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

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

A customer at our Portland Nursery in the Raleigh Hills Neighborhood walked in the other day, and was 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?

 

You see, this “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 in return for what was left in the bag.

 

if you’ve ever bought plants from a nursery, you might have notices 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, and boosts its ability to absorb water, key nutrients and trace minerals.

Usually this network is hidden underneath the soil surface, which is what threw us off. In our customer’s case, it had continued expanding above ground – manifesting itself with this white fuzz. I wish I would have been able to identify it, so I could have told her what it was, but – 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, and with 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 the mycorrhizae to the custom rose fertilizer was the main reason the organic variety cost more than the conventional.

It seems to me that this was indeed a stellar investment, and I regret that it was in fact lost on our customer. However, it prompted me to write this blog post.

If you ever observe a fuzzy surface like the one in the photo after using a high-end, organic fertilizer during a rainy spring – you will know exactly what it is, and treat it like the gift it is! 🙂

-Drake

 

The Secret to a Pretty Garden: Color

The Secret to a Pretty Garden: Color

Amend your existing garden with color

 

The most successful pretty garden designs incorporate and make the best of their settings. Amending an existing design with garden color requires a healthy dose of sensitivity to existing conditions, an eye for plant health, and the ability to capitalize on inherent strong points and dominant features that are already in place. But, although there is plenty of room for educated speculation, there is one area of the design package that is nearly impossible to be certain of during the leafless winter and spring months, and that is color. A designer with good plant knowledge can usually discern certain clues through the shape, size and bark of deciduous trees and shrubs, but other than that – your guess is as good as just about anyone else’s.

 

Here are a few progress shots from the planting of a pretty garden that was re-worked this past spring, before the leaves opened. The existing plant palette was rather traditional NW, with lots of natives, and mature trees – which made the task a lot easier!

 

The biggest surprises in terms of color came when the Japanese maples opened up, and we are happy to say that it all worked out beautifully.  The plant list for the redesign contained lots of additional natives, such as our native Huckleberry, (Vaccinium ovatum) Sword ferns (Polystichum munitum), Oregon grape (Mahonia), Kinnikinnick, etc., but also a few exotics that work well in woodland settings – Japanese Forest grass (Hakonechloa), Fatsia japonica, and Tassel ferns (Polystichum polyblepharum).

 

pretty-garden-design

It is shaping up rather nicely, wouldn’t you say?

 

pretty-garden-design-2

The fine, evergreen foliar texture of the Huckleberry, has red new growth that echoes the existing Japanese maples. Drifts of Japanese Forest grass and blue Sedge provides bright spots of color against the massive tree trunks.

 

pretty-garden-design

A new waterfall was added. The weepy habit of the grasses is the plant world’s formal nod to the watery rapids.

 

Color can be a challenge when adding to existing landscapes during winter, without the guidance provided by the then dormant plants. Landscape design during summer and fall involve a lot less guesswork, in terms of getting the garden color just right. 

 

Growing a backyard bouquet: a guide to fresh cut flowers

Fresh cut flowers add color, cheer, and a sweet aroma to your pretty garden.  To have fresh cut flowers straight from your own garden throughout the blooming seasons takes planning, but it is worth the investment.  Flower bouquets are the perfect gift for special occasions or to lift the spirits of someone who needs some cheer. 

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 fill a yard can be a little overwhelming. The “problem” is that we have so many great plants to choose from!

Think about colors, textures, blooming seasons, and smells. 

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

 

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 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 Babys 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

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

 

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

 

Whether it is within the main garden or a separate plot of their own, it is good for children to have their own designated space. Make sure their garden space has good soil and full sun to ensure success.

 

2. Prepare their soil before heading to our Portland Nursery and 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!

 

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.)

 

5. Decorate

 

Painting flower pots, making 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 jobs!)

 

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. They don’t need to know every way you helped, ownership of their garden space is the main goal.

 

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. They will see that gardening is more than play but contributes to the family’s well being. They will be so proud!

family gardening

10. Most of all, 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 the flowers, play in the water, laugh, and enjoy the whole gardening experience together. We hope these garden activities for kids has helped jog your brain for fun ways to spend time with your family this summer!

7 Outdoor Patio Ideas To Inspire Your Next Project

7 Outdoor Patio Ideas To Inspire Your Next Project

Outdoor patio ideas come in all shapes and sizes. It’s easy to let your imagination run wild when planning for your dream outdoor space. It’s important when combining all of the ideas you come up with, so that you consider these very important variables.

This guide aims to help you both get your creative ideas flowing and also give insight into practicalities and tips to make your patio project a smashing success.

Patios are the hub of a functional backyard. Maximizing their square footages 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.

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, and space for growing organic herbs and produce.

Perhaps you’d enjoy the 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, so that you can 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, and does it need to be larger or smaller?

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

patio flooring stamped pavement
Concrete Pavers, stamped concrete, or a 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 native soils.

What Patio Improvements Can I Do Myself, and What Will I Need Help With?

Patio Ideas on a Budget

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 any 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 that detract from the area.

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 and illuminating stairs and pathways will ensure a safe journey from house to patio in the evening.

outdoor patio idea 2
a properly proportioned outdoor living space can increase quality family time as well as increase property value.

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. Curved Patio Designs

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

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

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.

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 from rain options include pergolas, gazebos, and pavilions. In a small space, even a patio umbrella will do the trick, and don’t underestimate the natural sunscreen of a beautiful shade tree!

outdoor patio idea 5

Fun With Flooring

Most of us think of a concrete slab when it comes to patios, and there are some beautiful options available, whether stamped, stained, or textured, but 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, versus being too busy as one might expect. 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

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 a 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…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. Plus, it dramatically extends the gardening season. 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 if not properly sheltered. So, for an unabashed “hort-head”, a built-in patio also offers much needed protection for my treasured investment.

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, pocket book 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 Nursery and Garden Center in Raleigh Hills today. We’d love to help you on your next outdoor.

Affordable Landscaping: The 11 Phases

Affordable Landscaping: The 11 Phases

Redoing your outdoor areas, whether you are starting from scratch, updating parts of an existing landscape or completely renovating your current landscaping, 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 affordable 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 a Master Affordable 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, and 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 phase. Typical phases may include…

1. Affordable Landscaping Surfaces

Sod, seeding, groundcovers, or mulching. Why? For both 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 phase 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 phases to create your dream landscape. Contact us at our Portland Nursery located in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood!