Western Mountains and High Plains
Favorite or New Plant
Creeping Oregon Grape
One of my favorite shrubs that will provide year-round interest in a woodland garden setting is creeping Oregon grape or (Mahonia repens). This low-growing shrub will serve as an excellent ground cover around the base of small ornamental trees and tall shrubs. It will produce clusters of yellow blooms followed by bluish purple berries for fall and winter contrast, plus food for the wild birds. It grows from 8 to 24 inches in height and will spread 18 to 24 inches. The broadleaf foliage resembles holly and will generally stay green or reddish green throughout the fall and winter. It will thrive in partial sun to shade.
Clever Gardening Technique
Homemade Cut Flower Preservative
Now is a good time to have a few bouquets of cut flowers indoors to brighten your home or that of a friend. To keep cut flowers fresher longer, you can use materials that you may already have in your kitchen: mix one part lemon-lime soda (not the diet kind) with three parts water. For each quart of this homemade mixture, add 1/4 teaspoon of household bleach. The sugars in the soda will help the buds open and last longer, the acid improves water flow through the stems, and the bleach prevents the growth of bacteria and fungus.