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Memorial day is here and it is the unofficial start to the summer season. Summer is still a few weeks away, but the heat says otherwise. We seem to be in the middle of summer right now. This heat does feel welcome after the last few cooler days, but it comes with a bit of caution. Your plants are actively growing right now and that means they are tender and may need a little more attention. Look for those droopy leaves that signify a thirsty plant (in most cases), and a need for watering. Take care of those veggie plants too. A lot of them are still establishing their roots and may have problems pulling enough moisture from the soil to maintain a good healthy growth.
It is a good time to check your watering system too. Are you using your water efficiently? If this heat continues through the summer we may have drought problems in just a few weeks. Using water wisely will help your plants, your water bill and the community at large.
Enjoy the sun!
This week we featured...
Wavra Early Summer Color
Late spring and early summer are full of color! The garden centers around our area are full of great plants, but one of the best selections of plants around is at Wavra Farms and Nursery (503-364-9879). Diane is a cheerleader for color! To prove it, she pulled a few perennials and annuals that were in full bloom. We started with some great perennials. The Himalayan Honeysuckle was first and even though it wasn't in full bloom, the foliage color was just outstanding. The light green leaves that start with a red tint were striking. Eventually the plant will produce flowers and berries, which taste like burnt caramel when you taste them. The plant in front of it was a shade garden plant, the Tradescantia 'Blushing Bride'. This plant has green leaves with a big swath of cream coloring in the middle of the leave, which will also get a pink tinge to the leaves later in the season. It also has a nice little flower that pops up above the foliage. A much taller plant was next in line. The Astilbe 'Amethyst'. These plants are known for their bottle brush type of flower stalks that rise high above the foliage. They are rabbit and deer resistant and once they are done blooming you can cut off the flower stalks and have the fern like foliage for the rest of the year. Foxgloves are blooming right now and Diane had one to look at. The Camelot Rose has pink blooms with a peach colored throat. Remember these are biennial. They will bloom this year and then be green next year, with blooms returning in 2 years. The tubular/cone shaped flowers are a hummingbird magnet. As are the blooms on the Lobelia laxiflora. This plant has parrot beak shaped flowers that are also a welcome flower for bees too. These can spread a little over time and so it is good to give them some room. They will bloom all summer long. The next plant was hard to pronounce (Chriastophyllum oppositifolium, or 'Lambs Tail') but is was easy on the eyes! The sedum looking foliage stays low, but the flower stalks grow above that great foliage producing long chains of bright yellow flowers. Another perennial that has tall flowering stalks that poke above the foliage is the Geum. The variety that we looked at was 'Tempo Rose' and it has blush color blooms that are great for a ground cover to fill in those bare parts of your flower beds. If you cut off the spent blooms, they will push out another round of blooms later in the season.
Next we moved to some annuals. These may only last one year, but the show of color makes all of them a 'must have' for any garden. The first annual was a tall one, the cleome (spider flower) 'Senorita Rosalita' with tall flower stalks topped with fan shaped flowers. That plant pairs well with the full-sun loving, ground cover, Sunpatiens 'Tropical Orange'. This plant had bright red blooms, but also large green leaves with a stripe of yellow down the center! Another low grower is the bachelor button 'Lil' Forest Plum'. This can get about a foot tall and it is covered with purple flower balls that keep coming all summer long. If you liked the sunpatiens from earlier, then the New Guinea Impatiens 'Roller Coaster' is a nice plant to pair with that one. The deep pink blooms are huge! In fact we picked up a couple of these to add to our garden to fill out some containers. One of the most popular annual plants in the garden are the coleus. They are a plant that is not known for big blooms, but their showy foliage colors. Since they don't have dead blooms to worry about, the foliage color is there all season long until that first frost of fall. We saw the chartreuse colored 'Main Street-Chartres Street. One plant that has tons of blooms is the Euphorbia 'Diamond Mountain'. Some euphorbias are hardy for our area, but this one doesn't like the cold. It is covered right now in tiny white flowers that all seem to be floating above soft foliage. What a different texture for your garden.
The final plant was a stunner. The Blue Shrimp Plant (Cerinthe) is also called the Honeywort. The one we saw was 'Pride of Gibraltar'. It get about 2 feet tall and has a purplish blue bloom that covers the plant in the summer. It is listed as an annual, but with a little winter protection you might be able to have this one come back the following year. Still, if you only have it for one year, it is worth making room for it in your garden!
These are just a few of the great plants that you will find at Wavra Farms right now, in addition to the hanging baskets and the new perennial shrub section in the nursery. Stop by and bring home some new color for your garden.
Cascade Nursery Trail - Out in the Garden/Hydrangeas Plus
We have visited the members of the Cascade Nursery Trail before. The 8 member nurseries and plant growers are all small, independent, family owned, specialty nurseries. They come together at certain times of the year to offer sales and events for local gardeners and this weekend is one of the times. The Spring Fever Open House is happening from 10am to 5pm at all the nurseries on Saturday through Monday. Each nursery is full of plant 'treasures' waiting for you to take home. To preview the weekend we stopped by two of the CNT members.
Our first stop was at Out in the Garden Nursery (503-829-4141) in Molalla. Carol has a great little nursery which is paired with a wonderful display garden featuring tall Oak trees and a fountain. It is a great little getaway with great plants! She brought out some of her favorite plants to share with Judy. We started with some ornamental grasses. The family of Calamagrostis (feather reed grass) is big and has some great varieties including 'Karl Foerster'. All of them are easy to care for and they are absolutely mesmerizing in the fall garden with great seed heads and fine foliage that blow and rustle in the wind. The next plant was a real eye catcher. Disporum (Chinese Fairy Bells) 'Night Heron' starts with dark stems that look like a small bamboo, then they get flower stalks with dainty bell shaped yellow flowers. This one would look great in a container on your deck so you can see those blooms close up during the summer season. Next was a variegated Knautia called 'Thunder and Lightning'. The light colored, two-toned foliage is great, but the tall purple flowers only add to the beauty of this plant. A taller plant for your garden is the Calycanthus 'Aphrodite'. This is a shrub that can become the stunning backdrop for your flower beds, as it is in Carol's display garden. This goddess of the garden will bloom from now until Labor day with tons of large red flowers. We had a grouping of plants in the middle of the table. These were all Sambucus or Elderberries. The difference between these dark colored plants was the foliage texture and the ultimate sizes of these plants. One called Black Lace gets really tall with a fine textured leaf. Black Tower was next. It also gets pretty tall (about 8-10 feet tall) with a courser foliage and then we finished with the 'Laced Up' variety. This was very compact and only gets about 5-6 feet tall. They all had these wonderful large pink flowers which are almost like a big landing pad for butterflies and bees. The plant next to these also had a pink flower, but in more of a tall stalk form. The Heucherella 'Dayglow Pink' is a cross between a heuchera and tiarella. You get these tall spikes of flowers over the top of two-toned green and chocolate colored leaves. It stays pretty low and is a great filler ground cover. Next to it was the Astrantia 'Star of Fire'. It had similar flower stalks with deep red blooms over some great dark green foliage.
Next we stopped by Hydrangeas Plus (866-433-7896) to see another stop on the Trail! Kristin was there and had some of her favorite hydrangeas to share. These were all serrata types of hydrangeas. They are a more compact hydrangea that bloom early before they send out their full complement of foliage. They also have great fall color once the season is done. They were found and developed in Japan and can have lace-cap or mophead blooms depending on the variety. Of the 4 we had to see she had both types to share. he first was a mophead type called 'Akishino temari' with a pink bloom starting to pop. This one can also have blue blooms depending on the pH of the soil. By changing the acidity of the soil you can change the color of the bloom. The next plant was a lace-cap type called 'Beni'. It has a white lacey bloom now that will turn a brilliant, blood red in the fall. 'Kurohime' was the third one we saw and it had the darkest stems of them all. These deep red stems held up broad lace-cap blooms that were tinged a pinkish red. The last one we saw was 'Maiko'. This was the most compact of the group with white mophead blooms over green foliage that was tinted red on the older leaves. Kristin told us that these were just a small selections of the 320 types they have at their nursery.
As you can see these nurseries have a broad selection of plants to choose from. If you think these were great, take some time and visit all of the nurseries on the Cascade Nursery Trail. To find a map and more details about each nursery, check out their website.
Blooming Junction Annuals
We talk about annuals as the pop of color every garden needs each season, but you really don't get a feel for all that color unless you find a nursery that has a huge selection of annuals on display. We found that huge display at Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) out near Hillsboro. Ron joined Ryan in the nursery to share some of the different types of plants you might want to add to your garden. Long after your perennial shrubs are bloomed out, these annuals will be going strong. We started with petunias. There are so many varieties to choose from now. One of the newest was called 'Ray Pistachio Cream' with lime/yellow blooms. These come in all shapes and sizes, from larger blooms of petunias, to the smaller Million Bells styles. Some are upright and some are trailing types, so you can find a style and color for just about any garden bed or container. Another trailer is the bacopa. These bloom all season and come in colors of blue, purple and white. Another great plant for beds or containers are the geraniums. With a little deadheading, you can have blooms well into fall. Impatiens and salvias are also great in the garden and can be paired for tall and short color combinations. 'Wendy's Wish' salvia was one of the newer popular ones in the nursery. Begonias are lush and the 'Bonfire' begonia has the tubular flowers that look almost tropical. One of our favorite plants is the Lantana. This plant has bright two-toned blooms that are little landing pads for pollinators but it does need to be protected from late afternoon sun. The last plant we saw was the very cool Ptilotus exaltatus named 'Joey'. The flowers looked like little coneheads of pinkish blooms. It was very cute!
Annuals do have months of color in them, but they do need to get a shot of fertilizer or two during the growing season. Some also do better when you remove the old, spent blooms (deadheading). If you are looking for a shot of color in your garden beds or containers, just a few of these can do the trick. Remember that they are only here for one year, so plant them now so you have plenty of time to enjoy them this season. To see a great selection of annuals, check out Blooming Junction. While you're there pick up some wonderful fresh produce from their market too!
Clematis Pruning for Blooms
A double blooming clematis is a thing of beauty. They are very popular, but if you don't know how to prune them, or prune them wrong, you could be robbing yourself of these spectacular blooms. Linda Beutler, the curator at the Rogerson Clematis Garden, told us about some of the ways to make sure you have the best chance to see them in their 'double' glory. First, a 'double' bloom is one that has layers of petals in each bloom. A 'single bloom is a flower that has just one layer of petals in the bloom. Both are beautiful, but can be strikingly different. We were near 'Charmaine' which has been in the ground at the garden for 3 years, and it was just now blooming as a double. So be aware that some varieties take a while to establish their roots before they start to bloom as a double. Another thing to remember about some varieties is that they bloom as a double on old wood. Old wood are vines that have had at least one season of growth. New wood is the growth from the current season. For Charmaine it will bloom double in the spring on old wood and rebloom as a single in the late summer on the new wood.
We moved to another part of the garden to see a different type of 'double' bloomers. We took a look at 'Blue Light'. This was a different type of clematis. Where Charmaine was a hybrid, where 2 parent plants were crossed to produce seeds that made a new variety, Blue Light was a 'sport'. That means is was a genetic mutation of a single plant. Mrs. Chumley is that plant. When it was growing a part of it produced a different type of bloom. The grower noticed that bloom and then cut it off and grew a new plant from that 'sport', which became 'Blue Light'. Since this is a genetic mutation it can sometimes not be a stable plant and can change again or revert back to the traits of the original parent. In this case we saw that Blue Light actually blooms differently depending on the plant. Sometimes you get a terrific double bloom and sometimes you get a bloom that looks like a single bloom with a pincushion on top. That is why Linda always recommends that you buy a plant when it is in full bloom so you can see the type of plant, and bloom, you're getting.
As far as general rules for pruning, Linda had 3 tips. First, prune out all the dead wood whenever you see it. Second, set boundaries for your plants. Some clematis are known for being 'active' growers and will take over if you let them. Don't let them! And third, prune for blooms. This means paying attention to new and old wood so you can get the most blooms for the variety you are growing.
This Saturday is a great time to see some of these double in bloom. Rogerson is having a Memorial Weekend celebration on Saturday the 29th between 10am and 2pm. There will be sales on plants, tours of the garden, demonstrations and even a raffle. Plus you can get all your clematis questions answered! Stop by and enjoy a day in the garden!
GreenStalk Vertical Planter
We hear about new garden products all the time. One of the latest products we heard about is a vertical planter from GreenStalk. They sent us one to try out and I have to tell you, it was very easy to put together! This system starts with a 'mover' base, which is sold separately. We thought it was a great idea to get this with the system because of the final weight of the entire system when its full of soil. On top of the mover you place the first tier of the vertical system. This layer has 6 pockets for planting. There is a center tray that helps distribute the water. Then the next layer goes on, then the next until you reach the top. Each layer alternates and so our 4 tiers ended up with 24 pockets for plants. The very top has a large reservoir for watering. You just fill the top and the system waters everything below it! It was amazing, you can actually watch the water working its way down!
We have had a few seasons of use out of ours and we are VERY impressed! We now plant ours with all our basil and then make fresh pesto for the summer and we also freeze for use in the winter. We love having fresh basil on our deck that can be used whenever we are cooking or making salads. You can also plant it with tons of other vegetables or even flowers for a tower of color! One last thing we noticed... that 'mover' tray on the bottom has allowed us to also spin the planter so all the plants are getting great sunlight! If you would like to learn more about this planter or want to get one of your own, check out the GreenStalk website at https://greenstalkgarden.com.
Terrariums used to be BIG in the '70s. I remember having a big acrylic ball with one in our living room. It was cool; it even had a little scene in it with a gnome skiing down some white rocks in the center. Well, terrariums have come a long way and to see the latest in designs we went to Cornell Farm (503-292-9895). Terrariums are basically small self-contained gardens. They usually contain smaller varieties of plants and create their own atmosphere. Viet showed us how easy it is to build one. He started with a layer of decorative rocks on the bottom of the container. You can also use marble, glass beads, etc. anything to allow for good drainage. Then you need to add a layer of charcoal. This will help absorb and filter the fumes and smells from the decomposing plant material. Next we added a layer of Cornell Farm potting soil or you can use a good cactus mix for your potting soil. It is a quick draining soil that will keep the plants from sitting in water. Then we looked for small, slow growing plants to include in the scene. These plants included a variety of plants that all required similar conditions for fertilizer and watering. Remember; do not fertilize these plants because you don't want them to grow fast. They even had a small hanging ball with an air plant and a larger teardrop planter that was hanging from the ceiling. You can fit them just about anywhere. You can check out a great selection of pre-built terrariums at Cornell, or stop by your local independent garden center for more information.
Bonide Repels All
Now that the vegetable garden is planted, some gardeners will have the second hardest job to do. That job is keeping the local critters from eating your tasty veggies before you do! We talked with Tom from Bonide who had a couple of products to help make the job easier. We started with Repels-All Animal Repellant. This is an all-natural product that works off of three different ingredients. One tastes bad, another smells bad to critters and the third is an irritant. These will not kill your pests, but it will make them uncomfortable so they end up doing their vegetable shopping elsewhere. This product works on rabbits, deer, squirrels and another 47 animal pests. You don't spray this on your vegetables and plants, but around the area where you have planted. If the animal gets past the Repels All then you can use the Go Away, Deer and Rabbit Repellent. This product is also all natural and can be applied directly to the plants to make them less tasty to them. This can be applied up to the day of harvest and can be washed off before you eat your harvest.
Tom recommends that you reapply both products every 10 days to two weeks to keep the critters away. To find a retailer in your area you can go to the Bonide website and check out their Dealer Locator.
Bosky Dell Native Shrubs
Native shrubs are great for the Northwest garden. They provide beauty and interest for the gardener, and food and pollen for the local fauna. To see a few selections of shrubs that you may want to try we stopped at Bosky Dell Natives (503-638-5945) in West Linn. Lory had 6 plants to share and they all had something different to offer. The first one was the Blue Elderberry. This plant has a lace-cap type of blossom in the late spring that turns into a deep blue frosty colored cluster of berries in the late summer that the birds love. It is also edible for people! Next was the Highbush Cranberry (viburnum trilobum). It also has a lace-cap type of bloom with white flowers. It can get tall, topping out at 25 to 30 feet tall. It ends up with clusters of shiny red berries that taste like cranberries. It can make a great jam or juice with a little sugar or sweetener added. The Oregon State flower was next, the Oregon grape or Mahonia aquifolium. This plant is a familiar one for a lot of gardeners. It has the holly type of leaf and bright yellow bloom stalks. The berries on this plant are also a favorite of local animals. The next plant is one that we have on our garden, it is the Ribes or Red Currant. This one has groups of reddish/pink to white pendulous blooms that are one of the first shrubs to bloom in our garden in the mid spring. These blooms are a favorite of hummingbirds and other early pollinators. This plant also produces berries and can be pruned to shape if you want it shorter in your garden. The next plant was a rose, the Rosa Woodsii. Oregon has 4 different native roses. This one has smaller pink blooms and those are replaced by rose hips (the seed pods) that are eaten by animals. People often use the hips too to make jams, jellies and teas. The final plant was Aruncus dioicus or Goats Beard. It gets its name from the blooms that look like goats beards. This one is technically a shrub, but it dies completely down to the ground in the winter and then pops back up with red tips that grow into the 'beard' as it ages.
You can add one or more to your garden to create a native wildlife habitat. Lory has done that at her nursery. When you visit you can wander the Chipmunk Fort. This area is full of native plants, but it also has logs, little ponds and other areas to feed and harbor chipmunks and other animals. This area protects them from the local cat population.
If you are looking for some diversity in your garden, consider natives and then pay a visit to Bosky Dell.
TOW - Sprayer Tips
In the late spring and early summer people start to pull out their sprayers. Whether they are applying weed control, moss control or other chemicals we thought it would be great to give people a reminder about sprayer safety. These are good tips to follow even if you are applying an organic spray. First make sure that there is little or no wind. You don't want drift from your sprayer to get into different areas than where you want it to go. Also, make sure that the temperature is not too hot or too cold. Most chemicals, either organic or synthetic, are most effective in warm weather. Of course you will always want to read the label for application to make sure that you are applying it correctly. When you are applying the product you should walk backwards so you don't spread the spray on your shoes to other areas in your garden.
As far as attire, you should wear long pants, long sleeves and closed toed shoes. Eye protection, gloves and a mouth cover or respirator round out your clothing choices. Follow these simple rules and you can be sure that the spray will end up right where you want it!