As Thanksgiving approaches, it is time for the annual “Thankful That We Garden in Western Washington” column.

This year, as natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornado and fires have torn through the south, east and west, our local garden complaints of slug, deer and rainy weather seem mild.

So, here are the top 10 reasons to be thankful you garden in Western Washington.

10. Our slugs may be big and plentiful, but they do not bite humans. Gardeners in Eastern Washington must watch out for rattlesnakes, and California gardeners battle tarantulas and gophers.

9. Our wind storms may knock out power and topple trees, but they do not pick up houses from their foundations.

Tornados have never given Washingtonians a chance to see what is over the rainbow and for that I am thankful.

8. We don’t have to mulch our roses with shovels of wood chips, cover them with plastic cones or lie them on their sides and cover them with soil so they survive the winter.

Even if you forget to prune your tall roses before the winter winds whip them about, our mild winter weather means they most likely will survive.

7. We don’t have to spray for ants in our pantry or scorpions on our porches. Gardeners in the warm, desert climates may have winter sunshine, but they also have winter pests that sneak into the house.

6. Kangaroos have never destroyed a newly planted garden in Western Washington. Elephants have never trampled our orchards and lions and tigers do not devour garden chickens.

Our deer damage seems mild in comparison.

5. We have the Tacoma Home and Garden Show in January and the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in February. Visitors from Canada, Alaska and the East Coast tell us we take these indoor winter shows with their sneak peek of spring and the latest gardening info for granted. They are right.

4. We can grow hydrangeas, raspberries, blueberries, clematis, rhododendrons, azaleas and fuchsias better than anyone else in the world. Our cool summers and mild, wet winters make these garden beauties thrive.

3. We can garden on rainfall alone. You do not need a sprinkler system to keep shrubs alive and lawns green (most of the year anyway) so homeowners here do not have to clean out irrigation lines, wipe salt deposits from sprinkler heads or feel guilty about having a thirsty lawn.

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Rock and gravel can be artfully displayed as a lawn substitute down south, but nothing beats the green, green grass that surrounds us every spring.

2. Our climate allows us to create pockets of tropical paradise.

Cannas, bananas and other tropical plants thrive in the summer as well as cacti, succulents and sedums. From jungle orchids to desert yuccas and even lichens and moss from way up North, we can grow it all.

Zonal envy for our Western Washington climate is often expressed by head gardeners all over the world when we say we are from “Seattle.”

1. The number one reason we should be thankful we live in Western Washington is our evergreens. Tall cedar, graceful hemlock, sword fern, huckleberry and salal all keep their foliage over the winter reminding us that we live in a gardener’s paradise and that our native plants offer year-long beauty, if only you take the time to notice. Throw in the Cascade Mountains and a multitude of lakes, rivers and Puget Sound and our cup runneth over with natural beauty.

Be grateful and keep growing.

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