Cedar Mill
Community Website

Search the Cedar Mill News:

About The
Cedar Mill News

Volume 17, Issue 3
March 2019


Growing Organically
A good choice for winter color
by Margie Lachman

There are a number of shrubs that give winter color in our gardens. One of my favorites is Mahonia x media ‘Arthur Menzies.’ The plant was named for Arthur Menzies, who was Assistant Director of Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Mr. Menzies was given seeds of Mahonia, which he grew, but only one proved to be hardy. All the ‘Arthur Menzies’ Mahonia plants available now came from this plant.

This is a beautiful evergreen native to (or naturalized in) Oregon that blooms with panicles (shaped much like lilacs) of upright fragrant yellow flowers in winter. The blooms last for weeks and provide nectar for the hummingbirds that pollinate them, resulting in dark blue berries.

Mahonia Arthur Menzies

Many birds enjoy eating the berries in summer. The rich blue-green foliage reminds me of Japanese holly fern but is stiffer, with prickly holly-like edges. The frond-like leaves are two feet long, assuming a pleasing horizontal shape that is tropical in feel. The shrub will grow to about eight feet tall by five feet wide. When established it will be drought tolerant and undemanding.

A placement in well-drained soil, in sun or partial shade, will ensure a healthy plant. It will tolerate clay soil but adding compost and some pumice or turkey grit is recommended at planting. This is a great time of year for planting, because roots have time to develop before the weather turns warm and dry. In full sun, occasional water will keep its green color. Pruning is not necessary except to remove dead or broken foliage.

I love this elegant shrub for its stately presence in the garden, lending textural variety. Its easy culture recommends it to gardeners. Because of its holly-like prickly edges it would make a great barrier plant to prevent or limit foot traffic.

A handsome architectural plant that brightens our gray winter days, feeds birds, is easy care and good-looking every month of the year…what more could we ask of a shrub?

Questions? Email me at margierose2@gmail.com or call 503-645-2994.

Previous article


Next article

Sign Up Now to receive
The Cedar Mill News by email each month

fb like
Like us on Facebook for timely updates

Cedar Mill News
Past Issues

Published monthly by Cedar Mill News LLC
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291
© 2018