Winter in the Garden

Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica): Love This Tree or Buyer's Remorse?

Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica): Love This Tree or Buyer’s Remorse?

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I’m a slow shopper. It takes me ten minutes to pick out five apples at the grocery store. Now I’m trying to choose a tree for the parking strip, and that’s a major decision. I’ll have to live with it every day, you know? Persian ironwood, or Persian parrotia (Parrotia persica), is on my shortlist, and I’m weighing the pros… Read more →


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Joy Creek Nursery vs. "Mr. Bear", Plus a Giveaway!

Joy Creek Nursery vs. “Mr. Bear”, Plus a Giveaway!

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Win a $40 gift certificate to Joy Creek Nursery! JCN opens for the 2017 season this Saturday, February 25. (They do mail order, too.) But first, a visit to this amazing nursery in Scappoose, Oregon, 20 miles northwest of Portland. I was invited to Joy Creek recently, along with some of my garden blogger friends, by co-owners Maurice Horn and… Read more →


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Cool Plants at Xera Plants Opening Day 2017

Cool Plants at Xera Plants Opening Day 2017

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Portland has had a horrendous winter. Multiple ice storms, lower than average temperatures, and a single freak snowstorm that dumped nearly a foot of snow have taken a toll, and not just on our spirits. Plants have been heaved out of the ground, broken in two, killed outright by cold. This is good news for nurseries, as people will be… Read more →


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Winter Flowers on New Year's Day

Winter Flowers on New Year’s Day

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Let’s face it, “winter interest” in the garden often amounts to a few somber evergreens, a spray of colorful berries, and some shreddy bark. Honest-to-God winter flowers are rare, and flowers on January first? Well, that’s asking a bit much. Or so I thought. I went to Edgefield McMenamins in Troutdale, Oregon on New Year’s Day to take some “winter interest”… Read more →


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A Gallery of Hellebores for Your Garden

A Gallery of Hellebores for Your Garden

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It’s sprinter—that wonderful season between winter and spring—and the hellebores (a.k.a. Lenten roses) are in bloom! These beloved shade garden stalwarts have undergone a revolution in recent years. Formerly limited to a very narrow color palette, hellebores now soothe our flower-starved late winter eyes with white, pink, violet, crimson, green, lavender, peach, primrose, and purple-black tones. I hit a few garden centers in… Read more →


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Trees with the Coolest Bark

Trees with the Coolest Bark

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Ah, January. Not much going on in the garden. Witch hazels are blooming, and a few camellias. In colder zones, there’s nothing blooming at all. It was -16°F last Monday in my hometown in Minnesota. The record for that day is -42°F. Bark takes center stage this time of year as we look harder to find beauty in the landscape…. 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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The Beauty of Death in the Winter Garden

The Beauty of Death in the Winter Garden

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Winter forces us to look closer for beauty in the garden.  No more cantaloupe-sized hydrangea flowers, no flamboyant dahlias, no voluptuous tree peonies.  We look to the details to find beauty in unexpected places. My neighbor has an English holly that hangs over the fence in the corner of our backyard.  The leaves it drops are thick and waxy, but… Read more →


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Icy Garden Photos: Leafcicles, Monkey Heads, and Winter Blooms

Icy Garden Photos: Leafcicles, Monkey Heads, and Winter Blooms

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I love all seasons of the year–even when there’s not much (or anything) blooming.  Winter has its unique beauties.  However, after moving to Portland, I didn’t expect to see much of the winter wonderland that visits the Midwest.  Boy, was I wrong this year!  Nine inches of snow and a coating of ice made for some fierce cabin fever last weekend,… Read more →


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eranthis hyemalis winter aconite

Winter Flowers: Ten Plants That Bloom Before the Daffodils

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Spring may begin in March, around the time the daffodils bloom in the Lower Midwest, but that doesn’t mean the color calendar isn’t already underway before then. Did you know that even before the daffodils bloom, quite a few plants have already stepped into the spotlight?  Here are ten of them: 1.  More often than not, Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) opens its… Read more →


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