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As the season winds down and the garden is put to bed, I can’t help but pause and reflect on the past several months. It was a roller coaster year for me with lots of promise, a major setback, and then a fantastic recovery. 

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As gardeners, the concept of “going natural” is nothing new. Whatever our reasons, whenever practical we tend to shy away from synthetics and instead choose products that are natural. In the case of Christmas trees we have the same choices — one is buying an artificial tree, and the other is…

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Back in late September of this year, I introduced you to several new shrubs for 2020 and promised to continue later this fall with several more new introductions. After reading through the November/December edition of Horticulture (one of many gardening magazines that my wife and I subscribe…

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It’s been a while since I have given you a concise, all-in-one-place list of chores for the month, so I thought it would be timely to do just that. There is always something to do in the garden, even if it is just walking around and observing what Mother Nature is up to. As stewards of the g…

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As the temperatures continue to drop, along with all those leaves on our deciduous trees, we are pretty much left with just shades of green in our gardens to look at throughout the winter.  There are, of course, quite a few winter-blooming perennials and shrubs that can add some winter inter…

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I think it is fair to say that the dark season is upon us and it seems to have arrived a couple of months early.  September and October have both been unusually wet, which always cuts down on my time to spend in the garden and subsequently, prematurely kicks off my seasonal affect disorder, …

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First off, I suspect you would like an explanation of what the heck is a “bud-blooming” heather. It’s a fair question so here is my answer:  A bud-blooming heather is a type of Calluna (a commonly planted summer-blooming heather that is in many of our gardens) whose buds never fully open but…

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With the mercury dipping down into the low thirties, and maybe even some frost for some of you, I am reminded of the often asked question: “How do I save some of my seasonal color for the next season”. It’s only a matter of time before a really good hard frost is going to make that question …

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Of all the seasons of the year, fall is probably my most favorite and the month of October is when it all starts to happen (although this year one could argue that fall actually started in September). There is a crispness in the air, new vibrant colors on the trees, fresh growth on our summe…

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We have a vast palette of plants to choose from for our northwest gardens, and in many cases they come from the same genus. The genus Pinus for instance includes eastern white, Japanese white, red, black, Swiss, Ponderosa, mugo, and so on and so forth. These are all different species within …

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Back in March of this year, I introduced you to several new plants for the 2019 season that were sure to be hits in your garden. There was a landscape rose called ‘At Last’ that actually sported some fragrance - something that had been sorely missing with past landscape/shrub roses. If you m…

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I recently read an article on designing with foliage in the garden by a local author, Christina Salwitz.  She has written two books: “Fine Foliage” from St. Lynn’s Press and “Gardening with Foliage First” from Timber Press — I highly recommend reading both of them.  Her main point is that wh…

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As we move into the fall season and our summer bloomers start to fade, it is encouraging to know that there are still quite a few choices for late color in our gardens. The classic fall blooming perennials are of course mums and asters, which sadly seem to have been relegated to the status o…

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If you are like me, you are probably sick and tired of dragging hoses all over the garden, mowing the lawn and pulling weeds. Understandably, there is a tendency for us to slack off on these chores as fall approaches, but letting the garden go to seed is never a good idea when it comes to we…

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Ornamental grasses are an interesting class of perennials.  They have some unique qualities that make them an essential part of my borders, as they should yours. Unfortunately, many gardeners still see them as weeds that either need to be sprayed with Roundup or trimmed with the Weed-Eater. …

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Last week I mentioned that August was a good time to plant all sorts of plants, but I failed to mention vegetables. It might seem hard to imagine that in the heat of August we would be planting vegetable crops that thrive in the cooler time of the year, but in reality this is the time to get…

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August can be a surprisingly busy month in the garden.  There are timely chores, if attended to this month, that will improve the look and health of our plants. Here they are for your reading pleasure.

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There is an old expression that goes like this: “Doctors bury their mistakes, architects plant ivy." Admittedly, this is a crude analogy but it is very true that vines can cover a multitude of sins. Perhaps a more positive way to put it is that vines have the ability to soften the edges of o…

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Anyone who has followed me over the years knows that one of my many mantras is “There is always room for one more plant”.  No matter how packed my garden is, on any given day I can find a little patch of bare earth that is just screaming for something to be planted in it.  My wife often fond…

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I know I mentioned last week that I always hesitate to spend too much ink on just one variety of plant, so it was my intention to discuss some summer chores for us to complete this month. However, I found myself distracted by an article in the September edition of my wife’s ‘The English Gard…

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It is always hard for me to focus in on one variety of plant this time of year.  There are so many fabulous summer blooming perennials (and a surprising number of shrubs) that are strutting their stuff in the months of July and August, that to dedicate a whole column to one variety seems imp…

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If you are looking for a perennial that will bloom from June until frost, will tolerate full sun or part shade, comes back every spring (unless Mother Nature is really nasty to us) and makes a wonderful companion to so many other plants, then what you need is a hardy fuchsia. They are hard t…

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July is a very busy month for me in my garden and it should be for you as well. This is the month I like to put the finishing touches on everything, so all I have to do for the rest of the summer is water and enjoy the fruits of my labor. Here are some things we should all be focused on.

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There is a certain fact that northwest gardeners are going to have to start embracing: our summers are getting longer and drier and our plants are only going to get more and more moisture stressed.  It is up to us to help our landscapes get through the summer months, so here are the basics o…

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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 …