The rains have returned this week for a lot of us and it is a welcome sign for many. The summer has been wonderful but the plants have really taken a beating. This rain was just what the doctor ordered and so everyone got a breather! Now we have returned to the heat and just in time! Today, September 20th, we are celebrating our annual GardenPalooza event. This event is a sister to our spring GardenPalooza event with lots of similarities, like great plant vendors and garden artists, but also differences, like wine and beer tasting and LESS RAIN! If you would like a nice fun day in the sun, stop by Fir Point Farms today. For more information check out the GardenPalooza website.
We would also like to thank everyone who has followed the show to the new times in the Portland area on KOIN TV. Yes, it was a confusing and frustrating time for everyone, but I’m happy to say that we are now in a rhythm and the show is doing great. You will notice that we are now posting the entire show on this website. You will find a link below. So now you can watch the entire show again at your leisure! Enjoy!
This week we featured...
Year-round Conifer Color
When you think of color in the garden you don’t usually think of conifers. Recently there have been lots of new introductions of conifers and they can, when paired with other perennials and annuals, create the garden of your dreams. A perfect example of this is at the Iseli Display Gardens in Boring. These gardens are closed to the public and can only be seen by appointment. Iseli Is one the leading growers of rare and unusual conifers in the US. We met with Rick from French Prairie Perennials (503-679-2871) who specializes in conifers to take a tour and learn more about combining plants in the home garden. He regularly brings people out to the Iseli gardens to show them how they can use his visualscaping service to accomplish the same goal, year-round color. If you pair things correctly, the garden can have color and look as full in January as it does in June. He gave us examples in the garden like the dwarf blue spruce paired with a burgundy barberry and a green moss. It was stunning. Conifers can also bring brightness to the garden. We looked at a dwarf Japanese cedar called Twinkle Toes. It was striking the way it stood out in the garden. The brightness of the cedar was partnered with heuchera and sedums to make a nice grouping of plants. We even found a very tiny umbrella pine tucked in the same landscape. We finished our tour with another dwarf pine. This one looked like a small explosion of green with large tufts of needles. A great little addition to the garden. If you are looking for some of these unusual conifers you can always contact Rick at French Prairie Perennials, and maybe he will take you out the Iseli gardens, but you can be sure he will get you the plants you need!
French Prairie Gardens Fall Events
Fall is a fun time on the family farm and this is especially true at French Prairie Gardens (503-633-8445). September and October are full of fun events and family friendly affairs. We stopped by to get the low-down on what they had coming up in the next few weeks. First of all Katie told us about the big month of October. They have a ton of stuff planned like their Pigtucky Derby pig races, corn maze, duck races and pig barrel train rides. They kick things off with the Ladies Only Night on the 25th of September. This evening you can sample wine, beer and tasty treats while you learn to switch your porch from summer to fall. They will have deals on plants and giveaways too. If you RSVP on their website you can get a Hay Wagon Ride. Another event that they have planned is the Fight For Your Life 5K on the 28th of September. This is not just a run, you can walk or crawl too. They just want to see you there to combat cancer in the local community through the non-profit Em’s Fight. Emily, was their older sister that passed away a couple of years ago from a rare form of cancer and they have established this run and non-profit to create something beautiful out of a tragedy. Go to their website to download an entry form. As you can see there are plenty of things to do at French Prairie Gardens!
Buying garden art can be expensive, but what if you made your own? One of the projects that we’ve had the most fun doing was leaf casting. This is where you use concrete (or a similar substance) to capture the patterns on your biggest and best garden foliage. To get some step by step instructions we stopped by the home of our friend Nancy Grossenbacher. She and her friend, Carol DuBosch, saw a leaf casting demonstration years ago and decided that they could do it too. Now they have taken all that they learned and they are sharing that knowledge with everyone, including our viewers. Nancy started by tell us the basics you need to get started. First you need to find a good leaf. You are looking for one that is solid and can handle a little pounding. The pounding occurs when you are applying the cement so make sure it is a thick leaf with good vein structure. Next you want to assemble your tools and materials. The ‘concrete’ that they use is actually a vinyl concrete patch. It is a mixture of different products that actually hold up well during the process and over time, so your leaf will look great for years in the garden. The rest of your kit should include brushes, files and sandpaper to help sand your project when you are finished to smooth it out. A roll of duct tape is also good to repair any little holes in your leaf so you can finish your project if your leaf gets a tear. Now that you have all your materials put together you will need to build a form. Nancy used a mound of compost from her garden. It was patted down hard to give her and Carol a good base on which to build their leaf.
Next we brought in Carol to actually do the applying of the cement. First she made sure that the mound was big enough. You don’t want it too small or the leaf won’t turn out right. Then she started to mix the concrete, adding a little water at a time to make sure you can control it when it is on the leaf. You don’t want it too runny. You then start to apply it in the middle, and patting hard, work your way to the edges. Don’t go over the edge. Make sure you stop before the edge and give yourself a nice thick edge to work with so it doesn’t break when you pull the leaf off. Once you have covered the whole leaf to the right thickness you will want to let it set at least overnight if not longer. 12 hours should be the minimum amount of time to wait. After it sets you can then just peal the leaf off to reveal the leaf pattern. If parts of the leaf get stuck in the cement grooves you can use a dental tool, needle or scissor point to pry it gently out. Some people paint the finished leaf, but you can just leave it alone to age naturally in your garden. If you would like more detailed instructions, check out the link here.
Besaw’s Garden Salad
Besaw’s (503-228-2619) is one of the oldest restaurants in the city of Portland. In fact Henry Weinhard, the big beer maker in the area, helped finance the business in 1903. Today we met with chef Michael ‘Cheffy’ Uhnak in the gardens behind the restaurant to help him harvest some fresh veggies for a wonderful steak salad that he was going to make on the grill. Every Wednesday he is found in the garden taking care of his own selections of vegetables that he uses in the kitchen at Besaw’s. Today the steak salad was a recipe that he makes and serves cold, but it can also be served hot off the grill.
He started with making a marinade with parsley, garlic, and an olive oil/vinegar mix. This was blended and then the steak was added to allowed to marinate over night. The vinaigrette for the salad was next. Cheffy muddled some blueberries and then added an olive oil/vinegar mixture to that, added salt and pepper and lemon zest and allowed to set. We then turned to the grill. In a pan we sautéed fresh corn, bell peppers, and zucchini (though you can also roast them) until they were brown. While they were cooking, Cheffy had his steaks on the grill. He just seared them and didn’t let them over cook. Once they were done he sliced the steak into thin strips.
The vegetables were mixed with the vinaigrette and tossed with diced kale. The vegetable went on the plate and the steak strips were placed over the top of that. What a dish! But this is only one of the dishes that you will find at Besaw’s and who knows, maybe you will be getting a taste from their garden! Want to try it? Here is the recipe!