Where is the rain? We have been working on getting all our plants and tools indoors for the winter, but we are still looking for the rain. This could be one of the driest Novembers we have on record, and that means we need to keep those outdoor plants watered. The cold temperatures are returning again with some areas getting freezing overnight temperatures. A well-watered, healthy plant can handle the cold better than a struggling plant, somake sure they are still getting plenty of water until the rains return.
Next week is our 500th episode and we are hoping to celebrate with you! Join the Garden Time crew at Portland Nursery on Stark Street between 10am and 2pm for some cake and punch. We will be cutting the cake at 11am. Plus we will have prize drawings every half hour. You can also enjoy some Bauman Cider. They will have tastings and will be selling bottles to take home. We will see you there!
This week we featured...
ProGrass Fall Turf and Irrigation
During the fall season we are busy moving our tools, potted plants and tender plants indoors or into protected areas. While doing that, don’t forget to take care of your lawn and sprinklers too. To learn what you should do we stopped by a home in Charbonneau and met with Steve Varga from ProGrass (800-776-4727) and some of the ProGrass crew. First we talked about the in-ground sprinkler system. Steve explained that the heads to the sprinklers are sealed and hold water in the housing. This water is the dangerous part. While most of your pipes are deep enough to avoid a freeze the heads are closer to the surface and can freeze and crack. That can get expensive if they leak in the spring. The best thing to do is to blow the water out of the system. Travis then demonstrated how they do that. By hooking up a compressor to the backflow device and shutting off the main water supply you can blow all the water out of the system and protect it from damage, no matter what type of weather we have. Since we are working with the backflow device, it is better to let an expert deal with this.
Next we moved to the backyard and talked about fall fertilization of the lawn. Most people think that adding lime to your soil is all you need to do, but Steve told us that is not the whole picture. The adding of lime to the soil only helps the pH and is only a short term solution for your lawn. The lime helps the grass use the nutrients already in the soil. By using a well balanced fertilizer, in addition to the lime, you can also help the lawn maintain its health over a longer period of time. These are simple tips that can make your life easier in the spring. If you would like some help getting your lawn or sprinklers ready for the season, feel free to contact the pros at ProGrass!
Garden Gallery Iron Works Holiday Open House
The holidays are here. The kickoff for most people happens after Halloween (though some start a little sooner!) and that means it is time to start your shopping for everyone in the family, including you! All of our garden center and nursery friends are having their open houses over the next month and we start the fun at Garden Gallery Iron Works (800-452-5266) in Hubbard. Don met us in their huge showroom to talk about the HOT items for the holidays. We started by talking about the new enamel ware. This clean and bright collection of decorative ware will take you back in time to Grandma’s kitchen. It is wonderfully delightful to see. That enamel ware works great with the decorative tin items they have as well. Some of these tin pieces work well as planters as Don demonstrated to Judy. If you are looking for functional metal containers for outside Don also said they have a wide selection of the corrugated metal raised beds for the gardener in the family. The hard to shop for are easy to satisfy if you visit their ‘Farmhouse Style’ area of the store. It is full of vintage and faux antique items. Most of these items are not only good for the holidays, but can be wonderful additions to your home all year long.
Next we moved to another part of the store to see some of the lanterns that they have for sale. These are great for any room in your home. You can place candles in them, or use other items and make a decorative display for the inside. They also have the very popular faux paintings with real lights embedded in them. They are great to look at and the lights add a certain highlight to the display. Of course, iron and metal displays are what GGIW is known for. Don showed us the snowmen, angels and trees that are made from metal and wrapped with lights. These will last for years and all you have to do is push their stakes in the ground! You can pick up these wonderful decorations or order your wreath this Saturday if you stop by the store for their annual Holiday Open House. They are having a big party on Saturday from 9 to 4 with gift ideas, décor items and refreshments. There will be a gift for the first 50 people and discounts off your entire purchase. It’s a great way to kick off your holiday shopping!
Winter Tree Problems
The wind, rain and possible snow of the coming winter can mean trouble for your large landscape trees. How can you tell if your trees are healthy enough for all that Mother Nature has to offer? We sought out some tips from arborist Logan Collier from Bartlett Tree Experts (503-72ARBOR, 503-722-7267) and asked him for some signs we can look for. Logan took us to an area near West Linn to check out a couple of trees. He told us that you should check your trees from the ground up. Look for damaged roots, trunks and canopies. He showed us a large maple that had lost a few big branches. He said that an arborist should check out this tree to make sure that there wasn’t any decay or disease that could weaken it even more. We then moved to a multiple trunked tree that could lose one of its trunks due to rot and decay at its base or between the 2 main leaders. We also saw a tree that had a bunch of dead branches and one that had fungal conks (a sign of possible internal disease). Those are just a few of the 8 signs that you should look for in a dangerous tree. Other signs included weakly attached branches, cracks in the branches near the trunk, pealing bark and signs of decay or rot. These are the most obvious of signs, but if you are unsure of the safety of your trees you can contact Bartlett. Bartlett even has a brochure that can tell you what else to look for. Logan also emphasizes that you insist on a certified arborist. They are trained to look for the damaged spots and are trained (insured and bonded) to remove the weak tree safely.
Winter Bird Care
The change of the seasons signals a change for your local bird populations. Some of the non-migratory birds will be hanging around and may need a little help from you to survive the cold and wet of winter. We visited with Mitch of Backyard Bird Shop (503-303-4653) in West Linn to learn more about helping our feathered friends. We started with food. For seed eating birds you can use a black oil sunflower seed. This is a good basic seed that provides calories for high energy birds. We checked out the already shelled seed. It is a tiny bit more than the whole seed product, but there is less mess. For insect feeders you can set out a suet cake. Use different types of suet to attract different types of insect feeders. For most suet feeding birds they love insects and if you see a suet block with seed it is generally used as a filler in the suet. Once you have their food needs met, then you need to think about water. You may want to take a look at heaters to keep their water from freezing. You should also remember to put out fresh water whenever you can, since the birds prefer that over standing, dirty, water. The one bird that has special needs in the winter is the hummingbird. They use lots of calories and so their food needs are more critical than other birds. You can keep their nectar in the feeder fresh by changing it every week or so. You can find a simple recipe for making their nectar at the Backyard Bird Shop website. Plus, they need to have a nice clean feeder so they don’t get sick over the winter. A new item for sheltering your birds is the ‘roost pocket’. This little woven shelter can keep your small song birds out of the harsh elements during the really cold days. They are also really cute! You can also welcome birds to your garden by incorporating different types of shrubs and trees. For a list of winter interest plants you can check with your local garden center. To learn more about attracting birds to your garden during the winter you can check with Backyard Bird Shop or The Audubon Society of Portland.
Fall and Winter Camellias
The winter months can be boring in the garden. There is not usually a lot of color to enjoy. One plant that will brighten up your garden in these dreary months is the camellia. The Sasanqua Camellias are a variety that blooms in the late fall and into winter, with wonderful color. The interesting thing about these plants is that they will tighten up when it gets cold and then when the sun comes out they will open up their blooms and even set new blooms! They are also a wonderful plant the rest of the year too, even when they’re not blooming. Brian at Tsugawa Nursery (360-225-8750) in Woodland brought out a few of his favorites to share with us. The first one was a new double called ‘Showa-no-sakae’. It has incredible pink flowers on a taller plant. A shorter shrub form with pink flowers was next, called ‘Jean May’. It can be kept even shorter with regular pruning. A great holiday bloomer was next; ‘Yuletide’. This one is an old favorite with its deep red petals and bright yellow center it is perfectly named for this time of year. There is a new variety of ‘Yuletide’ called ‘Pink-a-boo’ with the same bright yellow center and soft pink petals. These both will bloom through the holidays. The next variety was called ‘Bonanza’ and it had a little tighter dark pink or red colored bloom. The final one we saw was from the Ice Angels series of plants, called ‘Winter Snowman’. It had a bright white bloom so it would brighten up any area in the winter garden.
If you are not sure of which plant you like, Tsugawa’s had a large board with all their camellias posted on it, so you can compare them without wandering around the garden center! The ones we saw were just a few of the varieties that you will find at Tsugawa’s or your local independent garden center. If you are looking for some great late season, into winter color, you should check these out.