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Thank you for visiting our blog!  As we continue to add articles, you will find information on plant care, gardening tips and tricks, gift and celebration ideas, and more.  We appreciate your patience as we add to this page. We hope you find information that is both practical and helps you to Enjoy Life. It's Time!

Jump to Post:

June 2020 - 5 Tips to Repel Rabbits
July 2020 - How to Plant Trees & Shrubs
 
August 2020 - Back to the Basics: Fertilizer Numbers - What They Mean

September 2020 - When should I prune my hydrangeas?

October 2020 - Houseplants Safe for Cats & Dogs

November 2020 - Types of Mulch for Fall & Winter

February 2021 - Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade - Shining a Light on Sun Requirements


blog post image with text 5 tips to repel rabbits

5 tips to repel rabbits

It's Time to Protect Your Garden

June 5, 2020


While a rabbit may be undeniably cute, one in your garden is undeniably a nuisance - and likely devastating to your plants - vegetables, herbs, and flowers alike.  Try one or more of these 5 tips to help make your garden less-rabbit friendly!

1) Repel with Smell – Rabbits are instinctually afraid of unfamiliar animal smells that may be predators - sprinkle human hair or dog hair around your garden as a deterrent.  Certain flowers have also long been hailed as natural rabbit repellants - marigolds and geraniums are two of the most commonly recommended.

2) Add a Barrier – Of course, the most common barrier is a fence (just make sure it’s at least 2-3 feet tall and buried at least 6 inches deep - those critters can jump and dig).  You can also put chicken wire around your garden or individual vulnerable plants, like young trees.  Finally, draping your garden with netting is another option - and can help keep birds out as well.

3) Scare Them Away – The presence of a predator encourages rabbits to avoid the area - these can include hawks, snakes, and foxes.  Of course, if you've taken steps to protect your yard from natural predators, a domestic one works just as well - let your cat or dog regularly hang out near the garden. Even adding fake predators, like rubber snakes or plastic owls can have some effect, but like ultrasonic devices and pie pans, rabbits often get used to them after time and are no longer frightened by them.

4) Don’t Provide Cover – Rabbits will gravitate to areas that provide protection for them.  Low bushes and shrubs, wood and brush piles, and tall grass can all offer these furry foes a shield from predators.  Do your best to avoid having any of these near your garden.

5) Use a Commercial Repellant – Most commercial repellants use either smell, taste, or both to deter rabbits from your plants. We recommend Liquid Fence® Deer & Rabbit Repellant.  Liquid Fence® uses scent to repel with ingredients like garlic and thyme, so pesky deer and rabbits don't even have to take a bite to stay away from your precious plants.  Gardeners Tip - be sure to just spray around your edible plants/garden as a barrier to keep rabbits (and deer) away, not the plants themselves - otherwise the repellant's smell and its accompanying taste can remain on your food.  Using the granular formula makes avoiding getting any on your vegetables and other edibles even easier.

Pick up your Liquid Fence® in store today - during the spring/summer, we are open 7 day/week, from 9am-6pm Monday-Saturday, and 10am-4pm on Sundays.

We'd love to hear from you! Are there tactics you use to deter rabbits that we didn't include here? Post a comment on our Facebook post for this article - together, we can all garden better.

Sculptured Gardens
15614 E Sprague Ave
Spokane Valley, WA 99037
509-290-6866

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How to Plant Trees & Shrubs image of text and tree with roots

How to plant trees & shrubs

It's Time to Plant 

July 7, 2020

1) First, select the proper tree or shrub for the location you want to plant.  Be sure to check the tag before purchasing and confirm whether your tree or shrub needs full sun, part sun, or shade.  Full sun is 6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day, part sun is 3-6 hours.

2) Call before you dig! Gas and electrical lines are often buried – check with your local authorities to ensure it is safe to dig.

3) Identify the trunk flare of your plant – this is where the trunk begins to flare out and become wider than the rest of the trunk.  The flare should be just above soil-level when planted – planting the flare below soil can result in rot.

4) Dig a hole that is 2-3x as wide and just as deep as the pot your tree or shrub is in.  Test your depth by placing the plant, still in the pot, in the hole and checking that the flare is going to be just above the soil once you backfill the hole.
Gardener's Tip: As you dig, create a pile of soil on either side of the hole. This will make backfilling the hole easier.

5) Remove your tree or shrub from the pot by gently squeezing and turning the pot to loosen the root mass, or use shears to cut the pot away from the roots.

6) Examine the root mass – if the roots are tightly wound, you will want to loosen them to encourage growing out into the surrounding soil.  This can be done by hand on the bottom and sides. For especially pot-bound plants, you can even cut vertically up the sides and slightly pull apart the root mass.  This will encourage new root development and push the plant to grow roots out from the root mass, instead of continuing circular development.

7) Place the tree or shrub in the hole once the root mass is prepped. Confirm that the trunk flare will be just above ground once planted.  If needed, dig more soil or add some back to achieve the right depth.

8) Only lightly amend your soil - IF at all.  While it used to be recommended to add organic material, time has shown that trees often do not extend their roots into the native soil from the amended material in the planting hole.  Using your native soil helps encourage the plant to establish long, strong roots.  Of course, your plant is being grown in nursery-soil in its pot, so you can add bagged/nursery soil, up to a 50/50 mix, with your native soil if you would prefer.  This can help baby-step the tree or shrub from gorwing in more rich nursery soil to unaltered native soil.

9) Backfill the hole with the soil you dug, making sure to tamp it down.  If left loose, soil around new plantings will settle, and can result in a bowl-shape that holds too much water and threatens to drown your new plant.
Gardener’s Tip: Use a root stimulator – we recommend Root & Grow from Bonide. It helps reduce transplant shock and stimulates new root growth.  Follow the directions on the container – you will dilute the solution, then pour it over the roots as you are backfilling.

10) Add mulch! Spreading 2-3 inches of mulch over the entire root-area will help preserve moisture and reduce the risk of under watering.  It also helps insulate the ground, and your tree or shrub’s roots, over winter.

11) Wait until next season to fertilize.  Fertilizer, while a necessity for many plants, must be applied at the right time.  When a tree or shrub is already experiencing transplant stress, adding fertilizer can overtax the plant.  Once your plant is established, it can better absorb and use the nutrients.

12) Water deeply! Your new tree or shrub needs plenty of water to become established – long, slow watering is best.  A drip hose is a great option, laid in a spiral pattern that covers the root-area.  The amount of water your new plant needs depends on its size – monitor the soil and your tree or shrub as you begin watering and adjust as needed.  You want the soil to be moist, but not soggy.
Gardener's Tip: Using a timer with auto-shut-off along with a drip hose saves time and effort, plus helps protect against over or under watering.

13)  Adjust watering as needed.  Water your tree or shrub every day for the first week, and then adjust to every-other day for 1-2 weeks.  From there, you will have to water based on your observations – what the weather is like, how quickly the soil is drying out, how your plant is performing, etc. If your tree or shrub is losing more than half its leaves, this can indicate over-watering.  If leaves are dry or browning at the edges, this usually indicates under-watering.
Gardener's Tip:  When in doubt, dig into the soil and assess how wet it is – the top soil can be deceiving, so be sure to dig about 6 inches down.

Sculptured Gardens
15614 E Sprague Ave
Spokane Valley, WA 99037
509-290-6866

Additional Sources:
https://www.growingagreenerworld.com/how-to-plant-a-tree/ 
https://www.provenwinners.com/learn/planting/how-plant-shrub 

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Blog Post Image: Back to the Basics, Fertilizer Numbers and What They Mean

Back to the Basics:
Fertilizer Numbers – What They Mean

It's Time to Feed

August 14, 2020


While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly caused a long list of negative effects, one of the positive results to emerge is a huge growth in first-time gardeners.  Many people have been inspired to get their hands in the dirt, be it to combat food-shortage worries, fill extra time at home, or take the home school lesson outside.  At Sculptured Gardens, we have been thrilled to see new faces in the garden center, and want to help you all be successful.  So, we decided to share a Back to the Basics lesson on fertilizers and their nutrients. August is a great time to fertilize perennials again, and to continue fertilizing annuals & veggies.  We hope this is helpful for all our new gardeners out there!

Those-Three-Numbers
Fertilizer containers show three numbers, 8-10-6 for example. Each one gives you information about the basic nutrients in your fertilizer, how much of each, and thus what that fertilizer formula is designed to do.  

The three numbers represent the percentage of three key plant nutrients in that particular formula – nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P, as phosphate), and potassium (K, as potash).  They will always be in this order, which is why this number is also called the N-P-K number. So, a balanced formula of 10-10-10 contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorous, and 10% potassium.

Phosphate simply means an organic compound derived from phosphorous. We find a similar situation with potash – it is a compound of potassium carbonate and potassium salt.  But for the home gardener, all you really need to know is what each nutrient does for your plants.  

Nitrogen
Nitrogen is responsible for making plants greener and for healthy, leafy growth. Many lawn fertilizers contain high amounts of nitrogen to achieve the desired emerald color. This one is easy to remember – it’s the only one of our three main nutrients with a “G” in the name – G for Green.

Phosphorous
Phosphorous assists your plants at both ends – it encourages both healthy root development and more profuse blooms and fruits.  As such, you will see many annual and vegetable fertilizers with a higher ratio of phosphorous.

Potassium
Potassium helps with the overall health and resilience of the plant.  Potassium helps plants be less effected by drought and disease.  Because most soil naturally contains potassium, this number is often the smallest (but not always, especially in balanced fertilizers, like a 10-10-10).

A soil test is the best way to know what nutrients may be lacking in your home soil.  Of course, we know many of our new gardeners are purchasing quality gardening soil and growing in raised beds or containers.  In this case, a soil test isn’t necessary.  You can simply apply a fertilizer when planting, and then fertilize throughout the season with a formula recommended for your plant type.  The label will say what plants it is designed to feed.   But remember - by next year, the soil composition will have changed. Container and raised-bed gardeners will want to amend their soil, most likely with some new soil and some organic material – like compost. 

Some fertilizers are slow-release and need only be applied every 6-8 weeks (these are often granular).  Others have the nutrients immediately available, and are applied as often as every-other watering (these are often liquid).  Just check the packaging, apply as recommended, and then watch your plants.  How they respond will tell you a lot about what they need.  Have large green annuals but no blooms? Pick up a high-phosphorous fertilizer, like Tiger Bloom or Jack’s Blossom Booster.  Both are quality fertilizers you can feel confident applying to your plants.  Both are also available at Sculptured Gardens, along with a wide selection of other fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides, and more.

At Sculptured Gardens, we know that growing a plant cultivates hope and blooms happiness.  We hope you have all found joy this year in spending more time outside – Enjoy Life. It’s Time!

Sculptured Gardens
15614 E Sprague Ave
Spokane Valley, WA 99037
509-290-6866

Additional Sources:https://www.ncagr.gov/cyber/kidswrld/plant/label.htm#:~:text=All%20fertilizer%20labels%20have%20three,)%20%2D%20potassium(K)).
https://www.almanac.com/content/npk-ratio-what-do-numbers-fertilizer-mean

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Blog image for when to prune hydrangeas article

When should i prune my hydrangeas?

It's Time to Trim (for some - but not all!)

September 4, 2020


This is one of the most common questions our customers have when it comes to these beloved flowering shrubs, especially as the late-season blooming varieties are taking the stage this month.  Truly, though, it should be a follow up question to “Should I prune my hydrangeas?” Hydrangeas can flourish without any significant pruning.  There can be advantages if you decide to clean them up or cut them back, however.  Should your shrub be getting a bit tall or wide, pruning will improve the shape.  Pruning can also lead to larger blooms or sturdier stems (more details to come, read on).

If pruning is necessary or advantageous for your situation, when to prune varies depending on the type of hydrangea you have.  Different types of hydrangeas flower at different times of the season, which relates directly to when it’s best to prune them. Some varieties of hydrangeas bloom on “old wood”, or last year’s growth, while others bloom on “new wood” or the current year’s growth.  Determining which type of hydrangea you have will guide you on when and how to prune them.

Hydrangeas are typically grouped into six main categories: Bigleaf, Oakleaf, Panicle (also called Pee Gee), Smooth, Mountain, and Climbing.  One of the easiest ways to identify your hydrangea is by when it blooms:

Spring to Mid-Summer

Bigleaf, Oakleaf, Mountain, and Climbing hydrangeas flower earlier in the season, and typically peter out by mid-summer.  Not surprisingly, these buds are opening on old wood – last year’s growth. 

This means that, if you prune, you’ll want to do so just after the flowers fade, before the plant sets new buds.  These buds are set in late-summer to early fall, so if you’ve missed the window to prune – don’t.  You’ll be cutting off all of next year’s flowers, resulting in a woody, green, but flowerless plant come next year.

Prune Bigleaf, Oakleaf, Mountain, and Climbing hydrangeas to clean them up by removing old blooms, or to improve vigor.  Removing select, older, woodier canes (or vines, in the case of Climbing hydrangeas) helps the rest of the plant be more vigorous and produce more, bigger, blooms.  Otherwise, these types of hydrangeas usually do not need significant pruning.

Mid to Late-Summer

Panicle & Smooth hydrangeas flower later in the season, mid-to-late summer.  It would stand to reason then, that these flowers are blooming on new wood – the entire process of new growth, bud setting, and flower development is happening in this season, as opposed to those varieties that set their buds in the prior year.  So, the process completes later in the season.

If you prune these hydrangeas, usually it’s with the goal of increasing flower size or creating a sturdier plant.  Prune in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.  Doing a “hard cut back” of cutting stems almost to the ground will produce larger flowers next year.  Many growers prefer to cut back less, leaving 18-24” of old stem to provide a supporting framework for next year’s growth.  Of course, you can always remove spent blooms throughout the season for a nice, clean look, whether you do more significant pruning or not.

We carry a nice variety of Bigleaf, Oakleaf, Panicle, and Smooth hydrangeas at Sculptured Gardens, and the gloves, pruners & shears, kneeling pads, and more that make pruning them a breeze.  Fall is also a great time to plant, giving these shrubs a leg-up on root development and growth to those just getting in the ground next spring.  Visit us soon!

Sculptured Gardens
15614 E Sprague Ave
Spokane Valley, WA 99037
509-290-6866

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Image of a puppy smelling a plant with the text Houseplants Safe for Dogs & Cats

Housplants Safe for Cats & Dogs

It's Time to Decorate - Safely

October 10, 2020

As the weather cools and we find ourselves spending more time indoors, you may notice that your space is lacking in the foliage department.  Houseplants are a fantastic way to bring nature inside and to continue experiencing all the benefits of plants and plant care no matter the season.

While all houseplants are beautiful, some contain hidden dangers for household pets.   Some indoor plants are toxic to dogs, cats, or both, causing digestion issues, illness, or worse.   At Sculptured Gardens, we are passionate about all aspects of nature, and love our fur-babies and plant-children alike. 

Fortunately, plenty of houseplants are pet-friendly, many of which we regularly keep on hand in our year-round indoor plant greenhouse.  We also make them easy to find with a “doggy & kitty” sticker on the pots of our non-toxic houseplants.

Here are our top recommendations to add to the health and beauty of your home while keeping Fido and Mittens safe from harm. Of course, always double check that your plant is properly labeled and confirm it is non-toxic before bringing it home*:

African Violet (Saintpaulia)

Baby Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii)

Banana Plant (Musa)

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula)

Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum raddianum)

Peacock Plant (Calathea makoyana)

Friendship Plant (Pilea involucrata)

Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)

Baby Rubber Plant (Peperomia obtusifolia) Note – Rubber Trees (Ficus benjamina & Crassula arborescens) are toxic to pets.

Orchid (Orchidaceae)

Air Plant (Tillandsia)

Mosaic Plant, Nerve Plant (Fittonia albivenis)

Bromeliad (Bromeliaceae)

Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvate)

Zebra Plant Succulent (Haworthia fasciata)

Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)

Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)

Staghorn Fern (Platycerium)

Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)

*Sculptured Gardens has researched this list to the best of our ability including cross-referencing with the ASPCA's non-toxic lists for both dogs & cats, and have provided it in good faith.  Sculptured Gardens cannot be held responsible for any pet's reaction to these or any other plants.  Ensure that all plants are correctly labeled and observe your pet's behavior around any plant before leaving them unattended.

Sculptured Gardens
15614 E Sprague Ave
Spokane Valley, WA 99037
509-290-6866

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Grid image of straw, bark, leaves, and pine needles with the text Types of Mulch

Types of Mulch for Fall & Winter

It's Time to Protect Perennials

November 15, 2020

As you prepare your perennial plants for withstanding the winter cold, mulch is a key component to success.  Mulch provides insulation for the soil and root system beneath, helping protect the plant from freezing temperatures.  Other living organisms are also better protected, like earthworms and microbes, allowing them to stay active later in the season and keep providing their organic benefits.

Covering the soil’s surface also helps prevent moisture loss.  Plants still need water during the winter, and the slowly-melting lower-layers of snow often provide enough. When you use mulch, this moisture is still able to trickle down through its protective layer. 

And last but not least, just like in spring, mulch helps to fertilize.  Formerly-living materials like leaves or bark break down, adding nutrients back to the soil.  While black plastic and weed fabric are also types of mulch (and have their unique benefits for spring planting), we’ll be focusing on organic mulches for fall applications.

When it comes to mulch, what you need may already be available in your yard, or you can purchase the material that best suits you.

Using Readily-Available Materials

Leaves

You can easily turn leaves into mulch using a lawnmower with a bagger – simply mow over the leaves and they’ll be chopped into a nice mulch. Shredding the leaves also allows the material to trap more air.  Just like with a down winter coat, air equals insulation.  Otherwise, they can become matted down.

Pine Needles

Like leaves, while pine needles may just mean extra raking to some people, to the astute gardener, they are a mulch gold mine.  Pine needles are a great choice for any plants that prefer more acidic soil – like azaleas and hydrangeas.  Pine trees thrive in more acidic soil, so as a material, their needles have a lower PH themselves.  As they break down, they lower the PH of the soil.  If your plants do not tolerate acidic soil well, steer away from pine needle mulch.

Materials Available to Purchase

Shredded Bark & Wood Chips

Shredded bark and wood chips provide a more finished look to your landscape.  This is less important when the area is likely to be covered with snow, but doesn’t make bark or wood any less of a viable option.  They are also most often used in perennial flower beds, and you may want to steer away for annual flower beds and your vegetable garden – these larger wood pieces don’t break down fast enough in one year to fully incorporate with the soil, so they tend to get in the way as you turn any beds that are planted annually.

Saw Dust

Saw dust can also be another option, but proceed with care – you only want to use it if you know what types of wood it is made out of.  Treated wood should never be used in the garden, and certain trees, like black walnut, can be toxic to other plants.  But, if you know the source, saw dust is an option for acid-loving plants, just like pine-needles.  However, being woody, saw dust requires nitrogen to break down, and it will leech it from the surrounding soil.  So, you may need to add nitrogen to the saw dust when you mulch, or to your soil next spring, to ensure plants stay healthy.

Straw

Straw is great winter mulch because the pieces are hollow – just like we’ve learned, air means insulation.  Be sure to ask for straw and not hay though! This subtle distinction is key – hay stalks still have the seed heads attached, inviting grain to sprout in your garden.  Straw is just the stalks with no seeds, allowing you to mulch without fear of unwanted germination.  Straw is also a spring-time favorite for vegetable gardeners, making it a nice year-round selection.

It’s Time to Mulch

As winter rapidly approaches, it’s time to select a mulch material and get those plants protected, and we hope this list helps.   As with so many other tasks in the garden, there is no one right way to achieve the result you want to see.  Try using different mulch materials and document what you see – experience is often the best teacher when we’re working with plants.

Sculptured Gardens
15614 E Sprague Ave
Spokane Valley, WA 99037
509-290-6866

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Image of 4 sun requirement icons for posting with full sun vs part sun blog post

Full sun, part sun, part shade

It's Time to Plan

February 24, 2021

With spring making its way to us in less than one month, now is a great time to plan any changes or new additions to your garden and yard.  Arguably the most important aspect to consider when choosing an area to make-over – and when selecting what plants to put there – is the exposure, or amount of sun. 

New and seasoned gardeners alike must pay close attention to exposure.  Sun is a key factor in producing blooms, and of course, in the plant’s survival itself.  Each plant you select should come with a tag that includes this key piece of information. 

Most often, plants are labeled as requiring Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, or Full Shade.  Contrary to how it sounds, even full shade plants need some sun every day to survive, though less direct and less hot.  Let us walk you through what each of these labels means.

What does “full sun” mean anyway?

The exposure requirements commonly found on plant tags primarily describe the amount of sun, in hours, that the plant needs each day.  However, it also gives us clues about the ideal intensity of the sunlight, which changes as the day progresses.

Full Sun = 6+ hours of direct sun per day, which will usually naturally include the hotter, afternoon sun

Part Sun = 3-6 hours of direct sun per day, including hotter, afternoon sun

Part Shade = 3-6 hours of direct sun per day, mostly before midday, avoiding the sun’s hottest rays.

Full Shade = Less than 3 hours of direct sun per day, usually morning sun

As you’ve likely experienced yourself, afternoon sun tends to feel hotter than morning sun.  This is due to multiple factors, including the angle of the sun to the earth and the temperature of the earth’s surface throughout the day.  In general, plants that require some shade will do best with cooler morning sun, while plants that can take more sun can also take more heat.

So, plants labeled Full or Part-Sun can often tolerate hot, afternoon sun – and in fact, may require it to bloom profusely.  On the other hand, plants labeled Shade or Part Shade will likely suffer if exposed to hotter rays, and should be planted somewhere that primarily receives morning sun.

Last, the hours do not need to be continuous – a full sun plant that gets 4 hours in the morning, is shaded by a fence midday, and then gets a 3 more hours in the afternoon, will do just fine.

How much sun do I get?

The easiest way to tell how much sun an area of your yard receives is to monitor it. You can purchase and use a light meter instead, but it’s pretty simple to determine yourself. Pick a day, check if the area is receiving sun each hour of the day, and note it.  Do this for a few days to get an average of the number of sunny hours, considering that cloud cover and other variable factors can affect your observations.

Note anything else you see that affects the sun reaching the spot you’re watching, like other trees – an area may get full sun in the morning, but more dappled sun or shade in the afternoon.

Once you know how much sun reaches the spot you want to plant, you can select the right tree, shrub, or perennial to put there (or maybe it’s the perfect spot for a vegetable garden!).

A few more tips

Plant labels and tags often include icons to indicate the sun requirements.  While they are not standardized, typically, they are used in these ways:

Chart outlining the different icons used to communicate sun requirements on live plant tags

In general, if you want to plant a vegetable and herb garden, select a spot in full sun.  Sun is a key factor in blooming – and of course, a blossom is the early stage of fruits and vegetables.  So, for a lot of blossoms and a lot of produce, you want a lot of sun.

Plants that are full sun can also be more drought-tolerant, which is helpful for hard-to-water areas. You will want to research the plant further to be sure, but selecting a full sun plant is usually a great first step for sunny spaces that tend to stay drier.

If you’re still unsure what to plant where, containers are a great option.  Containers can be moved if a plant is underperforming, and placing them on a rolling base makes this even easier.

As plant science progresses, more and more varieties are bred to perform well in both sun and shade.  The Colorblaze Coleus series from Proven Winners, for example, will flourish in both sunny and shady spots.   Get yours this spring at Sculptured Gardens, or let our staff help you select another plant sure to thrive in your space.  Our Nursery opens April 1st, and our Garden Center is open now to help you get a jump start on the season with seeds, soils, and containers.

Sculptured Gardens
15614 E Sprague Ave
Spokane Valley, WA 99037
509-290-6866

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