Landscape Solutions

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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Mike Darcy’s Favorite Fall Trees and Flowers

Stewartia, fall color, J. Eves 2014Stewartia pseudocamellia fall color
The fall season is upon us and what a glorious time of year it is. As I walk around my neighborhood, and drive around Portland, the many deciduous trees are turning brilliant shades of color. The more brilliant they are, the better.
Favorite Fall Trees
Stewartia pseudocamellia seed pods, L Foltz 2014 Read More »

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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Salvias for Fall-Migrating Hummingbirds

habitSalvia greggii (autumn sage) (photo by Maureen Gilmer)
Hummingbirds rely on the nectar of many fall-blooming salvias to assist in their late-season migration. The striking beauty, bright colors, and architectural statures of these plants also make them great for the garden. Most cultivated salvias are from Mexico and the Southwest United States, which is why pollinators migrating south are attracted to them. Their relationship is […]

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When in Drought, Choose Succulents

cross-slope-1024x768Barrel cacti, agave, and echevarias are all bold succulents for droughty landscapes.
With statewide water cutbacks in California, everyone will have to rethink some of the plants in their home landscapes.    Rather than viewing this as a tragedy, make it an opportunity to dive into some of trendiest plants filling gardens of the rich and famous.  If you’ve always wanted that great, clean succulent garden […]

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Mulching With Black Gold Amendments

Rhododendron luteum2 JaKMPMRhododendron luteum amended with Black Gold Garden Compost Blend.
When the drought is long, soils are poor, and money is short, one way to revitalize struggling garden plants is to protect their roots with mulch. Good mulches help to retain moisture, cool the root zone, and discourage weeds. The conventional wisdom is to mulch with wood chips or ground up bark, but both are very slow to decompose and can bind needed soil nutrients. The […]

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Big, Bold, Tropical Foliage Plants

500Lantana camera and cascading Scaevola aemula ‘Blue Fan’ compliment colorful crotons in this summer container planting.
Big, bold, tropical plants look amazing in summer gardens and large containers and drink up the summer heat and humidity. Often ornamental bananas, exotic elephant ears, upright sanserverias, strappy cordyline, and colorful croton are grown only indoors or way down South, but they thrive any place that’s steamy. Placing them in the right spot with the right companion plants is […]

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April Gardening in the Pacific Northwest

R. Yaku Angel flowersRhododendron yakushimanum ‘Yaku Angel’
“This is my favorite time of year”, is a phrase that I seem to use for every season because every season is my favorite time of year.  However after a relatively mild winter and with spring here, gardens all over are bursting with color and new growth.  Probably because we did not have a late frost to damage the emerging flower buds, the deciduous magnolias have been […]

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Tender Perennials for Pacific NW Gardens

Lantana, colorsLantana camara
It is hard to believe that it is already March and soon spring will be official.  We’ve had a relatively mild winter and I cannot remember when we’ve had so few frosts.  Like many other gardeners, I always have some tender perennial container plants that need winter protection, and I haul them in and out of my garage depending on the temperatures.  This winter they have been out more than they […]

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