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Robb Rosser

Gardening columnist

Recent Stories

The Garden Life: Heat doesn't dampen gardener's enthusiasm

By Robb Rosser July 2, 2015 6 a.m.

Many novice gardeners are under the misconception that everything works out perfectly for gardeners who have more experience than they do. The reality is that longtime gardeners suffer from many of the same concerns as those of the neophyte gardener. I'm including myself when I say that gardeners have issues. The longer you garden, the more likely it is that you will have issues, too.

Garden Life: Maintenance keeps our yards beautiful, healthy

By Robb Rosser June 25, 2015 6 a.m.

The main reason we prune roses is to encourage the shrub to make more flowers. Roses, like every other plant in the garden, are here to reproduce. Once any plant flowers, its next purpose is to set seed. When you cut a flower head off before the flower goes to seed, as you do when you prune a rose, the plant produces another flower in an effort to propagate. Prune regularly throughout the season and you will keep flowers coming and vases filled.

Garden Life: Have you developed your strategy for watering?

By Robb Rosser June 18, 2015 6 a.m.

I used to believe that our weather was impossible to predict. Until the last couple of years I've been unwilling to forecast more sunshine than rain before July fifth. I'm feeling optimistic about sustained sunshine this year, especially after the last few months of mild weather. The fact is we traditionally go into drought conditions in July and August. This year, I think we need to be prepared to begin watering earlier than usual. Once we head into summer drought, and we will, it's important to make sure the plants in our gardens receive at least 1 inch of water each week.

The Garden Life: Keep eyes open for splurge buys

By Robb Rosser June 11, 2015 6 a.m.

Once in awhile I have to embark on a gardening splurge. When I use the word splurge, I don't mean that I simply spend more money than I was expecting to spend or that I bought three of one plant instead of one. I'm talking about the classic, overblown splurge when I indulge myself in some luxury or pleasure that has been biding its time in the back of my mind, just waiting for destiny to bring us together. Making a trip to my favorite nursery in early spring and bringing home the esteemed Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus controversa 'Variegata') is just one example of a plant splurge.

Garden Life: Opening garden to others cultivates much joy

By Robb Rosser June 4, 2015 6 a.m.

Gardening is filled with private moments of joy. There are times when we look around at what we have created and feel a sense of elation. In 2004 I wrote in my garden journal: "This morning, the abundant, pink flowered dogwood, Cornus kousa 'Rosabella' is in full bloom. At its feet the upright blue flower stalks of Ajuga 'Catlin's Giant' pop against the chartreuse foliage of golden pennywort." At that moment, I understood the fulfillment of a long-held vision.

Garden Life: Fertilizer makes a big difference in plants' health

By Robb Rosser May 28, 2015 6 a.m.

If you have not done so already, it's time to feed all of your summer roses and emerging perennial plants. Keep in mind that the best plants are those that grow in the best soil, so the top fertilizers will be those that add nutrients to the soil. I recommend organic fertilizers. This early in the season, you can use a fertilizer that adds nutrients to benefit all levels of plant growth. Every fertilizer label states the percentage, by weight, of the three macronutrients used in mineral form: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). These nutrients are always listed in the order N-P-K. Some manufacturers combine several natural fertilizers in a single package to produce a complete fertilizer. Look for three of the same numbers on the package, such as 5-5-5 for a mix that will supply your plants nutritional needs.

Garden Life: Daily deadheading keeps garden looking fresh

By Robb Rosser May 21, 2015 6 a.m.

Every year there comes a point in time when we find ourselves juggling an endless list of garden chores. With this year's extended spring season, our busy time seems to have come early this year. As the growing season kicks in, there is always the need to deadhead spent flowers, fertilize perennials and roses, and fill gaps in planting borders with annual bedding plants. From the beginning, I put aside a bit of time each day to take care of basic maintenance in the garden.

The Garden Life: Seasonal flowering shrubs carry us through year

By Robb Rosser May 14, 2015 6 a.m.

I am always amazed at the incredible diversity of shrubs on show in the typical Northwest neighborhood. There are so many varieties that none of us can plant every shrub available, although I know a few gardeners who would like to try. We each have to choose an assortment of plants to fit our personal taste as well as the size of our garden and our budget. The pleasant result of all these choices is that a bounty of seasonal shrubs is spread throughout many neighborhoods in the city.

The Garden Life: A garden's colors bear a message to the soul

By Robb Rosser May 7, 2015 6 a.m.

Few things affect the overall look of a garden as much as color. When we walk through a garden, we comment on specific flowering trees or a wonderful daffodil meadow. When we tell someone about that garden, we often describe the colors we see in our mind's eye. Used effectively, color can help invoke the memory of a garden. Creating the personal color palette of a garden is up to the individual gardener.

The Garden Life: Working in yard a great way to grow relationships

By Robb Rosser April 30, 2015 6 a.m.

Most gardeners spend a considerable amount of time alone, working and thinking in the garden. It is in this realm that we often feel most fulfilled by what the garden gives in return for our work. Alone we revel in the sight of a Douglas fir dancing in the evening wind. Or we suddenly recognize the sound of voices in the rustle of aspen leaves. Who knew that a chore as mundane as weeding could be the very platform we needed to revel in deep, uninterrupted thought.

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