellent book full of lists of plants is Ray and Jan McNeilan's Pacific Northwest Gardener's Book of Lists (1997). This book includes lists such as Shrubs for Interest in Each Season (pp.62-64), and Herbaceous Perennials for Full Sun All Day (pp.138-139).

I think you may find many of the other lists in this book valuable as you design your flower beds.

The Great Plant Picks website has lists of many different plants that do well in Northwest gardens, including pictures and descriptions.

There are quite a few books which address the issue of providing year-round color and interest in the garden, such as Adrian Bloom's Year-Round Garden: Colour in Your Garden from January to December (Timber Press, 1998) and his Bloom's Best Perennials and Grasses : Expert Plant Choices and Dramatic Combinations for Year-Round Gardens (Timber Press, 2010). The Miller Library also has booklists on topics like Winter Gardening and Perennials which may be of use to you.

And, here is an article entitled "Create a Butterfly Garden" (S. Lamb et al., January 2002) from Oregon State University.

Visiting local gardens throughout the year and noting the plants that appear to be thriving may help, and a trip to your local nursery can give you lots of ideas and information. The Center for Urban Horticulture and the Washington Park Arboretum both feature seasonal plant highlights.

Date 2017-05-25
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: salt-tolerant plants, Shrubs, Seaside gardening, Perennials

I need plant suggestions for growing in cold, salty winds only 15 to 20 feet from the high water mark of the Georgia Straits. In winter, the salt water from the ocean occasionally douses the area where I will be gardening. I'm particularly interested in perennials and small shrubs.


I found a list from Island County, WA with revisions added for Bay Area gardeners.
"Some of the better salt-tolerant shrubs and small trees to consider include Salal (Gautheria shallon), Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor), Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), Elderberry (Sambucus species), Tall Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana), and the Wax Myrtle (Myrica [now called Morella] californica).

There are a variety of native plants that are commonly found near the shoreline, and which typically do well in the Puget Sound area. These include the sword fern (Polystichum munitum), Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilimum), Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), Coastal lupine (Lupinus littoralis), Honeysuckle (Lonicera species), and Coastal strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis)."

Washington Native Plant Society also has a list of plants for a saltwater setting.

I recently answered a question about salt-tolerant grasses which may be helpful to you as well.

The book cited in the answer above, Frances Tenenbaum's Gardening at the Shore, also lists shrubs and perennials. Below are those which might work in zone 8 or lower, and which are smaller than 20 feet.

  • Acca (also called Feijoa) sellowiana (8-12 feet)
  • Amelanchier (small tree/large shrub)
  • Arbutus (there are some smaller species than the familiar Pacific madrone)
  • Arctostaphylos patula (6 feet)
  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (ground cover)
  • Atriplex canescens (3-5 feet)
  • Baccharis halimifolia (6-10 feet)
  • Calluna vulgaris (from 6 inches to 2 feet)
  • Caryopteris x clandonensis (2-3 feet)
  • Ceanothus (many varieties of different sizes, from ground cover to 20 feet)
  • Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (look for a dwarf variety of this tree)
  • Clethra alnifolia (8 feet)
  • Gaultheria shallon (ground cover)
  • Hydrangea macrophylla (6-8 feet)
  • Juniperus virginiana (look for creeping juniper cultivars like 'Bar Harbor' and 'Blue Rug' which are salt-tolerant)
  • Picea glauca (look for dwarf cultivars like 'Arneson's Blue')
  • Rhus typhina
  • Rosa rugosa
  • Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Syringa vulgaris
  • Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
  • Viburnum (numerous species of different sizes)


  • Achillea
  • Armeria maritima
  • Artemisia 'Powis Castle'
  • Artemisia schmidtiana
  • Asclepias tuberosa
  • Baptisia australis
  • Echinacea purpurea
  • Hemerocallis 'Stella d'Oro'
  • Nepeta x faassenii and Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'
  • Perovskia atriplicifolia
  • Platycodon grandiflorus
  • Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Date 2017-05-17
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Garden Tip

Keywords: Seed dormancy, Propagation, Shrubs, Seeds, Perennials, Ornamental grasses, Herbs, Ferns, Reviews

A book by Jekka McVicar called Seeds: the ultimate guide to growing successfully from seed (Lyons Press, 2003, $22.95) will help you turn your seedy hopes into plant reality. Thirteen chapters are divided by types of plant including ferns, grasses, shrubs, perennials and herbs. The practical information that applies to all kinds of seeds, such as what type of soil to use, and how to break seed dormancy, is included in the last chapter. Color photos illustrate throughout. For online tips for seed starting go to:
http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/pnw0170/pnw0170.pdf from Oregon State University.

Date: 2006-03-01
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Garden Tip

Keywords: Lamium, Perennials, Geranium

Once a gardener decides she wants a certain plant for her garden still another decision has to be made: what cultivar? A combination between "cultivated" and "variety", cultivar is a named selection of a species that exhibits an ornamental trait that differs from the straight species (but not too much). An example is Helleborus foetidus 'Red Silver' a particularly nice Stinking Hellebore with flowers edged with red.

The Chicago Botanic Garden publishes a research report called Plant Evaluation Notes that reports the results of years of research comparing all of the available cultivars of popular perennial species like Hardy Geraniums and shade-loving Lamium. Most reports look at general garden worthiness, but occasionally they will look at disease susceptibility, like powdery mildew in Phlox or Bee Balm. Typically three issues are published per year. To find current and past issues and ordering information, go to the website of Chicago Botanic Garden.
You can also write Chicago Botanic Garden, Plant Evaluation Program, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022. Individual issues cost $3.00.

  • Top scoring Hardy Geraniums include: Geranium 'Blue Cloud', G. 'Brookside' and G. macrorrhizum 'Lohfelden'.
  • Top ranking Lamium (Dead Nettle) include: Lamium album 'Friday', L. maculatum 'Red Nancy' and L. maculatum 'Shell Pink'.

Date: 2006-09-29
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Reviewed by: Brian Thompson on 2016-04-01

Wild Berries of Washington and Oregon cover

There are several books in the Miller Library collection on the wild berries and similar fruit of the native plants of the Pacific Northwest. However, none of these are recent, so it is delightful to add “Wild Berries of Washington and Oregon” to the collection, especially as it is published by Lone Pine, which has a history of publishing excellent field guides with nearly weatherproof covers, for exploring our region.

T. Abe Lloyd and Fiona Hamersley Chambers have created a practical guide to finding, foraging, and savoring the bounty of our local berries. It is a beautiful book, too, with excellent close-up photographs. If these don’t make your mouth water, the authors’ favorite recipes—and they are both experienced foragers—surely will.

This is not an ethnobotany book, although both of the authors studied with noted ethnobotanist Nancy Turner at the University of Victoria. It is not surprising that the entries in this book include the historical, Native American uses of each fruit, including the management of the prized plants that produce them. This includes more recent adaptations native peoples learned from Europeans, such as this treatment of red-osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) berries: “They were also occasionally stored for winter use, either alone or mashed with sweeter fruits such as serviceberries, and in more modern times with sugar.”

Berries are defined here in the popular sense, so included are drupes, pomes, and a few other fruits such as rose hips and juniper “berries”. Escaped and invasive berry producing plants such as the several types of introduced blackberries (Rubus species) are given equal treatment since you’ll easily find these, and most are tasty. Poisonous berries are carefully described, as are toxic parts of plants bearing edible fruit.

Excerpted from the Spring 2016 Arboretum Bulletin.

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May 31 2018 13:14:08