Great Plant Picks

For 15 years the pros at the Miller Botanical Garden publish a yearly list of outstanding plants for maritime Pacific Northwest gardens. Great Plant Picks is an educational outreach program committed to building a comprehensive palette of outstanding plants.


Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ –  2003

The Great Plant Picks crew staffed a booth at the recent Northwest Flower and Garden show in Seattle. To date GPP has featured more than 900 exceptional plants recommended for gardeners living west of the Cascade Mountains from Eugene, Oregon to Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.

That said, even if you don’t live in a Zone 8 climate similar to the northwest United States, it’s still worth looking at the selections.  Many will work in colder winters.

Returning home with the GPP list I discovered I had many of their previous years’ picks in my own garden. All told their website database has 922 plants listed. Click a winner’s picture to go to the GPP website entry for plant.

Great Plant Pick 2012

Campanula portenschlagiana – 2009


Sarcococca ruscifolia (Sweetbox) – 2009

sarcacocca-buds - 2009

Sarcococca buds

Ilex crenata 'Dwarf Pagoda'

Ilex crenata ‘Dwarf Pagoda’ –  2012

Ilex crenata 'Dwarf Pagoda' detail

Ilex crenata ‘Dwarf Pagoda’ detail

This year’s selections featured crocuses, hardy fuschias, hellebores, epimediums and a few confiers.

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The Elizabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden (full name) is the former residence of Pendleton and Elisabeth Carey Miller. The Millers purchased five acres of land in 1948 with expansive views over Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula. Elizabeth C. Miller died in 1994 and the garden was left in her will to serve as a resource for the horticultural community.

Elizabeth C. Miller also founded a library at the University of Washington. Many serious gardeners west of the Cascade mountains visit the library and the adjacent University of Washington Botanical Gardens.

The library contains over 15,000 books and 500 periodicals on gardening techniques. Works cataloged include selecting and growing ornamental plants, vegetable and herb gardening, pests and diseases, garden design and history, northwest gardens to visit, horticulture in urban environments, botany and plant ecology, environmental science and native floras from around the world. The library boasts nearly a thousand current mail order catalogs from the United States and Canada, with an emphasis on Pacific Northwest nurseries.

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