From Al's Experts logo

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

Forsythia are among the first plants of spring to burst forth in flower. While forsythia bushes are easy to care for, there are a few things you can do to help them perform their very best. With proper care, your forsythia plant will reward you with a brilliant display of yellow flowers.

close up of forsythia bloom
bag of Espoma Plant-tone
  • Forsythias enjoy full sun. Make sure your forsythia bush gets at least six hours of sunlight a day.
  • Grow in well draining soil.
  • Mulching will make sure that moisture is retained in the soil, and weeds are reduced.
  • Forsythias should receive at least 2 inches of water a week.
  • Use Espoma’s® Organic Plant Tone® All Purpose Plant Food once every month during the growing season. Do not fertilize them in the fall and winter.
  • Forsythia bushes should be pruned yearly. Without pruning, these fast growing shrubs can quickly get overgrown. The best time to prune shrubs is right after the forsythia has finished blooming.
full forsythia bush

Forsythia ‘Lynwood Gold’

‘Lynwood Gold’ Forsythias will produce an abundance of bright yellow flowers... signaling to everyone that spring has arrived. This shrub gives you it’s floral display first, and then its deep green foliage is nothing short of amazing especially in autumn. You get another showing of fabulous color in the fall, when its leaves turn bright yellow with a hint of orange and red.

Height 8’, Width 8’

Forsythia ‘Spring Glory’

Showy, rounded shrub that explodes in brilliant masses of yellow flowers. Use as a background shrub or as an accent in your perennial garden. Upright grower, excellent when used as a screen. Deciduous.

Height 8’, Width 8’

While we like her glossy green leaves and ornamental black berries – it’s the fragrance that keeps us coming back to Sarcococca. She is definitely a star in winter.

close-up of a sarcococca bloom

Also known as Sweet Box, she is ideal for planting near a doorway so her fragrant white flowers can great your visitors. This woodland shrub grows particularly well in shady areas under trees, and is very easy to grow. Saracococca tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, and is a slow grower with a tidy habit, making her a good choice for background foliage or hedges.

the dark blue berries of the sarcococca bush

Himalayan Sarcococca:

Sarcococoa hookerriana ‘Humilis’

  • Black berries with glossy green foliage
  • Fragrant white rounded flower clusters
  • AM Sun / Shade, no afternoon sun
  • Height 1’-2’, Width 3’
  • Hardy to 0 F

If you love roses or just wanted to try your hand at roses for the first time, now is the best time to purchase if you want to enjoy the biggest selection of the season.

a hedge of Knock Out Roses

Our Knock Out® Family of Roses are easy to grow and don't require special care. Plant them individually among shrubs, annuals and perennials in mixed beds and borders. Plant them in large groups to create a colorful hedge or along a foundation to provide a bright border. For best performance, we recommend cutting them back every year in early spring after the last threat of frost has passed.

  • Low maintenance
  • Blooms from spring to frost
  • Full sun
  • Zones: 5-11
  • Size: 3-4' w x 3-4' h

A very unusual Daphne relative that bears fragrant, bright yellow flowers on bare stems in winter. Sometimes called yellow Daphne, it’s definitely a collector plant. Each 1″ plus bud resembles an intricately designed tassel on the corner of an elegant Victorian pillow.

beautiful yellow blooms of the edgeworthia bush

Edgeworthia is native to China and was named for Michael Edgeworth, a plant collector for the East India Company. In China, its bark is used to produce very high quality paper and for various medicinal purposes. Here it is an unusual and elegant four seasons ornamental.

Also called the Paper Bush, The leaves cluster at the tips of the branches giving the shrub a decidedly lush and tropical appearance that really stands out in the garden. When the leaves drop, they reveal the slender and pliable reddish-brown bark.

My favorite season for edgeworthia is winter after the leaves have dropped, and the buds have formed. The falling leaves also reveal edgeworthia’s striking architectural habit. It is a multi-stemmed shrub that forms an almost perfectly rounded umbrella shape. Beautiful.

close up of an edgeworthia bloom

Care Instructions:

  • Full shade to partial sun (East side)
  • Regular watering until established
  • Perfect for a dappled shade garden
  • Grows to 6-10 feet tall, and 6-10 feet wide over 10 years