Marianne Binetti

New plants to make over your garden

The second week of June is time to celebrate all the best plants for Northwest gardens. It is not too late to start growing vegetables and this is a good week to poke seeds of green beans, cucumbers, corn and other warmth loving crops directly into the soil. You can also find started transplants of veggies including tomatoes at local nurseries and garden centers.


June is also the month of roses. As soon as a rose plant finishes the first wave of June blooms it will crave a dose of fertilizer. The easiest-to-grow roses in our area are the shrub or landscape roses such as the disease resistant Flower Carpet Rose. Flower carpet roses come in various colors, from pure white to deep red. The coral Flower Carpet rose stands out with intense orange summer color.

When it comes to hybrid tea roses, the pink roses are the most disease resistance. If you want to grow the most fragrant roses, search out the old fashioned charm of the English or David Austin roses.

It’s also time for the annual Tacoma Rose Society show. See box for details.


In the flower garden this is the week to plant seeds of nasturtium including the heirloom nasturtiums that will scamper up supports. Look for seeds of the climbing Phoenix nasturtiums. The flower petals of the Phoenix nasturtiums are split at the ends to give them a ruffled look. Like all nasturtiums, these do not need fertile soil — just a sunny spot that is well drained.


Out of Tigard, Oregon comes a rainbow of plants that thrive in our Northwest climate thanks to wholesale plant growers and mad plant scientists at Terra Nova Nurseries. The showy foliage of heucheras and tiarellas give us low-growing, tidy plants that look good year-round and make creating container gardens that shine — even in winter — as simple as hunting for these hot plants at your local nursery.

Heuchera “Electra”: Full wattage color with lime-gold leaves accented with orange veins. White flower spikes are just a side note because the sparks from this foliage plant are all aglow from the foliage. This summer, use the “Electra” in a container garden combined with other hot colored plants such as golden coreopsis, orange geraniums or spiky dracaena. Winter weather may fade the geraniums and coreopsis blooms in this combination but you’ll be ignited all winter by the bright foliage of “Electra.”

Tiarella “Pink Skyrocket”: Lovely foliage with colorful markings topped with pointed pink bloom clusters makes this tiarella a beautiful groundcover for shade.

So what’s the difference between a heuchera and a tiarella?

Tiarellas trail along the ground rooting as they go and are more closely related to our native foam flowers. Tiarellas have clumps or clusters of tiny flowers and are great as weed blocking ground covers in woodland gardens or shaded areas where the soil drains well and there is plenty of organic matter. They can also be used as spillers in a container garden as they tend to dangle over the edge of pots looking for someplace new to root.


Back to those mad plant scientists in Oregon. Terra Nova has introduced a third type of foliage plant that is now showing up at local nurseries. The breeders took the best of the heucheras and tiarellas and crossed them together to get a new class of easy-growing, disease-resistant, evergreen, perennial plants now called the Heucherellas.

Look for Heucherella “Sweet Tea” and “Alabama Sunrise” to enjoy the sophisticated peach, gold and crimson color combos on the leaves of these more robust plants. Their larger size makes them the perfect year-round foliage plant with annuals and perennials in a bed or as filler plants in a large container garden.

Just say no to a turtle neck of mulch around any of these great foliage plants. Give them moist soil, morning sun and good drainage and they will give you years of fantastic color.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her through her website at or write to her at P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw WA 98022.

Mark the calendar

Tacoma Rose Society Annual Rose Show

Check out classic climbers, shrubs, miniatures and the wide world of roses at The Tacoma Rose Society annual show, one of the largest rose displays in Western Washington. Rose growers are invited to enter their roses in several categories. There’s even a category for photography of roses for those lacking a green thumb. The show is in a new location this year, inside the ballroom at the La Quinta Inn.

When: Open to the public 1-5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Ballroom at La Quinta Inn, 1425 E. 27th St., Tacoma

Admission and entries: Free