Could it be? Is spring over? I just received an e-mail from a local retailer saying that spring is over and it is time to get ready for summer. With the weather we’ve been having it isn’t hard to believe. Just last week we saw such a variety of blooms we were amazed! We have even seen fresh strawberries available at Bauman’s, Margie’s Farm and Garden and Smith Berry Barn. Still the occasional spring shower is still a welcome sight and we are enjoying the cooler weather when we get it. We recommend that you enjoy it too.
We want to remind everyone that Subaru Garden Dayz is just a week away. The Garden Time crew will be at Capitol Subaru in Salem on Saturday, May 21st from 11am to 3pm. We will be giving away bedding plants and sunflower seeds for your garden. There will also be free food (while it lasts) and we will be drawing for gift cards all day, including $25 cards from Portland Nursery every half hour, and at the end of the day, a $50 card from Drake’s 7 Dees and a $100 card from Al’s Garden Center. Oh and I almost forgot, we’ll also have 11 different vendors and groups if you want to fill your yard with any last minute plants or garden art. We hope to see you there!
This week we featured...
The spring is here and that means the return of the Rufous hummingbird to local gardens, but did you know that we have had the Anna’s hummingbird here all winter too? The Rufous are just returning to the area for the summer. To learn more about these birds and how to keep them in the garden we stopped by Backyard Bird Shop (503-620-7454) and talked to Scott. He showed us some of the feeders that they have in stock and how to use them (and protect them) so the birds can enjoy them all summer long. One of the questions we have had in the past is one that they get at the stores as well, ‘doesn’t having a feeder create a problem for the birds by getting them to rely on a non-native source of food?’. Scott told us that the hummingbirds use the feeder as only one of the sources for food. The birds usually have multiple sources for feeding and that includes flowers and small insects. They know better than to rely on one source of food, they are pretty smart that way!
He then pulled out a little swing. It was the Pop’s Hummingbird Swing. This cute little swing actually serves a purpose. Birds will sit on it near the feeder to protect their food source. It really works. If you love hummingbirds you have to stop by Backyard Bird Shop.
In the late spring and early summer people start to pull out their sprayers. Whether they are applying weed control, moss control or other chemicals we thought it would great to give people a reminder about sprayer safety. These are good tips to follow even if you are applying an organic spray. First make sure that there is little or no wind. You don’t want drift from your sprayer to get into different areas than where you want it to go. Also, make sure that the temperature is not too hot or too cold. Most chemicals, either organic or synthetic, are most effective in warm weather. Of course you will always want to read the label for application to make sure that you are applying it correctly. When you are applying the product you should walk backwards so you don’t spread the spray on your shoes to other areas in your garden.
As far as attire, you should wear long pants, long sleeves and closed toed shoes. Eye protection, gloves and a mouth cover or respirator round out your clothing choices. Follow these simple rules and you can be sure that the spray will end up right where you want it!
Al's Fairy Garden
You can add a bit of magic to your garden either inside or out by making a portion of it a fairy garden. A fairy garden is supposed to attract and make a home for good fairies so they stay and bring luck and good fortune to your garden and your home. They are made up of small homes, furniture and chairs. You can build one in a pot or in a secluded part of your garden (to give them a little privacy). We stopped by Al’s Garden Center (503-981-1245) in Sherwood to chat with Amy and her daughters to learn more about this phenomenon. Since fairies need a space of their own you will want to include pathways, fences and arbors. This will encourage them to stay in your garden. Letting your kids build the garden will allow them to use their own creativity and imagination. The girls built one in a large container, which was full of smaller plants. These plants all had similar growing characteristics, so the container was easy to maintain. After a fairy garden is planted some people swear that sometimes it looks like some of the pieces had been moved the next day. That is a good sign since it shows that the fairies had been there and using it. Getting one started is easy. You can even get everything you need to get started at any of the Al’s locations. They have a huge display of accessories to choose from. In a time when some people think that bigger is better, you can take the opposite route and make a home with your kids for the ‘wee people’ and have a great time doing it!
Everyone wants to use their irrigation water wisely and one of the best ways to do that is with a drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation uses a fraction of the water that other forms of watering use, because it places the water right where the plants need it, at the roots. Drip, though, can be perceived to be confusing and difficult, but it’s not. To learn more about drip irrigation we drove up to Right Irrigation (360-696-1831) and talked with Cindy Webb. She told us it is easy to set up a drip system if you just have the right tools and a little time. She showed us how you can build a drip system off your hose bib on the side of your house. First you start by measuring the area you want to cover. This will give you an idea about how much hose you will need to reach all your plants. Then you attach a pressure reducer to the spigot outside your house. The pressure reducer makes sure that you don’t blow the hoses apart when you hook up. Then you can either go directly to your plants or if you have 2 areas to reach you can use a splitter off the main line and then take the larger hose out to your plants. This tubing is usually ½ inch in diameter. Once you are at your individual plants you can then use an emitter to regulate the water to your plants. The emitters are what regulate the flow of water. These emitters are rated in gallons per minute. They start with a half-gallon an hour emitter up to 24 gallons per hour. The most popular are the half, 1 and 2 gallon emitters. As a rule of thumb you would use a half-gallon for hanging baskets and patio pots, the one gallon for small shrubs, the two gallon for larger shrubs. The best part is that you can change the emitters. If you find out that a plant needs more or less water, you can change the emitter. The way to deliver the water is cool too. You can use a drip ring for plants or baskets, or sprayers or even pop-up heads if you want the sprayers to disappear when they are done. You can even get shut off valves if you want to shut off the water to certain areas during different times of the year.
If you want to do a little homework before you tackle the job, Right Irrigation even has this wonderful set of handouts to help you through the process (click here for a pdf copy). Of course we recommend that you stop by their store in Vancouver (the Garden Time crew went back later and made our purchases!) and get some personal assistance.
Tsugawa Water Plants
Creating a welcoming area around your pond or water feature is not that hard if you use the right plants. To learn more about these wonders of the water, we stopped by Tsugawa Nursery in Woodland and talked with Brian. There are 3 main types of plants that you are looking for. The floaters, the edge huggers and the deep divers. Brian started with the floaters. He had some water lettuce that he was showing Judy. These are considered tender and almost tropical, meaning you buy these fresh every year. You buy these to float along the top of your water, while they provide shade for your fish and help clean the water. Next we talked about Marsh Marigolds. These are the edge huggers or shelf plants. These are used to soften the edges of your pond or water feature. They like the wet conditions, but they don’t want to be totally submerged. They can handle a 1 foot deep edge and they also shade and filter the water. The last group we talked about were the deep plants. These plants, like most water lilies, go down about 15-18 inches and send their leaves up to the surface. These are in containers and can be removed and over-wintered to survive from season to season. The water lilies can also be divided too. Just make sure that you have an active ‘eye’ or growth shoot in your division. You will want to use a special aquatic planting media/soil when you plant these. These don’t do well in regular soil. They also need fertilizing like your regular garden plants. For that you will need a special fertilizer tablet that slowly releases its nutrients to the plant and not into the water. If you would like more help with your pond or water feature, including the fish for the water, you can stop by Tsugawa’s and talk to their helpful staff. They know everything about ponds!
Making a Floral Crown
One of the most fashion forward trends for the summer are floral crowns or head wreaths. To learn more about this trend and for tips on making them we stopped by and talked to Kim Foren at Geranium Lake Flowers (503-228-1920) in downtown Portland. She is a true artist and the ones she makes are incredible! People are using them for graduations, weddings and other less formal events. In fact she had made a simple one for William to wear that included hebe, bay leaf and rosemary. We then started to build one from scratch. To start you would use a ribbon or a wire form of some type. This is what you would tie your flowers to so you want to make sure that is strong enough to handle the weight of the flowers you are using. Then you need to make short bundles of flowers about 3 to 4 inches long which will be added to the wreath. When you do this you want to wrap them with a florist tape so they stay together. When you have a bunch of short bundles then you add these to the wire so they’re about 1 or 2 inches or so apart. Then to preserve them you will want to mist them and put them into a sealed plastic bag. This will keep them fresh for about a day or so. These are a true showstopper for any gathering. If you don’t feel comfortable making your own you can stop by Geranium Lake and they will make one for you, then you’ll be the life of the party.
Campbell Native Garden
Most gardeners have heard about the benefits of adding natives to the garden, but can you tell how they will perform in your garden? To see how these wonderful plants might grow in your garden we stopped by the Campbell Native Garden in Lake Oswego and chatted with Megan Big John. Megan is an old friend and works with Lake Oswego’s Parks Department. She is in charge of this garden and has been working to make it a showcase for native plants. The Campbell family were long time supporters in Lake Oswego and they wanted this garden to be a demonstration of how a native garden should look for those who were interested in doing this at their own homes. A lot of people think that natives are the best low maintenance solution to their garden needs, but Megan told us that natives are just like any other plants in the garden. They need to be maintained and cared for. This garden is small but it gives a good representation of growth habits and conditions for native plants. If you would like to see this garden and others in the Lake Oswego Parks system, check out their website and then pay a visit to this wonderful garden.
Sedum Wall Hanging
Sedums are great plants for the garden, but did you know they are also great plants for your walls? Sedums are wonderful plants for wall hangings! They stay tight and compact in their planters, which makes them prefect plants for creating a wall hanging. Becky from Sedum Chicks (503-508-7727) showed us how you can take these adaptable plants and use them in a frame that you can hang on a wall. First she used a combination of plants so there is a lot of visual interest. Then she planted them tightly in a frame that they make at their business. These plants will perform well even if you don’t water them every day! Once she had them packed in the frame she recommended that you water them well and then hang them up! Sedum Chicks planters are available at a lot of local retailers, plus you can get them at various farmers markets. To learn more about getting these planters or getting the plants to do this on your own, check out the Sedum Chicks website!
Little did you know that squirrels are attracted to more than just nuts! We found that out at Garden Fever (503-287-3200)! Lori joined us in the nursery to show us some nibbled branches from a maple and a dogwood. It is nesting time for squirrels and they are looking for nesting material. For a garden center that means soft leaves from those same maples and dogwoods. Their resident momma squirrel took those tender shoots and padded her nest with them. If you have the same problem happening in your garden Lori recommended a couple of natural products that can deter our fuzzy friends. ‘Shake Away’ has some granules that use natural products and scents to drive them away. These products include garlic and even fox urine to ward them off of your plants. If you want more tips on getting rid of these pests, stop by Garden Fever or your local independent garden center.
Terra Casa Fountains
There is nothing like the sound of water in the garden and one of the best ways to bring the sound to your backyard is with a fountain from Terra Casa (503-577-8242). We took a walk with Justin to see some of the different styles that they have at the store. At Terra Casa they say that they can make a fountain out of any container at their store and now we believe them. Justin showed us how you can build a fountain above ground or even make a small feature that can be buried in your backyard. They will even come out and dig the hole for you and install it. The coolest feature that we saw was how they designed their water features so you can adjust the amount of splash you get. The valve is just right below the surface of the water, so all you have to do is reach in and turn the valve! If you love décor whether indoors or out, stop by Terra Casa. They are just 10 minutes east of Clackamas Town Center in Damascus.