Episode 324 • June 28, 2014


There’s no place like home? There’s no place like a Garden Time tour! Yes, we are back from our tour to Victoria BC. It was a blast hanging out in some beautiful gardens with 25 of our viewers and fans of the show. If you are a friend on Facebook you can see some of the pictures and there will be more to come in the next few weeks. In fact, we will be highlighting some of the gardens we visited in upcoming shows. If you would like to join us on our next tour to Costa Rica, just click here and start packing your swimsuit for January!

We also want to wish everyone a safe and happy 4th of July holiday. There are so many things to do for the holiday. Be sure to check out our events calendar for all the garden-related happenings. A lot of the local garden centers are also having plants sales and specials for the holiday. Check out the happy spot for more specials from your local garden center. Two sales that I know of are at Ferguson’s Fragrant Nursery and Grande Valley Ornamental Iron. Time to stop by and pick up some things to finish off your garden!

This week we featured...

Baja Herb Pots

During the summer, there is nothing better than fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden, but what if you don’t have the space to grow them? To solve that problem we stopped by Little Baja (503-236-8834) for some ideas. Jared had brought out a couple of pots that were perfect for the back deck or patio. One of these was a strawberry pot with lots of little planting spots around the edges of the container for trailing herbs! We started with a good potting soil in a nice short round terra cotta container. You don’t want to use plain soil from your garden in the pot. A premium potting soil (like Black Gold All Purpose) will not be compacted and will give your plants a boost of nutrients that will get them going. This is a good project for the whole family and is one that would be great for your kids. Like Jared said, when you teach your kids to grow, you are also teaching your grandkids. Another benefit to the quality terra cotta containers at Little Baja, they are made with a high quality clay. This clay ‘breathes’ allowing air and water to move in and out of the clay and that means healthier roots and plants. Stop by and let them help you pick out a pot to take home and start your own herb planter today.

Rosie’s ‘Entertainment’ Tropicals

Summer in Oregon brings to mind the tropics. The summer weather is so warm in the Willamette Valley, with gentle breezes, that it makes the gardener wish they had tropical plants to put in the yard. But if you mention tropical plants to the NW gardener they will cringe! Tropical are considered by many to be high maintenance and then they just die once the cold weather returns. So how do you get tropicals in your garden? Well, according to Rosie from N & M Herb Nursery (503-981-9060), just change the name. She doesn’t call plants ‘tropical’, she calls them ‘entertainment’ plants. These are plants that could be tropical, or they could just look tropical, and they are anything but high maintenance. She picks plants that have vibrant blooms and lush foliage. She put together a planter with Judy that was an assortment of these ‘entertainment’ plants. Most of the plants she sells and recommends take sun or shade, they don’t need deadheading and they look fantastic all summer long. Rosie started her container with a healthy dose of Osmocote, a slow release fertilizer, in the soil of the pot. The center plant was a Colocasia or Elephant Ear. This plant has huge leaves that will sway in the breeze. Around the edges she placed dragon wing begonias, a lime colored potato vine, euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’, and ‘blackie’ potato vine. Rosie planted the container tight with little or no room between plants. This means the container looks full without having to wait for the plants to grow in. One of Rosie’s favorite plants we didn’t use in the container, but was one that will grow for any gardener, is Swedish Ivy. This one has incredible foliage that look healthy and happy all the time.

So other plants that she recommends for that tropical look are hardy bananas, begonias, cannas, and papyrus. Finally, if you are looking to make a big statement, check out the Alocasia, a huge variety of Elephant Ear that can grow as tall as a house! If you would like to learn more about these ‘entertainment tropicals’ you can find Rosie every Saturday at the Beaverton Farmers Market, or you can stop by her seasonal retail outlet in Hubbard at 11702 Feller Road. She will be closing her retail outlet on July 3rd so all the plants are priced for the end of the season.

Smith Berry Festival

It is time for the 12th Annual Berry Festival at Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) on Scholls Ferry Road. On the 4th of July from 11am to 4pm, you can stop by and enjoy fresh berry desserts, wine tasting, hot off the grill sausages and hot dogs, and live music. This is a family friendly event with face painting and balloons. You can also stop by the gift shop to pick up some gourmet products and sample a fresh berry milkshake. Plus there will be a ‘Berried’ Treasure Hunt for the kids. You can also go out and do a little u-picking of your favorite berries.

Joelle also talked about how to pick berries. Everyone has picked strawberries, but not too many people know when raspberries and blackberries are ripe. When you are picking raspberries you shouldn’t have to pull too hard to get them off the plant. Ripe raspberries will leave the center plug on the plant when you pull them. Blackberries should come off easily too, but they will keep the center core with the berries when you pick it. You can taste one to make sure it is ripe and then look for similar berries in color and shape. Don’t forget to look under the branches. Sometimes the biggest berries are hiding under the branches!
Joelle talked about how well the berries are this year and they taste great! They have lots of new varieties that are ripe for the picking every day and you can check their website for a daily update on what is ripe in the field. Take some home to remember your day in the country!

Jan’s June Tips

If you are a regular viewer to the show you may have noticed that Jan McNeilan was not on the show last month with the tips for May. Well, she twisted her knee and couldn’t tape her story with us. This month she made up for that with some great gardening info, that is, if she can find her keys to the garden shed! We found her in the garden with her husband, Ray’s, metal detector looking for keys to the shed. But her first tip was one that didn’t require tools. Jan talked about pruning back her tomatoes. There are 2 general types of tomatoes, determinate and indeterminate. The determinate type will only get to a predetermined height based on variety and indeterminate will just keep growing, either all over your garden or as tall as your house. Jan told us that it was ok to prune parts of your indeterminate tomatoes back and you can even remove up to a third of the foliage. Now is also a good time to thin your vegetable starts. Veggies that you started from seed may be growing too tight together in your garden. By removing some of the seedlings you can give your other vegetables more room to grow and you will get a larger fruit or vegetable. We have to do this every year with our carrots and it is tough to remove the extra plants, but we always appreciate it when we are pulling larger carrots out of the garden later in the summer.

We then moved to an apple tree in her backyard to talk about summer pruning. A lot of gardeners wait until winter to prune and that is usually a great time to do it, because you can see all the branches and where to cut. But when you prune in the winter it promotes the growth of ‘water shoots’. These are the branches of new growth that pop up everywhere along the trunk and branches of your fruit tree. This can steal some of the energy that your plant needs for fruit production. Now is a good time to remove these water shoots and send that energy to the developing fruit, instead of new foliar growth. We also talked about ‘June Drop’. This is when the tree starts dropping fruit on the ground before it develops. These are generally un-pollinated and immature fruit and so the tree does a little self-pruning to help the remaining fruit grow bigger. You can help this remaining fruit as well by cutting off excess fruit. If you find a bunch of apples or pears that are in groups of 3 or more fruit, remove most of the fruit, leaving 1-2 in the cluster and that will help them grow bigger. Finally, we talked about moss and lichens on your fruit trees. Small patches of moss and lichens are normal and do not harm the tree or the fruit. If you have a tree that is completely covered, then you may have a problem and you should call an arborist. If you would like some more tips on what to do in the early summer garden, check out the OSU Extension website

Downy Mildew

The last couple of years we have had a problem with one of our favorite bedding plants, the impatiens. Downy Mildew has laid waste to one of the old standby plants in the NW garden. Downy Mildew can start as a bunch of yellow patches on the top of the leaves of your plant and then they turn brown and will cause the loss of leaves and the plant will slowly die. You may even notice mold-like patches on the leaves as well. It has been hard to get a hold on this disease and treatment options have not been readily available. One product that has come out to help curtail the problem has been ‘Fruit Tree and Plant Guard’ from Bonide. This product comes in a ‘hose and go’ bottle that you can use to spray your impatiens (also called ‘Busy lizzies’) to either treat your plants or as a preventative application as well. Remember to apply the spray in the early morning or the cooler part of the evening and try to do it when there is no wind. Check out the Bonide website for more great products for your garden.

Ferguson’s Summer Combos

Your garden may be doing well, but it may also have a few bare spots or it may need a few companion plants. To get some suggestions on what to plant right now to give your garden a breath of fresh air we stopped by Ferguson’s Fragrant Nursery (503-633-4585) and talked to Dani Ferguson. She has a ton of great color plants in addition to the wonderful selection of fragrant plants that are available. We started with a new plant called the Digiplexis ‘illumination flame’, which is a hybrid of the foxglove. It was just the start of some of her great plants she picked out of the nursery. She paired the Digiplexis with a lime green coleus and a red verbena. You can add height to the garden with either a golden honeysuckle, a Fiona Sunrise Jasmine or a millennium delphinium which has lots of blooms on a very strong stem. Another great plant for the summer garden is Salvia ‘Ladies Wish’ which was paired with a deep pink petunia for a wave of reddish color! If you want fragrance look no further that Daphne ‘Summer Ice’, or the hardy Gardenia ‘Frost Proof’. Actaea Simplex with is dark foliage and a nice fragrance. If you are looking for some great color and fragrance in your garden, just stop by Ferguson’s Fragrant Nursery and take home a plant.

Lavender Distilling

Early summer is lavender time in the Pacific Northwest. If you have been driving around you may have noticed the fields of purple of various growers. One of the most beautiful displays is down in the valley near Monmouth and Independence on highway 99W. Lavender Lake Farms (503-838-2620) is the home of fields of this fragrant and beautiful plant, but they are also the home of some of the most popular varieties for the home gardener. William had the chance to stop by and chat with Dr. Don Roberts who is the person who developed Buena Vista and 5 other signature varieties that you can now find in just about every garden center. He told William about the steps that you have to take to get a winning variety. When he was developing varieties he started with 4000 plants and that ended up with just 4 plants that they did further testing on. Of those 4 remaining varieties he ended up with Buena Vista, Sachet, and Sharon Roberts (named for Don’s lovely wife). The fourth one never made it out of the lab. When he was hybridizing he looked at 4 different factors. The first is fragrance, it has to have a nice smell. The second factor he looked at was disease resistance. The third factor was vigor, will it stand up well to conditions in the garden and the fourth factor for selection was appearance. If the plant doesn’t look good or is floppy in the garden, it didn’t make the cut.

We then talked about how they distill the plants to get the lavender oil which is used in lots of different products. Don told us that they only distill when the plant is 50 to 75% in bloom. Then they cut everything down, close to the foliage on the plant. This plant material which includes blooms, leaves and stems is packed into a hopper. They try to get about 400 pounds of flowers and stems into the hopper. They then run steam through the material which volatilizes the oils in the plant which is then put through a cooling tower and is separated into oil and lavender water (which is also saved and used). Depending on variety they hope to get between a half a gallon to a gallon of oil per batch. A lot of work for a little bit of oil, but so worth it! If you would like to learn more, feel free to stop by the farm. They not only have fields full of blooms right now, they also have a great little gift shop full of lavender treats. Plus during bloom time they also have classes on making lavender wreaths and wands, and other educational programs. Don’t wait too long lavender season only lasts a couple of weeks!

Heirloom Miniature Roses

When you think of hardy, beautiful roses you think of Heirloom Roses (503-538-1576). But Heirloom started as a small company, and I mean small like in miniature. Before there was Heirloom Roses selling large plants, there was John’s Miniature Roses. John Clements was a lover of small roses and that is how it all started. Heirloom still has one of the best collections of miniature and micro roses in the country. Ben Hanna met with us to tell us more about the roses and how they compare to the larger varieties. Miniature roses are just like their taller brethren in that they like lots of water, well-drained soil and a good fertilizer every 6 weeks or so. The smaller varieties can be easier to deadhead and maintain though, and are excellent for a raised bed or container. The ‘miniature’ and ‘micro’ categories are mainly based on flower and leaf size. We saw some plants with flowers as small as your finger nail, while others can climb as high as 6 feet tall covered with tiny blooms. But don’t think that these small plants can’t perform. They are just as hardy, fragrant and beautiful as their bigger cousins. If you stop by the Heirloom display gardens don’t miss out on touring the small flower bed where there are some big-time winners.

Wasabi Growing

If you like sushi or even spicy and ‘hot’ foods then you are probably a fan of wasabi. For most people this is the green paste that you get with your meal so you can spread it on your meat or fish. But did you know that wasabi is a plant? We took a trip to the Oregon Coast and met with Jennifer from Frog Eyes Wasabi, one of the largest growers of wasabi in North America. The actual name of the plant is Wasabi japonica because it grows natively in shady Japanese streambeds and it is a member of the brassica family. They grow 2 types of wasabi, daruma and mazuma. This plant loves moist shady conditions and is coveted for the rhizome which develops slowly over 18 to 24 months. This rhizome is then grated to make the paste that you can use on your foods. Here is an interesting fact, most of the wasabi that you find in restaurants is actually made from a mixture of horseradish, mustard and food coloring, and contains no wasabi at all. Actual wasabi starts to lose its flavor within a few minutes after you grate it. It should always be used fresh. It does store well in a refrigerator for a week or so, and can be frozen. Another fact about wasabi, all of the plant is edible. The leaves and stems still have some ‘heat’ but have a much subtler taste. Frog Eyes Wasabi also sells plant starts so you can try to grow these at home as well. You will need to wait awhile for the rhizome, but you can still harvest the leaves and stems for use in salads and cooking. If you are interested in trying the ‘real’ wasabi you can find a store near you at their website. You will also find out more about how to grow this tasty plant and how to get a start of your own.

Drakes Landscaping

There are as many landscape designers as there are ideas for design. The key to being a successful landscaper is to listen to the client and to bring new ideas and perspectives to the client in a way to enhance their wants and needs. Drake Snodgrass from Drake’s 7 Dees (503-256-2223) has built a successful business on combining both perfectly. A perfect example would be the example of a bubbler or water feature in the garden. Instead of giving the homeowner a choice of 2 or 3 water feature choices they will actually take the home owner to a supplier to pick out the rock and then build one that is one-of-a-kind for that client. This listening to the client also means that you have to use your expertise to direct a client in the right direction as well. Another example was a client who wanted a back yard redesigned. They had a swing in one part of the garden that they didn’t want moved. ‘Redo the yard’ they said, ‘but don’t move the swing’! Once the Drakes team tackled the garden they realized that moving the swing created a better garden for the family. So they moved it. The swing is now a part of a larger entertainment area and not standing alone, off in a corner of the garden. People are actually using the swing more and it has become a favorite part of the garden. That is the sign of a designer who listens and blends new ideas with old. If this sounds like a designer that you would like to do your garden landscaping, then give the crew at Drakes a call, or better yet, stop by their retail location at 5645 SW Scholls Ferry Road (503-292-9121) and talk to their on-staff designer there.

main page this week

plant of the week

tip of the week tool shed how to gardens to see sponsors events calendar the happy spot
streaming video read our blog join our twitter e-mail us archive press relations links to other websites

Website design and content ©2006-2015 Gustin Creative Group.  Please send website inquiries to  This page last modified April 09, 2015.