It is a typical Northwest spring so far: rain, cold winds and then the beautiful sun and warm breezes. The flower seasons are changing as well. We had the early blooming daffodils, the tulips (which are still around) and now the rhododendrons and peonies are showing up. It is a great time to be out in your garden and enjoying the sights and smells of your flowers, trees and shrubs. It is also a great time to head to your local garden center. Grab a cart and walk around the nursery. Pick up some annual color and bring some of that color home for your garden so you can enjoy it during the spring and summer months ahead.
This week we featured...
Drake's Mother’s Day Tropicals
Mother's Day is coming and it is time to start thinking about those gifts for the ‘garden loving’ mom. We paid a visit to Lynn Snodgrass from Drake's 7 Dees (503-256-2223) on Stark St. in Portland to find out her ideas for gift giving. She had a few ideas that are a little different this year. She suggested bringing a tropical look to your mother’s garden. There are plenty of ‘tropical’ plants that are hardy for this area. Even the ones that are not hardy can still provide a season full of enjoyment. The ones she featured included Hibiscus ‘Florida’, Mandarin Honeysuckle, Tropical Agave, Mediterranean Fan Palm, Heliotrope ‘Klehelio’, and the spectacular Sharpton’s Fuchsia. Other plants that are available include the gerbera daisy and the various hardy bananas that are readily available. Plus Drakes has other events and classes happening all summer long. Saturday the 5th they are kicking off ‘Sprouts’, their kids club. Kids can stop by and build a FREE flower pot for mom. Check out their website for more information and other specials and classes.
They tell me it’s all happening at the zoo… and they are right! There are lots of things happening for the animal and garden lover. The Oregon Zoo (503-226-1561) is hosting a wildflower planting event next Saturday the 12th and you are invited. Linda Richardson showed us how ‘habitat begins at home’ and how plants in your own backyard can be beneficial for animals and insects. We also learned how the selection of the right plant can attract more animals and insects to your garden. Plus, on the 12th, you can help the zoo create more habitat for all of the birds, insects, squirrels and other animals who live there by planting wildflowers and other plants. There will be games, activities and crafts for everyone. Master Gardeners will be on-hand to answer questions and Spider-Man will even show up to check out the activities.
We have found another winner at Terra Nova Nurseries! Dan Heims took us on a walk through their display gardens to see the best and the brightest of the Tiarellas that they grow. These plants are real show-offs, first with some wonderful foliage which can vary from variegated colors to lush solid colored greens. Then there are the flowers. These spiky flowers, which are in shades of pinks and whites, look soft and delicate, but they can really handle the wind and rain as you could see in the story! They like shade to part sun and prefer well drained soil. The ones we saw were very happy under a large fir tree. They included the varieties, ‘Crow Feather’, ‘Candy Striper’, and ‘Sugar and Spice’. You can find these and other varieties at your local independent garden center or nursery.
Planting Hardy Fuchsias
Fuchsias are not just for your hanging baskets. You will find that hardy fuchsias can produce wonderful color in your garden year after year. We visited with Ron Monnier from Monnier’s Country Gardens (503-981-3384), to learn how to plant your hardy fuchsias for great perennial color. The one tip that surprised us was how deep to plant them. Hardy fuchsias can be planted DEEP. Most plants will suffer if you plant the crown too deep, but not fuchsias. Fuchsias will grow roots along the stems if they are planted deep and that means they will survive the cold better and become bushier over time. Other tips: you also need to add organic material or compost to the hole when you plant them and a small amount of a balanced fertilizer. One caution, they love well drained soil, so plant them where they won’t be setting in water!
Now is the time to plant your tomatoes and there are a few things you can do to ensure a bountiful fall crop. One thing you can do is to plant your tomato deep! Tomatoes will grow roots along their main stem as long as you leave a portion of the leaves above ground. Also, by adding a small amount of garden lime to the soil you can avoid ‘blossom end rot’, a condition that causes a brown spot at the end of your tomato. It is still a little early so you may want to protect your new plants with a cover, like a cloche, or use a product like a Wall-o-Water. Don’t forget to set your tomato cages up as well.
One Weekend Wonder - PVC Trellis
This little structure is one way to bring height to your garden. William showed us how to build 3 different structures for your climbing plants. The first one was easy. He used a tomato cage to help his climbing peas. The second trellis was a teepee of bamboo sticks. He tied them at the top and they make a quick and simple structure. The third structure was a folding trellis made from PVC pipe. We cut the pipe into various lengths to fit our garden size. This one had 3, ¾ inch pipes that were 3 feet long. These are for the two base pieces and the top. Then we cut 4 longer pieces (6 foot) these are for the sides. 6 elbows create the square and then we also had 2 tees. The top of the tee was a bigger size than the rest of the pipe. This will allow the folding of the trellis when the season is done. The finishing touch was the string. Last year we used a hemp string for the plants to climb on. This quickly broke down and that meant it didn’t work as well as we had hoped. This year we are using a cotton fiber string, which will give our trellis the strength to give our beans and other climbing plants a good strong base to grow on.