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How is everyone doing? With the weather getting colder and wetter we are all back indoors and not out in our garden. We make the trip out to the garden once or twice a week now, just to check on plants and to fill the yard debris container with leaves and other stuff from the garden. It is hard to watch the plants shedding their summer and fall colors, but I know that they will be back again in a few months. I find myself making lists of chores to do in the garden between rain showers.
We are just a few weeks away from our final show for this season. We finish up on the 28th of November, and it has been a crazy year! We tried our best to make sure that we were able to get some great and timely garden information out to all our viewers. Not to worry, we will be back in the spring of 2021, March 6th to be exact. We still have plenty of good information before we go, check it out below!
This week we featured...
Lan Su Mum Event
November is the month for mums, and the place to see a lot of them is at Lan Su Chinese Garden (503-228-8131). Nearly the whole month is dedicated to the chrysanthemum and this year they are being celebrated with a new exhibit of mums in penjing displays around the garden. One of the slogans for the Lan Su Chinese Garden is 'never twice the same' and a walk around the garden in November proves it! Before we got to see some of the penjing displays we met up with Justin, the Curator of Horticulture, near their persimmon tree. It is loaded with fruit right now. Though not used as much in our culture, persimmon is well known and eaten in China.
Then we moved to the Scholar's Courtyard where they had a group of penjing displays set up. Penjing is a old form of miniature scenes featuring cultivated plants. There is another form from Japan that most people are familiar with called bonsai. These unique penjing displays are from the collections of Tony Hackenbruck, Sidne Lewis, and Mark Vossbrink. They feature chrysanthemums in cool and unusual ways. Wander the garden and check out these artistic displays along with some mums in containers from the Lan Su greenhouses. For over 2,000 years the Chinese have been growing and hybridizing these wonderful flowers. Did you know that the Chinese thought the chrysanthemum could give you long life. In fact there is one story of a lake in China that was surrounded by mums and if you were to drink the water from that lake it was supposed to give you 100 years of a happy and healthy life. That is why the Chinese would brew a tea made from the leaves of the plant and even made a rice wine with the leaves as well.
This wonderful event is taking place until the 22nd of November. To get tickets you can go the Lan Su website and book your time. If you forget, they also have a few walk-up tickets available at the garden. As the fall progresses and the flowers all fade away, this is one event not to miss.
The bright and beautiful colors of the summer blooms are fading, but there is a lot of color and texture still to be found. Conifers can be the standouts of the fall and winter garden if you are looking for a vibrant 'pop'! We stopped by Garland Nursery (800-296-6601) between Corvallis and Albany to talk with Patrick about some of his favorites for the fall. We started with a Korean Fir called 'Silver Show'. This wonderful tree has tight curled needles that make the tree look like silver in the sun! This one gets about 15 feet tall and would look great in the back of a garden bed. Next was a Deodar Cedar, 'Feelin Blue', named for the blue tinge to the foliage. This one gets 10 feet tall by 5 feet across, so you better give it some room in your drought tolerant garden. A small Japanese cedar was our third plant. This one was called 'Little Champion' and for good reason. It is deer resistant, heat tolerant and keeps a nice tight growth habit. The Japanese cedar next to it looks completely different. 'Elegans aurea' has a light feathery foliage that just begs to be touched. It can get pretty large, topping out at 20 to 25 feet in your garden. We then moved to a very small Western Hemlock at the base of Elegans. This one generally gets pretty tall, but the 'Iron Springs' was pruned to make it a low growing shrub, though it will eventually end up about 12 feet tall. The tiny needles are striking on this hemlock!
We moved over to a second group of plants that featured color changing conifers. The first one was a Mugo Pine, which are really tough and can handle pretty much anything. The one we looked at was 'Carsten's Wintergold' because of its golden clusters of needles on short branches. It will lose its golden color come next spring and summer when it goes back to a nice green color. Another great pine that gets taller is the Lodgepole pine 'Chief Joseph'. It gets about 10 feet tall in 10-15 years and goes from the standard green of summer to the bright yellow of fall and winter to become the showcase of your winter garden. Another cool conifer for your garden is the Arizona Cypress 'Raywood's Weeping'. The spidery foliage grows on a trunk that cascades over as it grows. This can grow up to 3 feet a season and we've seen it trained along fences and walls where it can grow for long distances. It is a show stopper. The last plant we looked at was a imposter! It looks like a hinoki cypress, but it actually is an arborvitae named 'Primo'. The foliage has the twisty habit of a hinoki on a tougher plant. It will get about 4 feet tall in about 10 years. A great structure plant for the winter garden that can handle tougher soil conditions than a regular hinoki cypress.
Of course, as we say all the time, this is just a small sampling of the great conifers you can find at your local independent garden center. Stop by and pick up one to add a punch to your winter garden!
Protecting Cannas and Bananas
As many gardeners know, you can grow a lot of tropical type plants in the Pacific Northwest. A few of those can survive our winters if you do a little work in protecting them for the next season. To learn how to do that we stopped by the garden of Tina Canham who works for Black Gold/Sungro, a great local soil company. She has a garden full of tropical and semi-tropical plants. Some of these beauties she picked up from Rosie at N&M Nursery.
Ryan showed up at the right time as Tina was getting ready to trim and wrap her Red Banana. This plant is one that is marginal for surviving our colder winters. Tina cut the plant off about 3 feet from the ground and then wrapped it in a double layer of frost cloth. That was secured with outdoor electrical tape. This double layer should give it an extra 10 degrees or more of protection. By cutting it off there is less to wrap and gives your plant a better chance to survive.
We then moved to the cannas. These were huge and filled a whole bed in her garden. Some of them were still blooming, as they do until we get a hard frost. These are cut to the ground and then Tina heavily mulches them with a layer of fluffy Black Gold Outdoor Planting mix. The fluffy texture is not heavy on the plants and creates a nice barrier from the cold and frost. This layer of mulch should protect the cannas unless we have a really hard or extended frost! Portland Nursery has a great brochure on protecting tender perennials on their website and a link to a Fine Gardening article with even more tips. Check it out, here.
Fall Bird Care
The change of the seasons signals a change for your local bird populations. Some of the non-migratory birds will be hanging around and may need a little help from you to survive the cold and wet of winter. We visited with Amanda of Backyard Bird Shop (503-449-2699) in West Linn to learn more about helping our feathered friends. We started with food. For seed eating birds you can use a black oil sunflower seed. This is a good basic seed that provides calories for high energy birds. We checked out the already shelled seed. It is a tiny bit more than the whole seed product, but there is less mess. For insect feeders you can set out a suet cake. Use different types of suet to attract different types of insect feeders. For most suet feeding birds they love insects and if you see a suet block with seed it is generally used as a filler in the suet. There is even a new product that will help keep your bird seed dry so there is less moldy seed that can get your birds sick. Once you have their food needs met, then you need to think about water. You may want to take a look at heaters to keep their water from freezing. You should also remember to put out fresh water whenever you can, since the birds prefer that over standing, dirty, water. If you have a standing birdbath, you may want to get some stones or pick up a bag of stones from Backyard Bird Shop so the water in your standard bird bath is not so deep for the smaller visitors. The one bird that has special needs in the winter is the hummingbird. They use lots of calories and so their food needs are more critical than other birds. You can keep their nectar in the feeder fresh by changing it every week or so. You can find a simple recipe for making their nectar at the Backyard Bird Shop website. Plus, they need to have a nice clean feeder so they don't get sick over the winter. You can also welcome birds to your garden by incorporating different types of shrubs and trees. For a list of winter interest plants you can check with your local garden center. To learn more about attracting birds to your garden during the winter you can check with Backyard Bird Shop or The Audubon Society of Portland.
Garden Like a Girl Gloves
A few years ago we heard about a new company in the Portland area and we introduced them to you, 'Garden Like a Girl' gloves. Garden Like a Girl was started by Tom and Mary Garlock. Mary is a gardener and always found that her garden gloves just were not cutting it! They would wear-out quickly, let dirt in and could get sopping wet if working around water. She also found out that the materials in the most popular gloves on the market contained known carcinogens. Both Tom and Mary are cancer survivors and so they decided they had to find a better glove, that is when they started to design their own. Tom had a background in making and marketing sports gloves so he knew how to start the design process.
When we did our first story with them, they were in the middle of wear-testing their designs and fund raising for further development. Now we are so happy to announce that they are in full production and have their gloves available for sale in selected garden centers and on their website. As with any new successful product, the key is in the details! They spent the last few years working on a glove that is truly 'Ruggedly Feminine'. They have finger tips reinforced with KEVLAR so your nails won't poke through them. The palms are padded so your hands are protected from those sharp and pointy plants. There is a breathable panel on the back so your hands don't get so sweaty when wearing them, and there is an adjustable wristband so they stay on, nice and tight. They are designed to fit well!
They also carry a nice group of other garden clothing that is made from combinations of recycled plastic bottles, upcycled cotton and organic cotton. You can find v-neck, short sleeve and long sleeved shirts. They also have hoodies, pullovers and even masks to keep you safe.
These shirts not only feel good, they do good too. A percentage of profits from the sale of shirts and gloves goes to cancer research. Check out their website and then pick up a pair for the garden. They would be a great gift for the holidays!