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Happy Mother’s Day! We hope you find time to spend with your mom (or thinking of your mom) someplace dry. The colder weather and rain continues. Remember to check your plant tags and your purchases from the garden center for information on planting. Some plants will not like these cooler/wet conditions and you may have to wait a few more days for that soil temperature to get a little warmer so your plants will get a good start. We visited a few garden centers this past week and they are packed full of colorful plants. You can still purchase them now and hold them in a shed, garage or a warm porch for a few days and then get them in the ground.
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 in 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.
Schreiner's Iris Bloom Season
Everyone knows about the tall bearded iris. They are the stars of the late spring garden. We stopped by Schreiner's Iris Gardens (503-393-3232) to chat with Ben Schreiner about these beauties and the Bloom Season that is just starting at Schreiner’s. You may know that Schreiner's is known for the tall bearded iris that they grow, but they also have a selection of dwarf iris and daylilies as well available through their catalog. The dwarf iris are one of the first irises to bloom in the garden. These are followed by intermediate and then by the tall bearded iris that we all know and love. The taller varieties are just starting to bloom as the little ones are finishing up. They all need the same type of growing conditions to thrive in our area. Well drained soil, no over-watering and not planted too deep. If you follow these simple rules they can be one of the most trouble free plants in the garden. If you currently have iris in your garden the things you should be doing is baiting for slugs and to watch for leaf spot, the browning of parts of your leaves. Problems can be avoided if you use the right baits and sprays (organic and/or synthetic) at the right time. You don’t need to fertilize now, but you can once the blooming phase of your plants has passed.
We also talked about their Open Garden Bloom season starting this weekend. A couple of years ago the gardens were closed due to the Covid crisis, but this year they are open once again. However, this year you will be required to have a timed ticket to enter the garden. Once inside there will be lots of blooms and the gift shop will be open, with additional events scheduled for the weekends. To book your time for this annual tradition check out their website. While you are at the garden you can pick up a catalogue to see all of the great iris that they hybridize and grow. They will also have cut flowers for sale too. You can also see the selections of daylilies that they have as well. So come on out and enjoy the blooms in a few weeks, and order some to add to your garden for next year.
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden – Mother’s Day
We went to see the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden to talk with Brandon Baker about their Mother’s Day event. Every year people mark Mother’s Day weekend by dropping by the garden to see the blooms and to pick up a plant at their big sale. Brandon once again informed us that the sale in the parking lot is not happening this year due to staffing. Instead their big plant sale is online once again this year. You can go to the Crystal Springs website and click on the ‘plant sale’ link to see and purchase your rhodies. Brandon did let us know that the garden is still open to visitors. The garden is a must see when it is in full bloom, and it changes all the time. Those changes started years ago. The Crystal Springs area started as a big briar patch, full of weeds and blackberry vines back in the mid 50’s. Over time, with the help of volunteers and a partnership with the city of Portland, changes started to happen. Fees were collected and plants were donated and eventually walls, bridges, and landscapes were installed. All of what you see today is because of your fees and a lot of elbow grease from the Rhododendron Society! We also talked about those benefits the garden has enjoyed because of the generosity of gardeners and rhododendron lovers around the state during all these years. The garden is maintained by volunteers and the plant sale that the Rhododendron Society is conducting helps to raise funds for the garden. If you would like to learn more about the garden and about volunteering check out the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden website, or call 503-267-7509.
Clematis for Containers
When most people think of clematis they are thinking of large climbers that need a huge trellis, or the side of a barn, to support their huge height! There are however a new group of clematis that stay small and can make a great container plant. To learn about a few of these and get tips on planting them in a container we stopped by the Rogerson Clematis Garden to talk with curator Linda Beutler. Linda had some great information to share and started with a simple sheet that can get your started. They have this sheet of planting tips and small cultivars at the garden or on their website. You can find a link here. Some of these smaller clematis can still use a little support if you want them to grow on a structure, or you can let them grow over the sides or as small groundcovers. If you are looking for a container, Linda recommends a glazed pot. The glaze of the container will help keep the moisture contained and limit transpiration through the pot. Since they are in a container you will need to make sure that they stay hydrated and protect them from the cold a little more than a clematis in the ground. Linda also recommend a nice well-draining soil in your pots. You don’t want a soil that looks like wet chocolate cake when you water it. As far as fertilizing, she told us that they use a tomato type of fertilizer. These types of fertilizers contain magnesium which will help your plant stay healthy and bloom more consistently. We then talked about the plants that she had brought out to show us. She had ‘Miniseelik’ which is Estonian for ‘miniskirt’, with its reddish/purple color, and the ‘Acropolis’ with deep red blooms and dark colored foliage. She then gave us a pruning demonstration on the variety ‘Mountaindale’ with its light purple flowers. Right now you don’t need to do heavy pruning. She just cut out some dead branches and some of the spent blooms to clean things up a bit.
We then talked about a great Mother’s Day event they have going on. This Saturday they will have the garden open starting at 10am. At 10:30am you can watch Linda do a potting demonstration and then enter to win the container that she plants! They will also have their sale area open for you to purchase a clematis to take home. There are lots of smaller varieties for containers and larger ones for your regular garden, they can help you find the right one for your garden area. Be sure to stop by with mom this Saturday! For more details you can always check out their website.
Ambrogio Robotic Mowers
Over a decade ago the Garden Time crew was introduced to a programmable mower by a no-name company. It didn’t work very well, but my, how things have changed! Recently we were introduced to the line of Ambrogio Robotic mowers! They are fantastic! We met with Ryan Bucher from Max Distributing (800-777-5526) which carries the Italian made mower, which resembles a little racecar! As we did the interview a mower was hard at work on the lawn behind us. These little, but powerful, mowers are totally programmable. This mower was tackling a huge lawn in the rain and doing a great job. The owner had used his phone based app to override the rain sensor and the timer just for our story. Normally, this unit is busy in the evenings going about its business from 8-11pm. It is so quiet that it is not a problem for the neighbors, even that late. There are models that can mow just about any lawn and slope. You don’t even need a bag or grass catcher. Because it mows so often, it mulches as it goes, so you feed your lawn as you mow. It is also one of the safest mowers out there. If it bumps into anything it stops and turns. If you pick it up or it flips over the blade stops immediately. You can even get a Bluetooth tag for your dog or cat so when they are near the unit it drives away from them.
It stays on your lawn by memorizing the area and by using a small buried wire that limits where it can go around the border of the lawn. There are so many new innovations by this reputable company that we were very impressed. Once it finished for the evening it returned to it’s little mower home to recharge for its next run. Tomorrow it will take care of another part of the lawn, a completely different zone. If you would like to learn more about this fantastic mower, check out the website or give them a call!
Rosarian Rose Garden Contest
For over 100 years the Royal Rosarians have been the official greeters to the city of Portland and have been ambassadors of good will to guests of the city and the world. Since 1938 they have also sponsored the Royal Rosarian Foundation Rose Garden Contest. The contest has many categories and is open to anyone within a 20 mile radius of Pioneer Courthouse Square. Generally they ask that gardens contain at least 25 roses to enter, but there are categories for special gardens that can have as few as 12 roses. Check out the Royal Rosarian website for details. Just click on the 'Events' link for all the rules and an entry form. The entry period ends on the 27th of May. Judging takes place in early June followed by the awards presentation later in the month. The website even has tips for winning!
We got all this information from Harry Landers the former curator of the Washington Park International Rose Test Garden. He now volunteers his time at the Sara Hite Rose Garden in Milwaukee. He had some great tips for people who are in their rose gardens now. You can apply mulch around the base of your plants to help control weeds. You can also fertilize your plants and start looking for black spot and start treating for that now.
If you get a chance you need to stop by the Rosarian Garden at Washington Park and see all the great flowers. It also contains plaques for all the Rosarian Prime Ministers to date. They also have a statue that you have to see of a welcoming Rosarian! And remember the Rosarian slogan... 'For You a Rose in Portland Grows'.
The spring is the best time to bring in cut flowers for display in your home. The problem is that the blooms don't last long enough, especially the woody stemmed ones. Judy and Ryan shared a tip we picked up at the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens (360-225-8996) to find out how they make their lilacs last longer after they are cut. They told us how they smash the stems with a hammer. You want to crush the stems about 1-2 inches up the stem before you put them in warm water. The smashed stem allows the flower to draw more water and thus it will last longer. This technique works well for almost all woody stemmed plants. You can also use a pruner to make some short little cuts up the stem of the flower as well. If you would like to see a bunch of beautiful 'live' lilacs check out the beautiful display gardens of the Hulda Klager garden during Lilac Days in Woodland, Washington this weekend.
Grimms 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.
Tsugawa Container Options
There are so many different choices for containers and pots, that it can be overwhelming. To help take the fear out of building one we stopped by Tsugawa Nursery (877-658-0566) in Woodland Washington and talked to Brian Tsugawa. He had pulled a few plants for us to look at and even had a container that was already done to talk about as well. First we talked about the plant selection and the few tips that he gives to people. The rule of thumb is to get the thriller, filler and spiller for your container. The ‘thriller’ is the larger centerpiece plant for your container. This could be a large grass, and flowering plant or even something special like the King Tut papyrus that he had on the cart. Then he talked about the ‘fillers’. These are the plants that fill in right near the taller thrillers. They could be coleus, osteospermum, and petunias. This is where you can start to mix in different colors and textures to contrast your other plants and even the container color. Finally, we moved to the ‘spillers’. These are the plants that can spill over the edge of your container and help soften the edge of it. These plants could be sweet potato vine, trailing fuchsias and calibrachoa. Even though these are called ‘rules’, you are free to do whatever you want.
The only rule, if there is one, is to make sure that the plants you choose are compatible to the conditions of your container. Shade plants should go with shade plants, sun plants with sun plants. Also water and fertilizing needs should be the same. You wouldn’t want to put a water plant with a cactus, the same is true for your container plants. If this all seems too much for you, you can still go the easy route and stop by Tsugawa’s and have them help you. They have everything you need!
TOW – Transporting Trees
Our tip of the week is about getting your new trees and tall shrubs home safely from the garden center. The minimum wind speed which is considered the threshold for a tropical storm is a sustained 39 miles per hour. So just driving down the street with your tree standing upright in the back of your truck is beating it up pretty badly. We stopped by Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) and talked to Ron about how to transport your plant safely. He told us that you should always lay your plant down with the top of your plant facing backwards. Most trees have a large stake tied to the tree. You can rest that on the tailgate to prevent any damage to the tree bark. You can then use a couple bags of mulch or compost to hold the plant in place so it doesn’t roll around. So use these tips and your tree will thank you for it.