After the torrential rains of December, it is a wonder that anything is blooming in Pacific Northwest gardens. Thankfully there are great plants that survive the downpours and even flourish when everything else is a soggy mess. Along with the plants surviving, there are insects that winter over in the trees, and they love to see the sunshine just like we do. As soon as the lukewarm sun starts hitting the trees, the groggy bees stumble out looking for some food (kind of reminds me of teenagers). It is essential that we gardeners provide early-blooming plants for these very important members of our planet. Interestingly, some bees are not at all particular about their food supply, while others are. Our goal should be to provide both native food sources and ornamental garden food sources. Nature’s creatures have a way of adapting to what is available, but they also search for specifics. The following are a few of my favorite late-winter-blooming plants for pollinators.
I’m not a big native plant person. Growing up here I have seen the native plants in so many places, including open fields, forests, ditches, ponds, roadside edges, and yes, even parking lots. I probably should not go into my opinion of ferns and mahonia in parking lots—that’s another topic. I do, however, have plenty of native/nativar pollinating plants in my garden. The earliest blooming are the fabulous mahonias, including the native creeping mahonia (Mahonia repens, Zones 5–8). I have two other favorites from this genus. The statuesque ‘Charity’ mahonia (M. × media ‘Charity’, Zones 7–9) is a plant that loves partial shade and is quite drought tolerant once established. I’m also a fan of the newly popular ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia (M. eurybracteata ’Soft
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Hanging baskets are a versatile and visually captivating way to bring greenery into any outdoor space. While seasonal blooms offer bursts of colour, evergreen plants for hanging baskets provide interest that lasts throughout the year. From cascading, lush foliage to delicate textures and colourful flowers, evergreens bring life to vertical spaces, offering a dynamic backdrop that complements any garden.
A shady corner, border or garden can be brought to life in spring with the right planting. Silver or variegated leaves work really well to brighten a dark spot, as do white or pale flowers, which almost seem to glow in shade. There is a plant for every shady spring garden and here we share some of our favourites. Included are plants for both dry and moist soils, evergreen perennials to provide interest all year round, as well as deciduous plants that seem to appear from nowhere in spring to brighten the garden with their delicate beauty. Our choices include recommendations from the Gardeners’ World team and familiar faces from across the gardening industry.
Although pollinator populations are diminishing worldwide due to habitat loss, climate change, pesticides, and disease, gardeners can slow this decline through cultivating and maintaining safe environments where winged garden visitors can find sustenance and take shelter. Combining well-chosen trees, shrubs, perennials, and vines to create a varied habitat will attract and support a broad range of bird, mammal, and insect species. Incorporating a strategic array of ground covers into this mix is a great way to maximize the wildlife benefits your garden offers.
Brighten up a shady area in the garden with the colorful flowers and silvery foliage of lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.). It pairs well with hellebores, hostas, ferns, bleeding hearts, and other shade perennials. The patterned leaves have a silvery hue that contrasts well with the green foliage of other perennials. Plant it under deciduous trees or along woodland pathways for edging.
One of the greatest drawbacks to successful gardening is badly drained ground. Wherever water lies in the ground at a depth easily reached by the roots of most cultivated plants they do not thrive, except where the water is constantly on the move, such as the bank of a river, brook or lake; there many plants will flourish. There are some wild plants that succeed in soil that has reached a water logged state, but generally such land is useless for gardening, farming or forestry purposes unless steps are taken to free it from superfluous moisture.
Kathy Sandel has shared her gardens with us before (More of Kathy’s Calabasas Garden, Kathy’s Garden Transformation in Sacramento), but today she’s sharing the garden she created for her daughter in Sacramento, California.
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