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Abutilons: the Best Parlor Maples

Abutilon pictum ‘Thompsonii’
Container gardening has always been a big part of my garden. and years ago what started out as a small grouping of pots on our deck, has continued to expand. Now I have about 150 containers throughout my garden.  The plant selection varies, and I am always removing something that did not perform as well as expected by adding something new.  However, even with […]

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Quasi Bonsai: Manageable Bonsai Beauty

(Image by Maureen Gilmer)
The price of neglecting to water your bonsai in midsummer even for a day will have to be paid in a withered plant.  You might as well plough the field and forget the seed as commit such negligence.  –Norio Kobayashi, Japan 1951
The little-known secret of true Japanese bonsai trees is that they are watered every day.  Not a single sunrise passes without […]

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Grow a Natural Beauty Garden: Botanicals that Soothe Your Skin


We grow gardens for food, for medicine, for cut flowers, and for pollinators. But, a new trend is arising: growing the ingredients to make plant-based skincare. If you value the ingredients that make up your meals, then it may also be time to take a look at the products that go on your skin. Soaps, lotions, and balms are easy to make at home, and […]

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Captivating Cape Primroses for Indoor Color


After the holiday season is over and the poinsettias have been discarded, the home can seem to be rather bleak with no color from blooming plants. Having indoor color to brighten some of the dark and gloomy days we get in the winter months can give our spirits a boost while we wait for spring. In the time between now and the arrival of spring, […]

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Growing Hardy Chrysanthemums

‘Hillside Sheffield Pink’ is a classic hardy mum with extra fragrant flowers. (Image by Jessie Keith)
As I recently drove into my local garden center, I noticed the marquee sign along the highway read: FALL MUMS, PLANT NOW! Walk into almost any garden center in fall, and there will be a display of potted chrysanthemums. Most often they are purchased for a quick spot of “annual” color […]

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Fantastic Fall Anemones for the Garden


Here it is October in the Pacific Northwest, and cool moist weather is upon us after a hot and dry summer. The recent rains and cool temperatures are a welcome relief to many plants (as well as to myself).  Many summer annuals are still performing, and the hardy fuchsias and dahlias will continue to flower heavily up until frost. This is also the time […]

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Beautyberry for Bountiful Fall Color


Branches laden with bright purple berry clusters can be a very pleasant surprise to those unaware of the virtues of beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.).  These berries  provide a bright spot of color, especially in the autumn garden when the color performance of many shrubs is over.
Beautyberry Origins
There are more than a dozen species of Callicarpa, however only a few are readily available to at plant nurseries.  […]

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Growing Carrion Flower: Nature’s Flycatcher


Just imagine if you could grow a drought-tolerant plant that may actually reduce fly populations. One group of South African succulents, carrion flowers (Stapelia spp.), does just that. Unique carrion flowers have evolved very exotic starfish-like blossoms that kill the most ubiquitous insect in Africa: the fly. But death does not come until these insects have first pollinated the blooms. Prey are always prevalent […]

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Create a Succulent Seascape Rock Garden


Well-chosen and placed succulents in picturesque rock gardens can have an underwater, seafloor appeal. The design key is selecting various dryland treasures with anemone-, coral-, and urchin-like forms and textures in shades of blue green, silver, gold and red. When arranged against a setting of bold rocks, lined with a ripple of pebbles and seashells, the effect is cool and inviting.
I created such a garden […]

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A Vertical Vegetable Garden in the City


Salem, Oregon gardener Harry Olson has taken vertical gardening to new heights, (literally).  Harry’s home is on a small city lot and because of space constraints and shade issues from neighboring trees, Harry has, out of necessity, created a vertical garden.  This has challenged him to creatively experiment and find innovative ways to maintain a productive edible garden.  Many of his methods could easily […]

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