More Winter Worthy Plants

Rosemary 'Foxtail' (Rosemary officialinalis)

A few days ago, I shared some photos of plants in the garden that look great this time of year. Guess what? There's more!

Rosemary is one of the best and it always seems to bloom at the oddest of times. My favorites are 'Irene' and 'Foxtail'. 'Irene' was pictured in the last post. It is a creeper and can trail to 4-5 feet. It is great for walls or as a groundcover. 'Foxtail' (in the photo above) has a very graceful cascading effect. It has never bloomed for me but the foliage alone is great.

Two more creepers - Vinca 'Illumination' and Abutilon megapotamicum 'Variegatum'. The vinca is beautiful although it does spread and you have to stay on top of it. The abutilon was purchased the first year we moved in and it has survived every winter since. It has been moved several times and I was reading a book by Vita Sackville-West who suggested that it was good on a wall. I moved to the trough next to the driveway and it has done wonderfully well there.

Vinca 'Illumination' and Abutilon meagpotamicum 'Variegatum'

Sweet Box (Sarcocooca) is blooming. The tiny blooms are very fragrant or so I'm told. I can't really detect it although I can smell ones in the greenhouse at the nursery.

Sarcococca confusa (Sweet Box)

Arctostaphylos (Manzanita) - I have a few of these that I got from the nursery in tiny pots. They do very well here and like the dry summers. I didn't go a good job at recording the ones I have but I'm guessing this one in the photo below is 'Greensphere'. There is also 'Sunset' located near the driveway entrance.

Arctostaphylos 'Greensphere' (?)


Aucuba 'Rozannie' - I love this shrub. Such incredible leaves for January!

Aucuba japonica 'Rozannie'

My most exciting plant purchase last year was Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica). I've seen these growing locally (at least in Portland) and have wanted one for a long time. I doubt that I placed it in the best location but my space is running out and I did not have many options. It is said to be hardier than many believe. Still, I've covered it on nights that dipped into the upper 20s. Fingers crossed!

Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica)

I first saw Pineapple Guava (Feijoa) at the J C Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, North Carolina where it was spectacular (see my post). I'm not sure how I ended up with two plants here but they are both thriving although the blooms have been very sparse. The silvery foliage is striking, especially in winter.

Pineapple Guava (Feijoa)

The Wheel Tree (Trochodendron aralioides) so-called because the flowers look like the spokes of a wheel. 

Wheel Tree (Trochodendron aralioides)

Pieris (aka Andromeda and Lily of the Valley Shrub) is a hugely popular plant here and used quite extensively. There are some stunning specimens here in the neighborhood when in spring bloom.

Pieris 'Passion Frost'

 Osmanthus 'Goshiki' reminds me of a holly. It is in the Tea Olive family. I finally located the Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans) that was so popular in the South. It is doing well and I am excited to have finally found one. It was my favorite scent in the garden in Alabama.

Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki'

 The Alaska Cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensi 'Green Arrow')


Chamacyparis 'Lemon Twist' is planted right next to the 'Tiger Eyes' Sumac and I've been contemplating moving it but can't make up my mind.


Chamacyparis 'Lemon Twist'

 Spanish Fir in the front garden - I love this tree but really worry about how big it will get.

Blue Spanish Fir (Abies pinsapo 'Glauca')

 Viburnum awabuki, the "Sweet Viburnum" -


Leucothoe was popular in the South but I've never grown it until now. Actually, I've never been that fond of them but these were so beautiful at the nursery last year that I couldn't resist.


Leucothoe fontanesiana 'Rainbow'

 Creeping Mahonia is such an attractive plant especially when it blooms -

Mahonia repens

Mugo Pine 'Aurea'

Pinus mugo 'Aurea'


And finally, a very small Norway Spruce 'Gold Drift' -


Picea abies 'Gold Drift'

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Love seeing all of these evergreens. So many would be annuals in my garden. Thanks so much for sharing even though I can't grow most it is refreshing to see them all.

  2. You've got a lovely and varied collection. You have me wondering if the creeping mahonia might be happy here. The only plants we share within this group at present are rosemary and pineapple guava.

    1. Kris, not sure. I do know that it is native to this region but I don't know how far that extends south.

  3. You have a great collection to brighten your winter garden. I grow Leucothoe in my garden and it has done well in some places and others not so much. You are lucky to be able to grow so many furs.

  4. I wonder if Leucothoe looks better in the PNW than it does in the Southeast. I’ve seen it at the NC Botanical Garden and it looks really good in your garden.

    I had no idea there was a creeping mahonia. I love the silvery foliage of the pineapple guava. Congratulations on finding a tea olive, they have a lovely scent!

    1. Well, this is a new plant for me. It was just planted last fall. We will see how it does this year.

  5. Excellent conifer collection. I hope your Pineapple Guava will eventually produce more blooms (even if you aren't sure how I ended up with two plants... :-D). Pieris is considered rather mundane around here and old fashioned, but I love all 4 plants I grow. I have Vinca 'Illumination' hanging in a pot, but it's hardly as "illuminated" as yours... I wonder what I'm doing wrong.

    1. I am thinking it might not be warm enough for lots of profuse pineapple guava blooms. Not sure about the vinca - is it getting plenty of light?

  6. Really fine collection of plants. Well chosen and well grown. The blue fir is elegant...slow growing? Reminds me of my warmer-climate-choice for blue evergreens, the blue Podocarpus.

    1. I would say slow. I planted it the first year I was here so that was five years ago. It is about 6 feet at the moment but I see a large limb developing at the top going straight upward!


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