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Estimates, Bids, and Time and Materials (T&M)

Estimates, bids, and time and materials (T&M). I often hear people in the community using these words interchangeably, but in truth these words mean quite different things to the business person who is contracting for services to the public.

Estimates: These are usually given if the potential client wants a price very quickly—just to see if it is within their ball park budget. It is just that, an estimate, and a contractor does not expect to have the client hold them to this price or to the price range. Often, we will give a low and high number as a range to the estimate. This is particularly done if there are a number of unknown challenges or risks involved to implement the task. An example of a common unknown challenge is when one has a break or multiple breaks in an irrigation system due to an accident or severe freezing. We do not have X-ray vision to know how many breaks there are and how many pipes or heads must be dug up and replaced to get the system to work successfully again.

T&M (Time and Materials): Occasionally, after giving an estimate to a client, the client wants to go ahead and have work accomplished. We try to make the client aware of what is included in a T&M job. Normally this does not include a contract. The first step is to sleuth out what needs to be done on site. This time is billed to the job. There may be some cleanup needed with removals involved, this will include labor for a trip to and from the recycle or dump site which is also billed. If a challenge is encountered during the job which needs special tools or equipment, there will be time to travel to purchase the equipment or to return to the shop to fetch it, if we own it, and this time is billed as well. Often, clients will not understand this situation because they want to pay only for the time that they see our employees on their site.

Bid: Most often we offer a bid for a job. This involves a contract which states what is included in the bid. We do our best to include the removals, the trips to and from the dump, the shop, the store and how many days and hours of labor it will require. If something is encountered during the job which is entirely outside of the contract, we will need to stop and give the client a bed price to perform the “additional to contract” work.

In a T&M job, the client takes on the risks of what might happen on the job. In a Bid job, the contractor takes on the risks of what might happen on the job and charges for it. Often it is less expensive for the client to work as a T&M job unless there is something unearthed which is unusually expensive. Most clients prefer a bid for their work as they then have a firm price to expect at the end of the job and they might feel that they do not know the contractor well enough to trust him/her, so they would rather take the risk of paying more for the product, rather than trusting the unknown or unfamiliar business person.

What is the name of that plant?

One of the most challenging things that we do as humans is communicate. It is difficult enough to get an idea across to a partner, mate, spouse or family member but it can be impossible to communicate with someone of a different language.

Surprisingly, when it comes to plants, we have a very clear way of communicating with anyone in the world! If someone of a different tongue points to a plant and appears to be asking what its name is, it is easy to tell them—if you know the botanical name. The reason it is easy is that the botanical name is the same in every language of the world.

For example, Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ might be called by many different common names in English; golden daisy or plain’s daisy are two such names. Who knows what the common name for that plant is in Spanish, French or Russian?  However, if we use the Botanical name it is the same in Spanish, French or Russian. Botanical names are always binomial, meaning they have two parts. The first is the Genus—in this case, Coreopsisand is always capitalized. The second name is the Species—verticillataand is never capitalized. The variety that people like to plant here in the Willamette Valley is called ‘Moonbeam’ because it is pale yellow and is not too vigorous. A variety is always capitalized and is enclosed with apostrophes. Most people just call it Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’. Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ is an herbaceous perennial. That means that it disappears in the winter and comes back every spring.

Helleborus orientalis is an evergreen perennial. That means that it is ever-green, having green leaves all year long. However, it is not woody like a tree or shrub and does not die out or go dormant every year.

If a plant is a hybrid cross—that means two different species have been used to pollinate the plant—it is shown by an X. Rhododendron X ‘Jean Marie de Montague’ is a beautiful slower-growing Rhododendron which came to us as a cross—shown by the cross—of several Rhododendrons. It is always cloned and not propagated by seed. The clone is named ‘Jean Marie de Montague’. It is an evergreen broadleaf shrub. That means it is green all year round and it is shrub-like in growth.

Pseudotsuga menziesii is known commonly as a Douglas fir tree. It is an evergreen coniferous tree, meaning that it is a tree which produces cones and is green all year.

Quercus garrayana is known as Oregon White Oak and is a deciduous broadleaf tree. That means that it loses its leaves in the wintertime.

A plant may have many common names, but each essentially has only one botanical name. Everyone in the world has the capacity to learn it and then use it to communicate with anyone else in the world.

Use Human Psychology – Expensive vs. Cheap

Spring is the busiest time of the year for anyone in the Horticulture or Landscape Community.

We received a phone call in May from someone who wanted a cleanup because their yard was overgrown and full of weeds. It had been many years since any work had been done.

They said emphatically that they did not want work that was expensive. That was a difficult statement for this landscape company owner to swallow because of course the opposite of expensive is…cheap.  Did they want a “cheap job” done to their yard in the prime time of the year?

We at Winterbloom had an overwhelming amount of work, it being springtime, and would not be able to get to the project until July.  They wanted someone who could do the work pronto. I suggested they call one of the many local landscape trucks in their area.  They had done that, but all of the landscapers were busy.  At that moment, they exclaimed, “Why doesn’t anyone want to help me with my job?!” and hung up!

That caused me to ponder about using the aid of psychology to be supportive in one’s search for help in one’s landscape.

1. If one must call in the Spring for help, say something like, “I will pay EXTRA to get the work done now!”

2. If one really wants a financial deal, wait and call for the work to be accomplished during December through February. That’s when Landscapers are hungry for business, and may be more inclined to charge less.

Phil’s Garden Tips & Tricks for June

Summer starts around the 21st of this month, which means that the sunshine is most effective. Sunshine is the food of photosynthesizing plants! On the 21st the sun is close to vertical in the sky during the day, giving the most food possible to the plants. After the 21st it slowly drops from vertical every day. Always remember that no matter what the TV advertisers say, fertilizer is not, and has never been, food for plants.

  • This is the best month to plant the warm season annuals—flowers or vegetables:  Petunias, Impatiens, Eggplants, Tomatoes, Peppers, Corn, Basil, Cucumbers, etc.
  • Mow regularly: set your lawn mower at the highest setting for the rest of the summer until October. The longer grass helps to shade the roots and keeps the grass greener and healthier.
  • Keep on top of the weeds. The rainy season is over, and it will soon be less work. You can toss the weeds out in the sunny part of the bed (but only those not going to seed!) and they will dry up by the end of the day and not reroot, like they might in the rainy season.
  • Water as needed: one inch per week at least on the lawn, and about half an inch on the shrubs, is a standard rule of thumb.
  • Slug bait is still important. Try to use pet-safe bait.
  • If it is needed, prune flowering shrubs or perennials after they bloom.
  • Check the Rhodies and Azaleas to see if you need to do any weevil control such as nematodes or insect tape. Also, check to see if you have lace bug damage on the leaves. It usually shows up later in the summer.  They suck the Chlorophyll out of the leaf cells and make the leaves look hideous.  They can be somewhat controlled by a predator called Green or Brown Lace Wings, which may be purchased locally.
  • If you want to make your Rhodies bloom more and look neater, it is time to dead head them.
  • Check for Aphids and cabbage worms and act, if needed, on veggies or roses.

It’s Landscapers’ Spring! Your Monthly Landscaping Guide From Winterbloom

It’s almost spring! Well, it’s what we call “landscapers’ spring.” February 15th is the official milestone that marks spring for us in the landscaping business. From this point on, odds are we won’t have any heavy snow or hard frosts.

This is a wonderful month for gardening!  We still have some rain of course, but it’s a warmer rain, right? The following list is a good guide to remind you what to do while you’re out there:

  • It is time to begin baiting for slugs, near things that you know they will love in the spring.
  • Weed! Now is the time when they are little, weak, and helpless things! Take one section of the yard per weekend and work all the way around the yard in a month.
  • It is even an excellent time to transplant if you need to move something.
  • Plant fruit trees and deciduous shrubs, bare root (less expensive) or container.
  • Plant perennials and perennial herbs outdoors, such as chives, lovage, mint, rosemary, sage, and thyme (Remember that mint and oregano are invasive, so plant accordingly).
  • Prune fruit trees as needed.
  • Prune and train grapes.
  • Prune your roses. This is also a great time to plant new roses. Bare-root roses are available; however, we believe that Heirloom Roses in St. Paul is the best place to purchase self-root roses.
  • Continue to prune and gather branches of quince, forsythia, and/or flowering cherries, so you can bring them inside to force early blooms.
  • Prune summer-flowering plants, such as butterfly bush, cotoneaster, clematis, and hydrangea. Do not prune spring flowering shrubs now such as azaleas! You will cut off the bloom buds.
  • Prune back Fuchsias and other perennials that have not been pruned back to about four inches. This year has been cold enough so you may wonder whether the Fuchsias have really died to the ground. So, unless you just can’t handle the bare sticks, wait till you see how far up the little green buds are coming out and trim them down to that mark. This Spring it will probably be from the ground and not from the stems at all.
  • Control moles with traps.
  • Spread mulch two inches thick. Do this every two years. Compost mulch is best, but bark mulch is fine. It is easiest to do in winter after things are trimmed and cleaned up.  It makes everything look great! It smothers weed seeds and of course helps to hold the moisture in the ground in the dry season and in the rainy season it prevents erosion.

For adventuresome gardeners:

  • Make cold frame or hotbed to start early vegetables or flowers.
  • Prepare soil for growing pots and flats of seedlings.
  • Plant seed flats for crops in the cole family, such as cabbage (as in cole slaw), broccoli, and Brussel sprouts for future planting outdoors
  • Apply first of four dormant sprays of copper/sulfur sprays mixed with dormant oil spray on apple trees to prevent apple scab and kill pest larvae.
  • Time for the exact same mix of dormant sprays for other fruit and deciduous trees and shrubs, especially for certain roses that normally are attacked by disease and insects.






Time To Visit Your Favorite Garden Center

Break out the garden tools and visit your local garden center to discover what’s new

For landscaping, visit Winterbloom Inc. Phil Thornburg, owner, said his business offers landscape design primarily for residential customers. “Our focus is sustanability,” Thornburg said, adding that he looks at texturing, color and layering when doing a landscape design. With his landscaping, Thornbur’s hope is to create the feeling of outdoor “rooms” and spaces.

View the rest of the article HERE

Three Northwest Garden tours, thousands of plants, four favorites: Peruvian Lily, a red-hot poker, horned champion, and Embothrium coccineum

Three tours, more than a dozen gardens, thousands of plants: That’s been my life for the past month. And it didn’t once rain. I’m a bit overstimulated, but in the best of ways. So many plants are dancing in my head, I’ve been making a list. On top are four from Phil Thornburg’s garden. Phil owns Winterbloom design firm (503-598-0219, and is, obviously, a collector. It took me two seconds — just long enough to glance into the garden and see Embothrium coccineum  in full, fiery bloom — to know that. It was a mouth-gaping experience.

Read the rest of the article HERE

We are Celebrating 30 Years in the Landscaping Business!

We started Winterbloom in 1983. My goal was and is to give our clients special places to enjoy with family and friends.

Winterbloom projects have been featured in Better Homes & Gardens’ Garden Ideas & Outdoor Living Magazine, Sunset Magazine and other local and national publications. It is EcoBiz certified and was given the Angie’s List Super Service Award in 2011. Most recently it was noted as one of the top landscape businesses in the Portland Business Journal.

That’s all great; however, our greatest asset truly is our employees. That’s why I threw them and their families an anniversary party at the Thirst Wine Bar and Bistro in downtown Portland. Please enjoy these glimpses into our fun.


There's a party here tonight!
There’s a party here tonight!
The menu
The menu
Phil Thornburg, Andy Coulombe, Brock Dallman, Josh DeGraff and Eric Bock
Phil Thornburg, Andy Coulombe, Brock Dallman, Josh DeGraff and Eric Bock
Miriam Bock, Samara Hand, Phil and Barb Thornburg, Winterbloom's 30th anniversary party, 2013
Miriam Bock, Samara Hand, Phil and Barb Thornburg
Kristin DeGraff and Serenity Coulombe
Kristin DeGraff and Serenity Coulombe
Dianna Weston, Mike Cvek and Dale Hickey
Dianna Weston, Mike Cvek and Dale Hickey
Cory Hand and Paul Bock
Cory Hand and Paul Bock
Andy Coulombe, Brock Dallman, Josh DeGraff and Eric Bock
Andy Coulombe, Brock Dallman, Josh DeGraff and Eric Bock
Dale Hickey, Josh and Jess Deloney
Dale Hickey, Josh and Jess Deloney

The 9th Annual Association of Northwest Landscape Designers (ANLD) 2013 Designers Tour is June 22nd.

ANLD Garden Tour

One of the premier garden tours in Portland, ANLD’s Designers Garden Tour, will inspire you with plenty of new ideas. This year’s not to be missed tour showcases seven professionally designed private gardens on Portland’s west side. Each garden features unique works of art, selected to enhance the site. Designers and homeowners will be on hand to share their experiences and inspire you with fresh, innovative ideas that can be used in a variety of landscapes.

The designers will discuss their creative approaches to landscape design, focusing on solutions to common and unusual challenges. Homeowners will share their experience of working with a designer and how their new garden has enhanced their lifestyle.

At the tour you will find:

  • Beautiful outdoor “rooms” for entertaining and outdoor living, large and small
  • Unusual and low maintenance plants in stunning and colorful combinations
  • Kitchen gardens and spaces for urban farm animals
  • Outdoor cooking areas and places to relax around the fire
  • Stylish custom garden structures and unique water features

Garden Tour tickets are on sale now for $20 each. Proceeds help fund scholarships for landscape design students at PCC & CCC.

Purchase ANLD Designer Garden Tour tickets at:

  • Garden Fever, 3433 NE 24th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 972212
  • Cornell Farms, 8212 SW Barnes Road, Portland, Oregon 97225
  • Portland Nursery, 5050 SE Stark Street, Portland, Oregon 97215
  • Drake’s 7 Dees (across from Portland Golf Club), 5645 SW Scholls Ferry road, Portland, OR 97225
  • Dennis’ 7 Dees Cedar Mill, 10455 SW Butner Road, Portland, OR 97225
  • Dennis’ 7 Dees Lake Oswego, 1090 McVey Avenue, Lake Oswego, OR 97034

Or purchase online at

For more information email:

Osmanthus—the Legendary Flower of Kweilin: Part Two

As the new owner of a landscape design and installation company in 1983, I found that many times I needed an evergreen that was not a Rhododendron, Ligustrum, Photinia or one of the Prunus. I wanted a genus that was tough, did not get diseases, came in various sizes and did not mind full sun or even drought occasionally. I wanted something that had fragrant flowers but was not messy and did not grow so fast that it overpowered clients’ or my ability to manage.

One day, I was asked to check out the plants in a back yard of an old home in the northwest area of Portland. The client wanted a landscape makeover but first wanted to know which plants to keep. All of the plants in the garden were a minimum of 25 years old and were either enormous or hacked badly. After walking around the many Yews, chopped Junipers and Rhodies, I came upon three similar plants that I had not seen before. They were lightly trimmed, about four feet in height and breadth, and had trunks of about 3-inch diameter. They were covered with buds and were just beginning to bloom. Their leaves were small, about 1 inch long and ½ inch wide, lightly toothed and evergreen. The little white trumpet flowers had a light powdery sweet fragrance during late March. I asked the clients if they were familiar with the plant. They said “no” but that it was the only plant which they really enjoyed in their garden and they wanted to keep it.

I took a leaf in to several nurseries and no one knew what it was. I looked in my books and happened to revisit the genus Osmanthus. The leaf and flower looked like the picture of Osmanthus delavayii. I was excited. Here was the fragrance I wanted in an evergreen and was not huge, even after 25 years. It was a manageable size with only light trimming. When I returned a week later the plant was in full white bloom, very fragrant and beautiful.

Next, I came across Osmanthus x burkwoodii. This is a cross of Osmanthus delavayii and Osmanthus decorus. It fit perfectly in my scheme of things as this plant is great for a smaller hedge. I have found that it can be easily maintained at about 5 to 6 feet with once-a-year trimming. In spring, it has about the same powder sweet scent as delavayii. Its leaves are bigger, about 2 inches long and about 1 inch wide and not toothed.

Osmanthus heterophyllus and its varieties came next. This tough evergreen’s fragrance attracted my attention one October in Lake Oswego while I was weeding at a house near the lake. I thought that it was a strange Holly but quickly found that, no, here again was an Osmanthus to add to my collection! Its leaves were opposite like the other Osmanthus plants and not like a Holly’s. It is a tough evergreen and its fragrance is a bit like honey and jasmine.

There are several varieties of O. heterophyllus, but ‘Goshiki’ has become my favorite. It is slow growing and the foliage develops amazing color combinations of medium green and yellow splotches with pink streaks. It does burn in reflected heat but can take full sun. The term heterophyllus means varying leaves. When it is young the leaves tend to be somewhat toothed like a holly, but as it grows into maturity it develops leaves that are smooth or only occasionally toothed and appears almost to be a different bush.

One of my favorite spots in Seattle is the University of Washington Arboretum. I have found many live plants there that I have seen only in books. I decided in the 80s that I would locate every Osmanthus in the park to see if there were other species that were special. I did come across O. decorus, O. americanus, O. armatus, O. burkwoodii, O. fragrans, O. Yunnanensis, and O. fortunei. (O. suavis or O. serrulatis were listed as in the arboretum, but I could not find them.)

Since then, I have purchased and grown all of the above species except the two that I could not find in the Arboretum. (Osmanthus can quickly be differentiated from Ilex by their opposite leaves. Ilex leaves are never opposite.) Here are a few of the species I have enjoyed:

O. decorus is a neat mounding evergreen with little white mildly fragrant spring blooms.  It is tough and drought tolerant even in dense shade. Its leaves are about three  inches long and about one to one and a half inches wide. They are not toothed at all. If I could find a good source I would use it much more often.

O. Yunnanensis looks sort of like a much larger O. decorus. It has the largest leaves of any that I have seen and is not toothed like armatus or heterophyllus. It has olive green leaves and blooms profusely and fragrantly in spring. So far, it is the Osmanthus that I think is the best small evergreen patio tree or specimen. It looks a bit like a Michelia or Parakmeria. I would use it on our designs also if I could find it anywhere but Woodlander’s Nursery in Aiken, Georgia.

O. x fortunei is a cross between O. heterophyllus and O. fragrans. I have found this to be the most satisfying Osmanthus for taller hedging in our climate. It is a tough evergreen, completely drought tolerant, hardy in shade or sun and has the most amazing fragrance on a warm autumn day. It is the fastest growing of them all but can be easily contained to 8 feet. Its fragrance to me is a mix of the jasmine and honey of heterophyllus and the jasmine and apricot mix of O. fragrans. O. x fortunei comes in two varieties that I have found:

‘San Jose’ which is a little more narrow growing and lighter green, and Natchez which is darker green and wider. They can be found at Woodlander’s, Gossler’s (Springfield, Oregon), Greer’s (Eugene, Oregon) and Heronswood (Seattle Area).

O. fragrans was the species for which I most wanted to find a hardy variety and dependable bloomer for our climate. Many varieties of O. fragrans are grown commercially in China. One of their favorite varieties, also quite common in San Francisco, is called O.f. aurantiacus. It is known in New Orleans as “Orange Tea Olive.” Its blooms are a rusty orange and very fragrant. I have had trouble with hardiness in this variety and it has never bloomed for me, but I haven’t given up on it.

Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery here in the Portland area recently told me of some O. fragrans varieties new on the market. I am in the process of trying them out. They are purported to be hardier with an earlier bloom period.

(These Osmanthus varieties can all be found at Nurseries Caroliniana, Inc.,

O. f. ‘Thunbergii’—supposedly longer blooming and yellow flowered.

O. f. ‘Nenjing’s Beauty’—also longer blooming, white flowered.

O. f. ‘Fudingzhu’—purported to be the most fragrant and blooms off and on all year.

My deck is finally built and I am currently pondering the exact locations where I can plant these three varieties of O. fragrans, so that their fragrance will waft up onto the deck.  Naturally, I want to appreciate their beauty also. One day I plan to make the perfect cup of Osmanthus tea and I won’t have to live in Kweilin or New Orleans to do it, I will just sit back on my deck and sip.

The Chinese are very fond of Osmanthus fragrans flowers in tea and as a perfume; hence the English Southern name of the plant, “Tea Olive.” The center for the culture of O. fragrans in China is Kweilin on the Likiang River. The name of the city means, “Forest of Sweet Osmanthus”.

—Phil Thornburg