Answer: Your children have great taste - Daphne x transatlantica 'Summer Ice' is one of the prettiest and longest blooming daphnes, with crisp white variegation and fragrant little flowers. 'Summer Ice' prefers sun,with some light afternoon shade. Most important is good drainage, for daphnes won't tolerate extremes of wet or dry. Make sure you plant it in well-draining soil. Prune lightly, and mulch with gravel or pebbles because daphnes dislike their roots heating up. If you find the right spot, 'Summer Ice' will reward you by growing into a mound of lovely foliage with perfumed flowers that bloom many months of the year. For more information, check out my Pacific Northwest Plant Life column on daphnes from couple of years ago.
Question: Dear Ms. Easton,
While Googling information on the mountain ash in Seattle, I came across your extremely informative article for Horticulture. I am researching for a short piece of fiction based on my childhood in Seattle and remember the mountain ash berries dropping nearly all year around on our walkway. We lived on Ravenna Boulevard and had a large mountain ash near the entrance to our house that was the bane of my father's existence. I thought the berries started to fall as early as spring--April or May--but could I be wrong? My story takes place in spring and I'd like to use this detail, so I am hoping my childhood memory is not entirely faulty.
Many thanks for your help,
Answer: Mountain ash trees (genus Sorbus, and called "Rowan" in England) are known for their beautiful red and orange berries (the Asian types have pastel berries) beloved by birds for their juiciness. Since berries follow flowers, I can't believe mountain ashes berry up much before mid-summer, but perhaps the berries (those not eaten by the birds) hang on all winter? For a definitive answer, I'd suggest you check in with our local tree expert Arthur Lee Jacobson, lifetime Seattle resident, who is the authority on trees around here. Check out Arthur's website at www.arthurleej.com/