Is it spring yet? We have had a tease of warmer weather over the past week and that is getting people excited for the return of spring. March 20th marks the official day, now let’s see if Mother Nature is paying attention to the calendar. We are!
The spring seems to be slowly moving in, the weather is warmer and the sun is brighter too. It is time to get out and enjoy the garden. This weekend that might be a beer garden. It is St. Patrick’s Day weekend and people are out and enjoying a cold one with friends. We are as well. The Garden Time crew is going to be at the Feckin Irish Craft Ale Festival on Saturday at 3pm. Check out the story in the show for more details about the festival.
Don’t forget the next big garden festival is also coming up. GardenPalooza is taking place on the 1st of April from 8-4 at Fir Point Farm in Aurora. It is going to be a great day with over 40 garden vendors and tons of giveaways! Black Gold will be giving away bags of soil and we will be giving away $25 Portland Nursery gift cards every half hour! Plus you can enter for a chance to win a bistro set from Garden Gallery Iron Works or $1,000 towards a Visualscaping makeover from French Prairie Perennials. Like I said, it’s going to be a great day!
This week we featured...
Blueberries are a very popular fruit. If you have them in your garden you might notice that they will produce less and less over time. This because of a lack of pruning. The plant will continue to produce vegetative grow (leaves and branches) as it grows and all the plant energy will go into this ‘green’ growth. By pruning your plant you will focus the plant on fruit production instead. To learn what you should do we stopped by the Home Orchard Society Arboretum (503-338-8479) and demonstration garden, and talked to Tonia the arboretum manager about the steps you need to follow to do it right. First you will need to look at your plant. Take a survey of what you want to do and visualize the end result. How tall do you want the plant and how wide? Then go in and cut out the diseased and broken canes. Next look for crossing branches and remove those. You will need to limit the heavy pruning to 2 or 3 mature canes, those that are over 7 years old are prime candidates. Never remove more than a third of the plant when cutting. Try to keep the base of the plant narrow and open up the center of the plant to promote airflow. This type of pruning will promote new cane growth and more fruit in the future.
If you would like to learn more about fruiting plants or even possibly graft your own fruit tree, the opportunity is coming up this weekend at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby during the Home Orchard Society’s Fruit Propagation Fair. They will have hundreds of different varieties of apples and pears to choose from so you can pick the fruit you want to enjoy for years to come and graft it yourself! The event is Sunday March 19th from 10am to 4pm. Stop by and learn more about fruit and the fascinating process of grafting!
And one more thing. The HOS is selling Mason bees. You can contact them to get your hands on these wonderful little pollinators!
Jan’s March Tips
Spring means it is time to get out into the garden. It also means that we are stopping by to visit with former OSU extension agent, Jan McNeilan, for our tips of the month. We found her in her greenhouse because of our lovely spring weather, Wet and Cold! That cold brings up our first tip for this month, soil temperatures. Every spring people are eager to get out and get plants in the ground. Unfortunately, the soil is just too cold for plants to actively grow. If you plant now it means that your plant will just sit there and do nothing until it gets warmer, or worse, it may mean the death of the plant. Hang on until the soil temps get around 50 degrees before you put anything in the ground. Being patient is a good theme for this time of year. With all the winter damage on plants, Jan also recommends that we hold off on cutting back any plants. She recommends that you spend time cleaning up debris and dead leaves to avoid mold, mildew and diseases, but wait a little bit to see if plants show new growth before you cut. They might just be OK.
Guilt is high on the list for most gardeners too. Especially when it comes to roses. Some people have not yet pruned their roses and they might be feeling bad about that. Not to worry, if you prune late it will just mean that you will have later blooms this spring. The final tip involved Lifesavers! These sweet little candies are also useful in the home too. If you have an ant problem just wet one of these down and leave it near the ant trail. They will flock to it. Then you can just sweep them off into water and get rid of those little pests, all without chemicals!
For more information about what you can be doing in your garden you can always check out the OSU Extension website.
Winter Interest Conifers
This past winter was hard on a lot of plants and trees, but if you had conifers you probably escaped most of the damage! Conifers are great plants for our area and they are not all ‘forest green’. To see some interesting conifers, in all kinds of shapes, colors and sizes, we stopped by French Prairie Perennials (503-679-2871) in Aurora and met with Rick. He had pulled out a bunch of plants that fared well in the cold and wet, but we only covered 6 of them because of the limited time we had to shoot. The first one was a tall beauty, Arizona Cypress ‘Raywood’s Weeping’. This one will get as tall as you want, you just need to add a higher stake to get it taller, otherwise it will ‘weep’ over. It stays thin too. The next one was a bright gold spruce called ‘Firefly’. This one stays really small and only grows a couple of inches a year. It stays golden all year and would be perfect for a container. The next plant was a silver color. It was a Korean Fir called ‘Silver Show’. It has a tight, curly needle formation on its branches and will grow slowly as well. The next plant is not seen so often in gardens. It is a Hinoki Cypress named ‘Chrimen’. This one almost looks fuzzy with a unique branch and foliage formation. The new growth looks like a clump of brown sugar on the branches and trunk. Really cool looking. The 5th plant was a very compact Korean Fir called ‘Ice Breaker’. It still has the bright silvery color as the taller Korean Fir, but it just stays incredibly small! Our final selection was a little taller Hinoki Cypress called ‘Goldilocks’. It has a very intense lime-green color and is also a slower grower! If you are looking for a great tree that will survive the cold and wet of our winters, plus look great, then you need to check out the selection at French Prairie Perennials. While you are there, be sure to ask about their Visualscaping service, which makes landscaping a breeze!
Al’s Basket Rejuvenation – Grand Opening
Every fall a lot of people have the best of intentions by trying to overwinter their hanging baskets and containers. Spring brings the urge to rejuvenate these planters for the coming year. To get some tips on doing that we stopped by the new location of Al’s Garden Center in Wilsonville (503-855-3527). We met with Eve and brought our old basket with us. She took one look and had a great suggestion. Dump it! Actually she recommended transplanting the old plants that could be salvaged into our regular garden to enjoy this coming year and to replace the rest. If you start with new plants you can enjoy the color right away. You don’t have to wait for 2-3 months for the old plants to catch up.
We started with a new container and fresh soil. We used the Al’s Organic Preferred soil. Plus we added a nice helping of Al’s transplant fertilizer (brought in by Cindy, the new manager). Once the pot is established we will use the water soluble and slow release fertilizer for our container.
Now we moved to the plants. Eve had decided to place this container against a wall so we started building the container by placing a tall plant at the back. We had a few selections to choose from including a conifer and a forsythia. We chose the forsythia because of the bright spring blooms! Then we filled in the middle of the container with an erysimum and a lemon cypress. Both have great fragrance which you can catch when you are near them. We then filled in the container with a heuchera and some trailing vines in the front. It looked great and we didn’t have to wait for a few month to enjoy it.
We were lucky enough to be one of the first groups to enjoy the new location of Al’s. This garden center location is easy to find and is now open for business. You can enjoy grand opening events all this weekend, but the big ribbon cutting is taking place on the 23rd of March at 10am. If you drop by you can pick up a free viola and also enter to win some amazing prizes! Stop by check out the new location and pick up some plants to refresh your tired old containers!
Feckin Irish Ale Festival
What better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than to enjoy a locally made, hand crafted Irish ale. We did that by stopping at Feckin Irish Brewing in Oregon City. They are hosting an Irish Craft Ale Festival on March 17-19 from noon to close. Plus it gave us a chance to wear our kilts and remember our tour of Ireland last June. Feckin will host over 15 local breweries and will be featuring craft Irish brews with Northwest flavors and traditional Irish roots. The event highlights include live music, Irish dancers, bagpipers and Free Cheese tasting by Kerrygold. Stop by at 3pm on Saturday and say hi to the Garden Time crew; just look for the kilts!