SEATTLE — Longing for flowers in the middle of winter? There’s a stroll in Seattle that will pay off with an abundance of beauty and inspiration. “The arboretums a great garden to visit any time of year, but on a rainy winter day the place I go is to the J. A. Witt Winter Garden!” Ciscoe says.
Witch hazel, with its spidery blooms, is in full bloom right now. “Hummingbirds love them and here's a secret that most people don't know about these plants, they’re as fragrant as can be!”
Another classic winter bloomer: Hellebores. “Oh look at these beautiful hellebores - these are the kind we call Lenten rose, they come in so many different colors and shapes, I think they're just tremendous, and the best thing is, the flowers last for months on these things - so you plant one, you get a show till sometime in April!”
Ciscoe finds a striking bush that grows ivory-colored blossoms before it gets its leaves. "Oh cool, Edgworthia chrysantha, they call this the paper bush because they use the bark to make really beautiful paper in Japan, including the Japanese Yen, but the best thing about this plant is fragrance. It’s magnificent, I don’t know if you noticed but my pant leg just rolled up and down!”
Next is a low growing mound of pink-purple blossoms:
“Here’s a wonderful plant for dry shade - I feel like I am just standing in a bed of jewels right here. This is cyclamen coum,” said Ciscoe. “You know who spreads these little seeds around? Ants, because the seeds have a sweet flavor, ants grab ‘em and take ‘em back to the nest and they always drop a few on the way. Cyclamen coum - one of the coolest plants you can get and they bloom right in the middle of winter.”
Finally, Ciscoe finds a bush with twigs the color of flames. “Plants with beautiful bark can be just as beautiful as ones with flowers - this is a red twig dogwood called 'midwinter fire' look at how it starts one color and then turns this beautiful fiery orange as it goes up. Only the new growth has the spectacular color so every spring cut ‘em down and you'll get a show like this over the winter. Oh la la!”