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I couldn’t help but notice the other day while driving around town, that lavender was coming into bloom. That of course got me thinking about growing lavender, choosing varieties, and how to actually use the plant other than just to look at it. It turns out lavender has been in production fo…

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When we think of getting out and gardening, the month of May most likely comes to mind. There is no question that May is a glorious month on our northwest calendar to be outside and in the yard. But for me, mostly because I own a garden center, May is shear madness with so much going on that…

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I don’t think that I am alone when I say that I am drawn to plants with foliage that is anything other than green. This is especially true with purple foliaged plants, such as the ubiquitous flowering plums or the equally stunning purple smoke trees. Many Japanese Maples come in various shad…

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Okay, I’ll admit it, I have always had a love affair with cannas. Having grown up in southern California, cannas were a staple item in the landscape. The large growing varieties that reached 6 to 8 feet tall were seen throughout most of the public parks where they were used in formal plantin…

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Every year I try to move my customers a little farther out of their comfort zones to experiment with some plants that perhaps they are unfamiliar with or are afraid they will fail to make grow. Mostly, I am talking about the focal or “thriller” components of a container planting. Traditional…

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Out of all the different types of vines that I have sold over the years, wisteria is by far the queen of them all. It is the personification of what people think of as a vine and when gardeners want a plant that will travel and cover some space, I always recommend wisteria.  But, it’s not a …

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Late April and early May in the northwest are high season for all kinds of lilacs. They are coming into full bloom and their heavenly fragrance is enough to put even this cantankerous gardener into a good mood. I have several of the tall growing French Hybrids planted out behind one of our g…

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I first fell in love with Peonies back in the early 70’s when I was stationed in Petersburg, Virginia, with the U.S. Army.  I was driving out in the country one afternoon when I came upon row after row of these incredible plants covered with pink, red or white blooms that looked like carnati…

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If there was one perennial that personified a cottage garden, I think it would have to be the Delphinium. They are the epitome of what I think of when I picture a Victorian border or even just a simple country garden. Their tall stature often anchors the back of a bed and provides the height…

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I know it is probably raining in your garden and will be for at least another week, but I have to tell you that the last two weeks (particularly the weekends) were just amazing. I would sincerely hope that you all share my feelings. It just blows me away that even at the crusty old age of 70…

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As I come to the end of March, I often find myself reviewing what has happened in this first quarter of the season. I’m not sure yet if it will have some bearing on the rest of the year or if it is just a cleansing process for me as I move into the heart of the gardening calendar. It is impo…

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Well, are we all feeling a wee bit exhilarated by this fabulous spring (or should I say summer) weather? Are we experiencing a burst of energy and an intense desire to get everything done in the garden in one weekend? Pace yourself. While I did indeed get a ton of work done last weekend — my…

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I know it still doesn’t feel much like spring, but something magical happened this week— it actually got up to 50 degrees, and that is significant for two reasons. First, for us it feels almost comfortable to be outside working in the garden and second, when the mercury gets to 50 degrees it…

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Are you feeling a sense of panic, like you just lost the last 30 days of gardening and are now so far behind that you will never catch up?  Not to worry.  Mother Nature is also behind schedule so we have the entire month of March to get back on track. The days are getting longer, daylight sa…

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Let’s face it, we all love new stuff. We are driven to have the latest version of…. you fill in the blank. Every spring, automobile manufacturers tempt us with new models of cars that have all the bells and whistles and cutting edge technology in hopes that we won’t be able to resist trading…

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Last week I pontificated on the ramifications of the recent winter storm. We discussed frozen roots on container plants, broken limbs on trees and shrubs, disfigured evergreens, and frozen buds. In retrospect, that all sounds very depressing, but please don’t despair — I am pretty sure the w…

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This month we celebrated Valentine’s Day, and with it comes a marketing inundation of chocolates, flowers, wines and heart-shaped cards — all featured as symbols of love. During this month it’s also important to show some love to the human heart; February is American Heart Health Month. This…

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Surviving our northwest winters has always been a bit of a guessing game when it comes to our gardens. No year is ever the same. For years I would prepare for the worst by mulching my roses and storing my container plantings in one of our cool greenhouses (a luxury I realize many of you don’…

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If you are like me, you went to bed last Sunday night, Feb. 3, with a light dusting of snow on the ground and woke up to 8 to 10 inches covering virtually everything in the garden. Now, somewhere underneath that white stuff, are my blooming hellebores, snow drops, and budded daffodils. You m…

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When it comes to perennials, the Perennial Plant Association is the place to go when you want to know what is happening in the world of these wonderful plants. One of the things that this association does is to promote certain perennials by declaring a ‘Perennial Plant of the Year’. These ar…

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Nursery professionals tend to use words that can sometimes be confusing. I thought I would take this opportunity to give you some insight into this jargon so that on your next visit garden center visit you can be more efficient with your time and feel more intelligent. A typical garden cente…

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Okay, I confess that one of the first things I do in the morning is to turn on my phone/computer and check my news feeds - mostly to see what might have happened over the last 8 hours I was sleeping. It’s pretty ridiculous when you think about it, but that seems to be the norm. It has been e…

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A lot happens behind the scenes in a garden center in the month of January Most of it isn’t very glamorous and frankly is just plain hard work. The weather is always cold and usually wet, sometimes even snowy. And yet, the arrival and planting of bare root roses is one of those activities th…

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I have been rather neglectful lately. What with all the rain and holiday activities, I haven’t taken much time to walk around my garden. From a distance it looks like it is in a deep sleep and nothing of any significance is going on, but with closer inspection it is anything but snoozing. I …

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As we wrap up the final days of the 2018 gardening season I find myself struggling to find something to say that will seem profound and lasting. In light of all the political and worldly trauma, the suffering and hunger and homelessness and generally disgusting things that mankind continues …

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I kind of short-changed you all last week with only two suggestions (although they were fabulous ideas in my humble opinion).  Here are a few more to sink your soon-to-be acquired Hori-Hori into…

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Let’s take a break this week from the endless garden chores I am constantly throwing out at you and look at a few cool gift ideas.  This is, after all, the season of giving, so whether you are looking for something for your favorite gardener or just for yourself, here are a few things to thi…

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I think it is fair to say that most of us are not going to be spending a whole lot of time in our gardens this month, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still find ways to stay connected to them. Making winter arrangements from the bounty of our yards (or someone else’s, with permission of cours…

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Customers that visit my garden will invariably ask me if I have a favorite plant and my standard (and somewhat flippant) reply is: “They are all my favorites or I wouldn’t have planted them in the first place." In reality, what qualifies as my favorite depends on the time of year — whether i…

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I always like to take a minute this time of year to reflect back on the season and recall some of the things that I am thankful for. The weather is always at the top of the list.

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There is rarely a time in the garden when something doesn’t need pruning, and the month of November is certainly no different.  What is different though is that under no circumstances should we be pruning our shrubs or trees severely this time of year.  Plants that are pruned “hard” in the f…

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It’s that time of year again when gardeners have to decide how they are going to manage their piles of leaves. Over the years I have observed two distinct groups. There is the fastidious camp that is constantly collecting and removing leaves as fast as they fall. Then there is the al natural…

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Reality check!  The days are getting shorter, our yards are getting wetter and while our desire to continue to work with plants may not be diminishing, the joy of working out in the garden is fading.  The obvious solution is to move inside the house or if you are really lucky, into your pers…

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For most gardeners, when we talk about spring-blooming bulbs our minds go to the fields of tulips and daffodils we can see just north of us in the Mt. Vernon area in the months of March and April. Or maybe some of you have journeyed to Canada and the Butchart Gardens and seen their amazing d…

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Keeping our landscapes changing is so critical to keeping our interest in gardening. With change, there’s the anticipation of something new and exciting. With change, our garden compositions take on whole new personalities. And with change, we find opportunities to experience our gardens in …

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I don’t know about you guys, but I can hardly believe that it is October already. With all this climate change I am beginning to think that maybe October will be my favorite fall month. I read somewhere that our rains are coming later and ending earlier, even though the total rainfall is abo…

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It has always puzzled me that there are plants that bloom in the fall, or stranger yet, in the winter. It seems so out of sync with the rhythms of nature, but hey, while I may not understand the “grand plan," I am sure as heck going to take advantage of these little beauties and enjoy them i…

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September is a glorious month in the northwest — the days are warm, the nights cool, the shadows long, and the lawns are coming alive again after their dry summer slumber. The garden wakes back up for about 6 to 8 weeks before it shuts down for the winter and it is an excellent time to get s…

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It always seems a bit odd to me to be talking about fall and winter gardens when we are still very much into late summer, but “fall is in the air” and now is the time to make some changes in our containers and plant some fall veggies while the soils are still warm and conducive to good root …

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Trees are our friends, in more ways than one. There are a multitude of benefits that we receive from trees and it never hurts to remind ourselves just how important trees are to our ecosystem. As we look around the world at the incredible loss of both temperate and tropical forests, it shoul…