Friday, December 4, 2009

DIY Seed Tape by Giver's Log

Super blogger High Desert Diva sent me the link to this article and I love it and the site.  They have some very good ideas that are quite doable (not needing lots of fancy ingredients) and practical.  This article is about making seed tape.  What a great gift idea!

Check out the site Givers Log for more lovely ideas!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Beth Mullin's Gardens

Landscape Design by Beth Mullins

I saw this posted on the Flora Grubb site.  Very inspirational and I love the plants she chose.  Click here to see more photos. 

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Affordable Modern Designs for Outdoor Living

The High Desert Design Council is always posting great looking design ideas which I find so inspiring.  I recently found some great ideas of my own in the last two issues of Garden Design.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that these prices were very affordable, something I don't usually find in this magazine.  These are also items I would consider using myself and recommend to clients. I particularly like the lantern since my husband and I are in love with Danish lighting designs, our favorite being the PH5 by Poul Henningsen.  When we were in Denmark in 2007, we looked into getting a used one, but even a used one was very expensive.  But somehow, most Danes had them in their homes.  Priorities, priorities I guess.

Soji Solar White Modern Lantern
Find it at Sprout Home

The Autumn Leaf Swing by designer Veronica Martinez
Also seen in a bronze.  Find it at Urban Garden Deco Guide

Monday, October 26, 2009

Autumn Splendor in the neighborhood

I just love the colors of fall.  Funny though, I don't really do these colors in any flower beds, I just love this last splash of hot color before winter sets in. It's like Mother Nature knows we need a little love and gives it to us in red, orange and yellow.

These are images I've been enjoying in my neighborhood.  I hope you enjoy them too.

Mountain Ash Tree - can't be beat for color

Some Mountain Ash wait to show their colors, but that means their red berries stand out more.

A young Serviceberry Tree, planted in 2007, another of my favorite trees.

Pin Oak in a front yard.  Imagine the view this people have out their windows!

Columbia Park.

The ubiquitous Burning Bush.

Sidewalk color.

Swedish Aspen.  Last year these were more orange in color.

Quaking Aspen.

Maple Trees.

A stand of Quaking Aspens.

Red Twig Dogwoods.


Crabapple Tree.

Other lovely plants not here but worth mentioning is the Rugosa Rose, incredible fragrance during bloom and if you stop dead-heading at the end of summer, you will have beautiful orange hips on the bush.  The Spirea's and Viburnum's also have good fall color.

Remember that most nurseries are having sales right now and it's still a good time to plant.  Cascade Garden Center on Powers between 3rd and the Parkway is having 50% off (!!!) and The High Desert Tree Farm on the highway between Bend and Redmond is having a sale too.  And finally, Aspen Ridge Tree Farm on Helmholtz just southwest of Redmond always has great prices.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Learning from the Pros: Desert Style Gardens - The Home Depot - Garden Club

My super blogger friend, High Desert Diva, sent me this link.  Very good article and Frank Lloyd Wright has never gone out of style, he was just so way ahead of his time.
I'm currently traveling down the West Coast and trying to enjoy the massive rainstorm of the past two days, but there is a reason I moved to the High Desert, and that was mainly the dampness of Humboldt County.  Let's just hope all this moisture is good for my wrinkles...

Learning from the Pros: Desert Style Gardens - The Home Depot - Garden Club

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Winter's really coming, what to do?!

It snowed, it froze and now the sun is coming back out.  Can't help but laugh and love the crazy weather we get here in Central Oregon.
Can't really tell if winter is coming early this year or if this was a fluke, but it sure woke me up to all the things I need to do to the garden.  Here are some things to make sure to do real soon (before we freeze again).

  • Mow it short.  This will reduce the chance of your lawn developing "snow mold".
  • Apply a Fall fertilizer
  • Water deeply and less frequently (as usual) but less frequently than normal
  • Change the watering time of your irrigation to water mid-morning instead of 6am, keep those walkways unfrozen.
  • Call your local irrigation company to get on their schedule to have your irrigation system blown out.
        You can always turn your system off if it waters your sidewalks and pathways, they can turn into
        hazards and liability issues if they are icy.  (Funny enough, there is a lawyer's office downtown that
        always forgets to turn off their system once the weather stays below freezing, and the sidewalks
        surrounding their office are full of slick ice.  You'd think they would know better.)

  • Plant spring bulbs.  Remember, Tulips are deer candy, but Daffodils, Crocus, Snowdrop,              Fritillaria, Bluebells, Bearded Iris and Allium are all deer resistant.  They need well draining soil. 
  • Great time to plant trees and shrubs!  Now that all the energy normally directed to flowering and leaves is over, that energy is going to the roots and there is good root development happening.  The plants you put in now will be ready to burst forth come spring.
  • Shop for plants with autumn color.  Swedish Aspen (which don't sucker) have great orange color.
  • Plant hardy mums and those lovely ornamental purple cabbage and put a couple of pumpkins out.
  • Continue to water deeply but less often.  Even though it is cold, it is still dry.  Continue to water     when the ground is not frozen, bring a bucket out with you or hook up your hose.
  • Rake up leaves from fruit trees and any diseased leaves.  There is a cycle of disease that can be broken if you remove the diseased leaves.
  • Mulch your roses.
  • Move your tender plants inside.
  • Trim your perennials a little bit but not all the way.  Leave some plant material to protect the root crown from winter damage.  Do not trim your shrubs now, do this in spring after danger of hard frosts pass.
  • Leave your grasses standing.  Ornamental grasses add interest to the winter garden as well as seed for local wildlife.  Trim these in spring.

(Sorry about the funny formatting, couldn't figure it out and honestly would rather play with my daughter than struggle with the computer...)

Winter Chores:
  • Sharpen and clean your tools, remember to store them in a dry place.
  • Read garden books, catalogs, magazines.
  • Think of how well your garden did this year and start planning changes for next year.

Winter is a great time to plan.  As long as I can see the ground (i.e., it's not covered in feet of snow) I can create a landscape design.  And then, come springtime, you will be ready to go as soon as the ground is workable rather than having to wait until summer (like most of the fools who forget about their landscape until the bulbs start to come up) and you can have the best looking landscape in the neighborhood!

If you might be planning work that requires someone else to install it, remember that most good companies are booked a couple of months in advance once the good weather hits again.  Be ahead of the crowd, know what you want to do and get on the schedule to get it done in spring.

Some lovely winter images to get you all in the mood:

Here is another image that I desperately tried to post here but which is protected, follow this link to some lovely photos of winter gardens: Webshots Winter Garden Photos
I would love to design a landscape like this - let me know of any of you want it too!

Here are some books designed to help us all through this bleak season, but beware, most of the contents of books like this are for warmer climates.

Email me for personal advice on how to get your garden looking good through the winter. and check out my website at

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Great Lawn Experiment

I am a great experimentalist when it comes to gardening. I feel that it is partly my duty to try things out so I can share my experiences with my clients. I am also a very lackadaisical gardener. I forget to water, I forget to fertilize, I never get around to mowing the lawn, etc., etc. The good part about all that is my clients know that if something works in my yard, it'll definitely work in theirs.
For example, I have pots outside my entry door with tall sedums, creeping wire vine and Japanese Hakone Grass. Pots are very dangerous ventures for me since they dry out so fast. But get this, I can't remember when I watered them last. For real. Granted, I did add a lot of Soil Moist to the pots when I planted them, plus I added another Soil Moist sample product I got at the Farwest Show a month ago, but really, shouldn't they be half dead by now? Especially the Hakone Grass, but it's looking fine. I think this is all great and I can definitely recommend these plants to my clients.
But I digress.
What does all this have to do with lawns you ask?  This is all in preparation to discuss the lawn that I currently have in my front yard.  Disclaimer:  Lawns are not the most sustainable and responsible thing to put in a landscape, they can require large amounts of fertilizer, polluting lawn mowers and irrigation and is a foreign plant material that does not benefit the local wildlife in any way.  When I am looking at the potential of lawn in a landscape the questions I always ask are why, how much and what kind?  I will now answer those questions in regards to my own landscape and my own lawn.
Why I have a lawn is because of a clean, nice place to play with my daughter.  We have her slide and pool out there and the other day set up the tent for her to play in.  I also like to sit out there and have picnic's.
I have a patch of lawn just big enough for all of these activities and I am actually considering modifying it a little bit, changing the shape to make it a more efficient shape for proper watering (so I don't water the dirt as much) and to just be really responsible about how much I really need, I do believe I could use less than what I currently have.
Many properties have their whole front yards in lawn but it is never used except as an expensive ground cover.  This is a practice I am happy to report is changing to a more considerate approach to having and using lawns.
The kind of lawn I have is Turf Type Tall Fescue.  Many people don't know that they have options but at least here in Central Oregon McPheeters Turf does sell this form of sod.  You can of course get lots of other types of grasses in seed through Round Butte Seed Company and I highly recommend trying them out.  I have a client who is doing his front yard in Chewings Fescue which he seeded over a month ago now and it's looking great.  I'll post on that project later - so stay tuned in!
Back to the Turf Type Tall Fescue (TTTF for short).  It is a thicker, hardier, more drought tolerant grass and is very appropriate for most of the landscapes around here.  It is a little tougher to the touch and I do admit that I prefer the thinner bladed grass to sit on, but for all my needs, this is a perfect grass.

Here is picture of the TTTF:

And here is a picture of my neighbors regular Kentucky Blue Grass blend lawn:

See the difference in the thickness of the blades?  The Kentucky Blue Grass is thinner and softer but has to be watered and mowed more often, it also requires more fertilizer.  She doesn't use this grass in her front yard for more than a ground cover and a place for the dogs to roll around on so she could have put in TTTF instead. 

Now I did more than just install TTTF in my front yard, I didn't fertilize it and I've watered it only once a week this whole season (except for during the heatwaves).  I also have not mowed it more than four or five times.  It does not look as good as my neighbor's lawn and I can do some environmentally friendly things to keep it looking better next year, but I am really impressed with how well it does look and has held up considering the "care" it has received.
Here is a picture of it I took yesterday:

You can see the yellowing of it, some good organic fertilizer will help with that, and you can see how it needs a good mowing, but also consider that it hasn't been mowed in over three months and it has stayed relatively short enough. 
If you look at this and think to yourself, "I want to be more responsible but I really don't like the look of that," it's okay.  It doesn't have to look like this, remember, this was an experiment.  This is what it looks like when it is maintained properly:
The TTTF that is maintained looks and feels so much better than what I currently have, and I think I will do things differently for next year now that I have this experiment out of the way.
And yes, that is my lovely daughter Liliana who is 1 1/2 now.  She does not come with the grass....

If you want to come over to see and to feel this option for lawn (or to discuss options for seeding other grass varieites), please drop me a line  Happy landscaping!

P.S. A further disclaimer, if you noticed in these pictures that my landscape doesn't have much going for it, you are right.  My husband is a carpenter and we don't have windowsills in the house either. 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

2009 Farwest Show and a Deeper Shade of Green

This past weekend I dragged the family to Portland for the Farwest Show (and to see friends and go to the zoo). I hadn't been to this particular show before and wasn't really sure what to expect. It was a show mainly for the nursery and retail trade so there were a lot of nurseries (duh) plus a lot of vendors who supply those nurseries.
I got to see a ton of beautiful plants and even some that will do well here in high and dry Central Oregon. But what really was exciting was the workshop I took on Sustainable Landscape Practices for a Sustainable Landscape Business. The focus was not on business practices so much but rather on landscape practices and an 8 fold path that Doug Spiro had come up with to guide himself to ensure sustainable practices. Mark Hadley of WH Pacific also shared information and slides of some of their Sustainable Stormwater management projects making vegetative swales, flow through planters, eco-roofs, rain gardens and much more.
The principles of the 8 fold path are:
  • Respect what is already there
  • Reduce input/optimize output (reduce resources necessary to create and maintain)
  • Nurture the soil
  • Protect the air and water quality
  • Conserve water
  • Conserve energy
  • Create wildlife habitat
  • Create healthy human habitat
Mark then had sub categories of specific things to look for and to consider at each project site. This workshop gave me good specific ideas of things I can do to ensure that I am staying on tract with being sustainable and I'm looking forward to taking Carlseng Designs to a deeper shade of green.

Below are some of the photos I took during the show and at the zoo.

Water fountain with solar light, sorry I didn't catch the name of the company. I think children would love this fountain and I'm recommending it to a client.

Picea procumbens 'Nana' trained exquisitely.
This was hanging on the ceiling of the convention center's foyer...

Love the living walls!

Lili and Peter spent almost half an hour in the tractor booth, she loved it!

Peter and Lili at the zoo. Those fish are about as big as Lili is!

Little orange frog at the zoo. Wonder what he is looking at...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

DIY Rustic Looking Plant Tags

I saw this at the Studio G blog and thought it was a lovely way of labeling the plants in the garden. It just makes my day when I see a plant I love and the thoughtful owners have it labeled.

These you can make yourself.

What you need:
raffia or string
small pieces of wood (I think that a pack of shims might be an excellent choice)
a felt pen or a Sharpie
pieces of bamboo (about 18 inches tall) (cut it from you garden or buy at craft store)
Cut out as many pieces as wish from the wood for labels ( each measuring about 1″ x 4″). Make a small notch in the end of the bamboo to fit the width of the label against the surface of the bamboo. Cut string approximately 20 inches long. The notch in the bamboo stabilizes the two parts together. Use the string to tie the parts together and then write your label.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Aphid Management

Notice I didn't say "Aphid Control"? Aphids are a natural part of a natural garden. You have nice pretty plants then you will aphids.

A friend of mine called recently asking for advice for controlling the aphids in his yard and here is a more detailed version of what I told him.
The aphid is a sucking insect and sucks the plants juices, creating stunted or curled leaves and potentially killing the whole plant. They hang out mostly on the stems and tops and bottoms of leaves and reproduce rather quickly. Sometimes you will see ants running around with aphids too. One person asked me if the ants eat the aphids but they actually "farm" them, tending to them for a sweet substance that they excrete. Yum.

There are other beneficial insects used to help control or manage the aphid population such as ladybugs and lacewings. You need a pretty good population of aphids to keep the beneficial insects around and they are usually more effective in a greenhouse environment. Most nurseries though have bags of live ladybugs and kids love helping with them so give it a try, at least it'll be fun.
According to Rodale's Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, some tips to help prevent aphids in the first place is to plant nasturtiums, to eliminate all weeds and to have humus rich soil . You will hear me say to everyone I meet that the soil is the foundation of the garden. Think you've added enough compost to your soil? Add more. Especially here in Central Oregon where our soil is practically sterile. And if you add top soil to your garden, that is just sterile soil from somewhere else in Central Oregon. If you prepare your planting area well you will avoid much of the problems people have in their gardens and lawns.

Aphids have never caused me much trouble but I also make sure to grow plants that are relatively hardy on their own and don't require much coddling to survive.
For aphids I've always sprayed them off with a gentle yet firm spray from the hose, making sure to get the underside of the leaf too. You probably will need to do this a few times to really eliminate them.
If that is not working then you can try the homemade version of insecticidal soap (you can also buy insecticidal soap too). The soap breaks down the bodies of the aphids, thus killing them. had a good article in their Organic Gardening section with a recipe for Tomato Leaf Spray. I've never used it but it sounds really interesting. Click here to see their article. The simplest version is to use about 4 ounces (3 tablespoons) of dish soap per gallon of water, spraying this solution on the tops and undersides of the leaves. You may need to spray a few times to get the entire population. As with most sprays, if it's a hot sunny day the water can cause some burn on the leaves so spray earlier or later. This kind of solution, as far as I have read, does not harm beneficial insects.

If you have other questions about gardening or landscaping just leave a comment or send me an email and I'll be happy to help you out. Happy gardening!

Sources: Sciencejrant, Life123, "The Encyclopdedia of Organic Gardening" by Rodale and Staff

Friday, July 24, 2009

Master Gardners 2009 Garden Tour

I almost missed this years garden tour since I don't read the paper or watch TV and didn't see any of the notices. Why didn't they put big posters up in the nurseries? That's about the only place I go on a regular basis these days it seems.

I was on my way to hike with my father when I saw the tell tale sign of an open garden. Thank God for round-a-bouts because I turned right around. Shevlin Park just had to wait for me to hike another day.

Looking at gardens is one of my favorite past times and everytime I go to Portland (garden city USA it seems) it is just dangerous for me to drive. Even though my husband thinks driving on a street is akin to racing on a raceway, I put up with it so I can "ooh" and "ahh" at all the plants and gardens.

Here's some shots from the day. Super highlight was Alana Markle's own garden (she's a local landscape designer too). She and her husband buy old homes, totally renovate them, sell them and move on. And this one is for sale too, man is it lovely. It's up at NW Trenton and 7th, just beautiful. This was the first time she's had her own garden finished enough to put on the tour and it's made me wonder why the Master Gardeners don't include more designer's gardens, or client's gardens. Is it because they are supposed to be regular people's gardens? I think that should change.

Anyway, here are the shots:

This next one is a birdcage with real live birds in it. At least the birds got to be outside.

Yeah! More edibles!

The "Potting Shed"

Every garden worth it's weight in compost should have a Rugosa Rose

I had never thought of filling in the space under a bench this way before, but I like it

One day I'll have my own garden on the tour, but for that to happen I have to find the time for it. In the meantime I'll make other people's gardens spectacular.