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How to Amend Clay Soils


One of the garden necessities that should never be overlooked is having the right soil for the right plant, which often means having good, fertile loam. For our plants to perform at their very best, it is our job to give them the best soil we can, but clay soils can make this a challenge. The best time to thoroughly amend the soil for […]

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Growing And Enjoying Old-Fashioned Lilacs

The French heirloom double lilac ‘Montaigne’ is a very fine bloomer. (Image by Jessie Keith)
Nothing is more fragrant than classic lilacs in spring.  I am a lilac nut and have 21 different varieties growing in my yard. When they are blooming, it is hard to stay indoors, unless, of course, you pick a few to enjoy in a vase.
Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris, USDA Hardiness Zones 3-7) […]

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How to Water House Plants


Watering house plants…it sounds simple, doesn’t it? But, if it were simple, there would be fewer black thumbs out there. Proper watering is at the heart of good plant care, and if you don’t know how to water a plant, then its little green future may be in peril. It is surprisingly easy to drown a plant with aqueous attention.
There isn’t a one-fits-all watering […]

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Favorite Oregon Grapes for Landscape and Garden

A well-established Oregon grape looks spectacular in full fruit.

It was not too many years ago that gardeners often thought of Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium, syn. Berberis aquifolium) as primarily a woodland plant that did not belong in the ornamental garden. This Pacific Northwest native, which is the state flower […]

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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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