The last week of November is the time to be grateful and give thanks that we live in the Pacific Northwest. All year long local gardens share their challenges and disappointments, but the reality is we live in the best place on Earth for growing plants.
If there is anything I’ve learned from leading garden tours around the world, it is that horticulturists worldwide envy our climate. We can grow a wider variety of plant material with less artificial irrigation in Western Washington than anyplace else. We just need to accept that all the rain and overcast days is what makes our area green and lush. So here is the annual Thanksgiving column celebrating all we have to be thankful about when it comes to gardening in Western Washington:
Be thankful for Heucheras and Hellebores
Heucheras are beautiful foliage plants that are being bred right here in the Pacific Northwest and the new varieties have leaves that are gold, amber, red and rich purple. Pot them up in a porch pot and you’ll have a container full of color all year long. Hellebores are also long-lived perennials but they flower in winter and new varieties being bred and grown right here in Western Washington are creating excitement and extending the garden season all over the world. Both heucheras and hellebores are slug resistant and love our rain.
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Be thankful for green lawns
Even in neighborhoods where nobody has installed sprinkler systems you can drive past lush green lawns for most months of the year. Green grass doesn’t just look soothing to the eye. A lawn filters storm water and helps explain why we have some of the cleanest drinking water and best salmon habitats in the world.
Be thankful for evergreen cedar, fir and hemlock trees
These native trees give our state a majestic beauty in the summer months but when winter snow arrives there is no tree that displays a mantle of pristine, white snow as well as our evergreens. Our tall trees also provide food and shelter for our native birds and wildlife.
Be thankful for raspberries, blueberries and strawberries
These healthy “super food” fruits are easy to grow in our climate and the new more compact varieties mean you can now grow your own berries in containers.
Be thankful that our snakes are not poisonous, our creeks do not harbor alligators and our forests are not home to wild boars, screeching monkeys or charging rhinos. We do have an overpopulation of domesticated and hungry deer but at least the deer look lovely as they devour our roses.
Be thankful for the annual Northwest Flower and Garden Show, (Feb. 22-26) the Tacoma Home and Garden Show (Jan. 26-29) and all the other garden shows, local garden tours and garden club activities in every community of Western Washington. Our garden shows kick off the growing season in January and February with fragrance, information and beautiful blooms.
Be thankful for our local show gardens. Lakewold Garden in Tacoma, Chase Garden near Orting and the Rhododendron Species garden in Federal Way all draw visitors from distant lands. Entry fees are nominal, with classes and special events offered as a gift to the community. Our area offers many more gardens to tour for inspiration and education. Visit northwestgardens.org to learn more about show gardens in Western Washington.
It is good to garden, or to enjoy gardens and live in Western Washington. Be thankful.
Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her at binettigarden.com.