Viburnum bodnentense


By Patty

Latin Name Common Name Plant Type Attractive Features Peak Conditions
Berries and Seedheads
Aronia melonocarpa ‘Autumn Magic’

Choke Cherry

deciduous shrub fall colour, shiny black berries Oct-Jan sun/p.shade
Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ “Beauty Berry” deciduous shrub unique colour of purple berries Oct-Dec sun/p.shade
Cornus mas “Cornelian Cherry” deciduous shrub red berries in fall, spidery yellow flowers in Feb. Nov-Mar sun/shade
Cotoneaster sp. evergreen & deciduous many varieties, orange, red and yellow berries Nov-Feb sun/avg H2O
Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ “Silk Tassel Bush” evergreen shrub leathery green leaves, long catkins Dec-April sun/p.shade
Iris foetidissima “Stinking Iris” evergreen perennial bright orange berries burst from seed capsules Oct-Jan sun/shade/DT
Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ “Oregon Grape” evergreen shrub spiky foliage, yellow flowers on erect spikes Dec-Feb shelter hot/cold
Pyracantha spp. evergreen shrub red, orange or yellow berries, wall train is best Oct-Feb sun/p.shade
Skimmia japonica evergreen shrub bright red berries, needs male & female Nov- Feb shade
Symphoricarpos x ‘Magic Berry’ “Pink Snowberry” deciduous shrub pink berries, suckering habit Oct-Dec sun/p.shade
Viburnum davidii evergreen shrub metallic blue berries, pink flowers Oct-Jan sun/shade
Coloured Bark and Stems
Acer griseum “Paperbark Maple” deciduous tree cinnamon brown peeling bark year round prefers full sun
Acer palmatum ‘Japanese Sunrise’ “Japanese Sunrise” deciduous tree bright coral red stems Nov-Mar part shade
Acer palmatum ‘Shidiva Gold’ “Shidiva Gold” deciduous tree bark bright pea green for winter contrast  sun/p. shade
Acer palmatum ‘Bijou’

Japanese Maple

deciduous tree bright yellow/orange bark sun/p. shade
Acer pensylvanicum “Striped Bark Maple” deciduous tree green bark with white stripes Nov-Mar part shade
Betula jacquemontii “Himalayan Birch” deciduous tree chalk white bark year round sun/p. shade
Cornus alba ‘Siberica’ “Redtwig Dogwood” deciduous shrub fiery crimsom upright stems Nov-Mar sun for best colour
Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ “Bloodtwig Dogwood” deciduous shrub orange – yellow to red stems Nov-Mar sun for best colour
Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’ “Yellowtwig Dogwood” deciduous shrub bright yellow green stems Nov-Mar sun for best colour
Edgeworthia chrysantha “Paper Bush” deciduous shrub attractive bark & fragrant yellow flowers Dec-April sun/p.shade
Salix ‘Flame’ deciduous shrub orange , bronze stems Nov-Mar sun
Flowers & Fragrance
Daphne odora “Winter Daphne” evergreen shrub exceptionally fragrant pink tinged white flowers Jan-Mar p. shade
Edgeworthia chrysantha “Paper Bush” deciduous shrub attractive bark & fragrant yellow flowers Dec-Apr sun/p.shade
Hamamelis spp.

Witch Hazel

deciduous shrub fall colour, fragrant flowers, yellow, orange, red Year round sun/p.shade
Iris unguiculars “Algerian Iris” evergreen perennial blue with yellow tinge flowers Dec-Jan sun, dry
Lonicera fragrantissima “Fragrant Honeysuckle” deciduous shrub very fragrant white flowers Jan-April sun/p.shade
Sarcococca spp. “Sweetbox” evergreen shrub small white flowers Feb-March Year round p.shade/shade
Viburnum bodnantense ‘Pink Dawn’

Dawn Viburnum

deciduous shrub long lasting fragrant pink flowers,attractive bark Nov-Feb sun/p.shade
Corms and Bulbs
Anemone nemorosa ‘Flore Pleno’ spreading corm double white flowers, summer dormant Mar-Apr p.shade/humus soil
Cyclamen coum spreading corm magenta pink or white flowers, marbled foliage Dec-Feb p.shade/shade
Eranthis hyemalis “Winter Aconite” spreading corm bright yellow flower, summer dormant Jan-Mar p.shade/shade
Iris reticulata hybrids bulbous perennial white, yellow, blue, purple flowers to 12″ Jan-Feb sun/ p.shade
Muscari sp. “Grape Hyacinth” bulbous perennial many varieties, white, blues, voilet Mar-Apr sun/ p.shade
Nerine bowdenii bulbous perennial faintly scented pink flowers Oct-Nov sun/shade
Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’


bulbous perennial deep blue flowers to 6″ Mar-Apr sun/p.shade
Schizostylis coccinea “Crimson Flag” bulbous perennial white or pink flowers – divide often Sept-Dec sun
Great Foliage & Flowers
Adiantum venustum “Himalayan Maidenhair Fern” evergreen fern creeping rhizomes, black stems, delicate Year round light – deep shade
Arum italicum “Lords and Ladies” tuberous perennial bold arrow shape leaf, orange berry spathe Sept-June p.shade/shade
Asplenium scolopendrium “Hart’s Tonque Fern” evergreen fern bright green shiny fronds Year round p. shade
Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans’ Plumosa Japanese Cedar” conifer soft feathery foliage, turns bronze in winter Year round sun/dappled shade
Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’ evergreen shrub boldly marked yellow centres on leaf Year round sun/p.shade
Helleborus argutifolius “Corsican Hellebore” evergreen perennial pale green flowers, bold grey green foliage Year round sun/p.shade
Helleborus foetidus “Stinking Hellebore” evergreen perennial bell shaped green flowers with purple margins Year round p.shade
Helleborus orientalis

Lenton Rose

evergreen perennial many flower colours from green, white to black Year round p. shade
Libertia peregrinans “Bronze Sword’ evergreen perennial spikey bronze-green foliage, orange seedheads Year round sun/p.shade
Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ “Black Mondo Grass” evergreen perennial black grass-like foliage, black seedheads Year round sun/p.shade
Phormium tenax ‘Yellow Wave’ “New Zealand Flax” evergreen perennial bright yellow variegated strap-like leaf Year round sun/p.shade
Polystichum setiferum   evergreen fern soft feathery dark green fronds Year round light – deep shade
Branch Structure and Form
Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ “Contorted Hazel” deciduous shrub corkscrew branches and golden catkins Nov-April sun/p.shade
Hamamelis sp. “Witch Hazel” deciduous shrub fragrant, fine spider-like flowers, fall colour Jan/Feb sun/p.shade
Parrotia persica

Persian Ironwood

deciduous shrub fall colour, great branching structure, silhouette Oct-April sun
Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’ “Contorted Willow” deciduous shrub twisted stems, yellow green catkins Nov-April sun/p.shade
Bee napping on flower scaled

Plants For Bumblebees

Courtesy of Lori Weidenhammer

A link to Lori’s Blog.

* Denotes a medicinal plant for bees

BOLD denotes special interest for bumblebee plants (buzz pollinated, longer corollas or special relationships, ie trip pollination)

Native and Near Native Shrubs: Willow (Salix spp.) maybe the most important plant for honeybees and significant for bumblebee queens, Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) is another good one for weavers, Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) also an essential bee plant because it blooms over a period of months, Black Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata) Loads of nectar, berries used for dye, Hairy Manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbiana)

June Gap: Ninebark (Physocarpus spp.) native species is Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus), Spirea spp., native is Spirea douglassi, Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii), Native Roses

Edible/Drinkable Shrubs: Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis), Oregon Grape (Berberis spp.), Kinnikinnik (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.),  Evergreen Huckleberry  (Vaccinium ovatum), Wood’s Rose (Rosa Woodsii), Prickly Rose (R. acicularis), Blueberry Vaccinium spp.Potentilla spp.

Sumac (Rhus spp.), Blue Elderberry (Sambucus cerulea), Currants (Ribes spp.) clove currant and red-flowering don’t plant European black currants, Raspberry (Rubus spp.) Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)High Bush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)Labrador tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum),

Native and Near-Native Trees: Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii), Chokecherry, Crabapple the native is Pacific Crabapple (Malus fusca), Pincherry, Saskatoon, Western Mountain Ash (Sorbus scopulina)

Native Vines: Virgin’s Bower Clematis (Clematis ligustifolium) beware of invasive look-alikes, Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa)

Exotic Trees: Redbuds (Cercis spp.), Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), Linden (Tilia spp.) avoid silver linden (Tilia tomentosa); Stone Fruit Trees: apple, cherry, peach, apricot, pear, quince, and plum

Exotic Shrubs: Spirea spp., Climbing roses, Potentilla spp. important late-blooming shrub

Edible Native Perennials: Native violets, Nodding onion (Allium cernuum) and other native alliums

Early Shade-tolerant Perennials: Bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.) toxic, Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum spp.), Canadian Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) and other Aquilegia spp. toxic 

Native and Near Native Perennials: Spring-gold (Lomatium utriculatum) an early-blooming umbel esp. important for short-tongued bees like the Western Bumblebee

Deltoid Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea), Large-leafed Avens (Geum macrifolium) and other Geum spp.

Broad-leafed Shooting Star (Dodecatheon hendersonii)Milk Vetch (Astragalus spp.), Native Silvery Lupin (Lupinus argenteus) and other Lupinus spp., Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia spp.), Broomrape (Orobanche spp.) Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor)Native Larkspurs (Delphium menziesii ) HIGH toxicity warning

Penstemon spp., Canadian Milk Vetch (Astragalus Canadensis and other native spp.), Blue Gentian (Gentiana spp.)Monkey Flower (Mimulus sp.)

Camassia spp., Woodland Strawberry (Fragraria vesca), Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium), Potentilla spp. native species and cultivars are great, Common Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia and other native and exotic spp.),

Plains Prickly Pear (Opuntia polyacantha)Gumweed (Grindelia spp.), Rocky Mountain Bee Plant (Cleome serrulata), Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Erigeron spp., Native Lilies (Erythronium spp.), Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium spp.), Cranesbill Geranium (Geranium spp.)

Near Native Annual: Bienenfreunde aka Lacy Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) very important bee pasture plant for nectar and pollen—stagger-plant this throughout the growing season. Good for honeybees and bumblebees.

Late-Blooming Native and Near-Native Asteraceae: Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp.) Blanket Flower (Gaillardia spp.), Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.), Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritaceae), Asters (Symphyotrichum spp.), Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.), Coneflowers (Ratibida spp.), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.), Gold Star (Crocidium multicaule)

Medicinal Exotic Perennials: *Turtlehead: (Chelone glabra), *Sage (Salvia spp.) *Meadow Sage (Salvia pratensis), *Oregano, *Thyme, *Dragonhead (Dracocephalum spp.), *Lavender (Lavandula spp.)

Exotic Perennials: Catmint (Nepeta cultivars) N. cataria can be invasive. Very important long-blooming plant for honeybees and bumblebees

California poppies (Eschscholzia californicacan be weedy, Liatris spp.Comfrey (Symphytum spp.), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) comes with an invasive warning, Hollyhocks (and other Malva spp.), Wine Cup (Callirhoe involucrata), Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), Sea Holly (Eryngeum spp.), Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro), Caterpillar Flower (Phacelia bolerandi) works in dappled shade, Masterwort (Astrantia major), Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), Verbena spp.,

Exotic Annuals: Borage (Borago officinalis) NB for nectar, Hairy Vetch (Vicia villosacan be weedy, Moroccan Toadflax (Linaria maroccana) plant instead of invasive toadflax spp., Blue Shrimp Plant (Cerinthe major), Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata), Zinnias (choose the large ones) Calendula (Calendula officinalis) long-blooming and open access,

Edible Exotic AnnualsScarlet Runner Beans, squash (Cucurbitae)

Medicinal Exotic Annuals: *Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), *Tobacco (Nicotiana rustica), 

*Nightshades (Tomato, Pepper, Eggplant, Potato), 

Exotic Tubers: Dahlias (Avoid doubles)

Extra Edibles: Let some of your veggies bloom for bees: radishes, kale, leeks, carrots, parsnips

Extra bee-friendly herbage: cilantro, fennel and dill

Allium Purple Sensation

A Gallery of Alliums for Every Garden

By Faye 

Onions are alliums, chives are alliums and leeks are alliums. Alliums are among the oldest cultivated plants in the world, adding much to nearly every global cuisine.

Ornamental alliums however, are relatively new to the landscape, being developed in Holland around the middle of the 19th century. Many new varieties have been introduced in the last decade, and oh, what a wonder they are!


Allium Schubertii seed head

Ranging in size from ping pong ball to larger than a basketball, globe-shaped, allium flowers add sophistication, architectural interest and colour for months, rising elegantly on leafless stems above strappy foliage. They bridge the gap between the spring blooming stars of the early garden and summer flowers, and after their bloom is spent, alliums offer even more with their outstanding seed heads. Writing this article in October, I still have stunning orbs of Schubertii seed heads in my front garden that literally stop passers by in their tracks.

While popular with butterflies and other pollinators, they are avoided by deer and rabbits presumably to avoid onion breath! I have had the pre-bloom foliage sampled occasionally but the flowers are never touched. They thrive in full sun in average, very well drained soil; like other bulbs they resent soggy ground. With these minimal requirements met, alliums will bloom reliably for years.

Alliums play well with others, in fact they are best planted with leafy perennials in front to cover their foliage, which does tend to look less than stellar by the time the blooms emerge. The tall, stately orbs show well in the mid to back of the border.

The famed landscape designer Piet Oudolf favours alliums in his meadow-like landscapes, pairing them with undisciplined perennials and grasses, but they are equally at home in a formal design with more architectural plantings. While alliums in general have similarities, several unique characteristics are described below.

Allium azureum, one of the true blue flowers in horticulture, stands out from its peers by the clear blue orbs atop the 80 cm stems. Delightful sprinkled through a rose garden, with penstemon, hardy geraniums, or yellow daisies.

Bulgaricum has a slightly different flower style, with creamy bell-shaped pendant buds that dangle from stem top as it approaches the 30-60 cm height.  This is a very elegant plant alongside wider leaved plants such as sun-tolerant blue hostas, Calla lilies, Alchemilla mollis.

Aptly named, Allium ‘Chameleon’ does change colour as the flower matures. Starting off dark rose to pink, then white with stripes, it is loved by bees as are all alliums. Only 35cm tall, this is one to grow in a drift near the front of border, perhaps with small conifers or broad leafed perennials.


Purple Sensation allium

Christophii, or Star of Persia, grows to only 50cm tall, but the umbels are a massive 20cm, followed by attractive seed heads. Each umbel consists of up to 100 star-shaped pinkish flowers with a metallic sheen. Due to the size of the full umbel, plant only 1 bulb per square foot, and allow it to stand out by planting with fine grasses. This variety has received the coveted Award of Garden Merit from the RHS.

Try Drumstick allium with Stipa tennuissima, Perovskia ‘Little Spire’, and Lilies. Diminutive egg-shaped flowers start off green, then pink then turn a dark reddish hue, and planted densely (16 per square foot) will age gracefully, fading through summer. Grow where you want a more ‘casual’ look.

‘Fireworks’ really does look like an explosion of colour. Only 20cm tall, full of spring freshness which will blend well with late season tulips in similar hues, or use as a vibrant splash among Heucheras and other foliage plants.

‘Graceful Beauty’ with 3” starry white flowers looks beautiful planted in drifts through the garden. Peonies, Lambs’ Ears, and grasses are lovely companions. This is an American native, cultivated since 1857.


Hair allium

Hair allium does look like it’s having a bad hair day, in a delightfully charming way, of course. Big on attitude, this little beauty is a whimsical conversation piece to be sure, and stands out with poppies, irises, penstemon and lilies.

‘Purple Sensation’ being slightly larger, looks full at 9 bulbs per square foot, planted in drifts. It is the earliest allium to flower. Outstanding combined with silver foliage, pale variegated leaves, Lupins, Euphorbia, and Alchemilla mollis. Favoured by flower arrangers for its long-lasting blooms.

Allium ‘Schubertii’ is a massive umbel (30cm) that looks like a botanical explosion. It dies back gracefully to leave behind a long-lasting seed head that may be more impressive than the bloom itself. Stunning in late spring with shrubs such as Berberis, conifers, and columnar flowers such as Salvia and Foxglove. Another RHS Award of Garden Merit plant, this one’s exceptional.

Alliums bring colour, style, and architectural artistry to the garden. They enhance other plants and bridge the gap between late spring and early summer bloom. They are reliable, deer resistant, and easy to grow, so what’s not to love? Do try them, you won’t be disappointed.



Hellebore Tutu 400x

Irresistible Hellebores

By Susan

Hellebore 'Tutu'

Hellebore ‘Tutu’

It’s hard to resist the siren call of hellebores.  Winter blooming, in a wide variety of colour and form, they are long lived and don’t even need dividing. All that and they are both drought tolerant and deer resistant! No wonder we love them.  They are the most collectible of plants.

Helleborus niger aka Christmas Rose and H. orientalis aka Lenten Rose are the species we are most familiar with.  Hellebores seed themselves freely and are notoriously variable.  That variability has long fascinated plant breeders, who had to grow their different coloured plants miles apart from each other in order to have some control over pollination.  Growing hellebores was always a bit like hosting a pot luck dinner, they never knew what they were going to get.

The real challenge though, comes in duplicating hellebores.   It’s only relatively recently, thanks to new techniques like tissue culture, that hellebores have been readily available commercially.  Hellebore varieties are still often sold as ‘seed strains’, meaning that one will be similar to others in the group, but rarely the same.  They have become complex hybrids, known botanically as Helleborus x hybridus.

Separating Seedpods

Seedpods are individually bagged and collected by colour strain.

Hellebores have come a long way from their original murky shades of pink and white, thanks to breeders like Marietta O’Byrne from Oregon’s NorthWest Garden Nursery.  Her ‘Winter Jewels Collection’ features doubles and singles, rich colours and intricate patterns which result from hand pollination and careful selection.  Even their names are irresistible – ‘Berry Swirl’, ‘Onyx Odyssey’, ‘Golden Lotus’,  ‘Apricot Blush’ to name a few; they even sound enticing.  The colour and form of each plant will be similar to others in the strain, but again, rarely identical.
Through successive generations the colours become more stable, and the strains improve.  Hellebores can be expensive, but considering the amount of work that goes into producing them and the fact that they will live for years, they can be considered an excellent investment!

The Same But Different:

Onyx Odssey

Onyx Odyssey

Hellebore 'Berry Swirl'

Hellebore ‘Berry Swirl’


How to Grow Hellebores
We think of hellebores as woodland plants, but in their native Eastern Europe they are found growing in open sunny meadows in alkaline soil.   They are very adaptable though, and will thrive in a lightly shaded acidic woodland.  Although they are drought tolerant, hellebores are at their best in moist, rich, well-drained soils.  At planting time, dig in plenty of leaf mould, garden compost or mushroom manure.   Additional feeding is not usually needed, but an occasional application of a balanced slow release fertilizer won’t hurt.  Mulch occasionally in spring with compost.

It’s a good idea to cut off all the old foliage just as the flowers are starting to emerge.  For one thing, the flowers will show better when the foliage is cut away, but the main reason is to keep the plants healthy.  By spring the old foliage is ratty looking and buggy.  Removing it will allow the new foliage to stay clean.  Put the old foliage in the garbage, not the compost.

Warning: Buying hellebores can be habit forming and can lead to obsession!

If you are interesting in exploring the world of hellebores the Plant Delights website is a great place to start


Bee on Mahonia

Plants to Nourish and Encourage Native Bees

by Faye
To keep your local bee population well fed and happy, think ahead to have early blooming flowers in your garden. Bumble bees emerge from their winter nests while the weather is still cold, and need sustenance right away. The Masons are a little later, when the temperature is reliably above 14 degrees C. If there are no nectar flowers to welcome them, they will not survive.

Prefer pink and purple.
They hatch in mid February, so what is available?

  • early Rhodos
  • winter flowering Heathers
  • Sarcococca
  • Forsythia
  • Winter Jasmine

Males hatch about 2 weeks before females, and wait around until females emerge. If there is no food, they either die or fly away and seek food elsewhere. Mid March is usually when the males emerge.
Best plants to have for these early bees are:

  • Pieris (main food source for Masons)
  • Ribes sanguineum
  • Erythronium, Camas, Trillium, other native bulbs
  • all flowering natives
  • Oemleria cerasiformis (Indian plum)
  • Pulmonaria

Ideally, we should arrange to have other flowering plants around to feed the bees BEFORE the fruit trees are ready for pollination. Once the fruit trees are in bloom, probably April, we hope the bees will head to the trees instead of other earlier plants.

There are thousands of species of native bees, probably many hundreds in Victoria alone. Some are specialists (eg only attracted to squash, Aconitum, etc etc), and some are generalists, happy with any flower that passes by.
Generally the younger bees prefer the flat and easily accessible flowers, eg daisies, while some wiser and older ones know how to access even the most convoluted petal arrangement. The bees that like Aconitum for example, tend to be older bees and since only they can figure out the access to this flower, they will go from one Aconitum to the next, achieving cross pollination among all the flowers in the patch. Preferably, plant blocks of the same species of plant, not just an isolated specimen.
It’s extremely important to have a variety of flowering plants, especially natives if possible, throughout the growing season (early flowering to late flowering) to appeal to the widest variety of native bees. While some hybrids have been so carefully selected for colour, size, fragrance etc, many are practically sterile in the pollen-producing department. Native bees find native plants 4 times more attractive than the exotics.
Some good sources of pollen and/or nectar for native bees throughout the seasons: (Pollen supplies the protein and fats, while nectar provides sugars for energy. Those bees work hard!)

  1. Queen Anne’s Lace
  2. Ceanothus
  3. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’
  4. Rubus Spectabilis (Salmon berry)
  5. Smilacina Stellata (Star Flowered Solomon’s Seal)
  6. Pussy Willow
  7. Sambucus
  8. Solidago
  9. Vaccinium
  10. Mahonia
  11. Penstemon
  12. Amalanchier
  13. Salix
  14. Symphoricarpos
  15. Achillea
  16. Rudbeckia
  17. Coreopsis
  18. Origanum
  19. Echinops
  20. Rosemary
  21. Digitalis – this one is very interesting – male flowers are higher up, less mature (!) than the females which are lower down. Bees always start at the bottom of the flower, work their way up. So they get they get the male pollen on their bodies at the top of one plant, then go to the next one and deposit it on the female flowers of the next plant, thereby fertilizing to set seed. Another good reason to plant flowers in blocks, the bees prefer it.

Plant a Hedge Row, Not a Hedge

(Plant lists at bottom of page)

Hedges, in one form or another, have existed since our ancestors gave up their foraging life style and settled down in permanent residences. Over the centuries loosely piled brush, stacked rocks, iron railings and rows of shrubs have been used to keep livestock safe and to clearly mark the boundaries of personal property. Most modern hedges consist of dense rows of uniform shrubs, shaped and sheared into a smooth, uninterrupted form. High maintenance, susceptible to disease and damage and sometimes dark and foreboding, they don’t contribute much more to the garden than would a green painted fence.

If visions of butterflies drifting, bees humming, and songbirds bursting forth with notes of joy are guiding your garden plans, a mixed hedgerow will deliver all this and more, all the while freeing you from the rigid pruning schedules required to keep those conifer soldiers in perfect formation.

A mixed hedgerow is simply an assortment of shrubs or small trees planted relatively close together to form a row, which may be straight or curved, and, like an evergreen hedge, may provide privacy, wind protection, delineation of the property boundary, or even separation of one’s garden into “rooms”.

Ideally, a hedgerow is a mix of deciduous and evergreen natives and non-natives of various sizes that, combined, will contribute texture, shape, contrast and colour to the overall garden scheme. It will provide food, protection from predators, nesting sites and shelter from the elements for birds, bees, frogs and other creatures, which will in turn feast on damaging insects, slugs and weed seeds.

Native shrubs are especially welcoming to wildlife and are, by definition, well suited to our local conditions, being exceptionally insect and disease resistant. As well, native varieties require minimal pruning, fertilizer and water. Deciduous members will share their decaying leaves with the earth, and allow sunlight and breezes to pass through, while moderating the cold blasts of winter. If diseases or pests do attack one plant, the likelihood is that its neighbour, belonging to another species, will not be affected. Hedgerows need minimal pruning – the occasional thinning cut, the removal of wayward or dead branches and maybe a little cutting back and you’re done.

For a hedgerow to be successful, “right plant, right place” must apply to all plants chosen, and the plants must be able to live in peace and harmony with each other, enjoying the same soil, light and water conditions. As many or as few different plants as desired may be included. Choose a mixture of native and non-native, deciduous and evergreen shrubs that naturally grow to the desired height. Plants that have berries, fruits or seeds are particularly desirable. Even a vine or two, such as honeysuckle and clematis, may be included to amble along the row. Don’t put all evergreen shrubs together, but space them randomly as anchors and repeat each variety of shrub throughout the row in a non-predictable manner.

The plants should be placed 3 or 4 feet apart. The idea is to have them grow into each other, branches intermingling. If you have the space, a width of six feet or more is ideal for wildlife habitat. A row of smaller plants can supplement the principal row. The beauty of hedgerows is that they merge with additional plantings in garden beds, with no clear line between what is the hedge and what is the border.

Traditionally, hedgerows include such things as hawthorn, wild roses, mock orange, raspberries, hazelnuts and many more. Non-traditional shrubs like berberis, buddleia, camellias, Mexican orange, flowering currant, blueberries, laurels, lilacs – really almost any multistem shrubs, can combine to create a dynamic, living fence that changes with the seasons and adds immeasurably to the overall garden.

Below are two lists, non-native and native plant suggestions for hedgerows.


Deer = generally considered to be deer resistant
Evergreen = generally evergreen in our climate

Not categorized by size as many have smaller or larger varieties

Arbutus Unedo Compacta, Evergreen – sun, drought tolerant 6-8’, white flowers and 1/2”-1” orange/red fruit.

Barberry (Berberis) Deer – oval red berries in winter. Most are under 5’. Sun to light shade, graceful habit.

Beauty Bush (Kolkwitzia) Deer – sun to part shade. 10-12’ tall and wide, attractive bark in winter

Beautyberry (Callicarpa) Deer – violet to purple berries that persist into winter. Sun to part shade.

Box Honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida) Deer, Evergreen – tolerates salt spray. Baggeson’s Gold has golden leaves in sun.

Butterfly bush (Buddleia) Deer – candy for butterflies and hummingbirds, cut back yearly. Sun to light shade.

California Lilac (Ceanothus) Deer, Evergreen – drought tolerant, sun. Blue flowers loved by bees, nesting birds.

Camellia Deer, Evergreen – part sun to shade. Protect from bright sun and drying winds.

English Holly (Ilex aquifolium) Deer, Evergreen – sun to part sun, need M and F for berries. Attractive to wildlife.

Escallonia Deer, Evergreen – wind tolerant, drought ok but looks best if watered. Attractive to hummingbirds and bees.

Firethorn (Pyracantha) Deer, Evergreen – fast growing, vigorous, thorny. Berries loved by birds. Sun to part shade.

Flowering Currant (Ribes) Deer – both native and non-native. Loved by hummingbirds and native bees.

Forsythia Deer – Fast growing, yellow flowers in spring

Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa) semi evergreen, sun to part shade. Berries for birds.

Honeysuckle Vine (Lonicera sp.) – Some evergreen, or semi-evergreen, fragrant flowers, sun or part shade

Japanese Pepper Bush (Zanthoxylum) Deer – handsome plant, sharp thorns and fragrant foliage. Sun.

Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata ‘Convexa’) Deer, Evergreen – small shiny rounded leaves like boxwood. Very hardy.

Lily of the Valley Shrub (Pieris japonica) Deer, Evergreen – part sun to shade. Good, 4-season stalwart of the garden.

Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ and ‘Winter Sun’ Deer, Evergreen – fragrant yellow flowers in winter. Sun or shade.

Mexican Orange (Choisya ternata) Deer, Evergreen – fast growing, sun or shade, drought ok. Loved by bees.

Mock Orange (Philadelphus) – sun to part shade, good drainage. Lovely fragrant flowers.

Ninebark (Physocarpus) both native and non-native varieties, sun or shade. Curling bark in winter.

Osmanthus burkwoodii Deer, Evergreen slow growing 6-10’, tolerates clay and some drought, sun to part shade.

Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica) Deer, Evergreen – sun. Provides cover for wildlife. Very tough.

Privet (Ligustrum) Evergreen – dense, compact shiny dark green leaves. Flowers attract bees. Sun to part shade.

Silk Tassel (Garrya elliptica) Deer, Evergreen – sun to part shade. Dry shade and coastal sites ok.

Tree Mallow (Lavatera) Deer, sun. Cut back in spring. Pink flowers all summer.


Smaller Growing Plants: 2-6 feet high

Tall Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) – Dry conditions, sun, evergreen, yellow flowers, berries

Dull Oregon Grape (Mahonia nervosa) – Dry conditions, part shade to shade, evergreen, yellow flowers, berries,

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) – Dry conditions, sun to part shade, will take periods of winter wet, tiny pink flowers, white berries. THUG

Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium) – Dry to moist soil, sun or shade, red berries

Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum) – Average to moist soils, evergreen, berries, seaside

Salal (Gaultheria shallon) – Dry to moist soil, sun or shade, evergreen, small pink flowers, purple berries, seaside

Bald Hip Rose (Rosa gymnocarpa) – Dry to moist soil, sun to part shade or part shade to shade, small pink flowers, red hips

Medium Height Plants: 5- 10 feet

Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii) – Dry to moist soil, sun to part shade, fragrant white flowers

Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) – Dry to moist soil, sun or part shade, berries, seaside THUG

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) – Moist to wet soil, sun or part shade, white flowers, berries THUG

Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana) – Dry to moist soil, sun or part shade, fragrant pink flowers, hips, seaside THUG

Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea) – Dry or wet soils, sun or part shade, attractive fall colour, red bark

Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum) – Dry conditions, sun or part shade, bright pink flowers, berries

Western Spiraea (aka Hardhack) (Spiraea douglasii) – Moist to wet soils, sun or part shade, dark pink flowers in summer

Larger Growing Plants: 10 feet or higher

Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)

Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) – Moist to wet conditions, sun or part shade, big leaves, red berries

Indian Plum (Oemleria cerasiformis) – Dry to moist soil, sun or part shade, delicate white flowers, berries

Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor) – Dry to moist soil, sun to part shade, creamy flower spikes in summer, seaside

Saskatoonberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) – Dry to moist soil, sun or part shade, small white flowers, berries, seaside

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) – Dry to moist soil, sun or part shade, white flowers, berries, fall colour

Black Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) – Dry to moist soil, sun or part shade, black berries, fall colour, seaside

Pacific Crabapple (Malus fusca) – Moist to wet soils, sun or part shade, flowers, fruit

Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus) – Soils from wet to dry, sun to part shade, creamy white flowers, attractive peeling bark

Beaked Hazel (Corylus cornuta) – Moist well drained soil, sun or part shade, catkins, nuts

California Wax Myrtle (Myrica californica) – Average to moist soils, sun to part shade, evergreen, seaside

Japanese Maple Oct 2020 scaled

Trees Are The Lungs Of The Earth

National Tree Day was September 21st, and it seems fitting to acknowledge this by paying tribute to the elders of our plant world, the lofty and noble tree.  We as a species simply could not exist on Earth without trees.

Most people know that trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. But it’s way more interesting than that!


*One acre of trees consumes annually the amount of carbon dioxide produced bv driving an average car 26,000 miles, approximately the circumference of the earth. The carbon is stored bv the trees as wood fibre.

*This same acre of trees also produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe, every day.

*Trees actually improve air quality by capturing airborne pollutants, filtering them through their leaves, stems and twigs.  When trees are present, there is up to 60% less particulate matter in the air. Gaseous pollutants are absorbed by the stomata on the leaves’ surface. Ever notice how good the air feels in a forest?

*Trees cool the air and ground by their gift of shade, and recycle the water they take in through their roots. Evaporation of the water held in leaves causes humidity to rise, eventually to fall again as rain.

*Trees provide shelter and food to all manner of wildlife, from birds and insects to giant carnivores such as bears.

*Tree roots stabilize soil, preventing erosion. Their falling leaves renew the soil every year.

Now it gets even more interesting….

*Research has shown that people in hospitals and sickrooms who can see trees from their windows rather than blank walls actually heal faster! They have fewer complications, and require less pain medication.

*The Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing’, or Shinrinyoku, is claimed to reduce stress and boost the immune response to cancer and other illness. Breathing in the essential oils emitted by the trees has been given scientific scrutiny, but it doesn’t take a scientist to see how good we feel after spending time with trees. For more info on Shinrinyoku, see

It is said “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the next best time is today”. When you sit under a tree today it’s because someone planted a tree a long time ago. Habitat for wildlife, air and water for humans, and care for the Earth; trees are pretty wonderful, don’t you think?

w 6 golden varietgated lir

Japan Through The Eyes Of A Canadian Gardener

Autumn in Japan may not have the caché of a springtime visit in cherry blossom time, but to a gardener it evokes every bit as much awe and delight.  And we have our own cherry blossom time right here in Victoria, don’t we?

Visiting family in Tokyo, I’ve had the pleasure of living the Japanese experience; the daily routine of walking everywhere, with the occasional train ride, subway crowds, or the ever-timely local bus.  These walks have allowed me to see close up, the small details of green spaces.

Wherever we go we find vignettes of beauty. The Japanese people seem to take any opportunity they can to create loveliness, whether with a small planting, or simply an artful arrangement of stones.

The little corners where sidewalk meets sidewalk speak to passersby “walk by this space, and enjoy”.

Small corner of two sidewalks

Tiny garden on a busy street corner

We are right across the street from Arisagawa Park, a green oasis of many acres that comprises bike trails, a small lake stocked with fish, the best playgrounds I’ve seen anywhere, and natural forests for exploration. As a gardener, my fascination lies in the flora, seeing details that never cease to please.  One of the delights of visiting the park is the array of sweet gestures of concern for all who walk here!

Warnings and gestures

Warnings and gestures

Harmful insects

The first thing to strike me was the respect for the aged here. Not only aged people, but aged trees! The careful support given to gnarly trunks is an art in itself.

Support for aged tree

Gentle support for branches

Not just a stake with a length of rubber hose to tie it to the tree, but a padded buffer between trunk and twine, to soften the contact. Respect, appreciation, and love for these elders of the land.

A grass-like plant that I saw everywhere is Liriope, either muscari or spicata, in all its forms: dark green, the golden variegated and the silver variegated.

Liriope ‘National Arboretum’

Golden variegated liriope

Liriope is frequently used in Japan not only as a superb ground cover, but as a buffer between shrubs and hard surface; a clipped hedge, then the liriope, then the sidewalk, the liriope being the softening touch between. Needing moisture and part shade, it’s a spreading grass-like perennial that does as well in our climate as it does in Japan.  Liriope ‘National Arboretum’ is used everywhere here as part of the small vignettes, a ground cover yet much more.  We sell this short, slowly spreading, curved, dark green grass in 4” pots, but I’ve never seen its beauty as I have here, and will be ordering more of it for the nursery in the spring.

General open nature of mature trees

During the recent inspiring talk by Louise Boutin at the nursery, she mentioned lifting and opening the limbs of trees and shrubs by selective pruning. Well, the Japanese have this down to a fine art; even large trees have been thinned this way, opening up the intriguing branches to light and view.
The use of bamboo is more than an art form here, it is an inspiration. Whether a bamboo grove, a bamboo forest, or a bamboo fence, bamboo is everywhere and it is a marvel.

Bamboo forest

Bamboo still growing is beautiful, but it continues its magic after being harvested and used as supports.

Maybe too much support here?

Whether it is thinned-out Nandina domestica planted and tied against an open bamboo fence, or wispy cedar hedging plants sparsely interwoven with the canes, bamboo provides the bones to support the green, providing a screen in even the narrowest of spaces.

Fences and trellises of bamboo are ubiquitous, and for some reason have captured my heart.

Bamboo fence enclosing

Note how evenly tied

The fascination with diverse styles and methods of tying these fences, trellises and supports led me on a search for traditional lashing, the heavy rough twine that is used for holding the bamboo canes together. This also led me to a book on the subject, and an obsession has taken root.  Walking for miles, wrong turns, (even Google maps can be wrong!) finally we found the sought-after Japanese garden center.  Traditional lashing was only part of my search; the garden center experience beckoned this gardener with promises of Japanese seeds, tools, and curiosity sated.

Keeping in mind the fact that most Tokyoites don’t have cars, nor yards, nor much space of their own, the garden center was not surprising in its tiny efficiency. It was  just a part of a large hardware store, on the second floor even, and very different from  Russell Nursery!

Garden center in Tokyo

Conifer section, note roses in background

I’m sure all of you have seen the traditional serene Japanese garden, so I’ll close with just a glimpse of the view outside my window in Tokyo, but I hope the small details described will give you the confidence to just try a few simple touches to bring the peace and beauty of the Japanese style to your own place of green.

Temple outside my window


Winter Jewels

Brilliant bark, deceptively delicate flowers and the jewel tones of berries and persistent fruits that pop against winter’s muted greys and browns; there is nothing quite like a flash of bright colour on an otherwise dreary day to gladden the heart and to entice us outdoors for a closer look.  Just because its winter doesn’t mean the landscape has to be dull and boring.  A veritable kaleidoscope of colour is possible with a little planning.   Maybe there’s room for some of these beauties…

Best Fruits and Berries:  Berberis, skimmia, callicarpa, snowberry, cotoneaster, pyracantha, hawthorn, crabapple, aronia

Best Bark: Shrubby dogwoods, paperbark maple, heritage birch

Best Blooms:  Hellebores, witch hazel, skimmia, mahonia, viburnum tinus, cyclamen coum, winter aconite