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Huge sigh of relief, we have arrived at spring. There will be plenty of time for celebrating the obvious beauty of the season headed our way. But now that winter is officially behind us, I want to take a moment to appreciate the plants that provided bright spots in winter’s final month. I love this garden-obsessed city. I’m so grateful to have neighbors with such showy winter plants in front yards were we can all enjoy them.

And now that planting season is upon us, don’t forget to think about the stuff that makes you happy in the grey months so you have plenty of eye candy next time winter rolls around.

One reason to welcome the cold weather is that it turns Chief Joseph Pine to gold. They were super hard to find a few years ago, and expensive. Now they’re much easier to find, but are still one of the pricier plants in the nursery. Which can be a problem if you have the desperately-want-the-plant-you-cannot-have disease. Thanks to this gardener planting his on the hell strip so we can share the view. And now that the weather’s warming up, it’ll fade back to green until next year.

chief joseph

Edgeworthia’s huge bright flowers call from blocks away. The flowers glow like lightbulbs when the sun hits them. If you, like me, are completely without Edgworthias, this is a wrong we need to right this spring. Which one to get? One of the yellow varieties, like Edgeworthia papyrifera? Then again the orange Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Akebono’ is a good one, and orange flowers are more uncommon in winter than the yellow. Decisions…


It’s pretty great when neighbors plant witch hazels in their front yards so everybody gets to enjoys them waving their little flags in winter.

red witch hazel (jelena?)

I like this one which kept its leaves while it flowered.

witch hazel with leaves intact

witch hazel flowers

Have you witnessed a Azara microphylla in bloom? This was my first. It smelled wonderful, vaguely like vanilla as promised. I walked the dogs by and loitered by this house a couple times daily while it was in bloom. I would call it “cookie-scented.”

azara microphylla flowers

I’m completely in the dark on a plant ID here, but I’m smitten with these abundant glowing orange berries on naked stems. Anyone know?


I don’t want to make Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ (I think) feel bad by suggesting a plant has to have stunning winter foliage, flowers, or berries to be noticed. A plant that bares it’s fabulous branch structure in winter deserves some love, too.

corkscrew hazel?

One of the things I like about winter is that you take time to appreciate things like great shapes in a brown-on-brown combination. Happy accident, or did the gardener plot this great combo of bronze sedge and the remains of an allium long ago? Now is the time to start planning this sort of thing.

alliums and carex

Then there is the happy day when deciduous and herbaceous plants break dormancy. New growth is always fascinating, but some plants do it better than others. This one caught my eye. It appears to be a witch hazel relative of some sort. Love the way the fuzzy leaves emerge pointing straight up, mingling with spent flower clusters.

unknown, corylopsis?

unknown, corylopsis?

Peonies, like Kopper Kettle Itoh Peony here, are also good for a show when the leaves pop out of the ground.

kopper kettle itoh peony

And then the early flowers appear, announcing that spring is really coming, no stopping it now. It seems the Loropetalum are blooming their heads off all over town.



Grevillea blooms will stick around most of the year, but they seem extra exotic when they’re pushing flowers in winter.


A bit more subtle but the green Cornus bracts are another welcome winter show off.

cornus bracts

And of course our magnolia crush continues. This mystery street tree is profusely covered with tissue thin white flowers that dance in the wind. Mesmerizing, really.

magnolia flowers

With all the busy stuff that comes with springtime in the garden, don’t forget to plant things that make the winter more bearable. Happy planting.