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Robb Rosser

Gardening columnist

Recent Stories

Garden Life: Mistakes vital to a gardener's learning process

By Robb Rosser October 30, 2014 6 a.m.

In a perfect world, a gardener would never buy a plant unless he or she knew exactly where it should be placed in the garden. The right plant in the right place is one criterion for a successful garden. But I live in the real world and know that making mistakes is equally important in the learning process of every gardener.

Garden Life: Shrubs, grasses bring special definition to garden

By Robb Rosser October 23, 2014 6 a.m.

Used individually, shrubs can stand as specimen plants in every season. Camellia sasanqua "Yuletide," with its Christmas red flower petals, yellow anthers and dark green, glossy leaves, will bloom from November through January in a mild year. Late winter brings out the petite blooms of many species of sweetly fragrant sarcococca or Winter Box. In early spring viburnums such as Korean Spice fill the air with their piquant scent.

Garden Life: In fall, tidy away the debris and prepare for spring

By Robb Rosser October 16, 2014 6 a.m.

Fall is a period of transition for the garden and the gardener. As a part of my personal shift from landscaped acreage to potted patio, I made it through the entire summer with nary a mandatory garden chore. Oh yes, I did water my planters on hot sunny days and I occasionally trimmed back the miniature ivy hanging over the sides of my ceramic pots, but that was simply to avoid going stir-crazy.

The Garden Life: In autumn, focus is on leaf color, plant silhouette

By Robb Rosser October 9, 2014 6 a.m.

I think of autumn as the grand finale of a long, ever-changing performance in the Northwest garden. For the gardener, especially those of us with a bent for collecting, this prelude to winter can be an embarrassment of riches. The vast selection of trees and shrubs available to us is one of our biggest challenges.

The Garden Life: Spring isn't only time to have flowers in bloom

By Robb Rosser October 2, 2014 6 a.m.

Gardeners are used to the delayed gratification of planting bulbs. As we plant in the fall, we imagine the future pastel tulips and fragrant daffodils that will emerge from these spring-blooming bulbs. They go into the ground now as little more than plain, ovoid brown paper packages. It will be in March, April and even May before we enjoy the fruits of our autumnal labors.

The Garden Life: Find balance between planning, impetuousness

By Robb Rosser September 25, 2014 6 a.m.

Pay attention to the most beautiful gardens in your own neighborhood and you will see that it's often the shrubs that carry the garden seamlessly through the year. Regardless of the season, shrubs contour and outline garden spaces and give a sense of privacy and enclosure. Many shrubs use the color of their flowers to bring a garden vignette to life. A red-hot rhododendron looks great against a creamy yellow house wall. The clear salmon pink blossoms of the flowering quince Chaenomeles x superba "Cameo" are elegant trained on a copper trellis.

The Garden Life: Transplanting can help transform your garden

By Robb Rosser September 18, 2014 6 a.m.

The approach of autumn signals considerable changes in the well-planned garden. This is when the foliage of trees, shrubs and many perennials take on the color shades of the season. Rusty red and pumpkin orange, burnished bronze and the faded gold of ornamental grasses. As gardeners, we have chosen fall foliage plants carefully in seasons past and quite often in years gone by. As time passes in the garden, we sometimes find that a tree or shrub we selected for specific characteristics is not living up to its potential. This is the perfect time of year to transplant the right plant to the right place in the garden.

The Garden Life: Now is good time to find plants at bargain prices

By Robb Rosser September 11, 2014 6 a.m.

Beginning in mid-September, around the time of year that many consider the end of the growing season, most nurseries and retail garden stores put a large selection of plants on sale. If you have coveted a specific perennial or specimen plant but hesitated to buy because of the cost, there's a good chance the price will be marked down considerably in the coming weeks. The trick is to shop late enough for good sale prices and early enough for a worthwhile selection of plants.

The Garden Life: Change of seasons a time for planting

By Robb Rosser September 4, 2014 6 a.m.

As summer begins to take its leave and autumn stands waiting in the wings, we feel an urge to redirect our garden energies. This change of season signals a shift in our focus from the daily maintenance of watering, deadheading and mowing lawns to preparation for fall planting and the inevitable arrival of winter. Inherent in the transition from one season to the next, betwixt and between, is the desire to go forward.

The Garden Life: Naming garden areas can bring focus to design

By Robb Rosser August 28, 2014 6 a.m.

For me, part of the creative process of gardening is to give names to beds, borders and other areas of the garden. A name helps me to focus on an idea and to eventually create a small reality from an internal image. Years ago, I began to call my old garden "Scout's Run" in honor of our noble collie dog, Scout. It has been many years now since Scout passed on and a couple more since he actually ran through the garden. Still, to the end of my residence there his spirit pervaded every morning garden walk.

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