The heat has returned. Even though I have really enjoyed this moderate weather, some people are not convinced it is summer until we get into the 90s. Enjoy! It is also a time to consider your late summer garden and even getting your fall garden in order. I know it may seem early, but if you get started now, you won’t be scrambling later when the seasons really start to change.
This week we featured...
Grasses are one of the most overlooked plants in the garden. For most people they seem to be boring lacking color and fragrance, two of the most popular qualities that people are looking for. But if you are looking for structure and texture, grasses can be a great addition to any garden. To learn a little more about grasses we traveled to Molalla and stopped by Out in the Garden Nursery (503-829-4141) to visit with owner Carol Westergreen. Carol grows a ton of great perennials and grasses are one of her favorite plants in the garden. She brought out close to a dozen different varieties for us to look at. We started with the golden colors of the Hakonechloa or Japanese Forest Grass. These are great ‘spillers’ which kind of flow over your garden. The varieties included ‘All Gold’, ‘Aureola’ and ‘Stripe it Rich’. All of these love morning sun and afternoon shade. Next we saw a great variegated plant called ‘Variegated Moor Grass’. Carol called this a hidden gem. Not a lot of people use it and that is a shame, because it is so easy to take care of. In the fall all you need to do for clean up is pull the dead leaves off the plant and you are done! The next couple of plants were Reed grasses. The first was ‘Avalanche’ a variegated variety, right next to ‘Karl Forester’ which is more of a solid color. Both of these plants are larger structure plants in the garden. The bloom stalks are incredibly tall and beautiful even through the fall and winter. This plant will be one of the first to start in the spring and will be in bloom by mid May in some cases. Buried behind the Reed grasses was a small Switch Grass called ‘Shenandoah’. This one has some great color. It starts the season as blue-green, but as the season progresses it gets redder in the leaves and taller, ending up around 4 feet tall. Finally we saw a hardy version of the favorite, purple fountain grass, Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose’. Like its less hardy cousin, this one has the great purple blooms, but will survive the cold to return year after year.
You can stop by anytime and visit Carol at the nursery, but be sure to mark your calendar for GardenPalooza the Tourwhen Carol will have events and specials to share.
Irises are known for their great blooms and sweet smells. They are also one of the first plants in the spring garden. Steve Schreiner from Schreiner’s Iris Gardens (1-800-525-2367) told us about some varieties that re-bloom, bringing you color 2 times a year! These varieties are consistent, but not guaranteed to re-bloom, though some varieties are close to 100% re-bloomers for our area. Re-blooming depends on different variables including weather, soil type and watering. This year was a great year for re-bloomers and Steve had about a dozen containers full of color and fragrance to show us. Varieties that were featured included ‘Total Recall’, ‘Stellar Lights’, ‘Mother Earth’, and ‘Cantina’. All of these varieties are blooming now in the Northwest garden, but if you are from a different geographical location you will want to check with Schreiners to make sure you get a good variety for your area. You can also start thinking about cleaning up our garden for the fall and winter. Cut off your dead flower stalks and trim and remove the dead leaves as we go into fall. This will help your iris remain healthy and disease free. If you are interested in these varieties or if you have any questions, give Schreiner’s a call.
When you think of hostas you probably think of shade. And it is true that most hostas thrive in the shade, but there are some varieties that do well in the sunniest of locations as well. Sebright Gardens (503-463-9615) grows one of the largest selections of hostas in the U.S. and we stopped by to chat with Thomas about some varieties that he would recommend for the sun. First he mentioned that these plants will always do better if you have them in the right conditions, good soil and well watered. In those conditions he showed us ‘June Fever’ and ‘First Frost’ which were doing great in the full afternoon sun. Thomas also brought up a point about the flowers on hostas. The more fragrant they are the more tolerant they are to sun. It is a characteristic of the species. Also about the blooms, they bloom on a stalk and in progression. You will get a new bloom everyday and this will continue for over a month on some varieties. Next, we move to a shadier area to see 2 more varieties. ‘Dance with Me’ and ‘Stained Glass’ also like the sun but do much better in the shade. ‘Dance with Me’ is kind of boring in the spring, but gets more colorful in the late summer. ‘Stained Glass’ is great because it puts up new foliage through the season, so if it does get damaged you can cut of the damaged parts and new growth will take its place.
Sebright is also part of the GardenPalooza the Tour event happening on September 15th through the 18th, but you can stop by anytime during their business hours (be sure to check their website for business hours.)
Triple Crown Cobbler
It is still berry time in the Northwest. We found one of the best cane berries that is still producing right now is the Triple Crown Berry. Jolene from Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) took us out to the field to pick some of these wonderful berries. The Triple Crown is a great late summer berry. It has a great taste, holds up well for eating or canning and is thorn-less! After we had picked a big bowl we went in and learned a brand new recipe to make a tasty cobbler. This recipe is located on the Smith Berry Barn website as a peach cobbler, but we easily changed it to use the berries. First we mixed the berries with some ingredients and baked the berries, and then we made the topping and added that to the mix. When it was finished we had a great dessert that was done in about 40 minutes. Check out the Smith website for more delicious recipes and a daily update of what is fresh from the fields.
Little Baja Statues
We have all seen statues in the garden, but what do those statues mean? To learn more we stopped by Little Baja (503-432-8959). Some of the most popular of the statues are animal shapes. Some people will use animal statues to remember a pet that has passed away while others adopt the Native American’s belief that an animal statue can bring characteristics of that animal to a garden. A wolf or bear statue might welcome the spirit of that animal to your garden. Gargoyles have a long history of being in the garden. Since the middle ages gargoyles are believed to protect against evil spirits. I wonder if they would scare away the moles in our garden? Gardens are place of thought and prayer, and for some people that brings in a religious theme. Bringing in angels and statues of the Madonna can help to bring tranquility to the garden. One of the most popular is statues of Francis of Assisi. He thought all animals were brothers and sisters to us all and he is often pictured holding a bird. Some believe he could talk to the animals as well. Fairies and gnomes are long believed to live in gardens and having a statue of one is thought to bring luck to a home. If you don’t take care of the fairies and gnomes they are rumored to cause mischief and take things from your garden. Eastern and Asian art is also a popular theme. Buddha in all his forms can be found in many gardens and can help bring luck, tranquility and whimsy depending on the type of piece you find. Asian art can also be functional as well. Some of the pagodas can hold candles and can be used as lanterns for night time strolls through the garden. If you would like to see all the different varieties of statues and find one for your garden, check out the selection at either location of Little Baja… now, I think a gnome took my pruners and I need to go find them.