Stormy weather has returned and the fall has come rushing back in! The wind storm from last weekend, the heavy rains and thunderstorms of this week, are just reminders of the weather yet to come! If you haven’t brought in your plants, do it now. You may also want to get those spring bulbs and other plants in the ground now. These fall rains are great for watering in your plants for the coming season.
All this stormy weather makes me start thinking about warmer days ahead. Like Hawaii! We are down to our last few seats on our tour of Hawaii in February. We are excited for this tour. We are spending time on the beach at Waikiki and then 7 days on a cruise to 3 more islands where we will tour a ton of gardens! Plus, the airfare is included! The deadline to join us is October 28th! Check out the tour page on our website for all the details and then come and join us!
This week we featured...
Winter Bird Care
The change of the seasons signals a change for your local bird populations. Some of the non-migratory birds will be hanging around and may need a little help from you to survive the cold and wet of winter. We visited with Mitch of Backyard Bird Shop (503-303-4653) in West Linn to learn more about helping our feathered friends. We started with food. For seed eating birds you can use a black oil sunflower seed. This is a good basic seed that provides calories for high energy birds. We checked out the already shelled seed. It is a tiny bit more than the whole seed product, but there is less mess. For insect feeders you can set out a suet cake. Use different types of suet to attract different types of insect feeders. For most suet feeding birds they love insects and if you see a suet block with seed it is generally used as a filler in the suet. Once you have their food needs met, then you need to think about water. You may want to take a look at heaters to keep their water from freezing. You should also remember to put out fresh water whenever you can, since the birds prefer that over standing, dirty, water. The one bird that has special needs in the winter is the hummingbird. They use lots of calories and so their food needs are more critical than other birds. You can keep their nectar in the feeder fresh by changing it every week or so. You can find a simple recipe for making their nectar at the Backyard Bird Shop website. Plus, they need to have a nice clean feeder so they don’t get sick over the winter. A new item for sheltering your birds is the ‘roost pocket’. This little woven shelter can keep your small song birds out of the harsh elements during the really cold days. They are also really cute! You can also welcome birds to your garden by incorporating different types of shrubs and trees. For a list of winter interest plants you can check with your local garden center. To learn more about attracting birds to your garden during the winter you can check with Backyard Bird Shop or The Audubon Society of Portland (www.audubonportland.org).
Tsugawa Fall Color
This fall we have been showcasing a lot of fall and winter interest plants. This week we found some more to share. This week it is fall and winter color. We stopped by Tsugawa Nursery (360-225-8750) in Woodland again to talk to Brian about a bunch that they have at the nursery. Some of these plants are old favorites and other are pretty new to the market. The first one was a witchazel named ‘Autumn Ember’. Witchazels are known for their great fall color and this variety has a lot going for it. The leaves turn into a purple, red and green mix. It really looks great in the garden! The next plant, is actually a group of plants. Crape Myrtles are a huge family of plants and they all look great in the late summer and early fall, but there are a bunch that really shine in the fall. The first one we saw was the ‘Coral Magic’. This one has coral colored flower clusters, but the fall foliage turns almost a bronze color and the bark has a two-tone look on older plants. A hardier version of a Crape Myrtle is the ‘Moonlight Magic’ this one is a dark burgundy color that really stands out when paired with lighter colored plants. A plant that gives you great fall color and something to eat is the blueberry. There are a lot of varieties, but almost all of them put on a show in the fall. Another great fall color plant that stays small is the nandina. This plant has wonderful color and fine foliage. The bright red foliage is a showstopper. The last two plants were taller trees that had lots of color. The first one was the parrotia. This one has incredible color. With a mix of gold, burgundy, red and green, it really stands out in the garden. The final tree was a dogwood called ‘Milky Way’. This one was just changing color but the outstanding feature of this one was the large spikey red fruit that covered the tree. Very unique! For more fall color plants like these you can stop by your local independent garden center or you can make the short drive to Woodland and see the experts at Tsugawa’s.
As we enter fall we are reminded to plant our spring blooming bulbs. Donna Wright from Black Gold reminded us that bulbs are great in pots too! You can create waves of color by layering your spring blooming bulbs. She demonstrated that by using different layers of bulbs in a pot so you can have color that lasts all spring! She used daffodils, tulips and crocus in 3 different layers. Then she topped it all off with some great fall color plants. When the warm days of spring arrive she will have these bulbs blooming at different times and will have waves of color for months. Don’t worry, the bulbs will find their way up through the plants in the pot. For the best results always remember to start with a quality potting soil, like Black Gold!
Clean Water Grow Fertilizer
Using the right fertilizer can make all the difference in your garden, for the environment and for the health of your trees and plants. We found a wonderful fertilizer ‘Clean Water Grow’ and it is made right here in the metro area. What is unusual about this fertilizer is that it is recovered from waste water resources from Clean Water Services in Hillsboro. We met with Brett at the recovery facility where they remove all the essential components of the product. The production of this product is great for everyone. The removal and recovery of the phosphorus and other material means less of them entering the waste stream, plus they are a purer form than what you would get from mining them from the earth. The formulation is also better for your plants because they take up this purer form of fertilizer more readily in the root zone, which means less in the environment and less wasted. This slow release ‘magic’ will do wonders for your plants!
A great example of this is at the Tualatin River Farm where Clean Water Services grows native plants for habitat restoration. Mac and Bruce told us how this product is part of their overall sustainability campaign for a healthier and better environment. Clean Water Services pairs with the Tree For All program and others to help watershed projects throughout the Tualatin River Basin. For more information about these programs, the science behind this product and locations where you can purchase the Clean Water Grow fertilizer, you can check out their website.