Happy Mother’s Day. Time to let your mom know how much she is appreciated. This year is going to be tough for most of us. Moms are shut behind closed doors staying safe and distancing from everyone, even those that they love, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get them something great! Stop by your local independent garden center and pick up a beautiful plant for your mom. Leave it outside of her home so she can see it from her window and then when she has time she can place it in her garden and enjoy your gift all year long!
We have some bad news to share with everyone. GardenPalooza, our great spring event, has been canceled for this year. Originally scheduled for the first weekend in April, we had to move it to the end of June. Now, with all the uncertainty surrounding current events, we had to make the decision to cancel it for this year. We are so sorry to make this announcement. However, we do have one more big event coming up. Subaru Garden Dayz has been moved to September 12th. We hope that you mark your calendar for this new event and we’ll see you in the late summer!
This week we featured...
Spring Bird Care
With the coming of spring it also signals the return of birds to the garden. You can make it easier for our feathered friends by equipping your garden with all the right materials they need. We paid a visit by Zoom to Backyard Bird Shop (503-445-2699) and met with Amanda to see what she recommends for bird lovers. The basics that they recommend addressing are food, water and shelter. Shelter could be a bird house, or even planting the right plants in your garden that can protect them from the weather and predators. In the past we’ve seen bird houses that had a smaller hole for the birds to enter with no perch. This is important. A larger hole with a perch will attract non-native types of birds or predators. An inch and a quarter is just the right size for most of your local song birds. You will also want a way to clean it out after the nesting season is over. This will prevent diseases and contamination for the next brood. You can also leave out nesting material and it will help them build a nice soft nest. Don’t use dryer lint since it can hold moisture. Look for natural fibers. Food needs change depending on the type of bird you want to attract. For example, you wouldn’t use a hummingbird feeder to attract a chickadee. So know your bird and use a correct feed. Most seed feeding birds like black oil sunflower seed. Suet is always a good choice for those insect feeders. It has lots of high energy fat for those cold spring days. Also, when choosing a feed, pick a quality one. Backyard Bird Shop gets fresh deliveries of seed a couple times a week. Finally, the hummingbirds are returning and you can welcome them back with a nice meal. Set up your hummingbird feeders with some fresh nectar. You can make it yourself with the recipe on the Backyard Bird Shop website.
Another great resource on the Backyard Bird Shop site is a listing of all the nest times for birds, how many eggs they have and the incubation period. Check out their list here. During the Covid-19 crisis, you can shop on-line or by phone and pick up your order at the curbside in front of the stores. Be sure to check their website for hours and other steps for shopping.
Portland Nursery Strawberry Pot
With the push for edibles in the garden the last few years we had the idea of bringing those edibles to your doorstep. We stopped by Portland Nursery on Stark Street (503-231-5050) to get some ideas from Sara about planting strawberries and how to choose a strawberry pot to bring your fruit and vegetables to your deck or patio. First we pulled a strawberry pot out of their inventory, which was no problem with all the pots they have in the garden center. We learned that you need to plant in layers. You don’t just fill the pot full of soil and shove plants in! You fill your pot with soil up to the first holes and then place your plants in and then move to the next layer. We also learned a little bit about strawberries. ‘June-bearing’ gives you one crop. ‘Ever-bearing’ and ‘Day Neutral’ gives you 2 or more good crops of berries through-out the summer if you treat them well. There are a couple of other things that growers do to get a good crop… plant new berries every 3-4 years. For a list of varieties and culture, check out their Fruits and Berries page. You should also maintain good watering and apply fertilizer a couple times a year. Sara had a great idea for making sure that your berries are well watered. She, and General Manager Suzy, had a PVC pipe capped and drilled with holes. This was placed in the center of the pot and would allow for the water to reach all levels of the pot so all the plants would get a drink! Finally, remember that you can plant everything from trees to other fruits and vegetables in pots. Smaller varieties of fruit trees are very popular right now and you can even find single trees with multiple varieties on one trunk. These are great in containers. Sara even told us about people who plant tomatoes in pots on their deck! Sounds like a winner to me!
For years you may have heard about Encore Azaleas. We have too! We decided to check them out in the garden and by phone. We called Janet from Encore Azaleas to talk to her about these unique reblooming shrubs. These are very special plants! They were first hybridized by Buddy Lee a plant lover from Louisiana. He found some azaleas blooming during the summer in Thailand, which was weird. He brought some back and started to cross breed them and ended up with the reblooming plant we know today. Over time they have developed 48 varieties and now have chosen the best 6 for the Northwest. We picked up 2 of these newer varieties, Autumn Sunburst, a peachy pink (coral) bloom with white edges, and Autumn Bonfire, with a deep red double bloom. These are dwarf varieties that will grow to about 3 feet high in your garden. They don’t need much pruning, but if you do need to cut them back, do it after their first flush of blooms in the late spring. If you give them nice well drained, slightly acidic, soil they will perform well. They like a light shade, but can handle some direct sun for a little time during the day. The real benefit of these plants is the bloom! They will give you a fresh flush of blooms in the spring, then they have a few blooms in the summer, followed by another flush of blooms in the late summer or early fall. Another benefit… they are a little more resistant to Azalea Lace Bug in your garden. Look for them at your local garden center this spring. We love them in our garden!
TOW – Training a Climbing Vine
Our tip of the week comes to us from Ryan’s garden. He showed us how he trains up a climbing vine on a wire in his garden. This is a vine that he didn’t cut back in the fall. Right now he is just taking a long piece of twine and wrapping the vine with it and tying it to the wire. He then took his pruner and trimmed off the wild pieces that weren’t tied up to the wire. Even though the vine isn’t pruned back it will send out a new flush of growth and blooms, to reward Ryan and his family all summer long.
French Prairie Perennials – Plants and Garden Art
There is nothing like a great plant in the garden, plus when you add a piece of art to the mix, it is wonderful. We know the place to get both! We checked in at French Prairie Perennials (503-679-2871) to talk with Rick and Kerry about both aspects of the garden. First we started with Rick and we were talking about Japanese Maples. The first one he talked about was the Autumn Moon maple This one is a bright yellow color that will be a feature for most of the season. It starts with a pumpkin orange that gets brighter to a yellow and then back to a pumpkin orange in the fall. Because it is such a bright color, it can be burned in a full sun situation, so be sure to give it morning sun and a little afternoon shade. The next one was the Manyo no Sato. This one had some green with purple variegation in the foliage, with a little yellow thrown in as well. In the fall it gets a burgundy/red/orange foliage all mixed together. The last one is a delicious maple called Olsen’s Frosted Strawberry. This one has pink/red/green variegation in the leaves and will fade into pink and orange for the fall.
Kerry joined us to talk about one more plant, the rhododendron ‘Superflimmer’ with variegated foliage of a cream center and a dark green foliage. Truly spectacular specimen in your garden. This is not the only way to add interest into your garden. French Prairie Perennials also has a lot of garden art available too. Kerry and Rick told us about the great art for the garden too. They have wonderful all-weather swirls and stone hearts for your garden, plus some truly magnificent metal dragons and cranes! If you are looking for great art or décor for your home or garden, check out French Prairie Perennials in Aurora.
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!
Terra Casa Rain Chains and Spinners
Terra Casa (503-577-8242) has always been one of our favorite places to shop. Not only do they have some great items for indoor décor, they have some of the most unique outdoor décor too. Judy joined Diana in their outdoor Pot Lot where they also had some fountains, furniture and other outdoor items. It was here that we found some of the cool rain chains for your home. There is something about the rain in the Northwest and these chains will be a delight in your garden whether it rains or not. They not only look good, but some of them even make noise when it rains. The motion of the rain dripping down the chain is mesmerizing! Another thing that is mesmerizing it the motion from garden spinners. There are multiple types of spinners that they sell at Terra Casa. There are large ones that move with the wind creating all sorts of blurs of colors, shapes and reflections. The larger ones are like large art pieces in the garden, while there are smaller ones that also have solar lights in them so you can see them spin in the evening hours. They also have cool metallic spinners that have cool patterns and neat designs that almost make them look animated. These can be used outside or you can buy a small motor and mount them inside where they can spin all year long, with or without the wind.
These are just a few of the cool décor items that you can find at Terra Casa. Right now they have their outdoor ‘pot lot’ open and inside shopping by appointment. You can also call and place your order (they even facetime for your shopping convenience) and then drop by to pick up your purchase. Check out their website for all the details.
Now is the time to plant your tomatoes and there are a few things you can do to ensure a bountiful fall crop. One thing you can do is to plant your tomato deep! Tomatoes will grow roots along their main stem as long as you leave a portion of the leaves above ground. Also, in addition to fertilizer, you should add a small amount of garden lime to the soil so you can avoid ‘blossom end rot’, a condition that causes a brown spot at the end of your tomato. If your night time temperatures are still a little cool you may want to protect your new plants with a cover, like a cloche, or use a product like a Wall-o-Water. Don’t forget to set your tomato cages up as well. Use a couple of these tips now and you will have a great harvest this fall.
Early Season Water Use
We’ve just come out of the driest April in a long time and people are now looking at their water use and asking to see if we are secure in our usage for the upcoming season. Bonnie from the Regional Water Providers Consortium joined us to fill us in on what projections for the season hold. She told us that, right now, things are good. Our water supply is clean and supply is good, even if we are washing our hands a lot! However, it is never too early to look at our water usage for the upcoming summer. A lot of people will be home and gardening, and that could mean that usage will climb to very high levels. She recommends that you sign up at the www.regionalh2o.org website for the weekly watering number. This number is targeted to your zip code and can tell you how much water to use on your lawn (and garden) to maintain a healthy landscape during the driest times in our area. They also have some great videos and tips for effective and efficient use of your water both inside and out.
Tis the season for slugs. They are all over the garden. Some people don’t mind them, but for others it can wreak havoc on garden plants and vegetables. For those who need to get rid of slugs there are lots of commercial products on the market. Judy covered 3 of the most popular and what they are made of. The first was the Deadline product. This contains metaldehyde, also called meta. This is toxic to slugs and not safe for use around pets or children. It is very effective to get rid of your slug problem. You simply leave little drops of Deadline around your vulnerable plants like hostas and irises and the slugs are attracted to it, eat it and die. It also has a pellet type of application as well. The second product was Sluggo. This is an iron phosphate product. It is safe to use around children, pets and other animals too. This one is a pellet and you can just sprinkle it around those vulnerable plants just like the Deadline product. This we would recommend spreading a little distance away from your plants to draw the slugs away from the plants. The final product is Corry’s Slug and Snail Killer. The Corry’s product contains sodium ferric EDTA. This product is also safe for children and pets. Just sprinkle it around the garden to target the bothersome slugs.
A couple of notes to remember. First, use the product lightly, that is why we recommend using it around areas where you have slug problems. It would cost a fortune to try and bait your whole yard. Address the areas where you have problems and you will save money and have a safer application of the product. Second, sprinkle the product around and don’t make piles. Even though some of these are listed as safe for children and pets, they need to be applied correctly. That means, three, follow directions! The label is the law. These products are tested to be effective when used in the correct manner. Don’t guess and just apply what you think will work. Read all directions and follow them!
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden Tour
The Crystal Spring Rhododendron Garden is closed for the season due to the coronavirus. We put together a little video tour for you to enjoy. Mother’s Day weekend is also their big fund raiser plant sale. That too has been cancelled, but you can still do your shopping for rhododendrons on-line. They have set up a website for you to do your shopping. Check it out here.