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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Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Now that spring has sprung I'm worried that it will be fleeting.  There is still time to prune and transplant but not much.  Today I'm going to talk about Bulbs before they pass us by 'til next year.  The King of Bulbs, and I think you would have to agree, is the Daffodil.  Someone even named one King Alfred.  They are lovely and come in many colors.  But the many reasons I rate them King is that they are a no muss no fuss plant.  They arrive early, and they are very drought tolerant.  They are long enduring.....  You can find them in a field where there must have been a cabin or house long ago.  They are very drought tolerant.  They multiply year after year.  AND the deer don't eat them.  Did I forget something??  One small draw back is that it's best to keep their leaves after they bloom.  I just cut them down a third to a half and they look great.  The KINGS.

Now if Daffodils are the kings Tulips are the queens.  Lovely..... lovely.... but a little high maintenance.  They are edible to man as well as to the animal kingdom so they get readily eaten.  I treat them more like an annual, and put them in containers.  They will come back for a couple of years, but they eventually fade away.  My personal favorite is the Lily Flowering Tulip.  But I can get lost in a catalog of Tulips easily.  If you are careful you can extend the season by planting early bloomers and late bloomers.  Like I said.......  lovely.

I rate Snowdrops or Galanthas really high because they are the first to bloom.  They reliably bloom in February.  So sweet.  If you put them with Hellebore they can cheer you up on a cold wet winter day and they will multiply over the years.

The Scilla sibericas are pretty nice especially  en masse.  They readily multiply.  The birds must seed them because I'll find them even in places I never planted, but not out of control.

Now I love all bulbs in the right place, but I have to say Alliums or Flowering Onions are a show stopper.  They are big and flashy and deer resistant.  If you want to make a statement plant an Allium.  In a naturalistic garden plant them with Knautia and Japanese Blood Grass.  You can't loose with this one.

Right now a good combination I have in my garden, that I like, is the Native Bleeding Hearts or Dicentra formosa with Wind Flowers or Anename blanda.  They do a nice job of filling in a shady spot.

This time of year I always enjoy what I have and realize I have to make changes.  I like to write it on my calender in August so I remember what to buy when the time comes.  Enjoy the colors of spring.

Sunday, April 10, 2011  Here's the link.  I'ld like it to be permanent on my website.  Still have to work on that.

Hood River Weather Web Site

In my job the first thing, well the second thing, or maybe the third thing I do when I get up in the morning is.....  Check the weather.  A friend turned me on to this website to maybe speed up the process a bit.
Now I have to figure out how to add it as a link to my blog.  Hood River Weather.  Hummm  I'll give this a try.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The good behind the rain

Once again on Tuesday it rained, rained and rained some more.  The good news is that we planted 300 trees for the Port of Hood River on Monday and the rain came in perfect succession.  I'm sure the trees..... Pacific Willows....  are happy little campers.  Over the weekend I planted by seed much of my vegetable garden. AND I don't have to worry about watering.  That is what is great about the rain.  Hope it comes back.

What I have planted so far in my vegetable garden is..... Spinach, Romaine Lettuce, Red & Green Lettuce Leaf, Raab which is a leafy Brocolli, more Coriander and Chard.   Coriander, Italian Parsley and Arugala have self seeded.  The Arugala is ready to add to salads and the Coriander is ready to add to my salsas that I love to make.  I'm hoping to get my Oregon Sugar Pod Peas in this weekend.  And I think I'm going to go nuts with Spring Onions, Onions and Shallots.  I've decided to forgo the Corn this year.  I think I'm going to try Fennel.  I've planted it before with some good results but I didn't really know how to cook with it.  Now I know that all you have to do is substitute it for celery.  What a concept.  I have several Italian recipes now so I'm planning Fennel into my garden this year.  I have to think about my Asian cooking also.  I think I'm going to plant Kohlrabi.  Then my garden will be good for a while until summer. 

Sometime I will have a discussion about how to make your vegetable garden EASY to do year after year.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Arabis & Chionodoxa

Ok.   My imagination is great. The Arabis looks lovely with the Daffodils like I said, but I need more Choinodoxa. It's the blue in the bottom picture. I do have a little bit in with the Arabis but note to self. Order more Daffs & Chionodoxa next August. I'm marking it on my calender. Just so you know that's my vegetable garden in the background & my small greenhouse.

spring combinations

Yea!!!  I feel that spring has officially sprung in Hood River.  Forsythia always announces that spring is on it's way, but when the Plums & the Daffodils are in bloom it's official!!!!  All the flowering trees & shrubs are now going to herald their happiness, as well. Now that there is a little sunshine I'm on my way to my vegetable garden.  But that is not what I want to write about today.  I admit that I tend to be a little depressed with all the rain, and I left out the early spring bloomers.  One of my favorites in my garden is the Arabis or maybe you know it as Rockcress.  It starts early when the Forsythia shows it's first bloom and lasts a long time, long into April.  My favorite combination with it is the Chionodoxa.  It's a bulb that blooms at the same time.  If you like blue & white it's lovely.  Add any Daffodil and you can't go wrong.  The huge benefit with this is that it is very drought tolerant.  And last but not least is that it is EVERGREEN.  It looks great all year.  Use it on the sunny side of your house and you will love it spring after spring.  OK.  I'll have to take a picture & post it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's hard to be inspired when we don't have much sunshine.  Last Tuesday it was sunny, and I can't believe how much I got done.  When it rains I tend to just play the piano, which is not a bad thing......but..... it's time to think about our gardens.
 I met with a client yesterday & that did inspire me.  She has a problem with deer so I thought I would talk about what I know about out witting the deer.  First of all they don't like herbs or anything pungent OR poisonous.  There are a lot of herbs one can plant that they won't eat.  Since I like to cook I  LOVE  fresh herbs. 
One I think you can't get enough of is Thyme.  There are so many varieties and it's evergreen!!  Plant a lot and make a statement.  Rosemary is nice.  The hardiest Rosemary and one I have luck with is Arp.  Rosemary Arp.  It has a pale blue flower.  Sage.....  the common one  is a little scrappy, but you can cook with it.  The Italians use it a lot.  My favorite is the Berggarten, but it's not reliably hardy.  The Purple Common Sage is very hardy.  I haven't tried to cook with it, but I bet it would work.  If you plant Chives, which I love to cook with, be aware that they self seed, and you can have more than you want in one year if you allow them to go to seed.  There is a variety out there that doesn't self seed as much.  I haven't used it.  Oregano......  There are so many varieties of Oregano.  It's another one of those if you aren't careful you will have more that you could ever use.  My favorite is True Greek Oregano.  It does not spread by runners.  It bunches, and great to cook with.  There are many ornamental Oregano.  That have great blooms.  Same with Sage or Salvia.  The deer don't like any of them.  My client gave me some French Tarragon.  It's hardy in her garden in Mosier so it will be hardy in mine in Hood River.  I think I understand that it runs or she wouldn't be giving me any.  She says she has luck with Savory.  With both these plants I will get back to you when I learn more about them.  I have not had luck with them so she must have varieties that are hardy.  So if you have DEER plant HERBS.  Of course there are other plants the deer don't like so I may take up this discussion at another time.

We need more sunshine

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

OK.....  Didn't get the job with the city for the water front park.  Oh well.  Things are picking up.  Now is the time to prune, prune, prune.....  and transplant.  The weather is very conducive to these activities.  The window of opportunity will close,  so take advantage of it.  If you are reading my thoughts here on this blog, make a comment so I know that this isn't a personal diary.  Blogging is new for me.  I need to figure out how to get a following.  With all this wet weather maybe I'll post some pictures of my trip.  I'll think about it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snow, snow, snow!  All you can do is plan for the spring ahead.  I'm currently working on a Commercial Design in The Dalles, and some changes for the Cathedral Ridge Winery.  I have to have patience and use my imagination.  I'm also bidding on the Water Front Park.....  along with 3 other landscapers......  I think I'll stop by Good News Gardening, and buy some seeds to start in my small greenhouse.  Lets see......  hmmmm......  Lettuce, Spinach & Thai Basil, and some regular Basil.  I chose Thai Basil because it's suppose to germinate & grow fast.  Happy Snow Shoveling.  I think I'll look at my pictures of La Ventana.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Back from La Ventana

I'm back in Hood River, and excited that spring is getting closer everday.  Days are getting longer.  I wandered around my garden.  The Snowdrops are blooming.  That's certainly hopeful.  In my vegetable garden I have cilantro.....  That wonder herb.  Luckily the Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Mexicans use it in their cooking.  I try to make it stretch by making an easy salsa that I can put in all those cuisines.  Heat a metal pan, add garlic to taste, add chiles of choice dried or fresh, (I use whatever I have still from summer), and dried tomatoes from summer (this is optional) and roast them 'til soft.  You can add oil but I never do.  Put these in a blender, add a little water & blend.  At the end add a little cilantro.  I store in a small jar in the refrigerator for up to three weeks, but you know it goes fast.  I like to make it really spicy so I can punch any dish if I want to.  I learned this from a Mexican, and make it often.  Once you start using it you will add it to everything...... even Italian cooking if you take the cilantro out.  Yum!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Off to Mexico for some R&R.

I'll be soaking up blue sky & sunshine.  I'll be back the 2nd week in Feb.  Of course I'll thinking about Landscaping with Palm Trees & Lime Trees.  I'll be looking at Coral landscapes underwater.  It's all good.  I'm counting on all of you to keep Hood River Green while I'm gone.  Ciao Amigos

Friday, January 7, 2011

Here's a picture from the other direction looking west. In the low spot is gravel & Juncus. Nice project. Coodos for the Port although they will be selling it to the city.
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I'm just playing around with my blog trying to get comfortable adding pictures. This picture is on Anchor Way by the Expo Center. It's a beautiful example of a bioswale. If you look closely you can see how water trains in from the east and drains out at the lower left side of the picture. If you have a similar situation at your place you should check it out. There are wonderful plant choices. Maybe I'll post another picture from the other direction.
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Ok, love this photo. Not exactly a current project. I want to keep it on my dashboard. We'll see if I can acheive this.
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Jan 7

It's a new year.  2011  HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!  I don't know about you, but I already feel optomistic that this year will be so much better than the last 2.  I guess I consider this my work journal that I'm posting for everyone to look at.  Hope I don't bore you.  I'll try not to.

My last project was for the Port of Hood River down on Anchor Way.  I finished it just before Thanksgiving.  That was cutting it close since I like to be finished for the season by Thankgiving.  Traditionally the weather always takes a turn by then, and this year was true to the average.  But take a look at it if you like.  A newly planted project usually isn't much to look at.  Give it a couple of years.  But the Bioswale at the site is a couple of years old & definately worthy of checking out.  If you are trying to astheically resolve a drainage problem this is a lovely example of how to treat it.  My next challenge will be posting pictures.  Here goes.