Archive for hydrangea

Sheri loves the views from inside her home

flower shot of itoh peony

Rain does not spoil this ‘Itoh Peony’ flower

My client, Sheri Mead, sent me this note from Camas, Washington.  What she had to say points out several important garden design concepts:

“Hi Carol,

I thought of you this morning as I got to the bottom of my stairs, turned the corner and was greeted with a happy, bright pink display of peonies in full bloom.

Spring rain does not spoil this flower.  I thought back on how much time and effort you put into envisioning the garden from the inside of the house, anticipating what would be showcased at various angles.”

Confetti Willow

Easy care ‘Confetti’ willow in the perfect shade of pink

Sheri’s note points to design principles that can make your gardening experience more enjoyable and give you the results that you crave:

  • Envision the view of your garden-to-be from inside your home.  What views of which plants would make you smile?  This is the way your designer thinks.
  • Use plants to bring the outside into your home.  The pink and white plant color scheme of Sheri’s flower garden matched her favorite room in the house, the master bedroom and sitting area.
  • Choose long-lasting varieties to extend your viewing pleasure.  Note Sheri’s reference to the special rain resistant variety of peony Carol selected.  Remember the possibilities of variegated foliage as in the willow.  We used sun tolerant white hydrangea with Salix Integra Hakuro Nishiki ‘Confetti’ willow shrubs and peonies for 6 months of color and winter interest from red willow stems.
Too cute pink and white ball hydrangea

Colors for Sheri – Hydrangea Paniculata ‘Pink Diamond’

Her Landscape Design in a Day included several planting compositions intended for viewing from inside the home.  Once we completed her design, the clients were very hands on.  I ordered plants and on site I coached her brother Rick on how to plant them properly.  Rick also built an arbor room using a design we “borrowed” from my portfolio.

As Sheri said, “Mission accomplished!”

 

Dog Friendly Shade Trees for Landscaping Small Yards

Small dog digging requires dog friendly landscaping.

On the hunt for a cool spot to lay.

Small Shade Trees for Your Dog Friendly Landscaping

It’s hot and dogs are smart.  They want shade and we can provide it or be warned, they may figure out something on their own.  A lot of dogs left to their own devices in a treeless yard will dig a hole under your nice big hydrangea or other shrub and lay in the cool earth in shade.  This may work out just fine for your pet but not your plant!

If you have a big yard you probably have at least one big tree so you have shade.  If you have a small landscape it gets trickier.

Small trees for full sun that provide shade:

Katsura Heronswood Globe suggested for dog friendly landscaping.

Katsura ‘Heronswood Globe’

 

 

Katsura H. Globe has medium sized heart shaped leaves and casts light shade. (Eventually 15′ – 20′.)  I’ve not seen it this big in the Pacific Northwest.

 

 

Lagerstromia natchez suggested for dog friendly landscaping.

Crape Myrtle ‘Natchez’

 

 

 

This Crape Mrytle has a thick leaf and can cast a heavy shade.  Beautiful flowers, bark and fall color make it a favorite.  (Eventually 20′ tall and wide.)  I’ve not seen it this big in the Pacific Northwest.

 

 

Strawberry tree suggested dog friendly landscaping.

Arbutus Unedo ‘Compacta’

 

If you select Strawberry Tree Arbutus Unendo ‘Compacta’ be sure to purchase the compact variety.  It is my top choice for heavy cooling shade for a small yard.  I’ve seen this as a 15’x15′ vase shaped tree after ten years.  Please note, too much summer water will kill this durable evergreen.

 

Hydrangea phantom at Normas suggested dog friendly landscaping.

Tree form Hydrangea Paniculata

 

 

This large shrub/small tree has large leaves and is great for dog shade.  This plant is in Norma B.’s landscape.  It was planted in 2013.  It can be a 15’x15′ tree but typically is kept 10’x10′ with pruning.

If you are interested in dog friendly landscaping for your yard, contact me in the Portland area.

 

 

Planters Are a Designer’s Best Friend

I use large built in planters to solve a variety of landscape problems and here are 5 of my favorites.

hendrickson planter 8 23 2012

The Hendrickson planter is about creating privacy for the living room window.  Their Willamette Heights house is 12 feet from the public sidewalk and they live near a park so there’s lots of foot traffic.  Juniper Communis ‘Gold Cone’, semi dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea Quercifolia, ‘Sykes Dwarf’, California lilac ‘Concha’ (Ceanothus) purchased as a tree form at Kinens Big Phat Plants. This is a specialty wholesale only grower who shapes his plants beautifully before selling which is why I love to purchase a focal point plant such as the California Lilac tree from him.

AndersonAnderson planter with an arbor creates a visual barrier between the neighbors’ utility side yard and the Anderson’s driveway.  The kids play in the driveway and the adults use the planter for edibles so this area has become an important part of their yard. It also adds dramatic curb appeal to the entry.

 

G Mac in peeled pole raised bed

The Coles….here we use green peeled logs to make a raised beds/planter.  We wanted raised beds so the plants would be safe from the dogs (two very smart and active standard poodles) who fly through paths.  I chose the peeled logs because they fit into the woodsy Northwest natural setting of this property. I also had the specialty cedar chips laid at 6″ deep.  It’s too shady for lawn and other medium encourages fleas and doesn’t last.  It’s the perfect dog friendly solution for a shady back yard. The plants pictured are native Sword Fern and Hardy Geranium, Geranium Macrorrhizum ‘Mrs. Ingwersen’ also have a woodsy look.

mickelsen planter 2012Michaelson’s planter – this stone planter gives us the opportunity to jazz up the curb appeal of this bungalow in NE Portland.  It’s about creating a dramatic and colorful entry experience and visually softening the foundation below the front porch. Helianthemun ‘Henfield Brilliant’ billows over the cap of the planter.

 

KNIGHT after courtyard 1

Knight – here is a very modern patio and it would be nothing without these planters.  We chose planters rather than at grade planting beds because of ginormous tree roots that invaded all the planting beds.  There was no room to even dig holes for new plantings.  Gardening will be easier for my client who is approaching an age where bending down to tend the ground is a less attractive idea. Read more.

Hydrangea Pruning Made Simple

Spring Hydrangea Pruning

A lot of my clients have asked me to help them with pruning their hydrangeas.

Hydrangea serrata 'Preziosa'

This blog addresses mophead hydrangea pruning.  Hydrangea pruning is simple and easy once you know the rules.  There is a link to a pruning video at the end of this blog produced by Cass Turnball of Plant Amnesty to help you feel more confident.  There are 5 kinds of hydrangeas.  This blog only addresses mophead hydrangea pruning.

 

Hydrangea serrata 'Preziosa'

Why prune hydrangea at all?

Why prune hydrangea plants at all?  Like most plants, pruned hydrangea shrubs will have a better shape so they look good regardless of the flowering aspect.  Many of us buy a hydrangea and think it will be 4’ x 4’.  Over time, many varieties will grow to 7’ tall.  It is very important to plant the right plant in the right place so you don’t have to be frustrated.  There are some varieties that are going to mature at and be easily kept in the 4’ to 5’ range.  We prune to achieve that height as well as a good shape.  If you have a variety that wants to be 7 or even 8 feet tall every year even with proper pruning, the best answer is to remove the plant and buy a variety whose size works for your garden.  Old Arts and Crafts homes with 6’ high foundations are perfect for the hydrangeas that are most cheerful at 7’.  They don’t work as well for homes with a 12” foundation or a small yard.Another reason we prune is to remove stems that no longer flower.

rabbit ears 2

Nicely pruned and open plant

We prune hydrangeas in early to mid March in the Pacific NW.  We start pruning our plants when they are about 3 years old or when you see the oldest stems are developing bark.  Remove the oldest woody canes.  On a young plant this might mean removing only 1 or 2 stems.  We remove dead stems and canes and we deadhead flowers back to the first lateral buds.  I think of these buds as rabbit ears.  I love this task.  I think it’s because I’m close to the ground and my soil smells good.  I typically see 2 colors of buds at this time.  The burgundy buds are just a bump on the stems.  The tiny green buds (the rabbit ears) are such a vivid green.  It says spring to me (and no it doesn’t rain every minute even in March).  These are days when a wool sweater and a down vest are perfect for comfort.

hydrangea 1 heads banner

Joy Creek Nursery Hydrangea Garden

There is more to the story about hydrangea pruning. Occasionally there are individual plants that didn’t read the rule book.  My garden coach client Mary followed the proper pruning techniques and she lost all her flowers for the year!!  AAACK!!  Her plants are 30 plus years old.  Since that debacle Mary only deadheads her plants, again just down to the first buds and she removes old woody stems.  Her plants always flower beautifully and are the focal point of her summer garden.  I’ve never had this happen to me but I’ve heard about it often enough from other professionals to know that some plants are probably genetically different than others.  If you don’t prune at all, your plants will get big and ungainly looking.  A build up of deadwood may diminish their flowering capacity.

For a detailed lesson on pruning mop head hydrangeas, see this video.

Attack of the Root Weevils

Or Why you should care about root weevils,  and what to do about them once you do

Close Up Picture of the Root Weevil

I have noticed that most established shade gardens have visible leaf damage  from adult root weevils (see photo showing leaf notching). It is ugly, but it doesn’t kill your plant. The serious problem is caused by their larvae who eat the roots of your plants during the late fall and winter. It is very difficult to kill the larvae because they live underground nestled into the roots of your plants to be close to their chosen food source. Think of them as tiny, tiny zombies! Rooooooooooooooootttttssssssssssssss………..

So how do you know if you have a root weevil problem? Here is what I recommend:

Its the damage done to the roots that we worry about. We must control the adult weevil before she lays her eggs.

Its the damage done to the roots that we worry about. We must control the adult weevil before she lays her eggs.

Check your indicator shrubs for notching! These are Hydrangea, Red Twig Dogwood, Azalea, and Rhododendrons. Many perennials will also show the notched leaves such as Hostas and Coral Bells (Heuchera).  If you have only a few notches, you don’t have to do anything or you could treat once a year as a preventative measure.  If you have more than a few notches, we need to talk but you can also check out my blog for all the gory details of killing root weevils.  It is tricky to do.

Don’t bring them into your garden………Here is a timely tip, be very picky about buying plants on discount, or at fundraisers!  Look for notching on the leaves, and don’t buy any plant that has notching, or is near plants with notching. That means there are probably eggs in the potting soil that will hatch in your garden. You don’t want to introduce them into your garden.

Now the important part. How do you get rid of them?

The easy answer is, in the long term, the harsher one. The chemical products out there are either harmful to you or harmful to the bees which we need to keep our gardens productive and beautiful. Using chemicals to get rid of root weevils is definitively not the way to go.

I purchase living nemotodes that are specifically listed for root weevil. Properly applied, they will swim through your soil, enter the body of the root weevil larvae, and lay their eggs. The nemotode hatchlings will eat the larvae. Initially you will do this in both September /early October and the following May which are the ideal nemotode vs. larvae times!

The two  most important things ares that the soil must be warmed up and moist and you must apply the nemotodes must be applied at dusk, never in direct sunlight.   If we are having a cool May you may want to wait until June or call me and ask. In September you want to be sure your soil is well watered prior to the treatment of nemotodes, and then water well for two weeks following the treatment. This will eliminate some of the root weevil problem for 2013. You will have to repeat the biannual treatments for a few years to get the weevils properly controlled, and then continue with a once a year preventative treatment cycle (still in September OR May).

The good news is that it is really easy to do!
1) Take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it up with water.
2. Treat the water with a product called pondzyme (people use it to protect their fish from the additives in our water). I use 1 and ¼ teaspoons of Pondzyme to 5 gallons of water.
3) Add the nemotodes to the water.
4. Using a plastic pitcher I then water the nemotodes into the soil where I see leaf notching.
It is very little effort for a dramatic and healthy result.   Good gardening!

Resources:
Living nemotodes for root weevil larvae can be purchased now through September at: Portland Nursery
http://www.portlandnursery.com/
Farmington Gardens
http://www.farmingtongardens.com/
Cornell Farms
http://www.cornellfarms.com/
and other higher end garden centers.
Tranquilty Ponds has 3 locations and they sell an 8 oz bottle of Pondzyme for $26.00.  Remember you need the pondzyme to protect your nemotode warriors from chemicals in our water so don’t skip this step.  It is very concentrated so it should last you a very long time.    http://portlandpondsupplies.com/