Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Pacific Northwest
January, 2001
Regional Report

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Primroses are one of our best winter bloomers, providing cheery flowers in the dead of winter.

Reliable Winter Bloomers

While the rest of the country is digging out from under multiple snowstorms, we're basking in spring-like weather. Most of the garden is still hibernating, but primroses are in their glory now and winter pansies are producing random buds every few days - a forerunner of the riot of color we'll experience as the season progresses.

Favorite Primroses

I've never had much luck keeping the vibrant red, blue, and purple primroses alive from one season to the next, but the yellows and whites are quite hardy in my garden. This year even an orange has remained. I especially like planting primroses in containers so I can place them near the front door when they are looking their best.

Reliable Pansies

Winter-blooming pansies are available in a variety of bright colors, including red, yellow, violet, and blue. They flower when the weather is mild (above 45F) but stop when really cold weather hits. However, once it warms up, they're flowering again.

Gorgeous Ground Covers

You can count on Algerian Iris (Iris unguicularis), a native of Greece, to brighten up a winter border. It's a ground cover for a sunny spot, and it thrives in poor, dry soils. The lavender-blue flowers have a honeysuckle scent that's especially noticeable when you cut them and bring them indoors. Another reliable ground cover is the common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis). I love the drooping white blossoms against the dark green foliage.

Winter-Blooming Shrubs

Winter-blooming shrubs include witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis), which produces fragrant, bright yellow flowers, and various cultivars of heath and heather. My heathes and heathers are mounding, about 24 inches tall, and bloom every 3-4 months throughout the year. The 6-inch spikes of lavender, purple, white, and pink blooms make attractive additions to fresh flower arrangements.

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