3 Pacific Northwest Plants for Autumn

This post was originally posted on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

A few months back, the thought of a flush of new green leaves was on my mind and I wrote 3 Pacific Northwest Plants for Winter. Now we’ve come full circle in the seasons and my thoughts turn to those leaves which are now turning such brilliant and spectacular colors. Autumn is by far my favorite time of year and the changing colors of the leaves certainly plays a large part in why this season is the one I look forward to most. I have many memories of visiting the forests in the fall and seeing the most magnificent landscapes.

While I can’t plant a whole forest in my yard, I can include a few plants which provide beautiful color every year. Here are three that will guarantee you some beautiful autumn days.

Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)

This plant…

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Wildlife Plants:: Fireweed

Perhaps it’s because the plant has bright, colorful flowers, when en masse, can look like a burning field, or simply because this plant commonly colonized areas which have been recently burned, the aptly named Fireweed is a beautiful plant with benefits for pollinators.

Chamerion angustifolium is also known as Rosebay Willowherb and is a perennial growing and spreading from rhizome roots. It’s fairly common and blooms during the summer reaching heights of 2-5 feet. It prefers disturbed sites, especially recent burns, as well as meadows and forests. The lance-shaped leaves are up to 8″ in length and numerous on their climb upwards along the stem towards the magenta colored flowers. The flowers grow outward, perpendicular to the stem, giving it a sunny disposition. The seeds are fluffy affairs, escaping from four-chambered pods in the hundreds, each pod containing 300-500.

The plant has less horticultural interest when not flowering and

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Wildlife Plants:: Lavender

There are few other plants so closely associated with scent than Lavender. The purple flowers and gray/green foliage is unmistakable and found in gardens around the world. The various forms can grow from ground high up to waist high and it is used and appreciated by both humans and wildlife.

Lavandula (more commonly known as Lavender) is in the mint family and the genus contains a complicated taxonomy with 39 species and countless cultivars. Lavendula angustifolia is the most widely cultivated species. It was  historically found in the Old World growing from India throughout the Mediterranean region of Africa and southern Europe. At times it escapes and grows in the wild where it is usually not a problem species with the exception of Australia where Lavandula stoechas has been declared a noxious weed.

It is a wildly popular garden plant and there is even a festival dedicated to the plant in Washington home…

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Stinging Nettle Poster

In honor of Be Nice to Nettles Week in the U.K., here is a poster highlighting the benefits of Stinging Nettles. I plan to make more of these posters in the future.

For more information about this plant, see Wildlife Plant:: Stinging Nettle.

Stinging Nettle Poster

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Friday Film:: What Plants Talk About

Today’s Friday Film is ‘What Plants Talk About’, an episode of Nature from PBS.

When we think about plants, we don’t often associate a term like “behavior” with them, but experimental plant ecologist JC Cahill wants to change that. The University of Alberta professor maintains that plants do behave and lead anything but solitary and sedentary lives. What Plants Talk About teaches us all that plants are smarter and much more interactive than we thought!

For more information about plant senses, read my review of What a Plant Knows on the Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens blog.


View the rest of the episode on PBS Video.

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Wildlife Plant:: Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) may be considered a painful weed by most, but it is a complicated plant with many hidden virtues ranging from a valuable wildlife plant to making beer.  While most people are well aware of the evils of Stinging Nettle, not many are familiar with the good. The complexities of the Stinging Nettle start with its history. It’s a native to North America, but it’s also a native to Europe as well as northern Africa and parts of Asia. There are currently five recognized subspecies of Urtica dioica. A perennial, this plant grows all spring and summer long.

In most places it’s considered a weed because of it’s stinging hairs which inflict some amount of pain and tingling to unsuspecting bare skin. It also grows very vigorously in the proper conditions allowing it to spread via shallow rhizomes and create dense stands. It especially likes moist woods and openings…

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