Did it stop? The rain... did it stop? I think we are finally headed into the sunny part of spring. The record showers are hopefully giving way to warmer and sunnier skies! This wet spring is still taking its toll on the plants in your garden. It seems like we are still doing stories on winter damage, and this week is no exception. We have a couple for you on hydrangeas and also possible garden pests. We also have a couple of great plant stories. One on shade plants and another on fragrance plants.
Remember the story we did on Cauliflower Tots a couple of weeks ago? Well, we have some great news that you will need to check out below. Plus, May Day is here time to reintroduce an old tradition to your neighborhood. Hope you enjoy the show.
This week we featured...
Plants for Dry Shade
Shade, especially 'dry shade' seems to be one of the universal problem areas for most gardeners. Shade in the Northwest garden is not unusual, with all the tall trees we have. Those trees also shelter the soil underneath, so what can you grow there? To get some ideas we stopped by Garland Nursery (1-800-296-6601) to talk to plant buyer, Karen, to see what she would recommend. She started with the 'bones'. These are the structural plants, usually taller shrubs, that create the backdrop for your other small 'jewel' plants, annuals and perennials. These are the first ones you put in the shady area. We started with the evergreen Skimmia japonica, this one is a tough one. It starts with clusters of white flowers in the early spring and then transitions to red berries which hang on through fall and winter. Birds love them. We then moved to an upright Yew 'Hicks Yew', which can get pretty tall if you let it. The good news is that you can prune the yews as much as you want and they will not look 'hacked'. The next shrub was the Daphne odora, or fragrant daphne. This variety was called Mae-Jima and had a soft yellowish/green edge to the dark green leaves. The final 'bones' plant was the native Snowberry. It has striking white berries through fall and winter, and has graceful soft foliage through the spring and summer.
Next we moved to the perennials. These are also great for dry shade areas. We started with hellebores. There are so many to choose from and Karen had two of them picked out for us. The first was Penny's
Pink, named for the pinkish blooms that were just finishing their bloom cycle. The other one was from a group they call the 'stinking hellebores' (they really don't stink) called 'Wester Flisk'. This one was done blooming with its light green flowers, but the fine lacy foliage was still quite nice. An old standby for the dry shade is ferns. Karen had brought out the native sword fern and it looked great. You tend to forget that these native plants can add great texture to the garden as well. Even with perennials and annuals the foliage is sometimes as striking as the blooms. Take the Brunnera for example. The blooms only last a couple of weeks but the variegated foliage looks great for months. Pulmonaria 'Silver Bouquet' is like the brunnera. Right now the pulmonaria is covered in pink and purple blooms, but after the blooms are gone you can enjoy the spotted leaves. One plant that really stands out is the fuchsia 'Golden Gate'. It was almost blinding with bright yellow foliage, and that was before it even started blooming!
Some even smaller plants were the last we looked at. The variegated Lily of the Valley was striking even though it was small. The Lamium, or dead-nettle, has bright silver foliage which contrasts wonderfully with Black Mondo Grass. If you think there are not plants that could survive in the dry shady areas of your garden, you are wrong. There are lots to choose from. For help in selecting your plants you can stop by Garland Nursery between Albany and Corvallis, or your local independent garden center.
Hydrangea Tips for Spring
Broken record time... winter damage. Yup, we heard about more winter damage, this time with hydrangeas. We paid a visit to Hydrangeas Plus (866-433-7896) to chat with Kristin about what she saw in the landscape. She took us out to an area in her garden filled with hydrangeas and to our surprise they were almost all intact and thriving. There were a couple that weren't looking so good though. The first one was pretty much gone, but Kristin was not ready to blame the cold and wet of our winter, not just yet. She told us that it was a relatively new plant that was not getting the water it should have last summer during our record heat. This put the plant under stress and that made it susceptible to the bad winter we had. The other plant looked half damaged. Parts were growing and others looked dead. This could have been from the cold or the rain of the past season, or it could have been animal damage. The plant was in the path of a momma and 2 baby deer that take a short cut through her garden. It could have been deer hooves that caused the damage. The key here is that most hydrangeas can survive our winters pretty well. They come out looking a little beat up, but as long as they are well established and not stressed, they should be fine.
If you are looking for some new hydrangeas for your garden you should stop by Hydrangeas Plus right now. They are having their annual sale through May 13th.
Shoe and Tools Caddy
We found a cool tool organizer on-line that we just had to share! We found that if you take a normal clear plastic shoe caddy and hang it in your garage or shed, you can make it a great tool caddy. If you put your tools in the caddy in a predetermined order you will always know when there is a tool missing. By using a clear plastic caddy, you will always see where your tools are located. Just be sure to store your tools with the tips pointed up to keep them from punching holes in the plastic. The best part, you can still use it as a shoe caddy if you put your garden clogs in the bottom slots!
Bartlett Pest Assessment
We are coming out of winter and a lot of people are getting out in their gardens. The problem is we are seeing a lot of damage to our plants. Is it insect, disease, or something else? To find out more we met with Ray Duval from Bartlett Tree Experts (and Collier Arbor Care) (503-72ARBOR, 503-722-7267) at a Beaverton home. Right now in early spring the new growth is a 'salad' to those hungry insects that have been waiting all winter to eat! The question is... is it really pests that are munching on your plants? The first example was an English laurel that the owner thought was a root weevil problem, when it actually was a case of Shot Hole virus! If you had thought it was an insect problem and sprayed for that you would still have a sick plant and probably hurt the beneficial insects on the plant. This plant could use a dose of fungicide. Always get a correct diagnosis then you will cure the problem and not create more issues. Another example that looks like insect damage, holes in the leaves of a hydrangea, actually turned out to be hail damage. It didn't need any treatment at all. The final example was a rhododendron leaf that was covered with stippling, or tiny discolored dots. This could be confused by some people as a mineral deficiency, but it was actually damage from Azalea Lace Bug. You had to look at the underside of the leaf to see that. It could be controlled naturally with neem oil, applied repeatedly over the course of the spring and early summer. You can also control it with chemicals, but you have to avoid treating the plant during bloom time so you don't kill the bees and other pollinators who will be visiting the plant.
Ray then brought out some of the natural ways they treat your plants, with beneficial insects. As Ray said 'for every bad bug, there's a good bug that will eat it.' He had a couple of containers with him, the first was a small shaker of predatory mites. They just shake the container over your plant and the tiny mites go to work eating the bad mites. The other container had Rove Beetles in it. They love to eat root weevils. Once again just a little application and you don't have to worry about spraying. So if you are seeing problems in your garden and you are not sure what to do or how to treat it, before you spray, give the experts at Bartlett a call. They will help you fix those problems and you can enjoy your garden!
Garden Time Iris and Tips
The winter was really hard on all of us, but really hard to some plants! One of the plants in our garden that did really well were our irises. Even though it was a cold winter with record rain, our iris did ok. Steve Schreiner from Schreiner's Iris Garden (1-800-525-2367) told us why they did well, we didn't leave them setting in water. At Schreiner's they plant them on raised hills which allows the water to run off. If you can do this they will most likely survive our cold temps. Now that they are starting to wakeup he gave us some tips on what we should be doing now to get the best blooms possible. First, bait for slugs! They LOVE bearded iris. They started putting slug bait down in February and now they are just monitoring for damage. Next, fertilizing. At the beginning of April they fertilized their plants with and low nitrogen fertilizer that is made especially for them. It is fortified with bone meal for strong rhizomes. Right now it is still pretty cold and the plants are a little behind, but come Mother's Day weekend they should be getting back on track. That weekend is the start of their open garden season, with lots of activities for the month of May. Mark your calendar and come out. The Garden Time crew makes a couple of trips every year to see the blooms!
Another reason for stopping by Schreiner's was to see the introduction of the new Garden Time iris! This bright yellow iris has championship genes, with award winning plants as parents. We can see why it
is so beautiful! It can be found here on their website. It is an incredible bloomer and would look great in any garden! We're getting some for ours!
May Day Baskets
May Day used to be a great little holiday for kids. In years past kids used to bring cut flowers to their neighbors and relatives. Some traditions called for kids to hang them on the doorknob, ring the bell and run away. Some were taught to just leave them on the doorstep. For some reason we have forgotten about that tradition. Well, we think it is time to bring it back. We got together with Sara at Portland Nursery on Stark Street (503-231-5050) and came up with a couple of ideas about how to surprise your neighbors. First of all we decided to use small bedding plants and sedums instead of cut flowers. These smaller plants will keep growing through the summer and make the good feelings last longer than a cut flower. Sara had found a decorative can to plant up while Judy made her own. She simply took an empty tin can and put two holes in the sides for a ribbon hanger (being careful in case the edges were sharp). She then cut construction paper and drew a 'Happy Spring' message on the paper and wrapped it around the can. All she had to do was plant it up!
Now if you know someone in a small apartment or assisted living situation, Sara suggested that you use a small pot and a small sedum. This will allow them to enjoy the day and have something green and growing to enjoy as well. For ideas on plants and containers you can stop by either location of Portland Nursery, or your local independent garden center.
Tsugawa Fragrance for All Seasons
There is nothing quite like a garden filled with fragrance. Most of us want to have a garden that fills all our senses and fragrance is an important part of that. Did you know that you could have fragrance all year long? To get some ideas on plants for all seasons we stopped by Tsugawa Nursery in Woodland (360-225-8750) and talked to Brian. His staff had put together 4 carts full of great plants! We started with mid-winter plants. The first one was a Witchhazel with it dainty bright flowers and light fragrance. Another group of plants to consider for this early season are the daphnes. These come is so many varieties that you can have fragrance in your garden for many months into early summer. Two others to consider for the late winter are osmanthus and mahonia. Both with nice dark foliage and then bright flowers, white on the osmanthus and yellow on the mahonia. One overlooked plant that has wonderful fragrance is the Sarcococca. It is overlooked because the blooms are so tiny and hidden on the underside of the leaves. This is one that blooms in the height of winter and really smells great when everything else is hibernating. Near Tsugawa's is the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens and so they really know lilacs in Woodland! Every garden should have at least one! Other plants to consider are the Korean Spice Viburnum and Jasmines. As we move through to late spring and early summer we saw the Wax Myrtles, hardy gardenias and late blooming daphnes. Of course roses are starting to do their thing in June and July. The one that Tsugawa's staff brought out for us was one called 'Fragrant Cloud', but there are so many to choose from, with many being re-bloomers.
Summer brings us honeysuckles and lavenders. These summer plants are not only great to smell, they are also wonderful for attracting bees, hummingbirds and other garden wildlife. Once again we saw a
bloomerang lilac. This is one that re-blooms when other lilacs are done for the season. Summer is also the season for annuals. There are a bunch of annual plants that are incredibly fragrant, including heliotrope and dianthus. We finished with Butterfly Bush. The original species is considered invasive in our area, but there are newer, and smaller, varieties that are available and as their name implies, they are great for butterflies! These were only a few of the great fragrant plants that you can find at your local independent garden center. If you are looking for a great selection you can stop by Tsugawa's in Woodland Washington. Just a short drive north off of I-5.
Madi Cauliflower Tot Update
A couple of weeks ago we met up with young Madi Bigej who had won a regional cooking competition for her recipe on Cauliflower Tots. Well, the good news is that she has made it to the top 5 in the nation! The
competition, put on by the food services arm of Sodexo, is open to schools where Sodexo is located, and nationally they invite kids to come up with healthy and engaging recipes. Madi's recipe was selected to be a finalist. She produced a video (with the help of the Garden Time TV crew) that is posted on-line. You can go to this website, http://woobox.com/ck64ij/iu63ru, to view the 5 finalists and vote for your
favorite (you know which one) once a day until the 30th of this month. The winner will be announced shortly after that. Good Luck Madi!
TOW - Sealing Containers
You can extend the life of your wooden planters and it doesn't take much to do it. We found that if you use a pruning sealer it will do a great job of preserving your planters and containers. Pruning Sealer is normally used to seal the cuts and wounds on trees after they have been cut or damaged in any way. This prevents pest and diseases from entering the tree and damaging it. The same principle holds true for planters. If you just spray a coating on the inside of your planter or container it will prevent disease and decay from shortening the life of your planter. Check for Pruning Sealer at your local independent garden center or nursery. The product we found was from Bonide.
As you start pulling out your garden tools for the coming season, it is a good time to give them a good cleaning and sharpening. Clean and sharp tools will make your garden chores much easier. Some tips
to follow include using alcohol and steel wool to scrub them clean and disinfect them. Then you want to use a sharpening stone to give a good sharp edge to them to make the cutting easier. Remember to only sharpen the beveled edges of the blades! Also, if you have a pruning saw, take it to a professional or buy a new one. They are just too dangerous to attempt on your own. Your local garden center has all the tools you need and they can even demonstrate how to do it correctly. Do a little sharpening now and all your spring garden clean-up will be a breeze! We found all the tools that we needed for cleaning and sharpening at the Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) on 50th and Stark, but you can find these same tools at most of your local independent garden centers.
The Soil Will Save Us
Concerns about the earth and keeping it healthy are in the news a lot these days, and as gardeners, most of us have a keen interest in doing all we can to help. That is why this latest book, 'The Soil will Save Us, How Scientists, Farmers and Foodies are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet' by Kristin Ohlson caught our attention. We talked with her at her home and asked her why this book. She had actually started a book on food and the chef she talked to was an adamant advocate of sustainable farming methods. That triggered her research into how people were working to save the earth through the soil. She interviewed visionary scientists, farmers, foodies, ranchers, and landscapers, about how they are using methods to return the soil, and thus the earth, to health. We were really interested to hear about the work being done with Carbon Farming. If you are concerned about the earth and want to read how some people are making a change (and how you can help). This book is for you. Check out Kristin's website for more information.