lilacLilacs are a garden classic; their plump flower spikes laden with enchanting fragrance have earned them a place in gardens for hundreds of years. Lilacs are a large deciduous shrub, reaching 6 to 12 feet tall by about 6 to 8 feet wide. They can be pruned promptly after bloom to maintain or restrict size. Lilacs prefer full sun, though they will tolerate part shade. Lilacs are a fantastic choice if deer are a problem as they are deer resistant. Lilacs are hardy and durable plants able to withstand poor soil and periods of drought once established. Lilacs bloom in late April to May and they make excellent cut flowers simply snip off a few flowers to scent an entire room.

Agincourt Beauty – Large individual flowers are lilac-purple with a rich perfume.

Charles Joly – Unusual double flowers in antique pink are heavily scented.

Ludwig Spaeth – Classic lilac-purple single blooms with enchanting fragrance. This later blooming variety extends the season.

Maidens Blush – Blushing soft-pink single blooms appear earlier than other lilacs, with excellent fragrance.

Miss Kim – Open flowers clusters of lavender blooms with a more delicate fragrance. Miss Kim has a smaller habit reaching just 6 to 8 feet tall and wide with purple blushed foliage in fall.

Sensation – Purple blooms are lined with a delicate white edge and produce a fine fragrance.

By: Laura Mills

Life is full of relationships with family, friends, co-workers and institutions. However many relationships strongly benefit one party or another, it is rare to find the true balance of a mutually beneficial relationship. Leave it to nature to create such equilibrium with Beneficial Insects.

Beneficial Insects are one of those truly mutual relationships:  the critters get a place to live with a bounty of otherwise detrimental insects or litter to feast upon, while you reap the benefits of naturally improved soil, pest reduction and increase harvest depending on which critters you incorporate.

Earthworms breakdown and incorporate organic material in to even heavy clay soils, lightening and enriching them as they move through the soil. Earthworms can also be raised in homemade or store bought worm bins to concentrate their effort and reap more direct benefits like earthworm castings, compost tea and rich black compost. Whether they’re in the soil or in a bin they get lots to eat, a comfortable place to live and you get enriched the soil that’s teaming with beneficial microbes.

Lady Bugs devour pesky and destructive insects like aphids, mites and scale. Plus they are adorable additions that adults and children alike delight in seeing. The Lady Bugs receive a place to live with lots of tasty aphids and you get a natural way to control common pests.

Mason Bees are a relatively solitary, non-aggressive bee that appears early in the year to pollinate earlier flowering crops like most fruits including apples, pears, blueberries and cherries. Mason Bees get a place to live filled with nectar and you reap a bounty of fruit.

Nematodes are microscopic worms that attack destructive pests like European Cranefly, Root Weevil and even Flea larvae in the lawn. They get a place to live stocked with tasty creatures and you get a natural way to control troublesome bugs.

Praying Mantis are fascinating insects that are relatively large. They eat a host of insects including aphids and are sold as egg cases. Young naturalists can watch these unusual and interesting insects emerge. The Praying Mantis gets a place to live and lots of food and you get an intriguing helper that not only eats pests but teaches children about nature.

Mutually beneficial also entails that insecticide use is eliminated or kept to a minimum to encourage these garden helpers to stick around and create new generations. To ensure they home to your plot and minimize the potential for predation, release these critters at dusk; it encourages them to bed down at your location.

All of our stores have a fresh stock of Beneficial Insects in now. If you’re looking for a mutually beneficial relationship for your garden stop by any of our Portland garden centers or our location on the coast.

This past winter, with multiple sudden dips in temperatures, lawns were weakened, resulting in a disease problem common in other areas of the US.  This started with our abrupt dip in temperatures in December when grass and plants were still growing.  Then with the following highs and lows and then snow cover in February, some lawns developed a disease called snow mold, with certain grass varieties being more susceptible.   Any mold that was present is now gone, but the damage persists.  With thatching and reseeding (only effective after April 7th, when soil temperatures warm for seed germination), we’ll  begin to repair the damage that has pot-marked some lawns these past weeks.

Every winter, many of our lawns in the Pacific NW receive considerable damage.  With a mixture of soggy, wet weather, freezing temperatures, winter lawn insects (like cranefly), snow mold disease, and way too little sun, our lawns don’t stand a chance.  Some years it may take until late spring or early summer before one can simply walk across their lawn without losing their shoe.  Our native, heavy clay soil doesn’t allow water to penetrate as needed for proper drainage.

Don’t give up!  We have a variety of innovative solutions to correct these seasonal challenges.   Now is the time to plan for the return of a beautiful lawn!

The Pacific NW gets its share of rains!  And, if your lawn doesn’t have proper drainage or slope it can turn into a muddy mess this time of year in Portland. Poorly drained soils cause many problems, creating perfect habitats for moss and/or cranefly, causing ruts when mowed, and thinning out of lawn areas,  encouraging weed grasses to move in.  We have several solutions to HELP with the problem of drainage from aeration and topdressing with sand/gravel, to a new system we have been using for a few years now by installing sand drains under the lawn to move water away from the lawn.  Since there is lawn over the top of the drains, you can’t even tell there are drains underneath.