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Real Estate Roundup Portland tops Case-Shiller again Hawthorne Theatre sold

The Portland-area housing market again topped the monthly Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index, released Tuesday, which measures year-over-year gains in home values among 20 of the nation’s largest metros.


That was just one piece of news during another busy week in the real estate world. If you missed any of it – and who could be blamed with the recent streak of nice weather? – here’s a roundup (click the links below for the full stories):

Seattle’s housing deal, political shift may provide Portland a blueprint

Like Portland, San Francisco and a handful of other cities, Seattle is dealing with a housing-affordability crisis resulting from an exploding population and a limited supply of homes.

But unlike Portland and San Francisco, Seattle has undertaken a unique and ambitious plan that sets the city’s approach to housing apart. The plan has upended traditional political alliances and played an outsized role in a recent election. And it may offer Portland – a city in the midst of its own effort to plan for growth and infill

In a rhodie mood See rare collection at the Cecil and Molly Smith Garden

You’re seeing rhododendron blooms bursting from bushes like old-fashioned Christmas lights protruding from tree limbs. And you’re in the rhodie mood. Want more of the color blasts?


The Cecil and Molly Smith Garden, off Highway 219 between St. Paul and Newberg, is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays during its blooming season, April 2-May 22. Admission is $3.

The three-acre garden, at 5055 Raybell Road, is well known for its collection of species and hybrid genus rhododendron. It’s been featured in books and PBS garden shows.

In the early 1950s, grass-seed grower Cecil Smith nurtured rare species from seeds imported from China and cuttings from England, as well as hybrids he developed on his woodland property.

Smith, one of the first members of the American Rhododendron Society, even went on expeditions to the Himalayas to hunt for the woody plant with show-stopping foliage and flowers. The rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal.

The Cecil and Molly Smith Garden’s setting is ideal for the popular plant, says Roger Lintault of the Portland and

April garden calendar: Plant salad ingredients, maybe marigolds

It’s finally time to plant salad ingredients: Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce and radishes.


Want reminders of other garden tasks this month? Here’s a short list of key jobs you should tackle in April, such as fertilizing, pest control, planting and maintenance, as provided by the Oregon State University Extension Service.

Recommendations in this calendar are not necessarily applicable to all areas of Oregon. For more information, contact your local Extension office.

Here is the April Garden Calendar:


  • Write in your garden journal throughout the growing season.
  • Prepare garden soil for spring planting. Incorporate generous amounts of organic materials and other amendments, using the results of a soil analysis as a guide.
  • Prepare raised beds in areas where cold soils and poor drainage are a continuing problem. Incorporate generous amounts (at least 2 inches) of organic materials.
  • Use a soil thermometer to help you know when to plant vegetables. When the soil is consistently above 60 degrees Farenheit, some warm season vegetables (beans, sweet corn) can be planted.

Maintenance and clean up

  • Allow foliage of spring-flowering

The Importance of Topsoil

Beautiful and lush landscapes filled with appealing gardens, flowerbeds and other vegetation does not just appear out of nowhere. It takes careful assessment, planning and maintenance in order to preserve the allure of the whole property. In order for people to achieve gardens of the same quality, every aspect of landscape planning must be meticulously and carefully studied. Out of all the landscape knowledge needed, one of the most crucial facts that must be known is about topsoil and why it is an important aspect in landscape development.

Here are a few reasons why topsoil with good quality is needed in every landscape development and maintenance activities.

  • The topsoil is the most fertile part of the soil.

The topsoil is the top layer of the soil. The reason why it is the most fertile and necessary part of the soil is because it has the highest number and concentration of the microorganisms and matter needed in order to have maximum growth for your plants and other forms of vegetation.

Of course, not every topsoil has the same quality and quantity of organic matter. The difference between a healthy landscape and a dry and barely-thriving one largely depends on the kind of topsoil that

Invest a Little to Gain a Lot: Farm Sheds Offer Five Important Benefits

Farmers in Western Australia who grow crops or keep animals always need farm sheds.  A good shed is an important structure to a farmer, but why are they so important?

A farmer needs reliable cover from the elements for equipment, animals or even for the agricultural product he grows. Even when you have stables or storage areas, it is good to consider adding a steel farm shed as these offer a covered structure with multiple uses.

 The following are 5 important uses for large farm sheds:

A Place for Heavy and Expensive Equipment

As your WA farm grows so will your equipment needs. Manual farm tools become too slow and you will eventually find it more practical and more profitable to use machinery to help you with daily farming tasks. This equipment is expensive so you don’t want to leave it outside to the harsh effects of Mother Nature. Wind, snow and ice can damage paint finishes and cause rust, and once rot sets in, it is only a matter of time before the equipment loses its value and stops working.

A good shed protects your expensive equipment and preserves it in working

Modern A/C Solutions

Effective climate control in a home or office has become attainable with modern air conditioning systems that give individual room settings at the touch of a button.  The inverter is a power conversion unit that electronically regulates the voltage, current, and frequency of the compressor, which controls the air conditioner’s output. As the temperature rises, the inverter senses this, and makes the compressor work that much harder to ensure the desired temperature is maintained.

What is reverse-cycle air conditioning?

Reversed cycle means that hot air is taken from outside, even on mild winter nights, and transferred to the interior. A refrigerant is passed through an external coil, absorbing hot air from the outside, which is then pumped through the compressor into a condenser that releases the heat into the home. For every unit of electricity used, three or more units of heat can be transferred into the building, making reversed cycle solutions very cost effective.

Here are just some of the advantages of reverse-cycle ducted air conditioning,

  • Able to provide hot and cold air
  • No exposed elements or flames
  • Very economical
  • Filter and dehumidify air

A piped system of air control

Using ducts, the cool

Tinkling on Tomatoes – Human Urine As a Fertilizer

I became interested in gardening at a young age. A neighborhood buddy, Donnie, introduced me to the joys of vegetable gardening. His mother and mine were coffee clutch friends, and Donnie would frequently bring fresh vegetables – tomatoes, eggplants, sweet peppers and more to my mom, who gleefully accepted. Donnie’s produce became a staple of many neighborhood meals, that is of course, until his gardening secret was revealed. What was The Secret? Donnie pissed on his peppers, and tinkled on his tomatoes.

At the time, I thought it was hilarious, especially the look on my Moms face when she asked Donnie how he got his veggies to grow so huge and Tasty. For years thereafter, it became a tale my Mom would tell from time to time which would always elicit a hardy chuckle from household guests. When I grew my own gardens I always made sure not to pee on the plants, well not when anyone was looking anyway.

In actuality fresh urine is an excellent sources of plant nutrients. All the basics are there nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and trace elements. Being liquid, Urine is easily absorbed through the root systems. Not only that,

5 Step Plan to Growing a Thriving Vegetable Garden

As summer approaches, new and seasoned gardeners alike are planning strategies for bountiful gardens. Your local plant nursery or greenhouse is a good resource for information from how to grow heirloom tomatoes to ripe watermelons, so you’ll soon be enjoying fresh produce straight from your yards. Planting and caring for a thriving garden starts months before the actual harvest. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your summer planting.

Deciding what to grow

Planning what’s going to go into your garden is the first step. What produce do you love to eat? Are there items at the grocery store you buy often that you could grow to save money? Is your soil perfect for a certain kind of vegetable? Answering these questions will help you put together a garden wish list.

If you want a specific crop, such as peppers, but are unsure of what will grow well, here’s an insider tip: try planting different varieties. One type of pepper may struggle, while others will flourish. Trying two or three varieties of your most important herbs or vegetables ensures you won’t be disappointed in the results.

Planning your space

Make Your Own Trellis Netting For Flower or Vegetable Vines

How To Make Your Own Trellis Netting For Flower or Vegetable Vines

Making DIY trellis netting is a very straightforward matter of tying strings into a grid of open squares or rectangles. The dimensions of the squares can be made to suit the kind of plant we intend to support. A trellis net for flower vines, such as morning glories, might look prettiest with strings tied every three inches. However, a three-inch square grid might not have big enough spaces to allow for harvesting of peas or beans. With vegetable crop vines, we want to be able to stick our hands through the netting to pick the peas growing on the other side of the net. A good grid size for peas or beans is four inches. The more spaced apart the knots in the grid, the quicker it will be to make the netting.

To begin, we need some kind of frame to hold horizontal strings taut while we tie on the vertical strings. If chairs with a tall straight back are available, we can place two chairs side by side and use the backs of these chairs as our frame. However, since not

Landscaping Your Garden Can Add Value to Your Home

A lot of people like to spend considerable amounts of time in their garden. Although we don’t always get the best weather in the UK we certainly make the most of any sunshine we have. Because we don’t get great weather we don’t always give our gardens the care and attention they need. This is a real shame because a well tendered garden looks fantastic and adds value to your home. Potential buyers cannot fail to be impressed by a landscaped garden – well manicured lawn, decking and an eye catching floral display. Sitting out areas and entertaining spaces also go down really well too and with the current trend in fire pits and outside heaters, your garden really is an extra room and as such adds value to your home.

How you get your garden to look its best is down to personal choice. Some people choose to do their own gardening and build up knowledge over the years of which flowers work well in which soil etc. When people have time on their hands they may choose to mow their own lawns, plants vegetables or do their own weeding but with time in such

Add Luxury and Space to Your Home With a Beautiful Garden Room

Not all of us want to move home, but often, we are keen to create more space and enhance our homes so they grow and develop with us. One way to achieve this is to build a beautiful garden room, gazebo or pavilion in your garden.

Garden rooms and sheds for our homes are excellent ways of creating the additional space we need. And even a shed can provide a certain level of luxury! The days of old dusty, draughty and leaky sheds have gone. Now you can have outdoor storage which is well lit, comfortable and safe from all the elements. And pavilions or rooms can be used for a huge variety of purposes. Relaxing reading rooms, home offices, play rooms, guest suites, exercise suites, pool rooms, and saunas – the list is truly endless!

If you are looking for some more space and want to add to the facilities and luxury in your home, you should seriously consider the addition of a hand-made building in your garden. They are an extremely economical and innovative way of adding space and comfort to your home by utilising unused land.

And for many people, the

Plant experts pick their favorite plants: The Pecks

I’ve only been fortunate enough to be called a nerd once in my life.
And that was at a Halloween costume party in 1984 (the year, not George Orwell’s book), and it could have had something to do with my black horn-rimmed glasses held together by masking tape, or my Steve Urkel-esque ensemble, not to mention physique.
But that’s just a guess.
Given the role science nerds and computer nerds and other types of nerds have played in countless advances in our culture, I would have been honored at any time since to have the “nerd” label applied to me.
Truth be told, though, I’m just not that smart.
And never was that more apparent to me than a few Fridays back, at an annual spring-is-almost-here ritual called Plant Nerd Night.
More than 500 people who can tell you the Latin name of every plant in their garden — and their neighbors’ — packed a church gym in Lake Oswego to be entertained by host Mike Darcy, who does a gardening show on KXL radio, and dazzled by all the incredible plants brought in by a handful of local nurseries.
For example, did you know that there’s a

Why Soil Aeration Is Important for Healthy Plant Growth

Healthy soil supports plant growth and ability to withstand adverse environmental conditions. Plants and trees are able to withstand adverse climatic effects such as extreme hot or cold weather, drought, floods and frost, if the soil supports a healthy root system. An ideal soil consists of an equal proportion of air and water (constituting half of the soil structure), 45% of minerals and 5% of organic matter. Soil composition may be improved by human intervention to achieve improved yield or better landscaping results.

A well aerated and free draining soil improves availability of nutrients to be absorbed by the plants. Sufficient oxygen supply to the roots and CO2 removal are two essential requirements to grow healthy plants. Carbon dioxide accumulation hinders root growth and poorly developed root system is unable to absorb adequate amount of nutrients and moisture from the soil.

Soil aeration is also necessary for the growth and activities of the microorganisms present in the soil. Some of the important microbial activities include sulphur oxidation, decomposition, nitrification and more. These activities are dependent upon the presence of oxygen in the soil. Important microbial activities necessary to maintain soil fertility also slow down in

Raised Bed And Container Gardening The Inexpensive Way

Raised bed and container gardening, how often do you hear those two terms spoken of in the same conversation? I must say that I simply do not know since I occupy my own little corner of the world and am not privy to every discussion. However, I do know that they go hand in hand with each other. While one person may be more interested in creating gardens in containers and another one in raised beds, they do seem to be different sides of the same coin.

You see; a raised bed garden is only a larger version of a container garden in that it typically takes up more space. Still, it is possible to build a raised bed that is any size the individual wants. On the other hand, one is pretty much stuck with the containers on hand in which to put your container garden.

Well, maybe that is not exactly true. What I mean is that some people build custom containers. Yes, I did say that containers can be constructed according to the desired size. Not all containers used for gardening purposes need to be made of ceramic, terra cotta, cast stone,

Garden book bites Plant Lover’s Guide series by Portland’s Timber Press

Sally and George Peterson are DIY gardeners who have transformed a rough hillside with a lake view into a tree-laden landscape with organic vegetables and herbs growing in raised planter beds and a greenhouse.

On their Ashland property, 225 trees, mostly native and drought tolerant, provide shade, fall color and berries for birds. They have also planted 200 shrubs and 3,000 bulbs, and installed a filter system to catch rainwater.

We gave Sally Peterson a stack of garden-related books and asked her if the information would help other DIYers in the Pacific Northwest. Here is one of her reviews:

Plant Lover’s Guide Series – Timber Press in Association with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew ($24.95 each book): Not as many garden books as I’d like focus on specific flower species. That’s what makes the Plant Lover Guide Series a fabulous, fact-filled and familiar resource. The format of each book is the same, which is practical and helpful.

Each book in the series begins with what makes the specific genus and species unique and endearing. In short, what differentiates that plant from all others.

The second chapter of each book focuses on design, including elements of color

5 Common Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds

Apart from being able to look at beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees, the other wonderful thing about having a garden is the birds, butterflies and bees which come to feed on the nectar and pollen from your flowers. One bird variety that is attracted to domestic gardens is the gorgeous hummingbird with it’s lovely green plumage and, depending on gender and variety, shocking pink throat, however, you will need to plant flowers that attract Hummingbirds.

The hummingbird is a tiny creature, weighing between 2 and 20 grams (less and one ounce) and they are found all over North, Central and South America, from mountains to deserts through grasslands to cities, from snow to hot sunshine. There are more than three hundred varieties of hummingbird and they live quite happily as long as they have a mate and plenty to eat and drink. They have a prodigious appetite, considering their size, eating around sixty percent of their own weight per day.

Hummingbirds are tolerant of people and curious too, so once they know they can trust you, they will come right up and drink from a hand held container.

If you want to create a

Before You Plant An Herb Garden

Planning an herb garden is a complicated task best. It is best to break the task into smaller tasks. The first task is to look at the proposed site for your herb garden from objective eyes. There may be a structure that cannot be removed, or the terrain may be unsuitable for where you initially had planned to place the garden.

The next step is to draw up a set of plans. Using a scale of 1 to 50 is typical for an average size garden. On the plans include the location of the house, any other outbuildings, trees, and structures such as stone walls, garden fountains or ponds. Use an arrow to show direction, as this is important to know the amount of light your garden will receive.

The location of the garden will influence the types of plants that will flourish. Aromatic herbs need an open site with full sun and relatively free draining soil. Salad herbs prefer a richer soil and are able to tolerate some shade.

Watch your garden during the seasons. Note where the shade is and for how many hours, note too where the sun is and how

Does Your Garden Need A Little Help? Find Handy Tips Here

Gardening is an activity that almost anyone can do. However, some people have no idea where to start or get stuck with certain problems and issues. These tips are a great way to expand your knowledge and possibly, solve some issues that have been plaguing your techniques or your garden.

An easy way to transport tools to and from the garden is to use an old golf bag. Many golf bags have a stand built into them so it makes grabbing and organizing the tools a breeze. Use the pockets in the sides of the bag to store all kinds of assorted gardening tools, seeds, and gloves, or just use them to store a refreshing beverage.

Growing compost piles are a great alternative to buying traditional fertilizer. Compost piles are composed of organic material that slowly deteriorates making a nutrient-rich soil. It presents both a great way of ridding yourself of banana peels and other organic compounds, while providing your plants with a nitrogen rich mixture that will promote increased growth.

Collecting and preserving autumn leaves is a fun gardening project, especially for the kids. Generations of kids have used the “wax paper method”

Garden Decor – 10 Great Ideas

1. Garden Lights – If you’re going to be outdoors at night, or even look out of your windows, then garden lights are essential. There’s nothing quite like the twinkle of lights around the terrace, along paths or hanging in the trees and bushes. Solar garden lights are the things to have; they are no more expensive than electric lights but, using solar energy, they cost nothing to run. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some even disguised as garden stones.

2. Torches and Candles – For those who are plagued by mosquitoes at dusk or during the evening, citronella torches and candles are a must and they look dramatic too. The torches can just be jammed into a flower bed or pot and you can use any candle holder or lantern for t-lights or candles to keep away those pesky bugs.

3. Garden Statuary – Garden statues lend interest to shady nooks but traditional marble ones can cost a fortune. However, resin garden statues are quite inexpensive and can be interestingly quirky if you go for cats, dogs, angels, gnomes, frogs and almost anything else.

4. Garden Furniture – If