Winter Wonderland

Winter is here in the Northwest and we have had very little cold weather so far, but we are only a few weeks in and it can change in a heartbeat. There are some highlights outside just the same. Here are a few things I have seen that may be of intereIMG_1167st.

First in the lineup is Hellebore. They begin to bloom now and put on a show for quite sometime. Singles, doubles, heritage and a whole bunch of other varieties are beginning to strut their stuff.

IMG_7932This is about the time I cut the old foliage out completely. It really is good for the plant and it gives way for the new blooms to be accentuated in your borders. Garden centers should have a good supply to choose from. Make sure you think about where you want them as they don’t transplant well after established.

Another early bloomer is the common pussy willow (Salix caprea). My mom used to go crazy when the pussy willows came into bloom and I guess IMG_1179that’s why I love them too. Usually a multi-trunked shrub, they do well by keeping them pruned back as they bloom on last years new growth.

Not all the color outside right now is in the form of bloom. Many plants will take on an exaggerated color in winter that really is a pleasant surprise. One of these plants is the PJM IMG_1190Rhododendron. A smaller leaved Rhody that transforms to a rich, dark burgundy color during the colder months. Then in early spring, the purple flowers really set this one off. A must for any garden.

For that splash of bright color, look to the Primrose tIMG_1164hat is waiting for you at your garden center now. The range of color is fascinating and they are pretty tough plants in the cold. Don’t expect them to last long into the spring, because you will probably want to transition to other favorite annuals. Take advantage of them while they are flourishing and containers are a great place to show them off.

These are just a few of the many plants that have fantastic interest now in the Northwest. I just couIMG_1591ldn’t sign off without mention of the sunsets that grace the skies here in winter. Even with the seemingly endless gray skies, we are blessed with some of the best works of art during the cold season.

Happy Gardening! Mallory

And If you Haven’t Already…

winter 1

Thanksgiving is over and we are in the countdown for Christmas already. Is it just me, or does the time seem to go by faster the older one gets. I think the latter. Tis the season for family, friends and traditions that have deep meaning. In the end of things on this earth, we have family. I hope your Holidays are the best ever.

Now then…we have garden things to talk about. If time has slipped through your fingers, just remember… it’s not too late to get a few things done. Here’s a short list of things you can get done between showers.winter 7

  • Plant your Spring Blooming Bulbs now and you you will still get bloom in early 2015.
  • Cut back your Hybid tea, Floribunda and Grandiflora roses to about 2 -3 feet. It will help protect from wind damage
  • Hoses should be disconnected from the hose bibs and put winter 3in the shed or garage
  • Hose bibs should be insulated and put to bed
  • If you have a fountain, decommission it by unplugging it and emptying it of water
  • If you have a pond, make sure the filter is clean and no leaves are preventing it from working. winter 8
  • If you feel particularly bored in the early evening, go slug hunting with a pair of old tongs. They are out there if you look in the right places.

Only a few short months and we will be back out enjoying the fresh air and the soil under our feet.


Happy Gardening!


Pathways in the garden bring a sense of wonder and anticipation. They may lead to a “garden room” or maybe to a special plant or attraction that deserves added attention. Whatever the purpose, it is an adventure to walk it.

Paths that are developed around the garden or specialty borders can be as formal or463107_500748616604309_319099278_o simple as you’d like. Obviously you want to match the type of pathway to the type of garden for continuity, but beyond that, there are no limits to what the feel of the path can bring and no limits to the raw materials you use to create it. A simple, informal stone path can be as desirable as a very expensive formal path. It is all about the experience of walking that path that is important.

302973_599267713419065_1188649680_nWhen creating a pathway, provide pockets of interest along the way. It might be a birdbath surrounded by tufts of short ornamental grasses augmented by some nice small to medium boulders. How about a small section of dwarf conifers, or a hopscotch pattern of flat rock grown over by Blue Star Creeper? Maybe you have some favorite specimen plants that are a delight and you want to highlight them. All these ideas can be put together in a way that pleases you and those you invite to walk your pathway.

My favorite paths are found, not in my garden, but in the Mt. Jefferson wilderness area where I backpack. “Further up and further in” rings in my heart as I venture deep into the woods. These paths are forest floor in composition and the surroundings are absolutely impeccable. There is no place that I find rest more than in the forest…the handiwork of the Almighty. Each bend in the path presents a scene different than before and the further I go in, the better it is. Higher altitude sifts the plant selection and the plants take on a form as though a bonsai artist had been there. The wind, snow, rain, and sun are the sculptors hard at work. The journey is primary, the destination secondary.

The garden and forest path are somewhat like the paths we walk in life…you only see a little bit at a time, but always with the anticipation of another experience just around the corner. Some of those “just around the corner” experiences are difficult and, at times, more than we bargained for. Some, however, are full of wonder and amazement. Both are necessary. One might be tempted to believe that the destination at the end of the path holds all the treasure, but traveled with patience…fully grasping your surroundings at the moment, you quickly realize that destination is empty without the experience of the journey.

For some ideas for pathway styles, follow the link to my Pinterest page. Happy Gardening, Mallory

Mallory’s Corner

q2al07Fall will be here soon and it is my favorite season. I love the cool, crisp mornings with the unique fragrance of Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) in the air. We live in the country and are fortunate to be close to a 5 acre parcel that has nothing but Queen Anne’s Lace growing in it…a childhood memory.

The trees will begin the process of shedding their leaves, but not before they put on the 'October Glory' Red Maple in its peak beauty of rbright red leaves in Fallbest show of the year. I’m not sure about you, but for me, I need to take specific time set aside for refueling…to dream, explore and find passion.

The days of Autumn are integral to my own refueling. A time of retrospection …a time to ask the deeper questions…a time to Sunsetlisten. I do love fall. It is the shedding of a season in return for a new beginning.

The days are getting shorter, the nights longer, the air cooler and its time to shed this season. Thank you Lord, for order.

Friday Morning Delight

I decided to take a short trip to Swan Island Dahlias to get a first hand look at this years crop. I figured it would be a good way to end the week… and what I saw is worth sharing.

There is a very distinct look and feel to companies that are passionate about what they do and how they do it. Swan Island Dahlias is one of those places. For Swan Island, it is all about Dahlias and how they can help you become passionate about them too.

Take a stroll down the well maintained paths to see row after row of spectacular beauty; just be ready to get lost in a fantasy of flowers. Take time to visit the display gardens where you will find all the varieties in a condensed space.

There is no reason not to visit Swan Island Dahlias this year if you are in the Portland metro area. 40 acres of absolute pleasure awaits you.

Swan Island Dahlias…A Gardeners Delight

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the land is rich with crops of vast diversity and splendor. One of these treasures is found at Swan Island Dahlias in Canby, Oregon. For 87 years, Swan Island Dahlias has been growing and breeding some of the very best Dahlias dahlia canby oregonworldwide.

As gardeners, we have this ongoing quest for information on how to grow and maintain plants. This article is not going to attempt to share that information about dahlias. Instead, here is a link to the best information you can find anywhere on Dahlias…whether you are looking for different types or varieties or just want to know how to have show quality dahlias growing in your own garden, Swan Island Dahlias website has all the information you need.

A must see for the dahlia lover, or if you just love flowers, is the 2014 annual Dahlia show. View over 400 floral arrangements of dahlias, over 15,000 cut dahlia blooms on display, in our three indoor display rooms. This is the largest display put on by one grower anywhere in the United States and a must see.

IMG_0636Floral arranging demonstrations and talk on dahlia culture take place daily during the festival at 1pm. Live dahlia tuber dividing demonstration 12 noon to 5 pm each day during the festival.

You can also take a stroll through and view over 40 acres of dahlias in full bloom during the show. Be sure to take some cut flowers home with you to extend your visit and remember the beauty.

Dogs are allowed on the premises on a leash, however they are not allowed in the indoor display rooms

Event Details


August 23rd, 24th, & 25th,
August 30th & 31st, & Sept. 1st

Saturday, Sunday, & Monday (both weekends)

Indoor Display Hours: 10 am to 6 pm

Field Hours: 8am to 6pm

You simply don’t want to miss this “one of a kind” Dahlia show. Click here for all the details.

Buds of Spring

IMG_1533-001Buds of Spring

Spring always comes in with a bang when it has to do with color. The bright advent bursts on the scene with yellow from daffodils and multiple colors from tulips and early flowering plums. Laying in wait (and it is a short wait) is the cornucopia of color that is in the background in the form of buds.

Looking out the window of our home, I decided to grab my camera to find some close ups of the buds of spring. This certainly is not an attempt to show everything that is coming into color, but more to advocate the experience of taking time to observe the multiple stages of beauty sometimes overlooked.

pineConifers have their own brand of ‘cool’ when it comes to new growth. Some conifers have “candles” that portray the new lifeGold Cone Juniper they have. These candles, fully developed, become the trees trunk and branches in the subsequent years. Junipers, like this Gold Cone Juniper, push new growth from the tips and the color is magnificent…as the name suggests.


‘Texas Purple’ Wisteria

Vine plants like grape and wisteria have a show of their own. The regiment of buds on a grape vine, when observed up close, is a miracle of its own. What looks to be a dead stick in dormancy proves to be quite alive with a show of Grapeleaves, tiny blooms, more vines and grapes. The Wisteria is chock full of buds. Some people have a difficult time getting their wisteria to produce flowers. Generally, it’s because they over water. Neither grapes or wisteria need much water here in the Northwest. Stressing a plant will most certainly produce seed…and the precursor to seed is the flower.

Hino Crimson Azalea

‘Hino Crimson’ Azalea

Rhododendron and Azaleas are coming into their own now as well. Both are bright and a welcome addition to the buds of spring line up. The cousin of the evergreen azalea is the Mollis and Exbury azaleas that are a few weeks away. Coming from a huge family of plants (Ericaceae), Evergreen Huckleberryboth Rhododendrons and Azaleas are some of the best splash in spring. Blueberries are a distant cousin of rhodies and azaleas, and too, have some pretty snazzy color and interest in early spring.

Summer Ice Daphne

‘Summer Ice’ Daphne

The Buds of Spring are everywhere and all you have to do is go out into your garden and borders to find some outstanding  hidden gems of your own. Take your camera along and document what you see. You won’t be disappointed.  Happy Gardening!

Spring Bulbs

Tulips at Wooden shoe Tulip FestivalSpring has Sprung and new life has begun. Everywhere you go the color is bright and bold. From Daffodils to Tulips and all bulbs in between, the color sings the song of Spring. We have about 10 varieties of Daffodils (Narcissus) n our borders and just down the lane is the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival going strong with acres of incredible color to enjoy.

When the flush of color is complete, other flowers make their way on the scene and theYellow Daffodil spring bulbs are forgotten…almost! After the flush of color comes the foliage stage and mostly…it’s a nuisance. The problem is, we must deal with the ugliness. First of all…deadhead the spent flowers so the plant sinks no energy into seed production, unless you want to try to grow some from seed.

Here’s the other deal…the energy (or spent foliage of Daffodilfood) the plant needs to manufacture next years bloom resides in the “leaves” of the plant. So the best scenario is to put up with the foliage until they turn yellowish / brownish and then cut them back to the ground. This will ensure next years crop.

A good time to fertilize is when you see the first sign of the Yellow Tulips for Spring Bulbsplant popping it’s head through the ground. Spring Bulbs offer so much joy in late winter and early spring. Take care of them and they’ll be the plant that keeps on giving.

The Problem of Weeds

As I began my annual time of spring weeding, I couldn’t help but to let my mind wander a bit. Of course, with weeding you can do that. In fact, you can go just about anywhere you want (in your mind) while pulling weeds.

The place I went to was the weeds themselves…I mean…what makes a weed a weed? After careful consideration, I came up with what I believe the definition should be….universally! O.K here it is: A weed is any plant that grows really well in any area, but you can’t make any money on it! Well…that just about sums up my thoughts on weeds.

On a more serious note, weeds are the bane of any gardener. They compete with your non-weed plants for nutrition and water, they are more prolific than rabbits and if not controlled, will take over your garden and borders. Now if you know someone who says they don’t mind weeding, please get their contact information and send it to me quickly. I have 2 1/2 acres I would like to introduce them to… (LOL).



Poa annua

Annual ryegrass

Controlling weeds is serious business and as always, the first and most important step is prevention. If you have not spent anytime weeding yet this year, now is the time to do so. There are several weeds that are in bloom right now that you still have time to stop from spreading. Two of them are Poa annua (commonly called annual ryegrass) and Cardamine hirsuta (commonly called Bittercress).

The trick with these and other annual weeds is stopping them from blooming out and setting seed. The question quickly escalates to methodology…how to kill them? For me, even with acreage, I still prefer to hand weed my borders and hoe my garden. However…the older I get the more I need other alternatives if I get behind.



My newest and favorite weed killer is my 5 gallon propane tank with a torch (referred to as a Hotspotter). This is a very good alternative to herbicides and its effective…and fun. Works very well on bittercress and other annual weeds.

Poa annua requires more rigorous prevention methods. Please refer to “A Bit About Law Care” for the best possible solution to preventing annual ryegrass or other weeds from invading your lawn.

Lastly…weed a little every time you are outdoors. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure…even when it comes to weeds.

Happy Gardening!