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A big colorful bouquet of Dahlias cut fresh from your garden will let everyone know that summer is in full swing. You may have your favorite type of Dahlia - from the traditional Decorative Dahlia to the unique Cactus Dahlia, there is sure to be a bloom that suits your style. Or, an array of all different kinds, sizes, and hues will really scream summer fun!

Did you know there are 12 different groups of dahlias? The group Decorative Dahlias include the big ones, such as Dinnerplate Dahlias. The flowers are fully double and the plants are tall. Flower size is the largest - up to 12" accross, and the plants grow up to 5 feet tall!

Even though they're often called bulbs, the roots of Dahlias are actually tubers. Dahlia tubers look a lot like a bunch of brown carrots. The stem actually sprouts directly from the tuber.

Once you have your tubers, it's important to space them correctly.  If you're planting a big Dinnerplate Dahlia, it's going to need some elbow room.  When grown, it will be the size of a large rose bush, so plan accordingly. In general, plant the tubers by arranging the "bunch of carrots" with the points facing down. Simply firm the soil around and over the clump, water well, and you're done. It doesn't get easier than that.

These unique Cactus Dahlias carry blooms very similar to cactus flowers - fully double, with tubular petals that are pointed, giving a starburst appearance. This group includes some spectacular color combinations!

If you didn't plant your own Dahlias earlier this year, not to fear!  We have a lovely selection of bright and blooming potted Dahlias that will brighten your summer table.

The flowers of these Ball Dahlias are rounded like, well, a ball. They resemble some larger double zinnias, but with richer colors. Loaded with petals, these flowers re mid-sized on plants up to 48".

There's nothing better than attracting pollinators to your garden.  Whether it's birds, bats or bees, they each play an important role in the pollination of your garden.

Echinacea comes is a variety of wonderful colors, and are pollinator magnets!

We have several perennial favorites to highlight that can help you attract pollinators, and June is when perennials really shine.  These perennials are for sunny gardens and include an assortment of both flowers shapes and flower colors.  These favorites bloom between late spring and late summer, making them workhorses in the garden, and an easy care way of having changing color.


Echinacea is a genus, or a group of herbaceous flowering plants, in the daisy family.  The Echinacea genus has nine different species, which are commonly called coneflowers.  Praised for their large, daisy-like flowers which appear from midsummer thru fall, after many other perennials have finished blooming.  Coneflowers are a mainstay in today's garden.

Bee Balm in bloomThis Monarda, aka Bee Balm, is attractive to bees and gardeners alike!

Monarda -- Bee Balm

The Bee Balm flower has an open, daisy-like shape, with tubular petals in shades of red, pink, purple and white.  Bee Balm prefers moist, rich soil in a sunny location.  Deadheading, or removing spent flowers, will help promote new flower production.  If you would like a bushier plant, pinch off the stem tips as new growth appears in the early spring.  If you have never enjoyed the Bee Balm, it adds a touch of old-fashioned beauty to your flower garden, and it will attract butterflies and bees for your enjoyment.

penstemonPenstemon 'Cathedral Hot Rose'


Penstemon is one of our more spectacular native plants.  This plant produces dozens of tubular flowers arranged on a tall stalk, perfectly shaped for hummingbirds.  Penstemon is related to snapdragons and come in a variety of cultivated hues such as lavender, salmon pink, red and white.  The stems are triangular and the leaves are arranged opposite each other.  Leaves may be either oval, sword shaped, smooth or waxy.  The best location for Penstemon is in full sun with well draining soil.  This perennial is remarkably tolerant of drought conditions, once established.


Growing Salvia is something every gardener should try.  Salvia can be either annual or perennial, most are rapid growers and tolerate summer heat with grace.  They come in a number of colors including blue, purple, pink, red and some whites and yellows.  Most Salvias prefer to dry out between waterings, and can be fertilized with Al's Slow Release plant food, to encourage growth and more flowering spikes.  When blooms are spent remove the spikes to encourage additional flowering.  Salvia will regrow and reward you with blooms that last until autumn.

Veronica Speedwell


Plant Veronica Speedwell in the garden to establish long lasting blooms to enjoy throughout the summer season.  This easy care plant doesn't require much upkeep, making them ideal for the time constrained gardener.  Veronica comes in an array of blues, pinks, and white.  She is reportedly both deer and rabbit resistant, but both butterflies and hummingbirds love Veronica.  In order to maximize the bloom, we recommend removing spent spikes, and dividing the plant every few years in early spring or fall.

Whether it's the tall stateliness of the Delphinium or the comforting fragrance of Lavender, both of these perennials will help attract pollinators to your garden.

English Lavender English Lavender

Spanish Lavender Spanish Lavender


Lavender is true summer flower which is loved by butterflies and bees, and its evergreen foliage offers year round interest.  Lavender's beautiful blooms are perfect for fresh bouquets brought directly in from the garden.  Lavender is also well know for being dried for flower arrangements or sachets.

Lavender has a few different forms.  There is the English lavender flower and the Spanish lavender flower.  Both unique, the English lavender has a spike of florets on a stem that grows above it's foliage. Spanish lavender is also a spike of flowers, but has a tuft of petals at the top of the flower cluster.  English lavender 'lavendula angustifolia' is a delicious accent to main dishes and pastry recipes.  

  • Loves full sun and needs good drainage
  • Aromatic foliage and flowers
  • Trim back after blooming to maintain pleasing plant habit
  • Deer resistant 


Delphiniums are loved for their beautiful blooms, and are especially stunning in fresh bouquets.  Delphiniums are also butterfly and bee magnets.

  • Plant Delphiniums in full sun to a little afternoon shade
  • Delphiniums prefer even soil moisture and good drainage
  • Cut back spent flowers to help promote more flowers
  • Trim foliage as needed
  • Plants may go dormant by late summer
  • Perfect for containers or garden borders

Add pleasing perennials to your borders, and watch them return again and again.

When I think of ideal plants for a lovely shade garden, I immediately think of ferns and heucheras. They offer a form of motion and texture in the garden, that cannot be achieved otherwise.


Ferns provide those long arching fronds that grace many Northwest gardens. While the Sword Fern owns its regal place among other natives, there are many other unique ferns to enjoy.

Tassel Ferns

This lustrous shiny leaf fern adds an elegant look to shaded gardens. Particularly beautiful when new fronds emerge stiffly, then droop backwards to form the tassel of its namesake. Beautiful in masses for groundcover, especially under flowering shrubs. Herbaceous perennial.

‘Bevis’ Soft Shield Fern

Outstanding for shady areas in the yard, these feathery, dark green fronds look tropical but are actually hardy! The perfect contrast to bold-leaved plants. The 'Bevis' Soft Shield Fern loves our cool woodland settings, adapting well to dry shade conditions when established. Semi-evergreen.


‘Cajun fire’

This forms a sturdy mound of gently-lobed leaves that are red in spring, turn black in summer and then maroon in fall. Sprays of white bell flowers on dark stems appear in June just above the foliage, but can be removed if desired. Excellent in the border, for edging, and in mixed containers. Foliage may be tidied up in spring by removing any withered or tired-looking leaves. Evergreen.

‘Forever Purple’

You know we had to include something purple! This Coral Bells is destined to become the new standard for purple leafed perennials. It forms a mound of glossy, purple leaves with fluted edges year round. Short sprays of purple-pink flowers appear in summer. Sturdy in habit and vigorous. Nice for borders, containers or rock gardens. Remove any winter-burned leaves in the spring, otherwise no pruning is required. Another fantastic Heuchera!

While some find shade gardens limiting, using many layers of foliage that provides both texture and color can create a cool summer oasis like no other.

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.