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Boy! Did we just skip spring and jump into summer? This weekend we will see summer-like temperatures and the urge will be to get some of those tender plants and vegetables out in the garden. We are getting close, but there still may be cooler nights ahead. If you do put tender plants out in the garden, make sure you have a plan if the temperatures drop below freezing in the next few weeks. As we get into May you should be safe, but it doesn't hurt to plan!
One thing we can't plan for is the pollen! These warm temps will get a lot of plants to open up and spread their pollen. We have found that the masks we have been wearing for Covid safety, work great at keeping the pollen out of our lungs. If only we could keep it out of our eyes!
We hope you have a great time in your garden and enjoy that sun!
This week we featured...
Bosky Dell Spring Natives
If you are looking for beautiful plants to diversify your garden, do well in our soil and climate, and are loved by insects, animals and people alike, try natives! These plants are good for any garden because they grow naturally here! One of the best places to pick up some cool and unusual native plants is at Bosky Dell Natives. Lory is an old friend of the Garden Time show and crew. Every time we stop by we spend so much time wandering that we are sometimes late to our next appointment. This time was no exception. We were in awe of all the great spring blooming native plants! Lory pulled a few of her favorites that she wanted to share. We started with a Ribes or Red Current. This plant grows well in sun or shade with pendulous red flower clusters that the bees and hummingbirds love! They also come with pinkish and white blooms too. Lory recommends that you put one plant in the full sun and one in the shade, so you can spread out the bloom times for more personal enjoyment and food for the birds. You can even prune it to keep it pretty small. The next plants were all lower growing shade plants. We started with the Trillium. There are a couple varieties that people can find. We had the popular Trillium Ovatum. This one has flowers with 3 petals that starts out white and fades to a magenta pink before it dies back. It is one that you will find in Northwest forests if you are hiking this time of year. The second Trillium that we looked at was the much larger 'Kurabayashii' This one has large dappled leaves around deep red/purple blooms. It is native to Oregon but got its name from a Japanese grower who found it here. We moved to the small but beautiful Fawn Lily. This one is also called a Trout Lily. It has a dainty little bloom that droops over and points to the ground. Even though the blooms are small they are wonderful. There are 2 types, one has a yellow bloom and the other has a light pink bloom. They get their name from the leaves which look like the spotted back of a fawn or trout.
Bosky Dell is a great place to visit if you are looking for inspiration in building a native garden at your home. Lory has built lots of little scenes and vignettes for people to look at and get ideas. If you want to escape into a wooded wonderland, stop by Bosky Dell.
Blooming Junction Landscape Trees
Landscape trees are great! They can take your flat gardening area and add some height and dimension. People are excited about these trees, whether they are replacing an old winter damaged one, or getting one for the very first time for their garden. To get some tips on picking one out and what there are to choose from we stopped by Blooming Junction and talked with Ron. He broke down his favorites into a couple of categories. He had some flowering trees, fall interest trees, some evergreens and some unusual ones for people to consider. We started with a tree that was in full bloom a weeping flowering cherry. These have masses of pink blooms and stay pretty short. There was also a weeping flowering crabapple that also stays small, but had already finished blooming for the season. A little taller tree was the flowering pears. These have tons of white flowers and stay columnar, or tall and straight. There are also regular flowering crabapples that get to a medium height and are a little wider. Ron also had a bunch of fall color trees that he liked. Most people don't think about fall color until it is too late. Now is the perfect time to think about fall color. He started with the Raywood Ash. This has a lot of interest during the summer months with lace like leaves that give you a dappled shade. Then in the fall it get burgundy/orange leaf color that is just outstanding. A go-to for a lot of people in the fall are the Acer Rubrums, or red maples. These always put on a show and can fit in just about any garden. In fact, because they get bigger they can be used to screen out neighbors and other buildings. A tree that we really love is the Tupelo or Nyssa sylvatica. New growth in the spring can be burgundy that eventually fades to a nice green and then in the fall it transitions to a fiery red/orange. A couple of unusual trees include the Physocarpus 'Center Glow'. This is grown on a standard. That means it was a shrub form and it is grown on a trunk to take the shape of a tree. The leaves on this one are a bright yellow in the center with a red/orange glow on the outside edge. Another great statement tree is the Styrax or Japanese Snowbell. The variety we saw was 'Pink Chime's and it has a light pink bloom that covers the entire tree in late spring. We finally got to the evergreen trees. These included the evergreen magnolias. The Magnolia grandiflora 'Victoria' is a great tree that rewards you with huge blooms that have a lemon scent to them. The final tree for our visit was the Leyland cypress. This is a fast growing upright evergreen tree that makes a great screen to provide you with privacy if you need it.
There were many more trees at Blooming Junction for you to choose from. The one piece of advice from Ron; get your tree early this year. People are still excited about gardening and the trees and other garden plants are going fast!!
Hulda Klager Lilac Days
It is that time of year, Lilac time. We took the short trip up I-5 to Woodland, Washington to check out the lilacs at the Hulda Klager Lilac Days (360-225-8996). This year the blooms were just coming on and it is great to have the garden open again! They were closed last spring due to the pandemic. We met with Dwight to learn what changes they have in place for this spring. We were standing in front of the light colored 'Josee', but there were many others that were just starting to bloom. In fact, with all this warm weather, they are anticipating a peak bloom in the next couple of weeks. If you plan on coming to the garden you will want to check their website first. Dwight said that any news or changes to the schedule will be posted there first. Guest are being asked to wear masks and observe social distancing when you visit. There also may be limits on how many people can be in the garden so be aware that there may be a short wait if the crowd gets big. Also, due to indoor space and limitations on people, the gift shop and farmhouse will be closed. They are planning on having plants and other items on sale so check out their outdoor plant area to see what they have. Dwight also gave us tips on planting and pruning lilacs. Lilacs love full sun and well drained soil. They also like 'sweet' soil, so add some lime to the planting hole when you plant them. For pruning you should cut your lilacs after they quit flowering. Don't wait until fall or you will be cutting back the blooms for the following season. When you do heavy pruning to manage the plant size you can cut them back all the way to the ground, removing only about 1/3rd of the stems per season. This will promote new shoots coming from the ground.
The 2021 Lilac Days will run from this weekend through Mother's Day. Hulda Klager hybridized many lilacs and became known as the 'Lilac Lady' in the Woodland area. The Hulda Klager Lilac Society now runs the garden and opens it every year for this festival. They have spent a lot of money in the past few years to improve the gardens and grounds. The improvements include restoration to the historic home, the water tower and the addition of signage and a new entrance pavilion. New seating areas and even an expanded and improved parking lot. They charge a small fee during the festival. The fee is $5 per person with kids under 12 free. Take the time and visit the garden when you get a chance, it is spectacular!
Plant your strawberries now for a bountiful harvest this coming summer. Mark Bigej from Al's Garden Center (503-726-1162) explained the different types of strawberries to Judy and even told us how to plant them. There are 2 main types of berries you can plant. 'June-bearing' gives you one crop and are perfect for lots of berries at one time for canning and preserving. 'Ever-bearing' gives you lots of small crops, and are great for handfuls of berries until the first frost. For best results plant your plants in a row about 1 foot apart. Amend the soil with a time released transplant fertilizer. You should also keep the crown of the plant above the soil level. There are a couple of other things that growers do to get a good crop... plant new berries every 3-4 years. Some gardeners 'tip back' the plant, which means you cut off the runners. This makes the plant put its energy into the fruit, but Mark told us it is not necessary. You bought the plant for the fruit, so enjoy it while you can! The other benefit about strawberries is that you can plant them in any container. Once in a container, you an bring them up to your patio and enjoy them right on your deck!
One plant that Mark shared with us was the 'Sweet Ann' strawberry. This one was found by Mark's dad Jack, and they had to get it to sell to local gardeners. It is delicious. You can pick up the Sweet Ann (be quick they are going fast) and a bunch of other varieties at any of the 4 Al's locations. Strawberry plants are also available at most of your independent garden centers.
Spring Bird Care
With the coming of spring it also signals the return of birds to the garden. You can make it easier for our feathered friends by equipping your garden with all the right materials they need. We paid a visit to Backyard Bird Shop (503-445-2699) and met with Amanda to see what she recommends for bird lovers. The basics that they recommend addressing are food, water and shelter. Shelter could be a bird house, or even planting the right plants in your garden that can protect them from the weather and predators. In the past we've seen bird houses that had a smaller hole for the birds to enter with no perch. This is important. A larger hole with a perch will attract non-native types of birds or predators. An inch and a quarter is just the right size for most of your local song birds. You will also want a way to clean it out after the nesting season is over. This will prevent diseases and contamination for the next brood. You can also leave out nesting material and it will help them build a nice soft nest. Don't use dryer lint since it can hold moisture. Look for natural fibers. Food needs change depending on the type of bird you want to attract. For example, you wouldn't use a hummingbird feeder to attract a chickadee. So know your bird and use a correct feed. Most seed feeding birds like black oil sunflower seed. Suet is always a good choice for those insect feeders. It has lots of high energy fat for those cold spring days. Also, when choosing a feed, pick a quality one. Backyard Bird Shop gets fresh deliveries of seed a couple times a week. Finally, the hummingbirds are returning and you can welcome them back with a nice meal. Set up your hummingbird feeders with some fresh nectar. You can make it yourself with the recipe on the Backyard Bird Shop website. For water, a nice birdbath will do the trick. A lot of birds also like running water, so if you can install a fountain, that's even better.
Another great resource on the Backyard Bird Shop site is their bird identification charts. These will help you find and identify the most common birds in our area. They also have a great website with lots of information including a listing of all the nest times for birds, how many eggs they have and the incubation period. Check out their list here. Be sure to check their website for hours and other steps for shopping safely.
Jan's April Tips
The warm weather is here and it is drawing us out into the garden. For your plants, it may be telling them to grow a little faster! To get some tips on dealing with that growth and other information we stopped by to see Jan and our tips of the month. We started in her garden near her rhubarb. The warmer weather and cool nights have made her plants start to bolt. Bolting is when your plant grows rapidly and starts to set seed. The seed heads can be a problem. For some vegetables it can make the flavor change or make your plant less productive as it thinks it needs to set seed for the next season. In the case of most vegetable plants, you can simply cut off the seed head to help the plant energy go back into leaf or fruit production. That is what Jan did to her rhubarb. Now the plant will make more tasty stems and not put energy into seeds. Speaking of the cool nights. You should still be watching your soil temperatures. It may be hot out, but the soil is a little slower to warm up. Your soil temperatures will let you know when it is safe to plant those tender vegetables in your garden. Another thing popping up in the garden are slugs. We had a viewer who said she found slug damage on her plants that were on an elevated surface. Yes, slugs do climb, but they could also be hiding too. When you bring home a plant from a garden center, be sure to check under the pot or container. Even though garden centers are clean, sometime a slug can sneak through. They hide under the plastic pots and then come out at night for a snack.
Jan then talked about Azalea and Rhododendron Lace bug. These tiny bugs are on the underside of your azalea and rhody leaves. They suck the juices out of the leaf and it creates a lace like stippling on the upper surface of the leaf. They have attacked the older leaves now, and the new growth looks nice and green, but they will make their way to the new leaves soon. There is a handout from OSU Extension that can help you combat these nasty bugs. Check it out here. We also don't want you to confuse the Lace Bug with the Lacewing. That beneficial bug has long neon green wings and it eats the bad bugs on your plants.
We then moved to the greenhouse for a couple more tips. The first one was talking about veggies starts that you get at your garden center. These 'tray-packs' have at least 6 plants in them, but they could have more. Take a closer look and see if you have more than 6. You can tease them apart and plant them in your garden or just leave them bunched together. You will get wonderful plants either way. Jan bought a little hoop house and covered it with row cover to start her vegetables early. Another tip for those who have problems with their grip or have arthritis, wrap your tool handles with pipe insulation to give you a softer and better grip. Finally we checked in on the lemon. Jan harvested 6 lemons off her tree and then gave it a nice fertilizing. It is already setting buds for next years crop and soon it will go outside in the nicer weather. For more tips on spring gardening you can follow Jan on Facebook or check the OSU Extension website.
Terra Casa Fountains and Birdbaths
There is nothing like the sound of water in the garden 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.
If you are looking for a birdbath, be sure to check those out too! If you love outdoor décor give Terra Casa a call to set up your appointment! They are just 10 minutes east of Clackamas Town Center in Damascus.
811 - Call Before You Dig
There is no better feeling than turning some soil in your garden. That feeling will disappear quickly if you dig into a utility line. We found out that there is a new, easy way to avoid this problem. Aric from NW Natural told us about the 811 number. This number is a nationwide number to help homeowners and businesses locate buried utility lines so you can stay out of trouble. The 'Call Before You Dig' program is not new, but people still don't know much about it! One call will help you locate any line. If you don't call you can be held liable for the damages of cutting a line. Besides, it is the right thing to do! Just call 811 two business days before you dig. Calling 811 reduces the risk of digging into a utility by 99 percent.
Grimm's Spring Mulch
Now is the time to apply a good layer of mulch to your garden. Jeff Grimm from Grimm's Fuel (503-636-3623) joined us to talk about the different types of mulches you can get for your garden beds this spring. We were looking to add some mulch to our garden this year and Grimm's came out and blew a unit of it into our garden beds. No shovels or wheelbarrows for us! Jeff told us about all the different materials they offer. In the spring you can get gravel for pathways, wood chips for under your swing set and bark dust in all different styles and colors. Garden Mulch, which is what we got, is VERY nutritious, protects your top soil, prevents weeds and retains moisture. They also have top soil which will improve your beds and they even have a fine mulch that is great for renewing your lawn when you over-seed. In the fall and winter they can also supply your heating needs with wood for your fireplace or woodstove and heating oil for your furnace. If you need it, Grimm's has it. Grimm's has all this and can deliver them in bulk or even blow them in, as we found out, so the work is done and you save your back!
Grimm's is also the place for your yard debris. Every spring people clean up their gardens and then they have a large pile of clippings and weeds to get rid of... that means trying to fit it all in the yard debris bin for weeks and weeks. Now it is a simple trip to Grimm's to dump off the old stuff and pick up a load of new garden mulch and your work is nearly done! Check out their website to see what Grimm's can do for your landscape.
Daisy Rain Update
We are always looking for products that can help local gardeners in their garden beds. A couple of years ago we found a new product that is locally made to help with keeping your pots and containers well-watered. We traveled to Hillsboro to chat with Jeff Gordon from Daisy Rain Garden Systems (503-628-2323). He got tired of trying to keep his containers on his deck watered. He had used the micro-watering drip systems and when they worked they were great, but sometimes they didn't work and he had plants that would dry up and die. This system is not a micro system, but a 'macro' system. Instead of drips, this waters plants quickly and won't clog! You just run your water pipes under the pots through their patented channels (key-ways) and attach the sprinkler heads and you are ready to go. You can use a timer and in a few minutes your plants are watered. These pots use a low pressure regulator and so you can have up to 25 pots on one line. Plus, once the season is done you can take the system apart and store it in a very small space.
This year Jeff has made a bunch of great changes to his product. We met him at Farmington Gardens in Beaverton to see those changes. With the original system (which we have in our garden) you had plastic containers provided with the system. Now with the new Sprinkler Saucer you can use just about any pot or container. To demonstrate we set up in new system in minutes using 3 different types of pots for watering. It worked like a charm. If you would like to learn more, check out their website, or stop by Farmington Gardens. You can also order one from the website as well. Hook one up and never worry about your plants again!