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Gravelscape and Green your Front Yard

Gravel can make architectural plants stand out like sculpture. (Image by Maureen Gilmer)
Nowhere are water-needy lawns disappearing as fast as in arid southern California and the American Southwest. This is the proving ground for a lot of alternatives to traditional turfgrass. A big problem is always the front yard, where your property value is rooted in curb appeal. What you do there will have a […]

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Pruning Shrub Roses in Spring

Spring pruning makes shrub roses tidier and prettier.
Exactly what does it mean when a rose is called a ‘shrub rose’? In Taylor’s Dictionary for Gardeners a shrub is defined as “A woody plant that is shorter than a tree and usually has several stems that branch from the base”. This definition would certainly fit many rose types, like floribunda (shrub rose crosses between polyantha and hybrid teas roses.), grandiflora (shrub rose crosses between […]

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Flowering Trees with Edible Fruit

Edible crabapples have pretty spring flowers and edible fruit.
Sometimes in our home yards and gardens, we plant primarily for ornamental purposes, but perhaps we overlook the fact that attractive plants can also provide food. The following flowering trees have both attributes. All are easily grown in western Oregon and Washington and garden-worthy, even without their food value.
Serviceberry
Western serviceberry has delicious summer berries.
Amelanchier alnifolia is not exactly […]

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The French Herb Garden


Some classic French herbs are common to American tables, and gardens, while others are less often used and grown. The key elements of the French herb garden let growers mix their own traditional herbal mixes, such as Bouquet Garni, Fines Herbes, and Herbes de Provence. These costly herbal blends are easy to make, and the herbs themselves are effortless and inexpensive to grow.
French cooking is regional, as are the herbs that flavor foods […]

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Fight Fires with Garden Flowers

This garden features the best drought-resistant, low-fuel-volume flowers for firescapes. (Maureen Gilmer)
You can fight fires with flowers. When landscaping around high-fire-hazard homes, the key is to think about minimizing fire fuel volume, or the amount of burnable material plants provide to oncoming fire. For example, a pine tree has a huge fuel mass, but a sage plant, with it’s lovely lavender-blue flowers, has negligible fuel mass.
To […]

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Best Sauce Tomatoes for Home Gardeners

Serious sauce makers should plant at least eight tomatoes to generate ample tomato harvests. (‘Roma’ tomatoes shown)
All winter long, my family relies on my fresh canned marinara from the garden. Garden-fresh sauce spiked with homegrown basil, oregano, garlic, and peppers tastes nothing like canned commercial sauces. The best sauce starts with great tomatoes. Sauce and paste tomatoes are unique in that they are fleshier, denser, and […]

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Making Space for Gardening: The Portland Community Garden Story

Gardeners in an Oregon community garden harvest late-season vegetables. (Image by Dawn Grunwald)
Throughout the United States, urban community gardens have become a common thread that helps bring communities together, in cities large and small. Most community gardens have similar goals. In addition to supplying families with fresh produce, they encourage physical activity, provide needed green space, and a relaxed way to meet your neighbor.
No matter where […]

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Seven Mediterranean Food Plants for the Dry Edible Garden

Grapes have been cultivated in the Mediterranean since ancient times.
The dry edible garden is rooted in classical civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea. The Greeks, Romans, and Carthaginians shared their ancient local food crops throughout the western world. Some of the best are grapes, pomegranates, date palms, rosemary, artichokes, cardoons, and figs. All are still vital to contemporary agriculture in deserts and dry places around the world […]

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10 Award-Winning Annual Flowers to Grow from Seed

Well-grown bedding annuals should have strong root systems and lush tops.
Flats of garden flowers are costly, but you can grow a whole garden’s worth with just a handful of seed packets and a few inexpensive supplies. Petunias, geraniums, impatiens, marigolds, and salvias are several of the common annual favorites easily grown from seed. Choosing award-winning varieties will ensure good garden performance and consistent summer color. This […]

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Western Native Evergreen Shrubs for Landscapes

Oregon grape berries in winter
In recent years, I have noticed a substantial increase in the use of native shrubs for the home garden. Many are diverse and beautiful while growing well in local climates, and those with winter interest have the added benefit of year-round beauty. Quite a few native evergreen shrubs from our region have exceptional landscape value.
In my own neighborhood, I have seen an […]

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