Fun plants for Camano Island?

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

We are moving to Camano Island this winter - climate zone 8! (The Sunset Western Garden book zone is 5.) We are hoping for about 25 inches of rain per year, but we don't know for sure; it could be a little more.

Right now, we live in the foothills of Mt Baker, theoretically zone 7 but in actuality zone 6 (winter wet, a cold valley, and tall trees keeping the sun from reaching the ground make our microclimate one zone colder). We get 60 (yep, sixty) inches of rain annually here.

We are going to be able to grow shrubs and perennials that haven't made it here in the foothills!! I know I have to try Ceanothus, for those blue blues. Also, a fig, even though it might not get warm enough to grow fruit. Oooh - Choisya, the one with the bright yellow leaves! But that's about as far as it goes. My mind always leaps immediately to my current tried-and-true plants, like Geranium 'Rozanne,' or Rhodies, or Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola,' or Rhodies, or Nepeta, or Rhodies, or various Spirea, or Pieris. Or Rhodies.

I'd love to get some help with new ideas for next year's gardening at our new home. Does anybody have some favorite plants that are hardy to only zone 7 or 8? We'll have both sun and shade areas.

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

You are going to be a bit more mild than where I am, and dryer. Possibilities:
(* means I have one and can try to share)

Arbutus!!! The Strawberry Tree and others
Cestrum 'Orange Peel' *(I am growing you some from cuttings)
Choisya*-both species and the yellow one is 'Sundance' and it likes dry shade
Carpenteria californica but is sort of like Choisya
maybe Embothrium the Chilean Fire Bush!!!!!!!
Eucryphia glutinosa a small tree*
Grevillea various ones*
Leycesteria I have some seeds
Lupinus arboreus?
Mahonia 'Soft Caress' *has no prickles!
Parahebe* I can divide in the spring
Phlomis* various species
Pittosporum tobira* (I have variegated )
Skimmia japonica* very useful and easy
Teucrium* I have a short kind ?T. chamaedrys? I am trying cuttings and seeds
Trachycarpus fortunei Palm Trees!
Vitex 'Shoal Creek' *

The Choisya, Skimmia, Phlomis, Azara I can do hardwood cuttings now for you The Azara is variegated.

Dierama is worth trying
Drimys* (I just got a variegated one)
Eremurus* ask me again next year when we see how mine are
Impatiens omeana* but it does want lots of water. you can have mine
Libertia maybe, mine did not survive the soggy winter
Meconopsis? I am going to try again
Tropaeolum tuberosum 'Ken Aslet'*-If mine comes back I will share tuber

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

ONLine venders with really marginal things you can grow:
Cistus Nursery
Far Reaches Farm
Sequim Rare Plants
the Desert Northwest
Telos Rare Bulbs just to see some truly marginal possibilities...

Websites to check out for local stuff:
Great Plant Picks
Linda Cochran's WA Garden

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Wow!! Great ideas, Pistil!!! Thanks very, very much! And THANK YOU for the offer to share!

Clearly, a whole new world is opening up. I have always loved Hebes - so geometric - but forgot about them.
Arbutus - cooler than cool!
I had forgotten all about the existence of Dierama - I love those! You bet, they are worth a try.
I love your Cestrum!
Mahonias are beautiful! So glossy.
Alstromeria are lovely!
They are all great. Thanks! This is really exciting.
Skimmia - yes!
Azara -yes!
Some of these others I don't know much about. Chilean Fire Bush! That has a great ring.

Here's another idea: what about Madrone? Those are always tricky, I think, no matter where you are, so they'd be a long shot. Maybe I could try a little seedling tucked away on the edges somewhere. Does anybody have experience growing them?

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

After cross-referencing to see if any of these are Pacific Northwest natives that support butterflies, their larvae, hummingbirds, or birds, I get:
Arbutus menziesii

Some we hadn't thought of that are zone 7+ and also native and also support butterflies/birds/hummingbirds:
Arctostaphylos canescens (hoary manzanita)
Garrya elliptica and fremontii
Gaultheria shallon (salal)
Morella californica (Pacific wax myrtle)
Oemleria cerasiformis (osoberry)
Ribes cruentum (shiny-leaf currant)
Vitis californica (California wild grape)

Not that the garden will consist of native plants or mostly native plants, but I thought I'd throw some in to support the creatures of the air.

I didn't see a reference yet about plants attracting bees, but I know that bees go nuts for Ceanothus.

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

Here are photos TODAY of some marginally hardy plants in my yard.
#1 Cestrum
#2 Ceanothus NOID probably 25 years old
#3 Mahonia 'Soft Caress' just now coming into bloom
#4 Parahebe bloomed in flushes since June
#5 Choisya ternata flowers spring and fall

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Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

#1 Edgeworthia so far mine flowers freeze each year :(
#2 Skimmia berries (Males showier flowers, females nice berries
#3 Pampas Grass (mine is a dwarf, only about 8 ft tall)
#4 Eucomis this one has spotted leaves, flower done but I like the topknot
#5 Variegated East Indian Holly Fern I thought froze, but it made it!!!

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Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

Also from today:

#1 Alstroemeria, Kniphofia, Goldenrod
#2 Dahlia 'David Howard
#3 Brunnera 'Sea Heart
#4 Cuttings of Cestrum
#5 Cuttings of Fuchsia procumbens I got at Arboretum, also started seeds

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Portland, OR(Zone 8b)

We successfully transplanted three Arbutus menziesii (madrone). Bought them from Salem,OR nursery, at about 8" tall. (They will refuse to live if transplanted too large, and it's not very large). Amended the planting holes (in heavy clay soil) with humus, pumice, and an indispensible ingredient: a small shovel-full of forest duff, which we went out to the national forest and gathered, a small amount here and there. It doesn't take much, but the trees need those microorganisms. The native nursery owner assured us the heavy clay soil wouldn't faze them once they were established. It doesn't seem to have, they are flourishing and 10' tall now.
We also DID NOT WATER them except for one gallon each in July and one gallon each in August because it was so so hot & dry. Only if the hot & dry is really extreme and they're young. Once they're 2' or so, they did fine without any added water. Irrigation anywhere near them and they sulk and die.

Portland, OR(Zone 8b)

I forgot, also, they like to be on a southwest exposure, exposed sunny spot if possible. High with good drainage if possible.

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

I would love to have Arbutus menziesii in my yard! We do have a higher area with a southwest exposure. I will try your method; thanks so much for the tips.
I planted a Quercus garryana here and used the "high spot, no water" method on it, too. It worked great.
The day approaches when we will actually be at the new place. We are hoping to move by the end of the month.

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

I'm not sure when I will be able to get back to the forum on a regular basis due to lack of internet connectivity since our move in early December. We hope to have high speed cable within a month. Meanwhile, I rented a hotspot and am using it today to get into DG for the first time in months.
So, here we are on Camano Island. Our yard is a muddy clay pit. I stepped into some mud in the back yard and sank in up to my ankles and almost had my boot pulled off. Water pools instead of getting absorbed into the ground. We shall see what works here!!
Meanwhile, the climate is very mild. I don't know if we got below 30 degrees since we got here. We haven't had a frost in weeks. Woohoo!
I ordered a couple of epiphytic rhodies to plant on a tree stump in the front yard. I will post photos once I get them. Oh yes, if I remember correctly, I also ordered a Vaccinium moupinense, which is a dwarf, evergreen, epiphytic blueberry. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I hadn't. It's supposed to be hardy.

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

This was a mild winter, but it did get down in the teens twice for a few days each time, in Nov and Dec. This seems to be usual, the coldest and often the wettest is Nov and Dec, then January is already milder.
It has also been the wettest winter in recorded history!
Signs of a mild winter, recent photos:
#1 Edgeworthia blooming!
#2 Grevillea budding!
#3 Potentilla atrosanguinea v.argyrophylla leafing out
#4 Spearmint in a 4" plastic pot, left out all winter in the open!

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Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Wow! The flowers look beautiful.

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

I bought 2 very small Arbutus menziesii but don't have a permanent place for them yet, as dirt is still getting moved around the yard in a major way. As a temporary measure, I put them at the base of a tree stump, where the rotting stump has made for an extremely porous bark chip based "soil." My thought was that it's extremely well-drained there and also close-ish to a native soil. I hope they hang in there long enough to go to a permanent spot.

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