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FEATURE ARTICLESNO
A New Spin on Native Plants
A New Spin on Native Plants
Want to add some color and interest to your landscape without adding a lot of maintenance? A few Northwest natives may be just the thing. Washington boasts a great diversity of native plants. These plants are an important resource and a necessary part of our ecosystem. They provide habitat for birds, insects and wildlife. They help limit erosion on steep slopes. They can provide filtering for water runoff and protect fragile stream banks and wetland areas.

Native plants make a wonderful addition to the home garden. They offer seasonal color and interest with interesting blossoms, fruits/berries, and a variety of foliage textures and shapes. Some native plants have foliage that offers varied colors during different seasons. Many native plants provide food to birds (and some have tasty fruit for us humans to enjoy as well!)

If you have a shady area, many native plants, used to growing under the forest canopy make a good choice for these parts of the yard.

Vaccinium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry): chosen in the Great Plant Picks program, this handsome plant with glossy evergreen foliage looks good all year. The spring flowers are whitish pink bell shapes followed by dark blue-black berries, slightly sweet, offering food for birds and a treat for the gardener. In winter months, the foliage takes on bronze burgundy hues. Evergreen huckleberry will tolerate sun or part shade, a variety of soils and is quite drought-tolerant when established. Height can vary from 2'-3' in sun, to over 6' in shade. Other medium growers such as mahonia aquifolium (oregon grape), polystichum munitum(western swordfern) rosa gymnocarpa (baldhip rose) make a colorful addition to the ornamental garden.

Large growers such as holodiscus discolor (oceanspray), amelanchier (serviceberry), symphiocarpos albus (snowberry), myrica californica (pacific wax myrtle) make interesting transitions to adjoining native areas.

Blechnum spicant (Deer Fern) is a compact fern to plant in the foreground of a bed. It's happy in a shaded area and is evergreen. Other natives to use as groundcovers are the low growing mahonias (m.nervosa, m. repans), gaultheria shallon (salaal) for larger areas and arctostaphyllos uva ursi (kinnick kinnick) for sunny slopes.

Native plants need little maintenance or irrigation once they are established. Most are fairly drought tolerant but they will benefit from watering during the first couple of growing seasons after planting. So, go ahead, go native, and try a few of these in your garden

Not sure how to work native plants into your garden? Contact me at pnw135@verizon.net for a garden consultation.