Summer is finally here. This weekend marks the beginning of the summer season. It seems like we have had a lot of summer type weather so far, and that has me worried about the heat we may get when the season really cranks up. I’ll be watching my plans very carefully as the season progresses. I’ll also be watching my water bill. This week we feature a story from the Regional Water Providers Consortium about water sprinklers and we cover all the different types. We are getting ready for the summer by checking out some early summer color and some of the newer hydrangeas. After all that we worked up quite a thirst and that meant a visit to the Portland Cider Company. They use local fruit to make a bunch of tasty drinks to enjoy.
When you read this we will be in the middle of our Garden Time Tour to Victoria, BC. We were looking forward to this trip, our first attempt at leading a tour of gardeners. If you would like to join us on our next tour, check out the ‘airplane’ link on the front page of our website or click here. We will be enjoying the sun and warmth of Costa Rica in January and would love to have you join us.
This week we featured...
Gardening doesn’t come easy for all gardeners. Some people feel intimidated in the garden. They don’t want to kill a plant or worse yet, have a bad looking plant in their garden all year long for everyone to see! To help take the fear out of gardening Jenna Bayer started Garden Bootcamp (503-468-2103). First she told us about the farm where all the Garden Bootcamp classes are held. It is the old Groner Farm near Hillsboro, built in 1936. She has done a few things to the house, but has tried to stay true to the original floor plan, but in the garden she has let her creativity go wild. She has filled the garden with paths that allow you to stroll around gardens and borders filled with color and texture. These beds may not have blooms all the time, but they are still visually interesting with a nice mix of different foliage textures and even garden art interspersed throughout. We eventually found ourselves at the bocce ball court and there she had a tip for us. There was a garden bed filled with great flowers which followed their mantra from Garden Bootcamp; right plant, right place, right purpose. There we found a phygelius, also known as cape fuchsia. Jenna showed us how she pruned back about 1/3 of the plant so that she could extend the bloom until later in the growing season. This pruning back meant that the plants would bloom at different times and not all at once. It was a great tip and just one of many that she teaches at Garden Bootcamp. If you would like to learn more you can check out their website. In fact, they are holding a class this coming weekend on the 28th of June. It is called Garden Design and Summer Garden Management. It would be a great way of getting the instruction you need to get everything ready for the long summer ahead!
Ask almost anyone to draw a cactus and they will give you a picture of a plant that looks like a guy with his hands up in the air, but there are so many more varieties out there that it is hard to tell them apart. To learn some of the basics about cactus we stopped by Rita Lees Nursery and talked to Heather. Rita Lees grows cactus that are sold locally in independent garden centers like Al’s Garden Center in Sherwood. Heather’s family grow a huge amount of cactus and succulents. We started with the desert species. There were a large array of different looking plants from small one that almost looked like ground covers to tall ones that were well over our heads. These desert varieties like to be dry and warm. In fact they need to have dry soil before you water them. Heather recommended that you err on the side of caution when watering. If they look like they are doing ok, then leave them alone and wait a few more days before watering them. They also like to have a light all-purpose, general fertilizer added to their containers about once a month. We then move to the euphorbia type of cactus. These can grow from the desert to the mountains. They like full sun to part shade. They like a moist, but well drained soil. They can also handle the cold a little better than the desert cactus, even though that varies by species. One of the weirdest cactus we saw were the Living Stone cactus, from the Lithops family of plants. These look like little stones in some gravel.
The next plants looked very familiar to us. They were all different types of Jade Plant, from the Crassula family. They are originally from South Africa and they are one of the easiest plants to grow. They can survive anywhere. Finally we looked at the rain forest cactus, also called orchid cactus. If you have had an Easter or Christmas cactus, you have had one of these. These are from the genus, Schlumbergera. Some of the more exotic of these plants grow huge flowers and have long pendulous arms that hang over the edge of their containers. They also like moist, but well drained soil and an all-purpose fertilizer once a month. All the cactus we saw were heat loving. They don’t handle the cold very well, in fact the growers don’t let their cactus grow in temperatures that are below 55 degrees. The final tip? The number one enemy of cactus is over-watering. If you would like to learn more about these cactus and Rita Lees Nursery you can check out their Facebook page or look for their plants at Al’s and other fine garden centers.
You might not think that the late spring or early summer is a good time to prune your conifers but that isn’t always the case. Now may be the best time to prune depending on the type of conifer you have in your garden. To learn what we should be doing we stopped by French Prairie Perennials (503-679-2871) and chatted with Rick. First Rick mentioned that most of your firs and spruce you will want to prune in the winter time, then he started to tackle some of the other varieties. He showed us how to prune starting with a Japanese Red Pine. With pines you can prune one of two ways. One way is to pinch off the candles with your fingers. The other way is with a pruner. Rick recommended that you disinfect your pruners before you start and after you finish so you don’t spread diseases between plants. The ‘candles’ are the spikes of new growth that appear at the end of all your branches. How much you take off of the candle determines the size of the plant for the coming year. If you want to slow the growth down, you would pinch off about ˝ of the candle spike. To keep the plant at the same height you would take the candle off completely. This de-candling of the plant will also cause more lateral growth on the branch. This could make the plant appear ‘fuller’. It would grow more on the old branches and fill in those empty spots on the branch. Rick used an Eastern White Pine to demonstrate this. He was able to make the tree look bushier by candling.
Next we move to some plants that didn’t have candles to work with. These plants actually send up new ‘leaders’ of new growth. Rick showed us how to tackle that on a yew. Here he was looking to maintain a basic shape to the plant. That meant removing some of the new leaders from the plant. He went back to the base of the new growth, to a place where there was a union of branches. Right above that union, he made a cut. The other branches would now grow and fill in, covering the cut and helping to maintain the shape of the plant. The final pruning tip dealt with ‘central leaders’. These are branches that shoot up from the center of a tree or shrub. If you are trying to maintain the spreading habit of your low growing conifer, you will need to remove this central leader. Once again, Rick went down into the center of a Weeping Canadian Hemlock and found the branch union again and cut above that again. This will continue to promote that prostrate, spreading habit of the plant so it stays low in the garden. If you have questions about conifers and how to care for them, or you are looking for a unique conifer to add to your garden, stop by French Prairie Perennials and check with the staff there. They will be happy to help you.
Summer is coming and that means it is time to get your irrigation ready for watering your lawn and garden, but there are so many different sprinklers out there, which ones work the best? To get that question answered and to learn more about water wise gardening we stopped and talked to Kevin who works for the City of Lake Oswego and the Regional Water Providers Consortium. We met him at Foothills Park in Lake Oswego where they had a bunch of different kinds of sprinklers in use. We started in a field where we had the old stand-by the oscillating sprinkler. This is the one that just goes back and forth. We also saw a spinner type, which just shoots water up in the air in a round pattern. Then we also saw an impact sprinkler, this one moves in a circular pattern and can be limited some; it can do a half circle or smaller. The benefit to these sprinklers is that they are movable and can be placed anywhere around the garden. The drawback is that they don’t always water evenly and you will always have a hose running across your lawn or garden.
We then moved to the another area of the park to look at in-ground systems. The first area had pop-up sprays. These simply pop-up when the system is on and water a pre-determined pattern or area. They usually put out a fine mist which can be blown around on a windy day. They can also drift over time and end up watering sidewalks and driveways if you don’t keep an eye on them. Kevin recommended that you fire up your system at the beginning of the season and see if they need to be redirected. Another sprinkler in this area was the rotor sprinkler. These pop up like the spray type, but they move back and forth over an area and deliver a heavier stream of water. They too can drift and get out of alignment and should be checked at the beginning of the season.
Finally we moved to our final area of the park. In this area we found the ‘Multi-stream rotators’. These are the newest in sprinklers for the garden. They move streams of water across the lawn or garden and deliver it as a low-flow sprinkler so you get less run-off. To prove how much better it was than the other sprinklers we set out some measuring cups in the lawn and let the system run for about 5 minutes. It was dramatic. The system delivered the water evenly and at a rate where the lawn was well watered and not saturated. We also did the same measurements with some of the older sprinklers and saw a lot of waste. In fact, Kevin told us that by simply replacing the older pop-ups with these newer multi-stream rotators we could save up to 30 percent on your water use in the garden. If you would like to learn how you can save water, and money, in the garden you can get tips like these at the Regional Water Providers Consortium website at www.Conserveh2o.org.
The Springs Gardeners
As we age there are lots of things we have to give up. You have to watch what you eat. You can’t break dance anymore and you can’t body surf like you used to. But you can continue to garden! We found a bunch of elderly gardeners at a local retirement community called The Springs at Clackamas Woods (503-446-4223). When we got there they were busy in the garden pulling weeds and cultivating around plants. We first talked to Candice about the story of the property and the types of programs they have for community members. Candice told us that the buildings were located over on old rhubarb farm and that residents and staff still find old rhubarb roots on the property when they are digging. The Springs had many gardens spread out over the grounds. Since they offer independent living, assisted living and memory care, they had gardens for all the different types of needs of their community members. We talked with some of the gardeners that were working in the raised beds. First we met Art, who is one of the most active gardeners at The Springs. He was the tomato expert and told us he was trying some new varieties this year. He loved sharing the bounty of the garden with other community members. He also was growing lots of flowers around the raised beds so people could enjoy the color later this summer. Then we met with Helen the designated ‘weeder’ of the bunch. She had been a gardener with she lived in a house, but mainly grew flowers. She enjoyed just hanging out with other gardeners and getting outdoors.
The one thing we learned was that the garden was not only a great place to get physical exercise, it put all the gardeners in a wonderful state of mind. They all had a smile and a great attitude. It proved that a garden and gardening in general helps promote a healthy lifestyle. If you would like to learn more about The Springs at Clackamas Woods, check out their website or give them a call.
Al’s Late Spring Color
Now that summer has arrived you might think that your gardening is done. Actually now is a great time to fill in those spots in your garden that didn’t get enough plants or attention earlier this spring. We met with Josh at Al’s Garden Center in Sherwood (503-726-1162) to find out his favorite plants for adding early summer color to the garden. Josh mentioned that marigolds and zinnias really pack a punch for the summer garden. Once you get them in the garden and give them a little fertilizer, they will just keep going until frost. Another couple of good plants for the summer garden are the daylily and the alstroemeria, known as Peruvian lily. Hydrangeas are also a great choice. They will continue to bloom for months on end! Foliage plants are also good for the garden. They will add structure and texture to the summer garden. The kong coleus is a great choice. The foliage is dramatic and colorful. And if you are looking for an instant splash of color think about this. Just take a hanging basket and drop it into an empty pot and cut off the hanger. The hanging basket will fill the pot and the hole with color in your garden. If you are looking for great early summer color, just stop by your local independent garden center or one of the 3 Al’s Garden Center locations.
Portland's Best Rose
The Rose Festival for 2014 has wrapped up but we took some time to celebrate the namesake of the festival recently. William and Judy were invited to the International Rose Test Gardens at Washington Park to help judge some of the newer varieties of roses and help vote for Portland’s Best Roses for 2014. The Portland Rose Society (503-777-4311) is the host for this event, but they are involved in so much more! We met with society member Rich Baer after the voting was done to learn more about that process and to get some information about the society. First we talked about the competition. The roses are judged based on how they look on judging day. The roses that are rated the highest are the winners and are billed as the most beautiful roses in the garden for that day. 30 + new varieties are considered during the judging and rated on a scale of 1 to 10. There are winners in the following classes of roses: shrubs, floribundas, grandifloras, hybrid teas and fragrance, with the overall winner being designated as Portland’s Best Rose for 2014. This year that overall winning rose was Sugar Moon!
After all the buzz of awarding the honors to the rose winners, William talked to Rich Baer about the society. The Rose Society was started in 1888 by Mrs. Henry Pittock to celebrate the glory of the rose. The society is very inclusive, in fact they have members that don’t even grow roses. All you need to have is a love of roses! The society is very involved in the community at events that happen all year long. If you are interested in joining this fun and educational group you can go to their website or drop by one of their monthly meetings at Oaks Park. Dues start at $15 for one year. If you ever find yourself up at Washington Park see if you can do your own judging and find your own ‘best rose’!
Late spring is the time for hydrangeas. These plants are the signature plants for this time of year. We stopped by Tsugawa Nursery in Woodland (360-225-8750) to see the newest varieties that are available right now in your garden center. We first started with one called ‘Sweet and Salsa’ and that one had great bloom color but also some great foliage color too. The next one was one of the ’everlasting’ varieties. This means that the blooms hang on forever. This one was called pearl, but it really starts as a light green color then turns white and then fades into a chartreuse color for an extended time. The next one was called Plum Passion, and rightly so. The foliage was an incredible purple color than really stood out in the garden. In fact the new growth had a silver tinge to the leaves, which was outstanding. The next one in line was a member of the Endless Summer series called Bloomstruck, this one had blooms that just kept on coming! Once one series of blooms ends the next set of blooms is ready. The final one was Peppermint Swirl. This one had a flower that was white with pink highlights. It really stands out in the garden! If you would like to see more cool hydrangeas and other great early summer blooming plants just stop by Tsugawa Nursery and check with Brian and his staff.
Portland Cider Company
When I say cider, what do you think of? Is it brewed or fermented? Made from apples or pears? Actually it is all of the above! To learn more about this beverage, which is growing in popularity, we stopped by Portland Cider Company and talked to Jeff Parrish. Jeff and his wife own the Portland Cider Company. He took us back into the cider house where they make this tasty drink. Cider combines the best of beer brewing and wine making. First they take fresh local apple juice from Hood River and put it into a tank with a special yeast and let it ferment like wine. Once it matures enough it is filtered and transferred to another tank where it is allowed to rest and ferment a little more. Then it transfers to the ‘beer’ part of the process. It goes into a tank and is conditioned and carbonated. Then, once it is finished, it goes into the final process of bottling or kegging for distribution. Portland Cider Company has a few different ciders that you can try. The signature variety is called Sorta Sweet, which tastes just like apple juice, which is dangerous, because you really can’t taste the alcohol in it. The next one is called ‘Kinda Dry’ which tastes like a white wine. There is also a middle of the road one, which combines the best of the first two. They also make a ‘Perry’, which is a cider made from pears, a ‘hop’rageous which is heavily hopped and a ‘Fever Bark Tonic’ which is totally different than other ciders. If you would like to try one of these wonderful ciders you can stop by their tasting room at 275 S Beavercreek Rd #149, or you can check out their website where they have a great interactive map which shows locations all around the local area for bottle and tap sales.