Happy Labor Day weekend! We just got back from our Garden Time tour to Europe and we are happy to bring some cooler air and clearer skies back with us. Just in time for the start of school!
There is so much to do before the cooler weather is here to stay, even the squirrels are busy. This morning we noticed a couple of ambitious ones really working hard on harvesting pine cones. That got us thinking about when we will have to start our fall prep, but for now it is time to enjoy these wonderful days and dream of those wonderful places we visited this summer. We hope you have as many great memories as we do.
This week we featured...
We have seen a lot of projects from Rick Naylor of French Prairie Perennials (503-679-2871) and his Visualscaping service, but this latest project impressed us even more. Rick invited us to Salem to show us his latest masterpiece. This garden was already established and looking good with plants that the owner had already bought from Rick over the last few years. Now they wanted to update their garden to compliment a new addition on their home. How do you mix old and new without messing both up? Well, if you’re Rick, you do it masterfully! He removed some of the older structures like a crumbling retaining wall and an uneven walking path and you replace them with modern and structurally sound components. You also complement the existing landscape full of year round color with more of the same. Unique conifers and other perennials now punctuate the existing view and will grow into the old plant material easily.
If you have a new project or landscape, or you want to tweak an existing landscape; Rick, Visualscaping and French Prairie Perennials can help you complete the vision!
14 Gallons Challenge
The recent natural disasters in the US and around the world have people keen on disaster preparedness. A key part of that is saving enough water for you and your family. To get some tips on doing that we stopped by a small home in Portland and met with Shelley from the Regional Water Providers Consortium. There she told us about the 14 Gallons Challenge. 14 gallons is the amount of water that you should save for each person in your family. That amount should cover 1 gallon, per person, per day for 2 weeks. Half of that daily amount is for drinking and the other half is for cooking and hygiene. Shelley showed us how easy that is to do , even in a small home or apartment. She showed us how to store water under couches, desks, closets and beds. She had quite a bit of water saved. Some of these containers were already sealed and some were filled with tapwater. She empties and refills the tap water containers every 6 months to a year to keep them fresh, and if they get older than that she has household bleach to purify them if needed.
Right now the Regional Water Providers Consortium is having a 14 Gallons Challenge and offering prizes for the winners. All you have to do is get your 14 gallons, take a selfie with your stores of liquid gold and post it on social media with the hashtag ‘#14gallons’, and challenge 3 of your friends to do the same and you could win a disaster preparedness related prize. You can also go to the RWPC website http://www.regionalh2o.org for details on the contest and more tips on disaster preparedness.
TOW – Pear Ripening
Bringing fruit into the backyard garden is something we are all trying to do and with the abundance of small and dwarf varieties it is easier than ever. But with some fruit, like pears, it is hard to know when to pick the fruit. This week we gave you a few tips on ripening pears that we picked up from a flyer we got from the OSU Extension Service. Look for a slight tenderness at the top of the pear where the stem is located. If there is a little ‘give’ pick the pear and then store it in your refrigerator (the time in the refrigerator depends on the variety of pear). Pears tend to ripen from the inside out and this will help even out the overall ripening of the fruit. If you follow a few simple rules you can have a sweet luscious pear that won’t be mealy or gritty!
Swan Island Dahlia Arranging
You can build an award winning flower arrangement with flowers from your garden if you follow a few simple rules. We stopped by the Swan Island Dahlia Festival (800-410-6540) to learn how easy it is to do. The Festival is finishing this weekend and features over 400 cut flower arrangements on display, but you can stop by any day to see the beautiful fields and take home some cut flowers of your own. Heather from Swan Island walked us through the steps of building a great display. First she heat treated the stems in 160-170 degree water, which will make the cut flowers last longer. Then she started with one variety of flower which established the size and height of the arrangement. Then she filled in with the other styles and types of blooms. She even used the discarded stems to add filler to the display. It is very easy to do! If you are looking for ideas or you want to fill your day with color, stop by the Dahlia Festival and check out the display or the fields of color. As we mentioned before this is the final weekend of the festival and it wraps up on Monday. You can also see the fields until fall, after the festival, they are open every day from dawn to dusk.
Summer entertaining is so much better with a quality cocktail, and if that cocktail is made from ingredients from a local company, that’s even better. We have a lot of those companies in our area and one of the best of the best is Spiritopia (541-990-0337) in Corvallis. We met with Sebastian in their tasting room to find out how they make their wonderful products. First he introduced us to their four different products. They started with a ginger liqueur and then made an apple liqueur, followed by an apple brandy and now they have just introduced a pomegranate liqueur. What is interesting is that all of these products taste just like the fruit on the label. Now, you might say, of course they taste like that, but we can tell you that a lot of liqueurs do not have enough flavor infused in them to even notice. Others taste like cough medicine, not Spiritopia! They pay attention to the balance of their spirits and use chemical analysis to make sure everything stays consistent in their product. Plus they use real local fruit in their process. The ginger liqueur is made with real ginger and not ginger powder or syrup. The fresh ginger basically dissolves into their spirits over the course of 3 months. The same holds true for their apple product, and continues with their pomegranate liqueur. In fact, they deal directly with the pomegranate farmer to get their fruit! All of this makes a liqueur that is outstanding. As they say at the distillery, they are ‘true to the fruit’. You can find their product at most of your local liquor stores in Oregon, Washington and California, or you can find it at their tasting room near Corvallis. Plus you can find them on Facebook (Facebook/SpiritopiaLiqueurs), and Instagram (#spiritopialiqueurs).