Skip to main content


Some Evergreen Shrubs

Mahonia repens (Creeping Mahonia) I can never over-emphasize the importance of evergreen shrubs in the garden. Otherwise, you have nothing to look at during the winter months. Here are a few of my favorites. Talk about a carefree plant! The PNW native  Mahonia repens (Creeping Mahonia or Creeping Oregon Grape) requires nothing special and will even tolerate drought after it is established. I tend to think of this plant more as a groundcover but after many years (six to be exact - it was planted in April of 2017) it is beginning to look more like a low-growing shrub. The height is less than 2 feet tall. Growth tends to be more horizontal and it has spread 3-4 feet. Not a fast grower. Sun or part-shade. The leaves are an attractive blue-green and they become tinged with red and purple when the weather is cooler.  Flowers have been sporadic but every year they increase. It usually blooms around April - The flowers are then followed (around July) by the berries or "grapes" - Os

Transplanting Rhododendron, Pruning Butterfly Bush and Roses, New Plants and a Bee/Insect Hotel

That is a convoluted title but it pretty much wraps up what I've been doing this well. We are having the type of weather that makes you want to uncover the statuary and the fountains and get on with the season. 

I've been pruning roses on Sauvie Island and when you are in that area, a trip to Cistis Nursery is required. I picked up a few things but before getting them in the ground, some juggling had to be done.

I purchased a kniphofia called 'Christmas Cheer' which has the unusual distinction of blooming during the winter. I wanted to put it in one of the terraced beds but something had to go. Rhododendron 'Yaku Princess' is one that I've wanted to move for a while now.  I'm trying to focus on drought-tolerant plants for the terraces and this one doesn't really fall into that category. So I'm moving it to the front border where, upon reflection, I've planted several rhododendrons this year since expanding the borders.

The transplant went very well. The root ball remained intact and the rhododendron isn't too large. I didn't give it much thought about its new home (a bad habit) but saw a large empty spot between the smoke tree and the dappled willow.

And yes, it is halfway out of the hole and that is the way I always plant them. I then pile up more soil and mulch around it.

The kniphofia looks hopelessy lost in the space where 'Yaku Princess' was. This will be troublesome for a while but alas, what can you do? At least the kniphofia should fill the space faster than the rhododendron.

Another impulse buy was the Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) which will always remind me of our fall vacations in north Florida. We also had one in the Alabama garden and I assume it is still there. It is a great shade plant.


In order to plant the Cast Iron plant, I had to move a gaura (which was way too large for the spot anyway and not getting enough sun). The new home for the gaura involved moving a ginger plant (again, in an unhappy spot and it has never bloomed). The new spot for the ginger required the digging up and moving of a dwarf crape myrtle. You can see where this is going. It is like a never-ending game of musical chairs. All the plants were moved today and I hope they like their new homes.

In between planting, the butterfly bushes were cut back. I actually did this last week. 

More of the roses have been pruned but there are a few left. Today,, I pruned Marie Pavie and Grandmother's Hat.

'Marie Pavie'

'Grandmother's Hat' has been the biggest dud but I blame myself as I've moved the poor thing twice. I know it hasn't had a chance to get settled in. I was prepared to move it yet again but realize it has no place to go. I don't think this is the optional location because it doesn't get sun until the afternoon, but I think it will be fine.

'Grandmother's Hat'

 One more new plant which did not get planted is Correa also known as "Australian Fuchsia". I wasn't familiar with it and loved the foliage as well as the flowers - there were a few but they had fallen off by the time I got the camera out. Placing this one is going to require some thought. According to the label, it can get 4 feet. 

And finally, the insect and bee hotel got revamped. I put up a version of this last year but I don't think it attracted any interest. I'm not giving up though and I tweaked it, adding some height and making it sturdier. I've read that a source of mud is also important so I will place a large saucer on the ground and put some soil and water in it. I'm hoping for success this year.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Musical chairs indeed, and the perfect season for playing it. It sounds like you had a lot of moving parts, and it's nice to know you bravely got through it! I'm loving the insect hotel, is't such fun. If I were an insect I'd 'Bee' moving in... I hope there will be a post detailing your adventures in Sauvie Island, pruning roses. It sounds like it was not all work and no play kind of gig.

  2. You've been busy! I've never grown an Aspidistra but I've been meaning to try it here. You're smart to give thought to the mature size of the Correa. They're relatively slow growing but I made the mistake of putting one of mine near a major pathway years ago and should now be planning a major transplant operation of my own. I love the stylish bug hotel.

  3. You have been busy! Here in Minnesota we are having fabulous weather (between 40-50F) which is like a heat wave for us! And I am trying to resist the urge to bring my roses out from the garage because I know our weather is VERY fickle. :)

  4. My goodness, you have been busy. Today was my first day of really working out in the garden. It felt good. Your insect hotel looks more like an insect city. Lots of available real estate for bugs. I hope you get some action.

  5. That's a fabulous Bee Hotel. What bee could resist? Musical chairs for plants, yes indeed. Been there, many times. 'Christmas Cheer' was a big feature at the Huntington entrance garden last I was there (long ago now), and yes it blooms like crazy in winter for a long time. Several visits and it was still in flower. I hope it's a winner for you.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts