Archive | February, 2012

Low Voltage Lighting For The Residential Landscape

29 Feb

By: John Curtis, Landscape Designer at Dennis’ 7 Dees

Low voltage lighting systems, for outdoor use, have been around since the early 1950’s.  Before that time, lighting in the landscape was limited to 120 volt household current, installed by licensed electricians and used primarily for safety and security purposes. These lights were expensive to install and due to the large amount of power consumption, the yearly energy costs were significant.  With the advent of 12 volt lighting systems, lights became more economical to install and to operate.  After 60 years low voltage lighting systems have entered the mainstream of modern landscape installations.  Throughout the years the evolution and availability of a wide variety of high quality fixtures and longer lasting, energy saving bulbs, have lead to their popularity.  More energy reduction and cost savings can be obtained today with the arrival and refinement of LED technology.  LED lighting fixtures use approximately 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent low voltage lights.

Photo by John Curtis of Dennis’ 7 Dees

There are many reasons to consider investing in a lighting system for your outdoor landscape.  Safety and security are usually the first reasons many people decide to install lights.  Pathways, steps and driveways are but a few of the areas around a home that benefit from increased visibility on a dark night.

FX Luminaire

Another incentive to light is to create a mood and atmosphere around the property for an inviting look.  Highlighting trees, specimen plants, water features, and garden elements can create an aesthetic that is hard to duplicate during the daylight hours.

FX Luminare

Area lighting for entertaining is another aspect that is often overlooked.  A popular trend is towards more outdoor living spaces such as outdoor kitchens, patios and spaces for entertaining.  Many of these activities, that are curtailed by darkness, can be prolonged into the evening by a well designed and professionally installed low voltage lighting system

FX LuminareModern lighting fixtures come in a wide range of designs and materials to suit different areas and create a multitude of lighting effects.  If you are thinking about investing in, or upgrading an existing low voltage landscape lighting system, call our office to schedule a free consultation with one of our lighting design consultants.


Japanese Andromeda

28 Feb
Pieris japonica/Pieris – Lily of the Valley shrub

By Stacie Palmer

This slow-growing native of Japan is related to Rhododendron, Azalea and Kalmia/mountain laurel. Their wandering, somewhat unpredictable habit provides grace and beauty to any garden. As they age and develop, their lower limbs can be removed to reveal peeling bark and a tree-like form. Typically these stunning show-stoppers are planted as a focal point, by a front door, or in a container where their sculptural form may be admired.

'Purity' photo from Saunder Brothers

Typically Pieris sport glossy, dark green, narrowly oval leaves. Flowers appear in late winter/early spring. Resembling a string of pearls, bell-shaped, commonly white, flowers are borne in pendulous clusters at branch ends. As spring unfolds, exquisite new foliar growth tinged in bronze to pink to red emerges, maturing to green as the season progresses. Flower buds are set in summer, making Pieris a year-round attention grabber.

'Flaming Silver' - Photo by Personal Garden Coach

'Valley Valentine'

Not only are Pieris deer resistant plants, they are a vital and beloved nectar source for spring-emerging pollinators such as the Mason bee. Not to worry! Mason bees are solitary, peaceful creatures whose sole mission is to pollinate fruit and nut trees, as well as flowers around our gardens. Who could ask for a more mutually beneficial relationship?!

Cultural conditions required by Pieris include slightly acidic, fertile soil that is well-drained yet moisture-retentive during the hottest months of summer. (Be sure to include fertilizer for acid-loving plants and plenty of compost to the planting hole.) Suitable placement would be in partial shade to full sun in our climate.  Pieris do enjoy protection from the hottest of afternoon sun and definitely from our damaging winter east winds.


Among the varieties commonly available are (all mature sizes given are average for our area):

  • ‘Little Heath’ has pinkish/peachy new growth maturing to green w/white edges; 2’ x 2’
  • ‘Prelude’, having pink new growth, is another small variety–18”-24” tall & wide
  • ‘Cavatine’ dazzles us with red new growth that matures green; 2’-3’ tall & wide
  • ‘Valley Rose’ shines with light pink flowers in the spring; 3’-5’ tall & wide
  • ‘Valley Valentine’ sports breath-taking deep red buds & flowers; 6’-7’ tall x 4’-5’
  • ‘Flaming Silver’ has fiery red new foliage edged in pink, maturing to green w/white edging; 4’-5’
  • ‘Purity’ not only blooms later than average, her stunning white flowers are larger than most!; 3’-4’ tall & wide

2012 Yard Garden & Patio Show

27 Feb

Our team worked meticulously on every aspect of the Chinese Garden and are proud to have won ‘Best in Show’ as well as “Best Use of Plant Material”. It’s a shame something that beautiful can only be enjoyed for 3 days, and then it’s all gone. People seemed to get lost in the garden and forget they were even inside the convention center.

Photo by John Curtis of Dennis' 7 Dees

Photo by John Curtis of Dennis' 7 DeesAs you view these photos, transcend time with a visit to a garden of perpetuity. Like the familiar bamboo, which symbolizes past and future, Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping unites over 3,000 years of traditional Chinese garden design with modern resources and local NW materials, to create a space that honors tradition through innovation.

Photo by John Curtis of Dennis’ 7 Dees

Your personal journey begins with an alluring first glimpse of “nature in miniature” through leak windows.

Photo by John Curtis of Dennis' 7 Dees

 As you enter this hidden space, soothing reflections of shimmering water beckon you into a timeless retreat, where the traditional five elements speak to all your senses in harmony of Qi, the balance of energy in all things.

Photo by John Curtis of Dennis' 7 Dees

Feel strength in the rockeries. Experience softness at the water pond. Appreciate integrity and courage in the resilience of plants. Integrate with nature as you sit under a pergola enjoying refinement and reflection in classic Chinese poetic inscriptions.Photo by John Curtis of Dennis' 7 Dees

A crowd favorite was the Edgeworthia which had just burst open and was showing it’s best face. This beauty is available at all four of our garden center locations.

Dennis’ 7 Dees garden center booth focused on inspiring a fun gardening atmosphere. We featured new gardening projects and trends. Miniature gardening is something we are really excited about right now.  The possibilities are endless and on a grey rainy day it’s a great excuse to play in the dirt. Visit our website for a complete listing of spring classes including a few on miniature gardens.

Bright pottery is a great way to add a pop of color to your patio.

This is the best time of year to get inspired by a new color palate, garden projects and design ideas or to just simply take a break from the grey February weather. There’s no better way to kick off spring than a weekend full of gardening inspiration! We are especially fond of Tangerine Tango, the Pantone color of the year, and soon you will see it popping up all over our garden centers.

Decorative pottery with bright pops of early spring bloomers could put anyone in the mood to get their garden started!

Our booth featured something for everyone, even the kids! Our famous playhouse took a vacation from our SE Powell garden center and gave the little ones a much-needed break from the show. Don’t worry, the playhouse has made its way back home for those of you who missed it over the weekend.

Winter Daphne, Sweet!

9 Feb

by Linda Kay Harrison

Sometimes, it feels like winter will never end.  The grey days and long nights can leave us feeling robbed of sunshine and craving cheerful beauty. 

Enter our heroine …Winter Daphne,… aka Daphne Odora Marginata.  This cheerfully scented sweetie can put a smile on even ‘Old Man Winter’s’ frigid face! 

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'. Photograph: Gap Photos/Richard Bloom


Graceful evergreen foliage with pale yellow margins hold clusters of tiny pink buds that open to small white blooms in late winter and early spring.   But don’t let the small flower-size fool you, this plant is BIG on fragrance.  One plant can fill a garden with its heady scent.  Daphne is wonderful near the patio or entryway where the magnificent perfume can be appreciated by simply walking past. 

Daphnes enjoy some afternoon shade, and require a very well drained, slightly acidic soil.  Growing to approximately 4 feet high and 4 feet wide, Winter Daphne is low maintenance and rarely needs pruning.  Dennis’ 7 Dees has Winter Daphne in a great selection of sizes and price ranges.

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