By Marianne Binetti
If you want yearlong color, beautiful blooms and no-fuss maintenance, you need these four plants in your garden. Not only do you have something in flower from January until December, but you also provide nectar for native pollinating insects and hummingbirds.
‘Nelly Moser’ Clematis. Clematis vines do especially well in Northwest gardens, but ‘Nelly’ is my favorite — and not just because of the beautiful bicolor blooms. You can get snippy with ‘Nelly Moser’ in early spring, late spring, and even in early summer, and she still puts on a blooming good show in a small space. I grow mine next to a tall Queen Elizabeth pink rose. The clematis uses the rosebush as a support, and they make a great-looking couple.
- Tip: You don’t need a trellis or lattice for this clematis. Plant it at the base, but on the north or shaded side, of a tree stump, sturdy shrub, or near a rose, and let it go. Clematis likes its roots in the shade, but tops in the sun.
Hydrangea. You can find plenty of new hydrangeas — and the Pacific Northwest’s mild climate means this summer-flowering shrub provides armloads of blooms year after year. I grow my hydrangeas in a special enclosed garden area, complete with a rustic old door as the entry. Once summer arrives, the “hydrangea room” teems with flowers, and it makes an enticing destination as a secret garden.
- Tip: The big, blue, mop-head hydrangeas prefer shade from the afternoon sun, but panicle hydrangeas, such as PeeGee, take full sun. Summer blooms dry on the shrub for color throughout autumn.
Hellebore. How did we survive winter before all the new hellebores were available? This winter-blooming perennial flowers as early as December; some varieties bloom until May. Hellebores resist slugs, deer, and drought, and even produce blooms in deep shade. They are perfect for a woodland garden or under the skirt of large rhododendrons. I have a hellebore collection near the front door, with early-blooming dwarf daffodils and black mondo grass for color contrast.
- Tip: Grow a hellebore where you can see it from an indoor window. You’ll enjoy the winter blooms, plus visits from those hummingbirds that spend the winter in your area.
Pulmonaria. This shade-tolerant perennial is also called lungwort due to its lung-shape leaves, decorated with attractive spots. Many new varieties entice hummingbirds to flock to your garden when the first tubular-shape pink and blue blooms open in early spring.
- Tip: This adaptable plant can survive in dry shade but also blooms in the sun. Just be sure it has good drainage; then watch the plants reseed and spread politely around the landscape.
Take a big step toward ensuring success in your garden. Stick with plants that are well adapted to your region’s climate.Learn More