RECORD BREAKING WEATHER. A few weeks ago all we thought about was the cold and not the heat. This winter was pretty mild, but then we got hit with a few days of frost and cold, and all those plants we thought would survive, didn’t! It doesn’t matter now. The heat returned and all is forgotten! The spring rains may come and go, but the warmth will probably remain. Still, that doesn’t mean that you should put out all your tender plants yet. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and maybe wait another week or so to make sure that these temps are not going south any time soon.
We also want to remind people that there are a lot of events and plant sales happening during the spring. If you would like a list of events check out our event page on the Garden Time website.
This week we featured...
Wavra Spring Container – Planting Party
Spring is the season of bright colors! Those colors need to be displayed and one way of doing that is with a container. We stopped by Wavra Farms (503-364-9879) to talk with Diane about how you can plant one of your own. She started with an Americana geranium in the center to create some structure. Then she surrounded it by adding a couple selena begonias, calibrachoa evening star, and some white bacopa. This pot was planted with about 1 inch of space at the top so it can be watered without the water running over the sides. Diane will also add a time release fertilizer that will give a little fertilizer over the entire summer, but she also adds a water soluble fertilizer every week or two for healthier plants and more blooms.
If you are looking for a little help in planting up your containers, stop by on Saturday, April 28th between 9 and 2 for the Wavra planting party. You bring in a container, or buy one there, pick out your plants and they will plant it up with free Miracle Gro soil. So, there is no excuse for not having great baskets and containers this summer!
If you have ever wanted a hedge now is the time to get one. In the past people who wanted a hedge would have to plant their selected hedge plants and then spend years pampering and cultivating those tender plants until they reached maturity, and if a plant died in the process, there was a huge hole to fill! Those days are over. We found a local company that can now deliver a finished hedge to your yard or garden. Instant Hedge (503-587-0102) is the brain child of Brent Markus. He has helped develop the perfect finished hedge. To grow these hedges they start with growing their own materials. Small plants are selected and moved into larger pots and eventually into the field. There they are precision trimmed and pruned using precise GPS technology. When they are ready they are then picked out of the field as a complete ‘4 plant’ section and is shipped in a bio-degradable cardboard container. You simply put them in the ground and water them. You now have a hedge of 3 to 6 feet tall (depending on what you chose) all grown. They are growing over 20 varieties of plants right now, but currently offer 6 varieties for purchase. The other varieties will soon follow!
If you are interested in purchasing an Instant Hedge, you can contact their office to find a landscape contractor or garden center in your area. Get a finished look, without all the work!
Digging in the Dirt
Spring is here and The Oregon Garden (503-874-8100) needs your help! They are hosting their second annual ‘Digging in the Dirt’ event on the May 12th. They invite people to purchase a $35 ticket and then they will put you to work. I know that sounds a little crazy, but there are perks for joining in! You show up with your ticket, plant a few plants and then you get to listen to live music, plus enjoy brunch and bottomless mimosas served in the Discovery Pavilion in the Rediscovery Forest. You will also get a plant to take home, a free return pass to the garden so you can see your plants in bloom and an additional 20% off at the gift shop and the Garden View Restaurant. You definitely get your money’s worth for just planting a few plants for all visitors to enjoy. Go to their website to get your tickets, but hurry, they are limited!
The Digging in the Dirt event is just the start. That same Mother’s Day weekend the garden has a ton of activities planned. Starting with Friday which is National Public Parks day. The garden is offering a buy one admission and get one free offer that day. When you BOGO (buy one, get one), you will also get a raffle ticket for a drawing for some really cool prizes including an annual ‘Rose’ membership to the Oregon Garden.
There are lots of reasons to head up to the Garden, so check out their website for all the details.
It is early spring and that means it is time to plant your potatoes. William and Judy took us out to the garden to show us how to plant potatoes and maximize your harvest. First we looked at the seed potato. Seed potatoes are not always like the ones you find in the store. Some of the potatoes in the store have been treated so they don’t grow in the vegetable aisle. Find a couple varieties at your local garden center. Look for good, firm spuds. Next, when you get home. Cut them into sections making sure that you have 3-4 ‘eyes’ in each section. An eye is the little dented part of the potato where the new growth occurs. Leave them sit for a day and let them dry over the cut. The next day you can plant them. Find a place with rich well-drained soil. Make sure the soil is amended so it is nice and loose, that will let the plant produce more potatoes. Dig down about 8-10 inches and place the potato at the bottom. Cover it with 3-4 inches of soil. Once it starts to grow you can start to fill in the hole a little bit. Wait until the plant is 6 inches tall and cover up the bottom half. Let it grow some more and do it again. This will allow the plant to produce more tubers! The potato will eventually flower and then die. Once the vines are completely dead in the late summer you can dig up your crop. For more information on growing potatoes or to see some of the newest varieties, check with your local, independent garden center.
Al’s 70th Anniversary
70 years is a long time! Even longer if you are a business. A lot of times a business will not thrive as time passes. That is not the case for Al’s Garden & Home (503-726-1162)! This year they are celebrating 70 years in business. What started with a roadside fruit stand in Woodburn with Al Bigej, grew with the passion of Jack Bigej and now has not only a 3rd generation, but a 4th generation as well. Jack told William that his introduction to the business was selling corn on the cob from the back of a pickup truck. That dedication was passed on to his kids 3 of which are involved in the day to day business. Dorothy helps run the growing operation. Al’s now grows over 90 percent of their finished plants with over 500,000 square feet of covered greenhouses. Darcy is the business manager and oversees the financial aspects of the business including the employment of hundreds of workers. Son Mark is the Chief Operating Officer and he oversees the growing retail operation. Al’s now has 4 retail stores located in Woodburn, Sherwood, Gresham and their latest location in Wilsonville.
To celebrate they are having events all year long. This weekend includes a sale on vegetable starts, a nod to their beginnings. Then on May 2nd, the actual anniversary date, you can stop by the Woodburn store and if you share a memory of your experiences at Al’s you can pick up a red licorice rope from a cut-out of Al himself! There are lots of reasons to celebrate, look for a chance to stop by and wish them another 70 years!
We all love our feline friends except when they are in our gardens where they shouldn’t be. Judy and William showed us various solutions to the problem. These are all safe for pets, all they do is create an uncomfortable area for pets so they go elsewhere. Judy started with some materials that create a physical discomfort. Some people have found success with netting. Just lay it in strips around your garden and the cats have problems digging and they go somewhere else. If you have a favorite plant that they seem to be laying on, just push plastic forks into the ground, tines up and they will move on as well. Hazelnut shells are great for containers. Just put a layer on top of the soil in your pots and they will not dig in them. Most cats also hate water so you can pick up the Scarecrow motion activated deterrent. Every time a cat comes into your garden bed the sprinkler will go off and send them away. If you are close enough to your cat when it is ‘doing its business’ you can just use a simple spray bottle full of water to train them to stay away. There is also fencing that you can use. If you are trying to protect a vegetable garden sometimes a screen of fencing about 1 foot tall will keep them out. One final electronic method is seeing some success as well. It is the Cat Stop ultrasonic cat deterrent. It sends out a low frequency sound that helps keep the cats away.
William had some sprays and other topical applications. These sprays, including ‘Go Away’ from Bonide included ingredients like pepper oil, cinnamon or clove oil. It is the smell that will keep them away and they are safe for the pets and for you too. Another Bonide product is Repels-All which not only works on cats and dog, but deer, rabbits and raccoons too. One last product was the Dog and Cat Stopper. This one had a weaker scent and was approved for indoor as well as outdoor use.
Finally we talked about just making a truce! If you and your cat both love spending time in the garden why not make a space for you both. Look for an area in your garden that you can make a special place for your feline friend. Plant cat-friendly plants like catnip. Place a water source there, some sand for a potty area and some cool areas to lay down and you both can enjoy your time in the garden. Remember that cats are creatures of habit. They return to the same places all the time to do their business, help retrain them to find new areas that will make you both happy. If you are having problems with any of your pets, check with your local garden center for safe ideas to set those boundaries.
Fragrant Foliage Plants
Fragrance in the garden is not just limited to flowers! There are a number of fragrant foliage plants that you can add to your garden for your enjoyment or to help deter pests. Ron from Blooming Junction in Cornelius (503-681-4646) took Judy on a little tour of plants that can provide a scent in your garden. He pointed out that some of the plants use fragrance to attract pollinators and some use fragrance to deter pests and predators. He started with Artemisia which has a kind of pungent smell and is deer resistant too. The bay laurel was next. This one you have to crush the leaves to get a release of the scent. Rosemary was next. This is a favorite of the Garden Time crew. We can’t help but grab the foliage whenever we pass one. Next two were agastache. These were some of Ron’s favorites. He recommended that you keep any scented plant near a path or walkway so you brush up against them and release the scent anytime you are in the garden. These also reward you with great flowers later in the season. Ron had also pulled a magic mountain basil. This plant has a great scent and can be used in cooking.
Lavender marked our next line of plants. This one is so popular it has its own festival in the late spring! Santolina plant was next. It is another pungent smelling plant, but it too has great flowers later in the season (it is a member of the daisy family). One of the most fragrant of the herbs is the mint plant. You can chose from many different types of mint, just remember to keep them contained in a pot or container, and to pinch off the seed heads, or you will have mint everywhere! It is like having a peppermint gum machine in your backyard. Curry was another plant that triggers memories. One touch and you’ll be hungry for Indian food. Thyme, oregano and sage are all great plants for fragrance, but the pineapple sage was one of the best. One touch and you are in the tropics with a pineapple drink in your hand! Verbena and Corsican Mint are another two that are great to have in your garden.
Now a lot of these plants can be used in pots or containers. So you can plant some of these herb pots up and have them next to your back door, or you can pick up a pot that Blooming Junction has already planted up for you. Stop by and take home a great plant with a great fragrance!
Adelman Peony Book
It has been a long time since a new comprehensive peony book has come out. Timber Press recognized that and asked our local peony expert and grower, Carol Adelman from Adelman Peony Gardens (503-393-6185), to help write one. She joined forces with co-author David Michener to write a new book that is a great resource for the peony lover in your family. The Peony book, subtitled ‘the best varieties for your garden’ is a one stop book for those who love these garden favorites. Carol told Judy that she strived to make sure that this book answered all the questions a home gardener might have. That was an important point for her. This is not a book for professional growers, it is for the peony lover. With detailed descriptions and hundreds of color pictures you will be blown away. There are also sections on designing your garden with peonies and other plants, and other sections on care and maintenance.
If you would like to pick up a copy, you can stop by Adelman Peony Garden in May and June when they have they fields filled with flowers, or you can check out the Timber Press website.
Terra Casa Lights and Motion
If you are filling your garden with just plants, you might be falling short! To create a total ‘entertainment environment’ you should consider adding lights and motion to the garden as well. To get some ideas we stopped by Terra Casa in Damascus (503-577-8242), and talked with Diana to see what she has to offer. We started with motion. The coolest thing we’ve seen in a while were the new metal spinners. These spinners look almost animated with different motions when twirling! Diana added a pendant at the bottom and it was incredible. We were mesmerized just watching them. These spinners are meant to hang down from your eaves or a structure, but she also had some whirligigs and pinwheels that are meant for the tops of your fence posts. These also created very unique movements and patterns while twirling.
Now, if you find yourself outside at twilight or after dark, you might be looking for some additional light. Terra Casa has you covered. Diana showed us some solar mobiles with shapes like hearts, dragonflies and flying pigs. These look normal during the day, but at night they light up with changing colors. Terra Casa also has solar pathway lights and lanterns to choose from. Don’t forget the candles! In the past Diana has shown us some of the flame-less candles that they offer, and she has an even bigger selection now.
So if you are looking to take your garden to the next level or you just want a little conversation starter, stop by the store and see all they have to offer for inside or out!
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.