By Robb Rosser November 1, 2012 6 a.m.
In many ways, the garden is our voice, as well as the face we present to the world. It's what our friends, family and visitors see first when they are invited to our homes and into our lives. Visitors to my garden would be surprised to pull into the driveway and arrive at a formal, Italianate garden or a suburban yard. That picture would not fit their perception of a country garden, or of me. I prefer a more casual approach to gardening, with a mix of newly introduced and native trees, shrubs and perennial borders surrounding wooden decks.
By Robb Rosser October 25, 2012 6 a.m.
I've been known to compare the upkeep of my garden to painting the Eiffel Tower. By the time I think I have finished the job, it's time to start all over again. Despite the fact that I cut back wayward branches on the Japanese maples last year, there is always another tree or shrub to prune. There is grass to mow and leaves to rake. In my garden, there is never a season when weeds take the week off.
By Robb Rosser October 18, 2012 6 a.m.
Officially, autumn has arrived in the Pacific Northwest. But my garden watering and summer upkeep go on as usual. As the season progresses and after rainfall returns, we can finally begin fall planting and transplanting. Empty spaces in the flower border make it clear where we can fit in one more perennial or a group of spring-flowering bulbs. It's also time to add large-scale trees and shrubs to the garden.
By Robb Rosser October 11, 2012 6 a.m.
October brings with it the change of seasons from summer to autumn. More often than not the days remain quite pleasant with warm afternoons that seem to be an extension of summer. For those of us with a penchant for seasonal flowering plants, many shrubs and vines that flowered earlier in the year might surprise us with a second flowering. Roses, fuchsia and many cultivars of clematis will welcome in the new season with flush of intermittent blossoms.
By Robb Rosser October 4, 2012 6 a.m.
As summer begins to take its leave and autumn stands patiently waiting, we feel a need to redirect our garden energies. The change of seasons signals a shift in our focus from the daily maintenance of watering, deadheading and mowing to fall planting and preparation for the winter season. Inherent in the passage of one season to the next is a desire to plan ahead for the changes to come.
By Robb Rosser September 20, 2012 6 a.m.
For the longtime gardener, each change of season comes as the comforting recognition of an old friend returning home. At this time of year, when days begin to grow markedly shorter, I start looking forward to a lessening of daily watering and weeding. When you weed in spring, new weedlings are sprouting up before you get your pruners back in the holster. By late August, summer weeds are as enervated as the inveterate gardener is.
By Robb Rosser September 13, 2012 6 a.m.
As summer wanes and autumn waits in the wings, garden plants begin to change along with the weather. One of the most fascinating aspects of the summer-to-fall season is watching the metamorphosis of many structural garden plants. A group of plants that stands out at this time of year is the ornamental grasses. Most have reached their full height by the end of summer but it takes the onset of cooler weather to bring out their best qualities. Now, the stalks of ornamental grasses begin to color in burnished, autumn hues. Feathery flower spikes rise up above the foliage, swaying gracefully in the slightest breeze.
By Robb Rosser August 30, 2012 6 a.m.
I spend most of my time in the garden doing seasonal chores. In my garden journal I keep a list of annual and seasonal tasks that need to be done in the garden throughout the year. At the beginning of each month, I refer to my task list for that specific month. In addition, I am always revising a personal, ever-changing list of jobs specific to my own garden.
By Robb Rosser August 16, 2012 6 a.m.
In mid- to late summer, I always find a few plants in my garden showing signs of stress from multiple days of continuous sunshine and the return of summer drought. Since I added a few plants to the garden this spring, I will continue to water through the summer months to keep my garden looking its best. However, for the long-term health and care of my garden, I try not to overwater in any season, including summer.
By Robb Rosser August 9, 2012 6 a.m.
More than any other group of plants, the family of vines displays a vast array of distinct personalities. Vines come in a wide variety of forms, including bush, climbing and trailing. Their flowers come in infinite shapes, sizes and colors. Like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, vines often appear larger than life, as they rise above the plants around them. When they reach the peak of their individual form, they have been known to take one's breath away.
By Robb Rosser August 2, 2012 6 a.m.
Midsummer is a wonderful time to visit gardens that garden owners are willing to open to the public. An "open garden" is a generous gift to a community of fellow gardeners. The only garden I can remember visiting as a child was my grandmother's garden. Even when we moved away, we would spend holidays and summer with her in Southern California. The heady scent of roses and the sweet sugary tang of a climbing honeysuckle (Lonicera ssp.) still take me back to that place of carefree days when there was nothing more important to do than play the day away.
By Robb Rosser July 19, 2012 6 a.m.
Summer is one of those points in time when all the work we have done pays off in the garden. It's taken some real effort but the weeding, planting, pruning and deadheading have come together to show your garden at its best. In midsummer, the most important job of the season is maintaining the elements that your plants need to perform. Water, nutrients, friable soil, air and sunlight are essential to a plant's well-being.
By Robb Rosser July 12, 2012 6 a.m.
The arrival of summer sets the stage for a wave of colorful perennials beginning with the peppermint Phlox subulata Candy Stripe' and the azure Blue Star Creeper (Pratia pedunculata) covering the ground in waves of color. When the sun finally comes to stay, a mix of flowering shrubs, vines and perennials will take the color palette to new heights.
By Robb Rosser July 5, 2012 6 a.m.
For many who garden, the concept of gardening naturally, holistically or organically is one of our greatest challenges. Each new generation approaches the issues of the modern world from a unique viewpoint. While some longtime gardeners feel intimidated by the idea of eliminating all nonorganic techniques, those who are just beginning to garden in today's world will likely feel that the use of sustainable gardening practices is the best choice they can make.
By Robb Rosser June 28, 2012 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 to the brim.
By Robb Rosser June 21, 2012 6 a.m.
You know you're a gardener when the only thing you don't have enough of in your life are plants. When someone mentions a trip to the nursery, does your energy level escalate? If you see a new plant in someone else's garden, do you have to have it for your own? Being a gardener is just the first step to becoming a plant collector.
By Robb Rosser June 14, 2012 6 a.m.
Most of us grew up thinking that vegetable gardening and flower gardening were two very separate entities. If a vegetable gardener heard that you were a gardener, he or she would ask, "What do you grow," waiting to hear your list of favorite vegetables. Flower gardeners or gardeners interested in gardening to beautify the landscape typically ask what kind of garden you have or what type of plants you like to grow.
By Robb Rosser June 7, 2012 6 a.m.
Every few years I like to review the concept of creating a garden with a sequence of bloom. Beginning in spring, certain plants come into flower. As these flowers fade another plant in the garden will begin to bloom. By planting the proper selection of trees, shrubs and perennials, the process continues with waves of color from one plant to the next throughout the gardening season. The ultimate goal is a garden with 12 months of plant interest.
By Robb Rosser May 31, 2012 6 a.m.
All new plants need frequent watering until they are growing well. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Provide a steady supply of water from planting until harvest. Rows or beds of seeds and young seedlings need moisture without flooding. They might require sprinkling as often as two or three times a day if weather is very hot. As transplants and seedlings grow and their roots reach deeper into the soil, you can water less often. Be sure to moisten the entire root zone when watering.
By Robb Rosser May 24, 2012 6 a.m.
Occasionally in late spring, I like to wander through the garden with the intention of seeing all that is right with my world. Spring is a season of great rewards. The round, plump peony buds blossom into flowers larger than my open hand. The dogwood blooms as if by magic from bare branches. Birdsong adds a melodious dimension to the garden, like the musical score to a springtime garden party. How happy I am today, to think back on the part I have played in all of this.