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As I am writing this column on a Sunday afternoon, I am looking out my window to a magical sight. Snow has now been falling for 24 hours and there is an accumulation of 8 to 10 inches covering virtually everything in the yard.  Under this blanket of white are my blooming hellebores, snow dro…

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Every time I walk through the nursery this time of year I am struck by the amazing variety of plants on display that have what I would call “winter interest." By this I mean that they have some distinct quality that makes them stand out in the winter garden.  PJM rhododendrons, for example, …

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There’s nothing like a fresh bowl of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries straight out of the garden, and now is the time to plant them. All of these berries are well suited for growing in the northwest and are readily available from garden centers this time of year.

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Outside my patio sliding door, in several pots on my south-facing, full sun deck, is a selection of herbs including parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. I know this probably sounds like a Simon and Garfunkel song, and for most of us, we simply can’t mention these four herbs without involuntar…

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January is seed starting time and like a lot of things in life, it’s not always as easy as we professionals make it look, (nor I might add is it the kind of activity that you can walk away from for a week or two, like knitting). To be successful you have to show up on a consistent basis and …

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Growing fruit trees in our own backyards can be lots of fun and nutritionally rewarding.  It does, however, take some time and effort to be successful and a willingness to accept less than perfect (blemish-free) produce.  If you have any interest in growing your own fruit, then these next tw…

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Okay my gardening friends, 2020 is behind us and it is time to start drooling over the seed catalogs and visiting garden centers to see what looks interesting this time of year. During the next several weeks of rain storms (remember, this is a La Nina year so there’s likely to be lots of rai…

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A lot of gardeners wisely move some of their houseplants outside during the summer to give them better light and fresher air.  It is a tricky thing to do because light conditions inside our homes are always much more reduced than even the shadiest location in our gardens.  Leaves that have b…

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In this day and age of social distancing, I am inclined to think that the vast majority of us, either consciously or unconsciously, are suffering from a lack of physical contact with our fellow human beings. There is something healing that happens when two individuals connect with each other…

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There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t receive yet another email listing the “top 25 gifts for gardeners”, which invariably includes a whole host of garden gadgets like kneeler pads that double as stadium cushions, “Swiss Army” gardening knives that have a plethora of attachments, bird …

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Here’s a continuation of last week’s list of late fall chores. Remember what I said,  try to accomplish most of them, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get them all done.  These are suggestions that will help your plants survive the winter and get off to a healthy spring start.  

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Just when you thought you were through with yard work for the season, some wise-acre nursery professional comes along and tells you to “Winterize your yard!”  “Okay”, you say, “How do I winterize my yard?”  Big mistake!  Never use open-ended questions with nursery professionals, unless of co…

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Winters in the northwest can be unpredictable.  As I look around my neighborhood, I can still see trees (like my neighbor’s corkscrew willow) that are green as grass and completely foliated, while next to them are maples that are fully denuded of all their summer leaves.  My hostas have mush…

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As promised a few weeks ago, I want to introduce you to a few more conifers that I find to be real gems to add to our landscapes.  But before launching into some specific varieties of interest, my botanical nerdiness requires me to share what I consider to be truly fascinating facts about th…

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We all have our passions and hobbies in life that we choose to partake in, when time and money permits. Sometimes, when these interests disrupt the balance in our lives, we call them addictions. Not all addictions are necessarily bad or destructive, but it never hurts to have them pointed ou…

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As much as I hate to admit it, it is time to jettison the summer color and start thinking about what will look good in the garden all winter.  As the perennials melt down, the annuals die, and the deciduous trees and shrubs shed their foliage, the primary group of plants that can give us dep…

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As we move into the fall season and shift our containers from summer to an autumn and winter theme, one of the major staples to consider is the genus Heuchera.  Commonly known as coral bells, breeders over the years have developed this plant from a simple florist perennial, grown for its col…

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I’m not one to rush into the fall season — our summers are far too short as it is and the longer I can convince myself that September is really late summer, the longer I can enjoy backyard picnics (socially distanced of course) and shorts.  And, despite the cool June, this has been a great s…

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Fall is in the air! The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler and the sun is moving farther south, creating longer shadows on the north side of the garden. These climatological events are triggers for the garden, to let it know that winter is coming and seasoned gardeners w…

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Ever since I was a young kid I have been drawn to ferns.  Growing up in Southern California I collected many varieties and had a patio dedicated to them. I grew Australian and New Zealand tree ferns, multiple varieties of Maidenhair and Staghorn ferns, and hanging varieties like Rabbit’s Foo…

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Last week I pontificated about the merits of the genus Hibiscus and the fact that it is among the very few shrubs that bloom late into the summer. There are a handful of other summer-blooming choices that don’t come in quite so many variations but are just as reliable and dare I say, essenti…

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Back in the “old days” it used to be that once we hit late July and the month of August, planting season was over.  Other than a few annuals, garden centers were essentially out of stock when it came to shrubs and trees. There was of course lots of harvesting to do in these months with all o…

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There are lots of wonderful July blooming shrubs that you can choose from when it comes to adding color and excitement to your yard, but probably the most popular one of all is the hydrangea — in all of its many variations.  There are options for full sun to full shade, some with big globes …

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Now that summer has arrived and we are spending more time out in our yards, it is becoming increasingly apparent that at certain times of the day we are not alone. By that I mean that the mosquitoes are out in force and looking for some sustenance. Here are some techniques and more specifica…

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Last year my wife and I decided it was time to move out of our 80+ year old farm house, located on the nursery property, and into a more age appropriate (not quite convalescent, but certainly geriatric) residence that had only one floor and a smaller footprint (I think this is what they call…

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This is the time of the year that every nursery professional has been waiting for. A year ago we carefully planned our orders from a half dozen different suppliers. We drooled over colorful glossy photos of all the new introductions. We agonized over which roses we would have room for this y…

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Gardening with perennials can be tricky. Unlike annuals that will bloom all summer long, perennials have their own specific blooming seasons — ranging from late winter to early spring, early summer, late summer, and even fall and winter. For the most part, perennials have a bloom period that…

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When it comes to plants that are sun tolerant, drought resistant, and pretty much maintenance free, nothing can compare to sedums. They are a group of plants that fit nicely into rockeries, spill over retaining walls, blended into sunny mixed borders, and are great just about anywhere where …

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Whatever your reason is for feeling moved to plant a vegetable garden in these times of turmoil, it’s a good idea. It is good to get out in the fresh air, get some exercise and any time spent in the garden can be therapeutic. Good intentions are all fine and good, but without positive result…

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April is always a busy month for gardeners, with a multitude of chores clamoring for our attention.  In the case of our lawns, April is possibly the most critical month to get back on track.  Here are some things to consider for a healthy and beautiful lawn…

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As we all are being forced to stay at home and keep our social distance when out and about, it has become apparent to me that a heck of a lot of people are taking advantage of this time and working in their yards!  I have never seen so many lawns neatly mowed and flower beds weeded so early …

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Unless you have been living under a rock, you should be aware by now of the importance of bees (and insects in general for that matter) on our ecosystem. They are our chief pollinators, along with wasps and flies, some moths and butterflies, and even hummingbirds and bats. In the early seaso…

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Last week I mentioned that it was time to plant your “cool season” vegetables.  In the northwest especially, we have two distinct seasons to plant veggies. Right now is the cool season, when the soils are still cold and an occasional frost can be expected to coat our roofs and lawns. Crops l…

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Sometimes I feel like the world is spinning out of control. There is all the fear over the coronavirus, the political turmoil over the November elections, concerns over climate change, the stock market, March Madness (okay, maybe that isn’t a life or death issue), and just general angst over…

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When I think of the word “wallflower” or “shrinking violet” for that matter, I conjure up an image in my mind of a timid plant that is shy and socially challenged. It is not very flashy and prefers to grow in an obscure location where it will be barely noticed by the passing visitor.  In rea…

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There is no doubt in my mind that spring has sprung. This indisputable fact lies in the discovery this week of the first white blooms on a wild plum tree that lives down the street from the nursery. On that same road, I caught a glance of the swelling buds of several Bradford flowering pears…

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It’s that time of year again when garden centers fill their benches back up with a whole new crop of bare root roses. Our crews have spent the last several weeks carefully pruning and planting several thousand of them so they can be taken home and lovingly plunged into your gardens. Please r…

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Traditionally speaking, Valentine’s Day is the “Christmas” season for florists, whereas Mother’s Day belongs to the garden centers. However, not being one to follow tradition, I am going to take this space to help you stretch the envelope, so to speak. Here are some suggestions, not to repla…

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It should be no surprise that our northwest climate is perfect for growing all kinds of berries. Simply look around at the omnipresent and noxious Himalayan Blackberry, and one can easily deduce that berries will grow with little effort on our part. The presence of vast commercial fields of …

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Let’s face it, compared to other regions of our country, we have it pretty darn good when it comes to winter.  Occasional snow rarely sticks around for more than a week or two, nighttime lows are usually above freezing and the day temps can even get up into the 50’s.  Nothing stays dormant f…

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Believe it or not, by the end of this month garden centers will be fully stocked with all the new and tried and true varieties of fruit trees that are well-suited for our unique marine climate. For the most part, these trees will be bare root — which simply means that the roots have no soil …

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It looks like the next couple of weeks are going to be wet and cold and some preparation on our parts can help minimize any deleterious effects. We rarely see more than 10 to 14 days of continuous below freezing weather during the winter, but despite its short duration, it can do a lot of da…

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I have just spent this last week, and countless hours, researching the topic of "trends for 2020’’ in hopes of bringing you something of deep profundity. Unfortunately, I have to confess; it has been a struggle to find the perfect morsels of wisdom for your reading pleasure and I have come t…

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I know it is crunch time for gift buying and you might still have a few tough ones to figure out. Avoid the crazy mall madness and have an actual tactile experience of touching the gifts you’re searching for (to maybe even be hand-wrapped with care, rather than just clicking a mouse for an o…

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I have mentioned many times over the years that I believe that we live in a horticultural paradise.  There is very little we can’t grow successfully in our Pacific Northwest climate and lord knows I have tried it all at one time or another. Paw Paws were once on my list, but no longer. Persi…

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If you are the type that visits a garden center on a regular basis, then you have probably noticed that plants have their seasons. Primroses, for example, are typically only available for a short time in late winter and very early spring. Most blooming plants will be featured front and cente…

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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…