Oh, summer! How we miss you!

Sog-time again. Raining, even flooding, and the wind has stripped the gold off the maples. As I work in the nursery, I can see Michaela across the field deflating air mattresses and other floaties left over from July’s “Epic Float”, celebrating the wedding of Michaela and my son, Erik. Now the brightly colored plastic remnants of that summer-day celebration are slimy and dirty and limp . Oh, summer! How we miss you!

But all around me is evidence of summer’s energy still at work. We have had several frosts, yet the bright green leaves of Oregon Stonecrop (Sedum oreganum) are still fat little rosettes . I know this will change soon; they will redden and disappear.

After the drought of summer, cooler September weather stimulated the Ocean Spray (Holodiscus discolor) to sprout some new shoots and scalloped leaves. Although most of the older leaves have fallen off, these new leaves are persisting, for now.

Both Oregon Stonecrop and Ocean Spray are summer-lovers like myself. They will welcome the sun again in in April and May. They are considered “drought-tolerant” plants , and thrive in hot sunny locations. But from now until late spring , there are no hot sunny locations in Western Washington! Luckily , these are native plants which can stand the wet, wet winters here.

Low-growing (3-6 inches) Oregon Stonecrop easily finds space to creep. It is a succulent groundcover with plump round leaves that turn from bright green to bronze late in the summer. Its yellow umbrella-like clusters of flowers provide nectar for bees and butterflies.

A lovely big deciduous shrub (9-12 feet tall), Ocean Spray loves full, blasting-hot sun in the summer, but also does well in partial shade. Blooming in June, its graceful long clumps of tiny creamy-white flowers make it look like it’s covered in bridal bouquets. They attract tiny pollinators which in turn attracts birds. The flower clusters, holding thousands of tiny seeds, dry and hang on through the winter, sheltering many insects, attracting protein-hungry small birds and offering humans esthetically pleasing “winter interest”.

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