Archive | April, 2012

Landscape Dreaming

30 Apr

By Darla McGary, Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscape Designer

Have you ever dreamed about changing your landscape?   Maybe you don’t know what you want, because a landscape dream you once had isn’t in sync with who you are now or because you’re overwhelmed with all the choices out there.   It is easy to demonstrate how overwhelming the choices can become.  When you have a free moment, type in the simple words ‘landscape design’ in your browser, click on the ‘images’ button along the tool bar.   There before you will appear a vast library of landscape images; hundreds and hundreds of pictures. While I love this function, be careful.  You can find yourself spending hours and hours dreaming about how to incorporate different elements into your landscape and really make no progress toward making your landscape dream a reality.   Try another search.  Type in low maintenance gardens.  Look at the images.  Amazing environments.  Go ahead and try contemporary gardens or cottage gardens.   Look at the possibilities.  How long have you been dreaming about changing your landscape and have yet to take even one step toward making your landscape dream a reality?Fished Project


Image of the yard before renovation

I had dreamed about changing my landscape for 15 years.   Being a landscape designer and working for a professional landscaping company does beg the question as to why did I let my dream slip away for 15 years?   You could blame an over-committed life making a project like this seem impractical or ‘not necessary’.  While that sounds good and is a common ‘sound bite’ used by many of us, the truth of the matter is I had shackled my brain with fear and had become paralyzed. Pure and simple.   Of all things, letting time pass became the key to releasing me from my fear.  Time appears to go faster as we age and I realized I either pursue my dream or I must let it go.  Ironically, not only did I pursue my landscape dream, my neighbor joined me with her dream and we were able to take the journey together.  I hope you enjoy the pictures of our landscape reality!

Much better!


Rosa “Royal Rosarian’ – Royal Rosarian Rose

27 Apr

By Stacie Palmer – Lead Planscaper at Dennis’ 7 Dees

Looking for the perfect Mother’s Day, Graduation, or Father’s Day present? Look no further. . .’Royal Rosarian’ rose is the answer!

‘Royal Rosarian’ rose,  is not only the official rose of the 2012 Portland Rose Festival, it is also sold exclusively at Dennis’ Seven Dees garden centers.  As the name would imply, this year’s rose is named for our very own Royal Rosarians.  The Royal Rosarians, a group of volunteers, are the official greeters and ambassadors of goodwill for the City of Portland.  2012 marks their 100th year of service.  What better way to commemorate this legendary group’s centennial than to name a rose after them? And what a rose it is! Four years in the making, ‘Royal Rosarian’ rose was developed by one of the top hybridizer in the country, Christian Bernard.

About this special rose: its petals are numerous, deep red, and resemble velvet. It’s lustrous deep green foliage is very disease resistant and sturdy. Numerous clusters of flowers are borne on each branch, and (added bonus) they are fragrant! As with many floribunda roses, ‘Royal Rosarian’ matures, on average, at 2’-4’ tall and has a thick, bushy appearance. Imagine, your beloved (treat yourself to one, too!) could enjoy masses of fragrant, velvety blossoms all summer until frost, year after year. Because this rose has a long vase life, holding up very well as a cut flower, it can easily be enjoyed indoors and shared with others.

For new and seasoned rose growers alike, this year we are offering the entire collection of official Rose Festival roses: ‘Falling In Love With The Rose Festival’ (2007), ‘Oregon Celebration’ (2008), ‘Dream Come True’ (2009), ‘Summertime Souvenir’ (2010), ‘Sweet Spotlight’ (2011), and ‘Royal Rosarian’ (2012). Limited quantities are available of this unique collection, so purchase and get yours planted now!

New at growing roses and need more information? Click Here.  Another great resource is the Portland Rose Society.

Spring has Sprung at the Garden Centers

19 Apr

The last two weekends has ensured us that spring really has arrived. Although it may be a bit rainy this week, it’s going to be a beautiful weekend and it’s time to get your gardens going.

If you are looking for inspiration make sure to visit our garden centers. Here are a few recent photos from Dennis’ 7 Dees garden centers that are sure to inspire you to get your hands a little dirty and dive into your spring gardening projects even if they are as simple as changing out the color spots.



Fairy Gardens, Mini Gardens & Mini-scapes

10 Apr

photo by Terri's Treasures PhotographyMiniature Gardens, Fairy Gardens & Mini-scapes are all the rage right now. Miniature gardening has been around for years and years but in the last few months we have seen the interest in this fun, whimsical project escalate and we love the energy, passion & fun it brings to our garden centers. Check out this Oregonian article to learn more about this fun planting project: “Williams, a 10-year veteran of Dennis’ 7 Dees, chats about scale and perspective, essential elements for creating a realistic miniature garden, a pastime popular enough to be considered one the hottest trends of 2012”.Miniature gardening accessories

By Faith Cathcart, The Oregonian

By Faith Cathcart, The Oregonian

We have a handful of miniature gardening classes on our event schedule so check out our website for details & to register.

Fairy Gardening Class at Dennis' 7 Dees Cedar Hills Garden Center

Fairy Gardening Class at Dennis' 7 Dees Cedar Hills Garden Center

How to Create a Fairy Garden & Mini-scape

  • Select your container: build or re-use a wooden box, basket with liner, wheelbarrow, birdbath or other container.

    By Faith Cathcart, The Oregonian

    By Faith Cathcart, The Oregonian

  • Use quality potting soil; never top soil from your yard.  If drainage is poor, place a small amount of charcoal and a layer of pebbles at the bottom.
  • Choose a style or theme for garden. Draw it on paper to get a plan:  Zen meditation/Asian theme, English knot-garden/labyrinth design, woodsy, gothic, prayer garden/In memory of, seasonal changes (winter, spring, summer, fall), vacation souvenir-scape (a collection of treasures and plants to remind you of your great vacation).
  • Determine position of hardscape and prepare ‘foundation.’

    By Faith Cathcart, The Oregonian

    By Faith Cathcart, The Oregonian

  • Select plants.
  • Plant plants, install paths and other hardscape.
  • Top dress and decorate.
  • Maintain monthly with necessary pruning and light fertilization.


Plants for Fairy gardens & Mini-scapes

This list is by no means comprehensive but is intended to be used as a guide for plant selection.


By Faith Cathcart, The Oregonian

By Faith Cathcart, The Oregonian


  • ACORUS GRAMINEUS DWARF (miniature sweet flag): gold and green slender blades growing in a fan shape. As with all the gramineus cultivars, this must be kept evenly moist in order to maintain lustrous foliage.
  • COTULA (brass buttons): appearance of tiny ferns, ground hugging and easy to grow and control
  • ALCHEMILLA ERYTHROPODA (dwarf Lady’s mantle): delicately cupped green leaves have reddish stems, water drops are collected on leaves like jewels
  • SEDUMS, SEMPERVIVUMS & JOVIBARBAS: for your dry conditions, cacti gardens and desert fairies
  • BUXUS SEMPERVIRONS ‘SUFFRUITICOSA’ (dwarf English boxwood): makes excellent small trees, can also be variegated *can also be used indoors
  • MUEHLENBECKIA (wire vine or angel vine): delicate yet sturdy vining plant that can be trained over small arbors, up trellises or as a trailing accent *can also be used indoors
  • OPHIOPOGON JAPONICUS ‘NANA’ (dwarf mondo grass): dark green, clumping grass that spreads easily and stays short *can also be used indoors
  • DWARF CONIFERS:  must be slow growing
  • ARMERIA MARITIMA ‘VICTOR REITER’ or A. JUNIPERIFOLIA (dwarf thrift): tufted-mounding grass-like growth with long lasting globular pink flowers
  • ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS (rosemary): a classic herb with long association with the fairy world; can be trimmed to look like a small tree or shrub
  • THYMUS SERPYLLUM (elfin thyme): dense, mat-forming ground cover herb with a greenish gray leaf & lovely aroma


By Faith Cathcart, The Oregonian

By Faith Cathcart, The Oregonian

  • SOLEIROLIA SOLEIROLII (baby’s tears): teeny-tiny green leaves grow low and spreading; may need occasional trimming *can also be used outdoors with protection
  • SELAGINELLA (spike moss): textured and airy, looks just like fairy land *can also be used outdoors with protection
  • CHAMAECYPARIS LAWSONIANA ‘Elwood’s Pillar/Pygmy’: excellent dwarf conifer with slow growth and a bluish color *can also be used outdoors
  • CUPRESSUS MACROCARPA (lemon cypress): great chartreuse color, foliage is lemon-scented.  Can be fast growing but is tolerant of constant pruning *can also be used outdoors
  • HYPOESTES PHYLLOSTACHYA (polka-dot plant): dark green leaves have pink and white freckles; easy care
  • FICUS PUMILA REPENS: the famous “Creeping Fig” with clasping stems covered by overlapping small dark oval leaves much valued as can be used in topiary, terrariums, wall covers, hanging baskets.
  • FICUS BENJAMINA (weeping fig tree): great effect of leafy tree, faster growing than dwarf plants but can be trained as a bonsai and kept trimmed to size
  • PEPPEROMIA varieties
  • PILEA varieties
  • Any small ferns, cacti or other tender small succulents

Award Winning Landscape

5 Apr

This landscape design and installation project was recognized in 2011 by receiving a National Award by PLANET (Professional Landcare Network).   PLANET is an International association with over 3,800 members representing over 100,000 green industry professionals.

Shortly after purchasing their home, the owner of this property sought a professional landscape design/build company to renovate their existing landscape.  Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping award winning design team designed the landscape based on the homeowner’s  desires to have a sitting area with room for a BBQ and fire pit, a rose garden, a larger lawn area for their children to play, and a solution to reducing the traffic noise from a busy street.

The project started by installing a 150 foot long, 3 ½’ high, 2000-2500lb boulder rock wall along the backyard property line.  This wall extended their existing lawn surface by an additional 1500 square feet.  While excavating for the walls footing, Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping construction foreman discovered over 1/3 of the backyard was 100% fine sand backfill, 6 feet deep.  While all soil types have the possibility to be built on, given all appropriate considerations are accounted for, in this case an evaluation needed to occur to ensure the installation methods would maximize the long term performance/safety of the wall, and extended lawn.  We engaged the homeowner to explain to them the discovery of fine sand beneath the surface and to discuss options.   The solution jointly agreed was to remove the fine sand impacting the walls footing and then mix the remaining sand with imported topsoil.

After the wall was completed, a terraced water feature was installed.  The fall of the water from the three spillways has significantly reduced the street noise and has provided a focal point for the patio area.  The design of the water feature included integrating it into the natural contour of the slope and into the rock retaining walls which were necessary around the west perimeter of the house.   Prior to the installation of the water feature, large boulders needed to be removed and were reused on site.   The final grade for the patio area around the water feature had to be lifted 18”.  The original grade had the entire backyard draining toward the house and collecting where the new patio exists.  A drainage system was installed to channel the water away from the house and safely to a drainage collection pond.

A terraced rose garden was installed following the nature contours of the landscape.  The garden was planted with the homeowner’s favorite hybrid tea roses.  Arbors were installed at each end of the rose garden and a pergola was installed over the newly installed circular paver patio.  In reviewing the before and after pictures, notice the significance of adding vertical elements to this garden (pergola and arbors).

As the construction process continued, everyone involved with project came to realize that the previous owner of the property took short-cuts and installed many creative solutions when it came to irrigation, drainage, soil retention, and backfill material.  While no homeowner desires to have any challenge buried beneath the landscape surface waiting to be unearthed during construction, this homeowner  was grateful to have an experienced, knowledgeable team of professionals working with them to resolve the challenges while not taking their eye off the end result of delivering a beautiful landscape. 

Darla McGary

I have been a landscape designer my entire life. My first attempt at landscape design and installation was when I was 9 years old on my family’s farm in Eastern Oregon. Outside my parents’ dining room window were these two smelly, over-grown junipers. I persuaded my Dad to remove the junipers and allow me to install a small rock garden with plants. It was my first success! I continued to dabble in design while attending high school and college.  In college, I received my degree in finance and economics from the University of Oregon, which led me to a career in finance and accounting in Hi-tech. Having international aspects to my job enabled me to travel to Europe and Asia. This experience exposed me to cultural and environmental diversity and enabled me to visit both public and private gardens. The travel was enriching and fueled my desire for a change from the corporate life style. Consequently, I took the plunge, turned in my resignation, and bravely went back to college where I obtained both an associate’s degree in Landscape Technology and a degree in Landscape Design.  While attending college, I pursued and obtained an internship with Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping and served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers-Oregon.   Following graduation I become a designer at Dennis’ 7 Dees and was proud to serve as APLD-Oregon’s president.  Most recently, I have been recognized by PLANET and received a national environmental improvement award. Throughout this incredible journey, I have had the unwavering support of my husband, family, and friends.  I am truly grateful to be able to do what I love: Landscape Design.

Mexican Orange – Choisya ternata

4 Apr

By: Stacie Palmer of Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping & Garden Centers

Need a fast-growing plant that will wow the neighborhood? Choisya, commonly known as Mexican orange, might fit the bill.  Versatile is this plant’s middle name. Not only is it stunning year round, it is evergreen, attracts butterflies and bees, and is deer resistant!

This native of Mexico dons glossy, fragrant green foliage comprised of 3 leaflets held at the end of its branches, giving it a dense appearance. Highlights and shadows can readily be seen within the plant, giving it great texture and dimensionality.  For this reason, Choisya is a great backdrop for smaller plants, focal point, or even an informal hedge/screen.

Typically Choisya matures at 4’-6’ tall and wide.  And wait until you encounter its lovely, long-blooming white spring flowers. Notes of citrus intrigue the nose, while understated, delicate-looking blossoms delight the eyes. A literal feast for the senses!

Choisya, or Mexican orange, needs a spot in the sun, part sun or part shade (the versatility goes on & on!). Additionally, success will be greater with protection from wind and hot afternoon sun.  Although Choisya tolerates clay soil, that which drains well will better nourish and nurture this plant. Once established, this superstar is quite drought tolerant.

The three distinct varieties we typically see are the species form, which has broadly oval glossy green leaves, ‘Aztec Pearl’ whose leaves are narrowly cut & glossy green, as well as ‘Sundance’ whose brilliant yellow leaves are a beacon in which the entire neighborhood will find delight.

Can you imagine the brilliant yellow leaves of ‘Sundance’ paired with the purple foliage of a Loropetalum/fringe flower and accented by orange or magenta Phygelius/cape fuchsia flowers? What about the narrowly cut, glossy green leaves of ‘Aztec Pearl’ sharing a spot in the garden with a Cotinus/smoke bush? Twig dogwoods, as well as ‘Profusion’ Callicarpa/beauty berry, teamed up with any of the Choisya varieites make for a stunning winter display.

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