By Angela Hoyt – Dennis’ 7 Dees plant buyer

As I am walking through my neighborhood I get whiffs of scents that stop me in my tracks. Something smells amazing! As I look around I notice 5 blooming plants that everyone needs to have in their gardens. These “little stinkers” are not overly large but put off a mighty magical scent.

Sweet box (sarcococca)

This is an evergreen shrub with small white strappy flowers that run along the insides of each stem. They start blooming around Valentine’s day and smell like vanilla. There are two major types of sweet box, one is a shrub (sarcococca confusa and sarcococca rusifolia) that can get 5’x5’ and the other (my favorite) is a groundcover (sarcococca hook. humulus) that can reach about 2’ tall and 3’ wide.

Sarcococca

Hyacinths (Hyacinth)

A bulb that is planted in the fall months, emerge in the early spring. Large ice cream scoop shaped flowers appear after leaves. Usually Purple, pink or blue these are perfect for beginning gardeners or kids to grow. Another flower that can easily be cut to enjoy inside during the rain.

hyacinth

Chinese paperbush (Edgeworthia)

A truly unique shrubs that every true gardener must have. White buds open to yellow cluster flowers in the early spring. The 5’x5’ shrub becomes a buttery yellow ball of flower before the elongated green leaves emerge. The scent is very similar to daphne but not as strong.

edgeworthia

Lemon Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa)

Ok, I know it’s not blooming, but shouldn’t everyone know about this cypress. This cypress is tall, skinny and boasts a bright lime green color all year. When brushed or when the wind blows through it, this cypress sends off a lemon scent. Put it by your front door, so when guests come over and smell the lemons they will think your house is cleaner than it really is!

Daphne (Daphne o’dora marginata)

While mine at home are still budded, my neighbors has begun to bloom early this year. Pink buds open to white small trumpet flowers. The scent is very distinguishable and commonly called “heavenly” or “the scent that brings spring hope”. The leaves tend to be slightly variegated with green and yellow. Daphne can be a bit finicky to grow for some. My tricks for growing daphne successfully are as follows:

  • Location is key- I have found the best place to grow daphne is the Northeast corner of my house under the eves. This location provides morning sun and afternoon shade. The house eves help protect my plant from the torrential down pours we get in the winter months and the warmth of the house adds protection from any temperature swings.
  • Learn to love lime. Daphne loves alkaline soils so when you put down lime on your lawn in the fall and spring, lime your daphne too.
  • Prune a cluster of blooms, put in a bud vase and enjoy the scent of spring.
daphne sm

 

Take a little time and enjoy the scents of springs.

By Nicole Forbes – Dennis’ 7 Dees Education

In addition to their beauty, pollinators provide crucial links in our environments by moving pollen between flowers and ensuring the growth of seeds and fruits. In fact, one-third of the food eaten in the US is pollinated by insects; honeybees are responsible for 80% of the job. The 4,000 species of native bees in North America are affected by changes in our landscapes, especially the loss of potential nesting sites and possible exposure to pesticides. In many urban landscapes, a desire for neatness has resulted in the removal of bare ground, dead trees or limbs, and untidy corners of tall grass – all important nesting sites for bees. In addition to providing nest sites for native bees and reducing pesticide use, offering wildflower-rich habitat is the most important action one can take to support pollinators at home.

 
Native plants, which are adapted to local soils & climates, are usually the best sources of nectar and pollen for native populations. Incorporating native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees into your landscape promotes local biological diversity and provides shelter and food for a wide array of wildlife. Most pollinator-friendly plants prefer full-sun sites; choose a diversity of plants with overlapping and sequential flowering times to provide food for pollinators throughout the seasons. Larger patches of habitat plantings are preferred to small plots but even a small container garden can attract and support pollinators. Use clusters of one species grouped together rather than individual plants scattered through the garden; if space allows, plant multiples of the same species within a few feet of one another.

 
Some of our favorite PNW native plants for pollinators are:

  • Bigleaf lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) and Riverbank lupine (Lupinus rivularis)
  • Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium): attracts long-tongued bees like mason and bumble bees
  • Vine Maple (Acer circinatum): attracts mason and bumble bees
  • California lilac (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus): host plant for pale tiger swallowtail butterfly
  • Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana): host plant for western checkerspot butterfly
  • Salal (Gaultheria shallon): attracts bumble bees
  • Douglas spirea (Spiraea douglasii): attracts bumble bees
  • Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa): host plant for monarch butterfly, high in nectar
  • Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis): significant for honey bees & late season native bees
  • Douglas aster (Symphyotrichum subspicatum): visited by woodland skipper butterfly & leafcutter bees

 

Orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria) are popular with gardeners for many reasons including their docile, non-aggressive nature, efficient pollination efforts, small range of flight, tolerance of cold & wet spring weather and wide availability. They are a North American native pollinating bee that is incredibly effective with early spring crops like cherry, plum, Asian pear, raspberry & blueberries. They can work in cooler, wetter weather than honeybees and are not aggressive. The adults emerge from hibernation when daytime temperatures average 50 degrees or above (mid-February in warmer areas to late May in cooler climates & higher elevations). They are active for 4-6 weeks collecting pollen and laying eggs before the adults die in the heat of summer. Nesting tubes full of hibernating mason bee adults can be purchased at the garden center and added to home-made or store-bought nesting boxes in your garden or allowed to nest in hollow stems & holes in trees or wood piles. Just one or two bees are enough to pollinate an entire fruit tree!

 

Lend a hand to the bees this year by reducing pesticide usage through organic practices, bolstering their numbers with a mason bee nesting box and planting some of the native pollinator-attracting plants mentioned above. For more information on bees and other native pollinators check out the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; become a Xerces society member for regular updates.

Lawn with Pythium

Lawn with Pythium

Due to the unusually mild weather we have had this winter a disease called Pythium has caused a great deal of damage to some lawns. Pythium is a family of 150 fungi that affect a wide range of host plants. In lawns this disease is characterized by discolored dead patches that are often matted down and greasy in texture. In the worst cases whole lawns have been nearly wiped out, leaving only random tufts of grass that are resistant to the disease.

 
Solutions – if a lawn has been wiped out completely, your lawn can be reseeded or sodded with a type of grass that is resistant to the disease. For less severe cases other measures can be taken. An application of fungicide can help stop the spread of the disease while we wait for the soil temperatures to warm enough for reseeding. In many cases the fungicide application is unnecessary because the changing weather will reduce the disease pressure on its own. In these cases it is best to focus on lawn health and reseed heavily as soon as the temperatures allows.

 
If you have further questions or concerning regarding the health of your lawn, contact us or your Dennis’ 7 Dees account manager today.

Lawns have multiple benefits for our environment. They create oxygen, trap dust and pollution from the atmosphere, serve as natural air conditioners, control soil erosion and filter runoff. On a more tangible level, they increase the visual appeal of our homes, provide sound proofing, and give us a space to play and entertain.

What thrives most of the year can take a big hit in the winter as the weather conspires against our lawns. A combination of wet, soggy weather, sporadic freezes, lawn diseases and insects, and a dearth of sunlight can lead to thin, muddy patches in what was once a thick carpet of turf grass.

While we need to let winter complete its course, there are a number of things we can do to improve the health of your lawns and promote vigor:

  • Aeration removes soil cores, which reduces compaction, helping improve air circulation to the root zone, promotes healthy root growth, enhances water uptake and improves fertilizer uptake. But the soil needs to dry out before this aeration can happen.
  • Overseeding thin areas helps the turf fill in more quickly with desirable varieties of turf, but soil temperatures are not warm enough for proper germination until mid-April.
  • Lawn Renovations may be in order, including thatching, introducing new soil amendments, and adding drainage. Sometimes thinning of trees, or converting some shady areas from thin turf to shade loving ground covers may be the best solution to a perennial lawn problem.

Contact us or your Dennis’ 7 Dees maintenance account manager, to review the condition of your lawns now, and to develop a strategy to tackle your lawn needs when the weather and soil temperatures are ready.

All seasons have their charm. Right now I swoon at the sweet smell of Sarcococca ruscifolia and the earliest bees and I are mesmerized by the lovely Hellebores with their fancy flowers on display. However, as the first Daffodils start to peeking out of bare soil and the promise of spring is just around the corner, I am getting antsy. Happily spring bulbs have arrived at the nursery. While it is still a bit early to actually plant them, it is the perfect time to plan and purchase. Why not plant those Dahlias you are tired of paying for in bouquets – mine reliably bloom each summer lasting well into the fall. Perfume your entire house with a few stems of amazing home-grown lilies. But start planning for those spring and summer blooms now. Here are some of the varieties that caught my eye.

Lily of the Valley (Convillaria majalis)

Summer blooms on this 8” high perennial.

LILIUM BLACK CHARM

Lilium “Black Charm”

Black-red velvety blooms on this Asiatic variety. Grows to 30”

LILLY OF THE VALLEY

Dahlia “Santa Claus”

A dinner plate type with 8” red and white blooms. Plant grows 4-5’

DAHLIA SANTA CLAUS

Dahlia “Rosemary” 

A decorative type with pink and peach blooms. Grows 3-4’

DAHLIA ROSEMARY

Dahlia “Karma Corona Red” 

A cactus type with rich red blooms. Grows 3-4’

DAHLIA KARMA CORONA RED

Dahlia “Go Go Peach” 

A decorative type with peach blooms. Grows 8-12”

Dahlia GOGO PEACH

With the exception of the Begonia, which should be started indoors now, spring bulbs usually are planted the end of March or beginning of April when the soils warm up and dry out a bit. Make sure to be generous with the compost and add a good bulb food to the planting hole. Protect tender young sprouts as they emerge, Dahlias are very tempting to slugs!

By Nicole Forbes

Many of us who grow our own food do so out of a desire for improved quality, reduced chemical use, and home-grown freshness. If growing organically is a high priority a gardener needs to use natural/organic products from start to finish; this includes the soil amendments & fertilizers applied as well as the source of organic seeds or plant starts. Over the past several years we have seen a massive conglomeration of many small seed companies into a few giant corporations potentially resulting in less diversity, more exposure to genetically modified/engineered organisms, and risks to future seed availability & crop diversity. At our garden centers we frequently get asked about the availability of non-GMO seeds, organic seeds, and heirloom seeds and realize that it is important for all gardeners to feel comfortable with the companies they are supporting with their purchases.

 
We at Dennis’ Seven Dees are proud to highlight the seed companies that we work with as they are mostly small, family-owned businesses that have signed the “Safe Seed Pledge” developed by The Council for Responsible Genetics or otherwise have pledged not to knowingly supply GMO or otherwise treated seeds. We sell seeds from Territorial Seed Company (all locations), Renee’s Garden Seeds (Cedar Hills only), Botanical Interests (SE Powell, Lake Oswego, Seaside locations), and Ed Hume Seeds (all locations). Both Territorial and Renee’s seed companies are NW locals and specialize in varieties that have been grown, tested and evaluated for our unique climate conditions and length of growing seasons. Heirloom &/or organic selections of many popular varieties are frequently available and our seed racks are kept full or are restocked regularly; sorry we do not offer special orders for seed packets.


Our 2015 seeds have arrived – shop early for the best selection. If you’ve been falling asleep to piles of seed catalogs and dreaming of tender young sprouts it’s time to come spin some racks and buy your seeds. Shop from companies you feel good about supporting by stopping into any of our locations to begin your spring garden by seed now!

By Angela Hoyt – Dennis’ 7 Dees plant buyer

BUSH CHERRYFor those of us that really want to grow cherries but don’t have space for any more trees, there is still hope! Dennis 7 dees just received a shipment of the new Shrub cherries. We have two flavors, Carmine Jewel and Romeo. They both combine the best tasting qualities of sweet cherries with a hint of tart from pie cherries. Dark blood red or wine colored full sized fruits form in the summer after an awesome flowering display in the spring. Shrub cherries will grow to about 6’ x 6’ in the full sun. The size allows little maintenance while still producing nearly 20lbs of fruit per shrub by the fifth season. These shrubs were hybridized by the University of Saskatchewan in Canada for extreme cold hardiness, -50 degrees. Both varieties are self -fertile, so you don’t have to buy multiples, (but if you like cherries, you may want to). Both varieties would be an awesome addition for any raised bed, or container. Just imagine, sitting on your porch visiting with friends and snacking on cherries fresh off the plant. Your hope just became reality. Cheers to Cherries!

By Angela Hoyt – Dennis’ 7 Dees plant buyer

Downton Abby RoseDownton Abby RoseEveryone is going crazy over the British period drama “Downton Abbey”. I know every Sunday in January, my girlfriends and I all pile around a TV, drink tea and become mesmerized by happenings in the early 1900’s aristocratic drama. If your love also transfers into the garden, have I got the plant for you! This season, we are pleased to announce the first of the Downton Abbey rose collection, Anna’s Promise.

Anna’s Promise is the hybrid of two awesome roses Voodoo and About Face. When those two roses are combined you get a large bicolor rose with around 35 petals each bloom. The inside color of each petal is golden with a pink blush while the outside is an orangey copper color. The long stemmed elegant and classy blossoms also exude and spicy fruit fragrance perfect for bouquets in the parlor.

Now available at all Dennis 7 Dees locations, Anna’s Promise rose will make the perfect hostess gift this Sunday night when Anna and Mr. Bates come alive on my TV once again.

By Justin Parker – Dennis’ 7 Dees Plant Buyer

When the long, wet & cold season settles here in the Pacific Northwest and you’ve already got your garden put away for the winter what’s next? Must I wait for spring to do something cool in my garden?
You might say ‘there’s just not much to plant in January and it’s too cold, besides there’s hardly any plants blooming right now. What could I possibly plant for winter interest in my garden? ‘

 
Can you say conifers to the rescue? With their many colors, textures, size options, and varying forms available, these cool season beauties are just what’s needed to keep your green thumb going through the winter. The resiliency & hardiness of conifers typically allow Garden Centers the luxury to keep a handful of these precious gems in stock over the winter, while providing us year round garden enthusiasts something to keep our green thumbs going.

 
There are an array of design options with conifers that are abundant in booth color and texture. You can generally find sizes from small 4″ pots on up to large specimens available here in the Pacific Northwest. They can be booth a strong focal point of your garden or a graceful accent. Often we’ll find these beauties supporting or providing contrast to a specimen ornamental tree or a back drop wall providing screening or privacy. More and more people are utilizing dwarf, columnar & weeping conifers in containers as well. Although this application may require some repotting & maintenance, it can make a pretty dramatic statement in your garden.

 
Below are some common favorites you’ll find here at Dennis’ 7 Dees. We look forward to assisting you this winter in beautifying your space with the use of conifers.

 

Tsuga mertensiana - Mountain Hemlock

Mountain Hemlock

Blues & Greens:

• Abies korena ‘Silberlocke’ / Silberlocke Korean Fir
• Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Gracilis’ / Slender Hinoki
• Picea pungens ‘Glauca ‘ / Colorado Blue Spruce
• Pinus flexilis ‘ Vanderwolf’s’ / Vanderwolf’s Pine
• Pinus parviflora / Japanese White Pine
• Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’ / Hicks Yew
• Tsuga heterophylla / Western Hemlock
• Tsuga mertensiana / Mountain Hemlock

Columnar:

• Chamaecyparis law. ‘Wissel’s Saguro’ / Wissel’s Saguro Cypress
• Cuppressus sempervirens / Italian Cypress
• Juniperus ‘Sky Rocket’ / Sky Rocket Juniper
• Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’ / Irish Yew

Dwarfs & Ground Covers:

• Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana’ / Dwarf Hinoki Cypress
• Chamaecyparis law. ‘Ellwood’s Pillar’ / Ellwood’s Pillar Cypress
• Chamaecyparis law. ‘Ellwood’s Pygmy’ / Ellwood’s Pygmy Cypress
• Picea gluaca ‘Conica’ / Dwarf Alberta Spruce
• Pinus mugo var. pumilio / Dwarf Mugo Pine
• Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star / Blue Star Juniper
• Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltoni’ / Blue Rug Juniper
• Sciadopity’s veticillata / Japanese Umbrella Pine

Screening:

• Cupressus leylandii / Leyland Cypress
• Thuja occidentalis ‘Smargd’ / Emerald Green Arborvitae

Weepers:

• Chamaecyparis nootkateniss ‘Pendula’ / Weeping Alaskan Cedar
• Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’ / Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar
• Tsuga Canadensis ‘Pendula’ / Weeping Hemlock

Yellows:

• Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Gold Mop’ / Golden Thread Branch False Cypress
• Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Aurea’ / Golden Hinoki Cypress
• Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Tetragona Aurea’ / Golden Fernleaf Cypress
• Cryptomeria japonica ‘Sekkan Sugi’ / Sekkan Sugi Japanese Cedar
• Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Wilma Goldcrest’ / Lemmon Cypress
• Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’ / Golden Oriental Spruce
• Taxus Standishii / Golden Columnar Yew

By Angela Hoyt | Dennis’ 7 Dees Plant Buyers

I always look forward to my Sunday mornings each week. I get up in the early morning, make my coffee, attempt to read the newspaper and really watch the birds. My husband and I just moved from the city to the suburbs and I became the almighty crazy bird watching lady. I love how they dance around from feeder to feeder and back and forth from their nests. It wasn’t until I really started becoming obsessed that I began noticing and appreciating three very important necessities for birds present in my back yard.

  1. Running water- I’ve always enjoyed the calming sound of my tiered fountain, I enjoy it even more now knowing that the birds like it too. When the weather gets hot, the birds love to drink and splash around in the cool water. If the fountain is up on a pedestal, it protects the birds from the pesky neighbor cat.
  2. Shelter- The feeders that get the most action are the ones near large shrubs. The shrubs provide protection as well as the perfect perch to sit and watch all of the other birds. When it comes to trees, the bird’s favorite place to nest is an old, hawthorn tree. The thorns of the hawthorn create the perfect prop for a nest and the berries in the fall create another food source.
  3. Food- It wasn’t until I was gifted multiple bird feeders that I really started to notice that in fact, providing a variety of bird food really attracted a diverse bird population. I have found that cracked sunflower seed is by far the most popular with smaller birds, chickadees, bushtits, wrens, nuthatches. The thistle is awesome in the late winter and early spring when the gold Finches come back. My favorite feeder is my mealworm feeder. The “big” birds, woodpeckers, warbler, robins, bluebirds and stellar jays take advantage of the feeder’s offerings.

So when Sunday morning comes around next, take your coffee cup to your window and watch the birds for a bit. It really is a lovely, relaxing moment.