Garden Blog

Seasonal Fall Plantings

One of the best things about living in the Pacific Northwest is without a doubt our mild climate and changing seasons. This unique climate makes this area desirable to live in year-round. It also makes gardening year round possible. As each season comes and goes, we can discover new ideas for creating enticing outdoor spaces where seasons flow one into another. As summer becomes a distant memory, wind and drizzle appear and sandals disappear. Leaving behind another gardening year brings shock and sadness for those of us who loves to be in the garden. But, instead of protesting decreasing daylight hours, spice up your outdoor space with virtuous seasonal fall plantings. Embrace the autumn colors!

Define the Season with Fall Plantings

With the rain upon us, we look for creative ways to stretch out what remains of the summer color. One of the easiest and least expensive ways to do this is to spruce up an outdoor space with a little fall color. Pansies, one of the best solutions to a tired summer basket come in a variety of oranges, yellows and red, perfect color to echo the changing colors of Japanese Maples, Viburnum and Liquid Ambers.  Seasonal Plantings of Pansies often last into the winter, sometimes even surviving into spring  when you plant them in pockets with protection. These pockets, called micro-climates are ideal for extending seasons and pushing hardiness zones.

Pansies for Seasonal Fall Plantings

Pansy Copperfield pops into a terra-cotta pot for instant fall color. The large, autumn colored flowers blend with the yellow and orange colors in the yard during the transition into cooler weather. Easy seasonal plantings for fall!

Seasonal plantings for fall

Cotinus for Seasonal Fall Plantings

Cotinus ‘Grace’ brings glorious late fall color into the garden. Grayish burgundy leaves turn bold red after many other trees lose their leaves. This slow grower sets the tone like no other shrub and grows well in a pot for spectacular color.

Seasonal Plantings with Grace

Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2016

Looking for landscape and garden inspiration? Desperate to see colorful flowers and gardens full of texture? You are not alone! With the mild climate in the Pacific Northwest, outdoor living is a top priority for many people. Rock gardens, streams, cottages, decks, container gardens, native plants, orchids and spring bulbs delight even the most discerning gardeners at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.

Every year we make the trek to the Convention Center in Seattle, Washington. The Northwest Flower & Garden Show is a massive indoor landscape show with vendors, landscapers and landscape designers from around the Seattle area. The displays never disappoint. This year was no different. The landscapers went above and beyond. What a fantastic way to welcome spring!

Check out some of the gardens at the 2016 Northwest Flower and Garden Show:

If you’re dreaming about renovating your outdoor space or just want to add some new elements to your garden, don’t miss the Northwest Flower and Garden Show next year!




Bored with the latest and showiest Calibrachoas and Petunias? Even with their new fancy colors and improved habit? I’ve got your cure: Petchoa. A season on these will have you elated in grateful relief of those Petunia dull-drums. Noted perfectly by Proven Winners: “SuperCal is nothing short of the BEST ANNUAL we’ve ever seen for hanging baskets, window boxes, and tall flowerpots.”

Petchoa, a cross between Calibrachoa and Petunia. Scientifically called Petunia (Inter-generic hybrid), they like full sun, but do quite well in afternoon shade.

What makes Petchoa so easy to grow? They flower early and tolerate heat. They don’t stop for a minute early or late in season. Like Calibrachoa, they are self-cleaning, so you get the bigger flowers like Petunias, but they don’t require dead-heading. Who has time for that?

How big do they get? Approximately 12″ tall x 15″ wide

What about their habit? Trailing, of course

Are they tough? Absolutely!

Do they come in a variety of colors? Yes, and the colors available aren’t bad…pretty much covers the spectrum, with many vibrant and interesting colors to choose from.

Results from our trials

Our test gardens featured several SuperCal® Petchoa bred by Sakata, who is adept at releasing new varieties. All of the SuperCals we tested performed remarkably well.

 SuperCal® Terra Cotta Petchoa – Rich sunset colors 
PetchuaTerra Cotta Upclose
PetchuaTerraCotta Combo trixienightfall

SuperCal® Salmon Glow Petchoa – Light creamy peach ruffled flowers (another favorite)

Petchoa salmon glow

SuperCal® Blue Petchoa –  dark purple flowers filled out the pots quickly and lasted throughout the season without letting up

SuperCal® Blue Petchoa

SuperCal® Velvet Petchoa – Nice dark fuchsia color with an a black eye, even grew ok in the worse of conditions

SuperCal® Velvet Petchoa

Petchuas mixes below:

Petchua Terra Cotta & Salmon Glow HB
Petchua Terra Cotta & Salmon Glow in a hanging basket
Petchua Terra Cotta & Salmon Glow Basket
Petchua Terra Cotta & Salmon Glow in a wall basket mixed with Sedum & Bacopa



Container garden growing guide

1. Make A Plan!

Your container garden should be a reflection of your personality. Go to the internet for ideas and save your favorites in a folder. Searches using terms such as “annuals for shade” or “container combinations for sun” can lead you to some great ideas. Try a search on Pinterest. It is a goldmine for inspirations. Aim for something you can afford and don’t be stingy with your budget. Yes, there are many options for inexpensive container gardens, but cheap usually looks cheap.

2. Pick the right container

Think about the color of your house when choosing your container and pick a color that blends well or contrasts with your house color. Remember color echoes, so choose your color wisely. Good drainage is key to healthy plants. The number one cause of root rot is over watering. The number one cause of over watering is poor drainage. Finding a container with adequate drainage holes saves plants. It’s also a good idea to pick a container that moves around easily or place your pots on a stand with wheels. When hail is in the forecast, plants can be saved by moving it under an eave or when you’re taking a vacation in July, moving your containers into the shade can help them make it through your absence. 

3. Use great soil

Nobody likes to spend money they don’t have to, but spending money on great soil will make a huge difference in the quality of container you grow. Include soil cost in your budget from the beginning. Potting soil works best for container gardens, however not all potting soils are equal. Plants need a well draining soil in a pot with adequate drainage. Keep it in mind when choosing your potting soil., the more perlite the better. If you buy a bag of potting soil without a good amount of perlite, it is beneficial to add a little extra perlite to the mix. 

4. Select great plants

Plant seasonally to extend your containers usefulness. Hellebores during the winter, Pansies, Violas and Tulips during the spring. Grasses in the fall. Calibrachoa, Petunias, Bacopa and Ipomeas almost always make great pots. But, be careful about the habit of the plants your picking. Some Petunias grow in mounds and don’t trail, so pay more attention to the description on the tag than the picture. Mix plants that mound with plants that trail and plants the fill empty space. Finding something different can make your containers look more interesting. However, knowing what to expect from your plant choices saves a lot wasted effort.

Pansy ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ Mixed


5. Fertilize
Plants need nutrients to grow. Without fertilizer, your containers will be sparse and your plants will grow slowly. Speed things up and add a granular fertilizer to your pots as you plant them. Don’t be afraid of watering with a liquid feed as well. Your plants will thrive!

6. Monitor moisture closely

Letting your soil dry out is a good idea to avoid root rot, however it can be a fine line for some plants. If they go through a drought, damage can occur and sometimes even death. Be consistent with your watering. In the spring you may get away with watering your pots in and letting them go, but in the summer your plants may require daily watering just to survive. Water when the top 2-3″ of soil dries out or when one of your plants begins to wilt. The first plant to wilt is the indicator plant and lets you know when your plants are getting dry. Some containers may not need water when your indicator plants wilts. Check the soil. You may be able to skip a watering for that one.

7. Location, Location, Location

Just like when buying a house, location is one of the most important things to consider when planning a container garden. Sunny locations are required for the majority of annuals to grow well, however they will require more water from you. Shady locations can be fun to grow containers in. Focus more on texture and leaf color, than on flowers in a shady location, because plants that flower in the shade are limited.

Winter and Spring Hellebores

What’s the big deal with Hellebores?

Looking for winter and spring color for your garden can be discouraging. So many evergreens lack luster and offer no color. That used to be the case with Hellebores, otherwise known as Lenten Rose. For years Hellebores lacked polishing. They were often ratty looking. You couldn’t count on them for a specific color and growing them on your porch wasn’t even considered. Luckily, breeders recently perfected some old varieties that actually made a huge difference in the Hellebore world. Things have really turned around for them. As a matter of fact, Hellebores might be exactly what your garden (and patio) needs! Yes, gardeners are adding new varieties to their gardens, but they are still embracing the older types too. With so many species to choose from, why not try them all?

Helleborus niger Gold Collection® Jacob

Why plant Hellebores?

Envision Hellebores in your garden. You can look out your window on a cool winter day at colorful flowers. They are incredibly hardy so most of them survive even the coldest winters (unless they are planted in South Dakota). Deer won’t touch them. You can plant Hellebores just about anywhere because they are tolerant to both sun and shade. Don’t worry about pH; they prefer alkaline soils, but do just fine in acidic conditions. Feel free to fertilize, but it is not an absolute requirement for them. You will love the evergreen foliage during late fall and early winter when almost no other perennials in the garden seems to have a heart beat. And, if that’s not enough, Helleborus even offer a good source of nectar for bees during late winter and early spring when food sources are scarce.

Pick great companion plants for your Hellebores like Fuchsia, Hosta, Galanthus, Ferns, Epimedium, Ligularia, Hakonechloa, Cyclamen, Ajuga, Vinca, Heuchera. Imagine Helleborus on your porch in your favorite container with violas and pansies that brighten up your entryway all winter long. In the landscape, try groups of three or more together for curb appeal. Consider planting Hellebores under deciduous trees where they will enjoy shade in the summer and bright light in the winter.

Hellebores in my garden

In my Pacific Northwest Garden, the Christmas varieties began blooming in December. Helleborus niger Gold Collection® Jacob was the first to bud. The pure white flowers faded to pink as they aged. Early spring varieties followed the Christmas varieties with overlapping bloom times. Many of them peaked with the transition into spring with deeper color tones than the early varieties. Some are lovable for the foliage alone, like our mystery mutant.

Helleborus argutifolius

Helleborus argutifolius mystery cross mutant
Helleborus argutifolius mystery mutant


Helleborus argutifolius
Helleborus argutifolius


Helleborus Silver Lace
Helleborus Silver Lace


Helleborus Gold Collection® (HGC)

While most Helleborus are commercially propagated from seed, Helleborus Gold Collection are grown from tissue culture, creating clones of the mother plant. Home gardeners, be assured you are buying a plant that looks like the plant in the pictures when buying a clone.

HGC Christmas varieties produce early winter flowers because they have genetics from Helleborus niger bred into them. Growing HGC Christmas varieties in containers began taking off in recent years. Plant them in perennial gardens after they finish blooming. There’s nothing like pure white flowers in the garden at Christmas time!

Helleborus niger Gold Collection® Jacob
Helleborus niger Gold Collection® Jacob


Helleborus niger Gold Collection® Jacob
Helleborus niger Gold Collection® Jacob in the window


HGC Early Spring varieties begin to bloom between late winter and early spring. These varieties are some of the first Hellebores to flower after the holidays at the beginning of the new year.

Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection® Merlin
Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection® Merlin


Helleborus x ericsmithii Gold Collection®  Monte Cristo
Helleborus x ericsmithii Gold Collection® Monte Cristo


Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection® Pink Frost
Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection® Pink Frost


Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection® Pink Frost
Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection® Pink Frost


Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection® Snow Dance
Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection® Snow Dance

Helleborus orientalis hybrids

Helleborus x hyridus® Winter Jewels Aprictot Blush
Helleborus x hyridus® Winter Jewels Apricot Blush


Helleborus x hyridus® Winter Jewels Cherry Blossom
Helleborus x hyridus® Winter Jewels Cherry Blossom


Helleborus x hybridus (formerly orientalis)
Helleborus x hybridus (formerly orientalis)

Can’t find the Hellebores locally? Check out these mail order sources.

Bluestone Perennials

Plant Delights Nursery

Wayside Gardens

Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2015

ROMANCE BLOSSOMS in Seattle, Washington


Floral Art
Floral Artistry
Floral Artistry
Succulent Love
Succulent Love
Over The Moon
Lettre D’ Amorchid
A Woodland Nymph’s Dream
Romantic Folly
Birds Do It…Bees Do It
Step By Step, Side By Side
Love The Space You’re In
The Romance Of Steampunk

The absolute best part of the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in 2015 was the vignettes. Our favorite was a small display in the sky bridge by Ravenna Gardens,  winner of Best Use Of Show Theme.

All You Need is Love…and a Garden

All You Need is Love…and a Garden
All You Need is Love…and a Garden
All You Need is Love…and a Garden
All You Need is Love…and a Garden





Winter Color In The Garden

Finding winter color in the garden is challenging, but not impossible. After the trees and shrubs drop their leaves, most landscapes resemble a sad and empty existence. Thankfully, the more common evergreen conifers show some signs of life throughout our neighborhoods. Adding a little color can make a huge difference! Placing a few perennials and shrubs in the correct place brightens up the otherwise dull, dark space.

If your front bed looks a little drab as fall sets in, try Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’, a cultivar whose green glossy leaves turn a bright burgundy red in the fall. The color lasts throughout the winter and without looking tattered. The large reddish leaves give way to early spring flowers too!

Helleborus Gold Collection® Jacob is a perennial bred for the savvy gardener. According to The National Gardening Association, the overwhelming majority of home gardeners rely on seed packets for their gardening information, which means they miss out on growing this sterile hellebore hybrid. The more savvy home gardeners in milder climates will absolutely love the rewards…pure white flowers in the garden at Christmas time! Available during the holiday season as a holiday plant, Jacob makes a nice indoor plant for a few weeks. It can then be planted outside as an evergreen perennial. Pack your patience, because the first two or three years it may not flower heavily in the garden.
Helleborus Jacob

It is nearly impossible to talk about Hellebores and not bring up new varieties. It is also nearly impossible to bring up new varieties without talking about Helleborus x ericsmithii Gold Collection® Monte Cristo. New genetics helped spur the interest in Hellebores in recent years, which in turned triggered an overwhelming amount of new varieties to choose from. Sterile hybrids propagated from tissue culture produce clones that are completely different from the older hybridized versions of Hellebores. For growers, this is a win because they can grow a flowering crop faster and more uniformly. For home gardeners, this is a win because they know exactly what they are buying because each plant is exactly the same as the parent plant. We can count on the robust silvery blue evergreen foliage of Love Bug to give rise to plenty of winter flowers in the garden. In fact, in the PNW we can count on high bud counts as other varieties are scrambling for survival and color in the garden is becoming crucial. This color will push into late winter as other Hellebores begin to promise color.

It is not just Hellebores, breeders are also pumping out Heuchera quicker than most of us can keep track of. Many of which lack vigor. Home Gardeners are left to gamble their hard-earned money on plants which may not produce the results they expect. Gardeners who want to leave the gambling in Vegas should try Heuchera ‘Pinot Gris’. It is one of the best performers of the many new varieties that entered the market in the last few years. In the Pacific Northwest, the foliage on Pinot Gris is evergreen and clean, seemingly insulated from cold winter temperatures. Interesting veining and colors in the leaves remain until spring when a prospect of new growth brings fresh and interesting surprises to the garden.Heuchera.JPG

Smothered Tomatillo Green Chili Burritos

Looking for a recipe for all those Tomatillos you grew this year?

I understand, just five plants in my garden produced more than I knew what to do with! Smothered Tomatillo Green Chili Burritos make the best meal for a small or large family. Using my Green Chili recipe, I love to prepare these delicious smothered tomatillo green chili burritos. I used hamburger, but you could easily substitute shredded chicken or steak for this recipe.


1 onion
1 1/2 lb hamburger
1 jalapeño
1 package tortillas
1 can pinquito beans (or pinto beans)
3 cups shredded mexican style cheese
1 pot tomatillo green chili sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 clove garlic
1 tbl salt
1 tsp pepper

Brown a chopped onion in a skillet over medium heat. Add hamburger and chopped jalapeño to skillet. Season with cumin, paprika and chili powder. Add beans. After the hamburger is thoroughly cooked turn down to low and add garlic, salt and pepper. After a few minutes on low turn off the stove. Grease a large glass dish with oil or butter. Fill tortillas with hamburger mixture. Roll them up in the glass dish placing them side by side. Pour the tomatillo green chili over the burritos. Cover with cheese. Cook for about 25-30 at 325 degrees. Broil at the end for a few minutes to brown the cheese and you have Smothered Tomatillo Green Chili Burritos.

Tomatillo Green Chili Recipe

Why Tomatillo Green Chili?

My family just loves White Chicken Chili which is packed with Tomatillos, so we attempted to grow Tomatillos in the garden this year. Early on I wasn’t sure if they were going to fruit. You can read about that in my August Tomatillo article at My five plants actually performed far better than I expected and I began to hear stories from other gardeners who ended up with more Tomatillos than they knew what to do with. Though I planned to freeze some of them, it became obvious that I was going to have enough Tomatillos to experiment with some new recipes. So to answer that question “Why Tomatillo Green Chili?”, because we had so many Tomatillos! Tomatillo Green Chili has now become one of my favorite recipes and it’s super easy to make.

1 can of chicken broth
1 tbl olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1 cup of chopped Jalapenos (mostly deseeded)
2 cups of chopped Tomatillos
1 tbl flour
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbl cumin
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Brown the chopped onion in olive oil. Add flour and stir. Gradually add chicken broth followed by Jalapeños and Tomatillos. Season with cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add cornstarch to thicken. Simmer about 5 minutes. Add garlic and simmer a few more minutes. Enjoy.

Calibrachoa RED FOX Hula Orange

Every season it seems that I manage to plant at least one ugly basket. I shake my head wondering “what did I do wrong”? Luckily plants like Calibrachoa RED FOX Hula Orange gives me back my confidence!

Calibrachoa Hula Orange Flowers

No matter what I do with it, this Calibrachoa is fabulous! As a matter of fact, it triggers a good mood for me, actually causing my happiness meter to skyrocket. With scrumptious bi-colored flowers meandering in all the right directions Calibrachoa Hula Orange easily prevailed over the other varieties I planted this season. If you think it’s because of the unique color patterns, you’re reading my mind.

Calibrachoa Hula Orange Up Close

Gaining status in horticultural circles for it’s mounding and partially trailing habit, Calibrachoa Hula Orange is anything but wall flower status. It interacts well with other plants, rescuing the oh-so-boring combos and because of the lovely habit and dramatic colors, anyone can easily coordinate with it.

Mixed Annual Basked
Calibrachoa Hula Orange In Mixed Basket

For those who like to keep things simple, plant Calibrachoa Hula Orange alone for a pleasant surprise.

Calibrachoa Hula Orange
Calibrachoa Hula Orange In Terra Cotta Container

Non-stop flowers from the day you bring it home means no waiting around for it to make a dramatic impact either. Next I can’t wait to try the new Calibrachoa in Dümmen’s Series RED FOX Hula Soft Pink. With a Lavender Hoop around a violet center and a yellow throat, it’s sure to please even the pickiest gardeners.