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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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Western Riparian Trees for Wet Soils

Trees that naturally grow by waterways or riversides make good landscape trees for wet ground.
Do you have moist ground in your yard but want trees for the site? For a gardener with wet or damp soil, finding a tree that will thrive in such conditions can be challenging. When browsing through a garden center and reading the cultural requirement for many of the plants, probably one […]

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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 Natural food sources are rarer because fields and forests have been replaced by buildings and lawns, so feeders help fill a food void.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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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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Beautyberry for Bountiful Fall Color


Branches laden with bright purple berry clusters can be a very pleasant surprise to those unaware of the virtues of beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.).  These berries  provide a bright spot of color, especially in the autumn garden when the color performance of many shrubs is over.
Beautyberry Origins
There are more than a dozen species of Callicarpa, however only a few are readily available to at plant nurseries.  […]

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How and When to Plant Trees

Plant trees in spring as soon as the soil warms.
Springtime is tree planting time. Planting trees early in the season, as soon as the soil warms, gives new trees a whole season to set deep roots and top growth. (This is especially the case with marginally hardy trees.) But tree planting is only as good as your planting method and summer care. Here are seven […]

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Pruning Shrub Roses in Spring


Pruning shrub roses in spring…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 […]

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Flowering Trees with Edible Fruit

Edible crabapples are larger and great for canning. (Image by JMiall)
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
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