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The Garden Awakens

Anise 'Woodland Red' ( Illicium floridanum ) A few weeks ago, I thought spring would never arrive, but now the change is astonishing. The nights are still cold (40s and sometimes even 30s) so planting tender annuals and vegetables is unwise although I have already succumbed, but covering and uncovering things gets old quickly. Someone made a wise comment last week and I must agree with them - "Don't plant anything tender until after May 1". Several plants are blooming like never before. One is the Anise shrub (above and below). I don't know if the recent tree pruning, which is allowing more sun into the woodland path, is affecting it or perhaps it is just age, but I've never seen so many blooms. Michael refers to this as "the stinky fish shrub" and I have to admit to smell of the flowers is quite unpleasant. It is so beautiful that I can overlook that. The old pink dogwood tree, which was already here, shades our woodland path and it too is prett

Early Bloomers

Camellia 'Donation'

We've had roller coaster weather with some very dreary days - last Wednesday was particularly grim working at the nursery on a cold, windy and wet day. However, more and more days are those like today - sunny, 60-ish and sublime. It is a favorite time of year when each day brings more green. Not to mention more flowers. Herre is a sampling from the garden today -

Blood Currant (Ribes sanguineum)

Euphorbia 'Miner's Merlot' (Euphorbia purpurea)

Anenome blanda

Daphne tangutica & Blue-eyed Mary (Omphaloides verna)

Veronica 'Georgia Blue'

Tree Heath (Erica arborea)

Serviceberry (Amelanchier grandiflora 'Autumn Brilliance")

Rhododendron 'Taurus'

Flowering Quince 'Double Take Orange Storm' (Chaenomeles)

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Such a lovely spring mix, Phillip! Every time I see 'Miner's Merlot' I regret my failure to pick up the plant when it was initially offered in smaller pots at a reasonable price here.

  2. Such beautiful blooms! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Wow! You are full of spring blooms, the blood currant is really spectacular. Well so is the flowering quince, and the daphne, etc., etc!

  4. I've always been enchanted by Flowering Quince early appearance on a bare branch. They aren't shy about their color either.

  5. I'm moving to Vancouver in about two months and want to learn how to garden in the PNW. I'm moving from Colorado so I know I have a lot to learn from you and other experienced gardeners. I love reading your blog and seeing the photos of your garden. Are there any books that you or the other viewers would recommend so that I can get off to a good start?

    1. Hello, this is a great place to garden and I know you will love it. I learned a lot when I moved here from Ann Lovejoy's books. The books are older but still good. A more recent one is "Gardening in the Pacific Northwest" by Paul Bonine and Amy Campion. It is good for a dictionary of plants that do well here. A must-have is the "Sunset Western Encyclopedia". I also highly recommend "Timber Press Guide to Gardening in the Pacific Northwest". I would also join the HPSO (Hardy Plant Society of Oregon). Let me know when you get here!

    2. Philip, thank you for these recommendations. I'm really looking forward to being there and learning all about the native plants and how to have a productive, attractive, and nurturing garden. These books and your blog are certainly going to be helpful. (Sorry that I keep forgetting to post with my name rather than anonymous).


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