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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

Staking Deutzia 'Magicien'

One of the early plants that intrigued me after moving here was Deutzia 'Magicien' (sometimes called 'Magician'). I had seen a tree-sized specimen at Joy Creek Nursery in their display gardens. I had been under the impression that deutzias were small-sized shrubs like 'Nikko' which could almost be considered a ground cover. But no, 'Magicien' is much larger than that, capable of rising to a height of 8 feet or more (and my haphazard memory tells me that the Joy Creek specimen was even larger). It was hybridized by the Lemoine family in the 1920s.

A robust grower with stunning pink flowers, it is literally smothered in blooms which weigh down the vertical reaching canes. I discovered this last week (albeit after our garden tour) when I noticed that the shrub was no longer arching into the sky. Indeed, the weight of the blooms had dragged the canes down and out of sight. 

After a quick attempt at remedying the problem with some string and stakes, I realized that it was a hopeless job and much stouter stake and string were going to be necessary. With the help of Michael, who is excellent at pruning and staking, we bought the largest stakes we could find (8') and ending up using a rubberized tube that came from inside one of those expandable hoses. Those hoses, convenient as they are, are rather short-lived but have a second life beyond their intended purpose. Remove the covering and take one apart. That rubber tubing is pretty useful as a stretchy, non-abrasive plant support.

It took us a good two hours to tame this monster and I think we will be better prepared next year. Too bad the garden visitors missed this beauty. It is a stunner!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. That's an ingenious solution and well worth it to help that beautiful shrub shine. Deutzia is another plant I love but it's so far outside my zone it's not something I'd even try to grow.

  2. You are absolutely right ! This is one gorgeous plant albeit tree ? .. I would have thought the same things as you did .. in the family of deutzia so why not a small shrub? However what a beauty to "out grow" your expectations ! Great ideas for staking too.
    That first photo is a stunner Phillip.

  3. You remember correctly - the one at Joy Creek was MASSIVE! And, as I recall, also had to be supported. I believe they had it growing over an arch, entering the Terrace Garden. I'm sorry I missed your open garden. I bet anyone who didn't didn't miss the Deutzia much. You have so many other wonderful plants to admire!

    1. Thanks Anna - I could not remember exactly where it was or what it was growing on.

  4. I understand this shrub can be pruned hard every year. Do you prune it?

    1. Yes but not hard. I plan to do so after bloom for sure. I have it in a limited space spot anyway so it will need it.


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