• NWFGS 2016 Recap

    February 26, 2016

    Hopefully you had the opportunity to attend the 2016 NW Flower & Garden Show. For us, it was one of the best NWFGS ever. The shopping was mobbed, but not so crowded you couldn’t easily navigate the floors. The show gardens were lovely and diverse. The seminars were fun, informative and often interactive. And, not only could you sip booze as you strolled through the show, but the food was better than ever. Whether you made the show or not, here’s a little photo recap of NWFGS 2016: America the Beautiful for your enjoyment…

    NWFGS - Hoh Rainforest Garden

    The Seattle Arboretum Foundation highlighted ‘America’s Rainforest, The Hoh’ filling their damp show garden with PacNW native plants like soggy swamp cabbage, mosses, ferns, bear grass & coltsfoot.

    Camping in the SW at NWFGS

    West Seattle Nursery proved that some really do like it hot (& dry & very unlike the swampy Hoh) with their prickly southwestern themed garden that took the People’s Choice award.

    Tromp l'œil Tiny Tetons

    Tromp L’oeil ‘Tiny Tetons’ was a stunning display with a river of Iris reticulata running through it.

    Fancy Fronds NWFGS '16 show garden

    Fancy Fronds built a Brooklyn Bridge for cats — with lots of whimsy & functionality for gardeners with cats.

    NWFGS Garden Speakers

    I call this “From Sea to Shining Sea.” Even the seminars offered a glimpse at America the Beautiful with speakers like Ruth Rogers Claussen/Baltimore to Dee Nash/Oklahoma to Robin of Garden Mentors/Washington State. (Dee shares her NWFGS recaps here.)

    Theresa Loe on the Hood Stage at NWFGS

    Speakers like Theresa Loe of Livinghomegrown.com taught us “Yes we CAN!” (garden, preserve, grow & more)

    White Icicle Ribes

    Did you catch our talk on gardening for hummingbirds? This ‘White Icicle’ Ribes in the Hoh Rainforest show garden is one Anna loves!

  • Organic Slug Control

    February 19, 2016

    Finding a truly organic slug control product or homemade slug bait that really works can be tough — especially in Seattle where it rains so much. Until now, many “safe” slug control products and “natural” home remedies simply didn’t hold up well in the rain. And, slugs thrive in our damp, relatively warm weather. So, what’s a gardener to do?

    Slug-free lily flower

    These lilies were protected from slugs by Slug Gone & looked great from stem to bloom!

    Most pelleted “pet safe” products melt quick in the wet, so if you aren’t re-applying the stuff after every soggy day, the slugs will make a meal of your lilies, veggies and hostas before you know it. Beer-filled cups will lure in these gastropods to their death for a while, but it doesn’t take much rain to dilute the beer to the point where it’s no longer a viable death trap for those slimers. Plus, putting down these products actually lures these unwanted pests toward your garden – not ideal!

    Wouldn’t you rather use something that lasts through the rain and repels rather than attracts slugs?

    Slug Gone in Garden

    Encircle your plants that slugs love to munch with organic slug control Slug Gone, water it in so the pellets form a felted wool mat & let it repel those slimy pests while further benefiting your garden!

    In 2015 Garden Mentors was offered free samples of a Slug Gone to trial in our soggy, slug-filled Seattle gardens. We were not paid or otherwise compensated to try these free samples. However, we have been so impressed with this natural byproduct of the wool industry that we’re featuring it in our 2016 Northwest Flower & Garden Show seminar Best Tools for Your Garden Shed and offering it through our store now! (Psst! If you’re one of the first to arrive at our NW Flower & Garden Show seminar on 2/19/16 on the DIY stage, you might win a free sample of this slug repellent or other gardening products we love for your garden shed!)

    (You can support this blog by buying through our links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)

    This product is new to the United States, but here’s what the supplier told us about it when he shipped out trial samples and what we found in relation to these claims during our trial period.

    Supplier statement: Slug Gone is completely natural product made from 100% waste wool, a by-product of the wool-scouring industry in England. Slug Gone has achieved Soil Association approval in the UK, permitting it’s use in organic food production in the European Union.
    What we found: This stuff definitely smells like a sheep, but that’s not surprising since this is a waste byproduct of the wool industry. If you don’t mind a slight barnyard smell, this won’t be off-putting. Our border collie really liked the smell and took a couple of nibbles, but soon she wasn’t interested in either the taste or the scent. And, she didn’t get sick from what she munched.

    Supplier statement: Slug Gone is not a pesticide or poison. Slug Gone is a barrier to slugs and snails. When applied in a continuous mat around a plant, the wool pellets will self-felt to form a barrier that is very irritating to the foot of a slug or snail. (it’s the hooks and barbs in wool fibers that make it itchy and irritating to the foot of a slug or snail) These pests will simply choose to eat elsewhere, preserving the biodiversity in the garden while protecting your plants.
    What we found: 

    Slug controlled by Slug Gone

    Frustrated slugs may try to cross Slug Gone barriers, but they quickly give up & head the other direction.

    Supplier statement: Slug Gone is a weed barrier: Weeds are prevented from coming up through the wool mat, and seeds that land on top of the mat are less likely to germinate since the surface of the mat will dry quickly.
    What we found: Since it rains in Seattle a lot and since we water our garden, the mat doesn’t stay dry and weeds will germinate in the wool barrier, but they’re easy to pull. Just be sure that you don’t create a break in the mat circle or slugs can get through.

    Supplier statement: Slug Gone is a moisture mulch: Slug Gone forms a barrier that allows water to penetrate the surface, but reduces evaporation from the soil.
    What we found: Wool is a bit waxy, but once it gets wet it does stay soggy, releasing moisture slowly into the root zone below. Plants didn’t seem to dry out any more or less than others if they were surrounded by Slug Gone.

    Supplier statement: Slug Gone is a thermal barrier: Wool is a natural insulator. Slug gone will keep roots cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Slug Gone will add organic matter: Slug gone will last for 8-14 months as it biodegrades. During this process, Slug Gone will be adding organic material to condition the soil. Slug Gone will not wash out or blow away.

    Slug Gone in vegetable garden

    Surrounding freshly seeded beds with Slug Gone resulted in lots of burned seedlings near the Slug Gone perimeter. Waiting to surround emerged plants worked much better for us.

    What we found: It’s important to keep Slug Gone away from tender young stems and early seedlings. The organic matter it adds seems to release some “hot” nutrients right away, which established perennials, such as Hosta, seem to do fine with. But freshly seeded veggies may not be able to handle it. Also, how long an application will last does vary significantly. In our sandy loam and rainy climate, a single application easily lasted from spring until autumn. Then, it simply decomposed into the garden. A new application will be necessary each growing season.

    Supplier statement: If the plant grows larger during the season, and leaves bend down to touch the soil beyond the wool mat, be sure to place more pellets there to keep slugs from crawling up the leaves.
    What we found: Yep! Given the chance to slime their way up a leaf outside the Slug Gone slug control barrier, slugs will do it. But, as the growing season progressed and summer got hot and dry, there weren’t many slugs out there trying to munch down fully emerged plants like our hostas.

    Slug Gone applied to Hostas

    Before our hostas emerged, we encircled the sprouts with a barrier of Slug Gone, watered it in & didn’t need to reapply all season long.


    Where to find Slug Gone: We’re betting you’ll start finding Slug Gone at your local nursery soon. But, for now, you can buy it through our Amazon Affiliate store via these links!
    (You can support this blog by buying through our links. Purchases made through the affiliate links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors. Thank you for buying and helping support us!)

  • Best Valentines Gifts for Gardeners

    February 12, 2016

    If your beloved is a gardener, ignore tradition and go for some of our best Valentine’s gift ideas instead. Skip those over-priced, fragrance-free red roses that probably traveled half-way around the world from a hothouse. In fact, opting for something other than any cut flowers may win you big Valentine points with a gardener.

    Flower Carpet® red rose

    Giving a live rose plant for Valentine’s Day gives your gardening love blooms for years to come. This Flower Carpet® red groundcover rose does well in the PacNW, blooming abundantly for months & showing great disease resistant.

    Years ago my then-boyfriend-now-husband hit a local nursery’s February bare-root sale to score a half-dozen assorted roses for me. Not cut rose flowers. Rather, he picked up six different rose bushes for us to plant together into our garden. That won him some really big points! We enjoyed the flowering plants in the garden and in numerous arrangements until we moved away. Hopefully today someone else is still enjoying the love we planted together that year.

    basalt dish stone under Japanese maple in autumn

    Gardeners love big rocks & trees.
    These living legacies make great Valentine gifts for gardeners!

    Every girl loves a big rock, but when it comes to what that means for a flora and fauna lover, that rock might weigh closer to a ton and sparkle much less than a diamond. Just a few years back my creative husband took this idea to heart by giving me a basalt dish stone to place under a small tree I had purchased for his Valentine gift the year prior. Today, the tree and dish are focal in our garden. Together they provide habitat to attract songbirds that are an endless source of peaceful entertainment for us both.

    Lilium speciosum album bouquet

    Heirloom lily bulbs may not come in a sexy bouquet for Valentine’s Day, but they’ll bloom for years, offering outdoor enjoyment & fragrant as well as home-grown indoor bouquets too.

    Last year we took each other shopping at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show for our Valentines. Roses weren’t on our list, but fragrant lilies were. And, there’s no better place to shop for fantastic lily bulbs than this show. By spring last year our garden began putting on quite the fragrant, colorful lily display. Even as summer faded toward autumn, one of our heirloom selections — a Lilium speciosum ‘Album’ — was perfuming the air in a deeply shaded corner where we often wrap up our days together, resting on a bench and enjoying our growing Valentine gifts and love.

    Of course, if a bouquet is your lover’s ideal Valentine gift, consider locally grown, more sustainable floral options first like FarmGirlFlowers!


  • Garden Tool Giveaway & Seminar

    February 05, 2016

    Did we really say tool giveaway? Yup! Not only that, but at the 2016 NW Flower & Garden Show, I (Robin) will be presenting a seminar entitled Top Tools for Your Garden Shed.

    New, retired gardeners gardening

    Young or old. Experienced or newbie gardener. There’s something for everyone in this gardening seminar!

    The tool giveaway that happens along with this seminar is courtesy of a number of fantastic vendors like Corona Tools, Timber Press, Fiskars Tools*, Stumpdust, Haven Brand, Sunset Books and many others that have donated some of my favorites to share with you. In fact, I’ll be giving away at least 50 fantastic gardening products to folks who make it to this seminar.  And even if you don’t win something to take home, you’ll win in knowledge!

    Top Tools for Your Garden Shed  on February 19, 2016 beginning at 6:45 on the DIY stage at the NW Flower & Garden Show will offer something to gardeners at every skill level.

    Newbie gardeners: Learn which tools I suggest my beginning gardener clients add to their collection first, and get an understanding of which tools to use for which jobs. Quality tools aren’t cheap and gardening with the wrong tool for the wrong job can be dangerous, damaging and frustrating. In this seminar, you’ll learn to make smart choices as you start your gardening tool collection.

    Corona garden tools

    Can you guess which of these tools we’ll giving away as one of our top picks? Join us at NWFGS on 2/19/16 at 6:45pm on the DIY stage to find out & you might get to take’m home! (image courtesy Corona Tools)

    Tool collectors: Experienced gardeners know that collecting tools can be addictive. But, even the the most advanced gardeners may not be aware of some of the really groovy and new products I’ll be demonstrating. If you’re a tool addict, this is a not-to-miss talk!

    Aging gardeners: I’ll be offering a number of tool suggestions for gardeners whose aches and pains may be limiting their gardening abilities. Today’s tool manufacturers are producing more and more items just for us, so we can keep on digging well into our golden years (whatever those are).

    Knowledge is everything: Sometimes a tool isn’t something that digs, cuts or protects our body. Many of our best tools are found on a bookshelf. Thanks to a couple of top garden publishers, I’ll be sharing and giving away a few of these fantastic garden tools too.

    Haven Brand Soil Conditioner in Garden

    We’ll be giving away tips & tools like this – no $h!t!

    Power-up plants: There are numerous tools to help build your soil and beat back some of our worst garden pests. Choosing among them can be overwhelming, confusing and even toxic. In this seminar, I’ll be sharing a few fantastic garden-builders and pest deterrents that are easy to understand and unlikely to cause unwanted side-affects to you or your little piece of the planet.

    *Garden Mentors has been a paid contributing writer to Fiskars Tools in the past & has received a number of these tools & products from various vendors for trial purposes. However, we have received no compensation for this post or tool giveaway by Fiskars or other vendors. We are paid a small stipend for speaking at the NW Flower & Garden Show, but payment is not provided for any endorsements or giveaway items.
  • NWFGS Hummingbird Garden Seminar Peek

    January 29, 2016

    Learn to create your own year-round hummingbird garden with our three simple steps!

    I’ve spent years building a garden in Seattle that hummingbirds and people love. In fact, one little lady-bird loves our space so much she built her nest at eye-level for me last spring.

    Anna's hummingbird in garden

    How many crucial elements to a year-round hummingbird habitat garden can you count in this photo? If you only see a red flower for forage, you’re missing quite a lot.
    Attend my seminar to learn more!

    And, she’s continued to live here ever since. (Or at least I like to think that there’s only one female who owns our garden as her personal territory 365 days of the year. In all honesty, it could be another bird, but I doubt it — anyway, more on that at my seminar.)

    This winter has been particularly mild in Seattle, which means fall and winter bloomers have offered abundance for months now. Plus, if this keeps up, spring flowers may be opening by the time the garden show opens on February 17th! All of this fresh-off-the-vine food has kept our sprite-like forager fat and happy all winter long. Too, the warm weather also means that her suitors, that have steered clear of our garden most of the winter, have begun making their way into her garden again this January. Sure, they’re finding tasty forage, but I bet they’re showing off for her too. Soon, the boys will be battling here for her attentions. In fact, as I was hiking in Seattle’s Discovery Park earlier this week I saw an Anna perched on an apple branch not far from a completed nest. Apparently, breeding season is already underway this year!

    If you’re interested in learning how easy it is to create a garden hummingbirds can’t resist and have a garden filled with year-round interest, fragrance, native plants, people food, beauty and more, mark your calendars today to join me (Robin) for my encore presentations of 2016 Northwest Flower & Garden Show seminar entitled Growing a Year-round Hummingbird Habitat Garden at the Spring Green Art Festival in Lynnwood, WA on Saturday, May 7, 2016.  Or join me for a modified version of this seminar the Tukwila Backyard Wildlife Festival on May 14, 2016.

    Hummingbird at feeder/Kimberly Ayars Photography

    Join us & learn to grow beyond sugar-water feeders like this one.
    Photo courtesy: Kim Ayars

    Not only will you get to enjoy nearly 100 fantastic photos of greater Seattle area resident hummingbirds and the plants and resources they love, but I’ll also share a number of gorgeous hummingbirds from other regions. Sure, we may not get to enjoy these exotics in our PacNW gardens, but who doesn’t love the eye-candy of all of these glittering sprites?

    Join me and together we will grow better options than sugar-water feeders!

    Where: NW Flower & Garden Show, Rainier Room

    When: Wednesday, February 17, 2016, 7pm

    Cost: Free with admission to the show

    Learn more about all of my seminars & buy your tickets today.

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