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The dog days are here. The dog days of summer refer to the rising of the Dog Star, Sirius, in the sky. Which happens in the hottest part of the year for us. These dog days seem longer and harder to bear this year due to the Covid-19 crisis. Even though I would normally stay in the air conditioning, this year I feel like I’m trapped. Good thing the garden is right outside my door to enjoy. Plus the harvest is getting in full swing! New fresh fruit and veggies seem to be available on a daily basis! I’m getting hungry already!
Time to get out and enjoy your garden, after all that hard work of the spring and early summer.
This week we featured...
Lan Su Reopens
The pandemic caused a lot of our favorite places to close just to be safe and help protect crowds. As time went on, these favorite places found safe ways of reopening. The Lan Su Chinese Garden (503-228-8131) is one of these places. The Garden was shut as they reorganized the Garden and created a safe place for friends and members to visit. We met with Justin in the Courtyard of Tranquility at the entrance of the Garden to talk about plants and what the reopening means for visitors.
First we started talking about the small tree in a container that looked like a bonsai, but as we learned it was a penjing. This is a style of miniature gardening that predates the bonsai form. Penjing started first in China and was imported and copied in Japan as Bonsai. This collection of penjing was donated for display and is placed throughout the Garden. Right next to that was a perfect invitation to visitors to the Garden, a group of fragrant hardy gardenias. Fragrance is one of the 4 elements in Chinese gardening and gardenias have been a part of that for over 1500 years. Pomegranates are also in the Garden and there was one with fruit in the entry courtyard. The pomegranate is a symbol for bounty and plenty, due to the large number of seeds in the fruit. This symbol is not only represented by the actual frit, it is also part of the stonework on the roof. We also found some lotus blooming in the Garden too. The lotus are just starting their bloom cycle and there are more being added to Lake Zither every week. The lotus is a plant that represents virtue, integrity and purity. As a plant they start out in the mud and then rise above the water with the perfect bloom. It is a beautiful flower!
Right now visitors are welcome back to the Garden, daily from 10am to 5pm. The Garden is asking that you reserve a time online through their website. Though we found out that people can drop by and find some open slots at the Garden during the week. Once entering you can spend an hour in the Garden and, observing the one-way path, see pretty much everything in the Garden. The tea house is open for to-go orders at a walkup window. The gift shop is also open at the center of the Garden once you are there. The Garden is looking great right now. It had a break during the first part of the crisis, but is now ready to present its beauty and supply some calm during this crazy time.
Long Blooming Clematis
The clematis is known as the queen of the vines. This beautiful plant is a feature in many of our gardens, but we all wish for a plant that will have a long bloom time during these summer days. To see what clematis fill the bill for summer longevity we traveled to the Rogerson Clematis Garden (971-777-4394) at Luscher Farms to talk with Linda Beutler, the garden curator, about her choices. We started at the bottom of the garden and stood under a couple of heavy bloomers. This variety, ‘Polish Spirit’, has been blooming for over a month and still had blooms to spare. It was growing so well that they had supports on the plant so it didn’t overwhelm the apple tree it was next to. Just a few feet away was a small white flowered one called ‘Anita’. The white blooms started in late May and are still going strong in early August. Though not as heavy and tall as the Polish Spirit, she was still putting on a show.
We then traveled to the top of the garden to see a couple more summer bloomers. We stopped at ‘Gipsy Queen’, an older variety of clematis which had blooms that came in waves. The purple flowers appeared weeks ago when the plant was much shorter and as the plant grew she has kept sending out more flowers. She is now at the top of a 10-12 foot obelisk, and covered with buds and blooms at the very top. She will continue to grow and throw out more blooms for weeks to come. The last one we looked at in the garden was a friendly clematis that plays really well with others, ‘Kryspina’. This fine lady of the garden has grown into a hardy geranium, a beautiful Limelight Hydrangea and even a large ‘Oh Henry’ Lily. The purple flowers were a perfect combination for all three of these other plants and the blooms were a lovely contrast to the foliage as well.
Some of these plants can find a home in your garden too if you like. The Rogerson Clematis Garden offers some of these same plants for sale. They are not a normal garden style nursery, they roll all the proceeds back into the botanical garden. If you would like to purchase a plant you can do so online at the Rogerson Clematis Garden website. Then you can stop by and pick up your order, or you can stop by the garden on Fridays or Sundays between 10am and 2pm. If you just want to visit the garden, you can do that too!
Add a long blooming clematis to your garden and then you can say, Long live the queen (of vines)!
Everyone is growing tomatoes this year, but for many there is that agonizing wait for ripe fruit! How can you get your tomatoes to ripen earlier!? Ryan joined us in the garden to share a tip, and that is how to trim your tomato foliage. Once your tomatoes start to set fruit, you can go in and cut off about 1/3 of the leaves. These are branches or leaves that have no flowers or fruit on them. By taking off this foliage the plant will send the energy into fruit production. Also, the increased sunlight will help those tomatoes that are already on the plant to ripen and change color. At this time you can also cut back the water that you are giving your tomatoes to stress them out a little bit. That will also increase your fruit production.
Renee’s Garden Fall Planting
Fall vegetable time is here. Actually the time of planting of fall vegetables is here. One of the best seed companies for spring or fall planting is Renee’s Garden seeds. We had a chance to chat with Renee from her garden in California via Zoom to ask her about why summer is a great time to plant a veggie garden. Renee told us that the fall garden can be the most successful garden for the home owner. The soil is already warm, there are fewer pests and diseases and when things start cooling off in the fall the harvest can be extended since there is less heat to stress plants and speed up production. Before the gardener gets excited about growing things, Renee also recommended that people read the backs of the seed packets. The backs of the packets have a ton of information on them that will help the gardener be even more successful in the coming months. There is a lot of testing and trialing that goes onto those packets!
Some of the best plants for the fall are the ‘green’s. Chard, kale, spinach, and collards are all really successful in the fall garden. She also recommended a salad garden. This is a garden full of the things you would need to make a wonderful salad. For this it is recommended that you plant a mix of different greens to spice up your fall salads. These can include chives, arugula, parsley and cilantro, in addition to traditional salad greens. Root crops are also a wonderful group of vegetables to grow. Carrots, beets, and turnips are all good choices. The best part of root crops is that the ground helps preserve your crops so you can harvest as you need them and leave the rest in the ground. Even if you get a frost the root vegetables will be safe and protected, in fact most root crops will actually get sweeter when the colder weather hits.
If you are wondering how to use all these wonderful vegetables in your cooking you can also find a list of recipes and cookbooks available on the Renee’s Garden website.
Now if you really want to try something different, Renee’s company also sells Saffron Crocus! These little bulbs can be planted in the late summer and harvested in the late fall. The saffron that chefs pay a fortune for is actually the mature stigmas of the crocus flower. You simple pick out the three-part red-orange stigmas and use them in your favorite recipes. Renee reminded us that the fresh saffron is really potent, so you won’t need a lot to make a big splash in your recipes.
If you are interested in planting a fall garden with the standard traditional plants, or you want to try something new and exciting, check out the Renee’s Garden website.
Swan Island Dahlia Smut
Today we are talking smut! Not that kind! The kind you find on your dahlias. We stopped at Swan Island Dahlias (800-410-6540) to talk about the fungus, Dahlia Smut. Heather joined us to tell us about this problem that has been more prevalent this late spring and early summer. The fungus thrived on the weather conditions this June. We had moist, cool weather, followed by warm temperatures. This caused the fungus to explode! To treat it you need to spray your plants with a fungicide and pick off all the diseased leaves. They need to be thrown away and not composted. If they go in your compost they could survive and live to infect your plant again next year. The other thing that dahlias have problems with are spider mites. They start attacking your plant from the ground up and it looks like the leaves are dying and drying up. That means the little guys are working on those lower leaves. They love the heat and the moisture, like the dahlia smut. You can find sprays, both organic and synthetic, to take care of them, but make sure that you have a product that treats spider mites.
You can come out and see the beautiful fields of blooms at Swan Island Dahlias in Canby right now! They will not be having their annual Dahlia Festival at the end of August, but not to worry, they opened the fields last week and you can visit any day from now through September, 6 days a week. They close on Wednesdays to do some clean up on the fields, but you can visit any other day. You can check their website for hours and other information about visiting. Stop by and pick up some cut flowers, visit the gift shop and place an order for tubers for 2021. Even without the festival the flowers will take your breath away!
Terra Casa Summer Fountains
This year the number of people staying home has dramatically increased, due to the coronavirus. With all those people enjoying their gardens, we are seeing an increase in people interested in making their gardens a soothing and relaxing space. There is nothing like the sound of water in the garden to meet those requirements, and one of the best ways to bring the sound to your backyard is with a fountain from Terra Casa (503-577-8242). We took a walk with Diana to see some of the different styles that they have at the store. At Terra Casa they say that they can make a fountain out of any container at their store and now we believe them. Diana told us how you can build a fountain above ground or even make a small feature that can be buried in your backyard. They will even come out and dig the hole for you and install it. The coolest feature that we saw was how they designed their water features so you can adjust the amount of splash you get. The valve is just right below the surface of the water, so all you have to do is reach in and turn the valve! In the outside display area they had fountains made from clay, stone and ceramic. Plus they have one of the largest displays of pottery in the Metro area, so you can find something that will work in your garden. They are also known for their smaller features too! Diana took us over to another area near the store where we saw smaller, self-contained fountains. These little fountains would work in any size area and help bring that soothing water sound closer to you.