Happy Father’s Day weekend! We would like to wish all the fathers out there a very happy weekend. What are you planning to do for Dad? Sadly, some fathers are no longer around to celebrate with us. Still we can remember our fathers with a plant. Either one in memory of someone past, or as a gift to that dad who’s always there for you!
As you are reading this the Garden Time crew is celebrating with over 35 viewers in Ireland. Right now we are enjoying Dublin and nine different gardens. Not to worry, we are shooting some stories and we will be sharing those with you when we return. If you are interested in joining us on a future tour, we are leaving for Hawaii in February of 2017. Check out the Garden Time Tours page on our website for more information.
This week we featured...
In-Ground Irrigation Basics
The heat of summer will be here soon and that means your garden will be stressed! The hot days of summer can give your plants a beating. To help you keep your lawn and garden in shape have you ever considered an in-ground sprinkler system? We found out how easy it would be to install one when we stopped by Right Irrigation (360-696-1831) and talked to Cindy. She had a diagram on the wall that showed all of the main features that you need to consider when installing a system.
First you tap off the main water line. This cutoff has a valve on it so you can shut off the water to the system in case you need to do maintenance to your system. The next piece was a very important one, a backflow device. The backflow device prevents the flow of your system’s water back into the public water supply. It is the only part that is REQUIRED by code to be installed. Next we saw the drain. This is used to drain your system when you shut it down for the winter. The pipes need to be drained in the winter so they don’t freeze and damage your system. This water line then goes to the valves. These valves are electronic and turn the water on and off to the different zones or stations in your system. They are run by a controller. The controller is where you turn your zones on and off and allows you to program when the system operates. Some of these valves can also have small backflow devices attached to them. Cindy told us that the main thing here is that you need to control which zones are turned on and which are turned off. You cannot have all your zones going at once, the system and your water supply probably can’t handle it. The other important point is that you have to remember that the zones need to be determined by the number of gallons available and not the number of sprinklers you have. Never exceed the number of gallons your system can handle at any time. Also different sprinkler heads use different amounts of water. So you really need to do your calculations here!
Cindy has 5 tips to follow to help you be successful. The first tip is to figure out how many gallons you have available from your system. This number will help you determine the number of sprinkler heads and the type of heads to use. The second tip is to use a uniform size of pipe for your whole project. This will help maintain your pressure throughout your whole system. For the normal residential installation that would be a 1 inch pipe. The third tip is to cross your sprays. Since the sprinklers can’t water the area closest to themselves you need to have the other sprinklers cover those areas. Use head to head coverage! Tips number four is to not ‘mix heads’. Each type of sprinkler is different and uses different amounts of water. So don’t mix a ‘rotor’ sprinkler with a ‘spray’ sprinkler. You would not be using your water efficiently if you did. The final tip was to use the ‘Swing Joint’. This is a system of joints and tubing that will allow you to ‘swing’ your sprinklers in numerous directions. This will allow the head to be moved to accommodate growth in plants, installation of bark or mulch, and even to be stepped on without damaging your system. It is truly unique!
If you were thinking about installing an in-ground system you can take your design to Right Irrigation and they can help you pick out the parts, but they can also design a system for you. Right now they will charge you $100 for the design and if you but buy 75 percent of the materials from Right, they will refund $80 back to you. We have found them to be great to work with. So if you need any more questions answered just stop by or give them a call!
Picking a Container Rose
With gardens getting smaller we are always looking for ways to bring color to our decks and patios. One of the best color, and fragrance plants we know is the rose, and believe it or not, the rose is a great plant in containers! To learn more we stopped by Heirloom Roses (503-538-1576) and talked with Ben about putting these beauties in containers. He started by telling us the key is to pick the right rose and the right container. He was standing next to a larger rose ‘Heirloom’ which was in a larger container and was stunning. Ben told us that the key was to have good sized drain holes in the bottom so they don’t stand in any water. We then moved over to a table where Ben actually planted up a couple of roses for us. He had a miniature rose and a micro-mini to plant. He used a good standard potting mix that didn’t contain any additional fertilizer. The only thing he added was an aged cow manure. Both roses went into the container along with a sedum, and with one of the roses already blooming, it will continue to bloom until fall. The best thing about these roses is that they can stay in the pot for a few years. You just need to pull it up close to the house in the winter month to give it a tiny bit of protection from the elements. Ben also recommended a liquid fertilizer about every 3 to 4 weeks and not a granular. The granular will allow for a buildup of salts in the container and that will eventually stunt the growth of your rose and affect its health.
The final thoughts from Ben, pick your rose before you pick your container. Fall in love with a rose first and then get the pot. Then you will have something that you always love right up close on your patio. Another thought, pay attention to watering. The roses in a container will dry out faster. So make sure that they get a good drink every day in the heat.
We also found the Garden Time Rose there! It would be great in a pot too! In fact, we have one that I think will go into a container on our deck. If you have question about which rose might work for your deck or patio, stop by the Sales Cottage at Heirloom and while you are there, check out their stunning display gardens.
Little Baja Sealer
Protecting your investment in containers is tough in our weather. The rain and freezing temperatures can cause the best of containers to break over time. It is best to seal them. We stopped at Little Baja (503-236-8834) to check out a product that they use. Jared recommended a product from Timber Pro that you use on your fountains, statues, and birdbaths. This product is safe and easy to use. It helps keep water from penetrating into the cement and terra cotta where it can do some real damage and ruin your investment, and it is safe for the environment! Little Baja also does maintenance of fountains and water features as well. So if you have any questions, give them a call.
As we have mentioned before, late spring and summer are the time for Salvias. To get a look at some of the best salvias of this season we stopped by Garden Fever (503-287-3200) in NE Portland and met up with Lori Vollmer. Garden Fever has quite a selection of salvias to choose from and there is one for just about every garden! These plants are very vivid in the garden and are great for visiting wildlife including hummingbirds! Some of the varieties can be touchy and some should only be considered annuals, while others are hardy for our area. The first one we looked at was Salvia Chiapensis, a hot pick number that is not at all hardy for our area. Still it produces great flowers all season long. This was next to Salvia ‘Sensation Deep Rose’, which is very hardy for our area. One of the tips for getting the most out of your hardy salvias is to not be too tidy. Don’t clean them up or cut them back until the threat of frost has completely disappeared. Salvia patents ‘Cobalt’ was next and can come back year after year if you take care of it and place it in an area with a little protection. There are also more colors to choose from in the last few years, like the white ‘Sally G. Vanilla’ and the bright red ‘Flame’. There are also taller varieties like the ‘Indigo Spires’ which gets around 3-4 feet tall in a sunny and warm location near a south facing wall. Finally we took a look at ‘Hot Lips’. This one has been very popular the last few years. It has deep red flowers that have a white background which gives it the look of red lips! If you are looking for a plant that seems to keep blooming all summer long then salvia is the plant or you. Check out the selection at your local garden center or stop by and see our friends at Garden Fever.
Bonsai is a wonderful art. Each plant becomes a microcosm of a miniature landscape. It can become a hobby that can consume you if you get bitten by the ‘bonsai’ bug. It can also be very intimidating for the beginner. To help people understand how easy it can be we stopped by Portland Nursery (503-788-9000) to get some tips from George about how to get started and what tools were involved. First he showed us a bunch of different plants that you can bonsai. Most of these were varieties that were bred to be dwarf or miniature plants. There are a wide assortment of evergreen plants or even deciduous varieties. You will want to take your time in choosing the right plant since bonsai is not a short term hobby. George recommends that beginners start with a juniper, pine, hornbeam or a maple. Those are the most common and the easiest to work with. You will then want to choose a pot that is the right size for your plant. Soil is very important and there are special bonsai mixes that provide the right nutrients and drain well so your plant doesn’t end up sitting in too much moisture. Tools come next. You will need a good pruning scissors. Since most of your pruning will be done on small limbs and branches these are very important. Next is a small hand rake. This helps with raking the soil, weeding and straightening the roots when you replant you bonsai. George also recommended a carrying case for these tools so you don’t misplace them. He also discussed the use of wire when training your plants growth. This can help shape your bonsai to gain a more statuesque appearance. If this interests you, you should stop by the Portland Nursery location on Division this Saturday for their big bonsai event. On June 18th from 10am to 3pm you can learn about bonsai from the bonsai society and even enter your own bonsai for prizes. There will be lots of bonsai experts there to answer your questions. Be sure to check out the Portland Nursery website for more information on this great event!
RWPC Smart Controllers
Controlling the amount of water you put on your lawn and garden, and when to put that on your garden is very important. To get some tips on that topic we met with our old friend Steve Carper at the Tualatin Valley Water District water efficient demonstration garden. He had a couple of devices in his hand and they were all about smart controllers. Smart controllers are ones that collect information and help you regulate if and when your system will operate. Sprinkler system controllers have gone high-tech! You basically have two different systems. Ones that collect data from your own garden to make watering decisions and ones that collect remote information to make those decisions. For local control Steve had a couple of sensors in his hand. The first one was a soil moisture detector and the other one was a rain gage that also measures solar and wind. These sensors tie into your system to provide it real time information about your garden. The type that collects remote information can pull that information from local public weather stations to make those same watering decisions.
All this information is used by these smart controllers to help you regulate your watering. If you have a smart phone, you can even run your system from your phone or mobile device. Plus a lot of water districts are now offering incentives and rebates if you install these devices. Check with your local supplier for more details. You can also get more watering information at the Regional Water Providers Consortium website. Check it out and get smart about watering!
Portland’s Best Rose
The Rose Festival for 2016 has wrapped up but we took some time to celebrate the namesake of the festival recently. Garden Time was invited to the International Rose Test Gardens at Washington Park to help judge some of the newer varieties of roses and help vote for Portland’s Best Roses for 2016. The Portland Rose Society (503-777-4311) is the host for this event, but they are involved in so much more! We met with society president David Etchepare after the voting was done to learn more about that process and to get some information about the society. First we talked about the competition. The roses are judged based on how they look on judging day. The roses that are rated the highest are the winners and are billed as the most beautiful roses in the garden for that day. 26 new varieties are considered during the judging and rated on a scale of 1 to 10. There are winners in the following classes of roses: shrubs, floribundas, grandifloras, hybrid teas and fragrance, with the overall winner being designated as Portland’s Best Rose for 2016. This year that overall winning rose was ‘Dick Clark’!
This event was put on for Rose Society guests but the general public also had a chance to get involved. Every year after the Grand Floral Parade, the public can wander that garden and they get to vote on the best rose and most fragrant rose. The people’s choice this year was ‘Rock and Roll’!
After all the buzz of awarding the honors to the rose winners, Judy asked David about the society. The Rose Society was started in 1888 by Mrs. Henry Pittock to celebrate the glory of the rose. The society is very inclusive, in fact they have members that don’t even grow roses. All you need to have is a love of roses! The society is very involved in the community at events that happen all year long. If you are interested in joining this fun and educational group you can go to their website or drop by one of their monthly meetings at Oaks Park. Dues start at $15 for one year. If you ever find yourself up at Washington Park see if you can do your own judging and find your own ‘best rose’!
Utility Friendly Trees
Having a tree in your yard is a great thing. Trees can give you shade, helping to moderate the heat and cold throughout the year. The problem is finding the right tree if you have overhead lines in your yard or parking strip. There is an answer to that problem, utility friendly trees, also known as Utilitrees. These are trees that stay short so they don’t interfere with the lines and are also friendly to people who are walking by them on the street. To learn more about these types of trees we stopped by J. Frank Schmidt and Son in Boring to talk to Nancy Buley, our local tree expert. J. Frank Schmidt grows tree for retail garden centers around the U.S. Nancy took us to a few of the best trees that they have growing right around their office facility. These trees are selected to be around 25 feet or shorter when they are mature. The first one was Zelkova named ‘City Sprite’. This one has a great shape and has nice tight foliage which makes it a great shade tree. The second tree was a Linden called ‘Summer Sprite’. This tree has wonderful flowers in the spring, which the bees love, and also a tight foliage for wonderful shade in the summer. The third tree was a cherry named ‘Pink Flair’ which Nancy thought was the best tree for the Northwest. This one flowers and also has dark green foliage that William thought had a tropical look to it. The one next to the cherry was a Paperbark Maple called ‘Fireburst’. Paperbark maples are great plants. Not only do they have wonderful foliage, but the bark gives it great winter interest too! Plus this one has wonderful fall color, thus the name Fireburst. While we were in the area, Nancy shared a brand new tree that will be introduced to the market next year, Crabapple ‘Sparkling Sprite’. She told us that all crabapples have great flower color, but this one has great foliage color too. Be on the lookout for this one! Finally we ended up at a Japanese Snowbell. These are wonderful flowering trees and are now being grown to be shorter for those tighter spaces.
If you are interested seeing a list of some great utility friendly tree, check out the www.Utilitrees.com website. You can also check with your local independent garden center to see which trees will work well in your area.