Early Spring Garden Surprises

In our maritime climate, there are a surprising number of plants with winter and early spring interest, and we often forget that from one year to the next. The Hardy Plant Society of Oregon offers a vast display of winter interest plants at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show; volunteers will be on hand to answer your questions about the plants on display. More gardening friends shared their favorites with me:

Carol Westergreen, Out in the Garden Nursery – Some of my favorite winter plants are the hardy cyclamen. If you combine two species, you can get interest from September to April. The first fall rains trigger Cyclamen hederifolium into a mass of white and pink flowers that last through October. Large, beautiful green and silvery foliage follows the flowers and last until early spring. The smaller, more delicate foliage of Cyclamen coum also arise in the fall and persist through the winter. White and pink flowers appear in January and last until April. We will have a nice selection of blooming plants in our YGP booth #343.

Kym Pokorny, garden writer for The OregonianErythronium oregonum. Anything I’ve seen blooming in the wild is a favorite of mine. This little native first came into my life in about 2001, when I saw it in Forest Park after getting complicated directions from Fred Nilsen, former arboriculturist and grounds manager for Forest Park, who had said in 1999 that fawn lily doesn’t grow in the park. Being a good sport, he admitted he spotted it the next year. I soon planted this beautiful little bulb in my garden. The flowers bob on thin-but-strong stems that emerge from nice mottled foliage. Will show itself in April.

Desiree Hardy, manager, Garden World  – Here’s a few of my favorites, but I encourage people to visit the Curiously Cool Plants display at Yard, Garden & Patio Show where there are even more great plants: Acer palmatum ‘Bihou’ (Bihou Japanese Maple) is a deciduous, medium sized upright tree with stunning winter bark color of apricot with reddish tips. Its yellow-green foliage color turns to solid yellow in the fall. The name means ‘beautiful mountain range’. Other favorites include Abies pinsapo ‘Aurea’ (Golden Spanish Fir), and Daphne odora ‘Marginata’ (Variegated Winter Daphne).

Paul Taylor, garden designer and YGP show exhibitor (Booth #1702, which is a garden vignette) – One of my favorite early spring plants is Hamamelis intermedia ‘Diane’, which is Diane Witch Hazel. Blooming in January and long into February, this fragrant early red bloomer is a knock-out in gardens. Its vase shape is easy to prune and shape into a good looking bush or small tree. Outstanding fall color brings this plant to the top of my list for must have garden plants.

Crystal Cady, perennial manager, Garland Nursery – I love Daphne odora ‘Rebecca’ (Winter Daphne) because it loves me! I have always been leery of growing or having a daphne because I am so busy my plants have to learn to tolerate neglect and abuse from me and I thought daphne were finicky until this came along! I got mine last year in August and she is the toughest cutest thing! The foliage color is outstanding in comparison to any other daphne and it is very tolerant of me forgetting to water it or ignoring it! Also, it has toughed it through and came right out of every cold spell we have had so far this winter! Can’t wait to see it bloom! Don’t overlook Corylopsis spicata (Winter Hazel), Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’ ( Lenten Rose), Erysimum ‘Jenny Brook’ (Wallflower), Euphorbia polychrome (Spurge), and Camellia sasanqua ‘Kanjiro’ (Winter Camellia).

Here’s an opportunity to see more winter flowers:

Leach Garden Winter Flower Walk at the Leach Botanical Garden (6704 SE 122nd, Portland) on Saturday, February 26, noon-1:30pm. You’ll be surprised at how any trees and shrubs are blooming. They suggest that you dress for weather. Free to members; $5 non-members. Please call to register: 503.823.1671.