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).



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



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.



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



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



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




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


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 



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)



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