At February’s Yard Garden & Patio Show the most fun I had was sharing the stage with Oregonian columnist Dulcy Mahar, and Maurice Horn, co-owner of Joy Creek Nursery, as well as Lori Volmer, co-owner of Garden Fever. Each of us had been asked to come up with a list of three favorite trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals.
Since this was an impossible task, we all cheated and made much longer lists, then talked as fast as we could to make sure all of our plants got their share of praise. Moderator Nancy Goldman kept us in line, mostly. It was hard for us plant nerds to behave ourselves when we get excited.
Since our combined lists were too long to mention, I’ll start with our overlaps. Dulcy and I both loved ‘Grace’ smokebush and Japanese snowbell tree. Most of us agreed that ‘Westerland’ rose is a must for the color, a blend of orange and pink, and the fragrance, and for its versatility—you can grow it as a shrub or a climber. Hydrangeas were praised repeatedly—‘Blue Billows,’ Hydrangea aspera, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pinky Winky,’ and Hydrangea serrata ‘Miyama Yae-Murasaki.’
Lots of wine-leaved plants got high marks, including several ninebarks—‘Coppertina,’ ‘Center Glow,’ and ‘Summer Wine—as well as ‘Wine and Roses’ weigela. Gold foliage was popular all around: the golden form of mock orange, golden forest grass, and ‘Golden Ghost’ pine were among the chosen.
When pressed to pick just one favorite plant—after we finished agonizing about how truly impossible this was—Dulcy and I both chimed in, “Hellebore!” No doubt that was the seasonal effect of answering this question in February. By June we would likely have come up with a rose.