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Will it stop? The rains just keep coming. We had a record amount of rain in April and May is just continuing the trend. May is the 5th driest month of the year in Oregon, with about 2.5 inches of rain. We are over 4 inches of rain so far and it is the middle of the month! The forecast is for more to come. That means we are going to be wet and cold for a few more days at least. Last week we ran a story about planting your dahlias and we jumped the gun a little bit. It has been cold and wet, so you can hold off for a little bit; they will still bloom in August if you wait until later this month to get them in the ground. Even your tomatoes and other warm weather veggies can wait a little bit to go in the ground. Let’s just hope that this wet weather will let up soon and we can start enjoying the warmer days of late spring and summer.
This week we featured...
People love fuchsias. These are a major component of hanging basket combinations and are known for their prolific blooms, cool colors and how they attract pollinators and hummingbirds. One place to learn more about these great garden plants is from the Oregon Fuchsia Society. We met with Theo from the society at the Western Seminary campus in SE Portland where they have a group of display beds showcasing fuchsias. While we visited we asked him about the tender hanging basket fuchsias and the hardier ones you can plant in your garden beds.
In the summer you should be looking at watering! Give your fuchsias the water they need, especially if they are in baskets. A quick way to check to see if they need a drink is to lift up on the pot. If it is light, give it a drink. Don’t let your basket fuchsias dry out. It may be too much for them and they may not recover. In the extreme heat, to help the plant cool down you can take your hanging basket down and place it on an upside down bucket and water the plant and the ground around it. This will help cool the plant down and recover. If you find the leaves are still curling, it may be from the heat and not a lack of water. Give the foliage a good misting to help the plant cool down. If your plant is healthy and not stressed you can also give your plant a little shot of water soluble fertilizer to keep those blooms coming. Fuchsias are heavy feeders, meaning that they need good fertilizer more often than your other plants. You can also promote more blooms if you deadhead the little cherries/berries after the old blooms drop off. These are little seed heads and they will draw energy from the plant, diverting the energy from more blooms.
Hardy fuchsias are great for the outdoor garden bed. They can handle most of the colder areas in the Willamette Valley. When you plant them remember to plant them deep. Most of the time plants don’t like to be buried above the crown of the plant. Fuchsias, like tomatoes, can be buried deep as they form new roots along the stems and trunk. Once they are established they can return year after year. Some varieties can get pretty big so make sure you have the right plant in the right space.
If you are a lover of fuchsias and want to get more of your questions answered, or to pick up a new fuchsia or two, then you need to stop by Tran's Automotive at 4810 SE Belmont St., Portland this Saturday May 14th for the big Oregon Fuchsia Society Sale. Starting at 9am they will be selling a bunch of fuchsias and will continue while supplies last. If you would like to become a new member of the society you can get all your questions answered and join up at the event. Stop by and check it out or go to the Oregon Fuchsia Society website for more details.
Wavra Late Spring Color
A big name in the local garden centers is Proven Winners. This is a grower of great garden plants and their line of plants comes in a signature white pot with the Proven Winners logo on it. Because they have lots of quality plants and some varieties that you can’t get anywhere else, people seek them out at their local garden centers. One place where you can find a great selection of Proven Winners plants is at Wavra Farms (503-364-9879), east of Salem, off Highway 22. Diane showed us the Proven Winners area in her greenhouse where you can find them without a problem.
We started with a strawflower ‘Flambé Yellow’. Normally you find the strawflowers with larger blooms, but this one provides a lot of little blooms in a bright yellow, that cover the plant! These tiny pompons will keep coming. It is drought tolerant, heat tolerant and will work well in your garden beds or in a container. Another drought tolerant plant that will do well during our summers is a verbena called ‘Cake Pops’. The light violet blooms are great in baskets and can attract birds, bees and other pollinators. Working with other drought tolerant plants we moved to a Texas primrose called ‘Ladybird Sunglow’. This one is covered with bright yellow primroses and a lacy foliage. It loves the sun and works great in baskets. The last drought tolerant plant we looked at was the Globe Amaranth ‘Truffula Pink’. This plant has little pink pompons. These ‘buttons’ of color will pop up over the foliage and it will eventually become a large plant so it will be great in the landscape, getting about 2 feet tall.
We then moved to some of the other varieties that might not be as drought tolerant as the first ones. The heliotrope ‘Augusta Lavender’ is a great plant with a soft purple flower that is not as fragrant as the original deeper purple variety. This one is good if you don’t have pets or kids since it is poisonous to them. Still, it is a beautiful plant that deserves a place in your garden. Looking at shade plants we saw the double impatiens ‘Rockapulco Coral Reef’. The deep pink blooms look like little mini rose buds. It loves morning sun and afternoon shade and will reward you with tons of those wonderful blooms all summer long. Another great plant for a shade basket is the ‘Safari Sky’ phlox. It looks like a trailing bacopa that you use in your baskets, but this one handles the heat better! It is a tough little plant that will go great in your baskets or garden. The next plant is a favorite with hummingbirds, it is the Saliva ‘Unplugged Pink’. The deep purple foliage is highlighted with the bright pink blooms. You can cut off the blooming stalks and the plant will soon send up more for a season of continuous blooms. Sunflowers are a summer favorite and Proven Winners has a great one for the summer garden. ‘Suncredible Saturn’ is a bright yellow with a tinge of red in the lower petals. It will continue to bloom as a bush covered with flowers and is super easy to take care of. The last plant was a improved petunia called a Supertunia ‘Jazzberry’. The huge purple blooms are a big improvement on previous varieties and like its past cousins is will preform all summer long.
If you are looking for Proven Winner plants, check out the special area at Wavra Farms. They also grow other great annuals and perennials at their garden center with a new expanded outdoor area. You can also learn more about growing these plants and get other garden tips on their Facebook page.
Rare Plant Olives
Olives have become very popular. People are hoping to recreate parts of a Mediterranean garden and get some tasty olives too, but it wasn’t always easy. Older varieties of olives may not have been as hardy as we all want. Things have changed though. To get the latest information on olives and varieties that might work for you we stopped by Rare Plant Research (503-780-6200) and talked with owner Burl. He told us that 20 years ago he started experimenting with olives at his house. Back then he had to protect them and plant them next to his house so they could survive. Later he moved them and they survive to this day. The key is drainage. You need to make sure that they get good drainage. Sitting in moist soil is not good! Once established they will thrive, with a good strong trunk, which seems to be the key. Some varieties can handle 20 degrees and lower if well taken care of. With over 200 different cultivars on the market, there are some that preform better than others. Arbequina is a popular variety, but there is also Frantoio, which Burl likes, Leccino and Pendolino. Burl looks for that strong trunk, over ¾ of an inch is the minimum, before he plants them in the ground. Once you have your location with sunshine and well drained soil, then you will want to start to train your plants. The olive will try to send up suckers and watershoots, and left alone it will become a bush or large shrub. You can prune off those shoots and train it into a tree shape. From then on the pruning will help to promote more branches and that means more fruit. The plants are just starting to bloom now and once it sets fruit, they ripen during the late summer with harvest coming in November.
If you are looking to make oil, you will need a lot of trees and an olive mill to get enough olives to make a small amount of oil. You can preserve you olives by using a simple process of soaking them in a brine solution. Soak them for about a month or more, changing your brine solution every week, and they will get less bitter and it helps preserve them too. They will stay fresh in your fridge for months!
Your chance to ask questions about growing olives and other unusual plants is next weekend, May 21st and 22nd from 11am to 4pm, at the Annual Rare Plant Open Nursery event. The nursery, which is usually closed, will be open. There will be unique plants to buy, the winery will have tastings and there will be food to purchase. Plus you get to wander the grounds which resemble an Italian Villa! Come on out and see some cool plants in a great location!
Squirrels can be cute little garden goof-offs or they can be the pests that are destroying your birdfeeders, digging in your containers and creating a mess. Either way you can find ways to take care of them at Backyard Bird Shop (503-445-2699). We stopped by to talk with Amanda and see what they had. We started with things for the squirrel lover. She showed us one of the many feeders that they have for squirrels. Some of the feeders actually look like little pieces of furniture and other feeders make them figure out how to get their treats. They have to learn how to work doors and lids to get their food. There were some great designs and, of course they had a wide selection of food too.
But what if you don't like these guys and they are stripping your bird feeders dry? This is where we started to see some interesting ideas for keeping them out of the bird seed. First we talked about baffles. These are physical barriers that you can use on your posts or shepherd's hooks to prevent them from climbing up the post to the food. But what if they are jumping over from the trees and roof of your home. Well they have guards called top baffles that you can place over the top of the feeder too! To make it harder for these little leapers you should position your feeder at least 16 inches away from a wall, roof or tree. This also makes it harder for them to get to the bird food. We then looked at feeders. The best one that she recommended was the Squirrel Buster. This one had a weight triggered shut off. The birds are light so they can just perch and eat, but when a squirrel comes along his weight will cause the feeder to close and he gets nothing. There were a couple styles of this feeder available. Another feeder used a cage design. This feeder has a large cage around the feeder and so the birds can fly through the cage to eat. The squirrels can't reach the food!
Finally we talked about bird feeds. You can treat your bird food with Cole's 'Flaming Squirrel' hot sauce. You use a few drops of this to treat your food with habanero pepper sauce. This will burn their little mouths and then they stop eating at your feeders. This doesn't affect your birds since they don't have taste buds, but any mammal will sure be surprised when they feed. Cole's also makes 'Hot Meats' which is shelled sunflower seeds that have already been treated. If you are looking for more information you can stop by any Backyard Bird Shop and pick up an informational flyer or check out their website.
If you live in the Northwest you have moss. This is one of the biggest problems facing the homeowner and with the warmer weather around the corner you may have the urge to renovate your lawn for the summer months ahead. But first you have to get rid of the moss. We talked to Tom Combs from Bonide about moss and why we seem to have so much of it in the Northwest. It is a condition that we get from a lack of care. If you take care of your lawn and help the grass grow, then you can help keep the moss from taking over. Tom gave us some tips on getting rid of the moss and what you should do to keep it from coming back. We also featured the MossMax product. This product comes in a liquid, fast acting product or a granular product that can be applied with a lawn spreader. If you apply this product, in a short period of time your moss will turn black and you can remove it with a rake or thatcher. You should apply this during a calm day and only to the areas where you want moss removed. We also learned that some lawn products have iron in them so you should be careful to not let it get on buildings, patios or clothing. The iron will cause a stain. The MossMax is made differently and is safe for sidewalks and patios. Though it is a good idea to sweep or wash excess product off your hardscapes. For more information about this product and how to get rid of moss, check out the Bonide website.
Garland Sun and Shade 1
Everyone has areas in the garden of sun and shade, and if you need plants that might work in both areas, your choice might be limited. To find out if there are plants that will work in both sun and shade we stopped by Garland Nursery (800-296-6601) and talked to Lee Powell. Lee is one of the owners of Garland and is also a landscape designer. He brought out plants that will work in both areas, and he knows that because he has used these plants in his landscape designs. We started with a tall grass, Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster'. This one gets about 4-5 feet tall and makes a wonderful wavy, rustling sound in the breeze. It has seed heads that look great in the fall as the plant turns a buff color at the end of the season. The next plant was a hydrangea called 'Strawberry shake'. This panicle type of hydrangea gets those almost cone shaped flowers on a compact plant. The flowers start white and turn pink as they age. Lee said that this one doesn't mind the heat, but can burn if it's left in an area with lots of reflective heat, like near a brick wall or a hot driveway. It also likes a lot of water in the growing season. The next plant was the native Oregon Grape (mahonia). The Mahonia aquifolium is the state flower of Oregon. With spiky leaves and bright yellow flowers it can grow just about anywhere! There are even some newer cultivars with different shapes and characteristics that you might want to try. The next plant didn't have spiky leaves and it was a holly. Hollys are known for those prickly leaves but this one, Japanese Holly 'Helleri', is one of the exceptions. It is a tough plant that does well in the sun and shade, but will get a little looser and leggy in the shade. The next plant was a biennial (blooms every other year) Foxglove called 'Arctic Fox Rose'. This new variety has a pink flower with an apricot colored center. The shorter plant for the sun/shade garden is the Fleeceflower. This variety, Red Dragon, is a low growing perennial that only gets about 4 feet tall, but has these wonderful purple bi-colored leaves. If you do put it in the full sun it will need a little more water. The next plant was nearing the end of its bloom time, the Columbine. These are great for a pop of spring color and if you cut them back they can bloom again later in the season. Finally, we finished with a geranium. Ann Folkard is a hardy geranium and has bright light green foliage, that gets golden colored in the full sun. It will spread out and its violet blooms will last from spring to fall.
These were just a few of the great plants at Garland Nursery that can handle sun and shade. In fact, Lee had so many choices that we promised that we would be back in a couple weeks to see some more!
We recently did a story at Tsugawa Nursery (877-658-0566) in Woodland on planting containers and while doing the story we noticed the large amount of grasses that you can use as fillers and focal points. Brian pulled a bunch for us to look at and we were amazed. There are a huge diversity of colors, shapes and sizes to choose from. We started with a cordyline that had an incredible purple variegation in the foliage. It also has a strong structure and will stay upright in your containers. Next to that one was a bright yellow Carex (also known as sedge). This one has a softer foliage with a feathery texture that moves easily in the breeze. Different varieties offer colors in blues and greens too. These are also evergreen and will stay with you all year long. A newer type of plant to the mix is the papyrus. There are a couple new varieties and they stay small and well contained. There is the King Tut, Prince Tut and Baby Tut in the different sizes to choose from. An additional benefit to papyrus is that they don’t mind wet conditions, so you can use them around your pond or water feature. We also looked at grasses that will do well in sun and shade like the forest grasses. The Hakonechloa, or Japanese forest grasses are great in the garden or a container. This one had a cool variegation to the blades that really made it stand out! We ended with the Phormiums. Most people are familiar with these in the form of New Zealand Flax. These can get really tall and are a great centerpiece in larger containers or as a focal point in your garden beds. The large variegated leaves stand strong and tall in all conditions.
If you are looking for an ‘Ornamental Grass’ the choices can be almost endless. To help pick one out for your garden or planter, stop by your local independent garden center or at Tsugawa’s in Woodland.
TOW – Stone Garden Markers for Bulbs
Our tip of the week takes us out to our spring bulbs as they are dying back for the season. How many times have you been planting in the garden in late summer or fall and have dug up some of those same spring bulbs? To remember where those bulbs are buried, simply take a flat rock and write the name of the bulbs (example: tulips) on one side of the rock and place it next to your bulbs, then when your spring flowers are gone, you’ll still know where those bulbs are buried!
Carol’s Spring Texture Plants
Spring may bring hope to the gardener, but most people think that spring is all about color. True, color is great, but if you are left wanting for color your hope could lie in texture. Texture in a plant will deliver for a longer time in the garden than color. We stopped by Out in the Garden Nursery (503-829-4141) to see Carol and to look at some of her favorite ‘texture’ plants. We started with Actaeas. These plants have a light and airy foliage in a few different colors that respond to the breeze all summer long. They bloom in the fall, but look great in the garden all summer. Then we saw a Tricyrtis. This has lime green foliage that will brighten any dark spot in your garden. This one will also give you a very interesting purple flower late in the season. Another bright foliage plant for the garden is an Aralia. We saw one called ‘Sun King’. This one has a flower and fruit, though most people never see it. The foliage is what sells this plant. It gets pretty tall so find a nice big space in your shade garden for this one. We then moved to a ‘fern look-alike’, Aruncus. These stay lower in the garden and provide the fine texture that softens the edges of your garden. Alliums were next and they are a familiar plant for most people. They are related to the onion. These are closer to the chive family. They have a fleshier leaf and are stand out plants that also give you a delicate lavender flower in early summer. Sedums are another winner for foliage in the garden. They also have thick and fleshy leaves. Most people think about these sedums, like Autumn Joy, in the late summer when they give you nice pink blooms, but the foliage is great in the garden all summer long. Another fern like plant is the Artemisia. This plant has the same ‘fine’ foliage, but it also gives you dainty little white flowers in the mid-summer. A favorite of Carol’s is the hardy Geranium. She had a few different varieties to choose from. The leaf texture is so different between different types, but all were beautiful and then you also get flowers too! Can’t beat that! We were nearing the end of her selections with a Polemonium called ‘Stairway to Heaven’. This plant had tiny little leaves that start out pink and then change to a white and green cream color, with light blue flowers in June. Our final plant was a drama queen, but well worth the performance! Ligularia, ‘Britt Marie’ has striking dark foliage that will wilt at the slightest hint on dryness. Still, this drama queen, will bounce back with a little water. The great foliage will be accented by wonderful yellow flowers during the summer.