Garden Design

My name is Angela O’Brien-Ruff, and I live in Seattle, Zone 8b. I have contributed to GPOD a couple of times over the last few years. (Check out her previous articles here, one and two.) We have thawed out from a nearly 8-inch snowfall that came at the end of December, and as I survey some of the damage around my garden I wonder how and if some of the plants will emerge in the spring. Below are a few photos of our garden from last year. I have attempted to include botanical names where possible.

green garden bed alongside stone pathwayI confess to having many failures on this sliver of space on the north side of our house. However, this new combination of plantings seems to be happy here. The pavers are Montana argillite and stones salvaged from my neighbor’s yard renovation. Top of the photo to bottom: Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra, Zones 5–9), sword fern (Polystichum munitum, Zones 6–9), Polygonatum odoratum ‘Byakko’ (Solomon’s seal, Zones 3–8), Wallich’s wood fern (Dryopteris wallichiana, Zones 6–9), deer fern (Blechnum spicant, Zones 5–8), Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ (Zones 3–8), spleen wort (Asplenium trichomanes, Zones 3–9), Japanese anemone (Anemone hupehensis, Zones 4–8), baby tears ground cover (Soleirolia soleirolii, Zones 8–11), hardy fuchsia (Fuchsia hybrid, Zones 7–11), and Hydrangea (Zones 5–9).

This area is a work in progress of greenery Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ (Zone 6–9), Lenten rose ‘Cotton Candy’ (Helleborus × hybridus ‘Cotton Candy’, Zones 4–8), Epimedium versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ (Zones 5–9), Japanese forest grasses Hakonechloa macra and H. macra ‘Aureola’ (Zones 5–9). This area is a work in progress.

up close of the Hardy ground orchid Bletilla ‘Yokohama’Hardy ground orchid Bletilla ‘Yokohama’ (Zones 6–9) in the shade garden next to Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’)

posted plants alongside a bush and stone pathwayMature Otto Luyken laurel shrubs (Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken’, Zones 6–9) in bloom in the spring with Viburnum plicatum tomentosum ‘Mariesii’ (Zones 5–8) and sitting stones beyond, Sedum ‘Angelina’ (Zones 5–8) and Sedum ternatum (Zones 3–9) below. The Otto Luyken were originally small, one-gallon plants that have outgrown their stated mature height, but they are a welcome sight in the winter with their dark, evergreen leaves. The pot contains Agapanthus ‘Storm Cloud’ (Zones 7–10) and hardy Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (Zones 5–8) that will eventually cascade over the pot.

‘Indigo King’ sweet peaA fellow gardening friend gave me these sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus, annual) seeds she saved from her garden. I love the fragrance and color but did not know the name. Thanks to an article in the February 2022 issue of Fine Gardening magazine, I’m pretty sure these are ‘Indigo King’.

hellebore blossoms floating in a bowlNothing can lift my spirits on a cold February day more than a bouquet of hellebore blossoms floating in a bowl. The black ones are Helleborus Winter Jewels, ‘Slate Double’. The pure white one tinged in raspberry is Helleborus ‘Spring Bright’. I can’t identify the green and purple ones.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Apple Blossom’ Camellia sasanqua ‘Apple Blossom’ (Zones 7–9) with beautiful pearlescent blossoms in November. It can be a nice evergreen bush or espaliered against a fence.

Amazon lily towering overAmazon lily (Eucharis amazonica) is a tropical bulb that normally grows outdoors in Zone 10 or higher, but I love it as a houseplant.

Witch hazel ‘Jelena’ blooming in recent snowfallWitch hazel ‘Jelena’ (Hamamelis ‘Jelena’, Zones 4–9) blooming during our recent snow. Most witch hazels are grown for their fragrance, but I was drawn to this one’s burnt orange blossoms that appear in winter.

ginkgo treeI discovered this ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba, Zones 3–8) in a traffic circle on a walk in the neighborhood near my house. The contrast of the lemon-yellow leaves against the bright blue sky was stunning.

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