The best thing about gardening in the Pacific Northwest is our year-round climate. We don’t have to put our tools away for the winter, but instead can discover the many options available for color and texture during the cold season of the year. Here are a few of the containers I’ve put together for October through March.
This year my favorite plant for the cooler months are ferns. I love the height they give to a ctontainer, as well as a beautiful vibrant green. I’m experimenting with the Himalayan Maidenhair fern, Adiantum venustum, to see how it takes the cold, I might have to do some clean-up or even swap it out with something else if it dies. I’ve also used Sword Ferns, Polystichum munitum, Alaskan Ferns, Polystichum setiferum, and Tassel Ferns Polystichum polyblepharum for a variety of texture. Pansies and violas add that bright pop of color and other plants I use are Heucheras, Hebes, Juncus, Grasses, Hellebores, Ivy and Vinca.
Something new for me this year is underplanting with bulbs. I’ve added daffodils and tulip bulbs around the larger plants and grouped in the middle. I’m hoping that in the early spring this will give the containers a new breath of life and hold them over until it’s time to plant summer annuals. And then the planting begins again.
Something strange is going on here in Western Washington. As I drive down the road I see wilting trees, browning shrubs and crispy leaves everywhere. The plantings in the road medians are so close to death that I want to jump out of my car and empty all my water bottles on them. You know, the irresistible urge to water dry plants for us is just the same as the instinct to feed our own children. We haven’t had significant rain here in the Pacific Northwest since July. And interesting statistic, we haven’t had a dry streak this long since 1922, which is 90 years ago! They are calling it a once in a lifetime event.
So the sun is still shining and we are still planting (and watering)! When other gardeners are putting away their pots and washing up their gloves, we are still going to the local garden center and creating new planting containers for the fall and winter! Pansies that bloom until spring, heucheras that give big-leaf color and shapely conifers all take center stage in our pots. Here is a sampling of a few that we made at the nursery where I work. I really love the dwarf pine ‘hakuho’ which has slow, irregular growth, perfect for a container!
Pansies for a Pig!
Pretty Pine in Pot
Pansies and Sedge
Rudbeckia and Pansies
Creeping Wire vine and Pansies
Hakuho Pine and Grasses
Chamaecyparis is Cool!
Pansies and Friends
Heuchera and Euphorbia
Pansies and Sedum