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For sixteen years now, Al's has hosted a wonderful evening of holiday fun.  Our Evening of Lights is a holiday open house for all ages, with all the sights and sounds of the season.

Al's Barb and Judy at Evening of lightsAl's own Barb and Judy at our Evening of Lights event in 2013
The Bigej Family poses for the camera at our event in 2011
The Bigej Family poses for the camera at our event in 2011

It actually first started as an employee Christmas party at our Woodburn store.  Everyone brought holiday desserts to share, but when the lights were turned off, the greenhouses became magical.  Everyone exclaimed that we should share the beauty of the greenhouses at night with our customers.  And the Evening of Lights was born.

So now you can stroll through up to 20 designer decorated Christmas trees, each with it's own unique theme.  You can marvel at the trees festooned with unique ornaments, until one catches your eye!

Two people shopping from a designer Christmas TreeA gorgeous bird-themed tree from Christmas of 2010
Jack & Dee Bigej serve samples of Jack's famous homemade Ice Applesauce
Jack & Dee Bigej serve samples of Jack's famous homemade Ice Applesauce in 2014

Enter in the Season Greenhouse and behold the over 20 different varieties of poinsettias.  Al's entire 2016 Poinsettia Collection will be on display, so come see the decades of breeding that go into cultivating these beauties.

I wouldn't be a party without Al's exclusive Ice Apples.  These Fuji applies are out of Walla Walla, and are allowed to remain on the tree until after first frost.  The change in temperature caused the applies to send all their sugar  to their core, making them sweet and juicy.  Make sure to get a taste of our Ice Apple Applesauce from Jack and Dee Bigej (Jack is Al's son).

And finally, step into the Main Greenhouse to see the Rose City Garden Railway Society's Christmas train display.  Every child delights at the chance to push the button, and watch the train come through the tunnel.

A model trainModel Train courtasey of Rose City Garden Railway Society

Add in some food and drink, and don't forget the live music, and you've got a wonderful way to start off your holiday season.

Join us for this year's Evening of Lights!




Whether you keep your decorations simple or simply ghoulish, signage is an easy way to scare up some Halloween fun for your front porch.

rustic wood sign with Halloween pumpkin
tin Halloween signs

Welcome your trick-or-treaters with these fun rustic signs that light up for an eerie glow. Or go for a more contemporary look with these tin signs that twinkle when filled with lights from the back (lights sold separately).

wood pumpkin decor
wood pumpkin decor
wood pumpkin decor

Al's carries a frightfully large assortment of decorative pumpkins made with wood, tin, ceramic, or even textiles. If you prefer your pumpkins made of, well, pumpkin, we have a huge selection - and standard orange Grown By Al's pumpkins are only $1.99 each!

wood pumpkin decor
wood pumpkin decor
wood pumpkin decor

Of course, no Halloween look is complete without a few creatures that go bump in the night. Witches, skeletons, and black cats all come out to play on All Hallows' Eve

pink mums
a porch decorated with millet, corn stalks, and a pumpkin

Since Halloween is now the United States' second most popular holiday for decorating,after Christmas, of course, it’s time to think beyond simple black and orange. Start by using fall decorating plants such as millet and mums, and fall classics like hay bales and corn-stalks, but then add in those unmistakable Halloween touches that will delight your kids or grandchildren. Best part is, once the decorative creatures have retreated back to the crypt (aka, the storage box in your attic), the remaining autumnal themes will last through your Thanksgiving.


Perennials add color, texture and personality to any garden. Planting perennials in fall is a sure way to cut your spring workload in half. Your garden will take on a life of its own as the perennials continue to expand year after year.

woman gardening

We’ve covered Planting Clerodendrum and Getting Your Garden Ready for Fall. If you’re starting to wonder what you can’t plant in the fall, the answer is almost nothing.

We’re going to help you get a head start on spring by planting perennials in the fall. Perennials, those plants that return each year, provide a low-maintenance way to have a beautiful, colorful garden.

While fall is for planting, we still has a few tricks that will ensure your plants look their best in that first season.

Espoma Start!

Plant Fall Perennials in 8 Steps

  1. Start by preparing the soil. Dig out rocks, weeds and other debris.
  2. Dig a hole deep enough for the root ball and twice as wide.
  3. Gently remove plant from pot and gently loosen roots.
  4. Mix in 3 inches of compost or other organic matter.
  5. Remove the plant from its pot and loosen roots before planting. Place plant in hole and backfill the hole with a good quality garden soil.
  6. Water immediately. Cover the planting area with a natural mulch of bark or straw. Mulch keeps soil moist and protects new roots from freezing.
  7. Finish by adding an organic plant food such as Espoma’s Start!
  8. Water at least 1 inch per week until the ground freezes. This keeps roots growing and helps plants get established before winter dormancy.

Fall Perennial Plant Picks

  • Choose perennials that add color to your garden in early spring such as hellebore and astilbe.
  • Plant or transplant spring-blooming power-house shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas.
  • Choose pollinator friendly plants such as phlox, coneflower and aster. You can plant, divide or transplant.
  • Divide and replant hostas and daylilies.
  • Peonies should always be planted or transplanted in the fall. Plant 2 inches above the root ball.
  • Plant and transplant irises, Asiatic and Oriental lilies.
astilbe in bloomAstilbe
red azalea bloomsAzaleas
Phlox
hostasHostas
asiatic liliesAsiatic Lilies

Fall is a great time of year to plant, and an equally good time to take care of your lawn. With a little bit of maintenance this fall, you’ll have a green, lush lawn come spring.

raking leaves off a lawn in the fall

ESTABLISHED LAWNS

FEED * AERATE * RESEED * WATER IN
Encap lime for lawn health

For established lawns, it’s important to use lime to help raise the pH of the soil. With all our winter rain here in the PNW, it tends to wash the soil of necessary nutrients. We also recommend fertilizing with Scott’s® Winterquard or Espoma’s® Organic Lawn Fertilizer.

The next thing you are going to want to do is aerate your lawn. This allows both moisture and fertilizer to reach the lawn root bed. Fill the holes with Al’s® Compost or Gypsum, this will allow the soil to drain properly.

Next you’re going to want to reseed your lawn. We recommend fertilizing and adding lime first. It’s important to scratch the lawn surface first with a rake, this agitates the existing lawn making it ready for new seed. Using a spreader is the best way to apply seed, that way it’s nice and even. Then lightly cover the seed with Al’s® compost.

Finally you’ll want to “water in” all your hard work by gently misting the area, watching to ensure that the water does not puddle in any areas.

a green healthy new lawn

NEW LAWNS

WATER * ROTOTILL * COMPOST * LEVEL * ROLL * FERTILIZE * SEED * WATER IN

When you are adding a new lawn, the following steps will ensure that you have a luscious green lawn in no time. Start by considering your seed selection and whether your lawn will be in the sun, or in the shade, or a combination of the two. There are drought tolerant seed choices, but you’ll always want to use a good quality of lawn seed to prevent ryegrass and other non desirable grasses. Start by considering your watering strategy, and installing that first.

You’ll next want to rototill your soil to a depth of 4” – 6”.

IF you have clay soil, add at least 2” of Al’s® compost as well as lime, per the instructions on the bag.

Next you’ll want to level your soil with a landscape rake, and roll your soil to create a firm seed bed.

Add 16-16-16 fertilizer now, and finally your base of good aerated, fertilized soil is ready for seeding!

Spread your seed evenly, and roll again. This will help the lawn seed to be pressed into the soil, and make it less susceptible to washing away.

Finally, you’ll want to lightly cover with Al’s® compost and keep damp by gently “watering in” your new lawn.

a dandelion ween in grass

WEEDS

Now this wouldn’t be an article on lawn care, without a healthy conversation about weeds. There are many types of weeds including grasses and broadleaf plants like dandelions, cover, spurge and chickweed. We recommend controlling the spread of weeds by using Bayer ® Lawn Weed & Crabgrass Killer. Also Weed B Gon® is also a great product.

So, whether it’s a game of flag football or Frisbee, your lawn will be all ready for the fun fall times ahead.


Any good gardener knows that fall is the best time for planting. It allows the roots to mature prior to getting chilly, making your plant that much stronger come spring.

a trowel in dirt with fall bulbs

Planting in the fall is an advantage because the soil is still warm, which encourages root development. The cooler evenings and cooler autumn days will slow down the loss of moisture. New plantings won’t dry out as quickly, as in the intense sun of spring and summer. The moisture that is available provides slow growing roots with plenty of water. When you plant in the fall you’re establishing those roots, so they will be less prone to damage, and more ready for their spring surge of top growth.

Fall & Winter Veggies

beets being pulled from the garden
  • An excellent solution for keeping the tilth and fertility of your garden’s soil at peak levels.
  • PNW winters are usually not severe enough to damage carefully mulched winter vegetables.
  • The key is knowing the average date of the first killing frost in your region. (Late October) Then plant your winter crops early enough (usually August) to let them reach their full maturity before that killing frost.

Early Maturing Crops

  • Rootcrops – beets, radish, carrot
  • Leafcrops – lettuce, kale

Lawns

Fertilizing a lawn with a spreader

Fall is the best time of year for reseeding and refertilizing your lawn. Fall is best because the soil temperatures are warmer. They have had all summer to heat up, and this along with our frequent rains helps the seeds germinate quickly. The faster the seed germinates, the lawn becomes more established, and the less competition it has with weeds. The cool air temperatures also allow the young lawn to grown strong without the threat of the heat stress.

Fertilize

  • One fall application with either a synthetic (Scott’s® Turf Builder) or organic (Espoma® Lawn Fertilizer)
  • The nutrients will change into carbohydrates which improve the root system in your lawn.
  • Like with the other fall plantings promoting root growth in the fall will help create a stronger healthier lawn for the next year.
  • Fall and winter fertilizers are formulated to feed your lawn without causing a lot of blade growth.
  • If moss is a problem, make sure to use a fertilizer with moss control. (Scott’s ® Turf Builder).

Air it Out

  • Aeration is one simple thing you can do for you lawn each year to help it grow lush.
  • Removes compaction of soil
  • Allows for better water percolation
  • Allows fertilizers to reach root zone
  • Plugs allow microbes to decompose thatch

Control Weeds

  • Broadleaf weeds like clover and dandelions are in the same mode as your lawn, developing roots.
  • Spray when temps are in the mi-50s or warmer
  • Bayer® Advanced All-In-One Weed Killer for lawns or Ortho® Products

Mow

  • Mowing the lawn shorter in the fall encourages rhizome development which will thicken the lawn and help choke out weeds…also allows more light, preventing moss.
  • Begin September and continue through October.
  • Gradually reduce the height so as not to stress out your lawn when the temps become cooler.

Over Seed It

  • Weed invasions, and not enough sunlight will cause your lawn to thin out in areas.
  • Simply spread seed over your existing lawn, after de-thatching & “roughing up” the surface.
  • Lightly sprinkle some fresh grass seed over the area and cover with a thin layer of compost, fine potting soil, or coconut coir.
  • Make sure to use the appropriate seed for the sun exposure in that area.
  • It’s a good idea to lightly over seed your entire lawn to keep it looking uniform.
  • Should be done at a rate of 3.5-5 pounds per 100 sq ft.

Bulbs

yellow daffodils in spring bloom

We often don’t think of bulbs until we see them blooming in the spring, but to get those beautiful flowers we need to do little work in the fall. Research the best time to plant depending on region. Planting is simple, and can be layered in the soil of a container with other annuals on top!

  • Dig a hole 3-4 times deeper than the bulb height
  • Set bulbs firmly in place, following spacing guidelines
  • Sprinkle in a fertilizer made for bulbs such as Espoma® Bulb Tone
  • Cover with soil
  • Water thoroughly

So, if it’s a beautiful spring garden you are working towards, make sure to spend time in your garden now for the best results.


Now that you've got your fall containers all done with Our Fall Collection, let's get to decorating for all those fabulous fall events coming up!

an array of autumn decor available at Al's

Whether it's dinner with friends, or the whole crew over after the football game, we've got some perfect ideas for your home

fall themed door wreaths

Autumn Wreaths

The quickest and easiest way to bring fall into your home is by adding a wreath to your front door. Add some corn stalks, straw bales, pumpkins and some beautiful fall-inspired mums, and you've got yourself a front porch the neighborhood will enjoy.

Hot SkwashImage courtesy of Hot Skwash.

Hot Skwash

These adorable Hot Skwash pumpkins combine luxe silk velvet with natural stems. Some are even adorned with incredible feathers and jewels! They are definitely a collectible table-top decor that you'll want to own - especially since they are made right here in Portland thanks to a partnership with local farmers.

Learn more at hotskwash.com

a rustic autumn sign

Signs of the Season

When all else fails you can always say it with a sign. These cute block letters are perfect for your window sill or mantel display. These seasonal signs help us give thanks and remember we are blessed with family and friends.


Freshen up your containers and landscape for fall.

fall plants on a table and in pots

Now that we’ve all survived last week’s heat wave, you may find that your summer containers aren’t looking quite as fresh as they did back when you first planted them. With just a little care you can freshen them up with shades of fall. Our new Fall Collection includes a spectrum of Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers that welcome those cooler evenings and the long Indian Summer days of September.

Thrillers

a Wilma Goldcrest 'Lemon Cypress'

Wilma Goldcrest ‘Lemon Cypress’

Dwarf evergreen shrub has a tight, columnar habit with exceptional, golden-yellow fragrant foliage. Plant among purple or red foliaged plants for exceptional contrast. An easy to grow container plant that smells of lovely lemons.

Fillers

close up of yellow 'Blue Eyed Beauty' Osteospermum blooms

Osteosperumum ‘Blue Eyed Beauty’

This unique bicolor African Daisy will add a splash of bright color to your garden. Compact bushy form is perfect in patio containers and mass color plantings as well as mixed into perennial borders.

yellow Chrysociephalum 'Flambe Yellow'

Crysociephalum ‘Flambé Yellow’

Tufted yellow flowers on silvery foliage, ‘Flambe Yellow’ is very heat and drought tolerant. Use in planters or landscapes, as it is great in creating informal drifts.

burgundy and green foliage of Alternanthera 'Red Threads'

Alternanthera ‘Red Threads’

‘Red Threads’ is a slender-leaved perennial that doesn't wander, forming a textured carpet in shades of deep burgundy. A single plant makes a mound about 8 inches tall and 14 inches wide. Use 'Red Threads' at the base of taller plants to provide vibrant color contrasts.

Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow'

Ajuga ‘Burgandy Glow’

Gardeners have a love or hate relationship with this easy to grow evergreen perennial. If you have moist shady areas you'd like covered with a colorful blooming carpet, you'll love it. Burgundy Glow is a big favorite because of the great color it brings. It’s foliage is a collage of greens, pinks and creams, and has the traditional Ajuga blue flower.

Spillers

Copper colored Heucherella in a pot.

Heucherella ‘Copper Cascade’

This small leaf trailer has lovely refined rosy copper-gold foliage that is muted, but distinct. ‘Copper Cascade’ is a big favorite because of the great color it brings.

Creeping Henny

Lysimachia ‘Creeping Jenny Gold’

“Creeping Jenny Gold” this lovely accent plant that cascades color and texture into any garden setting! Its petite bright golden round foliage on trailing stems look excellent spilling down the side of containers. This plant also makes a great ground cover in landscape beds.

silvery-green Dichondra foliage

Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’

Dichondra with its silvery-green foliage and its stealthy creeping growth habit, this variety is a brilliant choice for mixed containers. Petite light-green to silver leaves produce a thick mantle that cascades over your patio container. Drought- and heat-tolerant, this splendidly leafy plant performs nicely as a ground cover as well.

There are many more combinations possible with our new Fall Collection. Come in and explore for yourself all the possibilities.


Enjoy the fragrance of lilacs for months instead of weeks.

a Bloomerang Lilac bush
close up of a Bloomerange Purple Lilac bloom

Bloomerang® Purple

While traditional lilac varieties bloom for a few short weeks in spring, Bloomerang's fragrant flowers continue until frost. A revolutionary new kind of lilac, the Bloomerang ® blooms in spring and then again throughout the summer. And while it needs a rest period during the heat of the summer, it will rebloom in late summer. This compact, mounded variety fits easily into any landscape, and is ideal as a foundation planting or as part of the mixed border.

close-up of Bloomerang Dark Purple Lilac blooms

Bloomerang® Dark Purple

New Dark Purple is a bigger deciduous shrub than the original Bloomerang® and has larger, more rounded inflorescence. This vigorous grower will add beauty and fragrance to gardens from spring to fall. When planted in mass they make a great choice for hedges as well. Just like all lilacs, the Bloomerang® will attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden, but the Deer won’t care for the taste!

So when your busy schedule calls for a relaxed evening in the garden, look to Bloomerangs to provide the perfumed summer evening air.


As we prepare to head back to school this fall, let’s take a look at ideal plants for the student life.

We’ll grade our favorites, and give you some ideas of how to incorporate a little bit of home into your living situation.

Airplant

Tillandsia –- A+

Not just because they are all the rage, but because they take so little care, we put Tillandsia on our “Must Have” list of plants for college students. They come in many colors and shapes, and other than a little dunk once a week, they require little else to survive in your dorm room.

succulents in a bowl

Succulents -- A

These cuties are especially great when space is at a premium. With many unique ways to display succulents, they add a note of cool modernism to your study space. Plants are credited with increasing memory retention and concentration – what more would a student want?

zz plant foliage

ZZ Plants – B+

Blending perfectly well with both contemporary and traditional settings, the ZZ Plant is stylish, attractive and easy to take care of. It can take a reasonable amount of neglect without adverse effects and appears impervious to the majority of pests, so what's not to love? The new stems emerge out of the soil and quickly get taller before opening up, just like a cocoon. Inside are all the new glossy leaves this shoot will produce, which will gradually emerge and fan out.

snake plants

Snake Plant-- B

The Snake plant is a carefree, tough succulent that grows almost anywhere. Its leathery sword-shape leaves are usually marbled. Although snake plant tolerates low light, it grows better in medium or bright light. Because it likes the soil to dry out between waterings, it’s perfect for a busy student.

With just a little thought given to presentation, these plants can add a little green to any small living space.


Here are some sure fire ways to attract our winged friends, the butterfly, to your garden.

Butterflies like to perch on larger flower heads when they hunt nectar, collecting pollen on their legs and body as they search for food. The legs and the butterfly's proboscis are longer and farther away from the flower's pollen so less pollen collects on its body parts than it does on bees, but still they are very effective pollinators.

Butterflies pollinate during the day while flowers are open and they have a better color perception than bees or even humans. They can see red, their favorite color, while bees cannot. They also find their nectar by being able to see ultraviolet light which makes flower markings very distinct to them.

close up of magenta Buddleia bloom

Buddleia

Buddleia is a fast-growing, deciduous shrub with long, arching shoots that can reach heights of 6-8 feet. Its massive blossoms are long, seductively spiked trusses that bloom from summer to autumn and fill the air with a fruity scent. This plant is vigorous and undemanding given a sunny location and average soil conditions.

a bunch of lavender

Lavender

Lavender is a commonly grown herb plant popular for its fragrant aroma, which butterflies equally enjoy. This easy-care plant enjoys hot, dry conditions, making it suitable for use in a variety of landscape settings and an excellent water-wise choice. Lavender requires less water after it is established (approx. 1 year).

Although lavender can tolerate a variety of growing conditions, this plant thrives best under warm, sunny conditions in well-drained soil. In addition, a soil rich in organic matter can encourage higher plant oil production, enhancing the fragrance in lavender plants.

a single Black Eyed Susan bloom

Black Eyed Susan

The black eyed Susan flower attracts butterflies, bees and other pollinators to the garden. A member of the daisy family, the black eyed Susan flower is a versatile, heat and drought tolerant choice that should be included in many landscapes.

Black eyed Susan plants grow all summer long, providing perky yellow flowers and velvety foliage, and they requiring little care from the gardener. As with many wildflowers, growing black eyed Susan’s is simple and rewarding when blooms brighten the garden, natural area or meadow from mid to late summer.

Deadheading encourages more blooms and a sturdier, more compact plant. Seeds may be allowed to dry on the stem for reseeding or collected and dried for replanting in other areas.

Lavatera blooms

Lavatera

Lavatera is a lovely flower that blooms in late summer and into fall. It is a bushy perennial with stout stems growing to 4 feet. Soft green, fingered leaves and 5-petaled flowers area easy to care for and will attract butterflies to your garden.

So if it’s butterflies you want, add some Buddleia or Lavender to your garden, and enjoy the benefits of these industrious and beautiful pollinators.