Chinese Evergreen

Chinese Evergreen

By Monica Fossi – Dennis’ 7 Dees Plant Buyer

I hear over and over again from customers that are passionate gardeners “I can’t grow houseplants”. I understand that if you love gardening you stay outside as much as possible. Sure, your neighbors just shake their heads as you don the rain gear and go about your winter projects with the same zeal you show in the summer sun but you don’t care. Gardening is solace. It is nurturing to both you and your plants. So why don’t you bring it inside?

Recent trends have helped us to rediscover ways to use plants in our homes in projects including terrariums, succulent dish gardens, bonsai and air plants. But houseplants are more than just decoration. Along with releasing oxygen into the air, there are a plethora of studies showing houseplants contribute to better mental and physical health. NASA put them in a space station (I cannot get the image of having to water them upside down out of my head) and came up with a list of the best varieties to filter toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, out of the air in your home. Happily, many coincide with my personal picks for easy care.

  1. Peace Lily, “Spathiphyllum” – with broad, glossy dark green leaves and white flowers. Bright indirect light and regular water are the only care required.
  2. Pothos, “Epipremnum aureum” – this vining plant with heart shaped leaves is tolerant of low light and less water.
  3. Snake plant, ‘Sansevieria trifasciata” – a great pick for tight spots, this upright plant wants very little water and tolerates low light
  4. Chinese Evergreen, “Aglaonema” – silver and green variagated leaves look lovely in any setting. Moderate to bright indirect light and moderate water.
  5. ZZ plant, “Zamioculcas zamiifolia” – deep green and glossy foliage asks only to be kept out of direct sun and watered sparingly.

Now get in there and start that ‘garden’! But be warned, it is no less addictive inside than out

By Monica Fossi – Dennis’ 7 Dees Plant Buyer

HelleboreLet’s face it. For all that the Pacific Northwest is a wonderful and temperate place to live; winters here can be dark, damp and a bit gloomy. We basically bid farewell to the sun in late October and endure various shades of green (half of which is moss) and gray until spring.

 

Do we have to feel this way? Could there be whites, pinks, reds, purples, yellows and combinations thereof blooming right under our noses? Enter the Hellebore, winter queen of the shade garden. Early spring honeybees visit hellebores for vital bits of pollen and they provide our frosty hummingbirds with sips of nectar.

 
Overlooked by many at the nursery in the spring and summer planting frenzy, she comes into her own as the cold weather sets in. Starting around Thanksgiving with the “Gold Collection Series”, ‘Jacob’ and ‘Jasper’ to name a couple, blooming in white with prominent gold stamens the magic takes hold; and then as true winter sets in, the rest follow suit. Late January through March bring a series of nodding flowers in an array of solid colors and color patterns. Surely you have room for ‘Spring Promise Sally’ and her golden flowers, perhaps ‘Pink Frost’ whose flowers open light pink and age to deep, dusky pink? Or invite the one or more of the “Lady Series” over. Blooming in white, pink, red or slate this Lenten Rose series is known for outward facing (rather than nodding) flowers.


Tolerant of even dry shade, plants reseed freely and eventually spread to form a small colony. Cut back the old foliage if necessary as you see the buds forming in the crown to better see the colorful blossoms as well as refresh the look of the plant. No matter which you choose, these hardy perennials will help chase away those winter blues!

For more on Hellebores, visit their plant page or past blog.

By Nicole Forbes – Education Director

For about as long as we have been farming and growing things we have recorded information about our experience in hopes of improving our techniques and reaping greater rewards. Garden journals are for writing down dates and other information gathered over a season including: planting/harvest dates, crop varieties sown & degrees of success, weather conditions, and pests or problems. Most serious gardeners keep these basic records to help them remember the previous season and to plan for the next. When spring arrives there is so much to do you will be organized and ready to grow!

Garden Journal
My journal began as a way to record the movement of the sun over the yard & garden of my new home when I first moved in; it was a great way to learn where the sun was the strongest and places where it almost never reached, especially during winter months. I later began to use it as a place to keep my receipts, plant labels, and information on what soils, fertilizers, & amendments had been added, how much I applied & the date. The scientist in me caused me to also track my soil test results for basic nutrients, pH and soil temperatures over the seasons as I worked to improve the quality of my soil with compost, cover crops and other methods. I use those early records these days to maintain soil health & garden productivity and now record mostly information on the things I grow: when/where/how planted, what variety and how much space it used, quality of yields and flavor for each variety, & anything else I think will be helpful in the future.

 
Take photos of your garden several times throughout the growing seasons to add to your records and remind you of where things have been planted in the past and to assist with spacing & crop rotations. Your journal need not be fancy; a basic spiral notebook or binder will serve you well or splurge for a hardcover or stylish book or even one with waterproof paper! No matter what kind of journal you use you will find yourself looking back over the years and thanking yourself!

outdoor lightingThere are many reasons to consider investing in outdoor lighting. While safety and security are often primary concerns, a well-designed lighting system can also add a great deal of interest and drama to the landscape. This will double the time you and your guests can enjoy the beauty of your yard. As shorter days and longer nights arrive, now is a great time to consider it. And, if you already have landscape lighting, now is the time to replace light bulbs that may have burned out, or before they burn out this winter.

 

Older lawns eventually begin thinning, lose color and can become prone to insect, disease and drought. Overseeding with new turf grass varieties into an older lawn can help it better withstand these environmental stresses. The investment in overseeding pays off by reducing the amount of fertilizer, water and pesticides required. A newly renovated lawn stays greener, thicker and healthier!

 
Why does overseeding work? A single seed starts with a single blade of grass. Another blade expands from this first blade until there are 100’s of attached blades. Each blade has an average life span of 45 – 60 days. After several years, mature plants begin to slow down this reproduction of new blades, eventually causing dieback to begin to outpace the production of new grass. The practice of overseeding lawns is the easiest way to keep grass young. Autumn is a great time to overseed, after the stress of summer heat subsides and the rains return. This allows the plants enough time to establish a strong root system in preparation for the next stressful summer.

 
Correlated problems we will check out before we overseed your turf includes sunlight, excess thatch, soil conditions, compaction, insufficient water, or poor drainage.

 
Call me if you’d like to discuss more about giving your lawn a fresh start.

By: Laura Mills

I suppose I am a bit of a nomad at heart, I love moving. Not the act of moving which is a chaotic and time consuming toil, but the thrilling effect of moving: a pristine fresh start that’s ready for your personal touch. You have a blank canvas in which you can create a personalized home. While this challenge is exciting indoors; outdoors it can be exasperating, especially if you’re new to the area or you don’t know much about plants. What plants will succeed in this area? What colors should be used? Is this going to cost an arm and a leg?

Before & After

Planning before you plant is critical to a harmonious, successful and beautiful landscape. A Landscape Plan targets your efforts so areas can efficiently be addressed and prevents the costly process of trial and error. Dennis’ 7 Dees offers a unique and economical service called Planscaper which provides a Free Landscape Plan tailored to your specific site. Click here to view some ‘Planscaper Stories’. This is how the program works:

  • Make an appointment and meet with our Landscape Designer at your local Dennis’ 7 Dees Garden Center. They will ask questions to get details about your site,
  • Based on the size of the space the Landscape Designer will determine what the rough cost for plants will be, simply purchase a gift card for this value,
  • Meet with the Landscape Designer once more to receive the finished Landscape Plan and go over the details,
  • Then with Landscape Plan and plant list in hand you can use the full value of your gift card to purchase plants, soil, fertilizer, pottery, garden accents – anything in the store to create your space.

Once you’re home you have the satisfaction of planting your hand-selected plants and creating your personal space based on the plan that was created just for you. If after you receive the plan, you decide you’re too busy, the scope of the project is overwhelming or you’d like to add hardscaping or a water feature, it’s easy to transition the plan to our Full Service Landscape and Maintenance divisions.

If you’ve begun a fresh start and you need a little help or if you simply want a change call or visit any of our Garden Centers for more details or to set-up an appointment and put the plan in planting.

By Laura Mills

outdoor living

Winter seems pale and monotone. Spring emerges with a gentle nudge of soft hues. Summer on the other hand is a riotous rampage of color. This brazen show coupled with glorious warmth that invites us outdoors, is why we treasure summer. Now is the time to soak up the rich hues that make our hearts flutter. Why not make the most of this Season of Color? These are 7 Simple ways to ensure you get every drop of color out of the season:

1. Perennials – provide a fantastic injection of color. Try one of these long-blooming perennials:

  • Beard Tongue – spikes of deep purple, bright pink or scarlet flowers for sun.
  • Black Eyed Susan – profuse rich golden daisy-like flowers for sun.
  • Echinacea – chunky daisy-like flowers in a range of colors for sun.
  • Hardy Fuchsia – profuse flowers from white to rich fuchsias and purples for shade.

2. Bright Fabrics mirror the vivid colors of the garden by adding a vibrant tablecloth or pillows to outdoor dining areas. Use brilliantly colored fabric to create a sunshade in a bold statement that adds interest and a refreshing place to relax.

3. Flowering Shrubs –provide substance to the garden with their form while delighting with vibrant flowers.

  • Butterfly Bush – cones of deliciously sweet fragrant flowers on a medium sized shrub for sun.
  • Crepe Myrtle – clusters of vibrant flowers and unique peeling bark for multiple seasons of interest on a large shrub for full sun.
  • Hydrangea – smothered in dramatic, voluptuous flowers in white, pink or blue on a medium sized shrub for shade.
  • Weigela – Richly colored foliage coupled with vibrant pink blooms on a medium size shrub for sun to part shade.

4. Patio Furniture – add a vibrant pop of color with a coordinating set of patio furniture.

5. Bright Accessories – add personality with brightly colored accessories like candles, lanterns, sculptures or statues that speak to you. These unexpected details add character and intrigue to the garden.

6. Containers – vivacious pottery paired with boisterous plants adds stunning color. Place containers at eye level to maximize the effect.

7. Lighting – Don’t forget lighting to ensure the colors of your garden shine even in the darkness. Add strings of lights, landscape lighting and candles for magical evening entertaining.
Now is the time to soak up the generous sun and color that summer offers. Visit any of our garden centers to get everything you need to get the most out of this Season of Color.

 

By: Laura Mills

If you ate a peach, cherry or orange today, you were the benefactor of a bee’s handiwork. We all know that bees provide pollination for the majority of the fruit and vegetables we rely upon for sustenance. No doubt you have also heard that bee populations are dwindling throughout the world for various reasons. Bees, hummingbirds and birds help to animate the garden giving a depth of interconnected liveliness. With this in mind, how can we help provide sustenance for these fantastic little creatures? The answer is easy; provide plants that foster bees and birds:

SalviaTop 5 Perennials to Attract Bees & Hummingbirds:

  • Aster – Masses of daisy-like flowers in late summer provide a late season food source.
  • Bee Balm – Fragrant foliage and brilliant red, pink or purple flowers that look like an explosion of fireworks provide an attractive food source for bees and hummingbirds.
  • Black Eyed Susan – Profuse vibrant golden flowers which mature to seed heads that provide food for birds and other wildlife during the fall and winter.
  • Catmint – Fragrant foliage and purple flowers provide a calming garden accent.
  • Salvia – Profuse blooms in a range of colors (red flowered varieties are the strongest attractant) that provide a good food source for bees and hummingbirds.

You may already have some excellent food sources: blueberries, raspberries, apple, pear, plum, cherry, mint, thyme and squash flowers are pollinated by bees because they provide the nectar and pollen that sustain them, in return the bee pollinates these tasty crops providing you with a bumper crop homegrown produce.
Perhaps you’ve also noted that many plants that attract bees also attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other beneficial creatures that bring vibrancy, depth and productivity to the garden. To truly support the community of creatures, consider reducing or eliminating the use of chemicals in the garden. This will ensure they have a safe and healthy place to congregate.

Come to any of our Garden Centers to find a beautiful way to help support the creatures that provide productivity and bring the garden to life.

By: Laura Mills

As the weather warms we are drawn outside to enjoy the balmy brilliance of the sun. What better place to soak in the glorious rays then on a savvy patio? Whether you’re thinking of upgrading or you’re ready for a fresh start the most essential component of a patio is the material; decking, pavers, concrete or natural stone. A patio needs to suit your style, your home and your budget but which material is best? I talked with Lars Nielsen, one of Dennis’ 7 Dees savvy Landscape Designers to reveal the Pros and Cons of each system.

Concrete

Concrete sets a Spartan tone of utilitarian functionality. Aesthetically it lends itself to clean modern lines. It is often selected because it is inexpensive which is two-fold both for its low material cost and its relative ease of installation, reducing labor costs. This ease of installation is also paramount in hard to access areas where is can be pumped in. As Lars a veteran of Landscape installation noted with all concrete, “It’s only a matter of time till it cracks,” something to consider when weighing the options.

concrete patio

Stamped or Colored Concrete

Stamped & Colored Concrete adds warmth and a personal touch that can be tailored to any style while still maintaining functionality and a reasonable price. Lars highlighted that the long-term costs tend to be higher than straight concrete. As mentioned above concrete will crack which can mar the patterning of Stamped Concrete. Colored Concrete is tinted at the surface which wears away and requires regular re-coloring.

stamped patio web

Pavers

Pavers come in a phenomenal selection of colors, styles and textures, which can then be laid in any manner of pattern. Pavers are selected for their versatility and durability. Plus pavers can provide safe traction and allow for some water to percolate, reducing drainage issues.

“Pavers are at least two-times stronger than laid concrete,” Lars emphasized. Which implies two essential features; they do not crack and are exceptionally tough, not showing wear with age. This inherent strength also means they can be used for driveways.

“Plus they have coloring throughout,” he added, which means their color will hold true through time. If damage does occur or changes need to be made, pavers are also very easy to remove and replace. Pavers are low maintenance requiring re-sanding every 4 to 5 years to keep joints tightly locked. Controlling weeds and moss between pavers requires some maintenance but tight joints between pavers can minimize a plant’s ability to get established.

pavers web

Natural Stone

Natural stone provides a superior aesthetic and sets an ambiance of a calm and natural space. Depending on the stone selected, material cost can vary widely. A common misconception, natural stone isn’t as durable as pavers, Lars pointed out. And the irregularities of natural stone make it difficult to achieve a level surface and create large gaps between stones. The irregularities also increase the labor costs for installation, as it’s similar to piecing together a puzzle to get a natural look. The larger gaps need to be re-sanded often and host weeds and moss which require maintenance.

natural stone patio

Decks

Decks are chosen because they create an inviting space that often offers enchanting views. Lars noted that decks are used where there are pronounced drops, falls or uneven surfaces, creating a delightful and useable space from an otherwise dangerous area. He also highlighted that decks are the most expensive option both initially and long-term. New options in materials and treatments are constantly becoming available which can reduce maintenance and increase longevity.

patio web

With the details of each system you can make an informed decision that suits your style, needs and budget. If you have questions or want to move forward with your patio project contact our Full-Service Landscape Division at (503) 777-7777. To view more patio projects our landscape portfolio, click here!

By: Laura Mills

At the age of nineteen, I lived in an apartment that had a west-facing balcony that was partly shaded by pine trees. Enamored with the idea of growing edibles on this tiny stretch of real estate I proceeded to grow all of the wrong things which inevitably ended in frustration and heartbreak: broccoli infested with aphids and tomatoes that looked faint and stretched to the ceiling. Allowing time for my heart to mend and to do some proper research, I tried again with edibles that would tolerate shade. If you have shade, you don’t have to give up on growing edibles that will nourish you, family and friends. There are a handful of edibles that can grow and produce in shade.

To succeed with shade tolerant edibles, simply follow these guidelines:

  • Provide at least 2 to 4 hours of direct sunlight a day, with bright indirect light the remainder of the day.
    • Note: Keep in mind that sunlight is what supports a bountiful harvest and the tangy flavors we adore; more light will always lead to a improved quality and quantity.
  • Plants in the shade require less water, so water moderately.
  • Fertilize regularly with a balanced fertilizer like Dr. Earth Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer to sustain and encourage healthy growth.
  • Planting in containers if often helpful to maximize light exposure.

 

Once a site has been selected that will maximize success, select the shade tolerant edibles that suit your taste:

  • Blackberry – an excellent way to make a neglected part shade corner tasty and productive.
  • Blueberry – dwarf varieties are excellent for patios and balconies in part shade. Plus some varieties are evergreen providing interest year-round.
  • Currant & Gooseberry – transform neglected corners into a productive area that attracts beneficial birds and insects.
  • Greens & Lettuce – plant in succession for a steady supply of fresh home-grown greens.
  • Herbs: Lemon Balm, Marjoram, Mint and Sorrel – perfect in containers to add flavor to drinks and meals.
  • Lingonberry – perfect for troubled areas, Lingonberry can also tolerate moist soil. Plus it’s evergreen for year-round interest.
  • Raspberry – dwarf varieties are excellent for patios and balconies in part shade.
  • Strawberries – select an ever-bearing variety for a steady supply of juicy sweet berries.
  • Tea (Camellia sinensis) – grow and brew your own homegrown tea.

 

Reap the benefits of my learning curve and turn that lonely part shade corner into a productive patch. Visit any of our garden centers for advice and to view the options for shade tolerant edibles.