WSU Raised Garden Beds

WSU Extension Office - 303 North 4th Street Shelton WA

Raised Garden Bed Designs and Plant ID


To create an interactive presentation of the environmental benefits of gardening in alignment with the WSU Master Gardener Program Priorities

Garden bed themes

Symphyotrichum subspicatum formerly Aster subspicatus - Content Credit 

Douglas's Aster

Cluster of erect leafy stems from spreading roots. Stems with many hairy leaves. Leaves toothed; lower leaves lance-shaped, with short petiole; midstem leaves usually without petiole but do not clasp stem. Flowers few to many, held in cyme. Flower cup of overlapping bracts, the outer bracts with paper-like margins and light yellow to reddish brown base; ray flowers purple or blue, about 1/2–1 in. long. Grows on beaches, along streams, disturbed areas, other open moist sites, at low elevations.

Mahonia nervosa - Content Credit 

Dwarf Oregon Grape

Erect stemmed shrub, yellow bark, yellowish cast to leaves turning reddish in winter. Stems spreading, stiff, holding pairs (one terminal) of 9–19 leaflets horizontally to soil. Leaflets glossy, palmately veined, 1–3 in. long, smooth, lance-shaped, leathery, with even rows of 6–12 sharply pointed teeth. Flower stems in center short with erect heads of yellow flowers. Flowers have all parts in 6. Berries blue, coated with white waxy powder, egg-shaped, edible but sour. Conifer forests to 6500 ft.

Pieris Japonica - Content Credit

Japanese Pieris 

Best grown in organically rich, slightly acidic, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. In St. Louis, Japanese pieris doesn’t seem to perform well in most locations. Summer foliage decline and reduced vigor results in weakened plants that may succumb to a harsh winter. It grows best in locations sheltered from wind with some afternoon shade. Remove spent flowers immediately after bloom. 

Ribes Sanguineum - Content Credit

Red-Flowering Currant

Erect to spreading shrub, without spines on stems. Leaves nearly round, 1–3 in. across, palmately divided, 3–5 shallow lobes irregularly toothed, upper side slightly hairy, underside sparsely hairy to covered with white hair. Flowers in terminal cluster, 10–20 usually bright blood red, sometimes pink or white. Berries blue-black, tasteless. Grows in many habitats in open woods, forests, rocky slopes, near sea level to 7000 ft. Sanguineum, meaning "blood red," refers to the flowers. Plants with white-woolly hairs matted on lower surface of leaf are var. sanguineum. Var. glutinosum, with leaf blade sparsely hairy on lower surface, and with pink to white sepals, grows along southern Oregon and California coastline.

Lonicera ciliosa - Content Credit 

Orange Honeysuckle

What is Western Honeysuckle? This North American native vine produces lovely, fragrant flowers. Bees and hummingbirds love western honeysuckle vines for the fragrant, trumpet-shaped blossoms that are rich in nectar. Kids also love to suck the sweet nectar from the base of a honeysuckle flower. Gardeners, on the other hand, appreciate the way these vines twine their way up fences and trellises or ramble over trees. They provide year-round greenery as well as brilliant flowers in season. Western honeysuckle vines bloom in late spring. The orange-red flowers hang in clusters at the tip of branches. True to their common name, the flowers look like narrow trumpets. These develop into orange-red fruit that wild birds appreciate.
Western honeysuckle care is easiest if you plant the vine in moist soil. Don’t worry about perfect drainage with this variety, since it grows in clay as well as loam. Moderate drainage is sufficient. Remember that this is a twining vine. That means that you should determine in advance where you want it to ramble and set up trellises or other structures. If you do not, it will twine up anything in its growing area.

Grows up to 10-20 ft. tall (300-600 cm) and 20-30 ft. wide (600-900 cm). A partial shade lover, this plant is best grown in fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soils.

Sisyrinchium spp 

Blue Eyed Grass

Star-shaped, blue-purple flowers decorate blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium spp.) in spring and early summer.

This beautiful plant blooms a star-shaped flower that opens in the morning to reveal six pale blueish-purple petals and a yellow center, and then will close in the afternoon or evening. Despite their common name, the Blue-eyed Grasses are not grasses at all but rather members of the Iris family. They handle competition quite well and readily spread via underground rhizomes. 

A large patch of these little plants is truly a sight to behold, especially if you are a bee. Pollinators readily take to the flowers, which is nice considering that most Sisyrinchium species bloom and provide pollen and nectar to our winged friends before some of the larger summer flowers really get going. The petals even provide markings that are like runway signs for pollinators. Yellow is a favorite of bees and the yellow center of this flower is a perfect announcement of yummy treats within. The leaves of all Sisyrinchium plants are stiff, fan-like, and in deep green bunches that resemble grass with wider and unbranched stems.

Sisyrinchium californicum  

Yellow Eyed Grass

Like the Idaho Blue-eyed grass, but with yellow flowers. The flowers usually open in the morning and are closed up by mid-day. It can tolerate wet soils. Does well in rain gardens. It often reseeds.

Yellow Eyed Grass is a native perennial herb that grows to about 8 inches tall. Its range includes Northern California up to the Pacific NW, primarily along the North Coast. It tends to grow in moist places, at elevations from 0-2000 feet. These regions experience wet winters and cool summers with abundant fog drip. It has yellow flowers that appear from May through June. It is a member of the Iris family (Iridaceae) and looks like a tiny iris or lily. It looks great in a rock garden as long as adequate moisture is provided. It forms small clumps and self-sows, so it will spread itself readily given favorable conditions.

Iris missouriensis  - Content Credit

Western Blue Iris

a perennial growing 1-2 feet tall, usually blooms spring to summer- depending upon the region.  The iris prefers shade to shady areas and will tolerate partial sun and are drought tolerant once fully established.   The iris a perennial that grows throughout the Western US and can thrive in several different situations; it does well partial shade to shady areas and will also tolerate sun for a portion of the day. The Western blue flag iris can live in moist soils in the spring but is intolerant of water soaked conditions into the summer. Once established, it is drought tolerant. Pronounced nectar guides (the white and yellow veins on the flower) are an indicator of insect pollination, generally pollinated by bumble bees, large carpenter bees, and sometimes flies and moths. The iris rhizomes are easily divided for replanting. 


Lupinu spp. L  - Content Credit1 & Content Credit2


Lupine are a flowering plant native to the Western US. They also bloom in Texas (Bluebonnets) as well as in Alaska. The common color is lavender to purple to blue with hybrids being varietal in colors. Lupine provides nectar and pollen-rich flowers attracting bees, bumble bees, and other insects as well hummingbirds, contributing to the biodiversity of any site (1). Lupine prefer more acidic, course textured and well drained soils; also provides regulating ecosystem services, as it has deep roots that help prevent erosion, as well as supporting services, as it is a legume and thus fixes nitrogen and returns it to the soil. They are considered the legumes are considered poisonous by the USDA.