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…

Pruning Trees and Shrubs – When and How

It’s a necessary thing – to prune.  Prunes can be important for human health too, but that’s for another blog.  Removing unwanted or broken/diseased stems is important for the health of the woody plant, but perhaps even more important is the timing of the action.  Some pertinent specifics follow:   Shade trees:  the best time…

Japanese Beetles 2018—Preparing for the Onslaught

Gardeners, plant aficionados and tree owners are battening down the hatches for the onslaught of Japanese beetles this growing season.  Here are some commonsense ideas for dealing with these voracious eaters. First, control measures for Japanese beetle (JB) grubs in the soil will help minimize damage to the turfgrass but does not create a force…