Welcome to summer! The last couple of days it was easy to believe that summer is finally here, but today in the Portland area there are forecasts of showers and cooler temps. Maybe I should stick to Happy Father’s Day instead. We’ll be back to the warmer temperatures soon.
The summer is a time for fuchsias to shine, and for a lot of people that means the hanging basket, annual kind of fuchsia. Still, there are lots of fuchsias that you can put in the ground and they will come back every year to grace your garden with color and texture. We stopped by Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) where they have over 50 different varieties of fuchsias to choose from. Manager, Ron Guilford brought out nearly a dozen to share with us. Here are a few that he featured (in his words). ‘Fuchsiade 88’ – tons of magenta blooms that drip from every stem of this upright grower that reaches 24 inches in height. ‘Double Otto’ – Large, exuberant, tropical looking double flowers with large green leaves. Vigorous upright growth reaching 36 inches tall. Fulgens ‘Speciosa’ – A unique and uncommon variety with bright orange flowers and large fuzzy leaves growing 24- 36 inches tall. ‘Erecta’ – A stiffly upright shrub with charming flowers that sit upright like tiny cups and saucers. Reaches 36 inches in height. ‘Debrons Smokey Blue’ – Double blooms feature deep eggplant centers that pop when planted with lime foliage plants. Reaches 36 inches in height. ‘Kat Jan’ – hummingbirds love this small shrub with red blooms and bright green foliage that grows 24-36 inches tall. ‘Groene Kans Glory’ – has beautifully colored large blooms that are accented by bright colored new growth and dark leaves on this upright grower that reaches 30 inches tall. ‘Yolanda Franck’ – an upright variety with dainty blooms featuring pink sepals that fade to white. It grows 24 to 36 inches tall. ‘Variegated Lottie Hobby’ – a diminutive beauty with adorable little flowers set against tiny white and green leaves. Grows to 24 inches tall. ‘Golden Herald’ – golden leaves contrast beautifully with red and purple blooms. This compact grower has the potential to grow large, heights range from 24 to 48 inches.
Ron also talked about how to plant these hardy bloomers. You can plant these a little deeper than regular plants. Most of the time you shouldn’t plant something where the crown is buried, but fuchsias can go a little deeper. This will also help keep them protected during the winter months.
There are so many to choose from! You should stop and check them out, and add a little more color to your garden.
Rosie’s Summer Tropicals
This year because of Covid-19 and other issues a lot of people are looking to vacation, a staycation, in their own backyard. Not making it to the tropics may seem like a depressing idea, but what if you were to bring the tropics to your deck or patio? You just need the right plants! To find some of those plants we stopped by N&M Herb Nursery (503-981-9060) near Hubbard. Rosie met Ryan in the greenhouse to share some great foliage plants that will help create that tropical effect! She had so many for us to look at, it was like being in a jungle! We started with the Colocasias. These have large leaves that point downward at the tips of the leaves. These can handle full sun or full shade! Most are a little tender and need a little protection in the winter for their dormant period, but there was one that is a little hardier than the rest. The Alocasias however, like a little afternoon shade if possible. These have leaves that point upward. These tend to be tender and make a great house plant in the winter, but make sure they have lots of room. They get big! She also had some canna lilies to show us as well. The large Canna Banana looks like a large banana but it doesn’t get the blooms as other cannas do. The regular cannas have the great tropical foliage, but also have wonderful, colorful blooms. The Canna ‘Pretoria’ was on the table and it was getting ready to bloom with orange flowers. Other canna colors include oranges, yellows and reds. Blooming cannas also love full sun!
Rosie recommends that you put some in your landscape, but also in pots so you can move them around and bring them inside when the temps start to drop. If you would like to see these plants and more like them, you can stop by their nursery which is only open from now until July 5th, or you can find them at some of the local farmers markets in the area. Check out their website for locations and details!
Rose City Garden Trains
Every year members of the Rose City Garden Railroad Society open their gardens and share their love of garden trains with the public. This usually occurs on the Saturday before Father’s Day, but this year they have had to cancel their train tour due to the tight quarters that most members have in their gardens. Still people (and Garden Time producer, Jeff) love their garden trains, so we decided to share a past story of one of the trains with viewers.
A couple of years ago we stopped by one of the members’ homes to talk to Warner Swarner and his wife Brooke about their railroad. Warner and Brooke bought their home and started their negotiations! She wanted tomatoes, he wanted trains, she wanted grapes and roses, he wanted trains. So they compromised and I’m not sure she expected this! Their layout takes up almost all of their backyard, most of the front yard and even part of the basement, and yes, that is all one track. This layout is like a working line. It runs from the make-believe town of Glacier and runs to Bears Paw. There are over 1200 feet of track. They even use it to harvest the grapes in their garden. They cut the grapes and the trains take them to the crusher and de-stemmer. The train runs through a rundown of Warner’s hobbies. There are rocks and bonsai, which he loves, and past wonderful little buildings which he loves a little more than the trains that run by them. Rocks, trees and the model buildings should all work together so a person can ‘get lost’ in the details and the design. It is amazing when you get down and look at the train at eye level. It is a different world.
If you are interested in garden trains, or you want to see more layouts, check out their website or their Facebook page.
TOW - June Drop
If you are new to growing fruit you may have noticed that your fruit trees are dropping a bunch of small fruit right now. This is called ‘June Drop’ and it is normal. At this time of year the immature fruit on the trees is dropped by the plant to make room for the fully pollinated fruit. It is the plant concentrating the energy into viable fruit. You may also notice a drop later in the season as the plant once again drops fruit to make more room before the harvest. In fact, if the plant doesn’t do it, you may want to thin out the fruit later in the season. Keep your fruit clusters to 2 or less. This will give you bigger, healthier fruit.
Spring Clematis Tips
Spring may seem like the wrong time to be out pruning your flowering plants, but we found out that early blooming clematis are one of those plants that can be pruned now without damaging the plant. We stopped by the Rogerson Clematis Garden (971-777-4394) at Luscher Farm to talk with garden curator, Linda Beutler about what you can do right now to your clematis. She took us to a very large ‘Montana’ form clematis. This one is called ‘Broughton Star’ and it bloomed earlier this spring. It was still huge, but not for long! Linda told us that garden volunteers were soon going to give it a haircut. These types of clematis can be cut back right now, and rather hard too! To show us how hard they can be cut back she took us to another one that had been pruned. We ended up at Clematis ‘Marjorie’ and the cuts were pretty dramatic! All the green foliage was gone, but you could see where new growth was just starting to pop on the old wood. This one had been pruned to about 12 feet, but Linda told us that they can be cut back to 3 feet if you wanted to. This is just one of the many spring bloomers that they are pruning back right now.
If you would like to see these clematis and a lot of blooms (it is almost peak bloom season), you can now stop by the garden at Luscher Farm. The farm and garden were closed due to the Covid-19 shutdown, but they are now open again. You can drive in and park, and wander the garden to see all the great blooms, but this weekend you can also stop by on Sunday and purchase some plants for your garden. Stop by between 10 and 2 to visit the plant terrace and pick up a plant or two. If you can’t make it on Sunday, the garden is also offering ‘coop’ side pickup (at their chicken coop). You can check out the plants for sale on their website and then pre-purchase them over the phone. When they are ready you can stop by between 10 and 2pm on Wednesday or Fridays to pick them up! Now is the time to do some planting of new clematis or even a little pruning!
Smith Berry Barn – Picking Fruit
This year a lot of families are finding out about the joy of picking your own fresh fruit. For many that includes a visit to the local u-pick fields, but how do you know which fruit is ripe and which isn’t ready yet? To get some tips we met with Rich out in the beautiful fields at Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172) in Scholls! Nearly everyone has picked strawberries, but not too many people know when blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are ripe. Blueberries are probably the easiest to pick. You actually ‘tickle’ them off the plant. When blueberries are ripe, they are completely blue and easily come off in your hand with a gentle touch. When you are picking raspberries you shouldn’t have to pull too hard to get them off the plant. Ripe raspberries will leave the center plug on the plant when you pull them. Blackberries should come off easily too, but they will keep the center core with the berries when you pick it. You can taste one to make sure it is ripe and then look for similar berries in color and shape. Don’t forget to look under the branches. Sometimes the biggest berries are hiding under the branches!
We then moved up to the greenhouse near their store to talk with Joelle. Not only do they have fruit, they also have a ton of colorful plants for your garden too. She filled us in on their on-line reservation system for fruit picking. To keep the number of people low and to ensure that there is plenty of ripe fruit for everyone, they ask that people reserve a time on their website for picking. When you show up at your reserved time, you will get a box to pick in and someone will direct you to the freshest berries to pick. They have wash stations set up and are controlling the access to the store (where they ask that you wear masks). You can still shop the store, visit the animals, get some ice cream or milk shakes, but please follow posted signs and directions. Also, please be patient and enjoy your time on the farm. You will leave refreshed and with a car full of fresh tasty berries!
These are the coolest plants on the planet! Carnivorous plants grow like regular plants, but instead of fertilizer, they create their own additional fertilizer by digesting bugs! It takes organic fertilizer to a whole new level! To learn about these great little plants we stopped by Little Prince of Oregon to talk with their grower, Mike. Mike pointed out a few of the carnivorous plants that they grow. The first was the Venus Flytrap. These are a US native and are found along the coastline of North and South Carolina. They survive well in cold winters and are a hardy perennial. They love the outdoors even though people want to grow them as a house plant. They are a bog plant that likes full sun. At the nursery they use shallow trays of water and they make sure that the plants have access to clean, mineral free water! They also had Sundews. These are plants with thin arms that are covered with sticky leaf hairs. When prey gets caught in the hairs the plant curls around the bug and then breaks down the animal with digestive juices. The final group of plants was the Sarracenia pitcher plants. These are from the east coast and are the BEST plants for catching bugs. In fact, people use them around their decks and patios for taking care of pesky bugs during the summer time. Once the bug gets in, it can’t climb out!
If you would like to check out these great, but unusual plants, you can find Little Prince plants at a lot of your local garden centers, or you can find them on-line at https://littleprinceplants.com. Check them out for a ‘bug free’ back yard!
Portland Japanese Gardens Opens
When the recent coronavirus outbreak started a lot of our public parks and gardens closed for the protection of all. Now that we have started instituting safety measures, a lot of those gardens are now opening up. One of our favorite gardens, the Portland Japanese Garden (503-223-1321), recently opened back up and we stopped by to see what is happening with the garden. We met with Megumi at the entrance pavilion to talk about the garden. Megumi told us that the garden is looking wonderful! Staff stayed on top of the grounds and so it is in pristine condition! You can wander the garden and reset your internal clock to a less hectic pace. However, some things have changed to help keep visitors and staff safe. For now the garden has a timed entry system set up. You can go on-line to and pick a time to visit. This will allow a safe number of people in the garden at any one time. They also ask that you wear a mask and follow the directional arrows in the garden. The gift shop is open, but the café is closed and there are hand sanitizer stations around the garden plus additional staff to answer questions.
Don’t miss a chance to visit the garden. The spring has seen the garden blossom and it is ready for your visit!
Portland Nursery Vegetable Rotation and Succession Planting
In early spring we are all exciting when spring vegetable starts begin to fill the shelves at your local garden center! Beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, Swiss chard, peas, seed potatoes and shallots are just to name a few. With all these great crops it is easy to fill up your whole garden in one day. However, our friends at Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) want to remind you to save some space for replanting fast maturing crops (such as lettuce) for a continual harvest. This practice is commonly referred to as “succession planting”, and will help you maximize the harvest season by continually planting new areas of varieties that will ripen sequentially. We met with Ken at the Stark Street location to get some tips for crop rotation and succession planting. He talked about how some crops, such as potatoes, tomatoes and squash, you only plant once, but fast maturing crops such as leafy greens, annual herbs and some root crops are the easiest to keep in production with succession planting. This type of planting ensures a continuous bounty all season long. If you use crops planted from starts they will mature faster than the same crop planted from seed. The longer day length is another factor influencing the time between plantings. For example ‘Marvel of Four Seasons’ Lettuce may take 60 days to mature when planted in March but only 30 days to mature when planted in May or June. At the start of summer, utilize varieties that are heat tolerant to minimize bolting and bitterness of leafy crops. Fall and winter crops such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage are best planted in late June early July from seed or in July and August from starts.
Ken also talked about rotating your crops. Don’t always plant the same crop in the same place. By rotating different vegetables in different areas of your garden you can reduce the number of pests and diseases that a certain vegetable might be susceptible to. Remember that soils can get ‘tired’ too. That means that they can start to run out of nutrients over time. Rotation and the planting of cover crops will help rejuvenate your soils and give you a better harvest.
For answers to your questions on how you can make your vegetable garden more productive, stop by either location of Portland Nursery for tips and veggie starts. For a list of plants and times for planting, check out their handy chart, to help you get started.
Birds, Rats and Squirrels
When you feed your local birds you may be also inviting other, unwanted guests to the dinner table too! Namely we are talking about rats, squirrels, raccoons and possums. We paid a visit to the Backyard Bird Shop (503-445-2699) and talked to Angie about this problem and how you can avoid it. First of all, birds are messy eaters and that is the main problem. They will spill seeds and shells from their feeders all over the ground. Plus, if squirrels get into your feeders they can add to the mess. Once this food is on the ground you will soon have visitors like rats. Rats are not picky eaters. They will even take the left over shells. One way to avoid all these extra visitors is to place trays or devices to catch that extra spilled seed. Some of the feeders now have trays which will catch the seed and keep it off the ground. If you already have a feeder there are lots of different trays you can buy that will fit on any feeder. Another great product was a pecan feast log. This log had ‘shell-less’ seed held together by gelatin that reduces waste since the birds only take what they need. If you have a suet feeder then you should look for suet cakes that don’t have seeds in them. These will keep the food off the ground as well. If you would like to try to reduce the spillage by changing your seed you have 2 choices. The first choice is a shell-less seed. This will reduce the waste on the ground and thus the unwanted visitors. The second option is to buy some ‘Hot Meats’. This is a hot pepper oil treated seed. The birds don’t have taste buds so they can eat the seed, but the mammals end up with a burning tongue and they stop coming to the area around the feeder. If you already have a lot of seed at your house, they also carry a ‘Flaming Squirrel’ liquid of the same type of pepper oil that you can treat your existing food before you put it out. If you are noticing a lot of rats, mice, possums and raccoons in your yard, then try some of these products and help show those guys that the kitchen is closed!
Bonide Blackberry and Horse Tail Product
Blackberries and Horsetail are the curse of the Northwest gardener. We found a product that will take care of them both. Tom from Bonide introduced us to Stump-out, Stump and Vine Killer. This product can be painted on these nasty bushes and other noxious plants and vines to remove them for good! Using this product should always be used after reading and following all label directions. Try it today and get rid of those invasive plants for good!