The lockdown continues… we are staying safe and working in the garden a lot. This weather has been incredible, but the pollen has been overwhelming. I’ve been wearing my facemask, but it has been for the pollen and not for viruses. Speaking of facemasks. As a favor to the Garden Time crew and those garden centers that are still open, please respect others when you are shopping for plants. Also, please show a little patience with other gardeners and for the staff at your local nursery. Everyone is working hard and being careful, but sometimes it takes time.
Also, you may notice that we are still doing recordings on our computers, and that means the sound and video quality are not up to our usual high standards. It is what we have to deal with right now and we appreciate your understanding.
This week we featured...
Early Spring Perennials
The spring bulbs are starting to die back and everyone is looking for some longer term color in the garden. That is where perennials can fill in the blanks. We called Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) and talked to Ron about a few plants that he likes for this time of year. There are a lot of tall and short perennials that you can plant now and then enjoy the color year after year. The first plants were a couple of Monardas. These are also known as Bee Balm. They are loved by pollinators of all types, but the bees really love them! The first was ‘Jacob Cline’ with bright red flowers. It gets really tall at 4 to 5 feet and is drought tolerant. The second one was a similar plant called ‘Fireball’, but it stays shorter topping out at 18 inches. Both of these are also mildew resistant. The next plant was a Nepeta or Catmint, called ‘Little Titch’. They are called Catmint because certain forms are attractive to cats and can create a temporary ‘euphoria’ (the cats get a little goofy) when the cats rub up against it. This one was a dwarf variety that is a bee magnet and a long bloomer, and as the name implies, it has a fragrance when you brush up against it. It is also drought tolerant and deer resistant.
The next plant was one that you usually see in bridal bouquets, Baby’s Breath. Baby’s Breath are used in floral arrangements, but like this one, ‘Bristol Fairy’, they are also great in the garden. Thousands of blossoms cover this plant and can keep the pollinators happy. You can also plant this in your cutting garden and they can decorate your garden, or your table, all summer long! The next plant was one of the easiest plants to grow in the garden. The Erysimum, or Wallflower, is known for the color spikes of flowers that you get for a long time, from early spring until late summer. ‘Golden Bowles’, our featured variety, gets bright golden flower spikes that are fragrant as well as colorful. The final plant was a Ceanothus called ‘Vandenberg’. These plants are some of the hardiest plants on the market. You just have to make sure that you don’t drown them when they are established. They are drought tolerant and covered with blooms which the bees love. This one get about 3 to 5 feet tall and is great at the back of garden bed.
If you would like to stop by Blooming Junction, they are open to the public. They have lots of room in the garden center to wander, but the store is a little tight. So, if you are looking for produce, be sure to follow the directions of the staff in the store. If you are senior be sure to check out their ‘senior hours’. Remember, the fresh produce and nicest plants are at Blooming Junction.
Egan Spring Color Annuals
Outside of spring bulbs, spring annuals are the most colorful plants in the garden right now. Those plants that burn the brightest, are also the shortest lived. That means they burn all their brightest colors now but they won’t be back next year! The place for some great early spring color is Egan Gardens (503-393-2131) in Brooks. We talked to Ellen Egan about some of the great color she has at her nursery right now. She started with Gerbera, but not just any Gerbera, the Garvinea gerbera. These are a hardier breed of Gerbera that also has a longer bloom season than past varieties. These bright flowers can keep blooming if you snap off the old blooms at the base of the plant. This will push up the new blooms. As Ellen said, these look like smiley faces in your garden (and very similar to Mortimer, the Garden Time mascot).
Then we moved to Geraniums. Ellen’s father started the business as a geranium grower and geraniums have become the specialty of Egan Gardens. They are bright and they don’t mind going out a little early in the garden. The color just keeps going all summer long and they just need a regular feeding of fertilizer and a little deadheading of the old blooms. Egan’s uses these in their hanging baskets as a center plant. The constant color is wonderful, all summer long. Another plant in their baskets are the ivy geraniums. These can trail over the edges of the basket and still produce those nice blooms. They also have the nice shiny leaves add a lot to the overall interest, plus they handle dry conditions really well.
If you would like to stop by and pick up some of these great color plants, they are open. They also have a pick up system if you are social distancing. Check out Egan Gardens.
Al’s Patio Furniture
With the current situation involving the Coronavirus, you might be looking to do a little vacationing close to home. If you are, you might want to consider getting some new patio furniture to relax in, or maybe a bistro set where you can enjoy your dinner, but where do you start? To answer that question we stopped at Al’s Garden & Home in Sherwood (503-726-1162) and talked to Teri. There are a few things to consider when you are looking for a new set of patio furniture.
The first thing to consider is how you will be spending your time on your patio. Are you an entertainer with lots of social hours or a solo diner kind of person? Do you have room for a lot of furniture or just a few pieces. Visualize people on your deck and see what fits. Then measure and measure again! Take those measurements to your patio shop. Talk to a professional to see what will work for you.
Then think of budget. Are you looking for cheap or for something that will last a long time. Is it constructed well? Can it handle big uncle Charlie? This is where ‘you get what you pay for’ can come back to haunt you. A well-constructed piece of furniture may be a few dollars more, but you will enjoy it for years instead of months.
Then think of style. What is your décor? Teri recommends that you bring the inside, outside. That means bringing your colors and a similar style from inside your home to outside your home. Create another room for your house, just on your deck. Remember that pillows and cushions can be changed and replaced. That will give your furniture a longer lifespan and create more excitement on your patio.
Finally, check out the furniture. If it doesn’t fit or feel right, it probably won’t get better over time! Give it a try first. See if you can try it out on your deck or patio, before you buy. Also, don’t forget to see about accessories. Would a fire pit or umbrella extend your time on the deck? Plus, you can also add planters or containers to bring a splash of color to your entertaining.
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 plants 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.