From Al's Experts logo

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.


The Hydrangea paniculata is one of the most unique compact flowering trees, and perfect for large pots and small spaces. While we most often see them as a shrub, once pruned into tree form they are spectacular! Paniculatas have large, showy cone-shaped flowers and bloom the entire summer!

Phantom Hydrangea in a potHydrangea Phantom

The paniculata species can take full to part sun. All grow to about six to ten feet tall and will bloom from July through first frost. Like all hydrangeas, they also make an excellent dried flower and can be used in arrangements indoors.

close up of a Hydrangea Limelight bloomHydrangea Limelight

Hydrangea Phantom

Huge creamy white blooms that will turn light pink and green color in August.

Hydrangea Pinky Winky

Large white cone shaped flowers turning to white/pink later in the season.

Hydrangea Limelight

Beautiful light green flowers look great all summer long.

If your garden has more shade than sun, the following small trees are an excellent choice. Structure, unique shape and foliage make them equally interesting.

burgundy colored Japanese Maple Tree in a yardCrimson Queen Japanese Maple

a Dappled WIllow Tree by a brick wallDappled Willow Tree

Photo credit: Monrovia

Japanese Maple

Dwarf type Japanese Maples will give you some beautiful structure and very attractive foliage. These slow growers are perfect for a large pot to create a point of interest for your patio or deck.

Crimson Queen Maple

Stunning crimson color all summer with a graceful weeping habit. This belongs in a place of honor in your yard.

Dappled Willow Tree

A compact willow tree that leafs out with green foliage that turning vibrant pink and white. One of our personal favorites, it is absolutely stunning when gracing either side of your entryway.

As always make sure all pots have a hole in the bottom for good drainage. We recommend using a porous drywall tape or screen over the hole to ensure it doesn't get clogged. Watering is critical for potted plants so make sure if you go to the coast for a week in the summer your pots still get watered.


July is Blueberry Month! So whether you like your blueberries in jams smeared on buttered toast, or baked into muffins, here are a few varieties we believe are the best.

close up of a bunch of blueberries

Berkeley

The Berkeley blueberry is known for being a dessert quality berry. Because it is an excellent producer and does well in the freezer, you might want to make some room.

Bluecrop

Bluecrop is an all-around great berry. It’s good for fresh eating, preserving, baking or freezing. You can’t go wrong with jams and jellies made from Bluecrop.

Chandler

The world’s largest blueberry! We think the Chandler is best fresh as a dessert with fresh whipped cream and a sprig of mint.

Duke

The Duke has a full, rich flavor, so it is favored for baking and for eating fresh. Check out this New York Times blueberry pie recipe, and give it a go!

Earliblue

Early to bloom and first to ripen the Earliblue does just what its name suggests. Try these blueberries in your morning smoothie, for a great way to start your day.


Maintaining your landscape and your vegetable garden can be a very demanding job, and in the summer months when it gets hot your plants require daily attention.

a full garden with an upside-down wine bottle for irrigationPhoto Credit: www.plantnanny.com
A GrowOya porous clay irrigation vesselsGrowOya porous clay irrigation vessel

Keeping up with the daily watering can be difficult and time consuming, especially if you have summer vacation plans. Fortunately, there are a few different things you can do to ensure that all of your plants will survive without you for a few days while you get a chance to get out and enjoy your summer vacation.

three self-watering plantersSyndicate Home and Garden
Never Dry Planters

The Oya is an interesting product that you can use to water your plants slowly and efficiently while you are out of town for a few days. It is a porous clay (terra cotta) vessel that is designed to be buried amongst your plants to provide them water directly into the soil and into their roots. Fill it with water before you leave on a weekend vacation and your vegetables and other plants will have enough water to last until you get home. The Plant Nanny is another product that uses the porous clay concept. It is a terra cotta stake you can put right into your houseplant or hanging basket containers. Just fill a bottle with water, flip it into the terra cotta stake and the water will slowly seep through the clay over the course of a few days.

The porous clay vessels are great options for short vacations, but if you are going out of town for more than a week or two, you will need something more substantial to keep your plants happy. Some self-watering planters can provide water for weeks. Self-watering planters are essentially a pot within a slightly larger pot, and at the bottom of the larger pot there is a reservoir for extra water and a wick that slowly soaks up water and delivers it to the roots of the plant above. Depending on the size of the planter and its water reservoir, self-watering planters can deliver water from a few days to several weeks.

Another thing you can do to water your plants while you're away is to install an irrigation system that operates on a timer. There are digital timers out there that hook right up to your hose faucet and can be programmed to water at specific times of the day. Hook up a soaker hose to your faucet and your plants will get a nice and even, deep soaking. An irrigation system like this is more efficient than overhead watering and takes a lot of the pain out of watering your plants.

a close-up of carrots being watered with drip irrigationDrip irrigation kits and parts available at Al's. Photo Credit: www.orbitonline.com

Regardless of what you decide to do, there are a few precautions you can and should take every time you leave for vacation. If the forecast calls for a lot of heat, pull your plants into a shady spot while you are going to be gone. Also, give your plants a deep soaking just before you leave. If you are worried that you are going to be gone too long for your plants to survive, for a small fee you can pay a neighbor's kids to do the watering for you. Taking these simple precautions will help make sure that you don't return home from your vacation to a dry and desolate vegetable garden.


By Tim Mouzakis

Hydrangeas today bloom earlier, don’t require pruning, and are re-blooming. They are a versatile plant that can solve many problems in the garden, especially when you want big color in a small space.

From providing a bright focal point among our plants, or holding its own in a container. Their new tighter habit and stronger stems aren’t like the big, unruly Hydrangea’s you might recall. Check out these available varieties to see how you can have hydrangea blooms all summer long.

Hydrangea Cityline Venice

Venice

Cityline™ Venice is an attention getter with giant fuchsia-colored blooms and fresh, attractive green foliage. Its place is front and center in your shrub border, patio garden, or your best container. Venice only reaches 1 to 3 feet in height and has a neat, tight habit so pruning is never required. It’s small enough for containers or any tight spot.

Like all the Citylines™, it was bred for stronger stems to hold its large, heavy flower head. Large beautiful blooms are great for dried or cut flowers. It requires a full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. Moisture is a necessity for this plant.

Hydrangea Cityline Vienna

Vienna

The smallest of the Cityline™ series, Vienna is a lovely little plant with dark blue (or pink) flowers. The blooms emerge with an attractive cream-colored throat and remain large and showy even as they age. Flower color will vary depending on soil pH and aluminum availability. Since it is a compact plant, it does not need pruning. Cityline™ Vienna is a great choice for container gardens and foundation plantings.

Hydrangea Let's Dance Starlight

Starlight

This vibrant lace cap blooms every summer! Starlight blooms on both new wood and old delivering seasons of flowers and lots of wow. A real workhorse, Let's Dance™ Starlight is the first re-blooming lace-cap hydrangea, and has exceptionally rich, vibrant flower color. It's an elegant addition to any garden.

Hydrangea Let's Dance Rhythmic Blue

Rhythmic Blue

The flowers of this latest Let's Dance™ re-blooming hydrangea are truly amazing. The florets have a distinctive geometric shape, and are closely packed into full, richly colored mop head flowers. A real workhorse, it flowers in early summer, and then re-blooms in later summer. The reliable blooms are held up on sturdy stems; a tidy habit and good wilt-resistance add to its appeal. The real show, however, is its easy shift from pink to rich amethyst-blue flowers by adjusting the soil pH. It has the richest, most vibrant blue seen on a hydrangea!

Hydrangea Little Quick Fire

Little Quick Fire

Little Quick Fire is an early blooming, flowering about a month before other hydrangeas. This paniculata has white flowers which transform to pink-red as summer progresses. This dwarf plant fits easily into any landscape, including container gardens. Add it to your existing hydrangea garden to extend the hydrangea season.


Crape Myrtles deliver showy summer flowers, attractive bark, and in many cases brilliant fall color, making them a year-round garden performer.

A Sioux Crape Myrtle with a honey beeSioux Crape Myrtle

This premier summer-flowering tree tolerates heat, humidity, drought, and does well in most soils as long as they are well drained. All crape myrtles bloom on new wood and should be pruned in winter or early spring. Crinkled, paper-like flowers in white or shades of pink, red, or purple are carried in dense clusters.

Tuscarora Crape Myrtle in bloom

Tuscarora

Deciduous large shrub or small tree with profuse coral-pink flowers. Exquisite orange-red foliage color in the fall. Smooth, mottled, light cinnamon brown bark adds year-round interest. Use for accent or background, or the focal point of your front garden.

Catawba Crape Myrtle in bloom

Catawba

Displays large, long lasting clusters of dark purple flowers. Handsome foliage has bronze cast in spring, bright green in summer, orange-red fall color. Mildew resistant.

Pink Velour Crape Myrtle in bloom

Pink Velour

Deep wine red leaves emerge in spring and age to dark purplish green, providing a striking contrast to vibrant pink summer flowers. Compact, multi-stemmed form is ideal for use as an accent shrub or small tree, in flowering borders or containers. Highly resistant to powdery mildew. Deciduous.

Sioux Crape Myrtle in bloom

Sioux

With cold hardy Sioux Crape Myrtles your landscape will never have to be without color, especially with their dark pink flowers which enter a continuous blooming cycle that lasts into the fall. Sioux Crape Myrtles have very dark green leaves that create a radiant show of contrasting colors. Then in the fall the leaves turn unique shades of purple and red. The older brown bark peels away to reveal bright beige bark underneath. The older and younger barks intertwine on the trunk together to create a marbled look. Sioux Crape Myrtles are one of the toughest varieties available. Along with the ability to survive freezing temperatures they are also drought and heat tolerant. They also have a high level of resistance against pests and diseases. Not even poor soil can stop the Sioux Crape Myrtle from flourishing with tons of color and over 100 days of blooms.

Dynamite Crape Myrtle in bloom

Dynamite

Attractive ornamental shrub or small tree with smooth, peeling bark. Showy, ruffled, fiery red flowers followed by vibrant orange-red fall foliage. Excellent specimen or plant in groups for an explosion of color in the landscape and year-round interest. Deciduous.

Crape Myrtle Pruning Tips

Encourage the natural form of the Crape Myrtle. Aggressive pruning only encourages the growth of spindly, whip-like branches that are too weak to hold their bloom. So instead, use hand pruners and loppers, and shorten the topmost branches by 2-3 feet in late winter, always cutting back to a side branch or bud, and you can enjoy this beauty for years to come.