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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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Feeding Common Winter Songbirds Naturally


A flurry of wings. A shower of seeds. Bird feeders are lively places in the winter months, and their presence is important. Natural food sources are rarer because fields and forests have been replaced by buildings and lawns, so feeders help fill a food void. But, if you have a sizable yard, you may also consider planting for birds. Many cold-season plants for winter songbirds […]

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Western Invasive Plants: Battling Ultimate Survivors

Star thistle is one of the worst of all western weeds.
The empire of plants is expansionist, and certainly colonial. Immigrant plants are designed by nature to be incredibly self sustaining through droughts, floods, and wildfires in their place of nativity, and beyond.  They must be able to survive Earth-shattering asteroids and volcanoes without becoming extinct.  The most competitive immigrants are from droughty climates where it takes […]

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Dwarf Conifers for All-Season Beauty

A dwarf white spruce shows off its winter cones.
Dwarf conifers are often overlooked as both landscape or container plants.  In recent years there have been many new cultivars of dwarf conifers that have been developed to be super compact and slow growing. These make superb garden specimens that will shine all year long, especially in the winter months.
Dwarf Conifers Defined
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Tropical Rainbow House Plants


Why wait for flowering house plants to bloom for indoor color when you can have plants that always look vivid and dramatic? Some have foliage that’s so colorful their leaves look like a Mardi Gras parade. Just a few pots will bring dazzling delight to any room with good light.
These rainbow house plants come from tropical or subtropical regions and grow best in rooms with […]

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Ponytail Palm: Beautiful Flesh Indoors or Out

This ponytail palm at the San Diego Zoo demonstrates how graceful they become.
Many believe Dr. Seuss’ Truffula Tree was inspired by a curious cypress in a San Diego park.  But maybe this isn’t true at all.  Maybe it’s San Diego’s epic ponytail palms that were the real inspiration for the Lorax story.  These are botanically known as Beaucarnea (“beautiful flesh” in Latin), a name that refers […]

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The Best Fragrant House Plants

Orange jasmine (Murraya paniculata)
In the Pacific Northwest, where our winter days are often rainy and overcast, (some would say dark and gloomy), it is a bonus to have an indoor environment where plants grow and thrive. If the plants also have fragrant blooms, it’s even nicer.
The limiting factor for most of these floriferous house plants is the lack of adequate light, so if a spot in […]

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Bottle Gourds: Growing Ancient History


The calabash or bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) has been valued worldwide since ancient times and believed to be one of the oldest plant introductions into the Americas. Early botanical research has long attributed the origins of American bottle gourds to Africa, believing specimens floated across the Atlantic to reach the New World, though some studies tell a different story. Regardless of their path of arrival, […]

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Jade Jewels: Remarkable Jade Plants for Connoisseurs

Golden jade has remarkable sunset-hued leaves. (Image thanks to Mountain Crest Gardens)
A mature, well-formed jade (Crassula ovata) is an arboreal treasure of a house plant worthy of indoor garden ardor. Its thick, trunk-like stems ascend to a rounded top with glistening clusters of fleshy, jade-colored leaves. In winter, happy plants will do double duty by producing a wealth of starry white flowers. But, succulent connoisseurs know […]

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A Wind Garden in Mendocino

Over time, evergreen shrubs provide enough protection to add perennials to spaces around the heathers.
The Pacific Coast becomes a cold, damp and windy world, sandwiched between Pacific Palisades and redwood forested hills along Highway 1 in Mendocino, California.  The windswept tableland is brutal for most plants but grasses. Native Monterrey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) trees are capable of standing up to the wind, too.  Many century-old cypress […]

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