Well, summer is here! Have you noticed a difference? The heat seems to have disappeared and the rains have returned, but this is just a lull in the patterns. We will soon see the return to the heat and sun! Make sure that you have your watering schedule set up and keep an eye on your plants (and yourself) to make sure you stay hydrated!
Even though it is the beginning of summer, it is the end of our spring and that means the end of our series of hour long programs. We love to be able to bring you a longer program in the spring and that is possible because of our great sponsors, but as the heat rises we lose viewers to vacations and that spells an end to our hour long program. Don’t blame our sponsors! They are the only reason we have an hour long show, and it’s just the nature of the seasons. Please thank our sponsors for their support!
We also want to let you know that we had a couple cancellations for our Europe trip this August. There is a limited window of opportunity for a couple people to join us. Please email us through the Garden Time website to find out more!
This week we featured...
Down to Earth Plants
During our recent trip to the southern Willamette Valley we stopped by a place we had heard a lot about, Down to Earth (541-342-6820)! Just pulling up we knew this place would be different. Placed in an old mill, smack in the middle of downtown Eugene, this building is historic and packed with tons of cool home and garden accessories. We met with Chris in the nursery to talk about plants and she had pulled a bunch of sun and shade perennials to share. The first plant was a veronica called ‘Very Van Gogh’. This plant get a bunch of nice tall flower spikes of blue flowers and is a great plant for pollinators and hummingbirds. The flowers keep coming as long as you cut off the old flower spikes. The second plant was an Echinacea ‘Salsa Red’. Echinaceas are great plants for the summer garden and are a favorite of nearly every animal in the garden. After the summer of providing a flower show for everyone, it has great seed heads that feed the birds through the winter. Another great bloomer in the summer garden is an old favorite, rudbeckia. The variety that Chris had was ‘Goldsturm’. This is an old favorite and loves the full sun and can brighten up any part of your garden. Next we moved to a different part of the nursery to see a couple of shade plants. The first one was the Japanese Forest Grass ‘Aureola’. This grass stays low and bright! It doesn’t overpower the other plants in your shade garden, but brightens up the shady areas accenting the other plants there. The final plant we saw was a brunnera named ‘Jack Frost’. This is also a brighter plant for those shady places in the garden, plus it is deer resistant!
We then moved inside to see the old mill and what was in the rest of the store. There we met Rachel, the general manager, to learn about the products and mission of the store. She told us that the building is from the 1920’s and was finished in the1940’s. They still have some of the old machinery in the store and the original Douglas Fir floors. Instead of grain and seed, the store is now loaded with houseplants, clothing, tools, cookware and other home accessories. One of the largest areas of the store is filled with their complete line of Down to Earth fertilizers and garden amendments. If you have ever tried their fertilizers, know that they are all locally produced and blended for our soils and conditions. If you are in the Eugene area stop by for a tour and pick up a plant or two!
Garland Tea Plants
There are lots of plants that you can grow to make your own teas and herb infused drinks. Just about anything edible in the garden can be used to make something to drink. People have used flower leaves, stems and roots for ages to make flavored drinks. To get a few suggestions and favorites of the Northwest gardener we stopped by Garland Nursery (1-800-296-6601) near Corvallis and talked to Ryan. Ryan gives classes on making teas and he had 4 plants that he recommends. We started with the main tea making plant, Camellia sinensis. This plant is the one that is used by most of the world for teas. The tips of the new growth are what is used for making tea. The top two leaves are harvested in the spring and then dried. Most of the processes for making teas involve air drying the leaves or roots. The next plant is the Rosa Rugosa. This species rose (not a hybrid) is prized for the rose hips (seed pods) that form from the pollinated flowers. These hips are cleaned, dried and then ground up for teas. If you have ever had a rose tea, it probably was the rugose rose that helped make it. To use the rose hips you should make sure that the rose was not treated with any chemicals during the growing season. The third plant was the Lemon Verbena. The leaves of the newest growth are dried and crushed to bring a lemony flavor to teas and drinks. The final plant was one that a lot of people know about for its cold fighting properties, the Echinacea. This plant donates a lot of parts to drinks and teas. The leaves, flower petals and even the roots are used. The roots are especially prized in the fall when all the nutrients are pushed back down from the leaves to the roots, making a better and stronger tea.
If you would like to learn more about teas you can stop by Garland Nursery or check with your local garden center. In fact, Portland Nursery has a great handout that you can take on your next plant hunting trip to your local garden center, https://portlandnursery.com/docs/herbs/HerbsforTea.pdf.
Good Garden Lavenders
Late spring and early summer brings us the blooms of the fragrant lavender! This plant is the shining star of the garden right now. It is a magnet for bees, shows off some wonderful blooms and is fragrant as well! People also use it for cooking and medicinal uses as well. Unfortunately a lot of gardeners grow tired of these plants as they get older because they can get woody and flop in the garden. To learn some tips to prevent that we stopped by Barn Owl Nursery (503-638-0387) in Wilsonville and talked to local expert Chris Mulder. She said that the main way to control your lavender is through pruning. The problem is that people should be pruning now or shortly after the blooms fade. She recommends that you cut back your plant now so you can enjoy the blooms and fragrance indoors or even dry them for culinary use or for display. By cutting back your plants in the mid-summer you ensure that they will set blooms for next year. The cuts you make should be just above the woody old growth leaving a short stem with a few leaves. This will give the plant enough ‘green’ material to recover and survive another year. She had a field of ‘French Fields’ that she was cutting for use in her store.
We then moved over to another part of her fields to see a few varieties that she recommends for our area. The first one was ‘Pacific Blue’ which has a nice deep color and is great as a culinary lavender. The second one was similar, ‘Rebecca Kay’. It too, has a nice dark color and dries nicely on the stem and is also great in the kitchen. The best part of this variety is that it blooms twice. The third one we looked at was ‘Folgate’ this one was a good one for culinary use. Chris showed us how she starts to harvest the flowers when they first start to bloom. Then she ties them in small bunches and hangs them to dry. The final variety that we looked at was ‘Royal Velvet’. This one was propagated in Oregon and is a later bloomer then some of the other lavenders. It also has a longer stem which is good for making lavender wands and other crafting. It is also good fresh, dried and for culinary uses. If you are looking for a lavender for your garden or for cooking, check out Chris’s list of plants and their characteristics.
If you would like to check out Chris’s fields this weekend is the time to do that. Barn Owl Nursery is having their Lavender Days event this weekend from 10am to 5pm through Sunday the 24th. Yu can pick up some of these great lavenders and other lavender products. There are also other featured vendors each day. Check out their website for all the details.
Gossler Rhody Foliage
Rhododendrons are a fixture in our local gardens, and even though the flowers are what bring the oohs and aahs to our lips, there are a few that also have great and interesting foliage. Gossler Farm Nursery (541-746-3922) in Springfield has a nice selection of rhodies in their display garden and Roger Gossler took William out to the garden to share 3 that are very interesting even without the flowers. The first one was ‘Williamsianum’ (which William liked for obvious reasons). This one has small leaves that hardly resemble a rhododendron. It has small pink flowers, but the stems and new growth had a dark mahogany color that was beautiful. The next one had a very interesting indumentum or hairy covering on its leaves. The ‘Yak Pak’ has a light colored covering that is striking on the plant and will last most of the season. This covering also helps the plant battle the Lace Bug. It is thought that the covering keeps the bugs from the surface of the leaf and so they can’t suck out any of the juices. It is also very hardy in our area! The final rhody was ‘Pachysanthum’ which is one of the parents of the Yak Pak. It is also hardy for us, surviving down to 0, and has the same fussy covering to the leaves. It also has wonderful pink blooms in the spring.
If you would like to see these in the display garden drop by if you are in the Springfield area, or you can order one from their on-line catalog.
Japanese Garden Iris
There are lots of plants that show off throughout the year at the Portland Japanese Garden (503-223-1321), but right now there is one that you have to come and see. While other show their glory for weeks, the Ensata Iris near the zigzag bridge in the strolling pond garden is only sharing its blooms for a few more days. We met with the senior gardener Adam Hart to talk about the plant and how they grow it. This bed was originally planted in the late 60’s and early 70’s when the garden was built. They are all pretty much one color probably due to the fact that there weren’t many varieties on the market at that time. These iris love boggy conditions and don’t mind a little water, in fact they need a lot of water in the spring to flower. If you want to grow them at home you will also need to put them in full sun and give them a fertilizer. At the garden they also compost them in the fall after they cut them back.
If you would like to see the show, head up to the Portland Japanese Garden in the next week or so to enjoy these wonderful iris.
Little Baja Piñatas
Every kid loves a piñata. It is one of the great party games of the summer and a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors. One of the best places to get a quality piñata is at Little Baja (503-236-8834) on Burnside. Wayne told Judy how they started carrying piñatas. Someone asked Wayne were they could get some authentic piñatas and so, on his next buying trip to Mexico, Wayne found a family that were making well-built piñatas and started buying them. They were shipping their pottery up from Mexico and the piñatas didn’t take up much room or weight so they were loaded on the truck too. He still works with the same family many years later. These are so authentic that the Portland Art Museum had them featured at an event they had a few years ago.
Wayne also filled us in on a few rules for using a piñata. First make sure you are out and away from anything breakable. Don’t use a baseball bat to break your piñata. In fact, don’t use anything that you wouldn’t want to be hit with yourself. Everyone gets 3 swings per turn, with anyone older than 7 wearing a blindfold. Make sure that there is not a mad rush once the piñata is open. Hold all the kids back until the candy is all on the ground, then let them go! Treat your kids, and the adults in your family to this traditional outdoor party game this summer.
Owen Rose Garden
We are all familiar with the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park in Portland, but if you live in the Eugene area you have your own little gem in downtown, the Owen Rose Garden. We met with Daphene who works for the Eugene Parks Department and she filled us in on the history of the garden. George Owen was a city council member for Eugene and in 1951 he donated 5 acres to be used as a park. Shortly after his donation the Eugene Rose Society planted 750 roses and that has grown to over 4,500 roses today. The garden also is the home to the Oregon Heritage Cherry Tree. This massive 49 foot tree is rumored to have been planted in 1847. It is so big that they have to use supports to keep the limbs up! The garden also has a large open turf area, accessible gravel walkways with benches, a pergola-lined paved walkway, a 28-foot diameter gazebo, an arbor picnic area. The gazebo area is in the process of being replanted with even more roses, so this garden will continue to grow and look great for years to come! They are always looking for volunteers to help maintain this wonderful garden. If you are interested you can contact the Eugene Parks and Rec department.
Peace Rose Stamp
If you love collecting stamps and you love roses we have something that will satisfy both of those cravings, and this story has a local twist as well. Rich Baer, photographer and longtime member of the Portland Rose Society, had one of his photos selected to be on one of the newest postage stamps. Rich was asked for a photo of the peace rose and he submitted one the he took many years ago in his own garden. That photo was selected and is now on postage stamps all over the country. It is quite an honor for a man who has had his work featured on magazine covers and in hundreds of books and catalogs. Congratulations Rich!
Tapestry Garden Book
One of the prettiest gardens in our state is located at a small nursery near Eugene. Ernie and Marietta O’Byrne are the owners of Northwest Garden Nursery (541-935-3915) and they have built a beautiful garden made of different themes and styles. It started when they first purchased the property and ran a landscape installation and maintenance company. They found out that they couldn’t get all the plants they needed so they started to grow their own stock. Pretty soon they were selling the excess plants from their greenhouses on weekends. While this was going on, they were building more and more gardens around their property. They have weaved these lovely gardens into a tapestry of color and texture. The gardens are so good that Tom Fischer of Timber Press convinced them to write a book about it! That book is now out and called ‘A Tapestry Garden’. It covers their journey on how they created the gardens, how they combined plants in the many different settings and how they made it seem so seamless. You can find this wonderful book at your local bookseller and at the Timber Press website. If you are ever in the Eugene area stop by and check out their wonderful nursery and gardens, but call first to see if they are home. Plus mark your calendar for their wonderful Hellebore Open Garden Days in late February and early March, you can buy some of their own hybridized hellebores!
Village Green Gardens
We had the opportunity to travel south to Cottage Grove and visit the Village Green Resort and Garden (800-942-2491). The Village Green is a sister property to the Oregon Garden Resort in Silverton and they both are owned by Moonstone Hotel properties. We met with Ty Boland who is the regional horticulture manager and botanical curator of both locations. We met with him in the garden area of the resort. Village Green is actually over 12 different themed gardens in one 14 acre location. They have gardens like the Mahogany Garden, the bride’s garden, a kid’s garden, and the Bird Garden to name a few. We were down to visit the garden a few years ago right after a terrible winter that left a lot of the garden damaged, but the gardens are looking great right now. A lot of the plants were not even damaged due to the fact that they are well established and have been on the property for many years. If you are traveling and need a place to stop and refresh, the Village Green is a wonderful place to do that. The resort is also just a nice place to visit. Stop by and wander the grounds and see some of the magnificent plants and gardens there.
Water-wise Plant Tips
With the summer sun we also start to see summer drought, and that means stressed plants, but how would you like to have plants that handle the stress well? We met with Chris from the Regional Water Providers Consortium to talk about how to pick drought and heat tolerant plants. Did you know that people use about 3 times as much water in the summer as they do in the winter? Even with all that water being used in the garden, people will still have stressed out plants. The first thing that Chris tells people when she does presentations to gardeners is to look at their yard and figure out what conditions you have to work with. Look for the microclimates and determine what those conditions are. Then go plant shopping and find the right plants for the right place. The key to finding the right plant? Look at the tag. The tag is going to tell you what type of conditions that plant is going to need to thrive. Then pair that plant with other plants that need similar conditions. Then you can adjust your watering accordingly to meet the needs of those areas. For example, you might have an area where the plants love full sun and can handle less water and another area that contains plants that need shade and more water. You can now adjust your watering accordingly and all the plants will thrive. The RWPC also has a book on-line that you can download called ‘Water Efficient Plants for the Willamette Valley’, which will give you an idea of what to buy for different locations.