Gardeners are excited! We are now wrapping up April and heading into May, and we keep hearing that gardeners are starting to ramp up their gardens as the weather warms up. Good thing. Cabin fever is a tough thing to deal with!
We are heading out into the garden this weekend and planting some of our early season seeds. We are also going to get more weeding done too! However, we may take a break and head south to Wooden Shoe where the tulips are still going strong, or maybe up to Woodland, Washington to see the hundreds of lilacs at their peak at the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens.
No matter what you have planned, we hope you have a great weekend (after you watch this week’s episode).
This week we featured...
Everyone knows about the tall bearded iris. We have many great growers of iris in our area. But one of the shining stars of the spring garden is the dwarf bearded iris. We stopped by Mid-America Garden (www.beardedirisflowers.com, 503-390-6072) to chat with Thomas Johnson about these little beauties. You may recognize Thomas from Sebright Gardens (503-463-9615) which specializes in hostas, ferns and other perennials. He is also a grower and breeder of dwarf iris and he took us on a tour of his test garden to show what the dwarf iris were all about. These small irises are early bloomers in the garden. Their taller cousins will bloom two to three weeks later. They need the same type of growing conditions to thrive in our area. Well drained soil, no over-watering and not planted too deep. If you follow these simple rules they can be one of the most trouble free plants in the garden. They also offer more variety too. Because of their breeding history, they have more colors and styles to offer the home gardener. If you would like to learn more about these great little spring plants you can get in touch with Thomas at Mid-America Garden and see when you can come out and view the blooms!
Portland Nursery Herbs
You can add different colors and textures to the garden with herbs. You can also bring a lot of new flavors to your cooking as well. We met with Sara at the Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) location on Stark St. to cover some of the favorites for gardeners and chefs in our area. Sara mentioned that planting fresh herbs in the garden is great because it may challenge you to try new recipes and dishes for your friends and family.
We started with thyme, which is a classic for any garden or kitchen. There was a trailing thyme called ‘Foxley’ and the popular ‘Lemon’ thyme. Sara uses hers in chicken dishes. We then moved over to the parsley. This is more than something to garnish your special dishes. Parsley adds a nice freshness to your soups and salads. The one we had here was the ‘Italian Large Leaf’, but there are others to choose from too. The one behind the parsley was fennel ‘Florence’. This can add a nice licorice flavor to some of your dishes, plus the feathery foliage is a real contrast in the garden. It is also rumored to be a deterrent to fleas. Another plant with feathery foliage is dill. Dill is best known for flavoring and preserving canned and pickled vegetables, but its leaves and seeds can also add a nice flavor to fish and soups. Sorrel is another plant that has many uses. It is also known as ‘dock’ and one variety is called Bloody Dock because of its deep red veined leaves. We also had a ‘French’ Sorrel on the table. It can be a little sour, but is used throughout Europe and Central Asia in soups and stews. We then moved to Artemisia (French Tarragon). Tarragon is used in lots of dishes and is one of the main herbs in French cooking. In fact, it is used in béarnaise sauce.
Our second group of plants included Rosemary ‘Arp’. Rosemary is part of the mint family and most people can’t pass up a chance to brush the plant or crush the stems for the fragrance it brings. Rosemary is best known for uses in roasted meats and stuffings. It is a great garden plant because of the profusion of blooms it has during the spring and early summer. These flowers can be covered with bees on a bright sunny day! The next plant was a little unknown to most gardeners and chefs, Epazote. This herb is VERY strong in its flavor and fragrance, and is used in Spanish and Mexican cooking for flavoring in dishes such as black beans. Finally we came to the sages. A lot of the sages we use in cooking are members of the Salvia family. They were used in the middle ages to ward off evil, treat snakebites and help increase a woman’s fertility, but it now has become an ‘essential culinary herb’ for its slightly peppery flavor used in meats and sauces. It also makes a great garden plant for the wonderful flowers and great fragrance when you brush up against it in the garden.
If you plan to use fresh herbs in the garden you will want to go light at first. Add a little bit and let it incorporate into your dish. If you need more then add a little more. Fresh herbs can be a little more potent than their dried counterparts. Maybe this is the year you try fresh herbs in your garden and your cooking. The best place to start is at Portland Nursery.
Wavra Succulent Bar
Sedums and succulents are extremely popular right now. There are so many to choose from, tender to hardy, indoor to outside, that it is hard to name them all. We found one place where you can not only find a huge selection, but you can even design your own pots and containers. Diane from Wavra Farms and Nursery introduced us to her Succulent Bar. At this counter you can pick and choose the succulents and sedums you want and then plant them in any of a huge assortment of cute and functional containers. Plus today, April 27th at 10am there is a terrarium class to help you get started, there is also a class for kids at 2pm.
If you are looking for something new and different, stop by Wavra and let Diane and her staff get you started!
Hulda Klager Lilac Days
It is that time of year, Lilac time. We took the short trip up I-5 to Woodland, Washington to check out the lilacs at the Hulda Klager Lilac Days (360-225-8996). This year the blooms were just coming on! The cold weather has held the plants back, but now they are starting to pop. We met with Ruth to talk about the flowers and she pointed out a couple that are doing well now including the light colored ‘Josee’ and the darker Harvard University bred ‘Lilac Sunday’. She also told us about pruning. You should cut your lilacs after they quit flowering. Don’t wait until fall or you will be cutting back the blooms for the following season. When you do cut them back you should take them all the way to the ground, removing only about 1/3rd of the stems per season. This will promote new shoots coming from the ground.
The 2019 Lilac Days will run from this weekend through Mother’s Day. Hulda Klager hybridized many lilacs and became known as the ‘Lilac Lady’ in the Woodland area. She opened her garden to the public for an open house in the spring during the 1920s. She passed away in 1960.
The Hulda Klager Lilac Society now runs the garden and opens it every year for this festival. They have spent a lot of money in the past few years to improve the gardens and grounds. The improvements include restoration to the historic home, the water tower and the addition of signage and a new entrance pavilion. New seating areas and even an expanded and improved parking lot. They charge a small fee during the festival. That, and the proceeds from the gift shop, keeps this garden going all year long. Another way that the group raises money for the garden is through a lilac plant sale. Of the hundreds of varieties of lilacs in the garden you will find a great selection available for sale. Some are blooming in pots and when you take them home they can make an instant bang in your garden. Take the time and visit it when you get a chance, it is spectacular!
Spring Orchid Care
A lot of people think that orchids are hard to grow and difficult to care for. We put that myth to rest with a visit from Lori from the Oregon Orchid Society. Lori is an avid orchid grower and collector. She also loves to share her knowledge with people so they can love orchids as much as she does. She told us about the 5 major things to consider if you want to grow orchids. These include: Light, Temperature, Humidity, Water and Fertilizer. If you can work within those 5 major areas to figure out what your plant likes, then you will be successful. Generally if to get to the extremes in any of those 5 areas, that’s when you have problems. Most people kill them with kindness and water them too much. Really they are not that touchy. You can find different varieties. There are some that are fragrant, some are delicate and some are pretty tough. If you are interested in orchids you can see a bunch of them at the 2019 Oregon Orchid Show and Sale, happening this weekend, the 27th and 28th of April, at Aquinas Hall, near the Oregon Convention Center, from 10am to 5pm both days. If you have questions about orchids you can stop by the show or you can also find out more at the Oregon Orchid Society website.
Daisy Rain Garden System
We are always looking for products that can help local gardeners in their garden beds. We just found a new product that is locally made to help with keeping your pots and containers well-watered. We traveled to Hillsboro to chat with Jeff Gordon from Daisy Rain Garden Systems (503-628-2323). He got tired of trying to keep his containers on his deck watered. He had used the micro-watering drip systems and when they worked they were great, but sometimes they didn’t work and he had plants that would dry up and die. This system is not a micro system, but a ‘macro’ system. Instead of drips, this waters plants quickly and won’t clog! You just run your water pipes under the pots through their patented channels (key-ways) and attach the sprinkler heads and you are ready to go. You can use a timer and in a few minutes your plants are watered. These pots use a low pressure regulator and so you can have up to 25 pots on one line. Plus, once the season is done you can take the system apart and store it in a very small space.
If you would like to learn more, check out their website. You can also order one from there as well. Hook one up and never worry about your plants again!
Ever been in your local home and garden store and seen the rolls of lawn turf on a pallet? How does it get there and how do they grow it and harvest it. Well, we didn’t have to travel far to get the answer! We went down to Hubbard and met with Tom DeArmond Jr. of Oregon Turf & Tree Farms (503-981-TURF (8873)). His family has been growing grass seed and then turf since the 1940’s. They also added trees a few years ago.
The turf itself is grown from two different varieties of grass seed. They grow a tall fescue which is a little more drought tolerant. It is a dark green and can handle a little more shade than other varieties and is good for our wet winters. The second type of turf is a perennial Ryegrass. This is a little softer grass that can handle traffic well and is used in sports fields around the area. They also offer a ‘sand based’ grass that is great for golf courses and sports fields. This is a thicker sod that can handle really tough traffic conditions.
The coolest part of our tour was next. Tom brought out their harvester and they went through the field. This machine can cut the turf to the correct width, depth and length, roll it and stack it on pallets for transport! It was amazing!
If you would like to get some turf for your lawn, you can order it directly from them at Oregon Turf & Tree Farms. You can go to their website. There you can find information on how to prepare your yard for the new sod, how to measure the space so you get the right amount of sod, and how to pick the right type of grass for your area. You can also find out how to pick it up!
Tsugawa Pollinator Plants
Creating a welcoming environment in your garden for pollinators is a must, and to do that you need the right plants! To get an idea on some of the types of plants you need we stopped at Tsugawa Nursery (360-225-8750) in Woodland. Brian joined us to talk about pollinator plants and he also pointed out that some of these are great for attracting hummingbirds as well!
We started with a popular spring plant that is also a native for our area, the Flowering Current or Ribes sanguineum. This shrub is loaded with dangling clusters of reddish flowers that are great for either hummers or bees. Next to that plant was one that is also great for hungry gardeners, the blueberry! Fruiting plants are great for wildlife and some, like this ‘pink popcorn’, is great for us gardeners as well. We also talked about the flowers that can provide food for birds and insects, and beautiful color for us! The Columbine ‘Leprechaun Gold’, the Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’, and the Heuchera ‘Coral Bells’ are all great in the garden providing great color and texture. Let us not forget the great shrubs for the garden that also have great blooms. The native Mahonia ‘Kathy’s Compact’, the Pieris ‘Prelude’ and the amazingly fragrant Daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’
These are just a few of the great pollinator friendly plants you can find at Tsugawa, or your local independent nursery.
Pruning Japanese Maples
Japanese maples are a very popular plant for the home gardener. Most of these varieties are pretty small and they are pretty care free when it comes to maintenance. The one thing that scares most people is the pruning of these wonderful little trees. To get some tips we visited with Lyle from Bartlett Tree Experts (503-722-7267). Lyle had a client with a couple of Japanese maples in their yard and he brought in a crew to show us how easy it is to trim these trees back. There are 2 main tips for pruning your maple. #1, always trim out the dead and diseased wood from the tree. #2, remove overlapping branches and create space while doing that. Doing those 2 things will go a long way in getting you started. Once those 2 main items are taken care of you can go to work doing some light thinning. Try to create an ‘open’ look by thinning throughout the tree. Think of a 3 dimensional puzzle and make even cuts all around the plant that creates a layered appearance. This will help to make your tree appear less ‘chopped’ and more stylish. It will also keep your tree from looking like Cousin It. If you make a mistake don’t worry. These trees are very forgiving and will grow back to cover your mistakes. If you feel like you are still in over your head, give the pros at Bartlett Tree Experts a call and they will prune it for you. They can also assess all your trees to make sure they are healthy.
TOW – Raised Bed Cat Deterrent
We have a great way to exclude cats from your raised beds. One way is to buy bird netting and stretch it over the bed. However, you have to pay attention to when the plants start to grow, because if they get too big, you will tear them up as you take off the netting. So we have another way that's a little bit easier. You just need some push-pins and some kind of line. Put the pins in at intervals on the wood, and stretch it across in a zigzag. You can also use fishing line, which can be reused year after year. Once the plants are big enough that the cats won't bother them, you can remove the line.
Pest Patrol – Box Elder Bugs
You have probably seen these little pests on the warm side of your house. The box elder bug is very active right now as it comes out and gets ready to mate. The box elder is relatively safe. They don’t eat the fabric on furniture, but they may stain items with their excrement. We recommend not spraying if you don’t have to. Pesticides will kill some of the beneficial insects along with the box elder bug. We recommend using a large vacuum to remove them or just sweep them off the house or outside if they are in your home. Be careful and use caution if you are going to use a ladder to reach bugs on your eaves. Check with your local garden center if you have more questions. Don’t confuse these with the larger shield looking Stink Bug. If you are not sure of the difference, stop by your local independent garden center.