From Al's Experts logo

This showy shrub will have your neighbors stopping and asking “What is that?”

Peppermint Mountain Laurel bloomsPeppermint Mountain Laurel
Nipmuck Mountain Laurel

Their pentagonal-shaped blossoms have a unique architectural structure. Their buds almost look like berries until they bloom, and then become little origami-like blossoms.

The Mountain laurel is closely related to azaleas and rhododendrons. It grows in a large, rounded mound and has dark green foliage that remains all year. In late spring, it bears huge clusters of flowers in combinations of pink, red and white.


  • Mountain laurel needs soil with an acidic pH.
  • It prefers ground that's moist, well-drained, and high in organic matter.
  • Amend average soil with compost, before planting.
  • Mountain laurel tolerates full sun in moist soil
  • It does better in partial shade if the soil tends to get dry.

Because it likes acidic soil, we recommend fertilizing with Espoma’s® Holly-tone. Just mix the granular fertilizer into the soil to encourage healthy growth. This slow-release fertilizer is perfect for extended feeding.

Stop into any Al's to see a great selection of Mountain laurel varieties - blooming now!

Pink Charm Mt. Laurel bloomsPink Charm
Minuet Mt. Laurel bloomsMinuet
Keepsake Mt. Laurel bloomsKeepsake
Heart's Desire Mt Laurel bloomsHeart's Desire
Freckles Mt. Laurel bloomsFreckles
Carousel Mt. Laurel bloomsCarousel
Peppermint Mt. Laurel bloomsPeppermint
Bullseye Mt. Laurel bloomsBullseye
Big Boy Mt. Laurel bloomsBig Boy

Whether it’s blue or pink, or somewhere in between, there is nothing like a Hydrangea to get your attention in the garden.

pink and blue 'LA Dreamin Hydrangea bloomsThese 'LA Dreamin" Hydrangeas offer a beautiful mix of the pink and blue hues.

Here are four of our favorite Hydrangeas - available now at Al's!

blue 'Rhythmic Blue' Hydrangea bloomLet's Dance 'Rhythmic Blue'

Hydrangea Let's Dance ‘Rhythmic Blue’

From the popular reblooming, mophead Let's Dance series, ‘Rhythmic Blue' has an attractive habit of wilt-resistant foliage that forms a tidy, 2- to 3-foot-high and wide mound. The flowers are held on strong, sturdy stems that are perfect for both fresh and dried arrangements. It blooms on both old and new wood, and is a wonderful choice for containers or along borders to bring intense summer color to your landscape!

  • Garden Height: 24 - 36 inches
  • Spread: 24 - 36 inches
'Blue Jangles' Hydrangea bloomHydrangea Let's Dance 'Blue Jangles'

Hydrangea Let's Dance ‘Blue Jangles’

Also from the Let's Dance series, ‘Blue Jangles’ is a new color for this series with rich blue mophead flowers on compact plants. Its sturdy structure is great for containers or your garden bed. It’s blue color will be most intense in acidic soils.

  • Garden Height: 24 - 36 inches
  • Spread: 24 - 36 inches
deep blue 'LA Dreamin' Hydrangea bloomHydrangea 'LA Dreamin'

Hydrangea ‘LA Dreamin’

Summer through fall, ‘L.A. Dreamin' will delight gardeners and onlookers with three gorgeous shades of blooms in deep pink, deep blue, and a lovely mauve combination of the two. Huge blooms are set off against shiny, bright green foliage that is nearly translucent when back lit by sunlight.

  • Garden Height: 24 - 30 inches
  • Spread: 30 - 36 inches
Pink 'Oregon Pride' Hydrangea bloomHydrangea 'Oregon Pride'

Hydrangea ‘Oregon Pride’

‘Oregon Pride' bears mophead-type clusters of large raspberry pink flowers on showy burgundy-red stems. The flowers age to grayish mauve.

  • Garden Height: 5 - 6 feet
  • Spread: 5- 6 feet

Hydrangeas prefer well-drained soil, and like to be fed a general all-purpose fertilizer like Al’s All Natural and Organic Slow Release 8-2-4 Fertilizer before spring growth.

When it comes to growing tomatoes, deciding which variety to grow can often be the hardest part. There are thousands of varieties of tomatoes out there, and many different ways to enjoy them. Whether you are canning, making sauce or eating your tomatoes fresh by the slice, there is a tomato variety out there that is suited to your needs.

a ripe Big Beef tomatoBig Beef Tomato

Best Canning Varieties

Big Beef

It is extra meaty with a real ''homegrown'' flavor and just the right balance of sugars and acids. Produces extra large ''beefy'' fruit.


Most are pink or red with numerous small seed compartments distributed throughout the fruit, sometimes displaying pronounced ribbing similar to ancient pre-Columbian tomato cultivars.

two Roma Tomatoes on the vineRoma Tomato

Best Sauce and Paste Varieties

Heirloom San Marzano

These tomatoes are perfect for canning due to their firm texture, dark red color and sweet flavor. They also don't produce many seeds, making them perfect for making sauces and pastes. They are a very high yielding variety, and they love the heat.


Roma tomatoes are very common and perfect for canning and making tomato paste. They are slender, firm, meaty and have few seeds. They are easy to grow, produce tons of fruit and won't take up too much space in your garden.

Best Slicing Varieties

a large Dorothy's Delight Tomato on the vineDorothy's Delight Tomato

Dorothy’s Delight

There are only two things money can’t buy, the first is true love and the second is a homegrown tomato. Dorothy’s Delight is a nice meaty tomato that doesn’t run all over your plate when you slice it. The only way to eat it is fresh. They are named after Jack’s neighbor Dorothy - her family had been handing the seeds down for 90 years.

Early Girl

A tasty, dependable tomato for short growing seasons, because it ripens earlier than most other tomatoes. It grows indeterminate (tall) vines that will benefit from some type of staking or caging.

Heirloom Brandywine

two ripe Heirloom Brandywine TomatoesHeirloom Brandywine Tomato

The Brandywine tomato is a popular Amish heirloom tomato known for its rich "tomatoey" flavor. This widely grown variety has a cult following even though it is one of the slowest growing with a maturity of 80 to 90 days. It is an indeterminate that needs to be staked or caged. Its reddish-pink fruit are large.

Best Snacking Varieties

small yellow Sun Sugar Tomatoes on the vineSun Sugar Tomato

Sweet Million

This variety produces huge clusters of sweet bite-sized fruit all summer long. They are easy to grow and are very resistant to diseases and cracking on the vine.

Sun Sugar

Possibly the ultimate in cherry tomatoes! Superb flavor and texture with a tangy TRUE tomato taste with a new level of sugary sweetness. Weighing in only at 1/2 oz per fruit with thin skins that are crack resistant, even in heavy rains. Very vigorous!


Pearly round or plum-shaped, tangy or sweet, red or gold, cherry tomatoes top off summer salads, sweeten party trays, and make great treats for healthy kids.


Early - even earlier than Early Girl. And in Jack’s opinion, the best tasting!

Yellow Pear

Great for snacking and culinary use due to its unique yellow color

It's hard to narrow down your favorite tomato varieties; the only way to find out is to grow them yourself! Growing tomatoes isn't always a picnic, but with a little luck and some proper care, your tomatoes will thrive!

If you want to maximize your yields with any variety of tomato, it's important to fertilize. Espoma's® Tomato Tone is an organic tomato fertilizer that contains all the nutrients your tomatoes needs including calcium, which prevents blossom end rot.

There's nothing better than adding perennials to your garden. With a little planning you'll have color all summer long! Here are a few of our favorites, in bloom now at Al's.

a field of Spanish LavenderSpanish Lavender

Spanish Lavender (Assorted Varieties)

Flower colors in shades lavender and pink. The flower spikes with distinctive top petals. Spanish lavenders bloom on and off from spring to late summer. Makes a nice cut flower and butterflies love Lavender.

  • Full Sun
  • Heights vary, please check the plant tag
  • Drought tolerant after planted in the ground for 1 year
  • Needs good drainage.
  • Remove spent flowers as needed.
  • Trim foliage to a neat mounding shape.
  • If trimming foliage, don’t shear back to the ground.
  • Hardy to 10° F
pink Erysimum bloom

‘Bowles Mauve’ Wallflower (Erysimum)

Mauve-purple flower spikes bloom from late April through Fall. This perennial blooms its little heart out even in mild winters! Butterflies love this flower.

  • Full sun or PM shade
  • Height 18-24 inches
  • Regular irrigation
  • Drought tolerant after planted in the ground for 1 year.
  • Needs good drainage.
  • Trim back blooms as needed.
  • If trimming foliage, don’t shear back to the ground.
  • Hardy to 0° F
pink Foxglove blooms

‘Dalmatian Mix’ Foxglove Digitalis

Spikes of flower colors in shades of cream, peach, lavender and pink. Butterflies and hummingbirds love Foxglove, and it’s deer resistant.

  • Sun or PM Shade
  • Height 16-20 inches
  • Bloom time is mid to late spring.
  • Trim back spent flowers and second small flower spikes will bloom.
  • Hardy to -20° F

By Tim Mouzakis

You’re not from the Oregon if you don’t have at least one Azalea or Rhododendron in your yard. They are bursting with blooms right now!

red Azalea 'Hino-Crimson' bloomsAzalea 'Hino-Crimson'
red Azalea 'Silver Sword' bloomsAzalea 'Silver Sword'

Azalea 'Hino-Crimson'

Hardy azalea thrives in cold climates! The profusion of single, crimson blooms appear early and continue through spring. Premier flowering shrub for use as hedge, walkway border or in massed planting for stunning color display. Thrives in dappled sunlight.

Azalea 'Silver Sword'

Vivid bright pink flowers age to red and practically smother the variegated foliage. Unique deep green leaves have narrow creamy yellow margins. An excellent foundation plant or low border hedge along walkways.

purple Azalea 'Girard's Fuchsia' bloomsAzalea 'Girard's Fuchsia'

Azalea 'Girard's Fuchsia'

Hardy Azalea thrives in colder climates! Profuse single, reddish-purple blooms. Premier flowering shrub for use as hedge, in borders or in massed planting for impressive color display.

Rhododendron 'Purple Gem'

Dense-growing, dwarf evergreen shrub valued for its large trusses of showy flowers. Handsome, deep green azalea-like foliage. Thrives in cooler regions but some protection from winter wind is helpful. Very effective in border plantings or as an accent.

Rhododendron 'Ramapo'

Dense-growing evergreen shrub has very dwarf compact habit. Large trusses of showy flowers are a beautiful contrast to the leaves. Prefers cooler regions. Very effective when a smaller accent is needed. Perfect for borders, containers, hedges, and wildlife or woodland gardens.

bag of Espoma Holly-toneKeep your Azaleas and Rhododendrons happy and healthy with better blooms and foliage, with Espoma Organic Holly-tone.
light purple Ramapo Rhododendron bloomsRhododendron 'Ramapo'
light purple Rhododendron' Purple Gem' bloomsRhododendron 'Purple Gem'

Pieris is definitely a triple threat! It is evergreen, has profuse blooms, and its new foliage emerges a fantastic red-bronze color. You can’t get more beauty into a single shrub.

A 'Flaming Silver' Pieris in MarchA 'Flaming Silver' Pieris in March.

Pieris features drooping clusters of lily-of-the-valley-like white flowers in early spring. Oblong leaves emerge red, but mature to a glossy, dark green. Bead-like flower buds are set in later summer for the following year, and provide winter interest and contrast to the evergreen foliage. Pieris comes in various shades of white, pink or deep rose blooms.

'Mt. Fire' Piereis in bloomMountain Fire Pieris

'Mountain Fire'

With its bright red new growth and cascading racemes of white flowers, this pieris is a vibrant addition to any garden. “Mountain Fire” is a versatile plant that offers year-round interest. It does well as a foundation planting, or as a layer in your shrub border.

wine-red foliage of Katsura PierisKatsura Pieris


'Katsura' Pieris has beautiful wine-red new foliage, flushing continuously throughout the season and turning dark green with age. Rose-pink bell-shaped flowers appear in early spring. Its compact mounding habit can reach 3' x 3' in five years. 'Katsura' Pieris does best in semi-shade in slightly acidic soil.

‘Flaming Silver’

Pieris 'Flaming Silver' is a splendid Japanese Andromeda, offering a stunning spring show followed by lovely variegation through summer and fall. It’s a fine landscape accent worthy of the best garden settings.


In mid-March, this pieris is almost completely covered in bell-shaped, creamy white blooms, providing a source of nectar for early-season pollinators such as mason bees. This dwarf shrub makes a beautiful low informal hedge, and it can be used to hide the leggy stems of taller shrubs. It is well adapted to containers, and can grow for several years in a pot.

Portland has long had a not so secret love affair with the flowering cherry tree. Whether you’re walking through Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, or the state capital in Salem, there is nothing more glorious than cherry trees in bloom.

flowering Mt. Fuji Cherry Trees outside Al's of SherwoodThese 'Mount Fuji' cherry trees at the entrance to our Sherwood location look beautiful this time of year!

"Hanami" is the centuries-old practice of picnicking under a blooming cherry tree. The custom, originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court, soon spread to the common people. Al’s encourages you to take a moment, and enjoy this spring treat.

Cherry trees are characterized by their distinctive reddish brown bark, which has patches of horizontal markings called lenticels. The foliage is dark green, and the leaves have a toothed edge. The leaves while drooping, give way to the flowers which are arranged in umbels. Cherry trees are a great choice for attracting birds to your yard.

Accolade Flowering Cherry


A ravishingly beautiful spring flowering accent tree, featuring a semi-double deep pink flower before the leaves, with an attractive reddish-brown bark, and beautiful open habit. Needs full sun and well-drained soil. This is a relatively low maintenance tree, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed.


Deep pink flowers with many petals. Usually blooms in early April. New leaves are bronze, and turn green during the summer, and peachy/gold in autumn. Growth is upright, vase-shaped with a broad canopy.

‘Mount Fuji’

Pink flower buds open to fragrant white semi-double flowers, earlier than ‘Kwansan’. New leaves are bronze, turning green in summer. The ‘Mount Fuji’ has a very unique horizontal branching patter, not only to cherry trees but among many trees. Since its width can double its height at maturity – it is a great option to provide shade without having a very tall tree (15’).

blooms of the Akebono Flowering Cherry TreeAkebono Flowering Cherry


A beautiful flowering cherry tree native to Japan. Having very soft pink bloom, and double white flower that blooms in April, it forms a rounded spread. Turns a yellowish color during fall making them splendid landscape trees. They have bright green, glossy foliage during spring and summer months.


Is a beautiful, spreading tree that is wider than it is tall when mature. ‘Shirofugen’ cherry is the latest to come into bloom, with flowers that sometimes last into April in the Willamette Valley. The large, double, fragrant white blossom open from pink buds and darken into pink again just before they fall. These contrast very well against the rich, copper colored young leaves.

A Snow Fountain Weeping Cherry TreeSnow Fountain Weeping Cherry Tree

‘Snow Fountain’

Weeping branches are covered in spring with a fountain of snow-white flowers, made even more dramatic in contrast to the stunning mahogany-red bark. ‘Snow Fountain’ is true weeping tree that makes for a great option in smaller yards, or where you want a smaller tree. It’s one of the few trees that can be grown in a large container. A beautiful and hardy small garden tree, that has an attractive habit after it is done blooming.

Big, richly colored, double flowers provide a stunning early spring display. 'Orange Storm’ and the other Double Take ™ Quinces puts on a spectacular early spring display of large double flowers with an intense orange color - you'll do a double take!

close up of a 'Red Storm' Quince bloom
close up of a 'Pink Storm' Quince bloomThe beautiful Double Take series of quince also includes 'Pink Storm' (shown) and 'Red Storm'

More than just pretty flowers, the Double Take Quinces are easy to care for, having neither thorns or fruit. It's so beautiful you may overlook its survivalist skills! Heat and drought tolerant once established, this plant will delight you each spring with candy colored blooms. These big, richly colored, double flowers provide a stunning early spring display. A spectacular early season treat.

  • Light requirements: Part Sun to Sun
  • Blooms on old wood
  • May be pruned to desired shape after flowering
  • Height: 48 - 60 Inches
  • Width: 36 - 48 Inches
  • It’s habit is mounded
  • It’s role in a container garden is as a "Thriller"
  • Apply a controlled release fertilizer in spring, like Al's All Natural and Organic Slow Release Fertilizer.

The Manolia stellata, or star magnolia, is a slow growing shrub-like tree that produces blossoms in early spring. This tree is a member of one of the most ancient flowering plant families and features several unique characteristics.

a large star magnolia tree in bloomThis gorgeous star magnolia has been growing in Jack Bigej's yard for over 35 years!
close up of a star magnolia bloomStar magnolias are in bloom and available now at Al's Garden Centers!

The defining characteristic of the star magnolia is its flowers, which blossom to reveal bright white petals in a star-shaped pattern. These flowers bloom for a few weeks in spring, depending on the weather.

The star magnolia tree can grow into a nice 15-20' multi-trunk tree. It presents foliage and flowers on several individual trunks. The star magnolia is deciduous and loses its leaves in the winter after creating colorful fall foliage.

  • It can be grown as a shrub or a tree - depending on how you prune it.
  • Can take up to a one half day of shade, so it can be planted in a lot of places in the yard.
  • It is a moderate grower, so it will grow quick enough to fill up an area, but not so fast that it overtakes your yard.
  • New foliage that comes on in the spring, is a nice bright green.
  • Very low maintenance: Fertilize and prune them once a year.
  • The star magnolia is very cold hardy, and can be disease and pest free.
  • Very little to no spraying is ever needed.
  • Once established, they are drought tolerant.
  • Since the leaves are not large, fall clean-up is a breeze!

Great companion plants:

Plant these around your magnolia tree for coordinated blooming times:

purple heather bloomsHeather
pink rhododendron bloomsRhododendrons
yellow daffodilsDaffodils

The bold foliage and quick growth make this a very useful vine, but the Clematis armandii 'Snowdrift' really stands out in the garden when it is in full bloom in early spring.

close up of a clematis bloom
clematisClematis Armandii 'Snowdrift'
Evergreen Clematis

A profusion of small pure white flowers cover the vine. Each flower is part of a larger cluster and has a sweet fragrance that perfumes the air. The leaves are evergreen and have a pleasant bronzy tone when they first emerge.

This evergreen clematis is a fast grower and requires plenty of space to spread. It will grow best in light to open shade or full sun, if the location is not too hot. Provide well-drained soil, and occasionally water during dry weather. Clematis are heavy feeders and appreciate fertilization, especially in the spring. This clematis blooms on a 1 year old stem, so prune lightly in late winter or immediately after flowering.

  • Plant Height: 25 ft. 0 in. (7.62 meters)
  • Plant Width: 15 ft. 0 in. (4.57 meters)
  • Light Exposure: Full sun to light or open shade
  • Water Requirements: Occasional watering
  • Seasonal Interest: Fragrant flowers in late winter with beautiful foliage all year long
  • Attracts: Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds