Plants to Try in My Yard

Yarrow The European variety is Achillea millefolium var. millefolium. Try Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis instead. Varieties include: 'Salmon Beauty', 'Paprika' and 'Lavender Beauty'.

Nodding Onion Allium cernuum grows 6-18 inches tall and 6-12 inches wide. The pink or occasionally white flowers appear in late spring to midsummer. Prefers full sun to partial shade and moist to somewhat dry well-drained soil.

Kinnikinnick Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is an evergreen, low ground cover plant. It will grow in full sun to dappled shades and tolerates all but deep shade or extreme heat. Prefers slightly acidic, moist to dry, well-drained soil but will tolerate heavy soils. Space 5-8 feet apart. There is a related species Media manzanita (Arctostaphylos X media) which is a cross with hairy manzanita and Pinemat manzanita (A. nevadensis) is similar but with stiffer branches.

Tufted grass Deschampsia cespitosa grows 2-4 feet tall and 1-3 feet wide. There are tiny flowers grouped into silky panicles on an upgrade stem in spring and remain until the following spring. It will grow in moist areas along shores, bogs, marshes, grasslands, and ditches and on moderately drop slopes. Space 1-3 feet apart. Wavy hair grass, a related species, occurs in BC and does well in dry, shady gardens.

Serviceberry or juneberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) grows 8-18 feet tall and 6-10 feet wide. There is dwarf serviceberry (Amelanchier a. var. pummel) that is a smaller shrub but hard to locate. Produces edible pea-sized fruits known as pomes that ripen to purple in mid-late summer.

Western columbine Aquilegia formosa is  a orangish-red and yellow flower. You can cut the flower stems back for a second round of flowers but leave seeds for the birds and self-sowing. It will grow in partial shade to light sun and can tolerate mostly sun with extra moisture. Grows in open to partly shaded moist, rocky or forested sites, along streams and seeps and in mountain meadows.

California hazelnut Corylus cornuta var. californica is a deciduous, ornamental, multi-stemmed large shrub or small tree. It will grow 10-20 feet tall and 10-20 feet wide. A variety of species eat and disperse the nuts: chipmunks, squirrels, and jays. Rabbits and deer eat leaves and sprouts.

Red-twig dogwodd Cornus sericea is a favourite of moose. It will grow 6-15 feet tall and 8-10 feet wide in moist woodlands, floodplains and along streams and other wet places.

Orange honeysuckle Lonicera ciliosa is a deciduous vine that grows 10-20 feet in length. It is a host plant for snowberry checkerspot butterfly larvae. The related Hairy honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula) has fuzzy leaves and fragrant pink blossoms that bloom in midsummer.

Twinberry Lonicera involucrata is a fast-growing but long-lived deciduous shrub. It will be 5-10 feet tall and 5-8 feet wide. There are yellow tubular flowers in mid-spring to summer and a blackberry that is inedible to humans. Somewhat drought tolerant once established but will do best with moderate summer water.

Oregon boxwood Pachistima myrsinites is a tidy, dense evergreen low shrub with lustrous small leaves. It will be 1-3 feet tall and 2-4 feet wide. It grows in partial shade but will tolerate sun in cool areas and the dry shade under a conifer, once established. 

Red elderberry Sambucus racemes will grow 8-18 feet tall and 8-10 feet wide. It tolerates full sun to shade and prefers moist, loamy, rich soil but is tolerant of dryer conditions and clay soil. Blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra spp. cerulea) is a related species that grow twice as large with dark blue fruit for wine, jam, and pie.

Western spirea or Douglas’ spirea Spirea douglasii is a deciduous, fast-growing, spreading shrub for moist, sunny areas. The plant is 4-6 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide and spreads into thickets via rhizomes. It will tolerate sun to partial sure, moist to wet conditions and tolerates clay and gritty soils. Will not thrive in dry conditions. Shiny-leaved spirea or white spirea (Spirea betulifolia var. lucida) has white to pale-pink flowers and can tolerate drier soil so is useful as a foundation plant or a low hedge.

Early blue violet or hooked spur violet. This little violet will bloom for months. Deep-violet to blue flowers arrives mid-spring to midsummer. Grows in partial shade in moist soil amended with organic matter. Tolerates sandy soil. Evergreen violet (Viola sempervirens) has yellow flowers and Yellowwood violet or stream violet (V. global) has bright yellow flowers and grows up to 12 inches tall.

Beargrass Xerophyllum tenax is related to lilies. It is a slow-growing, evergreen perennial with luxurious silvery-green grasslike leaves. It grows 1-5 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide and forms clumps. Grows in partial shade to mostly sun. Moist, well-drained soil with some supplemental summer water is beneficial.

Western maidenhair fern Adiantum aleuticum grows 1-3 feet tall and 1-2 ft wide in full shade to mostly shade. Likes moist and rich soil. 

Goatsbeard Aruncus dioicus grows 3-6 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide. It has large, feathery plumes of tiny creamy-white flowers. Grows in partial to full shade and even in sunny spots in the cooler northern areas. Not fussy, but thrives in slightly acidic soil rich in organic matter that is kept moist. (Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds).

Bunchberry Cornus unalaschkensis is a little dogwood. Grows 4-8 inches tall and spreads by rhizomes. Grows in full to partial shade in cool areas with ample moisture throughout the year. Requires acid soil (ph 4-5) rich in organic matter. Not easy to establish, try growing near moist stumps or down wood. Corns condenses is one of the parents with a smaller range.

Oak fern Gymnocarpium dryopteris grows 1 foot tall in cool, shady forests and along streams. Western oak fern Gymnocarpium disjunctum has larger leaves and needs similar conditions.

Bibliographical Information

Real Gardens Grow Natives

By Eileen M. Stark

2014, Skipstone, Seattle, Washington

SIBN 978-1-59485-866-6


These are notes I made while reading gardening books. See more gardening book notes