Spring break is here! I know that for some this is the last weekend of spring break and for others it is the start of a blissful week, but it is a week of recognition. We all now recognize that spring is here! The temperature doesn’t matter now. We are celebrating Easter and the change of attitudes that go along with that. Spring also welcomes the return to normal. Normal for the birds, normal for the plants and normal for the festivals! We feature all three in this week’s show.
You may have also noticed that we are now an hour long program again. This will continue for the next 12 weeks. We have so much information to cover in the spring that we just have to buy more time from the stations. Look forward to lots of gardening information in the next couple of months!
Next week is our 16th annual GardenPalooza event. You can come out and celebrate with over 40 garden vendors. It is a free event with free parking, giving you more money to spend on plants! Go to www.GardenPalooza.com for all the details!
This week we featured...
Spring Backyard Birds
With the coming of spring it also signals the return of birds to the garden. You can make it easier for our feathered friends by equipping your garden with all the right materials they need. We paid a visit to Backyard Bird Shop (503-635-2044) and met with Darlene to see what she recommends for bird lovers. The basics that they recommend addressing are food and shelter. Shelter could be a bird house, or even planting the right plants in your garden that can protect them from the weather and predators. Darlene showed us a bird house that had a smaller hole for the birds to enter with no perch. This is important. A larger hole with a perch will attract non-native types of birds or predators. An inch and a quarter is just the right size for most of your local song birds. You will also want a way to clean it out after the nesting season is over. This will prevent diseases and contamination for the next brood. You can also leave out nesting material and it will help them build a nice soft nest. Don’t use dryer lint since it can hold moisture. Look for natural fibers. Food needs change depending on the type of bird you want to attract. For example, you wouldn’t use a hummingbird feeder to attract a chickadee. So know your bird and use a correct feed. Most seed feeding birds like black oil sunflower seed. Suet is always a good choice for those insect feeders. It has lots of high energy fat for those cold spring days. Also, when choosing a feed, pick a quality one. Backyard Bird Shop gets fresh deliveries of seed a couple times a week. Finally, the hummingbirds are returning and you can welcome them back with a nice meal. Set up your hummingbird feeders with some fresh nectar. You can make it yourself with the recipe on the Backyard Bird Shop website.
Another great resource on the Backyard Bird Shop site is a listing of all the nest times for birds, how many eggs they have and the incubation period. Check out their list here.
Carol’s Spring Texture Plants
Spring may bring hope to the gardener, but most people think that spring is all about color. True, color is great, but if you are left wanting for color your hope could lie in texture. Texture in a plant will deliver for a longer time in the garden than color. We stopped by Out in the Garden Nursery (503-829-4141) to see Carol and to look at some of her favorite ‘texture’ plants. We started with Actaeas. These plants have a light and airy foliage in a few different colors that respond to the breeze all summer long. They bloom in the fall, but look great in the garden all summer. Then we saw a Tricyrtis. This has lime green foliage that will brighten any dark spot in your garden. This one will also give you a very interesting purple flower late in the season. Another bright foliage plant for the garden is an Aralia. We saw one called ‘Sun King’. This one has a flower and fruit, though most people never see it. The foliage is what sells this plant. It gets pretty tall so find a nice big space in your shade garden for this one. We then moved to a ‘fern look-alike’, Aruncus. These stay lower in the garden and provide the fine texture that softens the edges of your garden. Alliums were next and they are a familiar plant for most people. They are related to the onion. These are closer to the chive family. They have a fleshier leaf and are stand out plants that also give you a delicate lavender flower in early summer. Sedums are another winner for foliage in the garden. They also have thick and fleshy leaves. Most people think about these sedums, like Autumn Joy, in the late summer when they give you nice pink blooms, but the foliage is great in the garden all summer long. Another fern like plant is the Artemisia. This plant has the same ‘fine’ foliage, but it also gives you dainty little white flowers in the mid-summer. A favorite of Carol is the hardy Geranium. She had a few different varieties to choose from. The leaf texture is so different between different types, but all were beautiful and then you also get flowers too! Can’t beat that! We were nearing the end of her selections with a polemonium called ‘Stairway to Heaven’. This plant had tiny little leaves that start out pink and then change to a white and green cream color, with light blue flowers in June. Our final plant was a drama queen, but well worth the performance! Ligularia, ‘Britt Marie’ has striking dark foliage that will wilt at the slightest hint on dryness. Still, this drama queen, will bounce back with a little water. The great foliage will be accented by wonderful yellow flowers during the summer.
These are just a few of the foliage plants that will give your garden some interest even when there is no color! Stop by and see Carol at Out in the Garden and don’t forget to wander her Oak Grove while you’re there and pet the animals! Don’t forget to visit Carol, at GardenPalooza on April 7th!
Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
We visited the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm for the Annual Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest (1-800-711-2006). This event showcases the fields full of beautiful tulip blooms. This year the cold weather has the fields slowing down with their blooms, but don’t worry there are lots of blooms to see! Karen Bever met William out in the fields to see the blooms. She told us that even with the cold temperatures the fields are doing great. The wet conditions are another matter. For the home gardener you might see a mold or spotting on your leaves, this is a botrytis (a mold) and you should pick those stems out and throw them away! Still, the festival is always changing and this year is no different. They have recently added a wine tasting room to their facilities. Plus, this year, you can take a ride out to the fields on their Wine Wagon Farm Tour and sample wine and other goodies. There is another way where you can come early or stay late in the fields and that is with a season pass. This pass is good for the whole season and you can use it as many times as you like . Plus you will be able to get into the fields an hour before sunrise and stay an hour after sunset.
Still, this is a festival about the blooms! One area that we found interesting was the small display areas out in the fields. These areas featured all of the bulbs that they have planted in the field. You can take a look at these bulbs and compare them side by side. Once you figure out what you want, you can order them for next year. Also, if you are confused about which ones to get, you can order special prepackaged mixes of bulbs. This guarantees that you will have a nice combination of bulbs that will continue blooming for months. The flower fields are soon to be hitting their peak and the farm is full of events and it is still a must see for anyone, even non-flower lovers. Every weekend they are packed with different activities including a wooden shoe carver, pony rides, arts and crafts, and other entertainment for a small fee. Even when the weather is a little damp, the fields never disappoint. You can even check out their ‘field report’ link on their webpage for the most up-to-date bloom report. Bring a camera; this is a scene you have to capture on film!
If you live in the Northwest you have moss. This is one of the biggest problems facing the homeowner and with the warmer weather around the corner you may have the urge to renovate your lawn for the summer months ahead. But first you have to get rid of the moss. We found a bunch of different products that you can use to get rid of the moss right now. Now is the perfect time to attack the moss. The colder weather means that the moss is not actively growing and that means it isn’t sending out spores. Those spores helps spread the moss and so killing the moss reduces your problems in the future. The Northwest is perfect for moss. We have the temperate climate and the moisture that it really loves, and it is a condition that we get from a lack of care. If you take care of your lawn and help the grass grow, then you can help keep the moss from taking over. But first you have to get rid of the moss! We first featured the Moss Out product from Lilly Miller. William started the story by spraying a patch of the lawn and by the time we finished the story the moss was already turning black! We also learned that if you have the Moss Out product it contains iron and you should be careful not to let it get on buildings, patios or clothing. The iron will cause a stain. Wash it off quickly. Other types of moss removal products include one from Bonide that contains potassium fatty acids (which is considered a natural product) and one from Worry Free which contains citrus oil.
If you like moss, then keep it! Some people love the look and feel of the thick green carpet. Just remember that later in the season, that moss will turn brown and die in the summer heat, and that can leave the door open for weeds to take over. The best cure for that is to keep your lawn nice and healthy! A strong lawn will not allow the moss to take over. So, once the moss is gone make sure you reseed with a quality seed and maintain it correctly.
KG – Seed Bombs
With spring finally here you might be thinking about planting your flower seeds outside. This week we have a great project that you can do with your kids that will get them interested in gardening while planting some great wildflower seeds. We are talking about ‘seed bombs’. They are called Seed Bombs because they leave a burst of color wherever you throw them, and they’re easy to make! You start by tearing up paper into tiny pieces. Try to not use glossy papers or newsprint (the ink will stain your hands). Once you have your paper ripped up you put it in a bowl of water and let the paper break down and get mushy. This could take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Once the paper is mushy you put it in a food processor and puree it. You pour this mixture into a strainer and get out as much water as you can from the mixture. Then you take a muffin tin or a cookie mold and press the moist paper mixture into the tin. Make sure that you only fill them up to a half inch in the bottom of the holes. Press a cloth on the mixture to draw out excess water and them leave them set over night (or longer) until they are dry. Once dry, sprinkle a pinch of wildflower seeds in each cup. Make sure you are using wildflower seeds that are made for your area. Some mixes of seed are meant for different parts of the country and may contain plants that are not suited for our area. Your local garden center should be able to help you pick a good blend. We found ours at Silver Falls Seed company (503-874-8221). Once you have the seeds in the cups then you make another batch of the paper mixture. You place another layer in each container, once again keeping it around a half inch thick. Press the extra water out again and then let it dry for a couple of days. What you end up with are little discs of paper with the seeds in the middle. Now just wander around your garden and toss them around. You will end up with splashes of color when the seeds germinate and a group of kids who are now excited to be in the garden!
Garland Favorite Tools
The right tool for the job, we say it over and over and that is because it is so important. The right garden tool will make any job safer, easier and more fun. We stopped by Garland Nursery (1-800-296-6601) in Corvallis to check out the newest tools and some of the favorites of Erica Powell, one of the owners of the nursery and Sharon, a longtime employee. Erika started with her favorite digging tool, the Root Slayer shovel. This is one nasty looking digging tool, but it gets the job done. Sharon said that she even took out a mature cherry tree because of the cutting action on the roots that this tool creates. This tool is a bargain at less than $50. Next we pulled out the Hori Hori. This is a Japanese weeding tool, but it is more than that. This tool can be used for cultivating, transplanting, cutting and a ton of other jobs. Another Japanese tool that she loves is the small Japanese sickles. These curved cutting tools are great for cutting down grasses and other tall perennials at the end of the growing season. The next tool was the Pocket Boy from Silky Saw which is a small, folding pruning saw. Lots of teeth and designed to cut on the pull stroke, which makes it easy to operate. The Felco pruner was the final small tool she shared with us. Everyone should have a Felco pruner. They come in various sizes and styles so they can fit any hand or job. The best part about the Felco, just about everything can be replaced when it wears out.
Sharon then had a couple of tools that she wanted to share. The first of her favorites was a Japanese garden claw. This one will break up the soil and make weeding a breeze. It is also great for cultivating the soil when you are planting stuff. Her final tool was a very unique one and one that we can’t wait to add to our collection. It is called a Nut Wizard and it looks like a potato masher on steroids. It is a circular wire basket at the end of a pole. If you have walnuts, apples or any other group of large objects on the ground, you simply roll this over them and the wire basket picks it up. It is a tool that will save your back!
Tools get better every year, so head out to your local garden center and see what tool can make your garden chores easier.
A few weeks ago we stopped by Sebright Gardens (503-463-9615) to get some tips on dividing hostas. This week we returned to visit with Thomas, one of the owners, about a very overlooked plant in the spring garden, epimediums. These dry shade plants are great for the early spring garden. A lot of them have striking foliage and almost all of them have incredibly unique blooms. These blooms are delicate but overwhelming! Thomas pointed out that a lot of people simply don’t know how to divide them. That means that they can get pretty big and take over your perennial garden. He gave us some tips for how to divide them correctly. Epimediums are a woody rooted plant and that can make them tough to divide. Look for the small heads of the new growth just starting to pop out when you divide. Once the leaves start to show you will need to wait to divide these plants. The new growth is pretty brittle so you have to wait until it hardens off before trying it later in the season. Start your divisions by cutting from under the plant and then teasing the roots apart. Separate the smaller crowns and then replant them in a good soil that is well-drained. If you were really lazy and had a large clump you could just drive a shovel through the clump and cut off large chunks!
Sebright right now carries over 90 varieties of epimediums for sale and Thomas showed us a few that they carry including ‘Versicolor’ with wonderful multicolored blooms, the light violet blooms of ‘Dark Beauty’, so called because of the dark burgundy foliage. ‘Hot Lips’ was next with the deep red colored blooms and finally the white star-shaped blooms of ‘Arctic Wings’. So you can see these plants are great in the early spring garden and they can continue to delight throughout the rest of the season as well. Next spring you should try an epimedium in your garden. You can also visit Thomas at the Sebright Gardens booth at GardenPalooza at Fir Point Farms on April 7th.
One of the hottest trends in gardening is the idea of growing your own food. For some that means a vegetable garden. For others, they want to go a little further and bring poultry to their gardens. The benefits of chickens are many. They can help control insects and pests by eating them. They can help with fertilizing by just doing their ‘business’ as they walk around your garden. They can also bring you fresh eggs. Plus there is the added benefit of just looking cool! To learn more about chickens we stopped by Coastal Farm & Ranch in Albany and talked to Forrest. If you have decided to have chickens in your garden you will want to get a few items to help them thrive. First of all you will need to get at least 3-4 baby chicks to start. In Portland the law says you can have 3 hens in your backyard. Remember to check with your town or county to see what the regulations are for your area. In some towns they don’t allow backyard poultry at all! Sometimes one of the chicks turns out to be a rooster and then you will have to get rid of it. Chickens are also social creatures and they are happier if they have company in the garden. As far as supplies you will need equipment for feeding and watering them. Smaller chicks will also need a heat lamp to grow. Then you will also need shelter for them. Even when they grow larger, chickens are not self-sufficient. You will need to feed them and make sure they have all that they need to thrive. Also, people move them around the garden from time to time to give them a fresh place to scratch and peck.
Some people have asked us about the type of chicken (layer or broiler) and whether certain chickens are better layers than others. Forrest told us that there are so many breeds available that you really have a wide choice of options! The best thing you can do is talk to one of the experts at Coastal! They can help you get your chicks off to a great start and then they are there to help you as the chickens grow up!
If you are interested in raising chickens stop by your local Coastal store and get all your questions answered. They can help you be successful as a urban chicken rancher!
PCC Therapy Garden
We have done many stories on the healing and therapy gardens at the Legacy Hospitals and care facilities around the area. Now we have something new to share with you! Legacy has partnered with Portland Community College for the past few years to help train Horticultural Therapists. Now they are starting the next step, the creation of the Therapeutic Learning Garden at the PCC Sylvania campus. We met with two of the people who have been instrumental in getting this garden off the ground.
First we met with Melissa Bierman, the coordinator of the Horticultural Therapy program at PCC. She told us that nearly 50 PCC staff and community members were involved to get this project going. This garden, when completed, will be open to the public, but it will also become a living classroom for training future therapists. It will be a demonstration area for all types of gardens that will benefit homeowners, businesses, schools and parks.
But how does one design such a garden to meet so many needs. To learn that we met with Brian Bainnson, the landscape architect for the project. He told us that the key to successful design for a project of this scope is to listen! You have to meet with everyone and hear what they are looking for and what their needs are. Only then can you start to try and address them all. It isn’t easy. In fact, he has worked on many therapeutic gardens in his career and he brought all that training to the table for this project.
If you would like to get involved in supporting this project either financially or by volunteering, you can contact the PCC Gerontology Program at www.pcc.edu/ger.
PCC Solexx Greenhouse
Part of this new therapy garden at PCC is a greenhouse from the Greenhouse Catalog and Solexx. We met with Kayla to talk about the Solexx product. They are donating the materials to help build a very large greenhouse for students in the Horticultural Therapy program. Kayla told us about why the Solexx material is well suited for this purpose. The Solexx material provides a great cover because of its insulating ability with a double wall construction. It is also opaque allowing for privacy and serves as a great sound barrier. Finally, it diffuses the light so the plants won’t get burned by the sun and promotes an overall growth pattern. The plants grow evenly and not just towards the sun, giving you a healthier plant. All these features make this a great teaching greenhouse for PCC and also makes it a great greenhouse for the homeowner as well. Check out more about the Solexx material at www.GreenhouseCatalog.com.