Monday, November 30, 2009

Part V: Favorite Winter Plants (Western Washington)

Pieris japonica 'Flaming Silver'

Winters in Western Washington are wet ... pure and simple. The final stop of this multi-part series on Favorite Winter Plants may not be as cold as the other regions, but this lovely area definitely has its challenges, reports personal garden coach Christina Salwitz (aka @Arcadia1 on Twitter).

First, consider the area (USDA Hardiness Zone 7B). The Puget Sound region sits squarely between two mountain ranges, the salt water centering it and approximately 857,492 lakes, large and small, streams, creeks and rivers. The result? Moderate temperatures, and lots of moisture.

"A true northwest gardener mildews from all angles for about six months a year," says Christina with a laugh. "Rarely do we have snow for more than a few days here. Instead, we have seemingly unending, gray and drizzly days of soggy, muddy, misty, damp and cold weather. You have to want to be out weeding, transplanting or cleaning up here."

If you take the plunge, however, you can grow lovely winter plants like Pieris japonica 'Flaming Silver' (shown at the top). "This variegated shrub looks elegant and showy without even a bloom on it," she says.

Another favorite is Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' (shown above), which blooms heavily in winter on lovely, evergreen foliage. That's important in this sometimes dreary climate.

"Our plant choices must be made lovingly, and with much regard for the mental aspects of the garden," Christina explains. "We need to be able to look out our windows into the gloominess of winter and see color."

Another great plant for winter color - especially in December - is Mahonia x media 'Charity,' according to this gardening expert.

This stunning plant (shown in above two photos) is "a hummingbird extravaganza of sweet yellow flowers in December, on tough, blue-green holly-like foliage," adds Christina.

Foliage is another great source of winter color. As Christina reports, "Winter heathers have many feisty foliage colors, from yellows to oranges to hot pinks."

From hot pink heathers to variegated shrubs to sweetly blooming flowers, there are many plants that can lift the spirits and brighten the gardens during the wet winters of Washington. And maybe even your garden too...

Learn more: on Christina's blog Personal Garden Coach; or on Twitter @Arcadia1

Did we forget any of your favorite winter plants in this series? If so, what are they? We'd love to hear...


  1. How lovely to be able to plan for winter colour. My garden has been under snow for a month now and will be until April. Hellebores have always seemed so exotic to me because they flower outside when it is cold. Do you have any in your garden?

  2. Excellent series, Teresa, and a terrific final feature of Christina. Her plant choices are as vibrant and colorful as her personality. Happy winter to all of your blog participants, to your readers, and, of course, to you.

  3. Thanks for the comments, Melanie and Lynn.

    Melanie, I love Hellebores, and hope to grow more in my zone 6b garden. I love the way they flower in cold temperatures.

    Appreciate your thoughts, Lynn. That Christina really had some great ideas, didn't she?

    Happy winter to you both... Teresa

  4. These plants look like underwater corals and anemones! Lovely.

  5. Thanks for sharing this great series with us.
    Being from Ireland I found really helpful.
    Lots of juicy garden tip - so Thanks

    Aanee xxx
    Flowers Dublin