So you've just moved into a new place and your backyard is a fright. You don't have to live with it! Heed the wise words of Allison Mullally, a landscape designer with some great ideas about making someone else's yard your own.
* DO COME UP WITH A PLAN. What kind of a person are you? Do you like to play games, entertain, or just have privacy? Reassess your space with that in mind, and build that new fence, paint the garage, or put in a patio. Also keep the scale of your house in mind: Tall house? Tall trees. Short house? Short trees.
* DO THE BASICS FIRST. Before picking out your plants, clear all the debris, order new soil, and amend the beds. Most of the native soil in your garden is really weedy; after you till it, new weeds from old seeds will keep popping up. Amend the beds with new soil (available Mt. Scott Fuel Company, 6904 SE Foster, 774-3241) and mulch with composted yard debris (more info at Metro,
* WATER THE PLANTS. I get calls all the time from customers whose gardens 'just don't look right.' And that's because they don't ever fuckin' water them. And don't just sprinkle it, either. The soil must be saturated, especially in the summer. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
A Pot to Plant In
Here's the problem: you want a garden. But you've got no space and don't want to rip up your backyard to put one in. Meet your new best friend, "the container"--or, as they call it in "Europe," the "pot."
How do I get started? "You need to create "oasises," says Alison Walker, gardener extraordinare. "Like small islands of greenery. Put pots and containers wherever you can. At your local hardware store, purchase some 12" X 12" slate squares. These give you a flat surface to place pots on throughout your space. They also absorb sunlight and emit that heat through the night to keep your little plant's roots warm."
Where should I place my "oasis"? "Porches, balconies, decks, patios--all good places to extend your garden. Create a small square of garden anywhere you can."
What sort of plants should I buy? "Purchase plants that 'over-hang'--like Nasturtiams. They over-hang the pot and make the greenery extend beyond the container".
Any plant in particular that you like? "I suggest growing different types of mint. In the summer, you can make fresh Mijitos with lime, mint, and rum." MANU BERELLI
Making your yard a native space is a no-brainer. Native species of plants practically care for themselves, and their presence is beneficial to local fauna and soil alike. Most are fairly rugged, but remember, our region's native plants are used to precipitation--give them a drink-drinky all summer long.
Trees: Douglas Fir is the quintessential native evergreen pine. These tall sentinels act as cornerstones for the successful native habitat.
Madrone is a broadleaf evergreen with thick green leaves and cool, scaley cinnamon-colored bark. Its bell-shaped flowers attract honeybees and butterflies.
Big-leaf Maple: being deciduous, this hardwood hard hitter turns your backyard into an autumn wonderland come fall.
Sub-canopy to mid-height: Vine Maple emits a verdant halo and will bathe your yard in a luminous jade light. In fall, its plumage appropriately displays this effect in red-orange.
Ocean Spray is tall, billowy and forms hanging clusters of white flowers.
Flowering currant has cute pink flowers, produces fruit, and supplies beautiful fall foliage.
The Ferns: Fiddleheads are moist-climate natives; they require a damp, shady locale.
Sword Ferns are a heartier evergreen breed, occurring commonly and sporting, notably, an erect rhizome. These ferns flourish when established and require almost no additional care.
Near-ground/Groundcover: Oregon Oxalis will make you feel like you're in your own private Ireland with its shamrock-like fronds. These green tri-leafs are suited to the shady undercarriage of your custom environment.
False Lily-of-the-Valley: This Oregon native facilitates with its heart-shaped leaves, cooling shade, and moisture retention for a vast array of ground-supplicant fauna.
Pacific Bleeding Heart: Insert Oregon Nader-voter joke here. These unexpected beauties produce the delicate flowers and draw hummingbirds in by the dozen. LANCE CHESS