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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

Moving Schipka Laurel for Rhododendron 'Loderi King George'

Picture it - a 6 ft. tall Schipka Laurel used to stand here (I forgot to take a "before" shot and don't feel like searching for one).  I knew when I planted it that it was probably a bad idea but thought it would be good for a fast-growing screen along the back fence-row. I'm sure all gardeners do this, especially if you have a new garden and are eager for greenery. In all fairness to the laurel, it is a useful plant and I would argue even a beautiful one when nicely maintained. Before I dug this one up, I stood back and admired it and felt the guilt pangs stabbing at my heart. 

I removed a much larger laurel than this a few years ago and they are not the easiest plant to dig out. I was determined to save this one and I believe I was successful. 

Here is a thought and you can take this to the bank - the pot you choose to hold a plant that you dig up will ALWAYS be too small. Always! 

So, after finding the largest pot I could, here it is, after being cut back pretty drastically - I will pass this along to anyone who wants it -

Notice the leaves appeared unphased after this upheaval. The pot has been soaked by almost 2" of rain during the past two days (hooray for that!) but even without that, this plant is a survivor and so tough.

The funny thing is the plant that is going to replace it will no doubt, in time, grow larger than the laurel if left unattended. It is a rhododendron that I've wanted for a long time - 'Loderi King George'. Had I found one of these years ago, it would already be in the ground. We just got some nice big ones at the garden center. This rhododendron is reputed to be one of the best and has white to pale pink flowers that are scented.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. The Rhododendron looks wonderful there. I hope you can find someone to take the laurel.

  2. Oh the things we do in our gardens. The Rhodie will be loverly in this spot.
    I like the way you are using your off fall for fencing.

  3. Ha! I know exactly the feeling of "guilt pangs stabbing at my heart"! I mean, here's a lovely, healthy plant, doing exactly what it was meant to do for us, no fuss or drama. And for that we pull it out unceremoniously. At least you home it before it goes in the waste bin.
    That new Rhodi is a beauty. I hope it has fragrance as promised.

  4. Love that Loderi also. Enjoying your posts. Can I ask where do you get your chip mulch? I am looking for a good source of wood chips to use as mulch as well. Thx!

    1. I usually get a load from Chip Drop in the fall. It comes from local foresters and is free - You get a huge load and just have to wait until it is available in your area but they have been fast in our area. In the spring, I use small bark nuggest from Yard n Garden Land to cover since it gives a more attractive look. I do think that the untreated forestry chips do the most to improve your soil.

  5. The new rhododendron looks beautiful there. I have had the same feelings, and yes in a rush for greenery in a completely empty back garden made several strange choices. I look forward to seeing it bloom!

  6. Congrats on finally acquiring a long-sought plant. You may be too excited to sleep (that’s what happens to me).
    The laurel was lush, though. Do they seed around?

  7. Love your dead hedge!


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