Judy Alleruzzo


 Episode 77
March 15, 2008



William McClenathan

Rain, rain, rain… the days are wet and long, but the promise of warmer days ahead are in your garden now.  Hellebores, daffodils and crocus are pointing their way to a beautiful spring.  Take time between showers to enjoy the early show of color.

This week we featured...

Small Fruit Tree

Smaller gardens have special requirements for use of space.  These smaller spaces have some people thinking that they can’t enjoy fruit trees.  The people at Tsugawa Nursery (360-225-8750) don’t believe you have to give up on your dream of fresh fruit if you have a smaller garden.  Brian Tsugawa showed us some of the different varieties that are either grown on dwarf stock or were hybridized so you can have fruit in any garden space.  He pointed out a couple of columnar apples that would be perfect for a small lot or even in a container.  Columnar trees have a main leader and not a lot of branching.  Then we moved to a cherry tree that was grafted on smaller root stock.  This tree will provide cherries and since the plant will stay around 8 feet tall, you can easily reach the fruit.  Finally we moved to the grafted multiple varieties.  You can now get 3 to 6 varieties of fruit on one trunk.  We saw how you can train the different branches and have different types of fruit at different times during the late summer.  Don’t forget, you can also pick up your strawberries and cane berries right now too.  Check out the variety at Tsugawa’s and your local independent garden center.

Sharpening Tools

As you start pulling out your garden tools for the coming season, it is a good time to give them a good cleaning and sharpening.  Clean and sharp tools will make your garden chores much easier.  Some tips to follow include using alcohol and steel wool to scrub them clean and disinfect them.  Then you want to use a sharpening stone to give a good sharp edge to them to make the cutting easier.  Remember to only sharpen the beveled edges of the blades!  Also, if you have a pruning saw, take it to a professional or buy a new one.  They are just too dangerous to attempt on your own.  Your local garden center has all the tools you need and they can even demonstrate how to do it correctly.  Do a little sharpening now and all your spring garden clean-up will be a breeze!

Larsen Spring Blooming Plants

With all the bulb and smaller plants starting to bloom in the garden we thought we would look for some taller blooming plants that will accent the spring colors in your beds.  Ryan at Larsen Farm Nursery (503-638-8600) in Wilsonville brought out a handful of the taller plants you will find in your garden center right now.  First we saw a couple of old favorites.  Forsythia ‘Magical Gold’ was the first one we saw.  This one is a compact grower, only getting 5 feet tall instead of the 12 feet of the older variety.  The other ‘old favorite’ was ‘Valley Valentine’ Andromeda.  This one is great because of its wonderful spring color.  The hot pink/deep red of the flowers are a great contrast to the evergreen foliage. 

We then moved to the newer additions to the garden center.  Rhododendron ‘Rock Rose’ is an early blooming rhodie that starts out with small pink buds that open to a bright white bloom.  The red stems are an added bonus!  We then found a Redbud.  These have been around for quite a while but ‘Avondale’ is a stand-out because of the compact shape and the spectacular deep purple blooms that appear before the leaves.   The final plant we saw was the Fragrant Forsythia (Roseum).  This one is very fragrant and stays small with white blooms that end up with an arching habit. 

This spring add one of these to your garden and make your spring a little more colorful.

Kindergarden – Garden Chimes

The breezes of spring are music to our ears and we found a kindergarden project to help catch those breezes.  Lynn Snodgrass from Drake's 7 Dees (503-256-2223) showed us how to use little clay pots, string and tongue depressors to make some cute and easy wind chimes.  Jenna and Jackson joined us to show how to decorate them with paint and stickers.   You need to do a little prep work by drilling some holes in the depressors for the string.  Then you can hang the pots upside down from the depressors with the string to have them ready for that next breeze.  For complete directions give our friends at Drakes a call or stop by the nursery on the 15th of March at 10:00am for a ‘Sprouts’ class to build your own for free.

Jan’s March Tips

It is a new season and that means a new season of tips from Jan McNeilan.  Jan is a former OSU extension agent and she has taught gardeners how to be successful for years.   This month we took a tour of her garden to see what tips she had for us.  First we saw some geraniums that survived the winter.  That is a good thing to remember, don’t cut back a plant unless you know it is dead.  Sometimes the plant will survive when you don’t think it has.  We saw the same thing on a clematis.  We saw new growth so we only cut off the old, dead branches.   We moved out into the garden to chat about pruning.  At Oregon State, they have finished their pruning, but for the home gardener you can still squeeze it in.  The blueberry needs to have the oldest wood cut out every year.  Look for branches that are woody looking and don’t remove more than 1/3 or your plant at anytime.  Grapes can be pruned, but they may ‘bleed’ for a short time.  Roses need to be taken care of as well.  Now is a good time for dividing grasses too.  Get out and finish that winter clean-up and prepare for a bountiful spring! 

Mason Bees

We went into the garden to find the ‘loner’ of the bee world.  The Orchard Mason Bee is a wonderful, early spring, pollinator.  It will fly in colder weather than its honey-making counterpart.  It is also a very busy bee.  It can pollinate many more flowers than the honey bee, plus it is much more docile too.  It hardly ever stings!  The one difference between the 2 varieties?  The mason bee is pretty much done pollinating by June 1st and then it heads into hibernation to wait for the next spring to start all over again.  We met with Brenda Lee Calvert who is with the Clark County Beekeepers Association.  She told us about these industrious bees and how they reproduce.  These bees will find holes in the wild to lay their eggs.  We have found them laying eggs everywhere including cracks in our house.   The best part is that they don’t do any damage to the area where they lay their eggs.  Brenda showed us how you can make a Bee Block for them to lay their eggs.  She used an untreated 4x4 and drilled 5/16 holes in the wood for them to use.  If you are interested in building your own block check out these instructions.


We are just a few short weeks away from Gardenpalooza.  This one day gardening event is happening at Fir Point Farms in Aurora on the 5th of April.  Gartner’s, Larsen Farm, OSU Master Gardeners and Brenda Lee Calvert will all be there and so should you!  Check out for more details.

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