Tag Archives: Portland

Espalier Fruit Trees

1 Aug

By Stacie Palmer of Dennis’ 7 Dees

What could be better than growing an orchard in the city?! Given that most gardens are limited in space and consist of a small urban lot, or apartment/condominium terrace, how in the world can we grow apple or pear trees? The answer: espalier apple and pear trees!

Espalier (ehs-PAL-yay) is a method of training woody plants by tying branches to a frame so that they grow into a flat, two-dimensional plane. Most often we see espalier shrubs or trees trained against a structure such as a wall, fence, or trellis. Not only does this method of training allow for smaller plants and greater crop yield at a height accessible for harvest, it also can take advantage of maximizing radiant heat for crop maturation (i.e. a plant trained on a trellis against a fence or building).

Because dwarf fruit trees are trained by growers into espalier form, they are genetically smaller in size, and thereby more adaptable to small spaces. Once the desired shape has been created, pruning is aimed at preventing excessive foliage growth, forcing the tree to instead focus energy on fruit production.

Both apples and pears have similar cultural needs.

1) A site in a warm, sunny location where the soil is well-drained and rich with organic material.

2) Good air circulation

3) Regular deep watering to supplement rain, as needed, while fruit is developing.

4) Presence of a minimum of two differing varieties of apple or pear for cross-pollination

5) Winter chill

6) Commitment to disease and pest prevention (and treatment, should the need arise)

When we put all of this information together, we get espalier 4-in-1 or 6-in-1 apple or pear trees! Growers have grafted onto a disease-resistant root stock, either 4 or 6 different varieties of apple or pear. Viola! That takes care of the need for multiple varieties for pollination AND the trees are already trained in espalier form. We can expect grafted espalier apple and pear trees to reach approximately 15 feet in height and 8 to 10 feet in spread/width. Just think of all the functions such a plant could provide: focal point on a warm house or shed wall, screen the recycling and garbage bins, living ‘fence’ between areas of the garden, etc. Imagine harvesting 4 or 6 different types of apples or pears, full of nutritious, sweet goodness from your very own orchard in the city!

With all good things comes a caveat: there is definitely a maintenance commitment. An espalier fruit tree must have its form maintained on a regular basis; the longer you let it go, the larger job it becomes. In addition to pruning, one must maintain a regimen for pest and disease prevention (and treatment, should the need arise). Keep in mind that maintenance of a fruit tree differs from that of other woody ornamental plants. Our staff, as well as OSU Extension Services are fabulous resources available to you.


Unique Landscape Design Challenge Results in a Beautiful Outdoor Space

31 Jul

By Jonah Bishop – Landscape Designer at Dennis’ 7 Dees

When I first arrived on this property, I was immediately struck by its unique design challenges. First, the primary view of this yard was from the upper story deck, so I knew it needed to have some elements that would create lots of visual interest from above. Second, I had a homeowner who did not currently spend much time outside in the yard, but wanted to. I knew I was going to have to create some functional space to draw them outdoors. What made this second challenge unique was that almost the entire backyard was sloped away from the house. Now how to tie the two challenges together and come up with a beautiful cohesive design?  I was going to have to get creative!

First, the yard needed some level spaces in which to create usable space. To do this, we needed terraces. However, with this much space the linear footage was going to get boring really fast.  Taking into consideration that we needed an interesting view from above as well, I needed to take a look at the walls and start making them interesting! I got rid of all the straight lines and merged curves and corners to break up long runs of stone. Adding in some planting spaces at half height between the main levels, I was able to use the construction of these to further break up the long runs of stone with different shapes and plants. We now had our level spaces!


Now that we had our level spaces, we needed to make them useable. First we needed steps so that it could be accessible. With the idea already in place of the curving walls, I simply tied in the stairs to flow with the curves of the walls. Now we had access, but to where? We needed a space to draw the homeowner to.

We needed a reason to be outdoors in the new landscape. We needed a functional, livable space. A fireplace was a great element to draw people outdoors, but we needed somewhere to put it. With the way the idea for the walls was flowing, it provided the perfect opportunity to add patio space.

With the terraces, steps, and patios in place all that was left was the plants! Being able to bring in some fun flowering plants was truly the ‘icing’ on the cake for this yard! Now we had a yard that was visually interesting from all perspectives, and functional! Best of all, we created a landscape that the homeowner WANTED to be outdoors in and use!

Making Wishes a Reality

30 Jul

By Spencer Anderson – Landscape Designer at Dennis’ 7 Dees

Have you ever been fed up with your soggy, squishy, muddy lawn and wished that it would just go away?  Have you ever wished that your patio was a little bigger?  Have you ever wished you had a fire pit or a water feature?  These are some of the wishes that the owners of this property had in mind as we went through the design process to change their backyard.  Their landscaping needs changed as their children got older.  Instead of a play structure and swing set they were now looking at having a fire pit and water feature.  Through the design-build process this outgrown landscape was soon transformed into a beautiful outdoor living space by the design-build team here at Dennis’ 7 Dees Landscaping.  Please take a walk through the new landscape starting from the back door just off of the dining room…

Step out onto a roomy paver patio underneath a tall airy cover with skylights that allow the natural light to filter through.  Straight ahead there is a rustic stone fire pit nestled into a stone sitting wall flanked by large sitting boulders creating a perfect place to gather and roast marshmallows on a cool evening.   The sitting wall is also the face of a raised planting bed with trees and shrubs to soften the stone wall and wooden fence.  To the right and across the pavers there is easy access to the side yard and utility area with a wooden gate hide the tools and toys when it’s time to sit back and relax.  To the left the patio extends out from under the cover where one can soak up the sun on a bright day.  Extending the length of the patio is the stone sitting wall that defines the curvilinear patio edge and provides a comfortable enclosure and lots of places to sit.  The sitting wall runs into a three column water feature with water bubbling from all three columns and splashing down on boulders and into the shallow water below creating a soothing sound and a refreshing view from the kitchen window.  Directly below the kitchen window are colorful and fragrant plants.  The patio steps down onto a stone walkway that divides the water feature from a cedar chip play area. A block retaining wall was constructed along the property line to level the play area making it a great place for the family trampoline.  The cedar chip play area exits to a meandering crushed gravel path bordered with rubble rock and lined with plantings full of color and texture.  The path conveniently connects to the front yard through a gate with a decorative arbor overhead.

With the finishing touch of LED landscape lighting to illuminate the key features this backyard landscape was transformed into a beautiful and functional outdoor living environment where wishes were made a reality.  A place where Family and friends will gather often and many fond memories will be made.

Meet the designer – Spencer Anderson

I love the outdoors!  Some of my most memorable outdoor experiences came from my childhood as a boy scout in Eastern Oregon.  I recall one such experience where our scout troop hiked 30 miles along the Big Creek Trail near McCall, Idaho.  This was my first long hike so it was a big deal to me.  We camped along the way so I had a pack with all of my provisions that seemed like it was as big and heavy as I was.  The trail was rough and some of the hills were quite steep and challenging, but with every step the beauty of the natural landscape seemed to get more and more breathtaking.  It was this natural beauty and wonder that would push my tired legs to climb the next hill just to catch a glimpse of what was on the other side.  The night we reached our destination I remember sitting around the campfire looking up at the starry night sky wishing that I could always be surrounded by such beauty.  The next morning we were flown out of the forest and back to where we started by a small aviation company.  Looking down from the plane I noticed that the details of the beautiful landscape that I had just seen on my hike were hidden by the tall thick trees.  This experience and many others throughout my life have encouraged me to pursue a career as a landscape designer where I can be an instrument in bringing natural beauty into personal landscapes.  My desire to be a landscape designer combined with a hard work ethic stemming from my experiences working long hours alongside my dedicated father who is a carpenter gave me a great start.  Later I went to school at Brigham Young University-Idaho where I earned a bachelor’s degree in horticulture with an emphasis in landscape design.  Shortly after graduating I started a career with Dennis’ 7 Dees landscaping as a project foreman and quickly transitioned into landscape design.  I love the outdoors and I love being a landscape designer.

Celebrate Living in The City of Roses

26 Jul

by Linda Kay Harrison

Warm, sunny summer days and beautiful cool evenings are part of why we love Portland.  It’s also why roses love Portland, and Portland loves it’s roses in return.  So much so, that we’ve made one of the largest festivals in the Pacific Northwest to celebrate the beauty, grace, and elegance of the rose. For over one hundred years, Portland truly has been The City of Roses.

Sugar Moon – 2012 people’s choice as most fragrant

With the largest selection of roses in the Portland area, Dennis 7 Dees is the place to buy those roses.  We are also the ONLY place where you can buy the Royal Rosarian, the 2012 Rose Festival Rose of the Year.   We also have the Sugar Moon rose, which won the 2012 People’s Choice Award for Most Fragrant Rose.

Roses are one of the only shrubs that bloom ALL summer long.  They can begin in late May and bloom until frost. Their sweet, spicy scent will perfume your yard or patio.  As cut flowers, they have no equal. There are hundreds of varieties in different sizes, colors and fragrance levels.  With a few simple tips from one of our rose experts, your roses will bloom and thrive with ease.

Dennis 7 Dees has the expert advice and all the rose care supplies you’ll need for your own back yard celebration of living in The City of Roses. And,…right now, we have all our roses on sale!  Buy two roses, get one FREE!  That is something to celebrate!

Each year we start with a stock of 10,000+ roses and 500 different varieties

Anti-Mosquito Tips For Your Yard

13 Jul

By Linda Kay Harrison

There are few things in life that are as enjoyable and memorable as a warm summer evening out in the backyard,… and there is nothing that can ruin one as quickly as mosquitoes. Nothing sends us running indoors quite like that annoying little buzz in our ears that we know will turn into itchy welts later.

The reality is that mosquitoes are more than just annoying.  Mosquitoes carry many diseases that can cause serious health issues.  So how do you go about driving away these tiny pests once they’ve made their appearance?

Here are some great ‘environmentally low-impact’ tips:

  • Start by checking your yard for any sources standing water.  Female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at a time, and do so in multiple water filled locations.  Sources of standing water can be ponds, birdbaths, flower pots and sauces, kiddie pools, the dog’s water dish, even low spots in your lawn
    • For ponds that you can’t drain weekly use mosquito dunks that are safe for fish and plants.  You can also use a product that contains Bacillus Thuringiensis, BT, which is a bacteria that kills mosquito larvae, but will not do harm to animals or humans.  Dennis’ 7 Dees has both of these products.
    • You might also add a spitter or fountain head to create movement in the water.  Mosquitoes use standing water to incubate eggs.
    • Stock your pond with fish that eat mosquito larvae like Shubunkins, Koi and Sarasa Comets.  These fish can eat up to 500 mosquito larvae a day.
    • Attract birds to your yard. A good bird population can make a huge difference in mosquito population. Many common backyard birds eat mosquitoes, so try putting out a bird feeder and a bird house. Don’t forget the hummingbird feeder. Over 10% of a hummingbird’s diet is small insects like mosquitoes.
  • Although some might say they’d rather have the mosquitoes, attracting bats to your yard is an excellent way to get rid of mosquitoes.  One bat can eat up to 600 mosquitoes in one hour! That’s a good reason to consider putting a bat house in your yard!
  • There are several plants you can use in your landscape and patio pots that will help you get rid of  mosquitoes naturally.  And most are beautiful and low maintenance.
  • Try planting crocosmia, monarda, fuchsia, honeysuckle and trumpet vine to attract hummingbirds.
  • Echinacea, coreopsis, and sunflowers attract finches and other insect-eating birds to your yard.
  • Some plants repel mosquitoes with their scent. Sassafras and sweet basil repel mosquitoes for short distances, so these are good choices for the pots in and around seating areas, decks and patios.
  • Other plants you might use for their repellant qualities are:
    • Citronella Grass (Cymbopogon nardus)
    • Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
    • Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
    • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
    • Marigolds (Tagetes spp.)
    • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
    • Garlic (Allium sativum)
    • Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
    • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.)
    • Lavendar (Lavandula angustifolia )

If you’re just itching to get outside, don’t let mosquitoes spoil the fun! Instead, let the knowledgeable staff at Dennis’ 7 Dees help you find everything you need to take back your yard this summer!

Let’s Talk Succulents!

6 Jul


Oregon seems to have two types of environments, moist shade, and dry sun, with very little in between.  I’ve written previous post about plants for shade, but what about those hot dry areas?  Well,… let’s talk succulents!

‘Succulent’, literally means ‘juicy’, and is a term used for many types of plants like sedums and sempervivums that have a wonderful ability to hold moisture in their thick, fleshy leaves and stems.  This ability to retain moisture enables them to grow in hot, dry conditions with a lot of sun and very little water. Most are hardy to zone 3 or 4, and some are even evergreen. Succulents are perfect for rock gardens, xeriscapes and other dry areas with poor soil. However, they do not like clay soil, so be sure amend clay for better drainage. (Note: never mix sand with clay soil. Sand + clay = concrete.)

Cobweb Sempervirens

Ogon Sedum

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of species of sedums, and many cultivars within each species.  They come in an amazing variety of textures and colors and usually have lovely, delicate blooms during different parts of the summer.

In addition to rock gardens and dry soil areas, succulents are fantastic for planters.  They look great in an old tin bucket or glass milk jug.  I’ve even seen them spilling out the top of an old boot.  They make great wreaths and topiaries, too.  With succulents, you are limited only by your imagination.  Just make sure they have plenty of sun, good drainage, and take care not to over water them.

Living Roof


Chicks & Hens

Succulents are also used for ‘living roofs’ which are becoming more and more common every year.  Living roofs on buildings have several benefits. They remove pollutants from the air and replace it with oxygen.  They use the rain rather than have it become a bothersome run-off.  And succulents are perfect for living roofs because they can withstand long periods without water, and have shallow roots, so it doesn’t take a lot of soil to grow them, keeping the weight on the roof to a minimum

Oh, and two more words on why succulents are so wonderful,… DEER RESISTANT!

Join us for a hands-on succulent container gardening workshop on the following dates: Saturday, July 14th – 10am @ Lake Oswego – Register Now! Saturday, July 14th – 10am @ Seaside – Register Now! Saturday, July 28th – 10am @ Cedar Hills – Register Now!


Cut your fresh flower budget: Grow Dahlias!

3 Jul

By Nicole Forbes of Dennis’ 7 Dees

‘Thomas Edison’

‘Red Pygmy’

My first real experience with dahlias was from a woman who sold fresh cut bouquets for $5 at a place near where I worked.  My first ‘splurge’ on a bouquet turned into a second and then a third.  Before long I had bargained with myself to skip my daily coffee shop visit and replace it with the weekly pleasure I got from my purchase of a fresh-cut bouquet of flowers (and a few extra new vases).  As a natural progression I began to pursue catalogs from dahlia growers, look for dahlias on my trips to garden centers, and eventually purchased a few for my own garden.  Many years have passed now; those first few plants have long gone to the compost pile but I have rarely had a time since when there was not at least one dahlia in my garden and usually more than that.


With thousands of plants to choose from why would someone plant a dahlia?  The simple answer is for the heart-stopping, jaw-dropping flowers that begin in mid-late summer and last into fall.  The plants make a stunning addition to your garden and also produce fantastic flowers for cutting.  Cut in the cool morning or evening, place cut stems in 2-3” of very hot water (160-180 degrees) and allow to cool for one hour.  Cut flowers can last 5-7 days inside.  Available in a multitude of colors, shapes and flower sizes, and from low-growing border plants to 6 foot tall background plants, there is a perfect dahlia waiting for almost any sunny vacancy in your garden.  Notice I mention ‘sunny’ location; dahlias are fairly easy to grow but require excellent drainage and need at least 4-6 hours of sun.

Hardy in USDA zones 7-11, dahlias are prone to freezing and/or rotting over the winter if planted in heavy clay or poorly drained soil.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, some people dig their tubers up for winter storage, yet some prefer to leave them in the ground.  Potted dahlias can be tipped on their sides, collected into sheltered areas or buried (heeled) into garden soil for extra protection.  I have never dug my tubers up for the winter and have only lost a few plants from winter kill over the last 15 years (I am also the kind of person who puts  a “dry clean only” item in the washing machine on delicate just to see if it comes out ok).  If you dig them up or if have purchased new tubers, wait until May to plant them in the ground, use a low nitrogen fertilizer like 5-10-10 at planting time and again about a month later.  Dahlias are fairly heavy feeders and do best with a regular supply of fertilizer.  Begin to apply a water-soluble ‘bloom’-type solution about one month before they begin to set buds, and continue feeding every 3-4 weeks through the growing season.  As the tender new leaves emerge protect them from slugs; they love dahlias almost as much as you and I do!  When young plants grow to about a foot tall pinch back the new growth to produce more branching, this would also be a good time to stake the plant to support all of its future blooms.  When installing your stake take caution to avoid skewering the tuber.

“Melody Dora”


I have seen ‘wild’ dahlias growing in Mexico where the genus is native to; anthropologists believe they were grown and revered by the Aztec people centuries ago.  Nearly 50,000 named varieties of dahlias are registered worldwide and there are 35 native species that can be found growing in the highlands of Mexico and Central America.  Stop in to one of our garden centers to see what varieties make you swoon.

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