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Cultivate Beneficial Insects in the Garden

Ladybug adults and larvae (orange and black) waging war on black aphids!
 
Your garden is a battlefield with more life and death drama than the Serengeti during wildlife migrations.  Among your beautiful plants and flowers there is that age-old war playing out every day as the insect world fights over who eats what.  Some insects are pests that eat your plants – they are garden prey.  Other […]

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Connect through Curbside Community Gardening

This street-side strip went from sad lawn to glorious garden, and it inspired a neighborhood.
Gardening is contagious!  I don’t mean that in a bad way, but in the way that it spreads from one person to another.  Whether in a residential neighborhood, a condominium with a patio, an apartment with a balcony, or a community garden, people delight in talking about their gardens.  There is something […]

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Five Best Ways to Save Water in the Garden

Roof rainwater trickles into a classic garden rain barrel.
Smart gardeners prepare for summer dry spells and drought. A little water can go a long way, if you plan ahead with effective water conservation techniques. Implement one (or more) of our five ways to save water in the garden, and not only will your plants grow better in dry weather, you will spend less time and money […]

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Top 10 Shade Garden Plants for the Pacific Northwest

Hosta is a traditional shade-loving foliage plant that comes in a wide range of sizes and colors.
 
It’s hard for me to list a top 10 list for any category of plants, but here I try. It is a stretch to come up with a definitive list because my favorites vary from season to season and sometimes from day to day.  When people ask me what […]

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Amazing Rhododendrons and Azaleas

Rhododendron 'Caractacus' (Waterer Hybrid) JaKMPMRhododendron ‘Caractacus’ (Waterer Hybrid) has many magenta clusters, or trusses, of flowers in spring. (Image by Jessie Keith)
I cannot recall being in a Pacific Northwest garden that does not have rhododendrons and azaleas. Most gardens have many, and deservedly so. The hybrids can provide beautiful trusses of flowers throughout the spring and there are native species with smaller flowers but a very […]

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Blooms in the Ice: The Joy of Late Winter Bulbs

Snowdrops break through ice of a forest floor in February.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, this past November and early December were very warm and mild.  My tropical red-leaf bananas did not die until a hard freeze shortly before Christmas (almost unheard of), and many gardeners had summer- and fall-blooming plants still in flower.  Neighbors showed me their 3-4 inch spring daffodils that had emerged and asked if they […]

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Growing California Christmasberry

fruit foliageLarge sprays of bright red berry-like fruits mature in time for holiday decorating.
In my old High Sierra home, I decorated with my own native Christmasberry (Heteromeles arbutifolia, USDA Zone 8) fruit every winter for nearly 20 years. Also called California toyon, this shrub produces large sprays of bright red fruits that are so seasonally welcome, I wondered why it was not more popular in landscaping.
Christmasberry makes […]

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Planting a Barrel Cactus Safely

FullSizeRender (2)The ferocious spines of the golden barrel cactus make them very difficult to pot. (Image by Jessie Keith)
 
The golden barrel (Echinocactus grusonii) is America’s favorite cactus. All over the Southwest it has become a coveted living ornament in landscapes. When back lit by the sun, the bright canary-yellow spines literally glow, creating high drama against blue agaves and succulents. A big yellow cactus potted […]

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Rehab Raised Beds Inside and Out

density-1024x768Raised-bed hoops and row covers can help you protect crops from harsh growing conditions and winter cold.
Second gardens are always better than first gardens.  When those first gardens were your raised beds, then maybe it’s time to raise the bar.  Bigger, better, and more prolific are garden characteristics that all gardeners want, so perhaps it’s time to rehab and expand in preparation for next year’s summer garden.
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Shrubs with Fall Color

Crape Mrtyle 2014This late-season Pacific Northwest landscape shows the bountiful blooms of a pink-flowered crape myrtle.
In the spring, gardens come alive with tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs, and the peonies and many other herbaceous perennials emerge from the soil.  It is a time of much BG-Peat-Moss-8qtanticipation for gardeners.  We often visit our […]

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