Friday, July 6, 2012


Is there anything more indicative of summer than the scent of a freshly picked rose? In their quest to increase beauty and disease resistance, breeders have bred the smell right out of a lot of newer roses. There is nothing more disappointing in my book, than to encounter a rose that is stunningly gorgeous, only to discover that it is scentless. Luckily, there are a few roses nowadays that have the best of both worlds: beauty and strength. Three of my favorite this year are Sweet Surrender, America and Sunset Celebration.

Sweet Surrender is a lovely shade of light pink and its smell is simply heavenly. Its a strong citrus-rose scent and you can smell it from across the yard its so fragrant. Sunset celebration is another lovely selection. With flowers that open pinkish-orange, and become gold and tangerine in the center, fading to pink at the edges, it is a true show-stopper. Its smell is not quite as intense as Sweet Surrender, but is lovely nonetheless. It is a light, fruity aroma and matched with its incredible beauty, make this rose worthy of all the awards it has won.

Finally, my last favorite rose from this season is the America rose. This one is a climber, but more striking than most of the climbing roses you see around. I think the thing that sets this rose apart from the rest is the color contrast between the flowers and the leaves. The leaves are unusually dark and shiny, while the flowers are a gorgeous orange-coral color. They stand out particularly well against the leaves. The fragrance is outstanding and spicy, with hints of clove and orange. It also has excellent disease resistance, making this rose worth growing for its smell as well as for its fortitude.

Whether you grow these roses this year, or another that has these characteristics (great smell and disease resistance), this is the time of year that we can truly enjoy these lovely plants. Long live summer days and the flowers that make them memorable!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Winter Container Gardening

Many people are not aware of this, but winter is a fabulous time to container garden. The types of plants that can be used change of course, but the beauty that a summer pot can achieve is just as possible in the winter, with the right plants and color schemes. There are hundreds of different evergreen plants to choose from including: black mondo grass, yellow sweet flag, sedges, heuchera, wintergreen, yews, junipers, sarcococca to name a few. In addition to evergreen plants, there are plants that flower all through the winter. Plants like cyclamen, pansies and violas can provide cheery color even in the dead of winter.

With a plant selection like this, you can achieve color schemes such as black and silver, gold and green, purple and blue, red and green; the options are limitless. The bottom line is to not be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to design. One thing to remember is that winter containers will not grow and fill out like summer ones. Therefore you must plant enough plants so that the container looks full, or use props like greenery or statues to take up space and add interest.

Finally, the color of the container can add a lot of demension to a finished container. Try to choose your plants based on the color of your pot. If you have a red pot, using green, black and red in the container will complement as well as contrast nicely with the pot. If you have a black pot, using a lot of light colored plants, as well as a few dark ones here and there, can also produce a nice coodinating effect. Using this method, you can transform an ordinary planted container into a work of art.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time to Plant Spring Bulbs!

Bulb Garden
After a long, dreary winter, colorful spring bulbs are a welcome site. They lift our spirits just as we are starting to fear that winter will never end. Planting bulbs is like planting a little piece of spring. The best part of all is that they are some of the easiest plants to grow. As long as you have good light and good drainage, bulbs grow with little to no maintenance. Any bulb planting must first begin with bulb selection. You must consider what colors you prefer, when each type of bulb will flower, what sizes they will attain, and if you have any pests in the area that might damage or destroy your bulbs.

Bulb gardens tend to look most beautiful and dramatic when they are planted in swaths of color. For example, if you planted an entire bed with red tulips, it would look much more stunning than a bed with a mix of five or six colors. Also consider the height of each bulb when planting. Ideally you want to plant the shorter bulbs in front of taller bulbs so that you get layers of flowers. One neat idea is to choose bulbs with different heights and colors, but within the same hue e.g., various shades of blue. The result would be a texturally rich visual scheme but with a unified theme.

Another thing to consider is that bulbs do not all flower at the same time. Therefore it is possible to extend your bloom period for several months. Choose early bloomers like snowdrops and crocus to get blooms in March. Daffodils and tulips bloom through April and May, while alliums and some fritillarias bloom in late May to June.
Finally, when selecting bulbs, make sure that there are no bulb devouring pests in your yard. Bulb pests include deer, rabbits, squirrels, and voles. Fortunately there are bulbs that are less likely to be attacked. Therefore, if these creatures do live in your immediate vicinity, make sure to choose the following types of bulbs: daffodils, camas, bluebells, glory of the snow, fritillaria, snowdrops, anemone, allium, and crocus. By avoiding planting things like tulips, hyacinths and muscari, you will ultimately save yourself a lot of heart break when these pests attack. 

Once you have selected the bulbs you wish to plant, the rest is easy. Simply dig a hole, place some bulb food in there, and drop the bulbs in. The ideal planting depth depends on the size of the bulb. The general rule is to plant three times as deep as the bulb is wide. That means about 4 to 6 inches deep for small bulbs like snowdrops, crocuses, and scillas, and about 8 inches deep for large bulbs like hybrid tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. You can follow the recommended spacing on the packages or place them closer together for a bigger impact. Once they are planted, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show come spring!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Never Ending Autumn

As I type this, sun is streaming through the window. A glance outside reveals a nursery yard rife with color. We have been so fortunate with the weather this fall. Day after day of (relatively) mild temperatures, sunshine and gorgeous colors. I read about snow and winter-like storms across the U.S. and can't help but feel grateful to be living here in Seattle. Days like today make us feel glad to be alive as well as providing us with some much needed vitamin D.

Every fall I am surprised at how much plants transform this time of year. Some plants, whose color display begins in early spring, continue to amaze right until their leaves fall off (e.g. smokebush, barberry, spirea). Others plants, who may be a bit more drab in the summer, suddenly become some of the most glorious specimens in the garden (e.g. burning bush, sourwood tree and boston ivy). As luck would have it, I get to witness all of these plants together here at the nursery. It is truly an amazing site.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


It is hard to believe that it is November already! Where have the months gone? It seems as though winter is hurtling toward us at a breakneck speed. Perhaps it only feels this way because it was such a cool, and relatively short summer. Sure, we had a few warm weeks, but they were over far too soon. Now the end of autumn approaches and people have begun to put their winter pots together. Believe it or not, Christmas trees will be here in only 3 weeks!

For the moment however, the sky is blue, the sun is out, and the leaves are brilliant in shades of lemon, rust and scarlet. The autumn may well be waning, but we plan on enjoying all of its beauty until winter arrives again.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Haunted House

Yesterday was Halloween and we celebrated it in grand style. Every year we set up a child friendly haunted house and invite the community to join us in our fun. It was an absolutely gorgeous day here in Seattle. The sun filtered through the autumn leaves, bathing everything in a golden glow. Children of all ages, accompanied by their parents, lined up to visit the haunted house and join in the fun. There were so many creative costumes; it really added to the festive atmosphere. At the end of the day, we had record attendance and good clean fun.