Pacific Northwest

May, 2005
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Japanese Snowbell
One of my favorite small flowering trees is the Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonicus). In mid-May here in the Pacific Northwest, the Japanese snowbell lines its branches with hanging clusters of sweetly scented, white or pink, bell-shaped flowers. In summer the bright green leaves have a clean, fresh look; in winter the fine twigs and slender branches make a beautiful silhouette, similar to that of a Japanese maple.

The Japanese snowbell's broad, rounded habit and small size (20 to 30 feet) makes it an excellent shade tree for small gardens. This tree thrives in full sun or part shade in rich, moist, slightly acidic soil.

Clever Gardening Technique

Buckwheat for Deer Control
If you're plagued with deer like I am, consider planting buckwheat as a trap crop for Bambi and friends. A neighbor told me that deer go straight for the stands of buckwheat in her garden, leaving her perennial flowers alone. I thought it was worth a try so I broadcast some seeds on a fallow bed where my yard meets the forest. So far, it's working.

Buckwheat also has a number of other worthy attributes. It's an excellent summer cover crop, growing dense enough to crowd out weeds, it attracts droves of bees, and it has a shallow root system, making it easy to till into the soil at the end of the season. It does, however, take over a garden if allowed to set seed. The trick to growing buckwheat is to allow it to flower long enough for the bees to collect pollen, but cut it down before it sets seed.

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