• Field Notes Blog from Garden Director Dan Hinkley
    & Assistant Director Ross Bayton

Paris quadrifolia


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The word “quarantine” has been around for centuries, but now joins our current lexicon of coronavirus catchphrases: social distancing, flattening the curve, new normal, PPE, home schooling (should that be hyphenated? Not sure, ask the kids). Its origins trace back …

Keeping It Green

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This week’s wander through Heronswood’s horticultural delights will focus on green flowers and is not, as the title suggests, a homage to a well-known and much respected local nursery. Green flowers have fascinated me since childhood, in part because my …

Seasonal Liturgy

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Rites of Spring

When I was a few years younger, and traveled a great deal more, I spent a considerable amount of my life in Japan. Habitually, for no other reason than familiarity with the rail system and an inexpensive …

Pulsatilla vulgaris


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Seeking the Ideal

How we wish to believe that an ideal exists, the garden of our minds, accurate and precise. It rains at night, just so softly, yet still it soaks the earth. Varmints live off weeds that are rarely …


Pollen; The Agony and the Ecstasy

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The Mystery, Miracle and Misery of Palynologenics

Above all else, know thine enemy. As you sneeze and hack through a cloying cloud of gilded vexation, take a moment to marvel in the science of palynology. The study of pollen has …

Pink Moons and Spring Diversions

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The Garden, at Last, Through the Lens

As we all are quite aware, trying to get from point A to point B and then on to C in a garden during the spring takes herculean efforts. In a span of …

Mahonia oiwakensis

On Shy Days, A Generous Gift

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A Season of Giving

It remains a pity that so many of the treasures found in our collection at Heronswood come into their finest after the garden has closed for the year. Of those that shine brightest in mid-November through …

Haunted Heronswood

Haunted Heronswood

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Haunted Heronswood is here at last! Our gardeners have conspired with the weather and the plants to create the perfect Halloween outing for you and your family. Come see the Heronswood you know and love transformed into a spooky version …

Parting Shots of Autumn Color

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Going Out with a Flash (of Fothergilla)

The days have shortened and the skies have darkened. Yet for many, the finest moments of the gardening calendar are upon us. The garden at Heronswood is downright punchy with brilliant autumn color, …

Nerine bowdenii

Pretty in Pink

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We tend to think of spring as a time for flowering bulbs. Perhaps that’s because sunny yellow daffodils bring to mind the warm weather ahead of us? From a bulb’s perspective, spring is a good time to bloom as it’s …

The spiny charms of the genus Colletia

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Life can be prickly. Bloom anyway.

The genus Colletia can really get under your skin. Literally. A small genus of small trees or large shrubs hailing from the southern Andes, the 16 or so species are not known to possess …

Rostrinucula dependens

I don’t grow Buddleja

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What attracts you to a plant? Beautiful flowers, pungent aromas, pleasing habit? For me, it’s novelty and weeping buddleja certainly has that. With silver-backed foliage and flaky bark, it resembles its namesake Buddleja davidii, but the flowers are presented …

Cyclamen Season Commences

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The Most Beautiful Cyclamen (Ever)

As the days shorten and the first rains appear, one of the more magical moments of the autumnal garden awakens from our woodland floor. The first of the hardy Cyclamen begin to present their beguiling, …

Duane West planting Carpenteria californica 'Elizabeth' at Heronswood

The Perfect Time to Plant

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Fall is Planting Season

The rain has returned! And with it, an excellent reminder that there is still plenty of time to add new plants to your garden. We’re at the end of another gardening year here in the Pacific …

Hedychium Tara

Flowering Hardy Gingers

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Ginger Zinger

Late summer and many plants have passed their peak, but while other flowers fade, hardy gingers are at their blooming best. Here at Heronswood, Hedychiums are in their prime, with proud spikes of pungently-scented flowers in several hot …

Colchicum and Crocus pulchellus

Autumn Crocuses

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Don’t Get Your Crocus Crossed

Hard to believe I’m saying this in August, but fall is here. Certainly, that’s what some of the plants at Heronwood are saying. While our herbaceous borders are still afire with colourful lilies, dahlias and …

Indigofera pendula

True Blue Indigo

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Some plants have such a long history of use that we can’t rightly say where on this planet they first sprang forth. They have been harvested, cultivated, and distributed by enterprising humans for so many thousands of years that scientists …

Learning From Lilies

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A Wealth of Mid-Summer Lilies

Besides those cheery, early-blooming Lilium martagon, which have already come and gone, we’re entering a peak lily moment this very week at Heronswood. It seems appropriate that we’ve once again passed through a (very …

Cardiandra alternifolia

Hydrangea Kith and Kin

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Heart of the Matter

At Heronswood, we love hydrangeas! From super-rare, wild-collected Hydrangea sikokiana, to common garden mop-heads, we have a fine collection and they’re blooming now. And it’s not just hydrangeas – we grow many other members of …