Crisp! It seems to be the right word for the season. Crisp is the morning air when the fall kicks in. Crisp are the apples that we seem to celebrate during this month (check out our story on the 27th annual Portland Nursery Apple Tasting). And crisp is the sound of the leaves when you walk through them on these cool fall days. These are great days to get out and enjoy this ‘crispness’ before the and rain set in for the winter.
This week we featured...
How can you get the elephants, giraffes, hippos and rhinos to help you in the garden? You use their ‘doo’! We recently went on trip to the Oregon Zoo where were educated on ‘Zoo Doo’. We met with Rick Hanes, the horticultural supervisor about how they create this wonderful mulch. He told us that Zoo Doo is the composted waste from all the herbivores in the zoo. These animals include the before mentioned animals with the elephants being the biggest producers! The keepers collect it almost daily and then transport it to a compost facility on-site. There it is piled and the process begins. Blowers force air into the piles and with this increased oxygen flow the manure heats up and breaks down much faster than if it was left to sit. These piles are moved through the process until you have a fine, nutrient filled compost that they use around the zoo in their own garden beds. The compost is also supplied to the Portland Parks department and also to Metro where it is used about the city and county to beautify and feed the plants. Believe it or not you can also pick some of this great mulch up for your garden! The best part is that it is FREE! You can pick some up at the zoo on Thursdays between 10am and 2pm, but you have to call first to place your order. For more information about the Zoo Doo program check out their website.
Fall Fragrant Plants
When fall rolls around you may think that the garden is getting ready to go to sleep as well. But, there are certain plants that really come to life during the fall and winter. They can share blooms, cool foliage and best of all, great fragrance. To see some of these plants we stopped by Ferguson’s Fragrant Nursery. Dani always has a great selection of fragrant plants and she knows her stuff. She started with a new gardenia called Frost Proof. This one has been blooming all summer long and was still covered in buds and fragrant blooms. It will continue to bloom if given a little protection well into fall and early winter. Herbs are also great for fall and winter fragrance. We looked at a rosemary that stays short in the garden with pruning. This plant provides foliage fragrance, flower fragrance, foliage texture and so many other things that it is a ‘must have’ for the NW garden. We then moved to a tall shrub called Viburnum bodnantense or Pink Dawn Viburnum. This is a mid to late winter bloomer and is very fragrant. The plant is tough, in fact last year during a snow storm and cold snap it took a beating and continued to bloom. Put this in an area with room to grow and you will get tons of fragrant blooms! Another mid-winter fragrant plant that is much smaller is Sarcococca also known as Sweet Box. This one doesn’t have huge flower, but it does have a huge fragrance. If you put this one near your front door you will be rewarded with a wonderful scent every time you come home. A vine that will smell great and look good is the Star Jasmine. This plant blooms all summer long and will continue until the first frost, sometimes longer. Dani recommends that you not only use it as a vine, but to let it grow along the ground as a ground cover. Another low grower is the Choisya ternate, or Mexican mock orange. This one will sometimes kick out a fragrant fall bloom but it is really known for its lime green foliage that looks great in the winter. Then in the late winter it kicks out tons of fragrant white blooms. The next plant was an old favorite, Daphne odora. This daphne blooms in late February and when it is mature it can get as big as 4 to 5 feet tall. Good drainage is the key to keeping this plant happy and healthy. If you don’t like the big daphne, there is a smaller one called ‘Lawrence Crocker’ which is a shorter one that repeat blooms all year long. The final plant we looked at was a new short version of a Mahonia called ‘Soft Caress’. This short plant not only has great foliage but also fragrant yellow flowers. If you are looking for some great fall and winter fragrant plants, stop by your local independent garden center, or if you are south of Portland you can also stop by Ferguson’s!
Portland Nursery Apple Tasting
Be prepared for a celebration!!! A is for apple and you will find a ton of apples at Portland Nursery’s (503-231-5050) 27th Annual Apple tasting at the Stark Street location. This landmark celebration features over 50 different varieties of apples and pears available to taste. There is a kid’s area with face painting and balloon creations. Plus you can stop by on Friday the 17th for ‘Elementary School Field Trip Day’ which is loaded with kid’s activities. Cooking demonstrations, an apple press and live music are also on the list of activities. Another reason for stopping by is to get a chance to vote for the best scarecrow. Fellow shoppers have entered their best scarecrows for the chance to win prizes. You can also shop from a variety of local vendors that will be offering local honey, mustard, jam and a whole lot more. Special events include a special ‘Senior Day’ on the 15th with discounts for seniors, and everyday discounts on apple prices. Now is the time to also take advantage of all the wonderful fall perennials available at both locations of Portland Nursery. Come see these and a bunch more at the tasting!
Northwest Gardens Book
We all know how great the Northwest is for gardeners but I’m pretty sure you didn’t know about all the great gardens you can visit in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. We met with author, Donald Olson, of a book The Pacific Northwest Garden Tour at one of the 60 gardens he featured, Elk Rock Garden of the Bishop’s Close to talk about the book and to try and get him to tell us his favorite garden. Donald is a very humorous and open guy. He brings that same humor and openness to the book. It is not only a reference book with all the details you need to visit and learn more about the featured gardens, but he also fills you in on the history and personal stories of the designers and original owners. He also brings attention to areas near the gardens that you should also check out on your travels. Some of the gardens are ones that everyone should be familiar with including the Butchart Gardens in Victoria and the International Rose Test Gardens at Washington Park in Portland, but he also recommends display gardens at some great local nurseries like Joy Creek in Scappoose and Dancing Oaks in Monmouth. There are so many great gardens listed that I guess you could make this book a ‘bucket list’ for local gardeners. If you would like to learn more about the book or want to purchase a copy, you can check out the Timber Press website or Donald’s own website.
Black Gold Silicon
We found the latest in soil amendments and it was right under our feet. We met with Michelle from SunGro Black Gold about the new ingredient in their potting soils, Resilience with silicon. This is not the plastic style product, silicone, silicon is one of the most available elements in the earth’s crust. SunGro started to experiment with natural elements and found this silicon really can help your plants grow. When this element is available to the plant it helps the plant take up more nutrients and that makes for a stronger plant. A stronger plant can be more drought and disease resistant. It does this by strengthening the cell walls and stems. If you would like to learn more about Resilience you can check out the SunGro website.