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A group of Honeynut Squash

Al's Grower's Choice brings you select varieties of plants that have been chosen for their taste, hardiness and bloom. They are unique, hand picked plants and vegetables that our growers believe work best in our climate and terrains.

This week we feature 'Honeyhut' Squash

What Is It?

A winter squash with sweet, orange flesh similar to that of a pumpkin but with a nutty flavor

Why We Chose It:

This type of squash can be used in a wide variety of recipes, be it baked, roasted, sauteed, or pureed, and because of the hard rind, can be stored for up to 4 months after harvest. 'Honeynut' is perfect for containers because it has compact vines and produces high yields of smaller, individual-sized fruit.

How To Grow It:

Plant in full sun, in well-drained, compost rich soil, and water regularly during the growing season. Harvest by cutting the stems 1" from the fruit when the stem is starting to dry and the skin is beginning to harden, about 80 days after planting. Store squash in a cool area away from direct sunlight.

Flowering cherry trees are the showiest way to let us know that spring is finally here! Of course, Magnolias and Red Currants can be a real eye-catcher as well. Now is the best time to shop for flowering shrubs and trees. Here are a few more of Al's favorites.

Several Flowering Cherry trees in bloom at Al's Garden & Home's storefront entranceThese beautiful Flowering Cherry trees outside of the entrance to Al's of Sherwood really do some heavy advertising for us!
A close-up of red currant king edward in bloom

Red Currant 'King Edward'

  • Clusters of vivid, crimson flowers make this a favorite variety.
  • Blue-black berries are loved by birds.
  • A compact grower; excellent as a hedge or in a mixed shrub border.
  • A Northwestern U.S. native selection.
  • Deciduous
A close-up of lilac Charles Joly in bloom

Lilac 'Charles Joly'

  • This medium sized shrub has an upright, open-branched habit and bright green foliage.
  • Gorgeous, deep-purple, double flower clusters are highly fragrant.
  • Blooms mid-season, typically in mid-May.
  • Thrives in cool summer climates.
  • A lovely spring accent, screen, or border specimen.
  • Deciduous
The blooms of a thundercloud Plum tree

'Thundercloud' Plum

  • A stunning landscape addition, with splendid coppery-purple foliage that holds its color into fall.
  • Pale pink, single blooms blanket the stems in the spring before the foliage emerges.
  • Produces small, red, edible fruit.
  • A wonderfully versatile deciduous tree, useful in all areas of landscaping.
The blooms of a royal star magnolia

'Royal Star' Magnolia

  • Early bloomer with large, fragrant, white double flowers appearing before the foliage emerges in spring.
  • Useful in areas where late freezes can occur.
  • Open-branched, multi-trunked large shrub or small tree.
  • A springtime thriller that will add a nice touch to the landscape as the seasons progress.
  • Deciduous

If you are in search of glorious spring color, these are some really great options. These small trees are perfect for containers and can help to visually anchor your outdoor area, whether it is a large porch or smaller patio.

Nothing says springtime more than rounding the bend and catching a glimpse of beautiful flowering trees in full bloom.  Whether it's Forsythia that announces that spring is here, or one of our other favorites, now is the time to add these beauties to your garden.


  • Forsythia enjoys full sun.  Make sure your bush gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
  • Forsythia need to be grown in well draining soil.  Overly wet, marshy or swampy soil is not recommended.
  • You'll need to fertilize when caring for your Forsythia.  Use Al's Slow Release fertilizer once every 2-3 months in the spring and summer.
  • Good care for your forsythia will require that it be pruned yearly.  The best time to prune is right after it has finished blooming.

Witch Hazel

  • The generic name means "together with fruit", which refers to the fact that this tree has flowers, ripe fruit and next year's leaf buds all at the same time.
  • The plant sets out pretty yellow flowers that are fragrant, and resemble dainty ribbons in the fall.
  • Growing Witch Hazel is a favorite among gardeners looking for early spring color and fragrance.
  • Many people plant Witch Hazel in a location where they can enjoy it's beauty but also it's seductive smell

PJM Rhododendron

  • Durable yet charming, the PJM Rhododendron has small trusses of bright lavender blooms with contrasting small dark green leaves.
  • Evergreen foliage takes on a mahogany-brown winter color.
  • This variety is noted for its tolerance for both heat and cold.
  • An excellent choice for borders, mass plantings, or containers.  


  • It's pretty hard not to see these in the landscape these days
  • Pieris grows and flowers best when planted in full sun or partial sun and shade
  • The showy cascading flowers are followed by colorful new foliage, which varies by variety from bronze to a brilliant pink, to a darker scarlet
  • Pieris planted with Viburnum, rhododendrons and azaleas create quite a spring floral display.


  • Edgeworthia is grown for it's flowers that appear on it's branch tips -- and it's amazing scent!
  • Individual flowers are bright yellow and are densely packed
  • Also known as the paper bush, because it was used to make paper in China
  • A true plant collectors "statement" plant

Aaron Rivera

There's plenty to be done in the garden this time of year, so don't let "a little" rain distract you from your ultimate mission.  Be it a plentiful vegetable garden, a beautiful lawn, sweet fruit or an eye pleasing landscape, a little preparation now will pay off big when the sun finally decides to shine.

Getting ready to plant primroses
PLANT NOW (Direct seed):

Carrots, beets, broccoli, leeks, parsley, dill, chives, peas, radish, rhubarb, horseradish, onions, spinach, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, potatoes and lettuce

Veggie Garden

  • Now is a great time to plan your garden.
  • Clean up last year's debris
  • Add at least 2" of well-rotted compost or manure and till in
  • Pull small weeds
  • Monitor soil temperatures



  • Now is a great time to control for Moss
  • Fertilize, lime and re-seed if weather permits
  • Use a pre-emergent to control 'Poa annua' and broadleaf weeds
  • Treat for European Crane Fly larva
  • Mow!


a strawberry plant in a pot ready to plant


  • Prune all cane berries, grapes and blueberries
  • Plant strawberries, can berries, blueberries and fruit trees
  • Spray fruit trees for fungal diseases and insects
  • Complete pruning of fruit trees before buds appear



  • Remove weeds and use at least one weed preventive tactic:  mulch, weed barrier fabric or a pre-emergent herbicide
  • Plant summer blooming bulbs
  • OK to plant anything new -- as long as it's in a container and the soil is dry enough to work
  • Prune early spring flowering shrubs
  • Apply systemic to roses to prevent disease and pests
  • Divide dormant perennials
  • Last chance to move plants that are still dormant
  • Fertilize trees, shrubs, perennials when new growth starts
  • Make plans for new hardscapes such as stepping stones, fencing, and trellises. Maybe even a new water feature!
  • Use moss control on pavement and roofs
  • Bait for slugs


Now is an especially good time to scout for pests and disease symptoms.  Early intervention with the least toxic solution, is a great way to start your garden this spring.  When in doubt visit our Growing Guides or give us a call.


Learn more from Al's Experts at our complimentary class: What To Do in Your Garden Now: March.
March 11 at 10:00am in Woodburn and Sherwood, and 1:00pm in Gresham



'Jersey Knight' Asparagus

Al's Grower's Choice brings you select varieties of plants that have been chosen for their taste, hardiness and bloom. They are unique, hand picked plants and vegetables that our growers believe work best in our climate and terrains.

'Jersey Knight' Asparagus on a plate

This week we feature the Jersey Knight Asparagus.

This perennial root and stem vegetable greets us every spring! Whether you like it fresh, steamed, or smothered in Hollandaise sauce, Asparagus is a great choice for your garden this year.

Unlike most vegetables, this perennial asparagus will provide many years of spring produce for your family. Jersey Knight is an all-male variety (male asparagus typically produces better crop yields because they don’t have to expend energy in producing flowers and fruit) that offers cold hardiness and superior disease resistance. Prepare a permanent, well drained spot in your garden for this prolific plant. After harvest, the asparagus produces fern-like foliage that lasts throughout the summer.

'Frostkiss' Hellebores in bloom

Al's Grower's Choice brings you select varieties of plants that have been chosen for their taste, hardiness and bloom. They are unique, hand picked plants and vegetables that our growers believe work best in our climate and terrains.

We believe you will have the best success with the Grower's Choice series. Look for more great Grower's Choice plants to come in the months ahead!

'Frostkiss Sally's Shell' Hellebores in a planter'FrostKiss Sally's Shell' Hellebore
image courtesy of Pacific Plug & Liner

This week we feature the FrostKiss Series of Hellebores.

The world of Hellebores is always changing, improving the cutting edge! The new Frostkiss Series is destined to become a garden classic, with blooms varying in color from fosty- pink to bold red or white speckled, just to list a few of our favorites. This deer resistant, easy to grow perennial is a must have for every gardener. Naturally drought tolerant, the Hellebore FrostKiss Series is unique with forward facing flowers on burgundy stems that parade above pink to silver veined leaves. Their glorious blooms open in late winter and last through early spring.

If you are looking for a particular variety of rose, now is the time to shop. We have our best selection available early in the season, long before you'll enjoy their beautiful blooms. Very popular are the Downton Abbey series of roses, named for the characters in the hit TV show.

Pretty Lady Rose inspired by Lady RoseRose image from

Pretty Lady Rose

Inspired by lady rose, niece and goddaughter of the Dowager Countess Violet, Pretty Lady is as vibrant as her namesake. Lady Rose has a high petal count that creates big, showy, ruffled blooms.  This rose is well dressed with healthy bright glossy medium green foliage. Her compact habit makes her especially good for containers. Dark pink in color, this plant has a sweet fragrance.

Edith's Darling Rose inspired by Lady EdithRose image from

Edith's Darling

This new addition to the popular series of roses was inspired by Lady Edith and her beloved daughter Marigold.  This old fashioned, soft apricot-gold flower mimics the color of her hair and is perfect for filling borders. The bloom smells like a cut apple or a fruity perfume, and is perfect for cutting and bringing into the house.

Anna's Promise Rose inspired by Anna BatesRose image from

Anna's Promise

This rose has a unique and complex color combination of both golden petals and pink blush just like its character Anna Bates. Strong stems and fruity fragrance make this rose very elegant.

Violet's Pride Rose inspired by Lady VioletRose image from

Violet's Pride

This rose was inspired by the many shades of lavender dresses worn by popular Downton Abbey character Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Violet's Pride has a magenta colored heart on its inner petals. Violet's Pride belongs to the aristocracy of the rose world, with dense foliage, sophisticated grapefruit-like fragrance, and resilience to disease.

So if it's roses you are after, be sure to shop early for our best selection. Click on our 2017 Rose List below to see all of the varieties we will have this season.

Current selection may vary. Please check stores for availability.

Tim Mouzakis

February is one of the best times to plant bare root fruit trees, but why bare root?  Bare root fruit trees give you the advantage of seeing your root structure and health.  In addition, they are easier to transport because they are lighter and can more easily be lifted into position.

a bare root fruit tree

When planting any bare root fruit tree, be sure to choose an area of the yard that gets full sun and good drainage, especially for cherries and apricots.  The most important thing to remember is to group trees together that have similar root stocks and spraying needs.

a sketch of a bare root fruit tree soaking in a bucket

1. Soak the roots overnight in water before planting.

If the tree is not going to be planted within 24 hours after purchase, "heel" the tree into a pile of soil or a big bucket of soil mix.  Cover the entire root area of the tree so they don't dry out.  Keep the soil moist until the tree is planted.

2.  Dig the planting hole twice as wide as the roots.

It's not necessary to dig a hole any deeper than the length of the root stock, usually about a foot.  However, if drainage is a problem, be sure to break up any layers of hard pan that may exist in the current soil.

3.  Mix native soil and soil amendment.

Al's Slow Release Transplant FertilizerAl's 8-2-4 slow release fertilizer

Us up to 1 part NW Best Soil Builder & Top Dressing or Al's Planting Compost, to 1 part native soil (depending on the clay content of the soil).  Mix Al's Transplant Fertilizer in the hole around the roots.  Refer to the label for amount, usually around 2 cups for a tree of average size.

4.  Place the tree on a slight mound in the middle of the hole and then spread out the roots.

a sketch illustrating the proper way to plant a bare root fruit tree

Don't let them encircle the tree.  Face the bud union of the fruit tree (where the root stock and fruiting section have been grafted; you'll see a bump) to the north east, away from the direction of the sun.  Back fill the hole without compacting the soil.  Instead, drench the soil several times to allow it to settle and eliminate any air pockets.  Add 2-3" of mulch around the tree.  Be sure not to cover the bud union -- this needs to remain above soil or any mulch that has been added.

5.  Don't forget to add an irrigation system for your fruit trees.  

Soaker hoses are really the best way to ensure you get a good, deep root watering.  When trying to establish a tree, consistent watering is key.

6.  Stake the tree.

If you are located in a particularly windy location, use 2 stakes and flexible tape (like stretch tie) to allow the tree to sway gently, but not be blown over by the wind.

So, whether it's cherries or applies you prefer, it's actually quite easy to grow your own fresh fruit.  Choose Bare Root fruit trees from Al's, for the best results.

Are you worried about your plants during these dramatic swings in temperature?  Start by understanding the difference between Cold Damage and Drought Damage.

Hellebore blooms in the snowimage from

Cold Damage

This is when mid-winter temperature swings can damage broadleaf evergreens.  The most damage is done in early and late winter, when plants are less acclimated to the cold.  This kind of temperature change affects the entire plant.

Winter Drought Damage

In mid-winter, the real damage is drought damage.  When we have warm temperatures followed by cold temperatures.  The combination of extended below freezing temperatures and bright sunshine a little or no wind, will cause a drought like condition, even in winter.


The trunks and stems of broadleaf evergreens remain frozen, yet foliage is able to thaw due to the sunshine.  The result, the plant starts to photosynthesize.  Since all the water in the trunk and stems has frozen, the result is that no water moves upward the foliage becomes dry.

What to look for

If the burn is more pronounced on southern or western sides of the plant, here in the Northern hemisphere, you are probably looking at mid-winter drought injury.  If the damage is uniform on all sides of the plant, it's more likely that new growth is being killed by a freeze event.

How to Solve

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about it now, but try to remember to water prior to any dramatic temperature change in the future.  That way, your plants will have the best fighting chance.

Don't immediately start removing damaged stems, as it may take weeks for all the damage to be visible.  Rather, take care of any pruning when temperatures have stabilized, usually in late March or early April.

Lastly, remember this weather event on your garden calendar.  So, when you see the damage later in spring, you'll remember the event that caused it.

Every year, the Pantone Color Institute releases its "Color of the Year" to help designers, decorators, and fashionistas stay on the cutting edge of color. While it is a symbolic choice, it serves as a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture and serves as an expression of a mood or an attitude. And 2017 looks like it will be all about freshness and revival.


The 2017 Color of the Year is Greenery

Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature revives itself. A refreshing and revitalizing color. Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings. Illustrated through the use of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the attributes of Greenery signals us to take a deep breath and rejuvenate.

That sounds like a match made in heaven for us at Al's. We've been in the business of Greenery since 1948! This natural hue can be seen all over the garden center, especially as the muted tones of winter start to give way to the new growth of spring. And because we like to stay up on the latest style trends, you will find Greenery throughout our clothing and home decor sections in 2017 as well.

Greenery is nature's neutral.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so the more submerged people are in modern life the greater their craving to immerse themselves in the natural world. Greenery used to be a great background color, but now Greenery is being pulled to the forefront.  A life-affirming shade, Greenery is also emblematic of the pursuit of personal growth and vitality. Take it from Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute:

"Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalize, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose"

Well said, Leatrice. Look for Greenery all throughout the garden center this year.