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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

Osmanthus, Tea and Me…the journey that led to the beautiful evergreens with heavenly fragrance

Carissa —the childhood shrub that began my journey

As a child, I loved to roam the rolling, green hills of Burundi, Africa. I generally escaped the dormitory on Sunday afternoons with the rest of the older kids under the supervision of a cane wielding, sturdy 65 year old hiker that we all lovingly called “Aunt Esther.” One of my favorite things to do was attempt to categorize and identify the plants that we saw. Of course I had no background in taxonomy or botany. I could quickly tell, though, which ones were annuals, herbs, perennials, shrub or trees; were more or less attractive, fragrant, or not, and so on and so on. Aunt Esther was an accomplished gardener, though she was not formally schooled in this vast realm.

African Holly

One of the plants that attracted me was what she called African Holly. It had lustrous green, elliptical, partly shiny leaves with tiny thorns. It was evergreen even in our driest of dry seasons. I discovered in my exploring that it particularly liked to grow near termite mounds. I was aware of this because we often caught the flying form of the termites at the beginning of the rainy season and popped them into tin cans. We then took them to the dorm, fried them up in butter and ate them as snacks. They were my childhood version of popcorn!

Another attribute of the African Holly was that it had white blooms in December while it also decorated itself with the previous year’s fruit. The berries were a beautiful red color and the flowers were very sweetly scented, reminiscent of Jasmine. We used it seasonally for decoration at home and in the dormitory during Christmas, in place of English Holly. (Although, at that time I was not familiar with English Holly so assumed that it looked like
African Holly).

Being the curious and compulsive child that I was, (I think that I had a touch of ADHD as well), I asked any adult close to me, its botanical name. Of course the slightly annoyed grown up response was, “I don’t know” or “African Holly”!

When I came to the United States at 17, this question was still on my mind. One day while haunting a nursery (which I did as often as I could to feed my spirit), I found what was called Natal Plum. I knew right then that I was close. The flower, the fruit and the leaves were almost identical to what I saw as a child, but larger in every way. At that time nurseries did not have the educational bent that they do now. No one at the nursery had the slightest idea about its botanical name, nor did they have any books about it. They acted irritated that I wanted to know. I continued to hunt and eventually found its taxonomical name in the library at Oregon State University (OSU)

in 1972. It was Carissa macrocarpa, a blooming evergreen which, unfortunately, is not hardy in Oregon. But I knew then that the shrub from my childhood was a Carissa, although I didn’t know its species. Someday I will find out!!!

Southern Holly

The years went on; I was married and we moved to Gainesville, Florida where I pursued a Master’s degree at the University of Florida. We loved to adventure on Sunday afternoons with another couple.

One day at their recommendation, we visited Marjorie Kinnan Rawling’s (author of the Yearling) birth place in Cross Creek. What a wonderful relief from the strip mall, alligator farm, madness that is much of modern Florida! We discovered a historical, preserved farm on about 50 acres of land with semi tended orange groves and lakes. There were few modern amenities. All of the trees and shrubs were the original plants or were replacements. It was a one story, warm, southern, soft and gracious white house with wooden screen-doors and a screened-in porch for cooling air currents. It was reminiscent of my childhood residences. In the yard there was a picnic table with a flagstone spot to set your a portable BBQ. (We fixed our own southern BBQ chicken, right there, on charcoal briquettes).

On either side of the front door stoop were two flanking, broadleaf evergreen shrubs. The tiny yellowish orange flowers, sprinkled inside the bush, were intensely fragrant with an intoxicating scent of apricot and jasmine. Its fragrance and tidy, nice, evergreen habit reminded me of the Carissa of my childhood! I asked the museum curator inside what they were. She said that it was an old fashioned plant that all old southern homes had. She called it Southern Holly (!) or said that sometimes it was called Sweet Olive. I decided then and there that I would find its botanical name.

It took me about three years to sleuth it out, and by then I was living back in Oregon, again searching the OSU library. Osmanthus fragrans aurantiacus was its name. I read that it was from China and that the flowers were used to scent tea. There was even a region of China that was famous for raising varieties of Osmanthus fragrans strictly for the flowers. I decided that I had to find this plant in Oregon and attempt to grow it here. I hoped that it would be hardy. But of course no one that I knew had heard of it in 1979 in Oregon, so I waited.

In 1981 I took my young family with our one year old daughter Samara to Houston, Texas to visit my parents. My father was one of the paid pastors at the Friendsview, Texas, Friend’s Church. While there, I badgered my parents into visiting several nurseries to find this Southern Holly or Sweet Olive.

I finally located Osmanthus fragrans in a Texas nursery and bought two, one for my parents and one to take back to Oregon. I removed it from the pot, wrapped it in a plastic bag and it flew with me in my carry-on bag. It was blooming and had the same heavenly fragrance. I immediately planted it in what I thought was an appropriate spot at our Lake Grove garden in Lake Oswego.

It thrived but never bloomed again. That was discouraging. One winter in the mid 80’s we had a very cold and windy period. It got down to about 9 degrees Fahrenheit and froze pipes all over town. The foliage died to the ground and I assumed that it was dead. I was terribly disappointed. The Osmanthus fragrans that I had hoped would be a hardy replacement for Carissa, turned out not to be so.

But I still had hope. I went on a hunt to find out more about this genus. I just knew that there had to be others that would be hardier. To my delight I found more Osmanthus tucked away in Bean’s Trees and Shrubs Hardy to the British Isles. My compulsive nature took over and I knew that I was on to something special.

Osmanthus-fragrans-Aurantiacus in our garden.
Osmanthus-fragrans-Aurantiacus in our home garden at last!