Growing native plants is a terrific idea, especially in the South Sound. We have so many choices. Unfortunately, the home gardener has had two giant stumbling blocks preventing the inclusion of Northwest natives in the backyard garden. The first stumbling block is the lack of good native plant sources. The second is the lack of information about native plant culture and propagation. The first problem, finding native plants, is slowly being solved as more and more local nurseries begin to carry them. The second problem is solved by the folks at Timber Press and their newly published book, “Encyclopedia of Northwest Native Plants for Gardens and Landscapes” by Kathleen A. Robson, Alice Richter and Marianne Filbert.
This encyclopedia of northwest natives includes ferns, conifers, perennials, annuals, shrubs and trees that grow in everything from wetlands to sand dunes. Every part of the state is covered.
It’s always helpful to know all the botanical names of plants but not always possible . The native plants in the encyclopedia are listed in the main body of the book by botanical names but the index also has common names listed, which makes plant searching much easier. USDA plant zones are given and cultivation and native habitats are explained. In additions to the basics, the authors add their notes and observations about classification, propagation tricks and range of growth.
The final section in the book is a list of plants for special situations and purposes, including erosion control, rock gardens, hedgerows, groundcovers, meadows and plants that attract birds and butterflies.
This is a large, heavy book and is best used as an at-home study manual and native plant dream book. For identification of natives, it’s best to carry around the “Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast” by Pojar and MacKinnon. These two are perfect companion books. “Encyclopedia of Northwest Native Plants for Gardens and Landscapes” ($49.95) is a must have if you are at all interested in Pacific Northwest native plants and want them to thrive in your backyard.
Article reprinted with permission Premier Media Group, South Sound Magazine, Dirty Dan Column