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Covered Plants

Cindy Stockett - Horticulture

Did you know..

The common sunflower (helianthus annus) and prairie sunflower (helianthus petiolaris) are host plants to 41 species of caterpillars and 50 pollen specialist bee species?

Keystone Native Plants  - presented February 2024 

"Keystone plants are native plants critical to the food web and necessary for many wildlife species to complete their life cycle. Without keystone plants in the landscape, butterflies, native bees, and birds will not thrive. 96% of our terrestrial birds rely on insects supported by keystone plants." - Dr. Doug Tallamy

The video is coming soon...

Click the box below for a comprehensive list of keystone plants for our region:

Cindy says: 

Cover your plants with pots before adding mulch.

The research of entomologist, Dr. Doug Tallamy, and his team at the University of Delaware have identified 14% of native plants (the keystones) support 90% of butterfly and moth lepidoptera species. The research of horticulturist Jarrod Fowler has shown that 15% to 60% of North American native bee species are pollen specialists who only eat pollen from 40% of native plants.


Chores for the Garden in February:

  • Cut back hellebore leaves and top dress with soil sweet /lime

  • Don’t wait too long to divide perennials

  • Cut back ornamental grasses

  • Deal with aggressive plants.

  • Deadhead any perennials where you can see new growth emerging

  • Plant bare roots trees and shrubs. 

  •  Deadhead mophead hydrangeas

  • Plant bare root trees, shrubs and roses

  •  Prune roses and clean up debris around base

  • Sprinkle Myco Bliss to bare root plants for optimal results

Plant Pots

 Understanding Cold Hardiness Zones  - presented January 2024 

Zones are determined by the average annual extreme cold temps for each area.

Did you know?  Vashon has a new classification - 9A

Note: Before purchasing a new plant, think about light,

soil moisture, temperature and humidity, besides zone. 


To find your zone:

then enter zip code

 Garden Chores for January: (There is a lot to do!)

  • You can still plant tulips! (Most are on sale at nurseries now.  If planting them in pots, be sure to add grit for drainage.)

  • Winter pruning of fruit trees

  • Mulch -use compost or rotted manure at least 2" deep or more

  • Cut back ornamental grasses now

  • Trim back perennials

  • Move dormant, deciduous shrubs (Tips: Carefully weed around the shrub, dig out a spade's width to include feeder roots.  Pre-dig the new hole to ensure rapid replanting. then add bone meal and water well.)

 An Introduction to Lithops  - presented December 2023 

"If you are looking for a fun project, I suggest you do some investigating into Lithops.  I have purchased some online as well as some seed. It has been a fun project and they adapt well to being a houseplant."

            - Cindy

This miniature plant is near stemless.  What you see growing above ground is a pair of leaves with flattened tops.  Living stone plants (Lithops species) are native to South Africa, where they grow among rocks or soil the same color as their two succulent leaves.  Lithops are succulents (meaning they store water in the fleshy leaves) but are not related to cacti. Living stones are small plants, often only 1/2" to 1" in diameter. From Fall to Spring, the plants need NO WATER at all. And very little water is needed in the Summer. Too much water can kill the plants. Yellow or white flowers appear towards the end of the growing season.

          Garden Chores for December:

It's a pretty quiet month, for chores, that is.  There is always clean-up of beds. If you do rake your leaves be sure to collect them and put them in a pile out of the way somewhere with a tarp over them. Leave them for a year and you will have lovely leaf mould to add to your garden next year. This is also a good time to prune Japanese maples, as winter pruning discourages new growth and you can also see branches more clearly.

Christmas Pine Tree

"Salvias are pollinator magnets and will attract many different species of bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds"

Salvias - a "must have"! presented on October 2023

Ornamental salvias are known for floral spikes that are densely packed with colorful flowers. There are a wide range of flower colors that are not only attractive to humans, but to pollinators too. A garden containing salvia will often have many bees, butterflies and hummingbirds visiting the flowers for nectar and pollen.  Salvia cultivars have a wide range of sizes, from 1 to 5 feet tall. Even though these plants are usually hardy in our zone, Cindy recommends taking cuttings in the Fall to be sure you have plants for the next season. Don't give up if they are slow to appear, give until June to re-emerge. These are some of Cindy's favorites:

  • Salvia Amistad - a giant purple

  • Salvia Hot lips & Amethyst lips 

  • Savlia Black and Blue - square stems, aromatic foliage, and deer resistant


Cindy says "Salvias make good companion plants for roses to

help prevent insect damage."

Quick facts

  • Salvia are very low maintenance, easy to grow plants that perform well in garden beds but not containers.

  • Salvia need full sun and well-drained soil.

  • They come in a wide range of sizes and colors.

  • Salvia are very light feeders with little to no disease or pest issues.

  • Common flower colors: shades of blue, purple, pink, red, white and yellow.


Garden Chores for October:

  • Plant bulbs for Spring color, choose varieties that are early, mid, or late Spring for extended bloom time.

  • Save seeds

  • Remove spent annuals from beds

  • Excellent time to plant trees and shrubs (water well until rains begin)

  • Collect fallen leaves for leaf mulch to improve soil structure.

"Mulching/Chelsea Chop/Vitamin G" - June 2023

Mulching garden beds:

Mulching suppresses weeds by blocking out the light and keeping in moisture by reducing evaporation.

At its simplest, mulch is any material that covers the soil’s surface. In nature, mulch is simply fallen leaves and plant debris. In the garden, mulch can also include compost, wood chips, rotted manure, cardboard, or even seaweed. If you use organic mulch material - one that will break down - mulching will improve the soil structure and  help retain moisture.

The Chelsea Chop is a method of pruning that limits the size, controls the flowering season, done at the end of May at the time of the Chelsea Garden Show in  England.

Perennials to give the Chelsea Chop:

Garden Phlox, Yarrow, Bellflower, Aster, Coneflower, Black -eyed Susan, Upright Sedum, Penstemon, Golden Marguerite, Sneezeweed (Helenium), Goldenrod (Solidago), Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum)

Image by C VanHeest
Image by Rebecca Asryan

"Vitamin G" - Health Benefits of Gardening


An RHS study, in collaboration with the University of Sheffield published last year showed that adding plants to a paved front garden could reduce stress levels as much as eight weekly mindfulness sessions.

Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) wellbeing fellow and lead author Dr Lauriane Chalmin-Pui said: “This is the first time the ‘dose response’ to gardening has been tested and the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the more frequently you garden – the greater the health benefits.

“In fact gardening every day has the same positive impact on wellbeing than undertaking regular, vigorous exercise like cycling or running."

“When gardening, our brains are pleasantly distracted by nature around us. This shifts our focus away from ourselves and our stresses, thereby restoring our minds and reducing negative feelings.”

Those with health problems stated gardening eased episodes of depression (13%), boosted energy levels (12%) and reduced stress (16%).

“Most people say they garden for pleasure and enjoyment so the likelihood of getting hooked to gardening is also high and the good news is that from a mental health perspective – you can’t ‘over-dose’ on gardening.

“We hope all the millions of new gardeners will be getting their daily doses of gardening this week and feeling all the better for it.”

"Pruning Spring Perennials"

Presented by Nancy Kappleman on April 2023

Pruning improves air circulation, encourages blooms, and improves plants appearance.

"Wait until Spring to prune and tidy plants as 1/3 of North American native bees overwinter in plant cavities, hollow stems and leaf debris." 

Cindy says:

"Pruning is not just about deadheading - it lowers the risk of fungi and rot"

  • Echinacea (cone flower)

  • Asters, Russian Sage, Lavender

  • Echinops (Globe thistle)

  • Kniphofia (red hot poker)

  • Hardy fuchsias

  • Rudbeckia (Black eyed Susan)

  • Heuchera(coral bells)

  • Scabiosa

  • Santolina (Lavender cotton)

manure pic.jpg
Image by Jon Sailer

Garden Chores for April:

  •  Add lime to alpine loving plants such as lilac, mock orange, daphne and deutsia by sprinkling lime in a circle around the base.

  • Clean up debris around plants to discourage slugs and snails. Dispatch slugs.

  • Last chance to divide perennials

  • Prune Fall bearing raspberries to the ground to make way for new shoots.
    Mulch Summer and Fall raspberries with a thick layer of manure.

Image by Morgane Le Breton
Image by Nature Uninterrupted Photography

"Planting a Wildflower Patch" presented on March 2023



A field of wildflowers is a magical place...

filled with color and busy with the sight and sounds of all sorts of creatures going about the day’s business. It’s such a soothing scene, it’s easy to wish that you could have a meadow of your very own, right in your own backyard. The good news is, you can! Native bees and other pollinators are essential to the successful production of many fruit and vegetable crops and the reproduction of many plant species in our surrounding environment. Wildflower meadows and gardens are extremely valuable habitat, providing nesting sites and a protected environment for hundreds of bee species, moths and butterflies, and other insects. Many birds, bats, small mammals and some amphibians also thrive on the food and shelter that a meadow ecosystem provides. native wildflowers have co-evolved with an area's climate and pollinators, they usually require less water and fertilizer ... Even if you only have a small plot available for planting, you can transform it into a mini-meadow. Better yet, on a large scale, a wildflower patch could be the lowest-maintenance garden you’ll ever plant.


As wildflower enthusiasts like to say, "If you can grow weeds, you can grow wildflowers." It isn’t actually quite that easy . You can ignore it up to a point but the more hands on you are the more colorful and life filled your meadow will be. Ultimately if you do ignore your wildflower area it will eventually become less colorful,and soon you will have weeds and brambles. To manage your wildflower area you should cut the meadow and low as possible in the late Fall. Rake the area and cut it again with the lawnmower. Rake once more. Raking off the cuttings gives your ground light and space for new seedling germination and growth the following year. It reduces the thatch and organic matter that will eventually favor grasses over wildflowers. A wildflower meadow does not want a rich organic soil.


Note:  Yellow Rattle: Meadow Maker widely used in the UK , native to the Northern Hemisphere it is found in Alaska and a few areas in the Pacific Northwest. It is a semi parasitic annual plant that weakens grasses by attaching their roots to the roots of grasses, thereby robbing them of nutrients. This reduces the vigor of existing grasses and allows wildflowers to gain a competitive advantage. Can be sown before the fall rains, but can also be planted in the Spring and doesn’t need to be cold stratified (kept in fridge for 2 weeks.)

Steps for Building a Wildflower Garden

  1.  Choose a Location -You don't need a huge meadow to have a wildflower garden: Any space with decent drainage and at least six hours of sun a day will do.

  2. Plant wildflowers: ▪ Instead of lawns. ▪ Between property borders. ▪ Surrounding a deck. ▪ In an open bed. Full sun

  3. Remove Weeds -No need to amend the soil: Some of the most beautiful wildflowers appear in rocky banks along the side of the highway. If anything at all is growing in the place you'd like to plant, so will wildflowers. Do remove as best you can any weeds before you plant.

  4.  Select Native Plant Seeds -Pick a wildflower mix with plants native to your area. Many companies and garden centers offer wildflower seed mixes, often featuring plants that do well in our region. Northwest Meadowscapes and American Meadows are two good online seed sites for ordering

  5.  Sow the Wildflower Seeds -Scatter a mix of annual and perennial wildflower seeds in your space. Annuals should be planted after all danger of frost has passed. Perennials can be planted at the same time and anytime through September. ▪ Spring-planted annuals will bloom the first year and should be reseeded every spring. ▪ Perennials probably won't flower the first year, but you'll be able to count on them for many years to follow.

  6.  Tamp the Scattered Seeds -Don't cover the wildflower seed with dirt or fertilize. Simply tamp the seeds down by walking over the areas you've seeded.

  7.  Water the Seeded Area -You'll still have to water, but not much. When you first plant your wildflower garden, water as you would a new lawn. Once the seeds have achieved around four inches (5cm) of growth, no more watering is necessary. Wildflowers will thrive on the natural rainfall.

  8. Weed, as Needed -You'll still have to weed, but not much. Some wildflowers are classified as weeds, so it can be difficult to know what needs to get yanked out. A good rule of thumb is to pull those plants that grow in clumps instead of evenly spread through your garden bed--those intermittent interlopers were probably not sown by you. Benefits of a Wildflower Patch ▪ Within a year of putting in a wildflower garden, you'll notice an uptick in the birds, bees, and beneficial insects visiting your garden. ▪ In your new wildflower meadow, you'll discover an extremely low maintenance flower bed that may just turn into the focal piece of your landscape.


Note: One can also order wildflower seed mats, 17 inches by 5 ft. $6.99 (Amazon and Walter Drake) For more in depth information and 80 page booklet “Making Meadows: A Northwest Meadowscapes Zine" ($22.)

"Planting Hardy Cyclamens in your Garden"

Presented February 13, 2023

cyclamen pic.jfif

Cyclamen coum:

Hardy cyclamen is a pretty hardy perennial, bearing delicate silver-lined dark green leaves and dainty blooms in shades of white, various shades of pink and red, from late winter to early spring (January thru March). On average, cyclamen flowers last for as long as 6-8 weeks. But some can bloom for up to 3 months in the ideal conditions. The plants themselves can live for decades.


  • Cyclamen hederifolium -blooms in the Fall

  • Cyclamen persicum -  is often seen for sale in florists shops, they are best enjoyed as house plants as they usually aren’t hardy.


Where to plant cyclamen:

Plant cyclamen coum in humus-rich soil in partial shade. It's perfect for growing at the base of small shrubs and trees, and naturalizing in grass. Mulch annually with well-rotted leaf mold to prevent the tubers from drying out in summer, and from winter cold. good source for buying cyclamen online

Garden Chores for February:

  • Dig and divide hostas

  • Prune roses

  • Prune group 3 Clematis

  • Deadhead hydrangeas 

Common varieties that require cold stratification for spring planting:

What Is Cold Stratification?

Cold stratification, also known as seed stratification, is the process of exposing seeds to cold and moist conditions to encourage germination. In nature, the stratification process takes place when fallen seeds overwinter underground or beneath a layer of snow. In the spring, the temperatures rise, thawing the ground and breaking the seed out of its dormancy period. The seed sheds its hard seed coat, beginning the germination process. You can mimic this process indoors to prepare seeds for propagation.

How to Stratify Seeds in the Refrigerator

Follow these steps to cold stratify your seeds in the fridge.

  1.  Place the seeds in a damp medium. Small seeds can be sprinkled onto a damp paper towel. Larger seeds should be placed in a moist medium such as damp sand or vermiculite. Ensure that the medium is moist but not soaking wet.

  2.  Store the moist seeds in a plastic bag. Once your seeds are wrapped in a damp paper towel or planted in a moist growing medium, place them in a plastic bag. To prevent excess water from accumulating inside the bag, allow for some airflow by leaving the bag partially open or puncturing the bag with a few small holes.

  3. Place the bag in the fridge. Most seeds require about a month of cold stratification to increase germination rates. However, the exact amount of time needed for the stratification process will vary depending on the type of seed you choose. Consult the cold stratification timeframe suggested on the seed packet. Check on your seeds periodically and if they start to sprout, remove them from the bag and plant them.

stratification pic.jpg

Presented January 9, 2023

"The Importance of Seed Stratification"

Garden Chores for January:

  • Sprinkle lime/soil sweet around hellebores and peony's to prevent botrytis (a fungus that  blackens the leaves and emerging flowers)

  • Remove completely all old leaves so emerging  flowers are visible

  • Cut back old leaves on epimediums to expose emerging flowers


December 12th, 2022

Cindy says.."Plant a Tree!"


1-   Trees hold soil in place

2-   Trees sequester carbon dioxide

3-   Trees produce oxygen

4-   Some animals are dependent upon trees

5-   Trees make cities more livable

6-   Trees increase property values

7-   Trees help to save energy

8-   Trees are important for physical and mental wellness

9-   Trees feed us

10 -Trees create a sense of place

11- Trees are an investment for our communities and for future


12- Trees help to slow stormwater runoff

13- Trees clean the soil

14- Trees are beautiful

Chores for December:

Pull any weeds that remain in your garden. On a sunny day they come out of wet soil more easily than out of dry soil, but don't walk on wet beds (soil compaction)

Plant bare root trees and shrubs if soil is soft enough.

Evaluate your garden beds, what worked, what shrubs need to be moved or removed (outgrown their space) this is where taking photos throughout the spring and summer can be a good way to record plantings.

Fall Foliage

Garden Chores for October

Presented October 10th, 2022

  • The days are still warm but there is no denying that the wet and shorter days are not far behind.  This is a busy time in the garden:, moving plants, planting new ones and putting the garden to bed.

  • Keep deadheading throughout October, particularly  dahlias. This will extend their flowering season

  • Collect seeds from perennial plants, using paper (plastic) bags. Always label seed packets immediately. Store in a cool, dry place until ready for sowing.

  • It is not too late to take cuttings and it is  a very satisfying process if it is successful. Choose healthy non-flowering growth, use a sharp knife and keep the humidity high by frequent misting or a cover.

  • Remove annuals as they fade and as you clean up beds add a good layer of compost.  This will act as a mulch for the winter and help suppress weed seeds.

  •  If you haven’t ordered bulbs it is getting late for that chore.  You can still find packaged bulbs in many of the nurseries and they can be planted anytime now. .

  •  You can dig and divide a lot of perennials now, I usually wait on Hostas until early spring.

  •  Astilbes, Siberian irises, Japanese irises and daisy clumps are all good choices for the Fall.  Be sure to add additional compost into the hole after dividing and give them a good soak.  Irises benefit from dividing as the clumps can become congested. If you notice that you aren’t getting as many blooms that is an indicator that they would benefit from division.  Use a sharp shovel to cut through the center of the plant.

  • Remember to rake leaves and add to compost or chop with the lawn mower and use as a mulch

  •  Make sure trees (newly planted or young) and shrubs are well watered going into Winter,

  •  Clean up beds to avoid providing places for slugs and snails to winter over


"Collecting Seeds"

Presented September 10th, 2022

Fall Garden Chores: 

  • Plant Fall bulbs & perennials

  • Mulch beds with compost 

  • Divide perennials

  • (daylillies, iris, hostas)

  • Continue weeding!

"The Chelsea Chop"

Handout provided by Cindy 6/13/2022

Cut the plants back by a third or half to delay bloom and limit size.

"The Chelsea chop (so called because it is usually carried out at the end of May, coinciding with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show) is a pruning method by which you limit the size and control the flowering season of many herbaceous plants."

  • pennstemon

  • phlox

  • campanula (bellflower)

Benefits:  Leggy perennials tend to not be so floppy as they grow shorter
                    Delayed flowering will extend or stagger bloo
m times


Good candidates for the Chelsea Chop:

  • asters

  • upright sedums

  • heleniums

  • goldenrod

  • shasta daisy

  • rudbeckia


Method 1

Chop back clumps of perennials by one-third to one-half using shears. This will delay the flowering until later in summer and keep plants shorter and more compact.

Method 2

Cut only half the stems back on a plant, which will extend the season of flowering rather than delay it.

"Garden chores for April"

Things to Do...

  • Weeding - stay on it!

  • Mulching

  • Dig and Divide (donate some to the Plant Sale!)

  • Plant trees & shrubs (don't forget to keep well watered over summer)

  • Plant summer blubs

  • get ready for dahlias

  • set out cool season vegetables

  • bait for slugs - use cheap beer to create traps

Presented April 11, 2022 by Nancy Kappelman

Image by Zbynek Burival

"Garden Soil Choices"

Presented March 14, 2022

peat moss.jpg

Stop using non-renewable peat moss!

coir pic.webp

Say yes to using COIR! (natural coconut fiber)

Garden Chores for March

  • Plant bare root roses and trees

  • Cut back deciduous grasses

  • (use gloves to pull out dead stems)

  • Leaf clean-up - save for leaf mold! 

  • Prune trees and shrubs

  • Dig/divide snow drops

  • Prune group 3 clematis*

  • Plant sweet peas and hardy cold vegetables

     *If it blooms before June - 

        Don't prune!

crabapple pic.jpg
crabapple pic.jpg

Crape Myrtle Lagerstroemia

"Small Trees for the Pacific Northwest"

Presented February 14, 2022

pink dogwood.jpg

Serviceberry Amelanchier


Garden Chores for February:
Weed! and apply compost
Divide your hostas - pot up for plant sale!
Prune your roses, apply compost
(use BloomDriver in June)
Prune your Clematis, but remember-
"if it blooms before June, don't prune!"
Use Jacks Classic Blossom Booster to fertilize


Fringe tree -Chiananthus virginicus

Flowering Dogwood - Cherokee Sunset

Cindy helps define the real meaning of some catalogue gardening terms:

"robust grower" - probably a garden bully

"A favorite of birds"  - avoid planting near cars, sidewalks, or clotheslines!


Seed Catalogue pic.jpg

Cindy says...

It's time to order from your Catalogues!

Presented on January 10th, 2022


"Hellebores" presented 12/13/2021

Close Up of Pink Roses

"Rose Care for the Fall"
presented on 10/11/2021

Image by laura adai

It's Not too Late to Move those Plants! - Sept. 11, 2023

As plants grow and bloom and show us the error of our ways we realize that we really need to move some plants.  They would just look better in another spot. Sometimes we’re off by a matter of inches, or sometimes many feet. Don’t live in regret, though. The next time you think, Why didn’t I plant that here instead of there? Just dig right in and fix it on the spot.   You can move perennials in late summer. The soil is warm so plants will settle in faster than if you moved them in the Spring. I call it designing with a shovel. Go ahead and move those bright Asiatic lilies behind the cool blue campanulas, or partner the deep red rose with Shasta daisies.


But there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure success:

1. Pre dig the hole where the plant is destined.

2.  Fill two buckets of water and presoak the hole before you move any plants.

3. Once you dig up your perennials replant it quickly so the roots don't dry out.

4.  Water thoroughly again,  Water daily if temps remain warm.

Good candidates for transplanting:

  •  astilbe, peonies, bearded iris, bleeding heart 

  • agastache

  • artemisia

  • Asiatic lilies

  • Monch aster

  • bee balm

  • bulbs

  • Goldsturm black-eyed Susan

  • cardinal flower

  • campanulas

  • thread-leaved coreopsis

  • daylilies

  • feverfew

  • liatris

  • mums

  • obedient plant

  • phlox

  • coneflower

  • sedum

  • Shasta daisy

  • Siberian iris

  • veronica

  • yarrow


September Garden Chores:
Oh my! This is a busy, busy month in the garden. Hydrangeas are at their peak of loveliness, roses are putting on their second flower flush, and annual are exploding with color and enjoying the heat laden days of late Summer.  This is also a month of dry days September can often be one of our driest months.  Be sure rhodies and azaleas get a good watering each week as they are prone to drop their buds for next year if they don't get enough moisture in late Summer. 

If you are ordering b
ulbs for Fall planting, here is a short list of bulbs that are unattractive to critters:
Allium, camassia, chionodoxa, eranthis, erythronium, hyacinthus, narcissus, and muscari

Remember to plant tulips 10, yes 10 inches deep if you want to try and have them rebloom in subsequent years.

Continue to deadhead dahlias, roses, and annuals to prolong the summer color. (B
y mid September let roses start to go to hips to signal their winter dormancy).

Nurseries are often having plant and clearance sales.  If you have been reassessing your flower beds, and planning on adding shrubs or trees, this is a good time to look for good prices in the nurseries.  Be sure to inspect any tree and shrub before buying to make sure then are not completely root bound or have damaged trunks  It's not a bargain if they don't survive the winter.

Clean up beds as perennials and annuals finish their show by the end of this month.  As you clean up beds add a good one inch layer of compost.  Be sure to keep mulch and compost away from tree and shrub bases so as to not smother the roots.


presented on 9/13/2021


For Blue flowers add aluminum sulfate

For Pink flowers add lime and phosphorus

Hydrangeas have earned a special place in the hearts of gardeners for their many attractive qualities. These hardy shrubs can thrive in a wide range of soil types and climates, making them a great choice for nearly any garden. With their showy, oversized blooms in shades of pink, blue, purple, and white, hydrangeas add an impressive display of color and visual interest to any outdoor space. Plus, they require relatively low maintenance, with only occasional pruning and watering needed.

Colorful Hydrangeas
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