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I’m melting! Ok, the heat may have gotten to me a little bit, but not as bad as my plants. I made the trip outside during the hottest part of the day and looked at the garden plants. Even with a good morning soaking, some of them were not handling the combination of sun and heat very well. This is the time to take notes and see which plants are suffering the most and then make a note to transplant them to another area, when things cool down, where they might be happier.
We’ve done this in our garden. We ended up moving a ‘Lemon Daddy’ hydrangea and it is now much happier. Plus we have also used this heat to fine tune our watering. We found a daylily blocking a sprinkler, leaving its garden bed-mates a little thirsty. That will be moved too, but for now it is missing a few leaves for the betterment of the other plants.
This week we featured...
Little Prince Begonias
Most people are familiar with begonias. They have them in hanging baskets made for shady areas of the garden or as indoor plants because they are tender for our area. Most begonias are tropical or sub-tropical and are found in forests where they are protected from direct sun and temperature extremes. They have big fleshy stems and colorful blooms of pinks and reds, but there are so many new varieties that are coming to market in the next few years we decided to stop by Little Prince of Oregon to see some of these newer varieties. Mark told us that begonias are one of the easiest plants to care for and he had 3 groups that he wanted to share. These groups included the rhizomatous kinds, the cane, or angel wing types were second and finally the Begonia grandis, or hardy begonia, which a lot of us can grow outside in our shade gardens.
The first group was the rhizomatous types. Mark had about a dozen of them on the table but he shared a few of his favorites. The first was Soli-matata. This one has dark leaves with green veins that become even darker in low light situations as the green gets brighter, and it has the texture of lizard skin. The next one was a very rare begonia, ‘Beefstake’. It was originally bred in Germany in 1845 and is hard to get, but you should find it soon on the Little Prince website. The next one of this group was called ‘Froggy’ and was a favorite of Mark’s because the mascot of Little Prince is a frog. This one has the unique nautilus shaped green leaf, with a swirl of chocolate colored edging.
We then moved to the second group of cane begonias, also called Angel wing begonias, because of the shape of the leaves. They look like the wings of an angel. These begonias get taller than the first group and will need a bigger pot and possible staking to keep them from flopping. The first one of this group is ‘Miss Mummy’ with the dark leaves splattered in tiny pink spots. That was next to ‘Fannie Moser’ with dark green leaves and a red underside. The top had tiny white dots with a single plant hair emerging from each dot.
The final begonia is one that a lot of people have in their outdoor gardens, Begonia grandis. This one is hardy for our area, down to zone 7 or about 5 to 10 degrees. This one loves morning sun and afternoon shade and nice even watering. This one looks plain on top but it has great red coloring on the underside of the leaf. It also has small pink or white flower depending on which variety you get. Mark told us that there may be more hardy varieties on the way. There are some being found at high elevations in SE Asia which may bring more of these cool plants to our market!
If you would like to purchase some of these you can check your local garden center and look for the Little Prince ‘froggy’ tag, or you can check out their website and order one online!
Last fall we did a story on planting garlic in the garden. After planting our individual cloves we covered the area with a little mesh and anchored that down to keep the local animals from digging up our new crop. Now, we are in the middle of summer and it is time to harvest our bounty.
First, we had to harvest the scapes. We did this a couple weeks ago. Garlic scapes are the seed heads that form and grow from the top of the garlic. When they first appear, they are soft and form a large curl. This usually happens with hard-neck garlic around mid to late June. As they get older they will get long and straight. You want to harvest them when they have the curl to their stem. Cut them back to the junction of the tallest leaf. Cutting off this seed head will send more energy back to the bulb and make better and larger cloves. The softer top parts of the scapes can be cut off, don’t use the stiff lower parts. Garlic scapes can be used in cooking and recipes, or as a topping for your salads. The scapes have a mild garlic flavor.
A couple weeks after removing the scapes, normally around mid to late July, you will notice the garlic leaves dying back from the ground up. Once you have 3 or more leaves turning brown, you can harvest your bulbs. Dig carefully around the bulb so you don’t damage the bulb. Once the bulb is harvested you can tie the stems together and let the bunch cure by hanging them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, with good air circulation. A garage works well for most people. After 6-8 weeks you can cut the stems off and store them inside. They will last quite a long time if you avoid sunlight and keep them dry. In just a couple months, we will start the whole process over again, but not before we start enjoying our delicious garlic!
Lily Flower Market
This time of year we love to travel up to Forest Grove to see the lilies! Kenn and Sylvia invited us up to the annual Lily Flower Market (503-348-9601). Kenn started growing lilies as a hobby and some of his friends wanted some of his surplus, so the Lily Flower Market was born. This year they are growing 7 of the 9 different divisions of lilies. He met with Judy to talk about the 3 types that most people know of. These are the Oriental (like the Stargazer lily), the Asian lily and the Orienpet. The Orienpets are a cross between the Oriental and the Trumpet lily. The Oriental and Orienpets can get quite tall with the Orienpets getting up to 10 feet tall. They are often referred to as tree lilies. The newest lilies on the market are the rose lilies, or doubles. Kenn had one in front of us called ‘Natalia’. This white and soft pink double bloom was striking and on a smaller 2 foot plant. They are fragrant, but have no stamen so they have no pollen for those who are allergic to that. No stamen also means no staining of you clothes or tablecloths from the pollen. Kenn even had a suggestion for taking care of the pollen too. Simply take your cut flower and turn it upside down to trim off the stamens before you arrange you flowers. No stamens, no pollen. Care for the lily is pretty easy. They love water twice a week when they are actively growing and blooming. A lack of water during the growing phase will reduce the bulb size and that means less flowers and a weaker plant. Kenn also recommended fertilizing twice a year. In the spring when they are emerging and again in the fall before they die back and go dormant. He has a special fertilizer that works well with lilies. A standard fertilizer makes the plant have too much green growth and may not produce the best flowers. Slug treatment in the spring and fall is also a good idea too.
We then moved over to talk with Sylvia. She had a couple bouquets to share with us. This year they are offering these wonderful floral arrangements along with lilies in pots to take home. You can even order bulbs for next year. When spring rolls around, you can come out to the farm and pick up your new bulbs, some special fertilizer from Kenn and plant them. You will see blooms in the same year! Right now you are welcome to come up to the farm on Thursday through Sunday between 10am and 5pm to enjoy the blooms, the view and a fun time wandering the garden. If you can’t make it to the garden, you can check out their online store.
This is the 8th year of their little festival and this year there have been some changes. They ask that everyone brings a mask and observes distancing. Come up, be safe and enjoy the blooms!
Portland Nursery Shade Color
Recently we received an email from a viewer who was looking for some season long color for his north facing patio. As we all know, north facing gardens and patios get little or no direct sunlight making them a bare spot when it comes to color. Most blooming plants don’t do very well in shade, but Laura at Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) on Stark street had some great suggestions. She told us that to get the most from your shade garden you needed to embrace foliage and texture! Sure, there are flower too, but the foliage and texture will be with you a lot longer than the blooms. Laura used a light blue ceramic pot to show how you can mix colors and textures together for the best effect. The reason for the container was not just to mix different plants together, but also to allow you to move this color combination to any place in your garden. She started with a carex grass that was bright gold and a perennial. This pops in the shade and it will come back year after year to give you early color. She then brought in a burgundy heuchera as a contrasting color. It also contrasted well with the fine foliage of the carex and the broad leaves of the heuchera. To make use of annual summer color Laura brought in a begonia with bright peachy blooms. In the shade the begonia will bloom all summer long and into fall. If you are looking for a tropical feel you can pair the lime colored sweet potato vine with a summer ‘Kong’ coleus. The leaves on the ‘Kong’ coleus make an incredible background for any plant, but paired with the sweet potato vine is was really eye catching. For a larger statement plant Laura also had a ‘Lemon Wave’ hydrangea. This hydrangea had variegated foliage. Green leaves edged with cream color were stunning, but the white blooms added more to the show for those shady areas too.
These were just a small sampling of some of the plants you can use in those shady or dark areas in your garden. Don’t forget… like the blooms, but embrace the foliage and texture too and you can’t go wrong!
Terra Casa Décor
We spend a lot of time and money adding plants to our gardens to give us more seasonal color and year-round interest, but what about color that you don’t need to water? Garden décor can help give your garden a little pep when nothing else is blooming. Décor can mean a lot of different things to different people. At Terra Casa (503-577-8242) in Damascus you can find as many different types of décor as there are people! Some of the most popular pieces are the recycled metal art. Some of these are in the shape of cars, animals and even wall hangings and bird feeders. Other little accents included the colorful little ceramic mushrooms. There are also garden spheres, colorful welcome poles, spinners, metal stakes and even grills and planters in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
If you are looking for a colorful accent to add a pop of color to your garden, check out the décor pieces at Terra Casa.
Swan Island Fields Open
August is the beginning of the dahlia season, and if you’re talking dahlias, you’re talking Swan Island Dahlias (800-410-6540) in Canby. August 1st marks the opening of the fields and the welcoming of guests. Heather joined us to talk about the fields and the recently canceled festival. If you love color and dahlias, you’ve probably been to the Dahlia Festival at the end of August. Unfortunately, this year the festival was canceled due to the pandemic and so there is no big planned event. However this extended window allows you to see the fields without the huge crowds because you won’t have to wait for those special weekends. The flowers will be blooming for the next 2 months and so you can come out anytime to see the show! The fields and the gift shop will be open 6 days a week. They even have a special self-serve kiosk so you can pick up bunches of fresh cut flowers to take home. They ask that you bring a mask with you and use it inside the gift shop and kiosk, or if you are within 6 feet of other guests, but with nearly 40 acres of blooms you have plenty of room to spread out. Plus, while you are there you can see the flowers in bloom and then go online to order some for your garden (they will be shipped early next year). Online orders through the end of September will receive 10% off!
While we were visiting with Heather, we asked her about summer care of your blooming dahlias. Right now, with all the heat we are getting, dahlias need good watering. We are talking about deep watering. A little bit of water from your hose will not get to those roots. Water for an extended period of time a few times a week so that water gets all the way down to those deep roots. The second thing is dealing with tall stems. If you topped your dahlias earlier this summer, they will be a little shorter and have stronger stems. If your dahlias get more than 3 feet tall you will want to stake them. Without stakes the plants could be knocked down by rain and wind, they will end up flopping and it may break a stem. The plant will grow back, but until it does you will have no more blooms to enjoy from the stem. For more care tips you can go to their website and check out the tips and videos.
So, don’t wait until the end of August to enjoy these beautiful fields and flowers. You now have 8 weeks to visit and enjoy the blooms!