Sunday, January 9, 2011


We were back to those day that the weather man on KIXI ironically called “those lovely days when the high and the low are only one degree apart”. The temperance of the Pacific Northwest is what drew me and a million other gardeners here. Still every year my mother asks me as she sits in her living room looking out the window at feet of U.P. snow, “How can you keep busy this time of year?” She is a Midwesterner of German decent and keeping busy is of the utmost importance. I actually totally enjoyed the week between the holidays when just a dusting of snow validated my laziness. I actually lied on the sofa for days and read. And if that isn’t lazy enough for you, I took naps. Not one or two , but many naps. Long winter naps.
After a while the somnolent days wore thin. I wanted to get busy. There is nothing like the rush of productivity. I am a real American in those matters. Fortunately just as the the holidays ended our “ warm” winter weather returned and melted the white wash of snow. Most of the year snow is evasive here, at high elevations, or a brief traffic-fucking burst in the lowlands. I love the way it gently changes the world, washes it clean in a sense.
This past week as the snow vanished the flood debris, the rotting cabbage and the muddy paths returned to the farm. They were always there, just hidden. And now here it comes again as I write, snow. It’s starting to stick. And there is more on the way. I love the unified world covered in a blanket of white. I love even more all the garden projects around here put on hold, I know in a few months it will nearly be impossible to get me into the house until dark, so I’m savoring this mini-vacation. Skimming through my photo files for white flowers. But what I found a lot of was white variegation.
Being a “color-guy”, I thought I’d find more yellow variegated plants than white in my files. But it wasn’t the case. I use plenty of white variegation in the gardens I create. Especially as a foil for dark flowers. Here are a few of my favorites:

I love variegated hosta, this unidentified one in my friend Jon's garden isluminous in his dark front yard

Royal catchfly ( Silene regia) screams in front of variegated figwort ( Schrophularia aquatica 'Variegata')

Menzies' Burnet (Sanguisorba menziesii) a northwest native looks exotic in this border of variegated plants including variegated pamapas ( Cortaderia selloana 'Silver Comet'), Miscanthus 'Cosmopolitan' and variegated yellow twig dogwood (Cornus sericea 'Silver and Gold')

Variegated Money Plant ( Lunaria annua ' Variegata Alba') makes a dramatic statement in the spring garden, here paired with Marsh Marigol (Caltha palustris).

Lamium 'White Nancy' in a classy combination in Jon's garden.

Forsythia 'Kumson' has foliage like a tropical house plant.

Japanese knotweed is nothing I recommend planting, it covers acres herein the Snoqualmie Valley, Bu the variegated form (Fallopia japonica 'Variegata') is well behaved and beautiful in all stages of growth. Here it is still showing the pinkish caste of the young growth.

One of my favoite hostas 'Mount Tom'.

Variegated Pennywort (Hydrocotyle sibthorpioides 'Crystal Confetti') is a manageable thug that makes a bright ground cover under dark foliaged shrubs like Weigelia 'Dark Horse'.