Welcome to summer! OK, we are a little early. Officially, the summer starts on the 20th of June this year, when the summer solstice occurs. That is when the sun reaches the northern most latitude on the earth. It is the longest day of the year. But did you know that the start of summer for our weathermen and women was the beginning of June? They go by the calendar months, because that is when the weather is the warmest! Yeah, right!
Either way, it is not hard to believe that the summer is finally here. We seem to be tipping the scales from showers to sun, and that is reason to celebrate. Beer festivals are happening, garden tours are in full swing, and plants are busting out all over! Enjoy!
This week we featured...
Portland Nursery Fragrant Favorites
Nearly every gardener wants to have plants in their garden to stimulate all their senses. Color, texture and fragrance are all on the list. Fragrance is sometimes lacking in this mix of plant material. To get a rundown on the top 5 'tried and true' fragrant plants we stopped by Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) and talked to Sara about these must have plants. She started with the old favorite, roses. Some are more fragrant than other, but there are a bunch of different varieties that are known for their fragrance. One that William mentioned was 'Double Delight', though there are many more to choose from. The next plant was a vine that Sara also said was good for shade, the jasmine. This one was a star jasmine and it can fill a garden with fragrance, plus it adds the height that people want in a garden. The next plant was lavender. This plant is great in the garden, but it has so many other uses too. You can use this herb in your cooking and a variety of projects around the home. A very multifaceted plant. The fourth plant was a daphne. All the varieties of daphne have a scent, but the daphne odora (odor, get it?) is the most fragrant of the bunch. Daphne have a reputation for being tough to grow, but they are really not! Sun, good water and well-drained soil are all it needs. Finally the final plant of the five was the gardenia. Gardenias used to be known as tender in our area, but there are a couple of varieties that are now fairly hardy for our area. 'Frost Proof' and 'Kleim's hardy' are both gardenias that do well here and they will give you waves of blooms all summer.
If you are looking to add a little fragrance to your garden and want something that will always perform, check out these winners. You can find them at Portland Nursery or your local independent garden center.
Blooming Junction Rare Maples
We thought we had seen everything when it came to Japanese Maples, but that was before we met Talon Buchholz. Talon is a breeder and hybridizer of some really cool and unusual maples. We met him at Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) in Cornelius, one of the few local nurseries that carry his maples. The first one of his collection was one called 'Mikazuki'. The name means 'crescent moon' and is tied to the crescent shaped leaves. This one has a great color in the spring but will retain some of the reddish/copper color through the season. The second one was a real standout. 'Ilarian' has new growth that is bright creamy/pinkish in color and then fades back to green. It also likes morning sun and afternoon shade. A short chocolate colored tree was next. 'Manyo no Sato' had a dark purple leaf (I thought it looked like chocolate) with lime green variegation. It is a medium sized tree and could even be used in a container. The next one was a little crazy! 'Geisha Gone Wild' has a wild branching habit and bright red new growth. It does look a little wild! It can also take full sun! Ruby Stars was the next one that we looked at. It has new growth that has red color and fades to a rust/red/green mix, but the new growth just keeps coming all summer long with the bright red 'ruby star' leaves. The next one was a bright one! 'Summer Gold' has bright gold foliage that maintains its color, even in full sun! It even has a little red along the leaf edges and the stems. A beautiful plant. The final plant was a dwarf vine maple. This one is the shortest vine maple you can find, with incredibly small leaves as well. 'Baby Buttons' has these tiny leaves if you plant it in the ground, though they will get a little bigger if you keep it in a container.
You can find all of these unique maples at Blooming Junction, and some of Talon's unique conifers too, but that is a story for a later time! Be sure to mark your calendar for the annual Summer Solstice Festival happening at Blooming Junction next week on the 24th. It is a day of fun in the sun!
Turner Visualscaping - Before
We have told you many times about Visualscaping. This is a service from Rick Naylor and French Prairie Perennials (503-679-2871), where Rick actually brings the plants to your new landscape and you get to see them where they eventually will be growing. He also does the whole landscape with you. You can save a ton on money.
For this story we found him at a home in Turner Oregon, just south of Salem. The client there, Dawn, let us in her backyard early so we could see a 'before' picture of the project. Dawn recently bought the house and brought Rick on-board to redo the backyard. And what a backyard, it's huge! The patio is mainly bricks that are worn and uneven. The slope down to the river has slowly washed away the raised bed, which was just a pile of rocks, and it was all overgrown with tall grass and weeds.
Rick told us that he is going to redo the patio, create a dog-run, rebuild the raised beds and use the old brick to create something new and special. He is also going to make it easier to use and walk around. This is a project we are looking forward to seeing when it is finished. Judging Rick's work in the past it should be spectacular! We'll be back in a few weeks to show you the finished project!
One of the most underutilized plants in the summer garden is the coleus. Sure, people use them in their planters and hanging baskets, but they can really make a splash in your garden beds too. They can provide foliage color long after any blooming plant is done and they love the sun and heat, which would make lesser plants shrivel. To see some great coleus to try we stopped by Wavra Farms (503-364-9879) and talked to owner, Diane Wavra. She LOVES coleus! She has nearly 30 varieties of coleus when the season starts! She would carry more if she had the room at her nursery. She shared with William some of her new favorites. We started with a new one called 'French Quarter'. This one has pink centers to the leaf, with purple after that, and green edges. It is hard to find plants with pink leaves and this one has it in spades! The next one was 'Kingswood Torch'. This one had a pink center, edged with burgundy and a little tiny green edge to the leaves. This dark color pairs well with other plants, including begonias. The next one is a brighter specimen for your garden. 'Gays Delight' is a bright lime green with deep burgundy veins in the leaves. This was followed by 'Campfire'. This one has a pinky/red hue to it, so if you plant it with red plants the red of the coleus comes out and if you mix it with a pink color, then the coleus looks more pink. A very versatile plant. Another brand new one is 'Skyfire' with smaller leaves that are chartreuse with green edges.
Diane told us there are a few thing you need to know. These are annuals (unless you have a greenhouse or treat it like a houseplant), and will be gone at the first frost, but the short life they have rewards you with wonderful foliage color every day of the season. They also like the drier conditions in your garden, which is good for those who don't like to water! They are very low maintenance!
If you would like to try coleus in your garden, and want to choose from a ton of varieties, then stop by Wavra Farms. They are located in east Salem off of Highway 22. It is well worth the trip!
Portland's Best Rose
The Rose Festival for 2017 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 2017. 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 member Paul Raab 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. 30 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 2017. This year that overall winning rose was 'Cinco de Mayo'!
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 for best rose was 'Dream Come True' and their pick for fragrance was 'Summer Romance'!
After all the buzz of awarding the honors to the rose winners, Judy asked Paul 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'!
Oregon Garden Brewfest
Hard to believe, it has been 13 years since the Oregon Garden (503-874-8100) Brewfest started, but my, has it grown! We met with Sara at the garden to talk about this year's festival. They are expecting 60 breweries, pouring 120 beers, ciders and meads. They are also going to have live music and amazing food. Plus, because it is Father's Day weekend, they will have kids and family friendly events on Sunday. You can also shop various vendors for clothes, art and artisan goods. You can feel free to wander the 80 acres of gardens too, because garden admission is part of your ticket!
This year they also offered camping as a separate piece of the package. You can't book a space now, but it is something to keep in mind for next year. If you are looking for a great event that supports a great garden, stop by for a pint!
Jan's June Tips
It is early summer and that means there is lots to do in the garden. Even though we can't cover everything, we stopped by to see retired OSU Extension Agent Jan McNeilan to see what she is working on in her garden. The first thing was azalea lace bug. This pest is just starting to become active again. Even though we have had the rhododendron lace bug for years this newcomer is more dangerous. The rhododendron lace bug only has one hatching a year, the azalea lace bug has up to 4 per year. That's a lot of lace bugs! They suck the chlorophyll out of the azalea and rhody leaves and are hard to reach since they work under the leaf. Right now you can wash them away with a strong stream of water. You can also treat them with a systemic pesticide, but that can also hurt the beneficial bugs and bees who visit your plants. If you decide to use a pesticide, always wait for your plant to finish blooming. Just make sure you don't treat a problem unless you have one!
The other question that has come up is the use of mothballs for deterring skunks, squirrels and rats. These are very poisonous and are a danger to humans and pets as well. Just because you can find it in your grocery store, doesn't mean it is safe to use in your garden. It is a reminder that home remedies are not always the best for the health of your garden, or yourself. Find another way of dealing with the problem!
The final tip for this month deals with mulch in the garden. You can use mulch for a variety of reasons. It can help control weeds in your beds and it can help retain moisture around your plants and protect their roots, but it can also harm your plants as well. Around landscape plants it can actually repel water if it is too thick. It can also hold too much moisture near the base of the plant and cause rot and root problems if piled up at the base of your plant. Remember to use it wisely and to check on your plants to make sure they are getting protection without doing damage.
The spring has been wet and the temperatures are starting to rise, that mean there are the perfect conditions for mosquitoes! These little blood suckers are forecast to be bad this year, so we wanted to find some products that would take care of the problem and prevent it from getting worse. That is where Bonide comes in. Tom from Bonide joined us in a backyard to talk about the different products to prevent, deter and eliminate the problem. We started by talking about the pest itself. Mosquitoes are all about water and blood. They need water to lay their eggs and your blood to breed. The female is the one who sucks your blood. That provides the nutrition for the eggs to get started. She can lay up to 100 eggs and they need water to hatch, so if you have standing water (or just a lot of moisture) you are welcoming them to your garden. If you have standing water in a bucket or bowl, empty it out! However, we were next to a bird bath and we don't want this one empty. This was where Tom shared the first product. It was the Mosquito Beater in a water soluble pouch. This product is a natural one that has BT or Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural product that interferes with the reproduction of the bugs without hurting other animals in the garden. These pouches can be cut up for smaller water features or you can drop in big packet to cover a larger pond. This also works if you have a water fall or bubbler. Another thing that mosquitoes need after they hatch is a place to sit. That most likely are the plants in your garden. To solve that problem Bonide has a granular Mosquito Beater product that you shake over your plants. This product is also natural and contains oils that repel them and keeps them from sitting down. If you want a little quicker action you can use their fogging products. One is a product that uses a propane fogger and it will cover a larger area and start to work immediately. This one is a synthetic product and so you should follow the label instruction for the most effective use. The other fogging product is an aerosol product that can be used in areas around your deck or patio. As with any spray or fogger, be careful if it is windy. These are just a few of the great products from Bonide. For more solutions to your bug problems, check out their website!
There is nothing like a great garden but most of us are stuck either overwhelmed by the project or not knowing where to start. We have the perfect place for you if you are one of those people. It is the ANLD 13th Annual Designers Garden Tour. ANLD stands for the Association of Northwest Landscape Designers. The tour takes place on the 17th of June and this year they will have 7 gardens on the tour, on Portland's West side. We stopped by one of the featured gardens built by David West. David is the owner of Structures in Landscape. Structures in Landscape is a local residential landscape design company. The garden he is showcasing is called Mill Pond Garden, but I think it should be called Mt Hood! This garden features 110 foot elevation change from front to back. David joked that the slope was so severe that the homeowner used to have to lay on their belly to do the weeding, just to keep from sliding down the hill. But what a transformation! This garden now features multiple tiers and they are accessible to each other at various points, which creates a nice flow from anywhere in the garden. This family is very active with 3 extremely active children. They can now cruise the paths, rocks and walls all over the yard (and they do!) Each level has something to offer from plants at the top, flowing into a gathering area with a large fire pit, designed to keep the smoke out of your eyes, down to a large lawn area. Further down is a level with garden planters and boxes and then a deck at the back of the house.
You can imagine how much work it took to convert that slope into this wonderland. Well, it took over 900 tons of materials moved into and out of the yard through a small space at the side of the home. Intensive drainage and lighting not only make this space safe but also engaging.
One of the best features is at the side of the main deck. A covered seating area features, not only a cooking station with a sink, but a patio with a Rumford style fireplace as a centerpiece, and a dining area too. It is really amazing what David did with this entire space.
If you would like to see this garden, or any of the other 6 on the tour, you can go the ANLD website and buy them there or for the locations where you can buy a ticket on the day of the tour. They are $25 each but well worth it just for all the beauty you will see.
We have heard about Growing Gardens (503-284-8420) for a long time. Their mission is to use the experience of growing food in schools, backyards and correctional facilities to cultivate healthy, equitable, communities. To learn even more about this wonderful group we met with Jason Skipton, the executive director, at one of their garden sites. This group does so much more than just help people grow their own food. Their commitment to the people that they serve is long term. If they help a family start to grow food through gardening, they will stay with that family for 3 years to make sure that they are successful through their mentorship programs. They also have a Youth Grow program that works with after school garden clubs, and their Learn & Grow workshops teach gardeners of every level how to garden sustainably to protect our environment.
They even work with the prison system in Oregon to help inmates with gardening. That food is then used in the prison system to create healthy choices in their menus. By doing all these things and more, Growing Gardens helps the overall community by building pride of place. People come together and share their bounty and support each other. It a great deal all the way around!
Your chance to help them out is with their 'Chef in my Garden' dinner series. This program features some of the region's top chefs with wonderful meals and fantastic wines. These take place on Sunday afternoon and start on July 9th and run through the end of August. Each location is different and so are the chefs and the wines. To find out more about the 'Chef in my Garden' program or to get tickets, check out the Growing Gardens website. Hurry, dinners sell out fast!