If you think that summer is here, now is the time to get out and enjoy it! Don’t wait for the calendar to tell you when summer begins! The weather is warm and the garden is looking wonderful. Most of the gardeners I know have been spending most of their quarantine time getting their gardens into shape and that means it is time to enjoy all the hard work. This summer is shaping up to be one that will be spent in the garden and on the patio. No longer do we need to be locked up inside, we can now breath and stretch out surrounded by flowers and beautiful plants.
Others want to stretch out a little farther from home. If you are headed out to gardens or parks around the area, remember to be respectful of other visitors and of the gardens themselves.
This week we featured...
Sedum Chicks Favorites
Sedums and succulents are a favorite of many gardeners because of their beauty and versatility in the garden. They can be used in containers or in the ground, and come in cool varieties for sun and shade. One of the best places to get these little beauties is at Sedum Chicks (503-508-7727). Becky and her family are known around many of the plant sales and garden events in our area, and she always has great plants. We stopped by to check in with her and her kids, Jorja and Jacobe, to see what their favorites were for the garden. They pulled 6 wonderful plants to share.
The first plant was Hens and Chicks ‘Raspberry Ice’. This one has frosty white fur on a deep red leaf. This one holds its color in full to partial sun and is great in any location, including containers. The second plant was Sedum Divergens, also known as ‘Old Man Bones’. This one look like those old cartoons of skeleton bones. It is very cool! It starts out green, but with lots of sun it can change colors. Becky recommends this one for rock gardens or the edge of containers so it can drape over the edge. Another great plant is Sedum ‘Lime Twister’. The bright variegation on the leaves is incredible! Once again if it gets sun it can have even more color change, so you want to put it in a place that gets a good dose of sunlight. The next one was another crazy one called Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Cebenese’. It looks like it is covered in spider webs! No spiders created this masterpiece, it is the natural habit of this plant to create these webs. The fifth plant was the Hens and Chicks ‘Desert Bloom’. This one has wide open leaves that are a vibrant red! This one likes to show off so put it in a prominent part of your garden. The final one was is sempervivum ‘Oddity’, and it really fits the name! This one has leaves that look like purple tipped tubes. If you are looking for something different in your garden, this is the one to pick!
If you would like to get your hands on these great plants you can contact Becky through her website. Normally she is at local garden shows around the area, but due to cancelations that isn’t possible. Be sure to check out her plants and then add some great color and texture to your garden!
Plant your strawberries now for a bountiful harvest this coming summer. Sara from Portland Nursery on Stark (503-231- 5050) was up to her ears in strawberries and she had a lot of information to share about them. She explained the different varieties to Judy. There are 2 main types of berries you can plant. ‘June-bearing’ gives you one big crop and ‘Ever-bearing’ (also called Day Neutral), which gives you berries through-out the summer. The June bearing types will give you one big harvest in the spring, around June. That means you’ll get a lot. Great for canning and jams. The Ever-bearing will give you fruit throughout the season. So you can get flavorful berries, but just not the size or quantity that you find in the June bearing types. Sara pulled a couple of each variety to share. For the June bearing she showed us the Hood and the Rainier, both are very popular and local favorites. For the Ever-bearing she had Tristar and Seascape.
Put them in full sun with good airflow and give them good water during the season. There are a couple of other things that growers do to get a good crop… plant new berries every 3-4 years, and about 12 inches apart. Tip back the plant, which means you should cut off the runners (you can replant these to fill in bare spots in your strawberry patch), this makes the plant put its energy into the fruit. One of the hardest things to do… remove the blooms from your first year plants… we think that may be going too far! Check out the handy page on their website for more varieties and tips for great fruit growing, https://portlandnursery.com/docs/fruits/StrawberrySupersheet.pdf.
TOW – Tool Handle Measuring Stick
Our tip of the week is about making your tools do double duty. When you buy a plant or plant seeds a lot of the tags will tell you to keep the new plants separated by a distance to make sure they have room to grow. Most of us don’t carry around a measuring tape to make sure we keep those distances, so why not make your long handled tools be the measuring tape? Simply make marks on your handle at 6 inches intervals and then all you have to do is lay your tool down to measure the distance and you can plant without worries!
Blooming Junction Rare Maples
We thought we had seen everything when it came to Japanese Maples, but that was before we met Talon Buchholz. Talon is a breeder and hybridizer of some really cool and unusual maples. We met him at Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) in Cornelius, one of the few local nurseries that carry his maples. The first one of his collection was one called ‘Mikazuki’. The name means ‘crescent moon’ and is tied to the crescent shaped leaves. This one has a great color in the spring but will retain some of the reddish/copper color through the season. The second one was a real standout. ‘Ilarian’ has new growth that is bright creamy/pinkish in color and then fades back to green. It also likes morning sun and afternoon shade. A short chocolate colored tree was next. ‘Manyo no Sato’ had a dark purple leaf (I thought it looked like chocolate) with lime green variegation. It is a medium sized tree and could even be used in a container. The next one was a little crazy! ‘Geisha Gone Wild’ has a wild branching habit and bright red new growth. It does look a little wild! It can also take full sun! Ruby Stars was the next one that we looked at. It has new growth that has red color and fades to a rust/red/green mix, but the new growth just keeps coming all summer long with the bright red ‘ruby star’ leaves. The next one was a bright one! ‘Summer Gold’ has bright gold foliage that maintains its color, even in full sun! It even has a little red along the leaf edges and the stems. A beautiful plant. The final plant was a dwarf vine maple. This one is the shortest vine maple you can find, with incredibly small leaves as well. ‘Baby Buttons’ has these tiny leaves if you plant it in the ground, though they will get a little bigger if you keep it in a container.
You can find all of these unique maples at Blooming Junction, and some of Talon’s unique conifers too, but that is a story for a later time!
Kindergarden – Planting Peanuts
Did you know that you could grow peanuts in the Northwest? You can and it is easy to do. So easy in fact that a kid could do it. We recruited our helper, Dean, to assist Judy in doing some planting. The first thing to remember is to get raw peanuts, not roasted! The roasted peanuts will not grow a plant. We found some at Backyard Bird Shop (503-303-4653), where they have them available as squirrel food. We had Dean shell the peanuts to give them a head start on growing. You can leave them in the shell but then they will take longer to germinate. We then filled a container with Black Gold Natural and Organic potting soil. This is perfect soil for any edible you plant. We covered the peanuts with soil and watered them well. Dean told us to keep them well watered and to place them in full sun. We had some that we started and they were about 3 inches high after 2 weeks. It will take them 100 to 120 days to be mature enough for harvest. We advise that you keep them indoors until the weather gets a little warmer since they really love the heat! The interesting thing about peanuts is that they are pollinated above ground and then the pollinated flowers extend and grow underground where they produce the seeds or peanuts. Very unique!
This is a great project for your kids to do, unless they have a peanut allergy! If they don’t, give it a try and see if you can grow peanuts!
The newest and most dangerous pest that has recently come to our area is the Japanese Beetle. This pest will eat just about anything and it is not only a danger to our ornamental flowers and shrubs in our gardens but also to our agriculture in the state. They are known to eat over 300 different plant species in our area! To learn more about this pest we met with Dr. Jessica Rendon, the Japanese Beetle Eradication Specialist from the Oregon Department of Agriculture. We met in the Bethany/Cedar Mill area where almost all of the beetles have been found. This area is north of highway 26 in northwest Portland. Jessica showed us one of the traps that they are using to track the spread of the beetles. This trap had a rose scented lure and a male pheromone lure to help them try to get a good sampling of beetles in the area. Right now the beetles are emerging from their larval stage and will soon begin feeding. The Oregon Department of Agriculture wants us to keep an eye out for these hungry little pests. They are tracking these pests to make sure that they don’t travel outside of the treatment area of Cedar Mill/Bethany. They have been successful in reducing the numbers, but they are only scratching the surface! If you see one let them know. You can go to their webpage, or contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to report a sighting or get more information. If you are buying plant material or sharing with friends, make sure that your plants are clean. Once again, for more information, check out the Oregon Department of Agriculture website.
Citrus has become HOT for the home gardener. With the development of newer, more frost resistant varieties, people are willing to give these plants a chance. We know that in our garden, in containers, these plants are a winner! Some seasons they perform better, pound for pound, than our tomatoes!
To learn about citrus we stopped by Al’s Garden & Home in Woodburn (503-726-1162) and chatted with Mark. He told us that growing citrus is easier than you think. They like a warmer growing temperature and prefer to be inside. Though they can be moved outside for the summer months, it can be scary sometimes as leaves will drop off the plants when you move them or expose them to changes in temperatures, but they will always bounce back and produce fruit. Another benefit is the fragrance! The flowers produce a fragrance that will knock your socks off! On a warm spring day, they can overwhelm your deck or patio with their sweet smelling blooms! Taking care of them is a breeze too. Just keep them well watered, though not soaked, and watch that temperature and you will have them for years! They also do really well when you give them a boost with Espoma’s (https://www.espoma.com) Citrus-Tone fertilizer.
If you would like to grow citrus but have questions, just stop by any Al’s Garden and Home location and get the 411 (information) on growing these beauties!
Bonide Mosquito Solutions
The spring has been wet and the temperatures are starting to rise, those are the perfect conditions for mosquitoes! These little blood suckers are forecast to be bad this year, so we wanted to find some products that would take care of the problem and prevent it from getting worse. That is where Bonide comes in. Tom from Bonide joined us in a backyard to talk about the different products to prevent, deter and eliminate the problem. We started by talking about the pest itself. Mosquitoes are all about water and blood. They need water to lay their eggs and your blood to breed. The female is the one who sucks your blood. That provides the nutrition for the eggs to get started. She can lay up to 100 eggs and they need water to hatch, so if you have standing water (or just a lot of moisture) you are welcoming them to your garden. If you have standing water in a bucket or bowl, empty it out! However, we were next to a bird bath and we don’t want this one empty. This was where Tom shared the first product. It was the Mosquito Beater in a water soluble pouch. This product is a natural one that has BT or Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural product that interferes with the reproduction of the bugs without hurting other animals in the garden. These pouches can be cut up for smaller water features or you can drop in big packet to cover a larger pond. This also works if you have a waterfall or bubbler. Another thing that mosquitoes need after they hatch is a place to sit. That most likely is the plants in your garden. To solve that problem Bonide has a granular Mosquito Beater product that you shake over your plants. This product is also natural and contains oils that repel them and keeps them from sitting down. If you want a little quicker action you can use their fogging products. One is a product that uses a propane fogger and it will cover a larger area and start to work immediately. This one is a synthetic product and so you should follow the label instruction for the most effective use. The other fogging product is an aerosol product that can be used in areas around your deck or patio. As with any spray or fogger, be careful if it is windy. These are just a few of the great products from Bonide. For more solutions to your bug problems, check out their website!
Egan Flowering Shrubs
In the spring it is easy to be enchanted by all the beautiful blooms that seem to be popping up out of the ground every day, but for a truly wonderful garden you need to look a little farther, and taller, to flowering shrubs. To get an idea of the variety of plant material out there we stopped by Egan Gardens (503-393-2131) and talked to Ellen Egan. She pulled over a half dozen plants to share with us. The first one was an escallonia named ‘Pride of Donard’. Shiny dark green foliage with small bunches of pink flowers. It is beautiful any time of year. Next we went a little lower with a couple of local favorites. Abelia ‘Francis Mason’ has a bright yellowy/lime foliage with blooms that come in mid-summer that really attract the bees. The other smaller one was the loropetalum or fringe flower. This one was named ‘Zhuzhou’. It was already done blooming for the season with rose colored lacey flowers and is now just covered in dark burgundy leaves that really contrast with the bright yellow abelia. Ellen had also pulled out a couple of hydrangeas. The first was ‘Fire & Ice’ with large white flowers, still to come, and deep red stems for a backdrop to those blooms. The other was the Hydrangea ‘Incrediball’. This one has incredibly large balls of flowers that show up on a larger plant, so you better put this one in an area where it can stretch its legs.
Two other plants that she talked about was the Weigela ‘Czeckmark Trilogy’ with a pink flower that fades to white and stays compact in the garden. The last of the small plants was the heather ‘Irish Lemon’. These are great in the garden for filling in around the taller plants in the garden and rewarding you with foliage color and tiny spikes of blooms too.
If you are looking for a great flowering shrub, stop by Egan Gardens and check them out.
Bartlett Pest ID
Our gardens are being invaded! Actually, if we make a nice garden it will attract both the good and bad bugs, but how to know what kind you have? Well, we found someone who can help answer that question, Meg McConnell from Bartlett Tree Experts (503-722-7267). Meg is a plant pathologist at the Bartlett Tree Research Lab, a CSI investigator of the plant world! She and the rest of the Bartlett team help diagnose plant problems from around the U.S. and Canada. If you have a problem and your local Bartlett expert is stumped, they can send a sample to the lab to find out what it is. This means that they can treat it effectively without throwing on a bunch of chemicals and hoping something works.
We talked to her about some of the common problems that people see in their gardens. We started with mites. Mites look like tiny spiders and suck the juice out of the leaves on your favorite plant. That means the green color goes out and you get yellowing leaves which look like a mineral or fertilizer deficiency. Scales were next. There are two types in our area, the armored scale with a hard cover, and the soft scale, which is rounder and coated in wax. The soft scale also creates a ‘honeydew’ from sucking the liquid out of the leaves, which results in sooty mold on the leaves. If you see a black mold, you probably have scale on your plants. One that we are all familiar with is the lace bug. This is a pest that we find on our azaleas and rhododendrons. This one is also a sucking pest and you can find them on the underside of the leaf sucking out all the juices. This will cause tiny spots on your plant and will also leave tiny poop spots on the leaf as well. These should not be confused with lacewings! Lacewings are good bugs. They have long green bodies and see through delicate wings. These guys and their young are harvesters of aphids! They should be protected, just like Lady bugs. Finally, we talked about thrips. These are a tiny bug that looks like a sliver. They are also a sucking pest and leave a nice little poo spot on your leaves.
So if you think you are having a pest or disease problem, give Bartlett a call and let their team take care of your problems.