Plants everywhere, part two

Plant staging area.

I love a good plant sale.

Okay, I love ANY plant sale. But I especially appreciate locally grown plants. I know that it is far more likely that a plant raised where I live can make it in my yard with the climate and rainfall and high and low temps. The dirty secret of the PNW is the desperately dry summers. There isn’t enough time or water or patience for keeping too many “outsiders” alive and thriving in my garden. It can be challenging for new gardeners to appreciate native plants, but it can be especially hard for them to find these plants to buy. Big box stores can lead gardeners astray. Google is your friend here, as is locating your local cooperative extension and Master Gardener group

The year after we moved here, I discovered that our local Thurston County Water Conservation District holds a plant sale in January. I bought an unbelievable number of bare root trees that year. And I am happy to report that even as a novice, I was successful. Granted, some of these plants are still pretty small, but I can see a big difference this spring. 

This year I discovered the Native Plant Salvage Foundation. They have two plant sales a year, spring and fall. I now have a treasure trove of hard-to-find native plants. (Guess what we have been doing every weekend?)

Our local cat rescue has a plant sale every May as a fundraiser, with most of the plants propagated by local gardeners. If you can find a similar plant sale in your area, I highly recommend it. I bought several things a couple of years ago, including a fantastic pink Columbine that has propagated itself all over my garden.

If you live in the Phoenix or Tuscon area, check out the amazing proliferation of Little Free Plant Sharing Stands. Modeled after Little Free Libraries, these generous gardeners share plants and gardening supplies. See the map of these little gems. There’s a Little Free Garden Stands of AZ Facebook group, too.  

And of course, check your local Freecycle group for plants and gardening supplies. I have received strawberries, roses, a mini-greenhouse, pots, mulch, and more from Freecyclers. 

Hellebore: It’s a Helluva Plant

The might hellebore laughs at winter

I love plants, I love gardening and I am always growing something. Every place I have lived has offered a new gardening adventure. And every place reveals a plant that, frankly, kicks ass in the garden.

In the Pacific Northwest, I’m going to say that plant is the hellebore.

Helleborus, commonly called Lenten Rose, is an evergreen perennial flowering plant. That’s garden speak for it looks pretty good all year round. But the really unusual characteristic is that it blooms in January-February. Yes, it blooms in winter. Showy blooms! Long-lasting blooms! It’s been a pretty mild winter here, so all of my hellebores look particularly good.

Pacific Northwest winters are rainy, and everything turns to a rather unattractive greenish-brown mush. But the hellebore keeps its good looks and rewards you with flowers well before most other plants. (Only the crocus can keep up with hellebores.)

Any plant that blooms outside in winter has my unconditional positive regard. Any flowering plant that deer don’t prefer gets an extra gold star. And another star for being shade tolerant. It’s a helluva plant! There are many colors, some with variegated leaves and others with double flowers. A Google image search will reveal the incredible variety.

Hellebores grow in zones 5-8b. (Olympia is in zone 8b.) you can find your gardening zone on the USDA website.