West Coast Gardener – Native Plants That Every Gardener Should Know – Pt. II

by Matt Hall, Red Feather Horticulture – 

With the amount of feedback we received after our first article on “West Coast Native Plants,” we thought that another dive into our favourite choices might be welcome. Below are plants that we use a great deal in our planting schemes due to their robustness and beauty. We hope you enjoy six more West Coast native plants for the home landscape:

Pacific Wax-Myrtle (morella californica). These big, bushy evergreens are a great replacement for the common (and invasive) holly and laurel in the garden. Like laurels, they also take well to pruning and shaping. Incredibly hardy, they flourish in all light levels and are drought/deer/and salt spray tolerant.

Evergreen Huckleberry (vaccinium ovatum). These charming little evergreen shrubs are a great way to add colour to your shade garden. Easily kept to three to five feet, they are a great companion to native ferns like sword, deer or maiden-hair (as they are in nature). The new growth sprouts bronze which deepens to a rich green and then matures to a rusty purple. Look for sprigs of “huck” in local florists’ arrangements.

Maidenhair Fern (adiantum aleuticum; shown above). We use this beautiful fern to add grace to shaded and damp areas. Growing to only a couple of feet tall, these ferns form a layer of green, supported on stalks so fine they seem to be floating. Unfortunately they are delicate, so keep these ferns away from highly trafficked areas.

Bunchberry (cornus canadensis). If you don’t know bunchberry, it can be summarized in two words: miniature dogwood. Native to forest floors, bunchberry is the smallest species in a genus of mostly trees and shrubs. We use it to fill in damp and shaded ground among mature trees but will also employ them around rhodos and azaleas to add a little “West Coast” to a Japanese garden. Once established, they form a lush carpet six inches high that sprouts white, loonie-sized dogwood flowers.

Saskatoon (amelenchier alnifolia). There are few garden plants that do as much as the Saskatoon (or serviceberry). They have beautiful white flowers in the spring, vivid foliage in the fall and they bear lots of fruit in the summer. Saskatoon will flourish in any sunny spot and can be grown as a specimen or a hedge. We must add that Saskatoon berries are a most under-rated fruit (especially in jam or pie).

Salal (gautheria shalon). On our restoration projects, salal is one of our workhorses. It establishes well and is a terrific taller groundcover in sunny or part-shade sites. In the landscape, they do equally well but need to be planted in groups to truly flourish. If you have an area that you want plant coverage over, there are few better choices than salal (especially for the birds).

If you feel a need for native plants on your property or some help in your garden in 2022, please feel free to drop us a line at info@redfeatherhorticulture.com or visit our website at www.RFLH.ca. Good (native) gardening!

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