Thank you! To all of you that made the trip out to GardenPalooza last week, we thank you. Due to the weather concerns our tent company had us close down at 1pm. It was a little early but done completely for safety sake. It was a good thing too! The winds hit gusts of 45 MPH later in the day! We still had a great event and thousands of people were able to take home new plants and garden art for their yards.
Keep an eye out for our next event on June 2nd at Capitol Subaru in Salem. It will be a blast!
Spring is in full swing now and we are getting more and more excited by the day. I just wish we could make it out into the garden a little more. These rains are welcome, but discouraging!
This week we featured...
The spring garden is home to the ‘loner’ of the bee world. The Orchard Mason Bee is a wonderful, early spring, pollinator. It will fly in colder weather than its honey-making counterpart. It is also a very busy bee. It can pollinate many more flowers than the honey bee, plus it is much more docile too. It hardly ever stings! The one difference between the 2 varieties? The mason bee is pretty much done pollinating by June 1st and then it heads into hibernation to wait for the next spring to start all over again. We met with Mitch from the Backyard Bird Shop (503-303-4653) in West Linn, to learn more about these little ‘busy bees’. He told us about these industrious bees and how they reproduce. These bees will find holes in the wild to lay their eggs. We have found them laying eggs everywhere including cracks in our house. The best part is that they don’t do any damage to the area where they lay their eggs. You can watch these bees as a family project with some of the cool mason bee homes that you can get at your local Backyard Bird Shop. For more information on welcoming the Mason Bee to your backyard, stop by and check in with Mitch and the Backyard Bird Shop staff.
Gardening in the PNW Book and Plants
The Northwest is a very unique place for raising plants. On one hand, we can grow just about anything here, and on the other hand we have to deal with long wet spells and equally long dry spells. It can make for interesting conditions and plant choices. There is a new book out that will help you with those conditions. It is called Gardening in the Pacific Northwest from Timber Press and the two people responsible for the book are local authors and gardeners, Amy Campion and Paul Bonine. We had a chance to catch up with them at Xera Plants (503-236-8563) in SE Portland, Paul’s nursery, to chat about the book and showcase a couple of plants that would work well in our area.
First, William talked with Amy. She is a transplant from the Mid-West a few years ago and learned firsthand about our growing conditions. She worked with Paul about addressing the concerns she encountered when she moved here. That meant that the book has a huge list of ‘Northwest friendly’ plants with tips on growing them in the ever changing conditions of our area. It also has information on chemical-free gardening and dealing with weather. There are also sections on diseases, pests and solutions for garden problems. It is a ‘must have’ for the local gardener.
Next Judy met with Paul in the nursery to check out a couple of recommended plants for our conditions. Paul started with a Manzanita called Sunset. It is a native to the west coast and has white flowers and a nice bark. It can handle full sun and is very easy to grow. Another easy to grow plant is the Matilija Poppy. This one is also called the ‘Fried Egg Flower’ plant because of its 6-8 inch white flowers with yellow centers. It loves our conditions of wet winters and dry summers. Our third plant was Rock Rose (Cistus) ‘Formosum’. It has wonderful little flowers that come on about now and goes through late June or July. It is evergreen and loves full sun. The final plant was a Ribes. We are all familiar with our traditional flowering ribes or red currant. This one, ‘Gordonainum’ is a cross between a couple different varieties and sports bi-color flowers of a salmon color. It also has great fall color too.
You can find these great plants at Xera Plants and the book is also there too! You can also find Timber Press books on their website and at fine book sellers everywhere!
Some people have tried asparagus in the past and have not had too much luck. Jack Bigej from Al’s Garden Center (503-981-1245) loves asparagus and gave us some tips for planting success. He uses a variety called Jersey Knight which is made up of all male plants that will not go to seed, plus it yields a bigger crop. First, you dig a well-drained hole that is about a foot deep. That is the key… good drainage! Asparagus doesn’t like standing water. Then, lightly cover the root with a couple of inches of soil. When the plants get to be about a foot tall you fill in the rest of the hole. Don’t harvest the first year. Lightly harvest the second year and cut all you want the 3rd year. The plant will produce a good crop for up to 20 years after that. There is little or no maintenance of these prolific plants if they are in the right conditions, check with your local garden center or Al’s for more details.
Hoyt Arboretum 90th Anniversary
One of the shining jewels of Portland is Hoyt Arboretum and this month they are celebrating their 90th anniversary. To learn a little bit about their history and get a little tour we met with Martin Nicholson, the curator, to talk about how the arboretum came to be. Martin told us the idea for an arboretum goes back to the early 1900’s, but it was the driving force of a group of people including Emmanuel T. Mische, Thorton Munger, and C. P. Keyser, to name a few. The namesake for the Arboretum was County Commissioner Ralph Warren Hoyt, another one of the strong and visionary personalities who contributed to its creation. The original plan for the arboretum was drawn up by John Duncan in the late 1920’s and was implemented over the next few years. Back at the beginning there were just 80 acres, but not only has the collections of trees grown, but so has the land, to nearly 200 acres.
We then moved over to the Stevens Pavilion to chat with Anna Goldrich, the executive director of the Hoyt Arboretum Friends. This group is the biggest group for growing, preserving and sustaining the arboretum. Anna told Judy about all the great educational programs that they have at the arboretum. They are also behind so much more than just the programs. If you have used the visitors center, the picnic areas or even the Stevens pavilion, then you have the Friends to thank! They are also behind something else, the big celebration of the 90th anniversary. Anna told us that on the 28th of April there will be a big party from 10am to noon with birthday cake, crafts, live music and story time with Timber Joey! There is also a Spring Color Tour right after the big festivities. If you can, stop by and celebrate one of our local treasures, Hoyt Arboretum!
Plant Pick - Little Prince - Tender Succulents
Succulents are very popular right now. They are easy to grow and easy to care for, and there are so many to choose from! To see some of the newest we stopped by Garden Fever (503-287-3200) to meet nursery owner Lori and our Plant Pick sponsor, Mark from Little Prince of Oregon. First we talked to Lori about the great planters and terrarium bar that they have for customers. Lori showed us the wide selection of rocks, gravel and other decorative elements for building terrariums and planters. She also told us that succulents work the best in well drained containers and they have a great selection of those too. They also have a great handout on how to build and growing a terrarium, which you can find a link to here!
We then moved over to Mark to chat about the plants. Little Prince has a great selection of tender succulents called Plant Poppers. These are great for those smaller containers and terrariums. Mark also recommended a couple of books for interested growers, Succulents by Robin Stockwell, and Terrarium Craft by Kate Bryant and Amy Bryant Aiello. Mark also stressed that these plants love well drained containers and recommended places like Garden Fever who will drill holes in containers if needed so you can be successful. These succulents need a nice bright place indoors during the winter and can be moved outside during the summer, where they can really thrive. If you would like to learn more about these ‘poppers’ you can stop by Garden Fever or you can check out the Little Prince website for a retailer near you.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Update
The tulip festival is at peak bloom right now! The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm annual Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest (1-800-711-2006) gave us a call because it is so spectacular and said we had to go out and see it. We were concerned because of the recent winds and rain, but these tulips can really take a beating especially in the early season before they are fully bloomed out. The fields are full of waves of color and they will be for the next week or so. You can’t miss it. While you are there you should try some of their wine. The Iverson’s are now growing wine grapes on part of their land and they are bottling a delicious assortment of wines to taste. They are also offering a ‘mini’ wine tour during weekends at the festival. You can buy a ticket and they take you around the farm to view the flowers and have wine samples and treats at various locations. Of course there are a ton of activities going on no matter what day of the week. Be sure to check out their website before you go out to see the field report and get a list of events.
If you are looking for something to do this weekend, jump in the car and head to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm for a great time.
Coastal - New Plants
Recently we visited a Coastal Farm and Ranch (541-928-2511) to do a story on baby chicks for the home garden and saw that they had a great garden center too! We met with Ken from Van Essen Nursery a grower of great shrubs, trees and perennials. He brought along a group of some great plants that will be featured at most Coastal stores in the coming weeks. We started with a couple of Dogwood trees. The first one was called ‘Cherry Vodka’ and it was stunning with dark ‘cherry red’ stems and variegated foliage. Next to it was the light green ‘Crème de Mint’ with chartreuse stems and creamy variegated foliage. Both of these are real eye-catchers. We then moved on to clematis. Ken had the variety called ‘The Vagabond’, but he mentioned that these had been really well grown out so there were lots of stems and great root systems. They will transfer well into any garden. Finally we looked at re-blooming azaleas, part of the Bloomathon series of plants. These will give you a flush of blooms in the spring and then more blooms later in the summer. It will give you even more blooms if you give it a haircut after the first flush of blooms in the late spring.
If you haven’t been to a Coastal Farm and Ranch, you need to stop by. They are much more than their name implies!
There is no better feeling than turning some soil in your garden. That feeling will disappear quickly if you dig into a utility line. We found out that there is a new, easy way to avoid this problem. Scott from NW Natural Gas told us about the 811 number. This number is a nationwide number to help homeowners and businesses locate buried utility lines so you can stay out of trouble. The ‘Call Before You Dig’ program is not new, but people still don’t know much about it! One call will help you locate any line. If you don’t call you can be held liable for the damages of cutting a line. Besides, it is the right thing to do! Just call 811 two business days before you dig.
Local customers can now download an app for their phones to request a ‘locate’ or to report on natural gas odors. To download the NW Natural safety app visit the Apple or Android app story and search for "NW Natural Safety App". More information on this app is available here.
Spring Pond Care
The weather is warming and that can create a few problems for your pond or water feature. We stopped by Tsugawa Nursery (360-225-8750) to get some tips from Brian Tsugawa to learn what you should be doing now to get ready for the season. Tsugawa’s uses the ‘4 It’s’ of spring pond care. They are Kill it, Sink it, Eat it, and Starve it. First you want to kill the algae in your system with a treatment of Algae Fix. Next you want to sink it with Accu-clear. This will drop all the algae to the bottom of your pond or pool. This is actually the bottle of ‘instant gratification’. If you are having a party you can use this and your pond will be clear in just a day. Next you want to ‘Eat it’ with Microbe-lift. This is a bacterial pond clarifier that introduces bacteria to your system so it can eat all the nasty stuff at the bottom of your pond. Finally you can starve it with a good selection of pond plants. You should be cleaning up your plants. Get rid of the dead and damaged foliage; it will just add nutrients to your water that will foster the growth of algae, but be careful of the new growth and the flower buds. Now is also the time to fertilize your pond plants. Use a pellet fertilizer that will release over time. You can also start monitoring your fish. Remember that you need to be careful about feeding them right now. If the temperature of the water is below 45-50 degrees they won’t be able to metabolize the food that you feed them, so you will want to feed them a wheat germ product until the water warms up and they can process the protein in a regular food. The warmer weather will also mean a bloom of algae and mold in your system. You can control it with a variety of natural and organic products. For more information on pond maintenance you can always check with the experts at Tsugawa Nursery.