Creating Beautiful
Whidbey Island Landscapes


that celebrate the unique history, ecology and character of our island home.

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Sarcococca

Sarcococca

Sarcococca

I stopped at Bayview Farm and Garden Nursery this week just to walk down this covered walkway where Sarcococca or Sweetbox is traditionally on display this time of year.  This is a perfect spot for it –  shaded, cool and right near the doorway where all can enjoy the intoxicating fragrance.

The three species most commonly available are Sarcococca confusa, Sarcococca ruscifolia and Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis.  Sarcococca confusa and ruscifolia mature into evergreen shrubs about 4 feet tall and wide. S. confusa has blue-black berries and S. ruscifolia has red berries.   Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis is a slowly suckering shrub, also evergreen, that matures to about 18″ tall and makes a nice little hedge.  A new species in my garden,  Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna ‘Purple Stem’  has paler and longer leaves, more noticeable pink in the flowers, a purple cast to the stems and is stol0niferous (spreads by underground runners).   All like shade and must have protection from direct sun. Sarcococca prefers rich, moist soil but will  tolerate drought – even under eaves once  established –  which can take a few years.  All should be perfectly hardy in our climate.

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Himalayan Huckleberry

I treated myself to a leisurely morning at Bayview Farm and Garden Nursery this week on one of our sunny days – no errands to do afterward and no deadlines to get home to.  I’ve been working on a garden design where we will need to rely heavily on a transitional zone of plants that will connect the garden to it’s wooded surroundings – not an uncommon challenge in our island gardens.  I came across this plant, Vaccinium glauco-album.

While, as its name suggests, it’s not a Northwest native, it certainly reminds me of salal, with pink flowers followed by black-blue berries.   The foliage is very nice  – blue green above and white on the underside.  Size is 3′ x 3′ and hardy to zone 7 – as is confirmed by a friend who grew it evergreen here over the past few winters.

I also saw some evergreen huckleberry / Vacciumium ovatum in four inch pots, which would be a great way to start your own transitional zone.

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