Friday, January 22, 2010

It's still winter - what's thriving in our Northwest Territory?

I recently posted about some sad holes in my 2-year-old Mediterranean garden this winter.

But I'm happy to report the Northwest Territory part of our garden is filling in, and it's clearly proving the appropriateness and value of native plants over these last two hard winters.

The salal filled in well last summer and is looking cozy beneath a lodgepole pine.
The kinnick kinnick (arctostaphylos uva ursi) has almost covered some of the landscape basalt.

The ribes sanguineum is bare now, but we're anticipating beautiful early-spring flowers. Behind it, three camellia x 'Winter's Snowman' bloomed back in November, but are continuing to add to our green screen. The little wild huckleberry in front has thickened up, too.

A lodgepole pine that had a difficult start has recovered nicely and is looking healthy.  Our nice neighbor has given us permission to paint the side of his garage. We'll do that this year: that barn red is pretty overwhelming and it looks terrible behind the magenta currant flowers!
 The three Western red cedars are probably our the most impressive success. They have filled in amazingly in less than two years: standing on our back patio, I can't see the neighbor's kitchen window. What's more, I can't see their window from inside our bedroom window now, so they can't see in, either.

Looking south, mugo pines, a hellebore, mahonia aquifolium and more kinnick kinnick are helping to cover the vine maple (acer circinatum) bed.
One sad note: we're losing the second of three small rhododendron impeditum. I've pulled out the first dead one and you can see the second one at the inside corner of the patio is browning out now. I know they don't like wet feet, but this little bed has new soil, is mounded, and drains well. It's perplexing and sad to see them go belly up, but when two out of three do it, that's a clear message. We need to find some substitutes, but I'll miss their tiny, bog rosemary-like leaves and their soft mauve flowers. A tougher native of some kind is in order to replace these little shrubby hybrids.
This picture doesn't show a native and it's not in the Northwest Territory, but I had to include it because it's such a success story. I think nandina domestica  tends to get passed over by serious gardeners because it's so easy to grow and it's been ubiquitous in commercial landscaping for years.
But I love the winter leaf color, and mine still have a few bright red berries hanging on.
Besides, I like the way nandina looks in my garden all year round - it's not just for winter.


  1. Hi Jane~~ Here, here. I love Nandina. I remember when I started gardening years ago. It was love at first sight but I didn't know its name. Frustrating! To add one more attribute to your list, Nandina is drought tolerant.

    [Unsolicited advice alert] If it were me, while there is still life, I'd dig up the Rhodie in question and get it into a nice container. This is what I do when a plant I love is ailing. Kind of like plant convalescence where I can keep a better eye on it and more easily alter the conditions if needed. Did that make sense?

    Your plants look really nice. I like the barn red but yeah, it definitely wouldn't jibe with the Ribes flowers, would it? LOL You've got nice neighbors.

  2. I think we all should be allowed to paint our neighbors' houses. We look at them, they don't---right?

  3. Your garden looks pretty darn good, I'm impressed with your winter coverage. Those red cedars are really pulling their weight.
    I'm losing some rhododendrons too, sad.

  4. I'm with Megan, everything looks great! You should take the neighbor up on the painting soon, ours offered too and now he's moving and we haven't gotten around to painting. Maybe too late? Yikes.

  5. That pine is a beaut! Glad it recovered from it's rough start. Sorry about the rhodies, I hope you find a hardy replacement. I agree about Nandina, mine give me year-round pleasure and they look great in the right setting. Just because a plant is easy, doesn't mean it's bad! :)

  6. You have some wonderful plantings. Glad I stumbled across your blog. Good luck with that rhodie. I hope it rebounds.


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