Well, we are approaching the start of summer and it seems like Mother Nature wants to turn back the clock to March! The weather doesn’t seem like it we are just days away from the solstice. We have been experiencing a warmer and drier than usual spring, so I guess we can deal with a few days of wet weather. Plus, we can still get out to our local garden centers and fill our gardens with lots of cool plants for the upcoming summer. Hold tight, the weather will soon change and we will be outside and basking in the sunshine!
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 looks 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 cancellations that isn’t possible, however you can stop by her nursery this Saturday, June 13th from 9-5 and pick up these wonderful plants. Be sure to check out her plants and then add some great color and texture to your garden!
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 inch intervals and then all you have to do is lay your tool down to measure the distance and you can plant without worries!
Late Spring Hydrangeas
The late spring is the beginning of the bloom season for hydrangeas and so to get a glimpse at some of the early bloomers we stopped by Hydrangeas Plus (866-433-7896) outside of Aurora. Kristin has been growing hydrangeas for decades and she is always looking for some of the coolest and newest varieties. The first one she shared was the variety ‘White Moth’. This paniculata type usually has a cone shaped flower, but this one looks more like a lace cap. It is bright and bold and will look great at the back of the garden bed! The next group of hydrangeas have the ability to change color. Our northwest soils tend to be acidic due to the amount of fir trees in our area. The pH of the soil can cause your blooms to be blue and for these blooms they can be changed back to pink by making the soil more ‘sweet’, or less acidic. Kristin has fertilizers and other products to change the color back to pink for some of your hydrangeas. The first of these plants was ‘Miss Saori’ which had large pink ruffled blooms, which were purple when Kristin first saw it. The other interesting part to this plant is the gorgeous burgundy foliage which really adds a contrast to the blooms in your garden. This group of 3 plants can take morning sun and afternoon shade to perform their best. The next plant was called ‘Diva’ and the name fits. This one comes from Proven Winner’s Let’s Dance series of plants. A lot of hydrangeas bloom on old wood (over 1 year of growth), and this one can bloom on new wood. This lace cap bloom is the reason for having this in your garden. The petals are huge! With individual flowers on the blooms over 2 inches across. The next one was ‘Jennifer’. The rich red stays on this bloom if you keep the pH higher in your soil or you can control the color by keeping it in a container. If you don’t amend the soil the blooms will go a dark blue. Next to that plant was one called Frillibet’. This one gets its name from the frilly blooms that were purple. This one can also be blue or pink depending on the pH of your soil. This one can get 5 feet tall and 5 feet across so it is on the tall side, but who wouldn’t want one in their garden bed!? The final plant was from the serrata family of hydrangeas, one of the earliest bloomers in the garden. ‘Tiara’ has a lace cap bloom with wonderful pink flowers and burgundy foliage. Kristin told us that the colder weather probably had a lot to do with the foliage color. It usually turns burgundy in the fall, but seemed to think that the seasons had advanced quickly, so it was giving us a preview of the fall color to come. It too, can change color based of the pH of the soil.
If you are interested in these great plants you can always go to the Hydrangeas Plus website and order there, or you can stop by their nursery near Aurora this Saturday the 13th, or you can stop by Sebright Gardens on Saturday as well for their Summer Kick-off event. Information on both events, and some great tips for growing hydrangeas, can be found on the Hydrangeas Plus website.
Portland Nursery Unusual Spring Color
In the early summer we can see a lot of the same types of plants in the garden, but there are a few twists to some of those garden favorites that you may want to consider. We stopped by Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) on Stark to chat with Laura about a few that she finds interesting. We started with geraniums. A lot of people are familiar with the sturdy geraniums that we find for planters and hanging baskets. Laura had one with wispy flowering stems called ‘Biokovo’. This is a ‘true’ geranium and not a hybrid. This one loves shade or sun and has clusters of beautiful white flowers and fragrant leaves. She also had a couple of scented geraniums. She called these her scratch and sniff’ plants, because their foliage smells so good when you brush up against them in the garden. The ‘Chocolate Mint’ had green leaves with a dark center and the ‘Variegated Mint’ had bright green variegation on the leaves. Both of these also offered edible flowers! We then moved on to Salvias. There are lots of different salvias on the market, but these were really cool. Laura started with an annual one called ‘Rockin Fuchsia’. The purple flowers really did rock! Even though it is an annual, and will be done after this year, the bold colors make it a winner in any garden. She also had the perennial one called ‘Little Kiss’ that will return with white and red blooms year after year. Another salvia she had was the new hardy ‘Skyscraper Orange’. You don’t always get an orange color like this in the garden and it really stands out. Plus, hummingbirds love these! Laura also had fuchsias on her cart of color. She started with a hardy fuchsia called ‘DebRon’s Smokey Blues’. This one was hybridized in the Willamette Valley by Deb and Ron Monnier so it does really well here. You can plant this one in the ground and enjoy its blooms for years! They love the shade, hummingbirds love them and we found out that fuchsia flowers are edible. The fruits can be edible too. One variety, ‘Blutini’, is known for its edible fruits that have a ton of antioxidants and can bring a tingle to your tongue. The final plant was the Abutilon or Flowering Maple. It gets its name from the maple like leaves, but you will want it in your garden for the wonderful blooms. This variety ‘Red Tiger’, which is a bright orange with red veins in the blooms will continue to flower all summer long and into the fall. If you take care of it and give it a little protection during the winter it may even come back to give you more blooms next year. It is a statement bush or small tree in the garden.
If you want to see these great plants or more wonderful flowering or vegetable plants, you will need to follow their protocols when you come to visit. That includes wearing a mask at either location. Greeters will meet you in the parking lot to advise you on other rules to follow. They are credit or debit (no cash) only. The store and the restrooms are closed to customers for now. Don’t worry if you need something inside. Staff have the warehouse doors open and they can bring you whatever you need from inside, though a lot of the inside merchandise has been moved to the greenhouses, including the indoor plants and tools.
Laura and the rest of the staff at Portland Nursery also wanted to remind everyone to have fun and be patient. When you are surrounded by all those wonderful and colorful plants it is hard not to have fun!
Jan’s June Tips
The month of June finds a lot happening in the Northwest garden, but with so much going on, what to do!?!? To help us get a start we stopped by Jan McNeilan’s for the tips of the month. Ryan joined Jan in the vegetable garden to see what she had on her list. We started by talking about thinning plants. In the early spring we all try to plant tiny vegetable seeds in our garden. If it is carrots or lettuce these tiny seeds can start to grow into each other and so you end up with smaller vegetables because of a lack of space. It is time to thin! For carrots you can start by pulling every other one and enjoy these tiny carrots in your salads, allowing room for the remaining ones to grow bigger. If you have a bunch of lettuce plants that are growing into each other you can simply pull them out and place them in empty areas of your garden and replant them. Then everyone has elbow room to grow. The next thing we talked about was mushrooms in your garden (or lawn). They grow because there are a lot of nutrients and composted material in the soil and that is a good thing! It means that you have a nice mix in your soil that will allow these little indicators to grow. Now a lot of people are concerned about mushrooms and pets or children. If this is the case for you, simply pull the mushrooms and compost them, or knock them down and let them work back into your soil. Jan then moved to ground beetles. These are the big black beetles that you can find in your soil or under wood and mulch. These may look bad, but they are a gardeners friend. They help combat slugs and snails, and they help break down the soil. They are not eating your plants, so you can leave them do their pest control in the garden. Now is the time to fertilize your pots and containers. A lot of these were planted a few months ago, or have survived over the winter and they need another boost going into the summer. Once a week to twice a month, give them a shot of water soluble fertilizer to keep them looking their best. As Ryan mentioned, every time you water you are flushing out nutrients and those need to be replaced for your plants to thrive.
These wet days and warm temps are the perfect conditions for powdery mildew and black spot. Jan talked about how powdery mildew can happen to a lot of our favorite garden plants and if you didn’t thin them out and put them in an area with good circulation, you could see a ‘powdered sugar’ coating on your plants. This mildew will make the plant less productive. So even though it may not kill the plant, the plant won’t look as good as it should. For landscape plants you can look for mildew resistant plants to replace those that are susceptible, and look for better places to plant them. For roses black spot can be a real problem. You can see some of your roses with black spots on their leaves. This is a fungal disease and it can be treated with different sprays to control it. You will still get blooms, but the plant can be weakened and not do as well as it could. If you see black spot, and it isn’t a huge problem, you can pick off the infected leaves and throw them away. Don’t compost them! They still have the spores on them and if you use your compost, you can be spreading the problem that you are trying to control. We then talked about June Drop. This is what happens in June to fruit trees with under pollinated or un-pollinated fruit. Your trees are dropping these little fruits on the ground and it is normal. The tree is concentrating the growth to the viable fruit. So it is nothing to worry about. Finally, we talked about mowing your lawn or meadow. In the middle of the day, pollinators are feeding on the flowers in your grass. Either mow early or around dusk to avoid sucking up pollinators in addition to your grass clippings.
Jan then surprised Ryan by bringing out a picture. It had a shot of Ryan as a baby. Jan’s family and Ryan’s family have known each other for ages! It was cute to see Ryan so little! For more garden tips you can always check out the OSU Extension website.
Pest Patrol-Spittle Bug
Our pest this week really isn’t a pest. It’s more of a nuisance. The spittle bug is easy to find at the base of branches on your smaller shrubs and plants. It’s easily identified by the ball of spit in which it lives. What is interesting about the spittle bug is that is does no real damage to your plants, unless you have a very large infestation. It is a small sucking insect that uses the ‘spit’ to protect itself as it draws juices from the stems of your plants. If the spit bothers you simply wash it away with a hose. Once on the ground the spittle bug is exposed to other predators and will soon be gone.
Spring Color and BBB Update
A lot of gardeners love the early spring color, but you can also stretch out that color with some early summer blooming perennials. To see a few of these bright and shiny plants we stopped by French Prairie Gardens (503-633-8445) near St. Paul. Katey met with Judy in the greenhouse to cover a bunch of the plants that are just starting to show off. The first plant she had was Penstemon ‘Onyx and Pearls’. This one was loaded with white blooms with a contrast of dark stems to really make them stand out. This one would be great in the middle of your garden beds. Another plant that would brighten the middle of your garden bed is the Phlox ‘Fashionably Early Crystal’. Clusters of bright white blooms on green stems are also a nice contrast in the garden. If you are looking for a little more color in your garden Foxgloves (Digitalis) are a great choice. Katey had ‘Dalmation Purple’ on display and its tall stems of purple flowers were just the first wave of color. If you cut off the stems after they are done blooming they will send up more flower spikes to enjoy.
Those plants were all sun lovers, but they also have a group of shade loving plants too. Two Hostas that are looking good right now include ‘Dream Weaver’ with variegated leaves and white blooms, and the ‘Royal Standard’ with lime green leaves and fragrant white blooms. Next to those was the Astilbe ‘Peach Blossom’. This plant has a feathery type of flower and can add a little height to your flower bed, popping colorful spikes above the other plants in your garden bed. Lavender is also a must have for a lot of gardeners, and in addition to great fragrance and beautiful blooms, they are also great for pollinators. The one we saw was ‘Hidcote’ and it was just starting to bloom! If you are looking to brighten up a dull spot in your garden and attract pollinators, try Coreopsis, also called tickseed. The one we saw was called ‘Gold& Bronze’ which perfectly described the bloom color! Another structure plant that is full of color is the delphinium. These have tall stalks of flowers and come in lots of different colors. They also make great cut flowers to bring into your home. We ended by talking about hanging baskets. French Prairie Gardens is known for their baskets and we saw two of the different types that they have for sale. One was a fuchsia basket that loves the shade, but can also handle some sun too. The key to helping them continue to flower is to pick off the seed ‘berries’ of the spent blooms. Picking them off helps the plant to put more energy into new blooms and not seed production. The other basket we saw was more of a sun lover. This ‘sun mix’ basket was full of petunias, verbena, and diascias. If you want to help these baskets thrive you will need to give them a shot of Jack’s All Purpose fertilizer. This is a water soluble fertilizer that you can use every week or so to keep those blooms coming!
Spring also means Berries, Brews and BBQ at the farm. Because the spring has been warm the berries were a little early and so they had a couple weeks of their event already, but don’t worry if you think you missed it. On Father’s Day weekend (not this weekend, but the next) they will have a special Berries, Brews and BBQ for the dads. You can bring the whole family out to the farm and enjoy BBB and music, farm animals and a lot more. So don’t miss it!
Your strawberries, early blueberries and just about everything else edible is disappearing! The birds are taking everything in your garden, leaving little or nothing for you to enjoy. The same thing is happening to us, so we went to our local garden center to see what they have to scare the flying felons away. Ryan and Judy shared what we found. Ryan started with a giant plastic owl. Owls are natural predators of most small birds and that presence of an owl is sometimes enough to do the trick. He also had some ‘Scare Tape’. This is a reflective tape that sparkles when it is hung by your plants to scare them off. Judy had another example of something flashy to scare the birds away and that was an old CD. These can be hung in the trees and bushes when fruit starts to appear and they will scare the birds away. The final item we shared was a physical barrier. A bird netting. This provides a barrier so they can’t get to the plants.
There is one other solution that some people prefer, and that is to plant more fruit trees and shrubs. Then you can share the bounty with the local wildlife!
Princess Power Rose
Every year the Portland Rose Festival has a specially selected rose that it promotes to raise funds for the Portland Rose Festival foundation. You can find this beauty at only one nursery in the Portland area, Portland Nursery (503-231-5050)! This rose is a hybrid tea rose with white and pink petals and came from famous rose hybridizer Christian Bedard at Weeks Roses. For each Princess Power rose bush purchased, Portland Nursery will donate $2.00 to the Portland Rose Festival Foundation. This weekend you can buy one and get one free, or get 30% of all their other roses. It is a great way to add a little royalty to your garden, and maybe share one with a friend.
Whitman Farms Unique Trees
We found one of the most delightful nurseries we’ve ever visited recently. Whitman Farms (503-585-8728) was recommended to us by some friends and so we paid a visit. There we met with owner Lucile Whitman. She is a bundle of positive energy and just fun to be around. She took us on a tour of her nursery and we found so many plants that were new and cool to us, that we had a hard time figuring out what to showcase in our story. We decided to focus on 3 main types of trees, ginkgos, mulberries and smoke trees.
We started with the mulberry. Lucile calls herself the mulberry queen and the one she shared with us was wonderful. Mulberry (Morus alba) ‘Girardi Dwarf’ was a tiny little thing, and yet it was loaded with fruit. The mulberry is often overlooked in the garden and is a good producer of great tasting fruit. Next, we moved to the Ginkgos. The first plant was a ginkgo with fruit! A lot of people don’t know that this tree can produce fruit and Lucile had one! Most of the time you have to wait 30 years to get fruit, hers was producing after a couple years. It is rumored that the fruit is delicious. Then we moved to 2 pretty unique ones that were developed by Crispin Silva, plant scout extraordinaire. The first one was ‘Jagged Jade’ with really cool jagged leaves. Next to it was a ‘sport’, or new plant, that had a variegated leaf and it was called ‘Crispin’s Jaded Jester’. Very stunning. Next we were back into fruit again with a Goumi (Eleagnus multiflora). These plants, really more of a bush, are native to areas of Russia, China and Japan. Right now they are covered with deep red berries that are high in vitamin C and delicious! Finally we ended with a smoke tree. Not your common purple leafed smoke tree, but the ‘American Smoke Tree’ this one is green and does have the typical ‘smoke’ flowers, but this one turns incredible colors during the fall. Each leaf will become a different shade of reds, yellows and oranges. Lucile said that looking at the leaves reminds her of the stained glass in a cathedral.
If you are looking for some of her great plants, she sells some of them through Portland Nursery and One Green World, or you can check out her website to get one shipped to your home. She also sells at her wholesale nursery, by appointment only.
Super Tough Shade Plants
Shade areas are tough on plants. Either it is the lack of sun and water, or the competition with roots from larger neighbors. We asked Thomas and Kirk at Sebright Gardens (503-463-9615) to come up with plants that are nearly impossible to kill in the shade and they gave us 4 that they recommend most gardeners to start with. Thomas led us on a tour through the display gardens to show us how they are doing. The first stop was at a hosta. This one was Mount Tom which had a light green center and bright yellow edges. This hosta gets about 3 feet tall and 4 feet across, and due to the thicker leaves it can survive the shade and part-sun as well. Thomas had this one in a pot, which works great for any shade plant. The pot gives it a little more soil and it can be moved if it is getting too much sun. The next plant was a fern called Dre’s Dagger. Now most ferns are designed for the shade. They love the forest floor and thrive there, so it is no wonder that they will do well in your garden. This one had the added advantage of its unique foliage. This one had tassel-like fronds at the ends of its branches. Very unique.
We then moved to another part of the garden to check out the hardy begonia (Evensiana). These begonias will die back to the ground, but once they are established, they will bounce back every year. The flowers look good , but the best part of this plant is the leaves. The backs of the leaves have striking red veins and stems. In the late afternoon sunlight they glow! It is beautiful. The final ‘toughie’ was the Beesia. This plant may not have a flower that will knock your socks off, but it has a glossy foliage that looks fake, it is so shiny. There are small white spikes of flowers, but the foliage is the winner here. In the winter the foliage stays around, but it gets a burgundy edge around the leaves.
If you are looking for plants that can handle the shade stop by your local independent garden center, or you can pay a visit to Sebright Gardens. This weekend would be a perfect time to stop by their nursery as they are having their Beginning of Summer Garden Festival. Multiple nurseries will be there along with special guest, Plantsman Dan Hinkley. It happens on Saturday, June 13th, between 10am and 3pm.