Maple Bladder Galls—“Freckles” on the Leaves

If you have a sliver or red maple tree, you’ve most likely noticed small raised bumps on the leaves.  Tree owners will call them “freckles”, “measles” and sometimes even “zits”.  Whatever they are called, maple bladder galls are caused by a very tiny mite.  The galls themselves are made up of plant tissue and are…

Itoh Peony

Peonies are one of the longest lived perennials that you can plant for your home landscape.  Anecdotal evidence suggest that they can live for 3/4 of a century if not longer.  Currently there are about 33 recognized species of peonies with only one maybe two native to North America.  Most know only the herbaceous garden…

Summer Lawn Care

The heat of summer is upon us and along with it comes a number of lawn issues that are dealt with differently than in spring and fall.  First, watering.  The two most important guidelines to remember are 1. Water to the bottom of the roots and 2. Keep the roots moist, not soggy or dry. …

Pollinators and their Health

One third of our food supply exists because a pollinator moved pollen from one flower to another. Their quest for nectar and pollen means we reap the benefits by harvesting fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Despite the necessity of pollinators for a reliable food supply for humans, pollinator habitat is in jeopardy because of reduced food…

Raised Beds around Trees—A Bad Idea for Landscapes

As we plan for our much anticipated outdoor projects this gardening season, let’s discuss the tree-killing practice of building raised beds around trees.  Don’t get me wrong here—I am not talking about planting hosta beneath a tree, I’m talking about building a RAISED bed around a tree. This unfortunate practice leads to many dead trees,…

Fragrant Solomon’s Seal

In the last two weeks besides being asked what to do about Japanese beetles I am getting bombarded with questions about what to plant in the shade besides hosta.  True enough there are only so many different types of green hosta that you can plant in the shade and this is where Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum…

Tiny Treasure

Bitter root or Lewisia cotyledon (loo-ISS-ee-ah kot-ih-LEE-don) is a perennial evergreen native to the Pacific Northwest hardy to zone 4 (-30 °F to -20 °F).  They form small rosettes about 12″ across and flowers that range from yellow, reds and white.  Yes this little gem can grow in your perennial garden if, and only if,…

Calibrachoa

2018 is the Year of the Calibrachoa according to the National Garden Bureau, a non-profit green industry group based out of Chicago.  Each year, the NGB touts an underutilized or novel plant that has big potential in the garden world and this year is no different.  If you’re wondering about the name, you may have…

Mulch Volcanoes—Compromising Tree Health

You’ve seen this before—mulch piled so high around a tree that it resembles a volcano with a stick coming out of the center.  So goes the plight of trees trying to survive under such conditions.  Despite the research indicating how bad this is for trees, we see it time and again. Exactly how do mulch…

Barrenwort For A Barren Space

Barrentwort or Epimedium (e-pi-MEE-di-um) is a perennial that is often overlooked for the garden.  As the name implies it thrives in barren locations.  This is one of the few plants that can tolerate and grow in dry shade.  The flowers are amazing and thanks to new introductions such as Epimedium x rubrum (picture shown in…

Right Plant, Right Place Part 2

  The coined phrase Right Plant, Right Place (RPRP) has stuck for many reasons, but the most important one is that it has passed the test of time.  Also, it’s just common sense.  Basically, RPRP is relatively straightforward; it’s about installing the best plant for the site, taking sun/shade, soil characteristics, pest history and many,…

The Hard Truth about Rocks at the Bottom of Planting Containers

As we get our containers ready for planting our amazing annuals or that coveted tomato plant, conventional “wisdom” dictates we must first add an inch or so of gravel.  Problematic? You bet! Rocks in the bottom of containers do not contribute to better draining soils and healthier plants.  Instead, plant roots encounter saturated soils that…