Top Ten Plants
For Today Anyway
Pacific Northwest garden writers pick their favorite plants.
Garden writers from around the Pacific Northwest compile their top ten plants with a brief explanation why it made the list.
1. Arbutus 'Marina'
A tree with everything going for it. An evergreen with flaking red bark similar to madrona; multi-fingered clusters of little urn-shaped flowers (creamy white with a pretty pink blush) that can appear anytime of year; and large strawberry-like fruit that starts out yellow and matures to red. Both the colors of fruit and flowers often appear on the tree at the same time.
2. Podophyllum pleianthum
I cannot resist any of the mayapples, but this Asian species in particular turns my head. Mighty, glossy green leaves spring from the ground like unfurled umbrellas, and once they open, they look like they've swirled down from outer space. Pendulous, dark red flowers are just a bonus.
3. Brunnera 'Jack Frost' or 'Looking Glass'
The most dependable perennial in my shade garden. White foliage combines with anything and shines like a full moon on a dark night.
4. Clematis 'H.F. Young' or C. 'Matka Urszula Ledochowska'
I'm beginning to love the more dainty and massively flowering C. texensis and C. viticella groups, but my heart will always beat for these two large-flowered hybrids, 'H.F. Young,' and a long-blooming, more difficult diva, C. florida 'Sieboldii.'
5. Tetrapanax papyrifera
More dramatic than a banana, more tropical than a palm, this gigantic plant grows as tall as a two-storied house and puts out leaves as big as King Kong's hand. Red and yellow fall color makes it a package I can't resist.
6. Romneya coulteri
No one who sees this plant in my garden can believe it. Tall, airy, bluish-silver foliage stand strong at the back of borders or to hide an ugly telephone pole, as I have. Prominent yellow stamens stand out against large, crepe-papery white flowers. The bonus: it's drought-tolerant.
7. Stewartia monadelpha
Another tree I've fallen so in love with that I had to find a spot for it in my garden. Everyone talks about S. pseudocamellia, but I like this one better. Larger flowers, better bark and fall color just as fabulous.
8. Hebe 'Quicksilver'
A new love. Strange and lovely at the same time. Tiny silver leaves hug branches that twist and turn in wonderful ways. Very textural. I can't get enough.
9. Fuchsia 'Chang'
If I had four thumbs, I'd point them all up for hardy fuchsias, which start blooming in summer and are still going at Halloween. I chose this one because of its unusual orange-on-orange color.
10. Acaena microphylla
Absolutely the best ground cover ever. Ferny foliage comes in green, blue or burgundy, is vigorous but not too vigorous, and doesn't smother the plants growing through it. White flowers stick up like teeny tiny allium blooms and switch to fluffy red burrs that wouldn't hurt a flea.
Kym Pokorny is a garden writer for The Oregonian in Portland, Oregon. Kym has served as regional director for the Garden Writers Association and as chairperson of the GWA Foundation Board. She's won a Quill & Trowel Award, two Garden Globes and the Herald Award from the American Nursery &Landscape Association. Kym also blogs at Dig in with Kym..
All photographs by Debbie Teashon.