Brighten Your Winter Garden with a Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel ‘Arnold’s Promise’
Hamamelis  x intermedia ‘Arnold’s Promise”

bright yellow flowers of a witch hazelWait no more for a pop of color in your winter garden.
The witch hazel ‘Arnold’s Promise’ bursts with blooms on bare branches. This only highlights the bright yellow, spidery flowers against the bark, especially on a gray winter day. Their color causes the deciduous, flowering shrub to be an accent piece at this time of year, even when placed among other shrubs or under taller trees in your yard.

Thriving in our slightly acidic soils when sited in full sun or part shade, the vase shaped witch hazel can take most soil types as long as it is well drained. Regular watering is preferred. Prune after flowering to maintain the natural vase shaped growth.
Easy care, slow but regular growth and the talk of the town during these late winter months – what more can be asked for?



Hellebore Blooms in the Winter Garden

Now is the time to go out in your yard and prune back the leaves of your Hellebores, commonly called Lenten Rose. They are usually a bit shabby after the colder part of the winter. This takes away from those new blossoms that are blooming or budding out. Just be careful when pruning that you do not damage those blooms.

The result will be a bouquet of solid color. Don’t worry, fresh new leaves will soon be unfurling.

Do not cut back the hellebore foetidus as their blooms form toward the end of the leafy stalk.

This evergreen perennial foetidus ‘Wester Flisk’ is ready to go home with you and give you year-long texture as well as late winter clusters of blooms.







Also available in the green house are hellebores from the Gold Collection.

‘Jacob’ has very visual white flowers as they are outward facing, unlike older varieties which look down. Notice the red stems, an attractive variation from the standard.
variegated leaves of 'Snow Fever' hellebore






‘Snow Fever’ with a smaller, cupped blossom, has variegated leaves that are showy in the shade garden.





Hellebores, drought and deer resistant, are a wonderful addition to any shade garden.


Get Ready for the Frost and Cold

It is going to happen sooner than later.
Temperatures are going to go down much colder than some of your plants like.  Don't lose those more tender plants to the frost.

Most shrubs and perennials are hardy to our area but we do try to test our zonal limits in the Willamette Valle, especially with more tropical looking plants. Some of these perennials and vines are actually considered annuals here or are only marginally hardy.

What can you do to protect them?

Protect them with a frost cloth. When properly placed, Harvest-Guard blankets trap heat in and protect the plant from any cold, drying winds. It can raise the temperature under the protected area up to 7 degrees.

With some plants, you just need to be bring them  in the house or garage. They not only dislike the cold, they do not do well in our wet winters.

Plants in pots are at a disadvantage during the cold weather as their roots are not as protected as they would be if planted in the ground. You lose one zone of hardiness if the pots have become too small for the root growth and they no longer are insulated by the soil. This includes potted shrubs.

Move these pots to a protected area by the house or into the garage. An alternative would be to sink the pot in the ground in an area unused during the winter, like a vegetable garden. If you do not have room or the pots are too large, a small greenhouse could give them the added protection. It would also be a place to start seedlings in the spring.

Vegetable beds can be covered with Grow Tunnels – mini hoop houses over 10 feet long and 1foot 8 inches wide. You can both extend your growing season and get an early start in the spring. We carry two types: one allows the rain through and the other offers more protection from our Oregon liquid gold.

Want something larger? This year we carry 20 foot wide 4 mil plastic sheeting, 10 feet long PVC pipes and a variety of connectors to create your own Hoop House. We will gladly walk you through the construction process.

Mulching your hardy perennials for the winter is always a good idea. This gives protection to even your hardy perennials in case of a long and deep cold spell. Just remember to remove the mulch once the threat of frost has gone.

Cutting back herbaceous perennials, keeping the roots hydrated, and protecting the more tender ones will get you well on the way to overwintering your plants successfully!

Edgeworthia- A Plant for all Seasons

The attraction of shrubs with winter interest is usually subtle. Not so with Edgeworthia, sometimes called a Chinese Paperbush.

Let's start with the bark. The reddish color and texture tempts you reach out and touch. The round shape of the multi-stemmed bush concentrates the color of the branches. Edgeworthia chrysantha grows up to 5-6 feet but can be kept smaller with pruning after bloom.

The blue-green leaves are tropical-like with their simple fullness. They turn yellow before they drop to reveal the already forming flower buds.

The flowers are the best part of edgeworthia. The buds are white and covered with light silky hairs. They form on the tips of the branches and when the sun shines on them, they seem to glow. These buds continue to swell late fall through early winter. Because the flowers are in clusters, the bud almost looks like a single white flower but surprise comes mid winter. If you have been ignoring your shrub, you won't now. The yellow and cream blossoms open wide and seem to cover the entire bush. You can't miss their wonderful fragrance.

Easily cared for in moist, well drained soil and in full or part sun, edgeworthia will certainly be the talk of your winter garden!

Cozy up for the winter

It’s winter and your opportunity to curl up in your favorite chair and finally take the time to pore over your garden magazines.  Clip out any ideas or plants that catch your interest. Create a garden journal, a pocket folder or even better, load up your smart phone to have easy access to your favorites and inspiraton.


If you have a view from your easy chair out to the yard, make note of the structure of your garden. Are there bare spots? (Oh boy, the plant-fanatics are rejoicing!) Make a note to choose and plant something to feature there. Maybe there might be something that would be better subtracted or moved to a new spot.

If you are the type that cannot sit inside on a fine winter's day, walk in your garden and get a few things done:

If you have saved seeds, it’s a good time to check that they are properly stored. Mice and insects will seek out fat pumpkin seeds stored in a shed or garage.

Assorted greeneryGather up any blowdown or windfall,  Choose some with choice structure to make an arrangement of mossy branch, curly willow, greens or berries.

Make note of pruning that will need to be done. Do not prune if temperatures are at or below  freezing! Branches are too brittle then.

Water any plants that are under the eaves of your house.  Just remember to drain the hose after watering and re-place the freeze-protection cover on your hose bib. Remember too that winds and below freezing temperature are very drying---so supplement with watering if we have a rainless spell.

Launch a search and destroy mission against slug eggs. They appear as white “pearls” under rocks and wood.

Columnar junipers, arborvitae and cypress  will bend and possibly break under the weight of snow. Remove all fallen leaves that may have caught up in the branches that would catch snow. Tie up the top portions to keep them from opening up under the weight of ice or snow. At the nursery we use large rubber bands, but simple twine will work.

At Farmington Gardens, we hope everyone will have a spectacular gardening season.  

Winterizing Your Tools

Garden tools and gardeners benefit greatly from well kept tools.

Dull and dirty tools can be harmful to the plants, spread disease, damage tissue, and are harder to use. Regular cleaning and sharpening of all your gardening tools is ideal. At the very least, they should go through a nice overhaul before they are put away for the winter.

Photo from Michigan Gardener

Cleaning: Here is one option to try. Disassemble (if possible) and soak hand tools that are mildly soiled in strong brewed black tea until the tea has cooled. This will allow rust and debris to be wiped off easily. Tools that are more rust or sap laden may need extra scrubbing with a steel wool, sand paper, or a fine chisel before soaking in tea.

With tools that are used in the soil, such as shovels, it is wise to remove all the soil debris. A forceful stream of water could do the tric. For those of us in the PNW where the soil tends to be more on the clay side and stick, a wire brush or blunt object is sometimes required. Soil tools that have a large amount of rust, sand paper or steel wool may be required for a deeper clean.

Follow cleaning of any tool with a thin coat of motor oil. This increases resistance to rust while storing. Remember to oil nut and bolt areas as well. If your tools have wooden handles, wipe them with linseed oil to help keep moisture out and increase lifespan.

*Anytime of the year when pruning diseased plant material or working in diseased soil, remember to wash the tool thoroughly after use, either with alcohol or hot water and soap to prevent spread of disease.

Sharpening: Click here for more in-depth information provided by  Oregon State University Extension Services on sharpening a variety of gardening tools.

Holiday Wreath and Centerpiece Drop-In Workshops 2016

Create your own unique wreath or centerpiece!

Come alone or bring family and friends.

Everything will be ready for you to drop in from 11 through 2PM

Start with a basic noble fir wreath or centerpiece base form.

Choose additions from our wonderful selection of greens and colorful dried natural materials. You can also bring your some of your own Holiday pieces to add.

It doesn't matter whether this is your first time or a repeat Holiday tradition. With your creativity and how-to design suggestions from Misty and Stephanie, the finished work is sure to delight.Your guests and neighbors will be full of admiration!

Join us at these fun workshops. Music and laughter supplied!

 When: November 26th, 2016 from 11AM - 2PM ***FULL****

             December 3rd,   2016 from 11AM - 2PM ***FULL***

             December 10th, 2016 from 11AM - 2PM ***Open***

             December 17th, 2016 from 11AM - 2PM ***Open***

 Where: Farmington Gardens

              21815 SW Farmington Rd, Beaverton 97007

 Cost: Wreath $30.

           Centerpiece $25.

           Please prepay before the class.

 Register by calling 503.649.4568 or emailing

Wreath or Centerpiece Group Workshops 2016

Family and Friends Holiday Event

Embellish a wreath.

Create a centerpiece for the holiday season.

Great for garden clubs, co-workers, activity groups or just a group of friends and family!

Call to schedule your own private group workshop for any day of the week.

We provide the materials, you provide the creativity!

Assorted greens, cones, dried seeds, twigs and other natural material will be available along with a basic wreath or base for a centerpiece.

Feel free to bring other special items you might like to use.  Sentimental Christmas ornaments or toys would work. We'll even help you with your bow tying techniques.

Time slots fill quickly so be sure to call ahead to schedule your group's fun holiday activity.

When: Any day of the week starting November 27th, 2016

Where: Farmington Gardens

Group Size: Minimum of 5 to a maximum of 20 people

Cost: $25. for a centerpiece and $30. for a wreath

To arrange a specific time and date please

Email: or

Call: 503.649.4568

Mason Bee Cocoon Cleaning

Final of our series of classes given by Master Gardener and Native Pollinator Specialist Ron Spendal.

Open to anyone interested in learning about our native, solitary bee but especially helpful to those who want to keep the healthiest and productive nest environment for their mason bees.

Learn how to harvest, clean and care for your mason bee cocoons.  An easy sand cleaning process will be demonstrated. 

Participants are encouraged to bring their mason bee nesting devices for review and processing.  Cocoons needing harvesting and cleaning will be available for this hands-on workshop.


 What:   Mason Bee Cocoon Cleaning                               

 When:  November 5th, 2016 @ 11AM

 Where: Farmington Gardens

              21815 SW Farmington Rd, Beaverton 97007

 Cost:     FREE but please Register


 Phone:   503.649.4568

There are succulents and there are tender succulents. They look similar but are not alike.

The sempervivem will do fine left outdoors during our Pacific Northwest winter. As long as they have good drainage, they will flesh out come spring. This also applies to some of the hardier cactus.

The huge variety of tender succulents, with their larger sized leaves of different shapes and colors, have been striking additions to your rock gardens, pots, and tabletop displays this summer. They have loved the heat! But the cold is another matter.

They do not like wetness and cold! Most will do fine down to 45 degrees - they will just go into a semi-dormant state - but colder than that and they will turn to mush.

So, to answer the question, YES!

You really do have to protect your tender succulents from the cold.

What can you do? There are several ways you can minimze your loss.