Time to tour! This week we noticed that it must be garden tour time. In the next few weeks we have seen announcements for quite a few garden tours. That must mean that everything is looking good and in bloom! So we decided to share three of those tours with you on the show this week. These tours are a great way to see some wonderful private gardens and check out some incredible plants (or trains, in one case). It is also a great way to get some ideas about changes you may want to do in your garden. So gas up the car and help these groups while you wander some beautiful gardens.
It is also graduation time. We would like to wish all the grads a successful future. Graduations also mean that summer is right around the corner. We are just a few weeks away from returning to our half hour format. Enjoy these hour shows and soon it will be the lazy days of summer, and a shorter show.
This week we featured...
East Multnomah County Garden Tour
Garden clubs exist in every part of our state and when they throw a garden tour you can bet it will be a good one. We heard about the 20th Semi-annual East Multnomah County Garden Tour and had to check it out. We met with members of the Multnomah District Garden Clubs at the home of the Yoshida’s, who make those wonderful sauces, to check out their garden which is on the tour. We first chatted with Elaine Hutson who was the designer of the garden. She talked about some of the special areas in the garden including a gazebo, rose garden and a huge ‘man-made’ waterfall. This was just the start of the tour, Catherine Dishion joined us to fill us in on some of the other stops along the way. There are 3 other gardens and they are all large, running between 1 and 15 acres. If you drop by this weekend (between 10am and 4pm) you will see meandering creeks, natural plantings, an art studio and green houses. If you are in the east county you have to stop by these gardens. Tickets are available at each garden, call 503-695-5774, for a list of gardens and directions to each.
Did you know that Salem and the surrounding area used be a huge cherry growing area? That is why Salem is known as the Cherry City and also why the public buses in Salem are called Cherriots. We were reminded of this when we paid a visit to Cherry Country (877-3CHERRY, 324-3779) and visited with Celeste Bonniksen. Her parents bought a cherry orchard in 1991. It started out as a hobby, but soon they realized that they could do so much more. They decided that they would dry the cherries to maintain their flavor and make them store better. They then decided to cover those dried cherries with chocolate. This has now grown to a business of 6 people and a huge following of fans. Now they also make jellies, jams various candies and other treats. Celeste then talked to us about the homeowner and how they can be successful with cherry trees. First find a variety that will grow well in your area. Make sure you can give the tree adequate water and lots of sun. Then you want to a make sure it gets good pollination which means you might need another tree to cross pollinate or a self-pollinating variety. Finally we learned how to pick a cherry. You will find ripe cherries attached to a fruiting spur. This is the woody little nub at the top of the cherry stem. You don’t want to damage that since the tree makes use of it again the next season for fruit production. You gently push the cherry stem up and away from the cluster of cherries and it will just snap off without damaging the rest of the fruit spur. Very easy!
Then we moved up to their production facility to see how they process the 10 different varieties that they grow. When the cherries come in they are washed and sorted, then they are pitted by a machine. The cherries are then stored and some are frozen for later use. When they need cherries for production they can pull them out of the freezer all year long. She also showed us how they make their chocolate cherries. I think we gained 20 pounds just watching her do it!
If you would like to try some of these treats you can find them at the Portland Farmers Market and the Corvallis Farmers Market. They also have a retail store at their orchard near Salem and they have everything available on-line too. For more information check out their website!
Geraniums are a staple in our gardens, but there are so many different colors and varieties now that we decided to stop by and visit with a local grower to see what is new and how to care for these beauties. We met with Marvin at Stoller Farms (503-829-5385) in Molalla where they grow a lot of annuals and hanging baskets. Our first question was about the difference between zonal and seed geraniums. Zonal are usually taken from cuttings and seed geraniums are grown from seed. The zonal types are stronger plants and can withstand a little more abuse than the seed type. The seed types tend to have blooms that shatter, meaning the petals fall apart. You will also want to look for lots of branching of stems. The more branches the more blooms. You should also look for good sturdy plants. Stoller Farms grow theirs in a larger pot so they end up much stronger when you take them home. One variety that is VERY strong is called a ‘calliope’. This one is a cross between an ivy geranium and a zonal geranium. These will cascade a little bit over the edge of a container if you use them in one.
For care you will need to keep them watered but not drowning. They also like a good balanced water soluble fertilizer like a 20-20-20, about once a week. To get more blooms you will also want to deadhead the plants when the old blooms start to die. Just go to the base of the old flower and snap it off at the main stalk.
If you would like to know more about geraniums you can visit their farm in Molalla, or check them out at the Beaverton Farmer’s Market or the Lake Oswego Farmers Market.
Garden Train Tour
If you are looking to try something new in your garden, have you ever considered a garden train? There is a very active club of Garden Railroaders in Portland and next weekend they are having their annual garden tour. We stopped by one of the locations to talk to Warner Swarner and his wife Brooke about their railroad. Warner and Brooke bought their home and started their negotiations! She wanted tomatoes, he wanted trains, she wanted grapes and rose, he wanted trains. So they compromised and I’m not sure she expected this! Their layout takes up almost all of their backyard, most of the front yard and even part of the basement, and yes, that is all one track. This layout is like a working line. It runs from the make-believe town of Glacier and runs to Bears Paw. There are over 1200 feet of track. They even use it to harvest the grapes in their garden. They cut the grapes and the trains take them to the crusher and de-stemmer. The train runs through a rundown of Warner’s hobbies. There are rocks and bonsai, which he loves, and past wonderful little buildings which he loves a little more than the trains that run by them. Rocks, trees and the model buildings should all work together so a person can ‘get lost’ in the details and the design. It is amazing when you get down and look at the train at eye level. It is a different world.
Now, if you are interested in seeing this train and would like to see up to 12 more garden trains, then next weekend is the perfect time. The Rose City Garden Railway Society is having their huge summer garden tour. This tour takes place every year on the Saturday before Father’s Day from10am to 5pm. Society members open up their backyards to the general public and you can stop by and see these enchanting layouts. There is a booklet that is a self-guided tour of trains from Corbett to Hillsboro. It is also your ticket! The booklet/ticket is available at local hobby shops and garden centers around the area. If you would like to find the location nearest you, check out their website. The cost is only $10 for an entire carload of people. So gather all your friends and pick up a booklet/ticket and start ‘training’.
Plant Pick – Pollinator Plants
Our plant picks from Little Prince of Oregon usually focus on a plant or a group of plants in the same family. This week Mark from Little Prince decided to focus on pollinator plants. We met him at Shonnard’s Nursery, Florist and Landscape (541-929-3524) to chat about come of the pollinator plants they have. We found Andrea Shonnard in the nursery and she had the Asclepias, also known as Showy Milkweed, a great native plant for the monarch butterfly and other pollinators too. The butterfly will lay its eggs on the plant and the caterpillar will eat the leaves at the early stages of its lifecycle. She also showed us the great selection of agastache that they have in the nursery. Great color and tons of flowers for those bees. Mark pulled out an ajuga ‘Burgundy Glow’. This is a smaller ground cover, but the bumble bees love it too. It is just one of the great plants from Little Prince that look wonderful in the garden and also help our local bees!
Mark recommended that people who were interested in helping the bees in the Portland area contact the Pollinator Parkways. This group promotes conversion of your street-side parking strips into pollinator friendly habitats. All you have to do is adopt 3 basic rules. Be pesticide free, use native plants, and stagger the bloom times of the plants. For more information you can check out their website.
Jan’s June Tips
You would think that with the warm spring we have had, that you could just relax in your garden, but we found out that there is always something happening in the garden! We met with Jan McNeilan in her garden to get the tips of the month. First she had a couple of branches. These were both from a nine-bark. One was normal and the other was covered in Powdery Mildew. This fungus looks like a think powdered sugar on your plant, but you don’t want to eat this! This fungus will weaken your plant, but it won’t kill it. You can remove the diseased branches and leaves when you first see them and that may slow it down. Remember to dispose of the diseased parts in your garbage. They will just infect your compost if you put them in there. The next problem we are looking for are Root Weevils. These little pests will eat notches out of your plants. They will also weaken your plants and if they are not established, they could kill the plant. Look for those notches on the side of the leaf and then treat for the problem. Don’t confuse this pest with the slug. They will eat all parts of the leaf including the center. Don’t treat for a pest you don’t have. Next we talked about June Drop. This is when a tree will drop fruit on the ground. This is normal. The tree will rid itself of fruit that isn’t viable. If it doesn’t have a seed, the tree will not support it. This was evident when Jan cut open a few of the dropped fruit and one that was left on the tree. The one that was left on the tree had 5 large seeds, the dropped fruit only had one small seed. The tree is doing a little self-pruning. Compost the dropped fruit and be happy that your tree is doing your work for you! Finally, we talked about mowing your lawn. More specifically, the length of the grass in your mowed lawn. Jan recommended that you add a little height to your mower to promote a healthier lawn. The longer lawn will help keep your lawn from drying out in the summer heat. For more tips for your garden, check out the OSU Extension website.
Bauman’s Berries & Basil
Spring and summer are the time for edibles. To see what is available right now we stopped by Bauman’s Farm and Garden (503-792-3524). Brian met us in the nursery to show us a new basil called ‘Balsamic Basil’. This is a shorter and densely packed plant that looks great as an ornamental in the garden, or in your kitchen. It is a perfect plant for the late spring and is sure to please any gardener. We also talked about berries. Strawberry season is done. The heat of spring had all the berries ripening early, and that means they finished early too. Now we are looking for other berries to make their appearance. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are showing up at the store. How fresh are these berries? We travelled across the street to the fields to see them on the vine!
Herbs, Teas, Vinegars and Liquors
There are so many uses for herbs in the kitchen. We normally look at cooking to use our garden herbs, but did you know you can use them for teas, vinegars and liquors. One of the best people we know for using herbs in unusual ways is Laura from Portland Nursery (503-231-5050). Judy met her at the Stark Street location to talk about some of the ways you can use herbs and plants in making various products. Laura showed us the tea she was drinking. This tea was made from nettles, oat straw, holy basil (a member of the mint family), rose petals and red clover. These are dried and then combined and packaged in natural muslin tea bags. Laura also shared some spicy basil tea that she brought over from England, which Judy tried. They also have basils that taste like licorice or cinnamon, which can be used in teas. She then showed us some vinegars she was working on. The first one was a dandelion and nettles. You can use the whole dandelion and the leaves and stems from the nettle. These are put into a blender and added to some apple cider vinegar and stored in a jar. Laura recommends that you use parchment paper over the top of your storage container so the natural acids of the vinegar don’t eat away at the top of the container. You can use this type of vinegar to cook with or make salad dressings out of it. Next we looked at drinking vinegars or ‘shrubs’. These types of vinegars are generally sweet and also include an herb of some sort. Judy tried an elderberry shrub spritzer. Laura mixed a little of the shrub into a glass and then added a bubbly mineral water to it. It was light and refreshing with a slight vinegar taste you don’t normally get in a beverage. Plus it is non-alcoholic. You can make your own, in fact Laura said that blueberry and lavender pair well together and make an excellent shrub. Finally we moved to the adult beverages. Laura had a Douglas Fir infused vodka. She just harvested the new tips from a Doug fir tree and left them to soak in a clear vodka. It tasted good and smelled a little like the forest with pine flavors. She is also making a osmanthus and a honeysuckle vodka as well.
Antiques have always been hot. Now they are getting hot in the garden! Flea markets are the place to be for some of these buried treasures that you can use in your home or your yard. This weekend there is one place where you can get your garden and flea market fix at one time. Margie’s Farm and Garden is hosting ‘A Vintage Flea’. A Vintage Flea is a vintage/flea/antique market with anything from antiques and mid-century vintage to crafts and castoffs. Kathy joined us to tell us about the event which is happening from 9am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 3pm on Sunday. We found a bunch of cool furniture that had been repurposed. We even saw an old plant stand that had been refurbished and was full of great plants. Awesome! As I mentioned before you can also get your plant fix too! Margie joined us to tell us that they will have 30% off almost every plant in the nursery. They are still full of great color plants and baskets. You can still add color to your garden. If you are thinking about planting now you should just pay more attention to the watering and you should be fine. If you are out and about this weekend, stop by!
TOW – Topping Your Dahlias
Our tip of the week will help your flower garden later this summer. This week we are passing on a tip about ‘topping’ or ‘tipping’ your dahlias. We noticed that, at the end of summer at the Swan Island Dahlia (800-410-6540) fields, their flowers were all up-right and didn’t flop in the fields, unlike our dahlias in the garden. They told us that they cut off the tops of the flower in the late spring. This ‘topping’ of the dahlia makes a shorter, stronger bush and a better structure for the flowers. When your plant is 18-20 inches tall, just count up about 3-4 leaf nodes from the ground and cut off the top of the stem. It is hard for some people to do! They notice the buds starting to form and that means it will take longer for your flowers to bloom, but if you do it now you will have a much better plant in just a few weeks. You can find more tips about dahlia care at the Swan Island Dahlia website.
HPSO/Garden Conservancy Tour
One of the best gardens we have ever seen was this one that we featured in this story. We paid a visit to the garden of Judy McElhaney in Vancouver. Her garden was a showplace for unique plants and beautiful design. This 14 year old garden is around 3 acres, but it seems so much bigger! The maturity of the plants makes you think that the garden has been around for a couple of decades. Judy told us that she has tried to improve the soil over time and it seems to have worked. Judy also told us that she has included a Japanese theme throughout the garden. She lived in Japan when she was growing up and fell in love with Japanese maples and gingko’s, and later, conifers. She has over 150 Japanese maples in her garden. What impressed us was the number of different areas in the garden. There is a covered bridge, a water fall, a fire pit area and a woodland area to name a few, and all of them are filled with unique and one-of-a-kind plant specimens. We found that we were saying ‘ah’ every time we walked around a corner!
To learn more about the tour and the other gardens we talked to Beth Hansen-Winter from the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon. This garden is just one of 5 gardens on the tour. She told us that this tour is a benefit for the Hardy Plant Society and for the Garden Conservancy. They have had this partnership for 10 years and it is a great partnership for both. Some of the other gardens feature contemporary Japanese styles, whimsical and quirky art, a dwarf conifer garden and a lake! Lots to see in every garden. They will also have a raffle at one location with donated items up for grabs. If you would like tickets all you have to do is check out the Hardy Plant Society website at www.HardyPlantSociety.org and download a map. Show up at any of the gardens and pick up your tickets there.
Don’t miss your chance to see these great gardens and help out a great cause.