The spring rains returned this past week and the garden is breathing a sigh of relief. It got pretty hot, pretty quickly. That meant that a lot of flowers and weeds were bolting for the sun and the heat. A lot of gardeners were taken by surprise too. The heat was great in the morning, but by afternoon just being in the garden was not always pleasant. It is a reminder that you still need to pay attention to watering, both for yourself and for your plants. This week even though we are getting rain, we found that some of our plants were still a little dry. Keep an eye on those new plantings, they may need a drink.
This past week we were hit with more bad news. Swan Island Dahlias has canceled their late summer event. Flower events like that one has growers scrambling. Remember to check out the website of these great events and see if you can support them in other ways. This week we visit the Adelman Peony Gardens, who decided to open up for the season, and the Schreiner’s Iris Gardens, who have decided to close their event this spring. Adelman’s has a lot of wide open spaces and very little indoor activities. Schreiner’s has a tight garden and a lot under cover where big crowds can’t be easily controlled. We visit both to get the details on how you can support them.
This week we featured...
Jan’s May Tips
This month we finally made it out of the house and back to Jan’s garden for the tips of the month. She had been like a lot of our viewers, out to make a trip to buy plants. She had visited Sebright Gardens in Brooks and had a bunch of shade plants for her woodland garden. She then talked about ‘mudding in’ your plants. You do that by digging your hole and putting a hose in it and filling it with water. Then you place your new plant in the hole, remembering to keep the crown of the plant at the existing soil level. Then you fill in the soil around the plant. This will help hydrate the new planting and help with transplant shock for the new addition to your garden. Then she held up a chunk of bark from one of her tall fir trees. This big chunk had fallen off the tree and she wanted people to know that if this happened in their yards that it was nothing to worry about. Sometime birds, insects or just the normal growth of the tree will cause chunks to fall. This is normal and it doesn’t mean that your tree is dying. We talked about your spring blooming plants next. If you are going to prune them, do it right after they bloom. Some of these plants will take a month or two off after blooming and then they start to produce their flowering parts for next season. Prune these too early and you cut off the flowers for this year, prune too late and you may cut off the flowers for next year.
We then moved to the famous lemon! This plants has a thousand lives. After rescuing it last year, it developed a bad case of scale (a small sap sucking insect) that set the plant back a little bit. Well, after treatment, the lemon has new growth, flower buds and a few lemons from last year. The lesson here is to check your plants for insects and disease all through the season. This just took a little insecticidal soap to knock down the problem. The plant next to it was a healthy gardenia and it was happy with a haircut (pruning) and a little fertilizer.
Now, with all this work you might get a little overwhelmed with weeds while you are tackling garden chores. Jan recommended that you just give those weeds a little trim and remove the flowering heads and seed heads until you get around to pulling them or treating them. This will keep the weed seed down and make for less weeds in the future. Another thing to check for right now is slugs. You might think you have them under control but they can turn up in the weirdest places. Jan’s greenhouse is pretty clean, but the plants she bought at a garden center had slugs under the pots. Those little pests munched a whole flat of zinnias that she was growing for her garden. Put some slug bait in your greenhouse or where ever you have some new seedlings to control this problem. Speaking of new seedlings, Jan also told us that people shouldn’t be too worried if they didn’t get their vegetable gardens started yet. Some people don’t get their gardens in until June and still have plenty of time to grow and harvest a good crop before the end of summer. The key is not to wait too long. For even more gardening information check out the OSU Extension website at https://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening.
Adelman Peony Gardens
We are at the end of May and that late spring heat means the peonies are blooming. The blooms are popping now and it was worth the wait. They are looking great! Peonies are an easy and worry free plant that are great in the garden and the best place to see them is Adelman Peony Gardens (503-393-6185) near Brooks. The best news this spring is that they are one of the few flower events that is still open to the public during this virus crisis. They have large fields and a huge display garden, which will allow for nice distancing for visitors. The display gardens look fantastic but the fields feature waves of color! The plants are in full bloom and we are being treated to a show that just seems to get better every day. Carol Adelman joined us to chat about peonies. Did you know there are 3 basic types of peonies; herbaceous, tree and intersectional peonies. The herbaceous peony is one that will die back to the ground during the winter. Not to worry these plants are a favorite in the upper Midwest and can handle our coldest winters. They will return year after year. Then there are the tree peonies. These are not really a tree, but a peony with a woody stem. These will lose their leaves but will also return every year and reward you with great blooms. These can be pruned back but you need to be careful not to cut off too much. The final type is the intersectional or Itoh peony. These were first hybridized by Mr. Itoh in Japan and combine some of the best attributes of the 2 other forms. They have wonderful foliage and great bloom color, plus they are hardy in all areas of Oregon! She also told us about common problems that the home gardener might be experiencing. She told us that to get a stronger plant you need to pull off the side buds from your peony stalks. This lets your peony stand tall if it rains. Of course you can leave the side buds on and that will give you more blooms. We also asked about ants on peonies. A lot of people are worried about the ants on their plants. There is nothing to worry about. They are there because the plant is pushing sugary sap up the stems to the buds and the ants are just enjoying the feast. It is not causing harm to your plant. They will disappear after the flower blooms because the sap is gone! Also we found out that the peony is one of the toughest plants in your garden. If they can survive in the snowy and freezing Midwest, they can survive here!
Right now the gardens are open every day from 9 to 6 until the 16th of June. They have distancing signs up and are asking everyone to be patient and kind. You can still pick up potted plants and cut flowers in the shop. So if you are looking to stretch your legs the peony fields may be the ticket!
Little Baja Succulent Planter
Sedums and succulents are the ‘hot’ new plants for the low maintenance gardener. To get an idea on how to plant them we stopped by Little Baja (503-236-8834) to get some ideas from Jared. He had a few different pots for us to consider. We started with the smaller concrete pots. These were perfect for a single sedum and he also top dressed it with some stones and a little bridge to make it look great. Then we moved to a larger terra cotta pot from their inventory. This one was big enough for 3 plants (and they even have much larger ones). The reason for choosing a clay terra cotta container is in the clay. Clay breathes and allows air and water to move freely through the sides of the container. This makes for a healthier and happier plant. Sedums and succulents like a well-drained soil. They don’t like to set in moist soils. You can use a cactus or sedum mix if you can find it, but you can also make your own. The soil that we used was a 50-50 mix of regular potting soil and perlite.
Once your planter is done, and the plants are established, you only need to water it every couple of weeks. To be safe you also want to make sure to not put them in the harsh, hot sun. 4-5 hours of morning sun is perfect for these plants and containers. You can pick up these pots and a select inventory of sedums at their store! They do have some distancing signs set up and they ask that you follow the signs for a better shopping experience.
If you would like to stop by and check out these plants and containers, you will have no problem with parking anymore. Little Baja now has a safe and secure, gated parking area on 15th and Ankeny. Perfect for those who want to shop a little more!
Hughes Pond and Bog Plants
If you have a pond or water feature, or even just a boggy wet spot in your garden, you can really open up the palate of plant choices if you stop by Hughes Water Gardens (503-638-1709). Eamonn Hughes met with Judy in the nursery to talk about some of the choices you can find for those moist plants. First Eamonn talked about how to use these plants in layers. If you have a water feature or a pond, you don’t want to hide it behind a lot of foliage. Start with smaller plants in the front and work toward taller plants in the back. He also recommended that you use transitional plants to go from your regular garden to those wet places.
He had brought out a bunch of plants we can consider when working around water. We started with the smaller plants. We had a nice collection that included Golden Creeping Jenny, a Pennywort ‘Crystal Confetti’ and a large leaf Lemon Bacopa. There was also an old favorite, Black Mondo Grass. Next to that was a couple of different Corkscrew Rushes. The smaller Dwarf Corkscrew Rush and the larger ‘Blue Medusa’.
Then we moved to the midrange plants. That started with the Caltha or Yellow Marsh Marigold which bloomed in late winter and early spring. That was followed by one of Eamonn’s favorite plants the Pickerelweed, which has a deep blue/purple flower that will just go all summer long.
Then going to the next layer up in plant height we went to the Louisiana Iris, which loves the watery areas around your pond. We also saw the tall rush ‘Lovesick Blues’. This one will add structure to your pond area all year long. You can also look for long lived color too. The marsh primula are beautiful along with the Bletilla terrestrial orchid. We ended with a tiny little treasure, the Zebra’s Quill (Ledebouria cooperi). This is a very small plant that can make a big impact if placed where you can enjoy it. Striped leaves and a tiny pink flower really show off in a smaller feature.
If you would like to add plants to your pond or water feature, take measurements and pictures of your feature to your local garden center or stop by Hughes Water Gardens and they can help you pick the right plants for the right place!
Schreiner’s Iris Gardens
May is a busy month for local blooming plants. The leading plant for most of May is the Iris and we are lucky to have the leading iris grower in the country at Schreiner’s Iris Gardens (1-800-525-2367). For decades the Schreiner’s have hosted the public at their huge display gardens every spring, but this year they have had to shut down the access to their beautiful gardens. You can still enjoy the garden and their wonderful flowers. We asked Ben Schreiner to fill us in on how to do that. He mentioned that they will be posting videos every day of May on their Facebook page and their website so people can enjoy the blooms, even if you can’t visit the fields. You can also buy potted iris and cut flowers in their parking lot and at selected locations around the area. You can contact them to see who has flowers near you.
For those that are growing iris in their gardens here are a few tips we got from Ben and his Uncle Steve. The number one tip was about watering. Bearded iris are the perfect plant for areas with water restrictions. Iris are drought tolerant! Once they are established they can survive on very little water. You should also look out for slugs. Bait for them regularly. Fertilizing your plants should be done before they bloom and you should use a light fertilizer. Nothing too strong. If your iris are having problems blooming you might also need to give them more sun! They need at least six hours of sunlight a day, anything less and they don’t perform well.
We also found out that Schreiner’s are now selling daylilies. They have found a great partner with award winning hybridizer, Bill Marriot, and will be featuring some of his award winning varieties!
If you would like to order cut flowers, iris rhizomes or daylilies you can contact them through their website. Help support this great local, family owned business if you can and the reward will be a bunch of blooms for your garden or your table.
Raised Bed Animal Deterrents
We have a couple ways to exclude cats and squirrels from using your raised beds as a litter box or a place to bury nuts. 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 and squirrels won't bother them, you can remove the line.
Blooming Junction Shade Trees
The summer is coming and it could be a hot one! Short of buying an expensive air conditioner, you can use your garden to help cool your house. All you need is a shade tree! To learn about the benefits of a shade tree we stopped by Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) to talk to Ron. Shade trees are great for giving shade either to protect your home or can even be used to create shady spaces in your garden so you can expand your plant selections to include shade loving plants. If you are using a shade tree to provide cooling for your home you will want to locate a southwest corner of your yard so the shade can protect your home during the hottest part of the day. In choosing a tree remember to choose a deciduous tree, one that will lose its leaves in the winter, is the best choice. In the summer the leaves provide you with shade and in the winter the lack of leaves will allow the sun to warm your home. Plus, most of the shade trees on the market will also reward you with blooms, texture or color (especially fall color) at other times during the year.
Ron had picked out a few trees for us to look at. The first one was the Raywood Ash. This tree will get about 40 feet tall. It has a fine textured foliage that provides a dappled shade and it turns a purplish, red in the fall. The next tree was the Tupalo, also known as the Nyssa sylvatica. This one was the variety ‘Wildfire’. These are great in the spring and summer because their new growth has a red tinge to the leaves, and in the fall you get a bright red color to the leaves! The third tree was the Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea). It has some yellow fall color, but this one is better known as a tree that gets big and is fast growing, so it can fill a large space pretty quickly. We then moved to a couple of smaller shade trees. One was a flowering Crabapple called ‘Brandywine’. This one has small, beautiful rose shaped blooms that are a lovely shade of pink. In fact, a lot of your fruiting trees like pears, cherries and others make great small space trees. The final one we saw was the Styrax Japonica, or Japanese Snowbell, called ‘Fragrant Fountain’. This one is loaded with blooms right now and like the name says, it has a fabulous fragrance.
When planting your tree you will have to prepare a nice large hole with amended soil and you will need to deeply water it for the entire summer until the rains return next fall. This will help it get established and won’t stress the plant out during those hot summer days. If you would like to see a great selection of shade trees, stop by Blooming Junction on the west side of the valley near Cornelius.
Pest Patrol – Ant Solutions
Ants are the #1 pest problem in the US. There are lots of products that can get rid of them and it can be confusing if you want to stop them before they invade your home, yard or garden. William and Judy shared a few of the different products that are available to the homeowner.
Judy talked about baits. There is one big difference with most of these baits…ants treat them as a food. The baits are taken back to the nest and once it is taken to the queen, she is gone and most of the time so is your problem. Some of the most effective of the baits are ones that include borax. If you have found a ‘home remedy’ on the internet, it most likely contains borax. The Terro product is one that most people are aware of. The liquid application is great because you can see the ants on the first day all huddled around drinking up the sugar/borax solution and then the next day they are gone.
There are even all organic solutions that you can use that use all natural oils and essences. William showed us one from Bonide called ‘Home Safe’ that was all natural and easy to use.
There is one product that we left out and it was the chemical bait, Amdro. This contains ingredients that can kill and also create an effective barrier around the perimeter of your home. It is also effective on most types of ants including carpenter ants. It is very important that you follow the application instructions on these products. Remember the label is the law! Follow it! If you have an ant problem, stop by your local independent garden center and see which products might work the best for you.
Tsugawa Spring Pollinators
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.
Portland Nursery Salvias
Salvias are a huge family of plants. The salvia family has annual, perennial, herb, culinary, medicinal and even more types. We stopped by Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) on Stark Street to see a few of the selections that Sara had pulled out to share with us and to demonstrate the variety available. The one that made Sara fall in love with this plant was ‘May Night’. It was the vertical structure of the plant with strong flowering stalks that caught her attention. The next one was an annual salvia, ‘Majestic Spires Blue’. It had huge bloom stalks that are a great showcase plant for any garden, they just won’t return every year as other perennial salvias will. The next one was salvia ‘Hot Lips’. This one has a bright two tone bloom that hummingbirds go crazy over. The white and red blooms will cover this plant during the summer and well into fall. If you protect it during the winter, it will return again for another show next summer. The final one that Sara had pulled out for us to see was a salvia known as ‘Pineapple Sage’. This is one that is used in cocktails, salads and other dishes. As you can see there is a lot of variety in this family of plants. To pick up your favorite salvia of the year, stop by either Portland Nursery location, either 50th and Stark or 90th and Division.
Spring Chrysanthemum Starts
Every fall we see those wonderful ‘show mums’ with their unique and/or huge blooms. Well, the spring is the time to plant these plants to get those great blooms. We met with Mandi, through Zoom, from the Portland Chrysanthemum Society to talk about these beauties and how to grow them. She talked about how they are usually started from cuttings of older plants and then you can grow them in the ground or even in a pot. For the show mum you will give it a little more love during the season. But once they are established in a regular garden you want to give them a nice home with good watering and some fertilizer a couple times a year. If you pinch the top off early in their growth they will branch out and give you more flowering stems. If they start getting tall you will want to stake them with bamboo stakes to keep them from flopping over.
Normally in the spring you could stop by Portland Nursery during the Portland Chrysanthemum Society plant sale and pick up some cuttings to start in your garden, but with the current Covid-19 situation, Portland Nursery couldn’t handle the amount of people that the sale attracts. So now the society has gone on-line. If you are interested in getting some mum starts, just contact Tamara Bliley at email@example.com or you can contact them through their Facebook page. Let them know you are interested and they will send you pictures and an order form. Then they will tell you where you can pick up your plants. This is a great way to add something really unique to your garden this summer!