I'm looking for a good hardy shrub that will grow in Seattle that has nasty
thorns and will inflict painful and possibly slight maiming and some
shredding of clothing. Need to plant several masses of these under a few
windows for various reasons. Not roses or blackberries! Some sort of
landscaping type shrub hopefully evergreen. Any suggestions will be greatly
I don't know if it's nasty enough for you, but Blueberries and Holly do
really well around Puget Sound.
I realize you don't want roses, but a row of Nootkas (itty bitty PNW
natives) would be pretty much maintenance free and grow well in spots
that usually aren't considered optimal.
I have no great love of fancy roses, but I love my wild native Clustered
Swamp Rose which is quite a bit like the Nootka & can hybridize with the
Nootka. Though often seen growing in drainage ditches or next to a skunk
cabbage in mud, it does not need all that much water when gardened, it
does just fine with ordinary watering schedule in a regular garden. But if
there were a poor-drainage area nothing else would grow in, this would.
Mine is not thorny, but more commonly they are extremely thorny. The
leaves are small feathers, it's just so beautiful even when not flowering.
It's pretty in winter too because it holds on to a great many of its
pea-sized hips long after leaf-fall.
I finally got me a pair of Indian Plums too. I'd only seen tiny ones for
sale for a couple years, & unsexed; but I stumbled onto a native plants
specialist who is growing stocks from seeds & cuttings, not swiping plants
from the wild, & I got two of the Indian Plums while they were flowering
(they're still flowering now) so I could sex them. These become large
suckering shrubs over time, & they got their name from the little fruits
on the female shrub that look just like blue Italian prunes but tiny. In
full flower the female plant smells quite nice (like a watermelon) but the
male plant smells bad -- only if you shove your nose in it fortunately.
Indian plum can make a quick grand privacy hedge too, just make sure to
get mostly females since only one male would be needed & he'll have the
potential to stink.
Blueberries certainly are gorgeous for their own sake but can be
comparatively high maintenance. English holly sucks because though
evergreen it sheds too many sharp leaves that seem never to decay making
the ground too dangerous to go barefooted, plus in our county english
holly is invasive. I cut mine half to two-thirds down this month, & will
eventually have removed it altogether. I was taking it down six foot
sections at a time with a pole saw careful not to crush the azalea
collection on its morning-sun side, & strained a shoulder. Now it's short
enough that the remaining trunk is just too big around for my handsaws, so
the bottom third may remain there a while yet. I wanted to take it down
six years ago, but there weren't a lot of big things in the yard at the
time & I couldn't bring myself to take down one of the older items even
though I didn't care that much for it. When it started to keep the
paperbark maple from getting its share of sunlight I decided it was high
time to get rid of what comes close to being a junk-tree even when its at
But a superior native plant with similar appearance, & a shrub rather than
a tree, is Oregon Grape, a no-mainteance shrub with extravagant yellow
flowers in late winter, extremely tasty fruits, & holly-like leaves.
-paghat the ratgirl
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The former owner of our house on a corner lot planted Oregon Grape as a
hedge on the two street sides of the property. For the last five years
I have been trying to get rid of this pesky plant. Its roots are
everywhere and they send up little OG plants *everywhere*. I would
think twice before planting OG.
Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8b
We planted Mahonia (OG) next to the road, where the snow plows pile
salt, ice and snow, and on the north side of an old stone barn. It is
doing great. It doesn't spread, but it fights off all these adversities
and just keeps looking great year after year.
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