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Find Garden Inspiration in Nature

A hike on Mt Hood reveals some lovely native plant combinations

By Kate Bryant August 31, 2011

Got shade? Creeping dogwood (Cornus canadensis ) is an adaptable ground cover plant reaching about 4 inches high with pretty little white bracts in spring. In rich, well-drained soil, it fills in quickly, but given a little more shade, it can tolerant drier conditions, though it grows more slowly. As you can see, plants can survive under shady tree roots where there’s enough duff to root in. This is a winner of a plant! Here, it’s cohabiting with bead lily (Clintonia uniflora , in front), which can also go dry in summer but seems to thrive best in cooler, higher elevation environments and (behind, left), what looks like twisted stalk (Streptopus sp.), a compatible and adaptable woodlander.

Most people think of native plants as being politically correct but not exactly drop-dead gorgeous.

But Pacific Northwest native plants can be absolutely lush and stunning when provided with the proper growing conditions. As with any plant native to anywhere in the world, there are fussy PNW natives and easy-going, adaptable natives. But what’s "fussy" in my hot, dry back yard might be easy-going in your forested woodland garden – and vice-versa. So here’s a brief slideshow of natives I saw on a recent hike up McNeil Point on Mt. Hood – and where they can be planted to maximize the lusciousness factor.

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