Pacific Northwest

July, 2010
Regional Report

Shows & Events

Washington Park Arboretum
The arboretum's 200 acres offer visitors a look at more than 5000 different Northwest native and introduced woody plants. You'll also find some of the world's best collections of hollies, maples, and magnolias, plus an extensive collection of plants in the heath family. Gardeners can attend a wide variety of classes or walk the grounds to look for treasures.

Washington Park Arboretum is located about 10 minutes east of downtown Seattle on Lake Washington Blvd. East. For detailed directions and to arrange tours, call the arboretum at (206) 543-8800), or visit their website: http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/gardens/wpa.shtml

Favorite or New Plant

Elephant ears
Of the more than 200 plants that grow in my garden, not one garners more comments, compliments, questions and discussion than elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta). This handsome plant has velvety, heart-shaped, over-sized leaves that can be 3 ft. wide and 4 ft. long. The plant can reach a height of 8 ft. in one season. When the slightest wind blows, the leaves ripple gracefully, like the ears of an African elephant.

I like to use elephant ears as a foundation planting in front of my home, where the vibrant green of the leaves glows against the light gray color of my house, but the plant has many other uses as well. In the back of a border, it provides a tropical look, and its size makes it seem as though it has been growing in one place for years. For an instant effect, pots of elephant ears can be placed just about anywhere in the garden. Finally, its foliage is a delight in flower arrangements. If you cut off the leaves at ground level, they will quickly be replaced by new ones.

Although elephant ears is perennial only in climates with winter temperatures warmer than 40F, its lush foliage is not just for the tropics and greenhouses. In colder climates such as ours, start the tubers indoors in early spring and you'll have plants ready to set out by the last frost. Dig up the tubers in the fall and store them indoors for the winter. Elephant ears multiply fast, and after a year or two you'll find you have enough to share with your gardening friends- just one more way this attention-getting plant will reward you for your effort.

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