Friday, February 27, 2009

Fresh hope of change...

Spring is around the corner. I saw a forsythia in full bloom today, and the pieris buds are starting to turn showy. My bulbs are 2-3" out of the ground, and my hellebores are in full bloom. After the winter we've had, these fresh groundlings are more than a welcome sight. Spring is inevitably a time of new beginnings, fresh colors...change happening before your eyes. This year more than ever, these March floral displays and the promise of more to come have a greater weight of hope. Nature is still somewhat immune to humankind and our deficits, stimulus, and credit crunches.

NW Garden Design & Consulting, however, is not. Luckily, I have been able to join an awesome team of horticulturalists at a large retail nursery co-op called Garden World ( south of Wilsonville, OR. With 'support your local grower' as its creed, Garden World is 10 acres of great plants and competitive pricing. I am the office gal and customer service forefront. I have been there 2 weeks and really love it. The inventory is expanding every week, and the website has up-to-the-minute inventory with wonderful pictures and descriptions.

I am still offering design services while on this hiatus of financial duty, but on a much more limited basis. Yet I am quite content in my new position and feel it is a great next step for me right now. So check it out, and I hope to see you soon! By the way, there is hope in every flower's face and every opening bud of spring. Look for it!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Winter garden

Snow transforms a garden into something more than summer flowers or fall color. The winter garden becomes form and shape, blanketed with monotonous white. Each plant declares its right to permanence, digging in and staying for the winter.

Some plants take it with a grain of salt. "We are built for this; we were born ready!" 'Tiny Towers' italian cypress stand at attention, decked in red lights. Green hellebores with their nodding heads bow to the cold. "Bring it on!"
Others, like my dwarf fuchsia 'Tom Thumb' seem caught off guard, still displaying blossoms now frosty and frigid. Phormium with its thick agave-like blades, now lined with snow sits there wishing for warmer days. The bare branches get their chance to shine. 'NO snow can laden me down...hahaha....I have no leaves!" What once was only brown sticks now are transformed to provide contrast with the glaring brightness of white. My neighbor's Forest Pansy redbud is absolutely gorgeous with snow on the branches...such layering can only be nature's handy work. And there are those who are hanging on to fall for dear life. The Japanese maple has ONE single solitary red leaf at the end of one branch absolutely refusing to senescence.
A winter garden is a whole different view of the plants we see all year. They are stripped bare, exposed, and raw...then covered, added to, dusted with precipitation that just may stay around for a while.

I appreciate every season in Portland because we get a little bit of it all here: beaches and mountains, lush valleys and high desert, winter snow and summer sun.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter protection for plants

With some colder temperatures heading our way a little earlier than normal this year, I thought it would be good to send out a reminder that some plants require some winter protection if temperatures dip below freezing.

Hebes and Phormiums (New Zealand Flax) are not as hardy as some other plants and easily sustain damage with temperature below 20-25 degrees. New plantings can be susceptible to winter damage as well regardless of actual hardiness because their root systems are not mature yet. Above ground plantings such as containers are also more susceptible as their root systems are above ground without insulation of the soil.

It only takes a little precaution to save your plantings. For Hebes and the like, I drape an old blanket over the plant, tucking the folds of the blanket around the root system. You can set a cardboard box over them. Hay bales, bubble pack, burlap sacks..anything that provides blanket like insulation. This is often enough to provide a ten degree differential between the outside air and the plant. You will not want to leave them on for extended periods of time. I try and remove them during the day and put them back on at night. If the day temps stay low as well, you can leave them for 3-4 days before the plant(s) start to resent it.

For new plantings, you can drape whole sheets, blankets, or tarps over entire areas securing them down with rocks or other heavy materials. Small evergreen perennials and broadleaf evergreens would be my focus as the conifers and deciduous plants are hardier and more dormant, thus able to survive teen temperatures more easily.

For containers, move them right up against the house or into your garage if you can. For your prized containers, wrap the base of the pot with the above mentioned materials (blanket, tarp, boxes). Cluster groupings of the pots together so they can insulate eachother.

I know it is a pain to do all this, but it will be worth it to protect your investment(s). Good luck, and may the frost be with you!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Winter Special

Hello everyone!

I think landscape design is a great holiday gift, so I am offering a winter special of 20% off any full landscape design package purchased as a gift. Please tell your friends as this is a decent savings off the full price for one of my designs.

I hope you have a great and fun Thanksgiving as well as a wonderful holiday season!


Monday, November 3, 2008

Perennial container plantings for shade

Perennial containers are a great way to get more for your dollar with your potted plantings. Instead of planting all annuals that die at first or second frost, try some of these perennial ideas that will winter over and provide year round interest.

Here are some of my favorite plant ideas for containers with full shade to part sun.

Nandina ‘Gulf Stream’ or ‘Moonbay’
Pieris ‘Little Heath’
Choisya ‘Sundance’
Upright Japanese holly
- Ilex crenata ‘Sky Pencil’
Hydrangea serrata ‘Preziosa’
Hydrangea m. ‘Pia’

small Japanese maples
- Varieties that get 8-12’ tall

Carex morrowii ‘Evergold’
Golden Japanese forest grass-Hakenchloa m. ‘Aureola’
Ophiopogon-mondo grass..comes in a delicious black variety!

Hellebore ‘Wester Flisk’
Heuchera ‘Dolce Licorice’
‘Plum Pudding’
‘Amethyst Myst’
Fuchsia ‘Tom Thumb’

Ajuga ‘Black Scallop’
Lamium ‘White Nancy’
Gaultheria procumbens
Trailing ivy-needlepnt., varieg.
Vinca ‘Illumination’
Creeping charlie-variegated

Tassel fern- Polystichum polyblepharum
Korean Rock Fern-Polystichum tsus-simense
Deer fern- Blechum spicant

Annuals for Accent Color
Perilla magilla
Fuchsia 'Gartenmeister'

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Monocot Madness

I have always wanted to go through a corn maze, but for years the experience has eluded me. Perhaps there was a small part of me fearful of truly losing my way shaded out by a jungle of maize. And an even more distant delusion of being attacked by roaming zombies... after 32 years, I can cross the experience of my list.

There is something to be admired of these plants up close. Driving by the fields, we think, "Oh, some biggie." But these giant grasses are so unique and amazing. For an American food staple and perhaps, an American icon, they are quite primitive. I felt as if I was moving through some sort of bamboo jungle, with the plant's huge grassy blades rustling in the large chorus of flowering lawn. 12 feet tall, the male tassels tussle against each other with each gust supported on pole-like stalks. It is quite something standing in the middle of corn field. You feel a strange sense of dense isolation. Outside sounds are blocked, and you are left alone to feel the Mesoamerican whispers of ancient cultures. It is quite something that this plant, domesticated from a typical grass plant over 9000 years ago, is now the most widely grown grain crop by weight in the world!
Check out more interesting facts about Zea mays @ and now's the time to visit your local corn maize...prepare to be haunted & lost!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Timeless memories...

My family has property in the coast range in the forested valleys outside of Seaside, OR. It has been in our family for four generations going on five. My grandmother loved to garden and as this was her second home, she incorporated many timeless plantings surrounding the cabin.

One of my earliest memories of her was a lesson just for me on how to layer a hydrangea branch to make new plants for free. Decades later, I sit on this lovely September afternoon admiring our propagation handy work. Rows of hydrangeas run the length of the front of the cabin. Their huge, green leaves seem to glorify the sun here even though they are in a southwest facing bed. Everything blooms later here in the shelter of the valley maritime climate. The six blueberry bushes are just now yielding their first fruit. The air here is amazing...if freshness could be described to do it justice.

My grandmother Ruth planted timeless beauties in this place 40-50 years ago which are now irreplaceable: star magnolia, rhodies, dogwoods, golden chain tree, huge upright red Japanese maples & her favorite, the flowering cherry. All of these plants seem to get better with age: classy like Audrey Hepburn or a black Chanel dress.

We planted a coral bark Japanese Maple to commemorate my grandma Ruth's passing when I was 10. A couple years later I took it upon my preteen self to mow the lawn, accidentally got the riding lawn mower in reverse, & beheaded the expensive seedling at about 12-18" off the ground. I was mortified! My poor dad had to go out and try and buy another one to replace it. Now the second try is 18-20' tall and a slender beauty.

A couple of winters ago we had some severe winds that took down several large fir trees in the "front yard" that had started to overcrowd the Japanese maples. Luckily, they remained unscathed from that bitter, destructive storm that snapped 100'+ conifers in half! Timeless. Sturdy & strong. There is now enough light to create sweeping beds underneath the stature of the Japanese maples.

Change...the landscape has morphed to accommodate more botanical companions..Oh goodie! I would like to think my grandma would be planning the same additions. I feel so blessed to be able to pick up where she left off with her passion and love of gardening. How cool that each generation has the opportunity to refine a subject, make it better, add to it.

A place/A family/ A tree/ A memory. Plants are more than ornamentals we plant in the ground for year round interest/color. They are more than utilitarian. They are us. A blueprint in time that with love and care with supersede the generations. I want my daughter to be 30 something and sit where I sit and think these same thoughts about me and grandma Ruth from which she is named.

to be continued...