Rose Mold? No. Mycorrhizae. (It’s a good thing).

Rose Mold? No. Mycorrhizae. (It’s a good thing).

A customer at our Portland garden center in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood walked in the other day quite distraught. Earlier in the spring, she had purchased a rose fertilizer developed by the Portland Rose Society from us.

In the past, she had always bought the conventional form of it directly from the Society, but this time, she had bought the organic version, and she was not pleased.

 

Fuzzy Rose Mold?

Something that seemed like “rose mold” had developed on the soil surface wherever she had used this fertilizer. She even brought us a sample to see. She said her roses looked fine but requested a refund for what was left in the bag.

 

if you’ve ever bought plants from a nursery, you might have noticed this white stuff on the bottom. Don’t remove it!

 

We were all mystified. We had never seen this kind of thing before and refunded her money. But I was still curious, so I called the Rose Society to find out if they had seen or heard about this phenomenon from other rose growers. Indeed they had! In fact, the rosarian on the other end started laughing!

 

Marvelous Mycorrhizae

It turns out that the fuzzy stuff was simply mycorrhizae doing its thing, except in overdrive. Mycorhizzae is a naturally existing fungus that has existed in soils for over 450 million years. It forms a symbiotic relationship with plant root systems, and essentially extends the plant’s nutritional network, boosting its ability to absorb water, key nutrients, and trace minerals.

Usually, this network is hidden underneath the soil surface. In our customer’s case, it had continued expanding above ground – manifesting itself with this white fuzz. Long story short – prolific mychorrhizae is exceptionally good news for your garden.

 

mycorrhizae-benefits

image courtesy of wikipedia.org

 

The world’s mycorrhizae networks are easily disrupted by construction, or even just digging. It is often completely disabled by industrial farming practices or the addition of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

 

The Benefits of Mycorrhizae Mold On Soil

Mycorrhizae boosts the plant’s immune system, and strengthens its chances of prosperous survival.

Per our amused rosarian – the addition of mycorrhizae to the custom rose fertilizer was the main reason the organic variety cost more than the conventional.

If you ever observe a fuzzy substance like the one in the photo growing near the roots of your roses – you will be prepared to treat it like the gift it is! 🙂

-Drake

 

Growing Flowers in Your Backyard

Growing Flowers in Your Backyard

Growing a Backyard Bouquet

Flowers add color, cheer, and a sweet aroma to your garden. Being able to have fresh-cut flowers straight from your own garden throughout the season takes planning, but it is worth the investment. Flower bouquets are the perfect gift for special occasions, to lift the spirits of someone who needs some cheer, or to provide natural color in your own home. 

Every Portland landscape has the potential to be a breathtaking scene of color and texture. Our climate allows for lush greens and bright colors to fill the yard all year long. We live in the GREAT Northwest! However for some, choosing which flowers to grow can be intimidating. We have so many great plants to choose from!

Below is a comprehensive list of trees, shrubs, and perennials that produce excellent flowers. It is possible to have fresh flowers in a Portland landscape all summer long when you incorporate some of the plants listed below.

If you have questions about where to get these flowers, call or visit us at our Portland garden center.

 

Cercis Redbud

Cercis Redbud trees yield absolutely beautiful flowers

 

Trees

  • Cercis – Redbud
  • Cornus – Dogwood
  • Crataegus – Hawthorn
  • Forsythia – Forsythia
  • Prunus – Flowering Cherry
  • Salix – Willow
  • Syringa – Lilac

 

 

Berberis Barberry

The Berberis Barberry produces this vibrant red color. Isn’t it beautiful? Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia

 

Shrubs

  • Berberis – Barberry
  • Buddleia – Butterfly Bush
  • Callicarpa – Beautyberry
  • Caryopteris – Bluebeard
  • Cornus sericea – Red osier Dogwood
  • Corylus – Walking Stick
  • Cotinus – Smokebush
  • Exochorda – Pearlbush
  • Hamamelis – Witch Hazel
  • Hydrangea – Hydrangea
  • Ilex – Winterberry
  • Salix – Willow
  • Sympor. – Snowberry
  • Syringa – Lilac
  • Rosa – Rose

 

Achillea Yarrow

Achillea Yarrow

 

 

Perennials

  • Achillea – Yarrow
  • Aconitum – Monks Hood
  • Agapanthus – Lily of the Valley
  • Agastache – Hyssop
  • Alcea – Hollyhock
  • Alchemilla – Lady’s Mantle
  • Alstromeria – Mugwort
  • Anemone – Anemone
  • Aquilegia – Columbine
  • Artemiesia – Mugwort
  • Aster – Aster
  • Astilbe – Astilbe
  • Astrantia – Masterwort
  • Baptisia – False Indigo
  • Boltonia – False Starwort
  • Catanache – Cupids Dart
  • Centaurea – Bachelors Button
  • Centranthus – Red Valerian
  • Chrysanthemums – Mums
  • Campanula – Cup and Saucer
  • Coreopsis – Tickseed
  • Crocosmia – Crocosmia
  • Delphinium – Larkspur
  • Dianthus – Pinks
  • Dicentra – Bleeding Heart
  • Digitalis – Foxglove
  • Doronicum – Leopards Bane
  • Echinacea – Cone Flower
  • Echinops – Globe Thistle
  • Engeron – Flea Bane
  • Eryngium – Sea Holly
  • Eupatoium – Mist Flower
  • Euphorbia – Spurge
  • Gaillardia – Blanket Flower
  • Gaura – Windflower
  • Geum – Lady Stratheden
  • Gypsophilia – Baby’s Breath
  • Helenium – Helen’s Flower
  • Helianthus – Sun Flower
  • Heliopsis – Ox-eyed Daisy
  • Helleborus – Lenten Rose
helleborus-lenten-rose

These beauties flower early in the Spring, and their nodding blooms are sublimely beautiful. A few of our favorite varieties for Portland landscaping are Ivory Prince, Pink Frost, Double Queen & Royal Heritage.

  • Heuchera – Coral Bells
  • Hosta – Hosta
  • Iris – Iris
  • Jean May Camellia
Jean May Camellia

This Camellia has soft pink flowers and deep green glossy leaves. It is a brilliant flowering shrub that can be used as a backdrop in landscaping or as a hedge/screen

 

  • Knautia – Knautia
  • Lavendula – Lavender
  • Leucanthemum – Shasta Daisy

 

Shasta_daisies

This is a classic shasta daisy that doesn’t need staking and is generally trouble free. It offers a lovely pop of white and is such a happy flower!

  • Liatris – Gayfeather
  • Lilium – Lily
  • Limonium – Statice
  • Lupinus – Lupine
  • Malva – Mallow
  • Monarda – Bee Balm
  • Kalmia latifolia – Mountain Laurel

 

Kalmia_Latifolia

With its glossy leaves and cheery flower clusters, Little Linda is a great addition to any landscape! It is a dwarf plant reaching its maximum size at just 3’ x 3’ making it easy to use in smaller residential lots.

 

  • Nepeta – Catmint
  • Papaver – Poppy
  • Penstemon – Beards Tongue
  • Peony – Peony
  • Perovskia – Russian Sage
  • Platycodon – Balloon Flower
  • Phlox – Phlox
  • Physostegia – Dragons Head
  • Rudbeckia – Black Eyed Susan
  • Ruta – Rue
  • Salvia – Flowering Sage
  • Scabiosa – Pincushion Flower
  • Solidago – Golden Rod
  • Stokesia – Stokes Aster
  • Thalictrum – Meadow Rue
  • Trollius – Globe Flower
  • Veronica – Veronica
  • Zanteaeschia – Calla Lily
10 Fun Garden Activities for Kids

10 Fun Garden Activities for Kids

Children are natural gardeners. They are curious and learn by experiencing new things. They love to dig, they love dirt, and most even love worms. Here are 10 fun garden activities for kids to help you and your little gardener have a great time growing together this season.

 

1. Let them have their own space

 

Children will love having their own designated space, whether it is within the main garden or a separate plot of their own.

 

2. Prepare their soil before heading to our Portland garden center (in the Raleigh Hills Neighborhood)

 

Do a soil test and add the proper soil amendments before you buy seeds or starts. That way your excited little gardener can get right to work after bringing home their garden goodies.

 

releasing-ladybugs-into-garden

 

3. Buy and release ladybugs

 

A fun task for kids of all ages! In addition, ladybugs provide key benefits for your garden plants.

 

4. Choose plants that are easy to grow

 

Plants that have a short growing season, are easy to grow, and fun to harvest are the best to choose. Here are some of our top choices.

Edibles:

  • Potato
  • snow pea
  • radish
  • lettuce
  • pumpkin
  • cherry tomato
  • carrots
  • bush beans

Flowers:

  • Sunflowers (sprouts quickly and grows rapidly)
  • nasturtiums (bloom 50 days after seeds are planted.)

Or they can grow their own Halloween pumpkin!

 

5. Decorate

 

Painting flower pots, putting in a stepping stone, or making plant markers are all great ways to let your children be creative with their space.

 

kids gardening with mother

6. Teach while you plant

 

Let your time together be light-hearted and fun, but also use the opportunity to answer their gardening questions. Teach them about seeds and germination, tell them why weeding is important. And when you spot a good bug like a worm or ladybug, teach them the big jobs of these important creatures! Little guys can do big things!

 

7. Give them proper tools

 

Plastic tools that break and gloves that don’t fit can frustrate any gardener. Drake’s 7 Dees carries a great line of children’s tools, gloves, watering cans, and more. Giving them quality tools communicates that the job they are doing is important.

 

8. Be sneaky to help them succeed

 

Depending upon their age, your child may need some behind-the-scene help. Pick a few weeds when they aren’t looking, replant seeds if it seems they flooded the originals right out of the garden. Of course, they don’t need to know every way you helped.

 

9. Harvest and serve

 

Let your child harvest, wash, prepare (with assistance), and serve their fresh veggies to the family. Seeing the entire process from seed to table will give them a sense of accomplishment and what it takes to prepare food. They will see that gardening is more than play – it contributes to the family’s well being. They will be so proud!

family gardening

10. Enjoy being together

 

Exploring nature and having fun in the yard makes for precious memories. Drink lemonade, lay down and look at the clouds, plant flowers, play in the water, laugh, and enjoy the whole gardening experience together. We hope these garden activities for kids have helped jog your brain for fun ways to spend time with your family this summer!

10 Outdoor Patio Ideas to Inspire Your Next Project

10 Outdoor Patio Ideas to Inspire Your Next Project

Patios are the hub of a functional backyard. Maximizing square footage while combining utility, serenity, and grace is essential for a successful build. Regardless of direction you decide to go, pre-planning your outdoor patio ideas is key.

It’s easy to let your imagination run wild when planning for your dream outdoor space. This guide aims to help you both get your creative ideas flowing and also give insight into practicalities to make your patio project a smashing success.

If you’re ready to focus on the sunny weather ahead, there are a range of tasks you can undertake to get your patio ready for lounging, entertaining, or whatever it is that you like to do outside.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering outdoor patio ideas

What Do I Want From My Patio Design?

Your outdoor lifestyle will change as new friends and neighbors come and go, your family grows, and your hobbies shift to new interests.

Perhaps you’ve discovered a passion for the culinary arts and want to expand your outdoor meal prep options with a brick pizza oven, built-in grill, outdoor refrigeration, or space for growing organic herbs and produce.

Perhaps you’d enjoy your fire pit or hot tub through the rainy winter months if they were more sheltered.

Before you make any changes to your outdoor patio, it is important to assess your needs. Be sure to keep in mind how your outdoor needs may change so you can make adjustments that will allow you to enjoy it for many years.

What Does My Current Patio Offer, and What Do I Need to Change?

When you’re considering outdoor patio ideas, first take a good look at what your space already offers. How large is the existing patio.

Does it need to be larger or smaller? Is it oriented toward the best views of your yard? Do you need more privacy? What condition is it in? If any repairs are needed, now is the time to do basic maintenance. Repair settling, reseal the concrete, stone or pavers, and replace any cracked stones or broken railings to be sure your space is safe and usable.

patio flooring stamped pavement
Concrete Pavers, stamped concrete, or minimalistic crushed rock can be perfectly paired to your desired lifestyle. Disconnecting downspouts? Drainage an issue? Permeable options allow storm water run-off to percolate naturally into the soil.

10 Patio Improvement Ideas

1. Cleaning Your patio

It is amazing how much difference a thorough cleaning can make to your patio. Power wash the area, using appropriate treatments to remove mold or rust stains. Re-sand joints between pavers and repaint or stain railings or wood accents. If you already love your patio space, a good cleaning may be all the refreshing you need.

2. Pruning Plants Around Your Patio

Overgrown plants near your patio can encroach on the outdoor living space. Shape plants attractively and consider removing or replacing any damaged or unsalvageable plants. Add new mulch around the patio for a fresh look and to discourage weeds.

3. Lighting Makes a Huge Difference

Without proper lighting, you won’t enjoy your patio after dark. Overhead illumination can be improved by adding recessed lighting to covered patios or string lights to pergolas. Up-lights can add depth and drama to your outdoor space by highlighting the beautiful shapes of surrounding plants and trees. Illuminating stairs and pathways will ensure a safe journey from house to patio in the evening.

outdoor patio idea 2

4. Define Edges To Create Space

Redefining the edge of your patio with deeper beds, retaining walls, poured concrete planters, or a privacy screen can completely change the feel of the space.

5. Seating

Seating can be incorporated into many areas in your patio. Whether it’s a retaining wall, a semi-circular bench accenting a fire pit, or benches that serve double-duty as railings on an elevated patio. If you’re not considering any additional structures, a fresh lounging or dining set can give your patio a whole new vibe. With so many styles of outdoor furniture available these days, you’re sure to find one that suits your home, be it mid-century modern or Mediterranean.  Even replacing old covers, cushions or accent pillows can give existing furniture a fresh look.

outdoor patio idea 3

6. Concrete Patios With Fire Pits

Add elemental life to your patio by incorporating fire or water into the space. Heat it up with a gas or wood-burning fire pit, fireplace, or even fun torches or lanterns. If liquid refreshment is more your style, options are plenty: koi ponds, fountains, or streams surround you in the sounds of nature. For a more immersive experience, consider a pool or spa.

home pond garden fountain

7. Contain Your Enthusiasm

Adding containers is a great way to instantly update your patio with natural elements. Large containers of tall grasses or shrubs can create privacy, whether they’re oversized pots or built-in beds.

8. Covered Patio Ideas

Providing shade over your patio will make your outdoor living space more comfortable in all weather by reducing glare, blocking harmful UV rays and controlling the temperature. Shelter options include pergolas, gazebos, and pavilions. In a small space, even a patio umbrella will do the trick. Don’t underestimate the natural sunscreen of a beautiful shade tree!

outdoor patio idea 5

9. Fun With Flooring

Most of us think of a concrete slab when it comes to patios, and though there are some beautiful options of slab available whether stamped, stained, or textured, there is also a range of other materials to consider. Depending on the style of your house, wood tiles or decomposed granite might be stylish options. Even a mix of materials, when done right, can add interest to your overall design. And don’t forget about personal touches—adding your initials or children’s handprints will give you something to smile at for years to come.

outdoor patio idea 6

10. Small Patio Ideas

Speaking of personal touches, you may have a treasured item such as an outdoor clock, thermometer, barometer, or sculpture that would provide the perfect centerpiece for your patio area, or even serve as inspiration for the entire outdoor space. A functional chalkboard wall provides instant art whether it’s a drawing surface for kids or a menu board for dinner guests!

Bring the outdoors in – the magic of an outdoor room!

Not that you don’t already have enough outdoor patio ideas to keep you occupied – but here’s one more.

One of the hottest trends in how we are enjoying our gardens these days is adding outdoor rooms to our homes. And no wonder – exposure to the outdoors is cheap health insurance. Just check out what Dr. Roger S. Ulrich from the Texas A&M University has to say on the matter:

“In laboratory research, visual exposure to settings with trees has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes, as indicated by changes in blood pressure and muscle tension.”  -arborday.org

An outdoor room surely makes getting that exposure easy. It can take the form of a private sanctuary, or it can become the perfect party space. The possibilities are endless.

The protection of an outdoor room can also do double duty as a haven for potted plants during our winters. So, for an unabashed “hort-head”, a built-in patio also offers much-needed protection for a treasured plant.

What Next?

Drake’s 7 Dees leverages decades of construction experience with a seasoned design influence to assure a patio space that resonates with your passions, budget and personality. If you’re ready to add new life to your patio, our team of landscape architects and designers can help you find great ways to freshen up your space so you can spend more time outdoors enjoying it.

Whether you want an out-of-the box, modern flair or an aesthetic that harkens back to an early urban nostalgia. Our family of experts is excited to talk to you about your new patio! Contact us at our Portland garden center in Portland today. We’d love to help you on your next outdoor project.

Affordable Landscaping: The 11 Phases

Affordable Landscaping: The 11 Phases

Whether you are starting from scratch, updating parts of an existing landscape or completely renovating your current landscaping, redoing your outdoor areas can be a lengthy and expensive process. Phased landscape design and installation can help you adjust your time, labor, and budget to create your dream landscaping project in easy-to-manage steps.

The Answer to Affordable Landscaping? Building in Phases

Instead of doing an entire large project at one time from start to finish, phased landscape installation breaks the project into more manageable pieces. It may take several weeks, months, or years to complete the installation in phases, depending on the size of the project and what resources are available to complete it.

Phased landscape installation can be beneficial in several ways. Not only does it make a large project more manageable, but it also allows for tweaks and refinements throughout the process as needs, preferences, and living styles may change over time. Installing a landscape in phases can also better accommodate a limited budget or limited time with shorter seasons, while still allowing for the yard and garden to be used and enjoyed before the full project is complete.

a beautiful landscape design project doesn’t have to be done all at once

Designing an Affordable Master Landscaping Plan

Creating a master plan is a critical first step in phased affordable landscaping installation. A master plan is necessary to keep the end result in mind, and that plan can be adjusted as needed throughout the different phases. When the full project can be envisioned, it is also easier to plan the order of phases to be installed with the greatest efficiency so there is less disruption to established parts of the yard or garden when a new phase is begun.

The first part of a master plan should involve a comprehensive evaluation of the site and its landscaping needs. This should include soil condition and quality, drainage concerns, sunlight levels, potential erosion problems and more. This evaluation can help direct the installation to correct difficulties with each step. After the overall evaluation, the first phases of landscape installation need to be sufficiently detailed for the project to get underway. Later phases and finishing touches may change by the time the final phase of installation is ready to begin, so those phases may not necessarily be as firm when the plan is first developed.

It is important to keep the master plan accessible, especially when it may take several years to fully install a larger, more elaborate landscape. Keeping notes, changes, suggestions, and updates documented will help ensure that future phases of the installation run smoothly.

The 11 Phases Of A Dream Landscaping Project 

The order of projects in phased installation will vary depending on the overall master plan for the landscape, as well as how each phase is integrated into the overall process. Needs and preferences can also influence which phases are implemented first to ensure the space is usable and enjoyable from the very first. Typical phases may include…

1. Affordable Landscaping Surfaces

Sod, seeding, groundcovers, or mulching. Why? For erosion control and visual appeal.

sod and seeds for landscaping surfaces
Image courtesy of Laying Sod or Planting Seeds.

2. Hardscapes

Borders and edging, terraces, retaining walls, etc.

hardscapes-retaining-wall
Retaining Wall Example. Image courtesy of DrostLandscape.com

3. Planning for Gas and Electrical Lines

Think ahead, and create support for water feature pumps, lighting, outdoor kitchens, and other things that might require energy. If you don’t think this through in the beginning and plan accordingly, you may set yourself up for a big headache later.

Tip: read this article on How to Avoid Utility Lines When Digging in Your Yard

4. Irrigation

Sprinkler systems and drip plans as well as drainage adjustments.

irrigation planning landscape design
Drip Irrigation example courtesy of Ravenscourt.us

5. Shade

Large trees and plants to provide shade for outdoor living spaces as well as structures.

6. Entertaining Space

Patios, decks, spa, or pool surrounds and similar high use spaces.

entertaining space backyard design
We designed this backyard entertaining space in Portland. Check out the project here.

7. Structures

Pergolas, trellises, arbors, sheds, play structures, etc.

8. Waterscapes

Ponds or pondless waterfalls, creeks, streams, fountains, pools, and hot tubs.

planning an affordable landscaping project? be sure to do it in phases, and leave space for your hot tub!
hot tubs, pools, waterfalls, etc. Be sure you keep these in mind as you plan your phased affordable landscaping project

9. Garden Spaces

Raised beds or dedicated growing areas for practical harvests, fruit trees, etc.

10. Landscaping Pathways

affordable landscaping walkway design

Connections between parts of the landscape or around the entire home.

11. Flora and Fauna Landscape Design

Shrubbery and flowerbeds, specimen plants, etc.

yellow and purple planting flowers in a landscape design project
Planted landscape from our project, Contemporary Colonial Revival

While the order of phased installation can vary greatly, many plans prioritize surfaces, hardscapes, and shade in the early phases of the master plan. Surfaces are often used right away and help a landscape look attractive even as the plan is being implemented, while hardscapes establish the borders that will gradually frame the entire landscape. Shade is also important to implement early, as larger trees have slower growth cycles and will take longer to mature and provide their full benefits, so the sooner they are planted the sooner they will be providing that shade. Of course, depending on the exact budget and master landscaping plan, several phases may be implemented at once, or smaller phases may be spread out over a greater period.

In addition to these potential phases, it is important to consider the final step of installation – care and maintenance. Particularly when plants are young and the ground may still be settling, extra care may be needed to nurture plants and ensure they adjust to their new environment. Proper care, including pruning, fertilization, and pest control, will help keep the landscape looking just as attractive and inviting as it is from the first moment of installation.

It’s hard to believe this sea of underused grass became the multi-level masterpiece shown at the top of this post!

Are you considering phased landscape installation? The team of experts at Drake’s 7 Dees can help develop your master landscaping plan and recommend the best steps to take to create your dream landscape. Contact us at our Portland garden center to get started!