Plants for Winter Interest

Hybrid Epimedium. Photo Courtesy of Great Plant Picks.

Great Plant Picks plant selections will be showcased in the entrance garden and Hardy Plant Society winter interest display at the 2013 Yard, Garden & Patio Show (YGP), presented by Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping and Garden Centers. Selected for excellent performance in the maritime northwest and availability in nurseries, Great Plant Picks is an excellent resource for exceptional plant ideas. Richie Steffen, curator of the Miller Botanical Garden, has made it even easier for us to select plants with winter interest. He’s identified 300 GPP plants—narrowed down from more than 800 Great Plant Picks—that will look good in time for the show. Click here to see the list. These plants will also look good in your landscape in early February.

This is a time even the most ardent gardener is more apt to be looking at plant catalogs than wandering through the garden enjoying plants with late winter interest. It’s still possible to add plants to the landscape. Wouldn’t it be lovely to look out our windows to see blooms or interesting bark or foliage even on the dreariest of winter days?



Blue Spanish Fir. Photo courtesy of Great Plant Picks.

Stop by the Great Plant Picks booth (#1682) at the YGP show to pick up one of their beautiful posters and visit with Richie and Rick Peterson, the manager of the Great Plant Picks program. Or slip into the two YGP seminars Richie is presenting on “Designing and Planting the Urban Shade Garden” (Friday, Feb. 8) and “Great Plants for the Small Garden” (Sunday, Feb. 10). To break the (conversation) ice, here’s a little information about Richie and Rick:

Richie Steffen joined the Miller Garden in 2000, bringing with him a variety of horticultural expertise. After moving from Maryland to Seattle in 1989, he worked at Sky Nursery in Shoreline, as propagator/nursery manager for the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden and as a part-time instructor for the horticulture program at Edmonds Community College. He currently serves as a board member of the Rhododendron Species Foundation and the Hardy Fern Foundation (past president).

At the Miller Garden, Richie oversees the plant record database, general horticulture and manages the garden’s special collections, including rare plants, ferns, hepaticas, woodland plants, rare bulbs, and alpine plants. Richie keeps ahead of horticulture trends throughout the country by traveling, plant collecting, visiting gardens and networking with other horticulture professionals. He regularly lectures and writes and is always ready to share his enthusiasm for plants and the people who grow them. Richie is a superb photographer and is building an archival image collection at the Miller Garden. His photos can be seen in many regional publications, on this website and on the Great Plant Picks website.

Rick Peterson, Great Plant Picks Manager, joined the staff of the E.C. Miller Botanical Garden as the Great Plant Picks Manager in October 2009 after working at the Rhododendron Species Foundation in Federal Way, Washington for 24 years as garden manager, including ten years as co-executive director. He served on the Great Plant Picks Selection Committee for seven years and feels fortunate to become an even more integral part of the GPP Program.

I’m hoping that one of these days I’ll be able to hitch a ride with Lucy Hardiman and Maurice Horn, Joy Creek Nursery, both of whom are part of the GPP selection committee, to see first-hand how the GPP plants are chosen.


Ivy Leaf Cyclamen. Photo courtesy of Great Plant Picks.