Monday, April 14, 2014

OAN rolls out first-ever Plant Something™ art contest

April is a month to celebrate trees, Earth Day and spring. The Oregon Association of Nurseries is asking elementary school-age kids to create colorful artwork around the theme "Plants Make Our Lives Better." Winning artwork will appear on the cover of Digger, the OAN's monthly industry publication, in a 2015 e-calendar, on the Facebook page and website, at the 2014 Farwest Trade Show, one of the largest wholesale trade shows in the country, and other venues.

Please help us get the word out by contacting your children's elementary school teachers and by sharing the contest rules. To be eligible, artwork must be completed in class and postmarked by May 12, 2014. A team of OAN members will select the winning artwork. If you have questions, please contact Ann Murphy at or 503-682-5089.

» Contest Rules
» Release Form

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Conifers for Shade

I have a shady yard, in large part because I have huge conifers—sequoia, spruce, cedar and fir. There are so many interesting conifers I would like to integrate into the design of my garden, but finding those that will tolerate a fair amount of shade has been an ongoing search. In the recently published Conifer Quarterly, Winter 2014, by the American Conifer Society, an article titled “Appreciating Conifers in the Shade” gave me a bit of hope.

The garden discussed in the article is in St. Louis, Missouri, a very different growing environment (USDA Zone 6a) with many more stressors than Portland, Ore. (USDA 8a in my neighborhood); however, it seems there are quite a number of genus and species that might be worth trying.

“Some types of acceptable shade for growing conifers are filtered shade, dappled shade, traveling shade, light shade and high canopied shade. Generally speaking, there is more light available in shady spots than gardeners realize,” concluded the authors Bruce and Chick Buehrig. More hope for me and my garden.

Tsuga canadensis (hemlocks) are a good place to start. I have several planted, including T.c. ‘Gentsch White’. They live but I wouldn’t say they thrive, and in full shade ‘Gentsch White’ doesn’t have the showy white new growth it is known for. Other Tsuga cultivars mentioned in the article include ‘Stewart’s Gem’, ‘Curly’, ‘Canoe’, ‘Spring Glory’, ‘Greenbrier’, ‘Devil’s Fork’, ‘New Gold’ and the list goes on.

Picea orientalis (Oriental spruce) cultivars to consider include ‘Skylands’, ‘Bergman’s Gem’, ‘Connecticut Turnpike’, ‘Repens’, ‘Gowdy’, and ‘Shadow Broom’. I’m going to keep my eye out for ‘Skylands’; it offers year-round golden needles.
Picea orientalis 'Skylands'. Photo courtesy of Conifer Kingdom
The authors state, “Surprisingly, Picea abies [Norway spruce] is a superb candidate for low-light areas.”

Taxus (yews), especially the columnar varieties which add height are good candidates for adding interest in a shadier spot. Look for ‘Beanpole’, ‘Stovepipe’, ‘David’, ‘Minuet’, ‘Citation’, ‘Erecta’, ‘Standishii’ and ‘Sentinel’, the authors’ favorite (I’m guessing they are referring to Taxus x media ‘Sentinalis’). ‘Flushing’ and ‘Maureen’ which reach ten feet tall by two feet wide can be focal points.  ‘Citation’ is also a favored addition to their landscape.

Cephalotaxus (plum-yew) thrive in more shade. Look for ‘Duke Gardens’, ‘Fastigiata’, ‘Hedgehog’ and ‘Korean Gold’.
Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Korean Gold'. Photo courtesy of Oreogn State University.
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis (Alaska cedar) grows in shade, but doesn’t attain the height of examples grown in sunnier locations. ‘Van den Akker’ is considered superior by the authors, but other cultivars to consider include ‘Jubilee’, ‘Green Arrow’ and Stricta’.
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Van den Akker'. Photo courtesy of Dancing Oaks Nursery.
Sciadopitys verticillata (Japanese umbrella pine), Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese cedar), Ginkgo biloba, Pinus cembra (stone pine), Pinus sylvestris (Scot’s pine), Pinus strobus (white pine), and Picea glauca (spruce) have also been grown by the authors in shadier conditions.

Perhaps not all of these species and cultivars will thrive in the shade of the Maritime Northwest—after all, St. Louis has much warmer and moister summers than we do—but it does suggest that there may be a few more conifers that can add year round interest in our gardens, even in shadier conditions.

Sources for more unusual conifers, in addition to your local garden center, include Conifer Kingdom, Oregon Small Trees, Dancing Oaks, Forestfarm, Porterhowse Farms, River Rock Nursery and Secret Garden Growers.

Spring’s Rebirth

In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
                                     Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard’s Egg

Bergenia 'Lunar Glow'
April is an exciting time in the garden. It’s the perfect time to watch leaves unfurl, blossom bloom, and inhale the fragrance of the Earth and all that it offers us. Just like Mother’s, Father’s and Grandparent’s days were created to bring attention to people we should honor each day, Earth Day and Arbor Day/Week/Month were created to bring our attention back to the importance of our surroundings and our role in preserving the beauty and health of living things.

I wish you a month where you take at least one brief moment each day to see and enjoy the minutia of gardens, gardening and all the things that thrive in a healthy space. And for those of you who have contributed to bringing unhealthy spaces back to life, THANK YOU!

Bette Midler, entertainer and founder of New York Restoration Project (NYRP), is one of those people. Since 1995, she has used her celebrity to protect and preserve New York City’s public spaces and parks. NYRP is committed to the belief that clean, green neighborhoods are fundamental to our quality of life and that every community in New York City deserves an oasis of natural beauty. Heck, every city and town deserves oases of natural beauty!

Everywhere there are tireless volunteers and leaders in the horticultural world that conserve and create beauty for the rest of us to enjoy. So for this month of Earth Day, please celebrate the bounty of the gardening community and each other by nurturing the soil in your garden, planting something that will bring you joy and better health, and visiting the botanical treasures that surround us.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Put Out the Welcome Mat for Bees and Butterflies

I’m learning how to grow food in my garden, but I’m also trying to create a full-service restaurant for pollinators. (By the way, it’s worth planting onions just to see the bees go ga-ga over the blossoms.) The National Gardening Bureau is encouraging all of us to do at least one thing to encourage bees and butterflies to visit our gardens.

•    Plant flowers with open petals and upright stamens like cosmos and coneflowers for easy access (this would be the equivalent of a fast food restaurant), or that are heavy pollen producers like dahlias and peonies.
•    Offer a long season of blooms to provide a food source for as long as possible, from very early spring (crocus) to late fall (asters).
•    Provide nesting spots (open ground for ground-nesters) and shelter such as standing grasses, flower stalks and shrubs.
•    Offer host plants for caterpillars (milkweed for Monarchs as an example) and sun-loving flowers (butterflies prefer sunny spots).
•    Provide shallow water for bees and butterflies to sip.
•    Encourage your neighbors to join you in creating food and habitat for pollinators.

I’m heading to the Hardy Plant Society sales in Portland and will be on the lookout for pollinator-friendly plants. What plants are most attractive to pollinators in your garden?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The 15-Minute Gardener

Admittedly, gardening is work. Unquestionably, the joys of gardening far exceed the chores necessary to keep the garden enjoyable for me, family and friends and visiting wildlife. However, if I attempt to spend hours at a stretch doing garden tasks, it is hard finding the motivation to put on my gardening shoes and gloves and get started.

What I prefer to do instead, is to take a few minutes a few days a week to do small chores that improve the garden. It’s amazing what can be accomplished in a short amount of time, and I am able to discover in the greatest detail what is unfolding as each season progresses.

This time of year, the easiest 15 minute gardening task is weeding. I can even do it in my slippers and robe.

If garden tools are easily accessible, many tasks can be done quickly: watering and grooming containers; sweeping the walk, deck or patio; planting one, or a few, of the plants that have been hanging around just waiting to be put in the ground; pruning a few limbs of that Japanese maple; ordering compost (the spreading of which is not on the 15 minute task list); planting a few summer blooming bulbs; setting a beer trap for spring slugs; smelling the roses…then deadheading them!

I’m going home tonight after work to fill my yard debris container with yet another load of giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) needles. It will take less than 15 minutes, but one little step at a time, eventually I'll get them all cleaned up.

What garden tasks take you just a few minutes to accomplish?

Camillia bloom resting on Lonicera 'Edmee Gold'



Ornamental cherry blossoms

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Beacons in the Landscape

It seems to me that yellow colored plants are starting to quietly scream for attention, and deservedly so. The color yellow is one of the easiest for humans to see and it most often connotes optimism and happiness. Yellow plants capture the eye to draw you into the garden or brighten a shady spot. I noticed dozens of plants in the past few weeks that would have a welcome home in my garden if space allowed. Yellow foliage most often caught my eye, but yellow flowers and bark shouldn’t be overlooked.

First and foremost is Golden Oriental Spruce (Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’; photo at left). Oh how I’d love to have that front and center in my landscape!

I think I must have Edgeworthia papyrifera in my garden because it is not wildly fragrant and the buds are smaller than the ones I often see at the garden shows. While the early spring blooming yellow flowers are lovely, for many months I also enjoy the silver balls-of-potential that hang from the branch tips before it blooms. From my living room window--and without my glasses--it looks like bits of bursting popcorn! Click here for excellent information about Edgeworthia from Portland Nursery.
Edgeworthia papyrifera. Photo: Portland Nursery

Hellebores (Helleborus) may be about as perfect a plant as one could hope for. They bloom early and long, they are virtually evergreen and clean-up is a breeze. Thankfully, the yellows are becoming stronger with new breeding. Every year, I seem to grab a new Hellebore variety and yellow varieties are the first ones I reach for.
Helleborus 'Golden Lotus'. Photo: Terra Nova Nurseries Inc.

If I had to choose one--and only one--favorite grass or perennial, it would be Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonochloa) and ‘All Gold’ performs beautifully. Talk about a carefree plant that plays well with others. This is it! In my opinion, every garden should have (many) more than just one.
Hakaonochloa 'All Gold'. Photo: Terra Nova Nurseries Inc.

I’m not a fan of yucca (it has to do with an experience in my youth), but Yucca flaccida ‘Golden Sword’ (which may be listed as Y. filamentosa ‘Golden Sword’) deserves the raves it gets. Architectural and evergreen with a bold yellow stripe, it is hardy in a much of the U.S. (USDA zones 5-10). It is a Great Plant Pick plant for the maritime Northwest.
Yucca flaccida 'Golden Sword'. Photo: Great Plant Picks

What are some of your favorite yellow plants?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fragrant Plants Make Scents

Gardening is a sensory activity. Visual beauty. Restful sounds (think water, bamboo clacking, leaves rustling, and bird chirping). Tasty fruit, vegetable and herbal delights. An almost infinite variety of tactile sensations, from prickly to downy soft. And then there’s all the floral, fresh, spicy and woodsy smells the garden has to offer from healthy soil to fragrant foliage and flowers.

Great Plant Picks has taken the guesswork out of finding fragrant plants that will succeed in our maritime Northwest climate. One hundred and forty-one plants, from Abelia ‘Edward Goucher’ to Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’, await your perusal. The website provides excellent descriptions, photos and cultural requirements for each plant to ensure your success.

Favorite (Garden) Things

Two gardening shows—the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, Seattle, Wash., and the Yard, Garden & Patio Show, Portland, Ore.—provided lots of new ways of thinking about gardening. It’s always fun to talk with gardening friends to see what favorite things were. Here’s a short list that will inspire me this year in the garden and house.

Plant a table full of color and texture, including herbs and other edibles. This table was designed by P. Annie Kirk, Redbird Restorative Gardens for Bauman Farms.
Aren’t these adorable and clever? “Sea urchin” air plants (Tillandsia) grow without soil and with just a little water. Click here for more care instructions.
Part of the Abundant Nature garden display, this hobbit door with its Celtic (and Trillium) design charmed me and many other visitors. It was created by Jane Hart, Jane’s Backyard.

Edible sculpture? What an interesting concept and great if you have sufficient light to get the lettuce to grow indoors. Of course, it could be grown outdoors this way, too.
This may be the best use of broken pottery ever! Eminently more charming than white plastic plant tags.
Appearing at both garden shows, prayer wheels by artist Christopher Moench touched my heart. I would love to have one in my garden to encourage me to pause and remind me of all my blessings.
This sculpture was perfectly lit and positioned to reinforce its strength and humble pose. It was in the The Art of Tranquility Showcase Garden designed by landscape architect Iftikhar Ahmed, Treeline Designz.

Gardens can be underwater, too, right? This was a lush aquarium that was a different take on miniature gardening. And, like gardening, gazing at aquarium fish reduces stress and subsequently lowers blood pressure.

As some readers know, I’m not a spiky plant enthusiast in general, however, this vignette at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show was truly inspired. I didn’t record who designed it, but their attention to detail was inspired!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Creating Sound and Movement with Water

Creating sound and movement in the garden with water provides its own rewards, and it doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. You and your (human) garden visitors will feel its calming effects and wildlife—be it bees, birds or your canine companion—will be refreshed as well.

My garden offers three still basins of water with their reflective, zen-like qualities and three bubbling versions. (Barney, my adorable Golden Retriever, likes to drink from all of them!)

A ceramic pot (silicon fills the holes to make it water tight) and bamboo fountain mask the noise of the neighborhood. Class balls add color. Photo: Janet Loughrey

A standalone fountain draws people onto the patio. The bees sip from the edges, which was a delightful surprise.  Photo: Janet Loughrey

One of two basalt bubblers create a natural looking bath for the birds.
Garden shows, in this case the Yard, Garden & Patio Show, offer ideas, too. And garden tours are always good for new ways to elegantly—or simply—create movement and soothing sounds with water.

Dennis’ 7 Dees Showcase Garden Come Alive Outside features plumbing parts and an agricultural stock tank
The entry to Jenna Bayer’s A Bountiful Feast…Trowel to Table Showcase Garden featured this water sculpture.
A gentle wall of water. Photo: Curt Kipp
Landscape designer Andriana Berry, APLD, created this gentle water feature in her garden.
Do you have a favorite type of water feature?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Confessions of Horticultural Crimes

Kym Pokorny

I’ve committed a sin. Actually, more than one. Many more. I was 15 the first time. My parents were in Hawaii on a rare vacation. I was not, but I wasn’t bitter. Really. My intentions were genuine when I pulled out my dad’s well-used Felcos. I’m just a teensy bit obsessive – we’re talking about a girl who vacuumed the carpet in her bedroom all in one direction – so I thought trees and shrubs should have a certain symmetry.

I set to work on the quince and pyracantha. It would have been hard to ruin them, so I was pretty safe there. Then I turned to my mother’s pet plant, a new saucer magnolia (Magnolia soulangeana).  The poor thing was only a couple of years old and about the same 5’ 2” as I am.  By the time I was done, it was more like 4’ 9” and missing most of the few buds that had formed.

Magnolia soulangeana
If you want to avoid my mistakes, plan to attend a talk about “Crimes Against Horticulture” by Billy Goodnick, an author, speaker and landscape architect in California, at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show  presented by Dennis’ Seven Dees Feb. 28 through March 2. His seminar, along with 39 others, are free.

To this day, I don’t know what I was thinking when I attacked mom’s magnolia. I like to think it was a sincere wish to help.  I’m pretty sure mom didn’t agree. She’d planted the magnolia in a prominent place next to the path leading to the nursery, where we walked dozens of times a day. It didn’t take long before she noticed the horticultural horror I’d committed. She didn’t yell. She didn’t say a thing. But I could read her disappointment, especially when only two blooms appeared that spring.

For years, I didn’t have the opportunity to commit any more sins against nature. I went off to college and lived in apartments where I could do no damage. But my dormant talent for mayhem remained, and once I bought a house, it reared its ugly head again. Many a plant withered under my uncontrolled need to cut.  With practice, I grew better, but I’m always up for a lesson. Dan Heims of Terra Nova Nurseries, who will talk about “Plants That Earn Their Keep” at the show, stopped by to take me to lunch the other day and walked through my garden. Pretty soon, he pulled out his pruners and insisted on giving me a lesson. From now on, I’ll be “looking for the X.” And I plan to learn more at the YGP Show free seminars.

Dragonfly Sculpture Greets and Inspires

Kym Pokorny

Ben Dye enjoys solving problems, and in his world they’re huge.  Not to worry, though, the challenges this large-scale metal sculptor faces are good ones.

When I say large-scale, I mean it. Dye’s work often ends up in public places, including the Yard, Garden & Patio Show at the Oregon Convention Center Feb. 28 through March 2. This year, he took the theme of the Showcase Gardens, Designer’s Challenge, to heart. “I perceived a problem,” says the Oregon City artist, “and found a solution. I wanted to do an insect with a twist, one that people think is bad, but isn’t. My idea morphed into a dragonfly.”
Artist's rendering of dragonfly sculpture greeting guests at YGP
Three of the insects with 6-foot wingspans will hover at the entrance to the display gardens on a 12-foot tapered tower. If erected outdoors, the dragonflies would circle the column when the wind blows. In my mind, Dye’s biggest challenge will be getting the 1,500-pound kinetic sculpture into place on the show floor. “I wanted it to be impressively large,” he says, “but that means I can’t bring it down the freeway with the wings out.” His answer was to create a mechanism that will crank the dragonflies flat, allowing for a hopefully uneventful trip to Portland, where the piece will be hauled into place by a crane. 

The show, presented by Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping & Garden Centers, has been graced with Dye’s work before. Last year, he created a metal circle with a twist called a Mobius, that weighs 5,000 pounds and now resides at The Allison Inn and Spa in Newberg. Two years ago he built a hippocampus, a mythical sea horse often used in carousels and one of his favorite subjects.
Ben Dye's Mobius from the 2013 YGP Show
Ben Dye's Hippocampus from the 2012 YGP Show
Of course, Dye’s sculpture, while the largest piece there, will hardly be the only. The perennially popular Cracked Pots, a group of artists dedicated to preventing waste through reuse, will return with work in every medium you can think of, and then some. Dye, a member of Cracked Pots and past board member, swapped his 25-year career as a commercial diver doing underwater construction for art about seven years ago. “It’s an extremely handy background, incredibly helpful,” he says. “I had access to huge tools, and I’m not afraid to move big stuff.”

Obviously not, which is lucky for those of us who attend the YGP Show. That would be all of us. Right?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gardens as refuge

By Kym Pokorny

Serenity is hard to come by these days. We’re bombarded from all sides by email, social media, work and family demands and more. Gardens provide refuge, allowing us to unplug and let the stress wash away. Whether we’re hanging out with family and friends or meditating, tranquil spaces are essential, and that has to be planned.
Which is where garden designers come in. You talk, they listen. Pretty soon, they’ll draw out your needs and dreams -- sometimes ones you didn’t even know you have.  Is it a walled courtyard full of tropical plants and a bubbling fountain that suits you? A kitchen for entertaining? A putting green maybe? Raised beds for growing the food you eat?

At the Yard, Garden & Patio Show, sponsored by Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping & Garden Centers, Feb. 28 through March 2 at the Oregon Convention Center, you’ll be able to explore your style at the seven Showcase Gardens and several smaller vignettes by members of the Association of Northwest Landscape Designers. Whether it’s waterfalls or secluded spaces, you’ll get all the inspiration you need to bring some serenity into your life via the garden.

Here are some questions to ask as you stroll through the show and meet the designers and builders behind the gardens.
  • How does the process work?
  • Do you specialize in a particular style?
  • Do you have a portfolio I can look at?
  • Can I contact references?
  • What does your garden look like?
  • Do you include installation or do I have to find someone?
  • Does your fee include mileage?
Go armed with pen and paper to jot down notes.  Snap photos of the gardens and pick up brochures. Take breaks every once in awhile to keep from getting overloaded. Listen to music and enjoy a drink at the wine pavilion and beer garden. Or watch well-known local chefs demonstrate the art of cooking. Get more inspiration and rest your feet at one of the many free seminars. And, of course, there’s the shopping. Can’t forget that.

Practical & Magical Coexist in the Edible Garden

By Kym Pokorny

As enthusiasm for edibles continues to skyrocket, so does gardeners’ sophistication. While vegetables are still No. 1, fruit, especially plants appropriate for small spaces such as blueberries, strawberries, columnar and espaliered fruit trees and dwarf versions of raspberries and blackberries, are quickly making their way into landscapes.

The Abundant Nature: An Enchanted Food Forest display at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show presented by Dennis' 7 Dees Landscaping & Garden Centers, on Feb. 28 through March 2, ups the ante on edible gardening even further, taking it into the realm of nature, enchantment and the ultimate in reuse.

Four Portland designers teamed up to create a garden that pairs the practical with the magical. From edge to edge, the long, rectangular space illustrates the many ways we can feed our bodies and souls. On one end, a twig arbor opens into the edible part of the garden, with a circular raised bed for veggies, cold frame, spiral of herbs. On the far end, is a ruin, a space reimagined from the crumbling stone Witch’s House on Macleay Trail in Forest Park.

“The ruin points to how nature reclaims the earth when people step away; it’s a way to recycle materials onsite, like the foundation of an old garage, for example,” says Amy Whitworth of Plan-It-Earth Design, who collaborated with Kathryn Leech, River City Gardens; Annie Bamberger, AnnieBam Landscape Solutions; and Lora Price, Design With Nature. Jane Hart Design, Pete Wilson Stoneworks, and J. Walter Landscape & Irrigation also are display contributors.

The structure also acts as an enclosure for a fire pit and sliced tree stumps for seats, a nesting place for people to relax, and, if they choose, “imagine the spirits that jumped back in,” Whitworth says. A fairy garden right outside the ruin gives those spirits a place to play. Next door, a hobbit mound, situated on top of recycled tires like the “radically sustainable,” off-the-grid earthships started in Taos, New Mexico, puts a new spin on sustainability.

“As much as possible,” Whitworth says, “we’re showing how self-supporting and sustainable a garden can be, and that we can make gardens that create food for us and for wildlife abundantly.”
To help do that, the designers merged traditional edibles with natives in a food forest and, to take the concept even further into the self-sufficient range, a guild garden takes up a corner.

To help do that, the designers merged traditional edibles with natives in a food forest and, to take the concept even further into the self-sufficient range, a guild garden takes up a corner.

“A guild garden is a system of supporting growth by companion planting or layering,” Whitworth explains. “A tree can be underplanted with plants that draw minerals from deep in the earth and bring them to the surface. Then the leaves end up as mulch and feed the tree.

Be inspired and enchanted by the Abundant Nature: An Enchanted Food Forest display at the upcoming Yard Garden & Patio Show. There’s a lot to take away to your own garden.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Language of Flowers

A red chrysanthemum means "I love."
How many ways are there to say “I love you” in the language of flowers? Red roses probably top the list, but if we look beyond the obvious, there are at least 14 other options (see below). Our modern culture has lost the subtle art of sending messages with flowers and plants. Wouldn’t it be fun to walk out into a garden and create a conversation with a bouquet? Local author, floral designer, speaker and Clematis expert Linda Beutler imagined just that scenario with her newest book and first novel: The Red Chrysanthemum (Meryton Press, 2013). (If you are a Pride and Prejudice fan, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this book!)

You can enjoy Linda talking about “Planting the Language of Flowers” at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show, presented by Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscape & Garden Centers, on Sunday, March 2, at the Oregon Convention Center. Although the Showcase Gardens and show floor are not to be missed, the seminars are free and are a gift to the gardening community from the Oregon Association of Nurseries. You can keep coming back for more and more entertaining and educational presentations.

Interest in the language of flowers, sometimes called floriography, has been around for thousands of years, but interest was renewed in Victorian England and the U.S. in the 19th century. Floral dictionaries helped to create and translate “talking bouquets,” also known as tussie-mussies or nosegays.

According to Wikipedia, one of the most familiar of the language of flower books is Routledge's The Language of Flowers. First published in 1884, it continues to be reprinted to this day. Not surprisingly, the meaning of specific flowers often varies. To learn more, visit

Flowers of love:

Acacia (yellow) – Secret love
Chrysanthemum (red) – I love
Coreopsis (Arkansa) – Love at First Sight 
Forget-Me-Not – True Love
Honeysuckle – Bonds of Love
Lilac – First Emotions of Love
Melianthus – Love, Sweet Love
Myrtle – Love
Pink (double red) – Pure & Ardent Love
Primrose – Young Love
Rose (bridal) – Happy Love
Rose (red) – Love
Rose of Sharon – Consumed by Love
Tulips (yellow) – Hopeless Love
Violet – Faithful Love

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Enter to Win YGP Preview Party Tickets!

Random Acts of Gardening will be giving away two sets of two tickets to the Yard, Garden & Patio Show Preview Party hosted by the Oregon Humane Society. Be one of the first to get a sneak peek at the Showcase Gardens: Designers Challenge and the Urban Edible Garden: Abundant Nature, and mingle with other invited guests and the designers, contractors and craftsmen and women that built the gardens. Without the crowds of show days, stroll and photograph the eight showcase gardens. See if you can guess what landscape challenges the designers and contractors set out to solve with their designs.

Date:Thursday, February 27
Time:5-7 p.m.
Location:Oregon Convention Center, Stir at the top of the escalators off Martin Luther King Blvd. entrance (777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR)
Food:Light hors d'oeuvres will be served; cash bar
Parking:On your own (Convention Center parking will be open, or street parking can be found in the vicinity of the convention center)

Drawing takes place January 27, 2014. The two winners will be notified by Monday, February 3, 2014. Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. Any taxes are the responsibility of the winners. Random Acts of Gardening is published by the Oregon Association of Nurseries, 29751 SW Town Center Loop W, Wilsonville, Ore. 97070.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fingertip Gardening – Smart Phone Garden Apps

Will 2014 be the year I become at least as smart as my smart phone? (I’m a novice Android user and I’m optimistically doubtful.) My smart phone often rests on a rock wall or stump as I work in the garden, but I confess, I haven’t considered using it to help me be a more informed gardener. Have you?

The National Garden Bureau used crowd sourcing to identify popular, useful apps for smart phones. Let me know if you find any of these or other garden apps helpful.
  • Armitage’s Greatest Perennials & Annuals (iPhone and Android; $4.99)
  • Foolproof Plants for Small Gardens (iPhone and Android; $2.99)
  • Purdue Tree Doctor (iPhone and Android; $1.99)
  • Purdue Annual Doctor (iPhone; $0.99)
  • Purdue Perennial Doctor (iPhone; $0.99)
  • Garden Compass (iPhone; Free)
  • Garden Time Planner (iPhone; Free)
  • GardenMinder (iPhone; Free)
  • Leafsnap (iPhone; Free)
  • Plant Diagnostic Sample Submission (iPhone; Free)
  • Our Rose Garden (iPhone; Free)

Before & After

Sometimes it is just plain hard—or even impossible—to visualize how to use the space in our yards to maximize enjoyment and create the garden of our dreams. I spent hours looking down on my back yard thinking, “What can I possibly do to better define my wild, mushy, shady garden?” before making major changes.  (Note to self: Invest in a landscape designer to help with the front yard.)

I peruse magazines and books, ask the opinion of my gardening friends, visit garden shows and gardens, and attend Hardy Plant Society lectures looking for inspiration. Photos of this before and after garden from is a fine example of the possibilities that exist for a landscape. I could be wrong, but I suspect there was an intervention by a garden designer somewhere in the process in order to make such a complete and wonderful transformation. [Editor's note: After writing this blog entry, I learned that the before and after photo is of Portland's Darcy Daniels' home. She is a wonderful landscape designer and is owner of Bloomtown Gardens so I'm not surprised I was impressed with the result!)

Before Photo: Darcy Daniels, Bloomtown Gardens

After Photo: This front yard planting is filled with plants that look good in all seasons to create an ever-changing display. Autumn and winter can be tough seasons to plant for; look for fall-blooming perennials and small shrubs and trees with great fall foliage to get through autumn. Look for small evergreens, grasses, and plants with interesting habits (such as corkscrew willow) for winter good looks. This planting also takes advantage of color to create extra impact. The contrasting purple-and-chartreuse color theme looks great and personalizes the garden. (Admittedly, painting the house helped, too.)

The Yard, Garden & Patio Show, presented by Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping & Garden Centers, provides opportunities for inspiration. And you can take it one step further: the Showcase Garden designers and contractors will be on hand to answer questions about the challenges you’re facing in your garden. And there are many other designers with booths on the show floor. There’s bound to be at least a few elements in the Showcase Gardens that re-shape your perspective and encourage you to look at your landscape a little differently. As many gardening friends remind me: a garden is never finished (even when you think it is!).

Here are some of the designs for this year's Showcase Gardens. Check the show website for more information on the gardens. Come to the show and vote for your favorite.

Join us for lots of inspiration on February 28-March 2 for the 2014 Yard, Garden & Patio Show at the Oregon Convention Center.