How to Properly Mulch Your Trees

A neighbor recently asked me to evaluate his pine trees. Two Austrian Pine trees flank his driveway and one was suffering significant needle loss as compared to the other. Upon investigation I discovered that the failing tree had eight inches of mulch at its base completely covering the root flare of the trunk where as the other tree’s trunk was left exposed down to the soil surface. Improper application of mulch is all too uncommon.

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Heuchera ‘Midnight Rose’

Heuchera ‘Midnight Rose’ is a  sport of  Heuchera ‘Obsidian’. This selection has the same deep black-purple leaves as ‘Obsidian’ but with bright pink variegation that emerges in spring. As the season progresses the variegation increases in surface area and then lightens to a pale creamy pink. As with all Heuchera they are easy to grow and fit well into any perennial planting. Low growing with a mounded habit.

I took this picture at the Oregon Garden in Silverton, Oregon. If you ever have a chance to tour the Oregon Garden take the opportunity.

Plant Selection and Site Conditions

Proper selection of a plant for given site conditions is critical. It is more important than your ability to prune, harvest, or mulch. All too often a plant is chosen on its look or size in the nursery. Just because that Colorado Spruce looks great in the pot at the nursery doesn’t mean you should be planting 5 feet from the corner of the house . That spruce has the potential to grow to 60 feet in height and 20 feet wide, not the ideal tree for such a location.

I have often seen this mistake at the hand of the landscaper who’s only concern is to make money and not consider the future of the landscape. The initial cost of the landscape from a lowball bid contractor may seem appealing, but the eventual side effects of a poorly designed landscape will end up costing you more in the future. If you are hiring a contractor, get references, visit projects that they have designed and installed; in short do your homework. Continue reading Plant Selection and Site Conditions

Hen and Chicks (Sempervivum)

Perennial. Low growing, (4 to 6in.) spreading, succulents with rosettes of fleshy leaves in shades of crimson and green. Grown for the interesting plant appearance since flowers are inconspicuous. Used primarily in rock gardens and containers. Numerous varieties are propagated primarily by offsets. Easy to grow in full sun. Drought tolerant once established. Hardy to zone 4.

DIY Project: Making a Hen and Chicks Wreath (

Montezuma Pine (Pinus montezumae)

Montezuma Pine, is a species of conifer that is native to Mexico and Central America, where it is commonly known as Ocote. The tree grows about 100 feet high and its canopy can reach 35-40 feet wide; occasionally it may reach a height of 130 feet.

Its rounded crown is complimented by the slightly drooping needles. The needles are born in fascicles of 5 with occasionally 4-6 and are quite irregular in thickness with some rather thick and others thin. The bark is dark brown-grayish, deeply fissured. Bark on young trees is a reddish brown rough and scaly.

The cones on this pine are also quite variable in size , usually slightly curved 4-6inches long and 3-4 inches wide when they have fully opened.

The specimen pictured in these photos is located at the Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle. (GPS: +47° 38′ 16.84″, -122° 17′ 37.19″)

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