The Garden at Winterhaven Devas, Nature Spirits, Fairies Oh My
Shrubs and trees form the backbone of any garden. They provide height, background, interest and something to look at in the winter.

This being the Pacific NW, rhododendrons play a major role in the garden. When we first moved in, there was a set of three burms that were in full sun and had been freshly planted with evergreens (pines and spruce) and rhodies. I considered that to be a terrible waste of sun and moved the rhodies to a shady area on the other side of the house.


The house came with numerous foundation planted rhodies that are now 30 years old. This is my favorite. It blooms right outside our kitchen door.

Purple Rhododendron

A number of these older rhodies had been grafted to rootstock and have overcome their grafts. I much prefer the rootstock to the muddy red flowers they started with.

rootstock  rhody

Aside from the rhodies I have a number of hydrangeas.

Pink hydrangea purple hydrangea

The pink ones are growing in pots. To get pink hydrangeas you need alkaline soil and clearly the pH adjustments in potting soil does the job. The purple-ish blue comes from adding lime to a plant growing in our native soil. It's basically halfway between blue and pink.

In 2008, I planted an unusual climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea a petiolaris). It's relatively slow growing and will take a number of years before it blooms.

climbing hydrangea

My favorite hydrangea is the Pee Gee Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata). It starts out with white blooms in August. They then turn cream colored and finish up this lovely peach when the leaves turn golden in October.

Pee Gee Hydrangea

In addition to the rhodies and hydrangeas I have a Daphne x burkwoodii 'Carol Mackie'. This Daphne has a nice white edge its leaves and blooms in May rather then in late winter like most Daphnes. Next to it I have a Daphne cneorum which is very low growing and has pink blooms at about the same time.

Years ago a friend gave me a dwarf Korean lilac. I kept it in a pot for way too many years and then finally found the right spot for it. It took a number of years to recover but at this point is it finally producing a full set of fragrant blooms every year and has reached a mature height of about 6 feet--a bit taller than advertized but still way shorter than a regular lilac.

Lilac bud
Lilac bud

I also have a number of heavenly bamboos or nandinas. One grows in a large planter in the shade and the others are dwarf ones that lend a lovely fiery red color to my burms in the winter.

Nandina in a planter
Nandina domestica

Nandian domestica "Gulf Stream"
Nandina domestica "Gulf Stream"

I added a couple of dwarf barberries (Berberis thunbergii "Rose Glow) to my burms when I renovated them and I've been very happy with the results.

Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow'

The center piece of my biggest burm is a Diablo Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’) which is simply a great shrub. It has beautiful deep burgundy foliage and lovely white flowers.

Diablo Ninebark

To finish things off I have two dwarf conifers, a Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) and a Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold'.

Dwarf Hinoki Cypress

The Hinoki is much happier than the Thuja in the burm where they've been planted and I'd be more than happy to plant another.

And last but not least I must admit to the fact that I still have a purple butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii). I cut it down nearly to the ground each spring and that keeps it from getting too gigantic. It produces lovely deep purple flowers with a heavenly scent in late summer and early fall. They make great cut flowers.