Here we are in June. Traditionally the first couple weeks of June are dedicated to the Rose Festival and, as the story goes, lots of rain. Of course due to the current situation there are no parades or festival center to celebrate. However, you can still have your own little rose festival in your garden! If you have kids you can even have a little parade in your garden or along your street, observing safe distancing while you do it. You can check out the Portland Rose Festival website for more ideas to celebrate the festival this year, http://www.rosefestival.org/.
Remember to keep on being safe and keeping others safe as well, so we all can have many more years of fun in the garden.
On another note. Our friends in the garden centers would like to thank everyone for being kind and courteous while shopping this spring. People were nice and patient as garden centers navigated these tough times with reduced staff. Keep up the good work!
This week we featured...
Al’s Indoor – Outdoor Containers
Your containers don’t have to have the same boring combinations every year. You can shake things up by combining your indoor plants with their outdoor cousins! To get some ideas we stopped by Al’s Garden & Home in Wilsonville (503-855-3527) and talked with Eve. She told us that by using plants from both categories you can expand your plant choices and add a pop to your annual containers! We are following our standard rule of a thriller, a filler and a spiller while constructing these containers. The ‘thriller’ is the main plant, generally in the middle of the container, that will be the focal point. The ‘fillers’ are the plants that surround that center plant. And the ‘spillers’ are the ones that will fill in the blank spaces and cascade over the sides of the container. Eve started with a nice silver pot that had a striking bromeliad as our thriller. This was surrounded by hardy and non-hardy ferns including a red fern, a tropical fern and a soft Japanese Fern. You could also use a small fuchsia, a begonia or a polka dot plant to bring out the pink colors of the bromeliad. The spiller turned out to be a licorice plant with its soft leaves. The silvers, blues and pinks really worked well together!
We then moved over to another couple of containers. The first was a copper colored container with a large red banana in the center. These bananas are typically not hardy in our area, but they can be over wintered if you do a little work in the fall. To learn how to save them, check out this story from assistant manager Peter from Al’s on Saving your Banana. The fillers around this banana were reddish heucheras, ferns and grasses. The spillers were plants like the dark sweet potato vine and the prayer plant. The final planter was a bronze pot and we filled it with dracaena for a starter and filled around with sweet potato vine, another bromeliad, a begonia and a kalanchoe. The kalanchoe will just fill this container with color too!
To maintain these pots you will want to start with a nice garden soil like the Al’s Natural and Organic Potting soil with a good transplant fertilizer. Then you can add a slow release fertilizer after a month or so. Then give them a kick every 2 weeks with a nice water soluble fertilizer. For more ideas on creating mixed containers you can stop at any of the 4 Al’s Garden & Home locations!
Weekly Watering Number
How much should you water without wasting this precious resource? You just need the Weekly Watering Number! To learn more about this great resource we stopped by the garden of Amy from the Regional Water Providers Consortium (https://www.regionalh2o.org). You can start the process by figuring out how much water your sprinklers are pouring out on your lawn. You can do that by using a couple of tuna fish cans. You place one close to your sprinkler and one about 4-5 feet away from the first one. Turn on your sprinkler system for 15 minutes. Average the water in both cans to give you your starting point. Then go to the Regional Water Providers Consortium website at www.regionalh2o.org, click on the ‘Get Your Number’ link and using the charts provided there you can figure out how much water your system is providing. Your lawn will need about an inch of water a week to maintain its health. Divide that 1 inch into 2 waterings per week. This will force your grass to grow deeper roots which will make a healthier lawn in the long run.
Then sign up for your weekly watering number by entering your zip code. This number tells you, based on your location and the upcoming weather, how much you need to water your lawn. Some weeks it will go up and some weeks it will go down, just know that you are applying just the right amount of water each week.
For more great watering tips for inside and outside your home check out the RWPC website.
Tapestry Garden Book
One of the prettiest gardens in our state is located at a small nursery near Eugene. Ernie and Marietta O’Byrne are the owners of Northwest Garden Nursery (541-935-3915) and they have built a beautiful garden made of different themes and styles. It started when they first purchased the property and ran a landscape installation and maintenance company. They found out that they couldn’t get all the plants they needed so they started to grow their own stock. Pretty soon they were selling the excess plants from their greenhouses on weekends. While this was going on, they were building more and more gardens around their property. They have weaved these lovely gardens into a tapestry of color and texture. The gardens are so good that Tom Fischer of Timber Press convinced them to write a book about it! That book is now out and called ‘A Tapestry Garden’. It covers their journey on how they created the gardens, how they combined plants in the many different settings and how they made it seem so seamless. You can find this wonderful book at your local bookseller and at the Timber Press website. If you are ever in the Eugene area stop by and check out their wonderful nursery and gardens, but call first to see if they are home. Plus mark your calendar for their wonderful Hellebore Open Garden Days in late February and early March where you can buy some of their own hybridized hellebores!
TOW – Deer Defeat
The spring is a great time to grab fresh edibles from the garden, and no one knows that better than the deer. Ryan found a young buck in his garden nibbling on hostas, roses and huecheras early one morning. The deer go for the tender and tasty new growth on your plants and even ‘deer resistant’ plants can get damaged.
To combat the problem Ryan picked up some Deer Defeat. This product is made from eggs, clove oil, castor oil and other ingredients that make your plants taste terrible. You just spray it on your plants and let it dry. It will even stay on during rain so you don’t have to reapply as often. Ryan found Deer Defeat at French Prairie Perennials (503-679-2871) in Aurora.
The Wall – 10 Year Garden
We have done many stories with The Wall (503-735-9255). Rick McCutcheon, the owner, has been a friend of the show for decades and each time we see him, he is sharing another great garden project they have completed. This time we met him at a garden that was not a new project, but one that was over 10 years old! The homeowner, Vicki, told us that when they started they had a unmanageable slope of lawn and not a lot of garden space. The Wall came in and working with Vicki and her husband, built retaining walls, new safer stairs and pathways. They also worked with other contractors to include outdoor lighting and irrigation. Their partnerships with other, quality contractors made all the difference. Over the years they went on to add a new driveway, and a new back patio.
Rick told us that this project included concrete work, recycled concrete (one of their specialties) and even a fabricated capstone that looked like real Columbia Gorge Basalt! The Wall also does it right the first time with complete work that takes into consideration the soil type and the grade of the slope so it looks great, the day after the job and even 10 years later.
If you have a hardscape job that needs an extra touch, and will last for decades, contact The Wall!
Table Top Gardens
You don’t need a container to build a small garden to enjoy, you just need a flat surface. These magical little gardens are called Table Top Gardens. To learn what they are and how they are made we traveled to Scappoose and visited Anna Kullgren at Joy Creek Nursery (503-543-7474). Anna is the designer and force behind Optic Verve (https://www.optic-verve.com/). She loves coming to Joy Creek to build her projects due to the great plant material they have there. Table Top Gardens are something that she learned from Richie Steffen from the Elisabeth Miller Botanical Garden. He has taken an idea from George Schenk and help spread the news about these small but wonderful gardens. These gardens are built on a single slab of rock or concrete. You start with your focal point and centerpiece. Then you start adding plant material and other design pieces all the way out to the edge. Joy Creek is a retail and a mail-order nursery that has a wide selection of smaller plants. These are perfect for building a small scale garden. Once you have your garden built you can maintain it by replacing plants as they grow, or just cutting them back or dividing them. While you wait for the plants to root out, you can hold them in place with some ‘almost’ invisible fishing line. Once the plants are established and the roots are holding everything in place, you can cut the line off!
To learn more about these unique planters you can stop by Joy Creek Nursery or contact Anna through her website.
Dividing and Planting Daylilies
This early summer time is the time for daylilies! These are great bloomers for the early summer and, with some varieties, even longer. To learn more about these wonderful and versatile plants we stopped at Schreiner’s Iris Gardens (503-393-3232) to talk with Ben. Now you may think that Schreiner’s only grow iris, but you would be wrong. They grow hundreds of varieties of daylilies from famous hybridizer, Bill Maryott. The colors are fabulous and the plants are incredibly durable!
How do you plant them, divide them and care for them, those were the questions we had for Ben! Daylilies can be divided and planted anytime between April and September. To divide them you find the fans. These are groupings of leaves that appear separate on the plant. Grab two different fans and pull them apart, now you have two plants! It is that simple! You can even divide them when they are blooming! Before you plant them you need to do a little trimming. Ben used a shovel and cut off the flowering stems and leaves and even trimmed the roots a little bit. He had prepared a hole with some good soil and compost and planted the new plant up to the base of the fan. He told us that watering a new plant is very important. Make sure they stay in moist soil, but not drowning in water, and you should be good. If you are looking to give your plants a little boost once they are established, he recommended a good balanced fertilizer like a 10-10-10.
If you are looking to add some great summer color to your garden, look for daylilies and check out the selection at Schreiner’s!
Making Leaf Print Cards
Father’s Day is almost here and we found a great project for those that are under the gun and running out of time! Leaf print cards are easy to make and are fun for any age group. Dean joined us to show the adults how it’s done! You just need leaves, paper and paint. Fold the paper in half for a large card and in half again for a smaller card. Then paint the top side of your leaf with any kind of paint that you have around, we had acrylic and tempra paints on our table. Make sure you use a very light coating of paint on the leaf. A large amount of paint will just squirt out when you press the leaf. Then press the leaf down on the center of the paper. Cover it with a sheet of wax paper (or another sheet of paper will do) and either press down with your hands or use a rolling pin. Then lift up the leaf to see you pattern. We did a few practice runs to get a feel for how much paint we needed.
After the paint dries you can write a little message on the inside of the card and you are done! This is a wonderful project for any type of celebration or any time of year!
Gardening is very healthy for you in more ways than one. It is well known that working in your garden can help you relax and promote good overall mental health, but did you know that there are lot of beneficial properties from plants for your physical wellbeing? One of our local experts in medicinal plants is Laura Altvater at Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) on Stark. She joined us in the greenhouse with just a few of the plants that have known health benefits. We started with a bunch of lemon scented plants including lemon grass, lemon verbena, lemon thyme and lemon scented geranium. The theme behind this group of plants started with lemon being a natural mosquito repellant. Laura told us that was false. You would need a lot of lemon oil from some of these plants to even start to be effective as a mosquito deterrent. You can still use these plants around your deck or patio, but they are much better as a flavoring in tea. We also looked at White Sage. This is a plant that you would burn as part of a cleansing of your home or personal space. It can be very calming. Rosemary can also be used in cleansing rituals and for culinary purposes. Bee Balm was next and we learned that it is a great plant for attracting bees and butterflies to your garden, but is also great in teas. Another great herb in the kitchen is English Thyme. This herb is also good for respiratory problems. If you add it to hot water and breathe in the vapors it will help you get better.
Laura then shared some of the things she cut out of her garden including a couple of plants that you can eat. She had William try violets and forget-me-nots. These are just a few of the flowers that you would not normally eat. Other plants that you can use in teas and for medicinal uses included comfrey, raspberry leaves and lovage. Laura also showed us a basket of homemade and commercial medicinals. You can now find a lot of plant based medicinals at your local store. Though she prefers to make her own when possible.
If you would like more information on medicinal plants you can stop by and see Laura at the Stark Street location or one of the knowledgeable staff members at the Division Street location.
If you mention the word Yellowjacket, most people will shutter! The image most have is of a nasty, mean, flying machine, that disrupts dinners outside and gardening activities. They attack even when they are not provoked and can ‘sting’ multiple times! To get a little more insight to this jacketed nightmare we stopped by the OSU Extension office in McMinnville and chatted with Heather Stoven. She told us that these little beasts do serve a purpose, they are a beneficial bug! They can feed on other insects in your garden! Caterpillars and other soft bodied insects that eat your flowers and plants can be part of a wasp meal. They may even do a little pollinating too. A lot of times a gardener will find them nesting in the ground and one unlucky step and you can have a swarm attacking you, but you can also find them building small nests above ground too. The interesting thing we found out is that the colony will die off every fall and winter. In the fall a new queen is produced and she finds a place to winter over until spring. We have found them in our woodpile during the winter. In the spring the new queen wakes up and sets off to find a new home and start a new colony. The colony slowly builds and becomes larger, then will become more aggressive as the summer season wraps up.
If a colony is far away, you shouldn’t need to worry, but if they are close to your home, you may want to remove them. To do that find a product that is specific to wasps, you don’t want to remove any beneficial (non-aggressive) bugs. Follow all directions for safe application. Most of the time the product will have you apply it to the nest at twilight when the wasps are returning to the nest. This will ensure that you get them all while they are in the nest for the night. For more information including the differences between Yellowjackets and Paper Wasps and how to get rid of them, check out this paper from OSU Extension.