Pacific Northwest

February, 2009
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Versatile Viburnums
Viburnums are among the most beautiful, versatile and undemanding shrubs I know. In late spring or early summer, they are bedecked with large, showy clusters of white, cream or pink-tinged flowers. The flowers cover the shrubs from top to bottom for two or three weeks, and some cultivars offer a spicy, carnation-like fragrance. By late summer, shiny red, yellow, blue or black berries festoon the plants and remain colorful throughout the winter months.

Few shrubs can match viburnum's handsome, healthy leaves, which earn the plants a place in the landscape even when they are not in fruit or flower. Viburnum leaves range from shiny to felty, leathery to deeply-veined, and from the darkest green through rich medium green, to gray in color. As a bonus, the foliage of most deciduous viburnms turns brilliant yellow-orange to red-purple in the fall. Viburnums are small to large deciduous to, semi-evergreen or evergreen shrubs, thrive in full sun or bright, open shade, and tolerate a wide range of soils.

Books

Learning About Garden Ecology
Insects and Gardens, a delightful book by Eric Grissellhis (Timber Press, 2001; $30), is not a handbook on how to recognize and eliminate insect pests, but a thoughtful exploration of the vital role insects play in every garden ecosystem. With this in mind, the author encourages gardeners everywhere to declare a truce with the insects we encounter. Tolerating their presence puts us one step closer to maintaining a natural balance in our garden, which extends into our neighborhoods and beyond.

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