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.

recycleLawns provide many benefits to our immediate environment- soil erosion control, protection of groundwater, improvement to the quality of life through noise and dust abatement, improved air quality, aesthetic, and recreational contributions. However, disposal of grass clippings is an ongoing issue that requires the attention of everyone in order to be good land stewards!

Grass clippings traditionally have been bagged and hauled to landfills or yard waste processing centers. For more than 20 years, Dennis’ 7 Dees maintenance department has been recycling all organic yard debris. These past few years we’ve also been mulching. Special mulching decks and blades are required, which have not always left satisfactory results when the grass is wet or vigorously growing. The past several years, Dennis’ Seven Dees has been working directly with John Deere engineers to design improvements that are specific to the challenges of our wet climate. The benefits of mulching include a healthier, more sustainable lawn, lower water requirements and less fertilizer. As we each work to be better stewards of the land we live on, Dennis’ Seven Dees is committed to continual improvements to reduce and recycle, while still maintaining your landscape at our superior level of quality.

By Laura Mills

With the fear of cold stored away with our long johns and woolly parkas, we are free to celebrate brilliant summer color in the landscape and in containers. Summer is about extravagance: ravishing color, luscious plumpness and sumptuous texture. Container gardening brings these fantastic features to eyelevel where people are drawn to investigate their rich mastery of detail. Creating a stunning container garden is simple:

Pick a Palette – First pick a palette of colors, it’s usually best to keep it simple: two vibrant dominant colors, and one calming minor color. Vibrant colors grab your eye and cooling/calming colors allow the eye to rest, keeping things from getting muddled. For example:

  • Rich Blue-Purple combined contrasting Yellow cooled by Green or White.
  • Exotic Apricot with coordinating Chartreuse cooled with Pink or Green.
  • Pure White with matching Silvers and cooling Greens.

Tip: When selecting a palette keep in mind surrounding features that will coordinate or clash like bright patio furniture, the color of your house or a blooming shrub, this can help to narrow and guide selection.

Pick a Container – Select a container, usually a neutral color is best, something that fits your style and your palette. Containers with a strong color like red or orange can be successfully used but the planting should correspond with the color and they should be in proportion, allowing the eye places to rest, to avoid a chaotic effect.

Tip: Choose a container that coordinates with existing themes in your garden. This ensures a cohesive look. For example using only terracotta pots or using only one color and tones of that color; it helps to focus peoples’ attention on the contents of the containers, not the mix of pottery choices.

Pick Plants – A container should have three basic elements: Thriller, Filler and Spiller. A few examples are listed for each type for Sun and Shade.

  • Thrillers (one) – are strong statement plants. For Sun: Cannas, Dracaena, or Hibiscus. For Shade: Cast Iron Plant, Coleus or Upright Fuchsias.
  • Fillers (several) – provide a luscious fullness to plantings. For Sun: Angelonia, Diascia, Dwarf Snapdragons or Nemesia. For Shade: Begonia, Impatiens, Lamium or Tradescantia.
  • Spillers (several) – spill over the side softening the container and providing additional color or texture. For Sun: Dichondra, Million Bells, Sweet Potato Vine, Trailing Petunias or Trailing Verbena. For Shade: Creeping Charlie, Creeping Jenny, Torenia, or Vinca.

Tip: For the Filler and Spiller elements you’ll need several of each for a full look. Try to limit the selection to one or two different varieties (this guideline becomes more relaxed the larger the container). Mixing too many elements can lend itself to a chaotic look.

Once the elements are gathered, plant in Gardner & Bloome Eden Valley Potting Soil and fertilize with Dr. Earth Flower Garden Fertilizer to ensure lush full growth and bountiful blooms. It’s that simple to create a personalized vibrant summer container. Come to any of our garden centers we can help you create a masterpiece.

Container arrangements by Dennis' 7 Dees

By: Laura Mills

 
If you’re ready to Rock Spring, Rock Gardens are a unique and early way to bring color to the landscape. Rockery Gardens, intermingle rocks with alpine and dwarf plants to create a stunning miniature landscape. I sat down with John Curtis, one of Dennis’ 7 Dees talented landscape designers with over a quarter of a century of experience creating exquisite gardens, to talk about how to rock a Rockery.

 
A rockery garden requires thoughtfully placed rocks and free-draining soil, he simply stated. Our heavy clay soils require amendment to create the more sharp draining soil alpines are adapted to. John also pointed out that whether you’re planting in a wall or in a dedicated Rockery it’s important to allow enough soil in the pockets that the plants can get a firm hold. These little rock stars are perfect for in retaining or terraced walls to soften their hard lines and provide pockets of color.

 
Just as Heavy Metal or Pop isn’t for everyone, it’s important to select the right plants for the right place. Rock Gardens can be in sun or shade though the plant pallet is different. Rock absorbs and radiates heat so it’s important to select plants that can tolerate the heat of full sun exposures, John noted. He also highlighted that though Rockeries tend to look best in spring, choosing a variety of dwarf and alpine plants including perennials and evergreens ensures that your Rockery will rock year-round.

rock garden rock garden

Top 3 for Sun Rockeries

Aubrieta, Aubrieta – Stunning large flowers from pure white to vivid purple these provide excellent color which will form handsome clumps of grass green foliage.
Dickson’s Gold Bellflower, Campanula ‘Dickson’s Gold’ – All of the low-growing Bellflowers are excellent for Rockeries however this one has vibrant golden foliage and purple-blue flowers. It will tolerate full sun but looks best with moderate sun.
Lithodora, Lithodora– Rare truly blue flowers and rich evergreen foliage make star in rockeries.

Top 3 for Shade Rockeries

Dwarf Hinoki Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa – There are many dwarf varieties of this compact evergreen. Some varieties have golden highlights while others have unusual forms; all add year-round interest.
Leather Polypody, Polypodium scouleri – Admittedly, a strange name for a fantastic fern with sturdy, stout evergreen foliage that slowly spreads and fills nooks.
London Pride Saxifrage, Saxifraga x urbium ‘London Pride’ – Thick succulent green leaves are dappled with golden spots. Slender stalks hold clusters of delicate white flowers in spring.

 

If you’re ready to Rock Spring visit any of our garden centers to find a full selection of Rockery and spring blooming plants.

container herbsBy: Laura Mills

I have been an apartment dweller for the vast majority of my adult life. And while a compact space is usually well situated, conveniently small to clean and maintenance free, there is sometimes a desire for some little piece of earth to call one’s own. Especially if that diminutive portion can be used to grow edibles, to not simply nourish this yearning but to feed yourself, friends and family. It’s always refreshing to come home from work, collapse in a chair on the balcony and unwind nibbling some fresh strawberries or throwing fresh mint into juice or a cocktail.

Whether you have a modest front stoop, a balcony or perhaps a small plot, growing edibles in containers is simple and rewarding. Follow these basic guidelines:

  •  Provide 6 hours of Direct Sunlight usually an unobstructed west or south facing aspect is most productive,
  • Water Regularly
  • Fertilize Regularly with Dr. Earth Tomato & Vegetable Food
  • Use a container that is suited to the mature size of the plant to reduce care and maintenance issues.
  • Use a quality potting soil like Gardeners’ Gold Potting Soil or our new premium Eden Valley Potting Soil which it formulated specifically for containers.

Next select what edibles you’d like to grow, these are just a few choices:

  • Apples – Columnar & Espalier apples can be grown in containers. Fragrant white flowers followed by plump, sweet juicy apples. Plant low growing edibles like strawberries, lettuce or herbs around the base to get the most out of the space.
  • Blueberries – Dwarf varieties like ‘Peach Sorbet’ combine handsome ornamental qualities and tasty berries, a treat for all the senses.
  • Herbs – Basil, Chives, Cilantro, Lemon Grass, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Sage and Thyme all stay small and are excellent grown in containers. Use Purple Basil, Silver Thyme or Golden Oregano to add a touch of delicious color.
  • Lettuce – Perfect for nestling under larger plants like blueberries or columnar apples for providing a splash of color and tender greens.
  • Nasturtiums – Fantastically fragrant flowers in vibrant red, orange and gold are cheery and edible providing a brilliant peppery kick. Without a doubt, one of my All-Time Favorite Plants.
  • Raspberry – The dwarf variety ‘Raspberry Shortcake’ is productive and compact, perfect for containers.
  • Strawberry – Select an ever-bearing variety like Eversweet or Tristar for a steady stream of berries through the season.
  • Tea – Tea plant (Camellia sinensis) can be grown in containers to produce your own green or black tea.
  • Tomato – Full-sized or dwarf varieties can provide a bumper crop of produce. Varieties like ‘Sungold’ with prolific rich sweet golden cherry tomatoes or ‘Patio’ with meaty slicing tomatoes are fruitful and tasty choices.

Then wait for the harvest to come in. I love making fresh Pico de Gallo on a warm summer day with homegrown tomatoes and cilantro, mystifying friends with a crunchy sweet apartment-grown apple or tossing fresh chopped cilantro or mint in with cool sliced cantaloupe. You can have a fine harvest with just a little space and Dennis’ 7 Dees is happy to help with every step.

By: Laura Mills
I have been blessed with an awesome family and a great mom. She has nurtured and supported me through life’s ups and downs. She has made countless delicious meals, always asks how my day was and never hesitates to spend an hour on the phone chatting about everything and nothing. In my darkest moments she has been there, patiently listening and providing counsel; and in my brightest moments she has been there beaming with pride. It is rare in life to find someone which you can so totally depend upon. It makes sense to honor these awesome women who have shaped our lives. As Mother’s Day is rapidly approaching many of us are left grappling with what to get this stellar person, may I offer a handful of suggestions:

  • hibiscusA trip to Hawaii or Mexico may not be possible but why not bring the tropics to her with a stunning and brilliant Hibiscus, Mandevilla or Bougainvillea. Bougainvillea ‘Barbara Karst’ has blooms drenched in rich fuchsia or Hibiscus ‘Fiesta’ has giant apricots blooms with a vibrant blush of pink at the center. The blooms of these exquisite plants offer a touch of tropical paradise without the hassle of travel.
  • Some people buy perfume or lotion; give her a fragrance that will last with Star Jasmine. Smothered in starry white flowers with a sweet prolific fragrance this evergreen vine features rich deep green leaves that blush red in winter.
  • A Hanging Basket dripping with blooms is a classic option that will bring pleasure everyday and a reminder of how much she is treasured. Pair with a package of fertilizer to keep it looking exceptional throughout the season.
  • Ladies like choice; a Gift Card provides whatever her heart desires, whether it’s a bistro set, Brunnera or a Begonia. Present it with a Mixed Planter to add a caring touch of personality.

hanging baskets

Honor the mother in your life. The Mother of all Gifts awaits at Dennis’ 7 Dees.