By: Laura Mills Annual & Perennial Specialist at Dennis’ 7 Dees Cedar Hills
Tomatoes have become a garden standard. Who among us has not coveted their flavorful fruit or cursed bitter defeat in the name of a tomato. Whole books have been dedicated to this illusive and desirable crop. And at times this craving reaches a fervent pitch know as Tomatomania.
Tomatomania is our annual event being held at our SE Portland and Lake Oswego locations in homage of the cultivation of this paradoxical produce. Whether you crave the candy-like sweetness of Sungold, the rich aromatic meatiness of a Brandywine or a bountiful Roma for homemade tomato sauce, we will be offering advice on variety selection along with tips and tricks to ensure a bountiful harvest. If you’ve had blossom end rot, poor production or you just want to find a new variety for this year join us for Tomatomania.
Of course you’re probably thinking the best way to pick a variety is to taste it. How would you like to sample dozens of tomato varieties for yourself? Then save the date for our annual Tomato Tasting, September 14th at Lake Oswego and 15th at SE Portland. We will have an array of tomato varieties to sample and vote on. It’s the best way to select which tomatoes you’ll be growing for the next season.
Tomatoes are a standard because they are flavorful and versatile don’t miss out this season, join us for Tomatomania to get the information you need for a fantastic harvest.
As a young child I would wander through the forest and pretend I was an explorer landing on foreign shores for the first time. As I walked through this uncharted territory I would note the native flora. It was through this exploration that I taught myself the native plants of our region. Many of these native plants also make excellent choice for the garden.
Native plants are generally considered to be plant species that have existed in this area since the last Ice Age. Naturalized plants were brought from other regions, either intentionally or unintentionally, and have spread and thrived. Examples of naturalized plants are Scotch Broom and Foxglove, both of which were brought over from Europe but have thrived and spread and are often mistaken for ‘native’ plants.
Tribe of Trees and Shrubs
Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) is a pygmy tree, usually reaching 8 to 12 feet tall and wide. Their small stature makes them an excellent tree for small spaces in addition to their good fall color and calming green bark. Part sun to full sun.
(Gaultheria shallon) is a sturdy evergreen shrub reaching 3 to 6 feet depending on conditions. White bell-shaped flowers are followed by edible blue berries. Part sun to full sun.
(Vaccinium ovatum) is an evergreen shrub reaching 3 to 6 feet tall and wide. Foliage emerges red and ages to a rich dark glossy green. Small black berries are edible. Sun to part shade.
Tribe of Perennials
(Polystichum munitum) has evergreen foliage that is relatively tough, reaches 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Part shade to shade this plant is tolerant of a wide variety of conditions.
(Cornus canadensis) is a diminutive groundcover with white dogwood-like flowers and beautiful light green foliage that blushes red in fall. Shade to part shade.
(Asarum caudatum) has heart-shaped leaves that are deep green and tough. In spring they have unique burgundy flowers. The roots can be eaten fresh or dried as a ginger substitute. Shade to part shade.
Native plants have evolved with our climate so once established they usually require little. Amend the soil with Black Forest Compost to help any plant thrive and add some Dr. Earth Starter Fertilizer to get them off to a good start.
Explore all your native options by visiting any of our garden centers.
Can you describe your mother in one word: caring, compassionate, nurturing, supportive, loving? Try as I might I could not describe my mother in merely one word, because it takes many words to describe the many of deeds and emotions that represent a mother. And it is for these many reasons that we honor mothers on Mother’s Day, May 12th.
The annual tribute to this epic person can take many forms. Indeed mothers come in many forms: taking in an animal, caring for co-workers or nurturing one’s own child. All of these selfless acts portray the important and sometimes unrecognized mothers that make our lives better every day. It is for this multitude of mothers that I suggest a small sampling of gift options that will help to show your appreciation for their daily acts of genuine affection.
Flowering hanging baskets are a vivid and uplifting way to show your gratitude. We offer a wide range of combinations and price options, with hanging baskets for sun or shade.
If you’d like a more lasting show of appreciation consider a flowering tree or shrub. Flowering Dogwoods, Rhododendrons, Hydrangeas or Hardy Gardenias will provide years of fantastic blooms to annually remind the recipient how much they are treasured.
A hand-selected planter is a unique and thoughtful gift. It can be tailored to reflect their style: from sophisticated modernity to cottage classics. We can help you select plants for a container that you can plant by hand. This thoughtful gift is sure to express how much you cherish this influential person.
These are just a few of the options, in addition to a wide range of gift items. Come to any of our stores to pick-out the perfect gift for the caring, compassionate, nurturing, supportive, loving mother in your life.
There are few feelings more comforting than that of a warm fuzzy head upon your lap, or soft eyes peaking at the edge of the bed greeting you in the morning. Integrating pets in the home is intuitive, but integrating pets into a landscape can sometimes be fraught with headaches and heartache.
Lars, one of our talented Landscape Designers, has two dogs, a weimaraner and vizsla in addition to a cat. He is well acquainted with the nuances of landscaping with pets in mind.
Every Dog Has His Day
Moxie Snodgrass loves playing in the dirt
Dogs can often be challenging in a landscape, so start early training puppies what is expected of them. Lars also advises that many ‘puppy behaviors’ are transient, like a child sucking their thumb; these behaviors will fade with time and proper training.
If you have ever toweled muddy paws after mere moments in the yard on a rainy day you will appreciate that a mud-free area for dogs is a must in Oregon. Lars suggests a designated area with bark chips and a mud-free path leading to the area. This reduces muddy paws while keeping the lawn a clean and safe area for recreation.
Dogs are habitual creatures, they like to use the same paths and it doesn’t take long for these ‘trails’ to become apparent in a landscape. Rather than fighting their natural patterns, Lars recommends planning your landscape around it. Choose sturdy plants, like conifers, lavender, twig-dogwoods and iris, for areas around paths and play areas. Use a thick layer of mulch to protect plants from paw-traffic. Hemlock Bark naturally repels fleas and other insects and does not splinter.
It’s also important to keep their health in mind. Most dogs don’t pay much attention to plants, however if you have a puppy it may be more important avoid poisonous plants like Yews, Pieris, Hydrangeas and Euphorbia (to name a handful).
With all pets it is important to be conscious of the materials you apply in the garden. Organic fertilizers are safe for pets. There are also organic slug killers and insecticides that are safe for use around people and pets too.
The Cat’s Out of the Bag
Cats tend to be easier to plan for in a landscape. Lars suggests avoiding plants that attract birds and other wildlife, such as plants with seeds or berries, as this can lead to conflict. Cats are compact and agile so be conscious of climbing possibilities to help eliminate awkward and dangerous situations. And of course plant some catnip and cat grass to encourage feline friends to visit the garden.
Pets deserve a place in our hearts and in our gardens. Merging your creatures and landscape can be a simple process with the help of our talented and thoughtful Landscape Designers. Give us a call; we will get you started on a peaceful integration right meow.
As Thomas Eliot once wrote, here is no water, but only rock, and plants of course. A rock garden or rockery is an excellent way to add color and seasonal interest to a sunny rocky area of the garden.
As a general rule rockery plants need little water and require free draining soil. As clay soil comes standard in most Oregon gardens, amend with Black Forest Compost and add in some pumice to create a looser more free-draining soil. Also raising the area above grade (mounding) encourages water drain away.
With your site prepared, now for plants, here are a handful of favorites:
·Saxifrage – Neat mounding foliage with a fine, almost mossy texture that looks excellent when contrasted by the relatively broad petals of deep pink to white flowers.
·Lithodora – Vivid cobalt blooms in spring. Tidy mounding habit and deep green evergreen foliage make this a great selection.
·Basket of Gold (Aurinia) – Clusters of cheery lightly fragrant yellow flowers atop green-silver foliage.
basket of gold
·Gentian – Relatively large trumpet-shaped blooms of vivid blue over low mounding grass-green foliage. One of my all-time favorite plants for its extraordinary flowers.
·Rock Daphne – These are small Daphnes that are low and mounding. They have fragrant clusters of purple or pink flowers. Many bloom into summer so they extend the interest of rock gardens, which tend to peak in early spring.
When you envision a rock garden most likely you think of a sun baked parcel of rocky terrain, however one can have a shade rock garden too. If you have dry shade Chiastophyllum, a shade tolerant succulent, has clusters of yellow flowers that seem to drip from delicate stems above their round thick succulent green leaves. London Pride Saxifrage is another shade tolerant succulent that has rosettes of yellow-speckled foliage. If you have wet shade or a natural rocky seep, the light green leaves and slender dark stems of maidenhair ferns adds a natural delicacy that emulates a woodland. The true mosses, Selaginella, bring a fine texture and golden varieties bring light to the darkness of shade.
These are just a few of the plentiful selection of rockery plants that can bring beauty and life between the rocks. Come to any of our garden centers to see our full selection of excellent plants for rock gardens.
What do we mean…Growing edibles has skyrocketed in popularity (for good reasons) and you may want to grow something you can eat without dedicating exclusive space to a vegetable garden or fruit orchard; there are edible plant examples within all of the basic plant categories used in landscape design (see list below) and many add beauty and function to your garden and table.
Recent food safety concerns, cost/value of grocery store purchases, beauty of many edibles (eggplant for example), very local & convenient, sun/space limitations for exclusive vegetable garden area, intermingling edibles throughout the garden can confuse the pests and result in reduced insect/disease problems.
Who? /Which plants?
Beautiful and easy fruit trees are persimmons & figs; blueberries (especially the semi-evergreen varieties) are great shrubs for informal hedges or foundation plantings as are evergreen huckleberries and tea camellias; vines such as kiwi or hops and green beans are fast growing and can provide seasonal privacy screening; artichokes have a bold texture and silver leaf color that is striking in the garden and they are also very drought tolerant once established; one of the most beautiful
vegetables in the garden is eggplant and it should be considered as an ornamental if you don’t like to eat them; many herbs make wonderful groundcovers especially thyme, oregano and marjoram (try golden forms to add color) and strawberries work well as ground cover and erosion control (alpine strawberries grow in partial shade-shade).
Your biggest limiting factor is the amount of sunlight you receive and the amount of time you have to commit.If you have limited space you can grow in containers, use vertical techniques, try columnar/espaliered fruit trees and tuck herbs and greens in between larger plants.If you only have that hot, dry patch of soil plant artichokes, and drought tolerant herbs like rosemary, lavender and thyme.When attempting to create walls, fences or barriers consider vines or espaliered fruit trees or a mixed hedgerow of edibles such as blueberries, raspberries, and huckleberries with some taller growing tea camellias.
Determine your style: ex. formal, cottage, Mediterranean, NW/Asian. Consider texture, form, scale, exposure, soil culture, seasonal changes, repetition/patterns, color elements & hardscape/structural elements.Contact us to make an appointment for a free design with our Planscaper program!
Edible landscape plant examples (by category)
Trees: Often available on dwarf or semi-dwarf rootstock or in columnar or espaliered forms.Pears, plums, cherries, apples, Asian pears, persimmons, figs, olives (peaches, nectarines need a regular spray program for disease problems)
Shrubs: Evergreen huckleberries, blueberries, elderberry, currants, goumi, seaberry, tea camellia, pineapple guava (may not get enough heat to fruit regularly)
Perennials: artichokes, rhubarb, prickly pear cactus, and asparagus (also self-sowing annuals: leeks, parsley, and cilantro)
Sowing a packet of seeds and seeing them sprout is a wonder to behold but can seem like a daunting project. Here are some tips to help ensure your success. Seed starting can be lots of fun and a great way to save money!
Light:is essential; a sunny window (supplement with fluorescent full-spectrum light bulb)
Soil media: best to use sterile seed starting mix, jiffy peat pots, earth pots or choir bricks (I like to pre-moisten soil before planting); ideal to use biodegradable pots that can be directly planted in the ground.
Moisture: keep seed bed thoroughly wet, water gently and consistently; solid bottom trays and humidity domes help to maintain moisture; a spray bottle is handy too
Germination: check seed packet details; can take several days or several weeks depending on type of seed planted
omost seed is good for at least 3 years
ochoose items with multiple harvest potential: leafy greens, lettuce, salad mixes, leafy herbs like basil, cilantro, or parsley
oremember to mark your seeds with labels
o1st set of leaves vs. ‘true’ set of leaves
oPlanting depth depends on seed type (check packet info); good rule of thumb is 3 times as deep as the seed is wide
oSome seeds (especially large, hard-shelled ones) benefit from soaking in water overnight or for up to 24 hours before planting
oBest to wait for 2nd or 3rd set of ‘true’ leaves
oCheck plant info/seed packet for best time to plant outside (soil temperature- use a soil thermometer, nighttime temps)
oHarden off for several days to a week before planting (tickle the seedlings for strength)
oTransplant in late afternoon or evening and give plants temporary shelter from strong sun/winds
oBe sure to use a starter fertilizer and be prepared for slugs, cut worms and other pests
When I was in grade school we learned about the Egyptians and the way they farmed the Nile delta. And I would let my mind wander, thinking about the rhythm of growing what one ate, and it seemed so natural, so intrinsic. I suppose I should have realized then that my fate was sealed and plants would forever be my life. I relate this story to you because that essential rhythm is picking-up again as the days grow longer and warmer.
This is the time of year when something ancient within ourselves moves us to plant crops. Whether you have a humble balcony or a kingdom of acreage there are ways to harness this space to bring food to your table. Join us at our Powell and Cedar Hills locations for our annual Edible Landscape Fair. Selecting edibles doesn’t have to be like building the pyramids. Whether you want to learn how to incorporate vegetables and herbs into delectable cocktails, or select the perfect berry for your landscape or you just want to know what to plant now? Our informational classes will make you feel like a pharaoh with the bounty your edible landscape produces.
This warm spring has gotten us all thinking about the sultry summer ahead. And though it is too early to plant summer annuals you can get a jump on the season by planting summer blooming bulbs. Summer blooming bulbs include Cannas, Lilies, Gladiolus, Dahlias and Crocosmia. From the gaudy blooms of lilies, to the tropical luster of cannas, to the seemingly endless supply of cut-flowers with dahlias these are the plants that define summer.
Dahlias, gladiolus, lilies, cannas and crocosmia all need the torrid sun to perform their best, so site them where they will be able to soak up six hours of direct sunlight. At planting feed them Dr. Earth Bud and Bloom Fertilizer. Supplement during bloom with a liquid fertilizer, for example, Alaska MorBloom to ensure a fervent floral display. This blazing show usually requires some support; install Grow-through-Grids at planting. This sturdy grid encompasses plants as they grow through to ensure excellent support of their eager flower production.
Most summer bulbs will return year after year to set your landscape alight with color. Spark off some color in your garden by checking out our selection of sizzling summer bulbs.
Spuds, otherwise known as potatoes, are garden studs. They produce an abundance of tasty tubers that can be used in just about any cuisine. Potatoes are simple to cultivate so this marriage requires little input.
The chase begins with the eligible varieties:
Chieftain – Handsome crimson skin and white fleshed, this contender has medium sized potatoes with excellent flavor. Tolerant of clay soil and disease resistant, this variety will stand by you till the end.
French Fingerling – This candidate is a real foodie. Gourmet quality potatoes with rosy skin and yellow flesh. Tender with a nutty side, this variety is excellent for gourmet dishes.
Butterfinger – An old-fashioned gentleman with a nutty-buttery flavor. It can be firm when it needs to, in salads or when boiled or steamed.
German Butterball – This continental variety has yellow flesh and skin. This variety knows how to cook, whether its hash browns, fries, steamed or baked this versatile variety can do it all.
Yukon Gold – A cultured variety that has a rich buttery flavor. Its broad range of talents includes making excellent salads and fries, and great baked or boiled.
Russet Burbank – The classic, all-American this variety has russet skin and white flesh. This suitor makes excellent fries and baked potatoes.
You’ve fallen in love with your perfect spud and it’s time to settle down and start a life together. In ideal conditions, potatoes will yield about ten times the original amount planted (e.g. if you plant one pound, they can yield up to ten pounds). Potatoes can be planted four to six weeks before the last frost, in our area, around early to mid-April. Plant potatoes 12 to 14 inches apart with 3 feet between rows; cover them with 3 to 4 inches of soil, keeping in mind that more soil will be mounded around them to encourage maximum production. Once the vines have reached ten inches, mound soil about half way up the stem, this encourages more root production and therefore, more tuber production. Be careful not to smother the plant.
Fertilize with Dr. Earth Vegetable Food at planting. Use Dr. Earth Liquid Fertilizer to give foliar feedings to encourage more green growth after mounding.
Reap the benefits of this loving relationship in early varieties when the plants start to flower. For later varieties, wait until fall frosts kill the foliage then allow the potatoes to rest for two weeks in the ground. This allows their skin to thicken, making them easier to store.
Once you’ve found your spud stud the rest is easy. They will bring home the proverbial bacon with excellent yields of tasty tubers. Come and meet your spud stud at any of our garden centers and reap the benefits of a productive relationship.