Thursday, July 7, 2011


My definition of a volunteer is a plant that joins the garden of it's own free will.  Of course weeds do that, and you want to edit them right out of the garden.  But there are those that you want to stay, that will actually contribute to the effect.  I'm a fan of volunteers.  In my vegetable garden I rely on them.  Cilantro, Parsley & Arugula do a wonderful job of coming back year after year.  I like their flowers so I let them flower and go to seed, then I distribute the seed where I want them next year.  Last year I had 3 different kinds of squash & I didn't plant one seed.  I'm sure those came from my compost.  I don't even remember eating a Patty Pan Squash.  It was a lovely surprise.  A friend gave me some Tomatillos. I never have to buy plants. They come back year after year. My Hispanic friends say mine are the best. Did I mention Purslain. It's really quite delicious. In my small greenhouse Cherry Tomatoes come back every year.  I just need to be observant; edit what I don't want and keep what I do. 

For color I love Johnny Jump Ups.  They do a nice job of adding color to my vegetable garden.  Now I have Allysum volunteering,too.  I cannot complain; they offer some fragrance, as well.  That yellow leaf Tansy comes back every year.  I just take out what I don't want & leave what I do want.  Hey I'm weeding anyway.

In my flower gardens the native Bleeding Heart does a wonderful job of filling in empty spaces.  They like the shadier side of  the garden.  I saw that my Lambs Ears volunteered over in my neighbors garden. I also saw Arabis over there. I think my neighbor likes the addition. Now we all are aware of California Poppies and they can be a bit of a nuisance but they are so easy to pull out. I have all kinds of poppies in my garden. Reds, Oranges & Purples. They came from somewhere. I didn't seed them. One plant that I love that comes back from seed every year is the Datura. It's leaves smell like peanut butter. It has a beautiful big white flower. I must warn that I think some part of the plant is poisonous. I would keep them away from children.

It takes a veteran gardener to recognize the little seedlings. This is one time when a relaxed weeder pays off. Wait..... Of course, I have cultivated some very large weeds. I learn. When I was renting many years ago and I would leave to move to my next spot for many reasons like school and such, the following renter would tell me that they had a reasonable garden without doing anything but water. That was one of my best compliments.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Miss Kim Lilac

I have to comment on this Lilac. Syringa velutina 'Miss Kim' It's such a beautiful, easy shrub to use in a small landscape. This one is close to 20 years old. It blooms after the Common Lilacs bloom, and it's fragrant. If you love lilacs and you are disappointed when the season is over, and you think you have to wait a year until the event reoccurs, plant this one. It will extend the season. All the korean lilacs are a little later but I like this one. I put Miss Kim in my easy shrub list palatte, but it's really at the top of the list. Another reason why I like it, is that like most lilacs, it is very drought tolerant. Simply beautiful. Can't go wrong with this one.
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

'Tis the Season

No, It's not Christmas, but it's the season of Flowering Dogwoods, Lilacs, Rhododendrons, Azaleas and more lesser known varieties.  Oh m' gosh, I remember the first spring when I moved here to the northwest.  It's a miracle I didn't have an accident.  I still have trouble rubber necking especially if I see a great combination of colors and varieties.  This time of year everything is sooo bold.  I come from Colorado and nothing compares to this.  I think locals take it for granted.  I still don't after 20 years here.  So.......  combinations for your yard.  It's pretty easy this time of year.  Take a look around but try not to hit the guy in front of you.  Well, the pink Dogwoods are dominate right now.  For that princess look plant a pink or white Rhododendron near it.  Anna Rose Whitney seems to be the one that you see.  It's slightly darker pink than the Dogwoods.  The Bridal Veil Spireas are gorgeous around them.  Add a Girard Fuchsia Azalea and your princess theme is complete.  Now if you want to upgrade to Royalty go with a red and white scheme like Kate & William did at their wedding.  I've seen a White Dogwood with a Photinia look great together.  Plant a Hino Crimson Azalea underneath and you have it.  I love burgundy foliage with red flowers then add a touch of white and you have royalty.  Enjoy the flowering season.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Every living thing needs water.  But the challenge is what is too much, and what is not enough.  People are always asking my recommendation on how to water my garden.  I say it's a bit of a talent.  It takes many years of observation.  I am not even without error on occasion.  But this is what I know.  Plants both drink and breath from their roots.  So it's good to water deeply then allow the roots time to breath.  It helps to know what kind of soil you have.  I like to observe how well the soil that I'm watering is absorbing.  The best scenario is the 3 second rule.  Take a hose, water and count how long it takes to absorb.  This is why I take time to prepare the soil before I plant.  I strive to reach the 3 second rule.  Another factor to be aware of is how cool is it.  What works in 50 degree weather is not going to work in 80 degree weather.  Shade is different from partial shade which is different from full sun.  Knowing the needs of each species is very important.  A Hydrangea loves lots of water but a Rose prefers to be on the dry side.  One more thing to be aware of is how old the plant is and how deep are the roots.  So once you have taken all these things into consideration you can begin the watering process.  Water deeply, wait a day or two or three, dig down 6" - 1' to see how moist the soil is.  This technique gives you clues.  The plant itself gives you clues.  Flagging is a term used when the leaves start to hang down.  A little of this is not necessarily a bad thing because the roots will start to search for water by going deeper into the soil.  The deeper the roots the longer the time between watering.  If the plant starts to yellow because you waited too long, that is a bad thing.  Even a little of that is OK but like I said observation is key.  Observe your landscape after you water.  Everything should be stout and reaching to the sky.  Sometimes when you over water you don't see that, and sometimes their leaves will yellow which will throw you off.  Stout and reaching to the sky is what you are looking for.  It takes a special eye for plants.  Hope these tips help you in you watering techniques.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dogtooth Violets

Had to post this.  They are so beautiful this time of year.  The ground cover is the native Oxalis.  The fern is
the native Sword Fern.  I'm pretty sure I bought it as a bulb but couldn't find it in my catalog.  As you can see they tolerate shade  and roots of the trees.  Great combination.  The foliage dies off like most bulbs.  I have Hostas to follow up the next season interest.   Yummy!  Have fun with it.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Well, that window I was talking about that allows transplanting has shut until next year.  Experts who know what they are doing might be able to make it work but I wouldn't recommend it if you don't know what you are doing.  A client moved a small Flowering Crab Apple last Wednesday.  I saw it today, and it was suffering.  There are lots of reasons why it's suffering.  One is the soil is very sandy, and the root ball fell apart while moving it.  Not good.  Then we are finally getting some about 70 degree weather without rain.  If any tree is going to make it a Crab Apple just might.  They are very drought tolerant and very forgiving.  I told him to prune it back seriously.  The root system cannot support the branch and leaf system.  It breaks my heart to see that.  It was a cute small Flowering Crab. 

A current project in the Mosier area

This is a lovely flagstone walk that we installed for a country garden up on the hill in Mosier. I'm  really bad at before pictures.  It was a steep walk that could be slippery when wet.  I chose to make the walk sloping but by putting in steps, it made it less steep.  The flagsone is gritty which also helps to keep it from being slippery.

In progress

The bulb in the background is Anemone blanda.  It has naturalized nicely.

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