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Reaping the rewards

by: Vern Uyetake, Nicole Forbes — along with the garden cat Amos — spends time walking the isles of pottery for sale.

It sounds so simple: incorporate a potted flower arrangement into the landscaping. Use less water by watering plants efficiently. Enjoy the end of the summer.

Dennis' Seven Dees Landscaping and Garden Center in Lake Oswego is alive with color, and ideas.

Assistant Manager Nicole Forbes encourages locals to enjoy the month of August, instead of going overboard with planting and watering inefficiently.

'You can plant in the fall. Now, hanging baskets can add a splash of color,' Forbes said. 'So can flowers in pots.'

Forbes said that the warm weather and breezy evenings lend themselves to the good company of friends and family.

By choosing easy-to-maintain solutions - like garden pots - and watering items in the yard, August could be a reward for sticking it out through Oregon's long winter this year.

Making potted potpourri

Potted plants and flowers can be a quick fix to freshen up a patio, porch or walkway.

'They're labor saving and water saving,' Forbes said.

Seven Dees carries a wide variety of containers from around the world with new shipments all the time. Forbes said she's seen an increase in vegetable gardening and container planting at home.

'People are staying home more I've noticed,' she said.

And they're enjoying their surroundings.

Pots in all different colors and sizes - from the size of a shoe to the size of you - can be found on display at the store. Forbes said that she often helps homeowners choose an appropriate container - the right size and color, with enough drainage, glazed or unglazed, etc.

'You just need a watering can or a hose,' Forbes said.

Forbes said that potted flowers are an instant way to refresh an outdoor space. And you can leave for a day or two, she said, and they'll probably be OK.

'If they're going to make little weekend trips to the coast they (probably won't) disturb their care or watering patterns,' she said. 'Their trip isn't their big expense. They're actually investing in their home. Your garden is going to raise your property value.'

Water the pot once a day depending on the size of the container itself and what's planted inside. If you have any questions, Forbes said she and her staff do a lot of 'troubleshooting and diagnosing.'

Larger, more permanent pots with evergreens and seasonal flowers are popular, easy to care for and provide beauty through the seasons, she said.

Forbes said that there are several options when creating container centerpieces; customers can bring in their own pots to add flowers, buy flowers and take them home to existing pots, or buy a pot at Seven Dees and have it planted and delivered.

'We do it all,' Forbes said. 'We understand that potted (containers) can be heavy.'

Stop splashing

Forbes said that two products Seven Dees carries stand out as quick solutions to over watering - Quench made by Zeba and the Ooze Tube.

By mixing Quench - a cornstarch-based product - into the soil, the area will remain hydrated. The granules look like Cream of Wheat and puff up when they receive water, helping the water to remain near the plant.

'You're trapping the moisture that's draining away and giving it back to the plants when they're thirsty,' Forbes said, who said the product works on plants and flowers in potted containers. 'It acts like a super sponge around your plant.'

The Quench granules absorb up to 400 times their original weight in water and store it until the plants need it, which could be helpful when leaving on weekend trips.

Acting like a capillary system, water is released to the plants' roots through suction when it's thirsty. It's not evaporated or drained away. Plants are watered more efficiently with less water. Quench is biodegradable, nontoxic and odorless and a one-pound container costs $19.99.

Quench Singles - small tea bag samples of the product - require no measuring and are to be placed under the plant when putting it in the soil. This product's motto is 'one and done.'

Helping new trees sustain life is the Ooze Tube, which looks like a tarp in the shape of a donut.

'You put this around your tree and fill it with water every two weeks,' Forbes said, 'and the tree is getting what it needs.'

Water is fed to the trees' roots from a tiny drip system.

'(The Ooze Tube) just lets a drip, drip, drip out. The water just goes straight down into the root zone instead of when you use a hose (to water) and you're eventually standing in the puddle,' Forbes said.

This $17 product eliminates the need for a water hose to reach the tree every day.

'In most cases you're spending more than 100 bucks on a tree,' Forbes said. 'This is insurance for a tree.'

Forbes recommends tending to a new tree in its first years of life.

'We tell people that the first two years that the tree or shrub is in the ground is dependant on you,' Forbes said. 'After that, it's on its own.'

Forbes said that August is also a good time to prepare for future projects and outings.

'It's a great time to measure the yard and collect pictures from magazines (of gardens you love),' Forbes said.

Seven Dees' Planscaper program allows homeowners to work with a professional landscape designer with 100 percent of the fee going towards plants and materials, meaning the design is free.

With this program - typically costing between $500 and $1,500, depending on how large the area - homeowners take measurements and photos of their yard and bring them in to the store. There, the designer creates a professional plan, indicating materials, instructions for planting and a shopping list.

To gain inspiration, Forbes suggests attending the Le Tour des Plants Sept. 13 to 21 produced by the Oregon Association of Nurseries. The tour features display gardens, garden centers and specialty nurseries, discounts on plants and pottery.

'Plant in the fall. Don't do a terrible amount in August,' Forbes said. 'If you want to garden, come in and buy a pot and put together a container so that it's easy to care for right at your fingertips.'

Dennis' Seven Dees Landscaping and Garden Center is located at 1090 McVey Avenue in Lake Oswego and can be reached at 503-636-4660. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday. For more information about Les Tour des Plants and maps to the featured locations, visit http://letourdesplants.com/.