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Inspirations, Thoughts, Shares

Garden terminology gleaned from words past to inspire gardens to come.

It is still to cold do do much out in the garden so I was compiling a list of garden terminology when I stumbled upon a fantastic web site across the pond. They have an exhaustive list of fascinating garden terminology – here are a few of my favorites but check out to get the whole shebang as well as links to fabulous gardens, tips on growing and purveyors of all things gardeny.


Abreuvoir – A drinking place for animals and often treated as a garden ornament.

Adonis gardens – Adonis was the nourisher of seeds in Greek mythology. This led to the making of ‘Adonis gardens’ which were small gardens in terra-cotta pots. They were placed outside Adonis temples during festivals.

Allée  – An Allée is a walk bordered with trees or clipped hedges.

Belvedere – The word Belvedere derives from Italian roots (bel= beautiful and vedere=see) and describes a place from which one can see a beautiful view. This place can be a building, usually with open sides.

Bosquet – is a French word, used for a block of trees and shrubs pierced by paths that may contain elaborate features such as sculpture or fountains hidden in the trees.

Bower – A Bower is a garden seat protected by foliage.

Cascade – From the Latin ‘cascare’, to fall, the word Cascade came into use for a small waterfall in a garden.

Chadar is a water chute or cascade in an Indian garden (the word means ‘sheet’ or ‘shawl’)

Clairvoie  – A Clairvoie is a gate, fence or grille placed in an otherwise solid barrier to provide a ‘clear view’ of the outside scenery.

Cloister – derives from the Latin clostrum= lock. It described the part of a monastery to which the public had no access and then became used to describe a rectangular lawn surrounded by a covered walk.

Clump – A Clump is a group of trees (or shrubs) planted together to form a group. The word ‘clumping’ was used in the eighteenth century to describe the practice of converting an avenue into clumps.

Conceit – The noun Conceit is derived from the verb ‘to conceive’ and used for a fanciful idea or an ornamental structure with little or no use.

Conservatory – A Conservatory is a glazed structure for conserving (protecting) plants from cold weather. Originally the term was also used for non-glazed structures used for keeping food such as apples.

Coppice – From a French word meaning ‘to cut’, a coppice is a wood maintained by periodical cutting. It the middle ages this was an important means of growing wood for fencing and kindling.

Coronary Garden – A garden used to grow flowers which could be used for wreaths and garlands.

Crinkle-crankle – is a serpentine wall – which crinkles and crankles.

Dovecote  – A Dovecote is a building in which doves are kept.

Dreamstone – Dreamstone, in Chinese garden design, is a a translucent stone in which mineral deposits have formed pictures of woods and water (also known as a Journeying Stone similar to the picture jaspar in the U.S). Dreamstones were hung from pavilion walls or set into the backs of chairs.

Eurythmy – derives the Greek eu (meaning good) and rhuthmos (meaning proportion or rhythm). According to Vitruvius ‘good rhythm’ is one of the aims of design.

Ferme Ornee, from the French=ornamented farm, and used, mainly in France and England, to describe a farm which is used primarily as an aesthetic ornamentation as opposed to a working farm.

Fernery – A Fernery is a collection of ferns, either indoors or outdoors.

Flowery mead – A Flowery Mead is a medieval name for piece of land let un-plouged and so overtaken with wild flowers.

Genius of the place – The genius of the place (Italian ‘genius locii’) can be defined as ‘the spirit of the place’. Alexander Pope said she must be ‘consulted’ in the course of making a design. ‘Consult the genius of the place’ is one of the most widely-supported principles in garden and landscape design.

Giardino Segreto  – Giardino Segreto is the Italian for ‘secret garden’. During the renaissance this described a secret enclosure within a garden.

Gloriette – In medieval gardens a gloriette was a summerhouse, often in the woods near a castle. It might be used by the ladies to take a meal while watching a hunt.

Ha-ha – A Ha-Ha is a sunk wall with a ditch outside, used so that the garden boundary is not visible from within.

Hermitage  – A Hermitage is a garden building which looks suited to use by a hermit, usually with a rustic appearance.

Karesansui – is a Japanese Dry Garden, with water represented by sand or gravel. Dry Gardena are increasingly described as a Zen Garden.

Labyrinth – is a network of paths designed as a puzzle to entertain visitors

Maze – A Maze is a network of paths designed as a puzzle. Garden mazes can be designed using turf, paving, hedges or other materials. The idea is ancient.

Moon gate – A Moon Gate is circular aperture in a wall. The idea comes from Chinese gardens.

Mossery – A Mossery is a collection of mosses.

Moss house – A Moss House is a garden building with moss pressed between the wall slats.

Natural – The Platonic axiom that ‘art should imitate nature’, which comes from Plato’s Theory of Forms, has had a profound influence on garden design. But the meaning of the term ‘nature’ has varied. Sometimes it has meant ‘the world of the forms’ and sometimes it has meant ‘the everyday world’.

Niche – A Niche is a shallow recess in a wall or hedge, for placing a sculpture or for decorative effect.

Niwa – Niwa is the Japanese word for ‘garden’. The word derives derives from ni, clay, and ha, place. In the Chronicle of Japan a niwa was a place purified for worship of the gods.

Nymphaeum  – A Nymphaeum is a place for nymphs. A nymph was a semi-divine maiden. They were believed to like water, caves, rivers and fountains.

Orangery  – An Orangery is a conservatory made for the cultivation of oranges. They were common in renaissance and baroque gardens.

Pall-mall (from the French Paille-maille, and originally from the Italian pallamaglio, palla, ball, and maglio, mallet) is a game, rather like croquet, which led to the making of ‘malls’ in parks and gardens. This was the original use of The Mall in London.

Paradise – Paradise was originally a Persian name (paradeisos) for a park stocked with exotic animals, the word Paradise was used by the Greeks to mean ‘an ideal place’.

Parterre (From the French par=on + terre=ground). A level space, usually rectangular and on a terrace near a house, laid out in decorative pattern using plants and gravels.

Patio  – is a Spanish word for an arcaded or colonnaded courtyard. It is now applied to any small paved area in a garden.

Pavilion – The word Pavilion derives from the Latin papilio=butterfly. Originally the word meant a tent, in gardens it is used for an airy and light building.

Penjing – is the Chinese word for a tray garden (the word came into Japanese as ‘bonsai’).

Physic garden – A Physic Garden is a special garden used for growing medicinal plants.

Pinery – A Pinery is conservatory for growing pineapples.

Pinetum  – A Pinetum is a collection of coniferous trees.

Piscina – A piscina is a stone basin used as a fish-pond or a bathing-pond.

Pleasance (or Pleasuance) is a pleasure ground attached to a castle or mansion, usually outside the fortifications.

Pomarium  – Pomarium is a medieval term for an apple orchard.

Potager – Potager is the French word for a vegetable garden.

Privy garden – Privy means ‘private’ and thus a private garden, usually made for the sole use of a king or queen.

Rill  – is a small water course.

Rocaille –  is rockwork, shellwork or pebblework.

Rock garden – A Rock Garden is a place for growing alpine plants.

Roji – A Roji is a ‘dewy path’ to a tea house in a Japanese garden

Root House  – A root house is a garden building made with roots, trunks, stumps, branches and other parts of trees.

Rosarium  – is a rose garden, often circular.

Sacred grove – In Ancient Egypt, Sacred Groves were placed within temple compounds. In Homeric Greece they were places of resort, outside citadels, often dedicated to specific gods and associated with a fresh spring or grotto. In Classical Greece, sacred groves were used for physical and intellectual exercise. They became academies, lyceums and gymnasia.

Shakkei – is borrowed scenery (as in a mountain) in a Japanese garden.

Stroll garden – A Stroll Garden is a Japanese garden planned to reveal a sequence of views as the the visitor strolls along the path.

Theatre derives from the Greek theaomai=to behold). In gardens a theatre can be an a place see a theatrical performance or place which is like the set for a play.

Topiary – describes a shape made by clipping plants. The practice was popular in Roman gardens and revived with the renaissance.

Torii – A Torii is a gateway at the entrance to a Japanese Shinto shrine, and in other derivative locations, sometimes in gardens.

Tortoise island – The tale of islands supported by tortorises (the Isles of the Immortals) came from China and led to the making of islands with rocks representing tortorises in Japanese gardens

Treillage – is elaborate trellis-work, used to support plants in gardens.

Wilderness – A Wilderness is a wood, kept for pleasure, with walks.

Winter garden – A Winter Garden is an outdoor area used for winter-flowering plants.

Yuan – Yuan is the Chinese word for ‘garden’. Originally, a ‘yuan’ was an imperial hunting park, bounded by a mud wall.

February Garden Tips

winter helleboreWe often get a little tease of spring temperature during Feb but don’t be fooled into rushing starts and new perennials outdoors to soon – instead take advantage of a few nice days to enjoy other gardening projects.

• Garden clean up time is here, rake out debris, trim back unruly shrubs and winter shriveled grasses. Sweep off paths and patios. You can also clean garden tools – oil handles and gears and sterilize pruners and clippers with alcohol before use.

• Weeds always get a head start before the rest of our plants, they go to seed and make your spring clean up harder than it has to be, so get out and pull those guys now before they take over.

• Spray susceptible plants like fruit trees, roses, and lilacs with a dormant spray – copper sulfate, lime-sulfur, or horticultural oils to help avoid disease, fungus and insect infestations later in the year.

• It’s time for mason bee supplies! These native bees are a wonderful pollinator of early flowering plants especially fruit trees. Mason bees are solitary bees that don’t build a traditional hive or make honey but what they do is pollinate about 90% of the flowers they contact! And that’s great for the garden. See our facebook page for videos on how to make your own mason bee house or come join us for a class in March.

• Pick out summer-flowering bulbs to plant in a few weeks when the weather warms.

• Start planning your vegetable garden by reading about new varieties and stocking up on seeds, potato starts and onion sets.

• Plant arugula, peas, favas, spinach, kale, hardy greens and asparagus but lettuce will need a cold frame or cloche.

• Start seeds indoors for planting in March – broccoli, cabbage, cilantro, chives, leeks and parsley.

• Go to a garden show for a little inspiration – Check out our post from last week with a list of exotic gardens and shows around the world.

• Prune dormant trees and shrubs before those tender little buds swell. See our pruning tips blog post for some basic instruction. Some varieties need winter pruning and others need summer pruning or they will bleed to much sap. Make sure you know before you start cutting.

• Add some early bloomers to welcome Spring:

• Hellebore
• Viola
• Some clematis varieties like cirrhosa
• Anemones
• Crocus
• Galanthus – snow drops
• Filbert – corylus
• Daphne
• Hamamelis – Witch hazel
• Plum
• Cherry
• Edgeworthia – Chinese paperbush
• Stachurus praecox – spiketail

Judging by our amazingly clear and sunny January we might be heading into a ferocious month. Lets hope we get lots of rain to make up for our dry winter and at least a few more nice days for finishing February garden projects.

Famous gardens and flower shows around the world

amsterdam conservatory
This time of year as I am cooped up in the house waiting for things to thaw out I plan for the next season. I usually spend way to much time pouring over seed catalogs and garden books, making notes and lists of additions and subtractions – what to dig and what to divide, what to plant and where.
Inspiration is always a big part of my garden planning and there are so so many amazing gardens and flower festivals around the world to energize my creative side. Even if I can’t manage to visit them all in person – it makes a lovely afternoon to sit with a cup of tea and surf the web to a few exotic locales with fantastic gardens.

Flower festivals:
Istanbul tulip festival –
Brussels’ Flower Carpet –
Luoyang peony festival, China –

Festival of the Flowers, Medellin –
Rose Festival of Morocco –
Saffron Festival, Castilla-La Mancha –
Rose Festival in Bulgaria –
Flower Festival of Lazio –
Summer Solstice Day in Latvia –
National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. –
Mimosa Festival in Saint-Tropez –
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival –
Hiroshima Flower Festival –

Garden shows:
RHS Chelsea Flower show –
Toronto Flower and Garden Show

Philadelphia Flower Show

The Melbourne international flower and garden show –
Chiang Mai Flower Festival –
Singapore Garden Festival –

Bundesgartenschau in Germany –

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show –

Famous gardens of the world:

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Dumfries, Scotland,
Garden of Cosmic Speculation,
Sans Souci, Potsdam, Germany –
Keukenhof Gardens, The Netherlands
Jardim Botânico de Curitiba, Brazil
Botanical Garden of Curitiba,
Yuyuan Garden, China
Shalimar Garden, Pakistan,,_Lahore
Het Loo Palace, Apeldorn
The Imperial Summer Palace, Beijing
Sissinghurst Castle, Kent
Ryoan-ji Temple, Kyoto
Issidan, Ryogen-in Temple, Kyoto
Alice Springs Desert Park, Australia
Tofuku-ji Temple Garden, Kyoto
Monticello, USA
Villa d’Este, Tivoli
The Majorelle, Marrakech
Villa Adriana, Tivoli
Villa Lante, Bagnaia
The Alhambra and Generalife, Genada
Chateau Villandry, The Loire Valley
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
The Lion Grove, Suzhou
Las Pozas, Xilitla
The Floating Gardens, Xochimilco, Mexico City
Jal Mahal, Jaipur
The Sitta Garden, Sydney
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town
The Monsoon Palace Gardens, Deeg
Claude Monet’s Garden, Giverny
Lotusland, Montecito, Santa Barbara, CA
Taj Mahal and the Mehtab Bagh, Agra
The Huntington Botanic Garden, San Marino CA
The Humble Administrator’s Garden, Suzhou
Rousham Park, Oxfordshire
The Arctic Alpine Botanic Gardens, Tromsø
The Grand Palace, Bangkok
Pura Taman Ayun, Mengwi, Bali

Tips on pruning

spring buds
Now is the time to prune many trees and shrubs but some plants prefer summer pruning so be sure to do your research before cutting.

The basic goal of pruning is to increase the health and productivity of the plant, to shape it to a pleasing form or to control growth and size.

A note on aesthetics – try to follow a natural line, we have all seen bad haircuts on plants so when in doubt leave it to its natural growth habit, chances are it will work itself into a lovely form all on it’s own. If you do decide to prune be sure to step back between cuts and re-access the look before continuing. And remember friends don’t let friends hack their landscape.

Basic tips
Before you begin:
– Make sure it is the right time of year to prune this particular plant
– Prune on a dry day to minimize damage
– Be sure to use sterilized pruners to keep from spreading disease

– Make clean cuts with sharp tools as jagged edges can damage the plant.
– Cut at a 45 degree angle and don’t leave a flat surface that can collect water.
– Cut smaller branches1/4 inch above the point where branches connect or directly above a bud point, not in the middle of the branch. Angle cuts with the pointy end closest to the last bud point to encourage growth in that direction.
– Cut larger branches parallel to the remaining branch or trunk and be sure to leave the branch collar (the bulge at the base of the branch) intact as it is key to the healing of the cut.

As you begin
– Stand back and envision the shape you want to achieve.
– First take off dead or diseased branches.
– Remove overgrown and small weak branches to increase light and air flow.
– Trim branches that cross and rub against each other.
– Don’t remove more that 1/3 of the plant (exceptions are roses and grasses).

When to prune

Winter or early Spring pruning:
Typically, summer and fall flowering plants bloom on new growth so they need to be pruned early in order to encourage the growth that will then produce more blooms.
We have had weird wether this year so an overall timing is difficult to gauge –  a rule of thumb is that you want to prune before buds swell on the plants.
Many roses
Sambucus – elderberry
Corylus – Filbert
Ornamental grasses
Fruit trees especially apples and pears are generally pruned in the winter but some people prefer to prune the stone crops – cherries, apricots, plums and peaches later in the season.

Later season pruning:
Spring flowering plants are pruned directly after they finish blooming. The goal is to encourage new growth now because these plants need the spring growth to develop into old wood over the season in order to bloom again next year.
Witch hazel
Pussy Willow
Some roses

If in doubt you can attend a pruning workshop with friends of trees:

Special notes on pruning roses:
Prune all shrub-style roses; hybrids teas, floribundas, and grandifloras. Cut back to aprox 20 inches tall, cut out any dead wood and thin weak growth, trim out limbs that cross one another and cause rubbing, prune remaining branches just above an eye (dormant leaf axel) facing away from the middle of the bush.

Climbing and rambling varieties should be shaped to fit the existing spot, start by cutting out dead wood and thin weak growth or limbs that cross one another and cause rubbing. Then envision the line you want the rose to take and trim accordingly to encourage growth. Remember that any cut you make will encourage a branch to from from the next lowest eye and so growth will move in that direction.

Have fun and wear gloves and protective clothing!

Latin basics!

I don’t speak Latin and the prospect of learning isn’t exactly on my to do list. But, a little bit of Latin can go a long way to help understand plants, especially as you are searching for the perfect addition to your garden.

The modern naming of plants is based on a system developed by Carl Linnaeus in 1773. His system used latin and botanical terminology and the language persists today. It can be overwhelming to look at an extensive name rambling on and right off the end of those little plant tags. But, once you get a basic understanding you can appreciate all those flowery descriptives for the great information they convey and the beauty of how plants have been organized into recognizable groups.

This amazing system names everything with a series of identifiers, classifications and descriptions. For the purposes of plant shopping you will primarily be focused on the genus, species and a few subcategories. You will be able to get an idea of where the plants natural habitat is, what the growing habit is like, what color its flowers will be and so on.

Genus – A genus is the larger umbrella grouping of plants with similar characteristics, think “generic”. These plants will usually have a common ancestor. Genera (plural) will be made up of many species of individual plants that are closely related but distinct from other plants within the genera. An example is Acer which is the genus for all maple trees. The genus name will appear with a capital on a plant tag.

Species – The species designation usually covers plants that are similar enough to interbreed and produce fertile offspring. The species name is a descriptor of the plants character and will appear in italic. Some examples are: Color – purpurea for purple. Shape – contorta for contorted. Origin or habitat – chinensis for of China. Taxonomists love to name plants for whoever “discovered” them. Meaning the first botanist who came across the plant so lewisii means: first collected by Meriwether Lewis.

There are several ways to further describe the many different plants and how they fit into their family tree:

Variety – When a plant is found in the wild with a small variation on the norm it is designated as a variety – pinus radiata var. binata.

Subspecies – A subspecies is a more significant natural mutation – A negundo subsp. mexicanum

Cultivar – Variations that are produced by breeders selection of naturally occurring variations are called cultivars – H.niger ‘Potters Wheel’. These names will appear in apostrophe.

Hybrid – A hybrid is created when two species are bred – Helleborus x nigercors, cross between H.niger and H.argutifolius.

Here is a list of some of the most common Latin descriptors to help you learn more about a plant you are considering to add to your garden:

australis – southern
borealis – northern
canadensis – of the new world
orientalis – eastern
occidentalis – western

Growing Habit
alta – tall
compacta – compact
cyclops – enormous
divaricata – spreading
edulis – edible
elata – tall
elegans – slender
excelsa – tall
granda – large, showy
grandiflora – large flowered
helix – twisting
minor – small
nanus – dwarf
patens – spreading, open formed
procumbens – trailing
reptans – creeping
repens – a creeper
sempervirens – evergreen
scandens – a climber
titanus – gigantic

angustifolia – narrow leaved
aquifolia – sharp leaved
arborea – treelike
barbata – barbed or bearded
blanda – mild, pleasant
campanulata – bell shaped
centifolia – many leaved
conica – cone shaped
contorta – twisted
cordata – heart shaped
cordifolia – with heart shaped leaves
cristata – creasted
flore plena – with double flowers
floribunda – flowering freely
foetida – strong smelling
fragrans – fragrant
lanata – woolly
latifolia – broad leaved
lignea – woody
lobata – lobed
mollis – soft
maculata – spotted
microphylla – small leaved
mollis – soft,fuzzy
moschata – musk scented
multiflora – many flowered
nana – dwarf
orbicularis – disc shaped
nutans – nodding
officinalis – medicinal
parviflora – small leaved
pendula – weeping, hanging
pilosa – shaggy
pinnata – feather shaped
plena – full, double
plumosa – feathery
prostrata – prostrate
pumilo – small, dwarf
punctata – dotted
quinquefolia – with 5 leaflets
rotundifolia – round leaved
rugosa – wrinkled
simplex – undivided
speciosa – showy
spikata – spiked
tenula – thin
tomentisa – hairy
viscaria – with sticky stems

alba – white
atropurpurea – dark purple-red
aurea – gold
azurea – sky blue
caerulea – blue
candida – white
cardinalis – red
cinerea – light grey
citrina – yellow
coccinea – scarlet red
concolor – of one color
glauca – grey-white
lactiflora – white flowered
lutea – yellow-orange
nigra – black
purpurea – purple
sanguinea – red

alpinus – alpine
ammophilus – likes sandy places
arenaria – of sandy places
campestris – of the fields
monticolus – found growing wild in the mountains
nivalis – growing near snow, white
salinus – tolerates salty conditions
sylvatica – growing in woodlands
uliginosa – of marshy places

Romantic descriptors
autumnalis – of autumn
aquilegia – dove like
citriodorus – lemon scented
circaea – enchanters nightshade
eximia – distinguished
eringeron – soon growing old
regalis – regal
senicio – the old man
mimulus – little monkey
nymphea – old witch

For further reading look for “The Romance of Plant Life”, Interesting descriptions
of the Strange and curious in the plant world. Printed in1907.

Holiday hours

We are now open everyday {except Monday} from 11:00 to 7:00

So come on down for a Christmas tree, wreath or beautiful winter blooming perennials!


Winter frosts are here

As night time temperatures and dropping and our gardens are going to sleep for the winter we find ourselves much less interested in working outside in the cold. But you can still get your gardening fix inside!


Here are a few tips on keeping healthy houseplants:

Light needs vary from plant to plant so choose the right plant for the right spot in your home. The majority of houseplants are tropical varieties that will prefer to be within about 3 feet from a window in order to get enough light. A great rule of thumb is that if you can comfortably read in the spot there is most likely enough light for your average plant.

Water needs can also vary so while one plant may need water twice a week another plant might prefer water twice a month. Most plants are going to benefit from drying a bit in between waterings. Just feel the soil to test wether it is time to water again. After a while you will get a sense of how often to water each plant.
Remember that during the winter months houseplants are not growing as actively so will not need as much water. You can expect to cut your watering in half.

Potted plants are always going to need a bit more fertilizer than one planted in the ground. Choose a good organic brand and be sure not to overdo it. Even when you apply the correct amount of fertilizers salts and chemicals can build up in the soil and cause damage. It’s a good idea to give your plant a shower once a year. Set your plants in the shower. Set the temperature to luke warm. Let the water completely fill the container to overflowing and then let it drain, flushing all the buildup with it.

There are many common pests attracted to houseplants. Often the best way to deal with insects is to simply wash them off under the kitchen faucet. If this isn’t effective try one teaspoon of biodegradable dish soap in a quart spray bottle and mist over the affected areas, you may need to repeat once a week for a month or so. If those pesky pests are still a nuisance try Neem oil or another horticultural oil. Pesticides should always be your very last resort especially since it’s your home environment that you will be using them in.

Getting rid of grass and making room for a landscape!

Are you thinking about re-landscaping your yard or adding a vegetable patch? Now is a fantastic time of year to remove sod and prepare beds for easy Spring planting.
There are several ways to reduce your lawn area and make way for landscape or vegetable beds:

Unfortunately a lot or homeowners and landscape professions are still using chemicals to kill grass lawns. This may seem like an easy approach but the hidden costs are hefty. These toxic chemicals not only kill your lawn but all the good organisms and healthy mycorrhiza that live in the soil. These organisms help to build the framework for a productive garden – you can’t have a healthy garden without healthy soil. My advise is don’t be tempted by the story of a quick fix and sacrifice the long term heath of your soil nor risk the health of your family, pets and all the little critters that live in our urban wilds. The other downside to using chemicals is that you often have to wait months before you can plant in the treated area because the chemicals linger in the ground and will kill anything you try to plant.

Another option is to manually remove the lawn with a sod cutter or shovel. It’s a bit of a job but the nice thing about this method is you can plant immediately so it’s instant gratification. Sod cutters are fast and can be rented by the hour but they are heavy and a bit cumbersome so be prepared for a  core workout ! Removing lawn by hand is a chore, you can try to look at it as a labor of love but it’s still a lot of work so be realistic about how much you take on at once. Some jobs are worth hiring a professional for or at least bribing friends into a pizza/garden-work trade. After removing the grass the soil will need to be turned with a shovel or rototiller because of compaction, it is also a good idea to spread compost or new top soil to help build up the soil. You also need to take into account what you are going to do with all that leftover sod. If you use a sod cutter you can often find someone on craigslist who will come pick it up but having it hauled off can be expensive.

My favorite approach is called sheet mulching or lasagna composting. It’s organic, relatively low labor, inexpensive and produces the most beautiful healthy soil.
Here’s how:

– Mark the outline of your new garden area with twigs or a garden hose so you can visualize where everything will go.

– Mow the area as low to the ground as possible and rake off seed heads.

– Spread at least 3 to 4 inches of hot compost or manure on top of lawn and water it in well. (The company you order materials from can help you figure out how much you need based on the square footage of garden beds you are adding)

– Add a layer of cardboard and be sure to overlap each box so that there are no open spaces. Regular old corrugated is best – don’t use stuff with a heavy gloss finish as it won’t break down as well.

– Next add 2 to 4 inches of compost materials like dried leaves, chipped tree prunings, or lawn debris (that is weed and seed free). If you don’t have these things available from your own yard you can use a 2 inch layer of compost delivered from a soil company.

– Finally add a decorative cover layer like wood chips, bark or plant a cover crop of vetch, lima or clover that will winter over and give you something to look at. If using bark be sure to use a composed variety that is sliver free.

The beds will have to remain damp in order to break down the grass but this is never really a chore in Portland winters. In about 3 months (just in time for Spring planting season) you will have beautiful healthy worm ridden and microbe teaming soil!

Fall Sale extented

The weather seems to be holding so we will be open this coming weekend!

It’s a wonderful time to be out in the garden with warm days, bright blue skies and soil just moist enough to work. Get in another round of veggies and herbs or plant those bare spots in the garden. Next summer you will be glad to did it in the cool of Fall and so will those healthy well-established plants.

japanese anenome

Last chance for thicket sale!

This is our last weekend open before we close for the season and we still have lots of lovely plants on sale! It’s a great time of year to add a little Winter interest, Fall blooming perennials or to stock up on some new houseplants to enjoy all winter long. Come visit us this weekend for 30% off all plants!


And don’t forget – we will reopen on Thanksgiving weekend for Christmas trees and holiday cheer!

Fall really is the best time to plant!

fall foliage
Anything that goes in the ground now will have all that winter rain to keep it healthy which means YOU won’t have to do so much work! Plus winter hardy plants that go in the ground now will have more developed root systems so that next summer they will be stronger, and more able to withstand the dry period and that means better blooms and all around healthier plants!

Autumn is a great time to divide anything that is getting crowded. Iris, bulbs, crocosmia and day lilies among others can really benefit from a little thinning, plus you can move your new clumps into other areas or better yet – trade with your neighbors for something you don’t have.

It’s also time to plant bulbs – and we just happen to have a shipment coming in next week. We will have some lovely and unusual tulips, jonquils, alliums and more! We will also have some narcissus and amaryllis for winter forcing so you can have a little burst of Spring over the Holidays.

Don’t forget about adding new veggies. There is still time to plant a round of lettuces and cold hardy greens like mustard, kale, spinach and arugula. And now is the best time for root crops like carrots and beets as the cold days coming will condense the sugars in those veggies making them super sweet and delicious! Broccoli and cabbage can also go in as well as onions and garlic. Or if you are ready to be done with tending the veggies consider planting a cover crop like clover, vetch or fava which will help suppress weeds over the winter, provide a little visual interest and best of all – they are a great way to get extra nitrogen into your soil!

September is the time to swap out any tied looking annuals with Fall interest. And it’s a great time to access which areas of the garden need a little pick me up. Summer isn’t over yet and we have all sorts of beautiful fall bloomers like echinacea, salvia and clematis. We also have tons of interesting evergreens that will keep your garden gorgeous year round, hellebore that blooms mid winter, evergreen grasses and succulents, some lovely conifers. Oh – so much more – come take a field trip to thicket today!


photoYes it sounds like a B Horror movie but if you are a squash, a pumpkin cucumber or maybe just want to grow them – then powdery mildew is a HORROR!

The mildew is a fungus, there are several species but they all basically have the same effect on your veggies. White powdery spots appear on leaves, undersides of leaves and stalks. If left unchecked they can spread to form a dense layer of thick white powdery spores. Eventually the mildew will cause leaves to turn yellow, die and fall off – it looks a lot like an icky alien infection.

Powdery mildew often affects cucumbers, lettuce, melons, parsley, pumpkins, potatoes, peas, eggplant, pepper, tomato, strawberries, beans, grapes, and tree fruits but it’s most favorite victim is squash!

The fungus acts fast so your best defense is to act quickly. First – remove any damaged leaves. These spores can easily spread to other plants so wash any tools you use afterwards since the spores could be hiding and waiting to be carried to their next host plant. The spores can also winter over in the soil or on plant debris so it’s a better idea to dispose of infected leaves in the trash as opposed to your compost bin.

You know how when you chop off the arms of a zombie they just keep coming after you? It can be very similar when dealing with powdery mildew, simply removing leaves seldom keeps the problem in check for long but there are solutions for staving off the hoards of advancing spores.

Several recent studies have shown that 10% milk mixed with water and sprayed on leaves works just as well as synthetic fungicide or sulfur. Applications should be made once a week to keep the fungus under control.

Baking soda:
Mix 1 Tablespoon baking soda with 2.5 Tablespoons of horticultural oil and spray on leaves. This solution will also need to be applied weekly.

Garlic extracts should be diluted 1:10 with water and applied to leaves. This also works on vampires but the concentration needs to be much higher.

Vegetable oil mixed 2.3 Tablespoons per gallon of water and a teaspoon of biodegradable liquid soap. Neem oil diluted 2 teaspoons per gallon can be applied every other week. Mint oil and Rosemary oil can also be very effective. Again weekly applications to the leaves is best.

As a last resort there are commercial fungicides treatments available but are those zucchini really worth the real life horror stories of the long term effects of fungicide use.
Fungicide residues can wash off and find their way into our aquatic systems where they wreak havoc. They also build up in the soil resulting in an accumulation of copper that can pose risks to the long term fertility of the soil and have adverse effects on the organisms and microorganisms like earthworms that help maintain healthy soils healthy gardens healthy people and healthy communities.

As the arsenal of chemicals that humans use to control the environment continues to expand I sometimes wonder if we are the monsters in this horror flick!

Extended season gardening!

IMG_2926Now that summer is in full swing our gardens are bursting with veggies. But that doesn’t mean that you cant plant more! Now is a great time to start thinking about fall crops and even planting for spring harvests next year. We are blessed to live in such a wonderful climate that with a little planning allows for almost year round vegetable gardening. Here are a few tips on what you can plant now:

Once greens have bolted in the heat replant with arugula, asian greens, collards, kale, mache, spinach, mustard or lettuces.
Now is a great time to freshen up your herb garden, replant basil that has been damaged by slugs (or fervent caprese makers), do a second seed sowing of cilantro or dill. You can also fill in areas with something new like terragon, lemongrass or pineapple sage.
Short season crops like beets, radishes and carrots can be planted now for a fall harvest. And don’t forget that the greens of radishes and beets are delicious all on their own.
You can also plant hardy vegetables that will last into the cooler season: brussel sprouts, broccoli, raab, cabbage, cauliflower, fava beans, leeks and turnips are all great options.

Many plants that have bolted in the heat become bitter but they can still be tasty. The flowers themselves are delicious – Toss the flower heads of lettuces, broccoli, cabbage or radishes in a salad for a bit of color or texture. Even bitter greens can be yummy – saute lightly with a bit of soy to accent the intense flavor. If they are to far gone find a chicken or duck – they LOVE greens! And once harvested you will have more room for new plantings.

WOW – it is HOT out there!

IMG_3259While you can plant almost year round here in Portland it’s best to avoid these super hot days. It’s perfectly fine to keep your new plants in their nursery pots safe in a shady spot just as long as you keep them well watered (which means every day – in this heat)!

For existing plantings that are already in the ground here are a few tips to keep your landscape healthy!

Soaker hoses or automatic watering systems work best. Many plants like tomatoes prefer regular watering schedules and dislike overhead watering on their leaves, which can cause blossom end rot!
Water early in the morning or later in the evening. This can help conserve water as less is lost to evaporation and most plants will be feeding during those times.
Avoid misting plants in the heat of the day, overhead watering can burn plant’s leaves if applied in direct sun. Plus you are more likely to end up with burned shoulders as well. Some plants such as Rhododendrons curl their leaves to conserve water – don’t be tempted to mist wilted leaves until the cool part of the day.
Potted containers in direct sun will most likely need to be watered every day. Pots cannot hold much moisture and are generally way hotter than soil under ground so they will dry out much faster. It’s almost impossible to overwater a pot!
Even drought tolerant plants will need to be monitored their first summer until their roots are established.
Plants that have been stressed by drying out are much more susceptible to disease and pests so keep those plants watered.


Now that the weather is getting warmer all sorts of horrid little bugs are on the prowl for our succulent little veggie starts. Help is on the way! – we will have ladybugs this Friday! Ladybugs will eat aphids, spider mites, thrips, and mealy bugs plus they are just darn cute!

These ladies come packaged with food and water so they are super healthy.  It is best to release the ladybugs during the cool of the evening. Mist water on effected plants so the ladybugs can drink once released. They will instinctively travel to the tips of the leaves where most of their prey is located. Once established ladybugs will lay their eggs on the underside of plants. The eggs will hatch within three weeks for the ‘next generation’ of natural pest control.  Watch for the larvae (which resemble little alligators) and pupa to transform into an adult after another week.

Tomato SOS

Well – we knew it might happen – temperature are dropping down into the 50‘s and while that will not kill your tomatoes it might stunt them a bit. Lower temperature can make it difficult for tomatoes to take in nutrients and it can also delay the onset of flowering and fruiting which can mean the fruit will not have time to ripen.
But don’t fear – there are things you can do to help boost your tomatoes:

– When temperatures drop below 55 degrees at night cover your plants with a portable cold frame, simple plastic cover, a cloche or even a cardboard box.
– You may not be thinking about it now but regular watering over the growing season will help keep your tomatoes strong, give them a good deep water at least once a week in hot weather. Irregular watering can lead to blossom end rot. Be sure to water from below as excess water on leaves can encourage blight.
– Pruning the lower leaves off of your plants can help stave off blight with is aggravated by our cool wet climate. This fungus is soil borne so eliminating leaf contact with the ground can help. It may seem counter productive but root pruning later in the season can be beneficial to hasten ripening of fruit.
– The proper supports can be incredibly helpful to keep tomatoes healthy. Plants can get leggy and limbs can bend or break under the weight of fruit. We suggest using a sturdy support like wire box form or you can get creative with reclaimed steel, fencing or wooden supports.
– Mulching can keep soil temperatures higher and moisture levels even as well as helping to prevent soil borne diseases. Natural options like straw and compost are generally the best (we have enough plastic in our lives)
– If growth slows you can use a slow release fertilizer but please stay with organic options and keep our rivers healthy.

If all else fails and your plants just seem to be struggling you can always replant with short season varieties such as Oregon Spring, Early girl or various cherry varieties.

Lets all hope for a nice sunny Summer and lots of caprese!

Mothers Day!

Mothers day is right around the corner and we have so many things to make her smile:
Lots of beautiful blooming perennials, hanging baskets, herbs and vegetables, terrariums and succulent gardens. And if you’re not sure what she might like you can always give her one of our beautiful letter-pressed gift certificates. That way she has an excuse to come spend the day in the garden!
Come visit us!


Woodland floral class with local designer Francoise Weeks

Be inspired by the botanical treasures of the Pacific Northwest! Begin this textural arrangement with lichen-covered branches and moss. Mix in lush foliage and succulents, ferns and mushrooms, fragrant herbs and small bulb plants, such as crocus, muscari and mini daffodils. Later, replant the bulbs in the garden or containers and enjoy them year after year. Gather ideas to express your creativity and learn to work with natural materials found in your own garden!

April 29 – 5:00 to 7:00
$60 – includes all flora and supplies – you get to take home your own creation!

Please RSVP to

FW Logo 2011 weeks Texture book, April 4, 2008, Woodland Series, Tom and Barb Mildner Texture book, April 4, 2008, Woodland Series, Tom and Barb Mildner

Houseplants are coming!

It’s been a little chilly still at thicket – but we are starting to bring in some houseplants.

We took a little trip to Panama last winter and after looking over these photos I just couldn’t wait any longer to bring out some tropical houseplants!

Trees loaded with fragrant lemons.

Trees loaded with fragrant lemons.

Wild airplants

Wild airplants

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Seed supplies are here!

Screen shot 2013-02-25 at 10.24.13 PMOh – How sweet it is to see these little seeds burst to life and every day they grow a little more. I’ve been having my morning coffee with these guys for the last few weeks and I’m going to miss them a bit when they move out to the garden. I’ll just have to have my coffee with them outdoors I guess – oh darn!

At thicket we have lots of seeds – veggies, herbs and flowers! As well as soil, starter kits, inoculant and peat pots!

Come in and visit today!

Seed exchange party!

We always have more seeds than we know what to do with but not nearly all the seeds we want. Come to thicket this Thursday for a seed exchange! Meet your neighbors, drink some beer (at Mash Tun) and expand your seed collection for a bigger better veggie garden!

Remember to bring some extra envelopes for your seeds, a pen and any garden stories or advice to share.

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It’s time to plant peas!

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We have been starting seeds indoors but its also time to start sowing seeds directly outside.

Peas are one of the easiest thing to grow in Portland – you can almost just throw them in the general direction of your garden and they will most likely flourish but here are a few simple tips for success:

Mid to late February is the perfect time to plant peas, but for a prolonged harvest you can continue to plant succession crops through mid April.

We love to eat the new pea tendrils and young leaves so I tend to over plant my rows and simply harvest the shoots coming up in between the desired distance apart. They are lovely in stir fry’s and on top of salads but my absolute favorite is a pea pesto! (See recipes below)

Peas like to be a little crowded so I generally plant in a patch about 6 to 8 inches across as opposed to a straight line. I leave about 3” in between plants.

Peas do benefit from a legume inoculant to help fix nitrogen. Simply dampen the seeds and coat them in the power before planting.

Once the plants reach about 8 inches I top the plants back one pair of leaves – this encourages side shoots and fuller plants.

The most important tip for getting lots of peas is to keep eating them – the more you eat the more your plants will produce. It’s like a race where you get the pea-trophy every day!

Fresh Spring pea pesto

1 cups freshly shelled peas
2 cups packed pea tendrils and tender new leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
3 cloves garlic, smashed
juice from one small lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons nice fruity olive oil – possibly more to thin

Mix and enjoy!

Spring is here!

Come in for bulbs, seeds and early bloomers like witch hazel or hellebore to brighten a dreary day.


Christmas is here!

We still have tons of Christmas trees, lovely wreaths and Holiday crafts as well as winter blooming plants like cyclamen, hellebore and amaryllis. Come on down for our last weekend to be open for the season. We have a fire crackling, hot cider bubbling and s’mores roasting! Come share some Holiday cheer with us!



We have lots of wreaths made up of you can make your very own with our fun selection of winter greens, woodland accents and silk ribbons!




You can also make your own terrarium!












I wanted to give a shout out to my good friend Andrea who has just launched her new business – She designs the most amazing cakes ever – just wandering thru her web site is a treat for the eyes – go visit!
Andrea Nicolas Cakes

The mushrooms are coming!

Have you ever been interested in learning more about wild mushrooms? Now is your chance! Local environmental group – Oregon Wild offers mushroom hikes with the ever charming Wendell Wood. It is such a treat to go on one of his guided trips. ( he also leads wildflower hikes in the Spring!)

Emphasis will be on mushroom species identification, and not on collecting for the table. Oregon Wild will also provide a printed list of 250+ mushrooms and fleshy fungus found in the Mt. Hood National Forest this time of year.

Additionally, all participants in Oregon Wild’s fall mushroom hikes are invited to attend a free pre-hike, evening slideshow and mushroom workshop.  This lecture (with very cool and unusual mushroom examples) will be held on Tuesday night October 23rd from 6:30 – 8:00 pm.

You can help Oregon Wild continue to provide high-quality, guided hikes into Oregon’s spectacular wildlands by making a small donation. Your support helps offset the costs of their hikes program, and ensures we can all continue to explore and enjoy Oregon’s natural heritage. Suggested donation of $5 (Oregon Wild members) and $10 (non members).

Click the link below to register:


Autumn Sale

It’s a great time to plant so we are having at Autumn Sale! The Fall is a wonderful time for making changes to your garden. At the tail end of the season you can easily see what areas need attention. It’s a good idea to assess soil and water conditions and make changes accordingly. Now is the perfect time to fill in areas that are bare or need more color or texture to create year round interest. Plus if you plant soon – things will have plenty of time to get established before the hard frost and since the rains are on their way you wont have to do much watering!


We want to give a shout out to our good friend Jason, otherwise known as The Preventive Vet, Jason has just written a great book on pet safety that covers among other things dangerous and poisonous plants. There are many common indoor and garden plants that are toxic to our furry, feathered and scaled friends. We are planning to have Jason come over to thicket and give a class on pet safely in the garden but in the mean time please check out his book project at indiegogo. And if you contribute to his project you can get a copy of this great book!

Fall planting and design class

Come spend the evening with us – learn about great Autumn plant picks, enjoy a little cider and get 20% off of all plants and bulbs!


Perfect day!

We recently helped style a wedding down in Ojai California. You can watch the truly amazing video of this inspiring celebration here:

Portland is crazy for succulents and echeverias!

We can’t get enough succulents and echeverias. We have potted them up in beautiful glazed pottey, vintage metal urns, reclaimed tins, old tool boxes – basically anything is fair game for a succulent garden.






Our planting guides are in!

The very talented Vanessa Kauffman created these lovely letter pressed planting guides for us. They make a sweet gift – or a beautiful way to remind yourself of what edibles are ready to be planted.

Trees for everyone!

It may seem a little counter productive to encourage our clients to look elseware for trees when we have such a nice selection right here in our nursery but our ultimate goal is really to green the entire city of Portland. And to that end we wanted to share a link to Friends of Trees. If you are not familiar with this wonderful organization do take the time to check them out. They provide a great service here in Portland educating the public about all the amazing benefits of planting trees in our parking strips.They also help source healthy trees and can even help you plant it! Now that is hard to argue with.

A little press…

The very creative folks at the Timber press art department stopped by to visit their books in their natural habitat. And since we are so very proud to carry a fine array of their amazing publications they happened to visit here at thicket. They had some very sweet things to say about our little garden center. You can visit the web site for the whole story and while you are there check out some of the fun new books slated to come out soon. Timber is a leader in books on gardening, horticulture, edibles, design, sustainability, natural history and our own beloved Pacific Northwest. We are eagerly waiting to see what Timber releases next!


Danger Garden

If you have not yet visited the Danger Garden Blog you must go there now! It is a wonderfully curated look into the delicious world of Portland gardening. A rich and decadent experience that I often save for those perfect mornings that I have absolutely nothing better to do but sit in my garden with a cup of tea and dream about my next botanical adventure. Plus she did just write up a lovely little review of thicket…..

Alberta Sidewalk Sale

It’s going to be a fun event Saturday the 22nd. Come on out for some great deals at all your favorite shops on Alberta!

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