Welcome to an interesting spring! A lot of us are trapped in our homes, but we needn’t be. Isolating at home doesn’t mean that you need to avoid the garden. In fact, the more you do now in the garden, the better your garden will be when summer rolls around.
The good news is that a lot of your local garden centers are set up to still serve you. There are a few things that most of them ask. First, check their website for hours and specific rules. They change from garden center to garden center. Second, make a list of the plants, tools and materials you need so you don’t spend too much time shopping and are more efficient. Third, follow all the rules for safe distancing. A lot of garden centers will ask you to leave if you are endangering other customers or staff. Finally, be patient! Things are moving at a slower pace and we all need to pay attention to staying safe.
You’ll notice that we are recording a lot of our interviews on web links and streaming video. We apologize for the quality of the sound and pictures, but as soon as we are able, we will be headed out to do face-to-face stories from the nurseries and garden centers.
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This week we featured...
Portland Nursery Spring Color
The spring is full of color and it is not just from bulbs and annuals. We gave Sara at Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) a call to see what they have for customers right now. She had pulled a lot of late winter and spring perennials to talk about. She started with Hellebores. Even though a lot of them are at the end of their bloom cycle, now is the time to get them and plant them in your garden. The reason for getting them now was that you can actually see the blooms right now and their size as well. It is also a great time since they are on sale as well at 30% off. Next we looked at Podophyllum (mayapple) ‘Spotty Dotty’ with its great spring color on the foliage. The spots on the large leaves are a stunner in the garden, plus you can sometimes see the flowers and fruit under the leaves if you get low enough. The next plant was the Iberis or Candytuft. This one blooms all season long and is a favorite for pollinators in the garden. It is a great low grower and ground cover. You can use this to fill in spaces around the garden that are bare. The next plant was the Erysimum or Wallflower. This one is a showoff! This plant has different varieties that have a bunch of different colors. In fact, you can get different colors on a single bloom stalk! It has long bloom stalks that take a long time to finish and you might even get a little fragrance from them as well. Finally we saw some euphorbia which have one of the most unique blooms you will see. These can get a little crazy in the garden if you don’t watch them, but that is great if you want to fill a large area. We remove the seedlings in the spring and cut the plant back in the late winter and they do just fine. You will love the foliage and blooms, but also know that the sap causes skin reactions in some people and can be dangerous for kids and pets, though most pets avoid it.
If you are looking to pick up some of these plants you can shop both Portland Nursery locations. Due to the Covid-19 emergency they have a LOT of protocols in place. Please check out their website to learn more. Also follow the precautions listed to make your shopping experience more enjoyable.
Jan’s April Tips
It is the middle of the month and time for Jan’s tips. We started by talking about birds! Jan noticed that a robin was attacking the mirrors on the outside of her car. It seems like the birds are going a little crazy right now! Actually it is just mating season and the males are establishing territories. They are mistaking their reflection as another male and attacking the image. You may also see this with glass windows, doors and mirrors. The worst thing is they left a bunch of poop streaks on the side of Jan’s car. Ah… spring love! Also this month we thought she was making chocolate milk shakes in the garden, but she was getting ready to show us how to check your soil for sand, silt and clay. You just get a mason jar put in about a cup of soil and then fill it up to the top with water, leaving about an inch of space. You then shake it up for about a minute and leave it sit overnight. In the morning you should see the separation of the different layers of sand at the bottom, silt in the middle and clay at the top. You can then use those layer to determine percentages of the 3 and that will tell you what type of soil you have. This should help you to determine if you need to amend your soil to make it better for your plants. You can check out charts that will help you determine your soil here!
Finally, we talked about geranium budworm. It is early in the season but Jan has seen them. These little pests are hard to see since they turn the color of the foliage they are eating. They usually chomp on the blooms of geraniums but they can attack a lot of your other flowering plants too. You can use some natural pest controls like Capt. Jacks spray from Bonide. We finished with a chat about vegetable gardening. OSU extension is always your ’go-to’ about veggies. They have 2 things that they are offering. One is the on-line Vegetable Gardening in Oregon brochure. This 16 page handout is a great resource for any Oregon gardener! Plus, through the end of April, the OSU Master Gardeners are also offering a free vegetable gardening class, here. This is normally a $45 class, but you can get it for free. Don’t miss it!
The spring is the time for cleaning up your garden for summer, but what is still living and what is dead and needs to be cut back? Ryan took us into his garden to show us how to cut back your perennials. He started with hardy fuchsias. Here he cut back all the brown and dead stalks to the ground. You could see the new growth and so it was easy to see where to cut. Next he moved to the toad lily next to the fuchsia. This one was also easy to see where the new growth was. If you are wondering on some of your other plants, just scratch the outside bark of the stem. If you see green under the first layer of bark, that means it is still a growing branch. If it is brown under your scratch, then it is probably dead or dying and can be cut back. Remember brown is dead and green is good!
Spring Texture Plants
Cool spring plants are not always about bright colors, spring can also mean great texture in the garden too. To see some of the best of spring we chatted with Carol at Out in the Garden Nursery (503-829-4141) in Molalla. Carol loves texture plants. Interesting foliage, unique blooms and unusual shapes make her happy. They can also add another level to your garden if you are looking for something unique.
We started with some great shade plants. The first was Farfugium ‘Wavy Gravy’. This one is known for the cool wavy leaves. They love cool and moist areas, can be evergreen in the right conditions. The next plant was Gaultheria procumbens ‘Cherry Berry’. The best part of this plant is the berries. They are profuse, and very red and bright in the garden. They are edible and have a slight wintergreen taste, in fact they are also known by the name ‘wintergreen’, but they are a little mealy and have an interesting texture. It will stay short and makes a great ground cover. The third plant was a Tiarella ‘Sugar and Spice’. This is a favorite in the garden. It has great two tone leaves and is semi-evergreen. The flower stalks are really cool, with delicate, bright, spikes of blooms. The blooms last a long time too. You can get 3-4 months of color from a plant. The final plant was the Carex ‘Feather Falls’. This one has wispy two-toned leaves and look great especially when they catch a nice breeze in the garden. The flower stalks pop out of the top of the plant and work great in pots or patio containers.
Carol told us that right now her nursery is open and with plenty of space including her display gardens which are just starting to pop right now. They also have all the safety protocols in place when you buy. Check out their webpage for all the info including hours and directions.
Terra Casa Fountains and Birdbaths
There is nothing like the sound of water in the garden and one of the best ways to bring the sound to your backyard is with a fountain from Terra Casa (503-577-8242). We took a walk with Diana to see some of the different styles that they have at the store. At Terra Casa they say that they can make a fountain out of any container at their store and now we believe them. Diana told us how you can build a fountain above ground or even make a small feature that can be buried in your backyard. They will even come out and dig the hole for you and install it. The coolest feature that we saw was how they designed their water features so you can adjust the amount of splash you get. The valve is just right below the surface of the water, so all you have to do is reach in and turn the valve! In the outside display area they had fountains made from clay, stone and ceramic. Plus they have one of the largest displays of pottery in the Metro area, so you can find something that will work in your garden. They are also known for their smaller features too! Diana took us over to another area near the store where we saw smaller, self-contained fountains. These little fountains would work in any size area and help bring that soothing water sound closer to you.
If you are looking for a birdbath, be sure to check those out too!
Right now they have their outdoor area open for customers by appointment only. If you love outdoor décor give Terra Casa a call to set up your appointment! They are just 10 minutes east of Clackamas Town Center in Damascus.