Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What to Grow - Shrubs, Part 1


There are lots of these, so they will appear in several posts. I've tried to avoid the most unmanageable kinds - hardhack (Spiraea douglasii) and salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) are two that take over the garden. Others, while beautiful, are too demanding to be listed here - the stink currant (Ribes bracteosum), which needs constant shade and moisture, comes to mind.

Holodiscus discolor / OCEAN SPRAY

Large deciduous shrub of drier slopes and roadsides. Small leaves beautifully scalloped and veined. Large, arching plumes of frothy creamy white flowers in summer make quite a show. Needs lots of room and an evergreen background to make up for its drab winter twiggery.

Lonicera ciliosa / ORANGE HONEYSUCKLE

Showy deciduous climber reaching 10-20 ft. into branches of trees. Round, bluish leaves contrast strikingly with clusters of vibrant orange flowers in late spring. Closely adapted to our dry-summer climate, this plant leafs out as early as February and by late August is withered. Attracts hummingbirds.

Lonicera hispidula / PINK HONEYSUCKLE

Evergreen climber usually seen with madrone on dry slopes. Small, roundish, gray-green leaves and pink flowers make a nice combination on sunny banks. Plants grow 10-20 ft. long, either up of sideways. Red fruit showy in winter.

Mahonia aquifolium / TALL OREGON GRAPE

Long a landscape staple, this tough evergreen bears prickly, shiny, divided leaves on many upright stems, usually to 6 ft. or so, sometimes much taller. Yellow flower clusters in March become blue fruits that, with enough sugar, have a pleasant, grapelike flavor. This species needs sun; it can mildew on heavy soils.

Mahonia nervosa / LOW OREGON GRAPE

This handsome evergreen carpets the floor of countless acres of Northwest forest. Large leaves divided into shiny, toothed leaflets are grouped atop 1-2 ft. stems. Sprays of yellow flowers in March lead to powder blue fruit. Best in shade, but adaptable.

Myrica californica / PACIFIC WAX MYRTLE

Large evergreen shrub or small tree, to 35 ft. in the wild, usually 10-15 ft. in landscapes. Narrow, bright green, aromatic leaves give it a full, lush look. Small gray, waxy berries in winter. Native only to the ocean shoreline, but widely planted as a 'native', good in sun or part shade, almost any soil.

Oemleria cerasiformis / OSOBERRY

Plain and often unnoticed, this large deciduous shrub brings an early breath of spring with emerging leaves and white flowers in February. Pea-sized 'plums' ripen from apricot to blue black. Best in the lightly shaded background.

Ribes sanguineum / FLOWERING CURRANT
A garden favorite in Europe for a century, this beautiful deciduous shrub is now welcomed into Northwest landscapes. Leathery, lobed, aromatic leaves cover its upright, 8 ft. form. From February through April, dangling clusters of pink to garnet red flowers make a stunning show. There are many cultivars, some in delicate pink or white. Best in light shade.

Rosa nutkana / NOOTKA ROSE

Showiest of our four native roses, with 2 in. fragrant pink flowers in May-June. Large red hips showy in fall. Makes a 6-8 ft. high thicket, and often too invasive in smaller gardens.

Symphoricarpos albus / SNOWBERRY

Known for its clouds of white berries in winter, the snowberry is also a valuable slope holder. Forms wide, 6-8 ft. tall thickets of wiry branches lined with small, rounded light green to bluish leaves. Tiny pink flowers open spring and summer. Grows in moist or dry soil, sun or shade, though shaded plants often mildew.


Evergreen shrub 6-10 ft. tall in the wild, smaller in gardens. Glossy, oval, 1 in. leaves emerge coppery red. Pink flowers open February to June, with tiny, luscious, blue to black berries from summer to winter. A choice ornamental for light shade and well-drained soil.

1 comment:

  1. I just moved to the Pacific Northwest and found your blog incredibly helpful. Thanks!