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Robb Rosser

Gardening columnist

Recent Stories

Garden Life: Get a jump on preparing garden for winter

By Robb Rosser November 20, 2014 6 a.m.

I appreciate the fact that daylight savings time starts later than it did a few years ago and will end earlier than it did in the past. Still, the day that the time change went into effect this year brought with it a sense of apprehension. Wait, whoa, hold on. Did the afternoon sun really set before five o'clock in the afternoon? With the time change comes a temporal disturbance and a distinct awareness of the imminent arrival of winter.

The Garden Life: Knowledge always grows for perennial novice

By Robb Rosser November 13, 2014 6 a.m.

In my transition from expansive country gardens to a simpler townhouse lifestyle, I finally found the time to bring a dozen or more boxes of garden books upstairs to my new office space. Just as it is in the garden, one home project leads to another so moving books from boxes to bookshelf was cut short by the discovery of 20-plus years of garden journals. I was surprised to see that I have been gardening in the Northwest for 2½ decades.

Garden Life: You've got to get hands dirty to be a gardener

By Robb Rosser November 6, 2014 6 a.m.

The best way to learn anything, including how to garden, is by doing. You can study and read and go to lectures but at some point you have to get your hands dirty to become a gardener. Modern technology puts information at our fingertips but the masters of any craft still learn the ropes by actually doing what they do so well. Concert pianists play the piano. Painters put paint to canvas. Gardeners garden.

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.

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