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Blazing Garden Plants For Autumn Glory

As the season grows cooler, the old flower heads of tall sedums darken. (Image by Jessie Keith)

In the fall, many plants begin to wither and fade away quietly from the garden.  Some pass so gently into dormancy that we often don’t notice their departures. Happily, there are other high-spirited […]

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Sweetgum for Fall Sunset Color Out West



“Red oaks are supposed to turn red in the fall, not brown.” People always ask why their eastern tree colors turn dull and crispy by Thanksgiving in California. “Are you sure you planted the same species I requested?”
I’ve repeated this mistake way too many times to newcomers to […]

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Nuts For Edible Landscaping



Nuts are some of nature’s most nutritious foods. They are high in fats and vitamins and provide essential forage for wildlife. Nut trees also look beautiful in home landscapes. If you are willing to gather their shelled fruits in fall and roast or toast them, then consider planting […]

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Ginkgos Large and Small


In Portland, Oregon, Ginkgo biloba trees line the streets in an area called Park Blocks. These magnificent trees were planted years ago and today reach a height of perhaps 100 feet.  The Ginkgo is an excellent choice for a large street tree when taking into consideration the ultimate growth expected.  (Large tree lawns are a must.) They do not seem to be bothered by […]

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My Favorite Summer Flowering Trees



With the proliferation of spring-flowering shrubs and trees, sometimes the trees that flower in the summer can be overlooked.  This is too bad because there is quite a selection of summer flowering trees from which to choose.  Many people visiting our garden are often surprised to see the […]

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Cool Gardens: Designing for Summer Temperature Control


There are certain design and planting features that will greatly reduce summer heat in a garden, and they go way beyond just providing shade. By tapping into the power of air, water, stones, shade, and cooling plants, you can create a pleasing outdoor garden space that will help temper the high heat of summer.
Here are some of the best tools in the design toolbox […]

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Pool Planting Tips from Hollywood’s Heyday

A Palm Springs mid-century modern was restored for climate change using artificial turf and some agaves. (Image by Maureen Gilmer)
In Hollywood’s heyday, stars drove from Los Angeles to the desert resort of Palm Springs to party and tan in the quiet comfort of desert living.  The swimming pool came of age here as the focus of every landscape where its year-around usability became integral to […]

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California Wild Lilac for Western Gardens

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus is the most commonly cultivated species of California wild lilac. (Image by Kousvet)
It is difficult to think of another plant genus that has the diversity of violet-blue flowers as Ceanothus.  There are several species available to gardeners, but the most cultivated is Ceanothus thyrsiflorus (USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10). Most are native to California and are sometimes referred to as California wild lilac, but […]

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12 Plants Deer Would Rather Not Eat


While it is true that starving deer will eat just about anything, it is also true that in times of plenty they have definite preferences. They’ll seek out their favorites–daylilies, hostas, lilies, liriope, and yew–and ignore the rest.
If you garden in deer country, avoid endless frustration by growing plants deer would rather not eat. Be sure to plant them in sites best for their […]

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The Best Garden Mulches and Decorative Covers

Garden stone is a longterm cover that must be applied correctly from the start.
Mulches define a garden’s character. Organic options give landscapes different looks, and all break down to help feed the soil. Others have more permanency. Either way, organic and decorative garden top dressings add beauty and distinction to plantings. Some take outdoor spaces to new visual heights, while others are simply functional in their […]

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