• Field Notes Blog from Garden Director Dan Hinkley,
    Assistant Director Nathan Lamb
    & Taxonomist Ross Bayton.

Magnolia Season Begins

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Flowers before foliage

With Spring’s arrival, the beds and borders at Heronswood are awash with flowers. Carpets of corydalis, stately tufts of trilliums and hordes of hepaticas are an assault on the senses. But take a moment to glance upwards …

Hepatica transsilvanica "Elison Spence"

Hepaticas and More

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The Genus Hepatica

I have certainly said the same before as I am sure I will say the same again. Each year, in mid-March to early April, I note that the Hepaticas have never looked better. As they have now …

Abraham-Isaac and-Jacob

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Trachystemon orientalis

Found naturally occurring in southern Europe and western Eurasia where it has long been eaten as a spring vegetable, this member of the Borage Family (Boraginaceae) is known colloquially as Abraham-Isaac-Jacob. Over the centuries, the same name has …

Symphonic Symphyotrichum

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If I checked my archives, which I seldom do, I would probably see that I gush about Asters every year at about this time. And I have probably used the same adjectives and turns of phrase each time I have. …

The Under-Appreciated Charms of Roscoea

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The beguiling genus of Roscoea is mostly misunderstood, taxonomically misrepresented and entirely too under appreciated in gardens of the Pacific Northwest. Its physiology itself is chocked with anomalies with a floral format appearing to be a dead ringer for that …

Fuchsia magellanica

Fewsha, Fooksia or Fuchsia?

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Despite having his name forever melded to a diverse and horticulturally significant genus of plants as well as an eponymous color that many might equate with cloying, as well as a perpetual tiff over proper pronunciation, Dr. Leonhart Fuchs, a …

Eucryphia glutinosa

August Moments

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The heat is expected to be brutal by this Friday but we are fully on the task of watering; please note that our woodland is generally a full 20 degrees cooler than the ambient air temperatures. Come and bathe in …

Phlox paniculata 'Iris', Monday, July 18th, 8:00AM

Phlox by Night

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Like so many plants native to North America, Phlox paniculata was sent across the Atlantic to finishing schools and ultimately sent back refined and sophisticated. This simple and charming wildflower is now barely recognizable as the parent of so many …

Sxusem, Fires and One Man’s Weeds…

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During the bombing of London during WWII, the first plant to germinate and blossom in the sites of destruction was Epilobium angustifolium, a circumboreal species known colloquially as the Rosebay Willowherb, bringing a dash of beauty to an otherwise grisly …

Apioid Addiction

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Even if you never gardened, which we know you do, and even if you hated plants, which we know you don’t, you would be on friendly terms with countless members of the Apiaceae. With 434 genera and an estimated 3700 …

Calycanthus x raulstonii

East Meets West

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Until 1963, the genus Calycanthus was known by only two species. Calycanthus floridus, the Carolina Allspice, was exported to gardens in Europe in 1756 while Calycanthus occidentalis, the California Allspice, was not introduced into cultivation until the mid 19th century. …

On Loving Paris

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I can’t exactly say when my infatuation with Paris began, or even precisely when I initially became aware of the genus. It has been one of those slow boils in life, when you are not even aware of budding love …

Paths to Linnaea

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In June of 1987, our realtor brought us back to the property at 7530 288th St NE for a second look. We had been uninspired by our first viewing on a cold, dreary January day earlier that same year. …

Five Yards of Fragrance

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Though Cardiocrinum giganteum, aka Lilium giganteum, was certainly known to the cultures of its native haunts throughout the Himalayas, Western China, Myanmar and Vietnam – like, how exactly do you not notice a flowering bulb of these proportions – it …

Meconopsis gakyidiana

A Gross Happiness of Blue

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The genus Meconopsis, that of the mythical Himalayan Blue Poppies, is much less straightforward than formerly believed. Many of us have grown (and fought…) the Welsh Poppy, Meconopsis cambrica, in our gardens. Its cheery yellow and sometimes orange ‘poppies’ …

Smelling a Skunk

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Lysichiton, the genus of the so-called Skunk Cabbages or Swamp Lanterns, is a rather neat and tidy consignment of plants with only two known species. Throughout the Pacific Northwest, in perpetually moist areas of the western slope, one will readily …

Through the Lens of Lynne Harrison

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If the light is right, I can always count on one certainty. Lynne Harrison will be found somewhere in our garden spinning her photochromic magic. You have probably seen her, the pleasant, smiling tripod-toting woman along our paths during virtually …


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A mixture, a medley. It is odd how much effort we, as gardeners, put in to disallowing this sensation in our gardens. Generally speaking, horticulturists don’t like their plants touching. It is good to remember this odd need to control …


The Big Shortia

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In almost every aspect, the genus Shortia is small.

It is held within a diminutive plant family, the Diaspensiaceae, representing only 12 species in 5 genera (note that Galax urceolata is one of those genera held within its ranks and…