The Miller Botanical Garden’s group of experts went heavy on crocus, hardy fuchsias and epimedium.

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THE MILLER BOTANICAL GARDEN, for the 15th year, pulled together top designers and horticulturists from around the Northwest and tasked them to come up with the very best plants for our climate. Don’t you love the thought of all that expertise going into a free program dedicated to helping all of us garden more successfully?

The selection this year is a little quirky, with more than a dozen crocus, a batch of hardy fuchsias and hellebores, a smattering of conifers and a whopping 27 varieties of epimedium. The plants on the list reflect the enthusiasms, discoveries and trial results of the passionately knowledgeable committee members, who are a little quirky themselves. Or at least strongly opinionated.

Over the years, the body of plants they’ve chosen, with much debate and deliberation and, yes, argument, has grown substantial enough to offer a dependable and exciting palette of plants for gardening here in Cascadia.

Great Plant Picks

The new color poster ”The Birds and the Bees: Attracting Winged Fauna to the Garden” will be available at The Seattle Times/Great Plant Picks booth at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, Feb. 17-21 at the Washington State Convention Center. For photos, cultivation information and companion suggestions, check out the Great Plant Picks website,

“We looked at more than 100 different epimedium,” says Richie Steffen, curator at the Miller Botanical Garden. But because a wider variety of epimedium has only recently become available, the committee limited its picks to ones we might actually be able to buy.

Hardy fuchsias were bumped up a year to suit the 2016 GPP poster theme of gardening for flying fauna. “Birds, bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are all hot topics in gardening these days,” says Steffen.

Nine hardy fuchsias are featured on this year’s list and poster — not only because hummingbirds love them so, but because they’re such easy-care, sturdy, pretty and long-blooming plants.

Here are a few highlights from the new Great Plant Picks roster, debuting at the upcoming Northwest Flower & Garden Show.