April is a month where we celebrate the earth and returning to nature. We had our ‘Subaru Loves the Earth’ event last weekend. This weekend we observe Earth Day leading up to the official day on Monday, with Arbor Day coming soon on the 26th and don’t forget Easter happening on Sunday.
All this celebrating comes as we spend more time in the garden enjoying the return of sunshine and warmth. There are lots of great events happening this weekend, of which we cover a few below. Make sure that you get out and enjoy the ‘Earth’ no matter where that celebration occurs.
Also, this is just a VERY early warning. The Garden Time show for June 8th will air in the Portland area at 7am! The move is being made due to the Rose Festival parade. We will always have the full show on our website, if you want to sleep in!
This week we featured...
Margie’s Easter Baskets
Easter weekend is here and that means Easter baskets have returned too! To see a new type of basket we stopped by Margie’s Farm and Garden (503-866-6123). Margie started by showing us some cool new shorter dahlias that she has for sale. Then we moved to some stunning flower baskets that included those dahlia blooms and many other great plants. These combinations are a perfect gift for your Easter host or just for your own table. They even had some whimsical planters with bobble heads! This is the beginning of the bloom season at Margie’s and every day brings more surprises. Stop by and check out the color, and if you are in need of a last second container or plant for a hostess gift, stop by on Easter Sunday between 11am and 3pm.
Jan’s April Tips
The spring has sprung and that means a lot is happening in the garden. We stopped by Jan’s for the monthly tips and started with a caterpillar question. A viewer recently mentioned that people are buying hornworms as pets in their homes. Hornworms can be devastating in the garden. There are numerous variations of these pests including the tobacco hornworm and the tomato hornworm. Jan talked about how you can buy them in your local pet store, but that most people buy them as a food for their lizards or snakes. They are usually huge, about the size of an adult index finger, and when mature become a large moth. The moths are sometimes called hawk moths or hummingbird moths. They can do real damage if found in huge numbers in the garden, but are not a big problem in our area. If you see one you can move them to an area that doesn’t have a food source for them, or just dispose of them in another way. You can always check with your local nursery or OSU extension office if you have more questions.
We then talked about ‘apical dominance’. This is where the center stem or tallest stem is dominant over the smaller side stems on a plant. Think of the central trunk of a fir tree. When people prune they can sometimes leave the central leader (stem) unpruned. This central leader will get all the growth energy and so your plant won’t send up sucker branches from your fresh pruning job. You can cut off the central leader later in the growing season and there will be less suckering of those side branches. Jan recently had her fruit trees all pruned so we are going to see how much suckering happens throughout the season.
Then we focused on color! Specifically, the colors that attract pests in your garden. In the past we have talked about ‘fake’ plastic apples covered in ‘tanglefoot’ to capture apple maggot. This takes that idea a little farther. By using different colors of containers, Jan had a yellow funnel, a blue oil bottle and a green windshield washer bottle, you can attract pest to these different colors and see if you have a problem, and if there are only a few pests, you could eliminate the problem all together. Just coat the appropriate color with Vaseline or glue and watch for pests to come. Yellow will attract white flies, fungus gnats, winged aphids and leaf miners. Green will get aphids, spittle bugs and leaf hoppers. Blue helps attract and capture thrips.
Our gardens are being invaded! Actually, if we make a nice garden it will attract both the good and bad bugs, but how to know what kind you have? Well, we found someone who can help answer that question, Meg McConnell from Bartlett Tree Experts (503-722-7267). Meg is a plant pathologist at the Bartlett Tree Research Lab, a CSI investigator of the plant world! She and the rest of the Bartlett team help diagnose plant problems from around the U.S. and Canada. If you have a problem and your local Bartlett expert is stumped, they can send a sample to the lab to find out what it is. This means that they can treat it effectively without throwing on a bunch of chemicals and hoping something works.
We talked to her about some of the common problems that people see in their gardens. We started with mites. Mites look like tiny spiders and suck the juice out of the leaves on your favorite plant. That means the green color goes out and you get yellowing leaves which look like a mineral or fertilizer deficiency. Scales were next. There are two types in our area, the armored scale with a hard cover, and the soft scale, which is rounder and coated in wax. The soft scale also creates a ‘honeydew’ from sucking the liquid out of the leaves, which results in sooty mold on the leaves. If you see a black mold, you probably have scale on your plants. One that we are all familiar with is the lace bug. This is a pest that we find on our azaleas and rhododendrons. This one is also a sucking pest and you can find them on the underside of the leaf sucking out all the juices. This will cause tiny spots on your plant and will also leave tiny poop spots on the leaf as well. These should not be confused with lace wings! Lace wings are good bugs. They have long green bodies and see through delicate wings. These guys and their young are harvesters of aphids! They should be protected, just like Lady bugs. Finally, we talked about thrips. These are a tiny bug that looks like a sliver. They are also a sucking pest and leave a nice little poo spot on your leaves.
So if you think you are having a pest or disease problem, give Bartlett a call and let their team take care of your problems.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest Update
The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival (1-800-711-2006) is at peak bloom right now! They gave us a call because it is so spectacular and said we had to go out and see it. We met with Barb Iverson in the field during a rain storm this past Monday. The forecast is calling for better weather in the next few weeks! 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 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.
This weekend they are hosting their annual Easter service in the fields and they are also having a farm dinner in the field in a week or so. There are a bunch of other events happening, so be sure to check out their website. The best news is that they are extending the festival until the 5th of May! The cold weather has extended the bloom time and that means we all get to enjoy the color for a few more days!
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.
Tsugawa Small Maples
A lot of people have a small garden or limited space, but they still want to have a nice garden with a tree. The answer to that problem is at Tsugawa Nursery (360-225-8750) in Woodland, Washington. We met with Brian Tsugawa to talk about small maples and their companion plants. Most of these trees and plant can be used in a small space and some even in pots or containers.
We started with a Japanese maple called ‘Yellow Bird’. Though it has chartreuse colored leaves now, it will be a blast of yellow leaves in the fall. Another one with chartreuse coloring is the ‘Tsuma Gaki’. This one also has a red edge to the leaves that makes it really stand out. A very short one for the garden is ‘Shaina’. This has vibrant red/burgundy leaves and stays very short and would be great in a container. That was next to a taller one with red leaves called ‘Amagi Shigure’ with a dark vein in the center of each leaf. The next one on the cart was a bright one called ‘Harasume’. The soft new growth was a bright yellow and it had a reddish edge to the leaf. This one also had tiny flower blooms that were deep red in color.
These maples were surrounded by companion plants like a Variegated Japanese White Pine called ‘Ogon Janome’ that had clusters of needles that looked like bursts of yellow fireworks against a background of dark green, and the very bright Oriental Spruce named ‘Tom Thumb’.
If you would like to see one of the widest selections of Japanese maples in our area, don’t miss a stop at Tsugawa’s in Woodland. They are just a short drive north of Portland off of I-5.
Oregon Garden Earth Day
Earth Day is a celebration and one of the best places to celebrate is at the Oregon Garden (503-874-8100), and this Saturday, thanks to Marion County, you can enjoy the garden for free from 10am to 4pm. Allie joined William to fill us in on all the events that are taking place. There are tons of vendors, food and drink, live music and even activities for the kids. Lots to see and do. Then the following week on the 27th the Garden will have their big gala with special guest speaker, Richie Steffen from the Elizabeth C. Miller Botanical Garden and Great Plant Picks.
These are 2 great events that should have you heading to Silverton and the Oregon Garden for the next couple of weekends.
French Prairie Gardens Baskets – Mother’s Day
Every year growers are looking for the newest in plants for their hanging baskets and French Prairie Gardens in St. Paul (503-633-8445) is no different. They want their baskets to shine all summer long, either in the sun or the shade. We met with Stacy to see what they were using in their baskets this year! She was excited to show us the ‘starry sky burgundy’ petunia. It looks like velvet and is covered in bright spots that can change over the season. They also have a bunch of other new introductions like a new bacopa and a new variety of Million Bells.
You can always count on French Prairie Gardens to have great events too. One coming up is the annual Mother’s Day Brunch. It is a farm style brunch with wonderful food. Go to their website and book now while there are still seats available.
McLean House Gala
We found a hidden gem of a house and garden in the city of West Linn. The McLean House is a historic home and garden located right under I-205. It is an official park of West Linn and is taken care of by the Friends of McLean House. One of its members, Mike Watter, met with Judy to give us a little background on the house and garden.
Originally a site for the native population, the land passed through various hands and ended up with Dr. Edward McLean. He was a leading physician in the area and very involved in the community. When he retired he left the house to the city. The house is now open for various functions including weddings and events, and the gardens around the house include wooded paths and formal garden areas. It is really a hidden treasure.
One way you can help support this wonderful home and garden is by attending the Art and Garden Gala and Raffle at the house on Saturday April 27th from 10am to 4pm. There will be plants from Bosky Dell and Petal Heads, artists, demonstration and raffles for plants, trees and shrubs. Check out their website for all the details.
Growing at Al’s Farm
Ever wonder where those beautiful plants come from at your local garden center? To find out we traveled to the growing operation for Al’s Garden & Home (503-726-1162). We met with Dorothy Russo at their growing location outside of Woodburn. Dorothy is one of the owners of this family owned business. They started growing their own plants in the back of their old Woodburn store and moved to the present location after a few years. They now have 87 greenhouses in Woodburn alone. They also grow plants in Newberg and Gresham. In fact, over 80 percent of what they sell in their 4 retail locations, they grow!
Dorothy showed us a couple of cool plants they grow. One was the citronella geranium, which will help keep the mosquitoes off your deck and another was a hydrangea that was short and in a pot and ready for Easter! We then moved to another greenhouse to talk about shrubs, vines and other perennials, but the house we were in was full of trays of plants. These ‘flats’ of plants numbered over 4,000 and that equates to over 140,000 plants, and that was just in one house! That didn’t include the hanging baskets overhead. These baskets are helping them utilize the entire space of the greenhouse. They are mounted over the walkways so that they don’t drip on the plants below and cause any damage to those plants. Talk about being efficient!
We moved to another greenhouse to talk with Mark Bigej, another family owner to chat about other aspects of growing. He told us about the idea of succession planting. That means that you plant in different stages and times of the season. That means you always have new plants ready for the customer all the time. It also means that you are planning and planting for seasons yet to come. Even though they are selling spring blooming plants now, they are planting and starting plants for the summer and soon they will start the poinsettia crop for the holidays later this year. As Mark said, when one greenhouse is empty, they fill it with something else! Because they grow their plants they can also test and trail plants for next year and beyond. He showed us some petunias that they are testing for next season. The customer helps them make their decisions when they buy the plants. So you help them decide what to grow.
Finally, we went to the perennial greenhouse, though it was hard to see how it was going to protect any plants, the sides and roof were missing! Mark told us that the sides and roof can be opened so the plants can get ‘hardened off’ to the outside temperature and conditions. That means they will not only thrive, but survive in our Northwest gardens.
So the next time you buy an Al’s Garden & Home plant, you can be sure that it was grown to perform in your garden!
TOW – Double Gloves
A painful blister on the hand of Producer Jeff brings us the tip of the week. If you ever get blisters from working with your garden tools you may want to try this tip. We recommend that you wear double gloves when you are working. First put on a pair of rubber surgical gloves and then put your garden gloves over the top. The friction that causes the blister between your glove and your skin now happens between the two sets of gloves. This will prevent blisters and will make your gardening much less painful.