By Robb Rosser March 6, 2014 6 a.m.
As wonderful as spring-blooming bulbs can be in the garden, there is a side to using them successfully that leaves many gardeners dazed and confused. All bulbs are essentially easy to grow. Planted in mid- to late autumn, they bloom right on schedule without any further effort on the part of the gardener. However, the challenge is to plan ahead now for planting in September. This is the key to creating the garden you've been dreaming of when spring returns in March.
By Robb Rosser February 27, 2014 6 a.m.
When it comes to choosing plants for the winter garden, nothing lends texture, volume and visual depth to a planting design than evergreens. Winter is the time of year to evaluate the garden and decide if and where an evergreen can add interest to the season. Conifers are cone-bearing trees and shrubs including pine, fir and spruce. Rhododendron and winter-hardy cotoneaster are classic Northwest evergreen shrubs and make good all-season groundcovers for large garden spaces. Multiple evergreen trees form excellent living walls and backdrops for a large garden.
By Robb Rosser February 20, 2014 6 a.m.
Mid-February to early March is the time to prune most deciduous trees and shrubs including fruit, flowering and shade trees. As always, I remind you not to prune any spring-blooming plants at this time. If you do, you will be removing this year's flowers. Spring bloomers flower early in the season and include shrubs such as quince, forsythia and spirea. They flower on the previous year's growth.
By Robb Rosser February 13, 2014 6 a.m.
Northwest gardeners love to grow roses. This is not to say we don't curse their faults as vehemently as we praise their attributes. Gardeners know from experience what a "pain in the garden" roses can be. I have made numerous pronouncements that I will never plant another rose in my garden, and I have removed any roses that do not thrive on low maintenance.
By Robb Rosser February 6, 2014 6 a.m.
Spring will soon be in the air and the Northwest gardener needs no further encouragement to begin another season of gardening. Soon, primroses, pansies, daffodils and tulips in six packs, 4-inch pots or 1-gallon containers will fill the tables outside the entry door of every nursery in town. More plants arrive every day. There will be pots of herbaceous perennials including cranesbill geraniums and candy tuft (Iberis sempervirens). Today, I eye-balled a common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), which will one day flaunt heavenly scented flower clusters in purple, pink and white.
By Robb Rosser January 30, 2014 6 a.m.
We know we are well into winter once we have encountered bouts of freezing temperatures, spells of cold wind and a few days of rising temperatures that are warmer than it should be for this time of year. These weather variations are typical of the Northwest winter. Keep in mind that winter is not over just because we had a few days of sunshine. It will be back and hopefully our gardens will remain in a suspended state of dormancy for the rest of the winter season.
By Robb Rosser January 23, 2014 6 a.m.
Longing for the end of winter in January makes no more sense than wishing for a summer snowfall in July.
By Robb Rosser January 16, 2014 6 a.m.
There are many different theories on winter garden maintenance. Some insist on cleaning up the garden in late fall as prevention from pests and disease. Many cannot abide the messy look of spent perennials. Others argue that we allow nature to take its course when perennial plants enter dormancy for the season. This encourages birds and beneficial insects to visit the garden. Any method will get your garden through winter as long as you do what needs to be done before spring.
By Robb Rosser January 9, 2014 6 a.m.
Winter does not have to be a time of discontent in the garden. I'm not suggesting that we can eliminate the often dreary signs of winter weather such as low gray skies, faded sunlight and falling temperatures. I do, however, believe that part of the gardening process for every gardener is to learn to bring out the best in your personal winter landscape. Plants can make the difference.
By Robb Rosser January 2, 2014 6 a.m.
Making a list of garden resolutions should be considered a flexible endeavor, somewhat like predicting next year's winter weather in spring. Gardening is a combination of science and art. We work within a definite framework of rules, but we must always be open to the spontaneous whim of the creative spirit. I might be willing to make a resolution to keep my garden weed free but it would have to include the provision that wild daisies are not considered weeds.