Wow, what a difference a week makes. It seemed like we were never going to get a break in the hot weather just a few days ago. Now we have enjoyed a nice little break of rain. Our garden is really loving the extra water. The cucumbers and tomatoes seem to be growing extra inches overnight! Now that the weekend is here you can enjoy the return of the nice weather with 2 separate celebrations. First, on Saturday, you can head down to Corvallis for the ‘Art and Wine in the Garden’ event at Garland Nursery. Then, on Sunday, stop by the ‘Wine and Cheese in the Garden’ event at Out in the Garden Nursery in Molalla. Both events have a ton of activities going on and it looks like the prefect weekend to get out and enjoy both!
This week we featured...
Cottage Grove City Garden
It is not often when government and gardening cross paths. In Cottage Grove we found a garden that seems to be the perfect combination of cooperation. We met with Andrea Mull from the Cottage Grove Garden Club at the All America City Square, also known as Opal Whiteley Park, to learn about how the local garden club helped transform a piece of donated land into a beautiful little public area. In 2008 the garden club was asked to help with the planting and maintenance of the park. They have since taken over the park and it looks great. This park is in the middle of the old historic core of the town and is an oasis in the business district. The park has a lot of hardscaping and that has created some problems for the club as far as plant selection. They have had to find plants that are versatile enough to handle heat stress in the summer and still look good. This little park is packed full of drought tolerant plants that are thriving in the heat and look good all year long. We saw kids and adults enjoying the park while we were there all under the mural of Opal, who was a local character who wrote a famous diary in the 1920’s that was published in Atlantic Monthly. Her mural is one of many in the Cottage Grove downtown area that draw people to the business district. Cottage Grove is known for these murals and the local covered bridge tour. Her mural shows her holding butterflies and the garden club looked for plants that would attract butterflies to the garden to mirror the picture on the wall. They also worked to match the colors in the mural. The park is right on E. Main Street in the historic downtown. If you would like to learn more about the park and maybe volunteer, check out the garden club blog.
Water Wise Parking Strip
One of the hardest places to have a garden are parking strips, also called ‘Hell Strips’. This no-man’s land between the sidewalk and the street is tough to plant and maintain due to the location and inaccessibility to water. We recently visited with a local gardener who has made her parking strip an oasis in the middle of the city. Francoise started with a grass strip, which seems to be the standard for most homeowners and over the next decade she replaced the grass with a wonderful mixture of drought tolerant plants. It was incredible! Other than some supplemental watering in the first year, she had a ‘water wise’ and beautiful addition to her home. Francoise parking strip is huge! She slowly tackled the plants and really learned what would work well in the strip by watching the plants and how they reacted to the heat. She also made huge improvements to the soil too. She amends the soil and top dresses with new mulch every couple of years. The only thing she had to take into consideration was the height of her plantings near the street corners. She kept the plants low so people can see around the corner when they are turning. She also created ‘peek-a-boo’ spaces in her garden so people can see through the plantings when they are walking.
Francoise is very responsible with her water usage in the garden. She uses a drip system that her father-in-law installed a few years ago and only waters when the plants really need it. For most of the year she hardly waters at all. The big key that she shared with us was ‘right plant, right place’. This is important; by planting the right plants together you can easily meet their needs and the plants will thrive. If you would like to tackle a project like this you can get lots of tips from the Regional Water Providers Consortium (503-823-7528) website. You can go there and learn a lot about saving water in your home and your garden.
Garland Art and Wine
There is nothing better on a warm summer day than to wander through a nursery looking at art and plants while sipping some wine! If you are looking for something of interest in your garden that doesn’t require watering, you may be thinking of garden art. The local garden art scene is packed with talented people and you can see many of them this weekend at Garland Nursery (1-800-296-6601) in Corvallis. We stopped by the nursery to chat with Erica from the Powell family (the owners of Garlands) and to visit with Joe Shepard, one of the featured artists this weekend at the nursery. This year they will have over 40 different artists who work in metal, glass, fabric, pottery, paint and stone. Some even work with recycled materials. Joe from ‘Hot Rocks’ is bringing planters made from pumice stone. These are great planters that are not only light weight but are beautiful. Each of these planters is unique and are truly works of art. You have to see them to believe them. There will also be 4 different wine and spirit vendors sampling their best vintages and food is available for purchase. The nursery will also be loaded with sales and discounts on everything from fountains and hydrangeas to garden footware. The event happens from 10-4 on Saturday and Sunday. If you are down in the Albany or Corvallis area, stop and check it out.
Terra Garden Tropicals
With all the summer heat we have been experiencing it isn’t hard for us to let our minds wander to the tropics. Now you can let your garden wander there as well. We stopped at Terra Gardens (503-581-0441) in Salem to visit with Dan and look at some tropical, and tropical looking, plants that you can add to your garden. We started with citrus. This Valencia orange tree (variety ‘Campbell’), like the other citrus trees, have very fragrant blooms and will even give you fruit in the late winter. You do have to be careful about leaving them outside in the winter. They need protection from the cold to thrive, but they do love the summer deck or patio. Judy then found an Anthurium which most people know as an indoor plant, but will do great in the summer, outside on your deck or patio. It almost looks fake with its huge colorful blooms! We also looked at ‘pitcher plants’ these plants are named pitcher plants because they hold water inside their flowers. These are carnivorous plants that attract and capture flies. They also love the boggy and wet parts of your garden. The next plant choice was a Caladium ‘Poison Dart Frog’ plant. This one has incredible foliage that mimics the coloring of the frog of the same name. Very striking waxy foliage. Another striking plant is the Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana) which has flowers that look like shrimp. This one will look better and will continue to bloom if you peel off the old blooms as they turn brown or black. They also like to get more fertilizer as the weather heats up, so continue to give it some food and it will continue to perform in the garden. One of the most identifiable tropicals in the northwest garden is the Bougainvillea. This plant can be touchy and is not hardy for our area, but if you are looking for a plant that will instantly turn your garden into a tropical paradise, this is the one. The variety we looked at had soft pink blooms and variegated foliage. A stunning plant. One that is hardy for our area and has a tropical look is the Hardy Gardenia. This one was called ‘Frost Proof’ and it really stays true to the name. It will bloom and smell great through most of the summer. The final plant we looked at was the Mandevilla Sun Parasol series, ‘Pretty Pink’. This vine will cover a planter or, in this case, fill a basket with cascading color. It stays small so if you wanted to over-winter it you can by taking it indoors. If you would like to see more tropical plants or learn ways of displaying tropicals, stop by Terra Gardens in Salem, or your local independent garden center.
Portland has become a foodie paradise and that paradise stretches into the garden as well. One of our friends, Patti Harris from Garden Thyme Nursery, recently introduced us to her new business Esotico Pasta. Patti and her husband started the business when they were having dinner with their good friends Wayne Huisman and his wife, discussing how vendors in Italy sell fresh homemade pasta at the local markets. Now they make 12 different kinds of pasta that they sell at farmers markets and select grocery stores around the area. They source most of their raw materials for their pasta from growers and manufacturers around the area. The flour comes from Bob’s Red Mill in Milwaukee, the tomatoes and basil from growers near Silverton, the rosemary from another local grower, whatever is fresh for the season. Wayne showed us how they made the whole wheat and rosemary pasta and then Patti showed us how to make a quick meal with it.
She simply cooked the pasta, added olive oil, fresh basil leaves, grated parmesan cheese and fresh cherry tomatoes and tossed it together. It was delicious and quick! Patti also has a bunch of different sauce recipes on their website that will work with their pastas or any that you buy at the store . If you would like to try their pasta, check out their website for a retail location near you.