Trees

12 Unusual Plants at McMenamins Edgefield

12 Unusual Plants at McMenamins Edgefield

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McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale, Oregon is a former poor farm turned restaurant/hotel/brewery/winery/theater/golf course. Heck, they even have a glass-blowing studio. Of course, my favorite attraction is the incredible landscaping! Here are a dozen interesting and unusual plants I saw there this year while exploring the grounds (in chronological order, more or less). Pretty sure I killed this as a houseplant… Read more →


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12 Best Websites for Plant Descriptions

12 Best Websites for Plant Descriptions

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I write a lot of plant descriptions. It used to be a slow, tedious process, but over time I’ve learned exactly where to go to find the information I need, and that has made my job a lot easier. Allow me to share some of my favorite web sources for plant information: Missouri Botanic Garden Plant Finder If you do… Read more →


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Understanding Roots by Robert Kourik--You Need This Book

Understanding Roots by Robert Kourik–You Need This Book

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Maybe I shouldn’t review a book when I’m hungry, but I found Robert Kourik’s new book Understanding Roots to be one of those meaty kinds of books you can really sink your teeth into, with lots of delicious morsels along the way. For example, I learned: In loose soil, carrot roots can go down 7 ft. One cubic inch of soil can… Read more →


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The Weird, Wonderful World of a Peat Bog

The Weird, Wonderful World of a Peat Bog

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“I’d like to visit the swamp.” My parents thought this an odd request when I visited my home state of Minnesota last week, but I’d recently learned that I’d grown up literally next door to one of the most unique plant communities in the world, and I had never appreciated it. So I set out to rediscover the peat bogs of… Read more →


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Book Review: The Allergy-Fighting Garden

Book Review: The Allergy-Fighting Garden

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Have you ever wondered why the number of asthma and allergy sufferers has skyrocketed in recent years? Thomas Ogren thinks he knows the biggest reason for the spike, and he explains what we can do about it in his new book, The Allergy-Fighting Garden: Stop Asthma and Allergies with Smart Landscaping (Ten Speed Press).     [Disclosure: I did receive a… Read more →


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Japanese Umbrella Pine (Sciadopitys): A Living Fossil

Japanese Umbrella Pine (Sciadopitys): A Living Fossil

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Until this winter, I only knew Japanese umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata) as a handsome but dinky conifer I’d seen at garden centers selling for what could feed a family of four for a month. Then I learned in Phyllis Reynolds’ Trees of Greater Portland (Macrophyllum Press, 2013) that Portland is home to several mature specimens and that I could see this… Read more →


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Incense Cedar: Not Just Another Evergreen Tree

Incense Cedar: Not Just Another Evergreen Tree

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Birders sometimes use the term “LGB.” It stands for “Little Gray Birds” and is a shorthand way to note sightings of birds that are too unremarkable in plumage to ID. In the Pacific Northwest, we gardeners might adopt a similar lumping acronym: “BGC.” To the untrained eye, the bounty of evergreen trees here with soft sprays of foliage, like redcedars,… Read more →


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A Wishing Tree Blooms in Portland

A Wishing Tree Blooms in Portland

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A Wishing Tree!  That’s so Portland. This humble horsechestnut on the corner of NE 7th and Morris in Portland is the bearer of hundreds of wishes tacked to its trunk by passersby.  I visited the Wishing Tree last week after reading about it online. Our local KGW did a story on it earlier this year, as did The Huffington Post.  They… Read more →


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Paperbark Maple--A Must-Have Specimen Tree

Paperbark Maple–A Must-Have Specimen Tree

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Planting a paperbark maple is one thing you must do to be considered a Serious Gardener.  (The other two are gardening after dark by the light of your car headlights, and asking for manure for your birthday.) But novice gardeners can get in on the fun, too, because the choice paperbark maple (Acer griseum) is surprisingly easy to grow.  It… Read more →


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Feeling Brave, I Taste Ginkgo for the First Time

Feeling Brave, I Taste Ginkgo for the First Time

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  Nobody who’s smelled ginkgo fruits for the first time has ever said, “Yeah, I think I’m gonna have to eat some of that.” If you haven’t experienced them first hand, well, they have the aroma of something that maybe was once food, but has since passed through one or two digestive organs before finding its way to the nostrils.  Dog vomit,… Read more →


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