Blog

Friend or Foe: Identifying Insects

This week Kathryn and I are teaching Entomology, the study of Insects, to the Master Gardeners. Insects are absolutely fascinating animals, some are the gardener’s friend and some are foes. How can you tell which is which? Use this handy guide to help you distinguish between pests and beneficial insects on your plants. Beetles, Weevils, and Curculios. All members of this group belong to the more »

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Immersed in Plant Identification

I am immersed these days in the language of botany. It is just as though I have signed up for one of those immersion programs used to learn a foreign language. Which I guess is what I am really doing, after all. I had Latin in high-school, but can’t remember much of that.  But David knows the language well.  And in the classes we teach more »

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Plant Identification

If you’re like most people there are plants somewhere in your personal environment with which you are unfamiliar. You don’t know their names, either the common names in English or the scientific names in Latin. This happens very often when purchase a “pre-owned” home and the former owner’s garden and landscape now belongs to you. Sometime in the first year of ownership, as the various more »

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Winter Inspiration: Heuchera micrantha, alumroot

Our fingers are stiff with cold. It is winter here in the Northwest. David picks up his end of the measuring tape, and a hundred feet away, I pick up mine. We walk ten feet downslope and lay the tape on the ground again. Steamy clouds of our breath hang in the air. Dry leaves and twigs crunch underfoot. David turns on his recorder and more »

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How to Select Seeds

New 2010 seed catalogs arrive in the mail filled with gorgeous color photos of the latest and greatest new vegetables. They’re so tempting. The seduction begins with color, continues with persuasive and evocative text, and caps it off with price reductions to seal the deal. I want them all, but of course, I can’t have them all. There’s not enough room or time to have more »

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Ten Common Houseplant Problems

We’ve prepared a list of the ten most common problems of houseplants. If you’re having a problem with a houseplant, it’s most likely going to be due to one of the following. 1. Overwatering. More houseplants die from overwatering than from any other cause. Never let the pot sit in water in a saucer. Put marbles or pebbles in the saucer and set your pot more »

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Happy Holidays

Today is Christmas day and I thought I’d share with you a few photos of some of my favorite native plants of the Northwest. All of the plants featured here are evergreen shrubs or trees. All of them produce berries that attract birds to your garden. All the fruits are edible by us humans too and are quite tasty. David and I went out for more »

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The Holly and the Ivy . . .and Mistletoe too.

‘Tis the time of year when I find myself standing under a sprig of mistletoe expecting to be kissed! We’re putting branches of bright green holly with brilliant red berries in bouquets and wreaths to decorate the house for the holidays. And I see out the window, in the snow, that the ivy is in full bloom. What a crazy plant, to burst into bloom more »

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Noble Fir and the Return of the Light

White puffs of breath hang in the cold air. Snow dusts our heads and shoulders as we brush back the limbs of conifers that crowd the trail. David and I hike the Larch Mountain Trail near the Columbia River, east of Portland. We’re not going far on this wintry day, hoping only to catch a glimpse of noble fir, Abies procera, in its native habitat. more »

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Choosing Holiday Trees

Choosing Holiday Trees Bringing a tree into your home to celebrate the holidays is a tradition that comes to us from ancient times. For many centuries before the birth of Jesus, pagans celebrated the winter solstice by bringing boughs of evergreen trees into their homes and decorating them. In the 1850’s Christians in America began to adopt the practice amidst great controversy. But no matter more »

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