COVID-19 AWARENESS: Please note that we are taking all necessary precautions to keep our on-air personalities, interviewees and crew safe during this challenging time. However, we do run repeat stories and segments that were shot last year, before social distancing practices were recommended by health officials. If you see our hosts standing close to someone, please be assured that the segment was shot before March of 2020. We thank you for your concern and your interest in Garden Time.
Where did spring go? It seems like the summer is already here! We are just barely past the midway point of spring and the heat is on. We are not dodging rains, instead we are applying sunscreen! I guess we have to just sit back and enjoy it. I know that it means I have to water a little bit more since I have a bunch of new plants in the garden, but that is something that I can deal with right now. Just remember to check your garden to make sure your new plantings are doing ok.
Right now is a great time to look at your garden and see if there are some bare spots that could use a little more color. We are seeing the summer bulbs popping up and so we now know where all our plants will be for the summer. Time to fill in those holes! Luckily there are plenty of choices at the garden centers!
This week we featured...
Chinese Garden Color
Every time we go to the Lan Su Chinese Garden (503-228-8131) things are different. New plants are blooming, new exhibits and displays are being showcased, and in the spring the garden is a feast for the eyes. We met with Justin to see some of the blooming plants in the garden right now. We started with rhododendrons. The garden has a few of them and they are in full bloom. The rhododendron is native to parts of China and are associated with the Cuckoo bird. There was a plant that was right over Judy’s shoulder and it was the Indigofera and it is a member of the pea family. The light purple blooms grow upright in spikes and in ancient times were used to produce the indigo dyes used in clothing. Near the Indigofera was a very large tree from China called Phoebe nanmu. This tree was unique in that it supplied a lot of the wood for construction and was used to build the Forbidden City in China. It was such a good building material that it was almost wiped out. The one in the garden looks spectacular and it’s trees like this that supplied the wood for some of the decorative windows in the garden. Right near our feet along the waters edge were some roses. Roses have been cultivated in china for over 2,000 years and Rosa Chinensis was once proclaimed by an old emperor as the ‘most beautiful flower’ and is also known as the monthly rose due to its long bloom time.
We then moved to another part of the garden to check out some other blooming plants. This walk took us to the Scholars Courtyard, where we found a bunch of peonies just starting their bloom cycle. Peonies in the garden are in the various garden beds, and also in decorative pots around the courtyard. This is how they are displayed in China as well. The yellow peony that we were standing next to was once considered a symbol of peace and wealth, and were highly desired. Peonies were also used for medicine so they were cultivated for that purpose for thousands of years. The last plant we talked about was one that you might miss in the garden. The Chinese Ground Orchid (Bletilla striata) was just starting to bloom in the garden beds. It is close to the ground, but it looking wonderful right now. Confucius even wrote about the beauty and fragrance of the orchid. These orchids hold a special meaning for Lan Su, whose name actually translates into ‘Garden of Awaking Orchids’.
If you would like to check out these blooming plants and so much more you can stop by and pick up a ticket, or book a time online.
Adelman Peony Gardens
We are at the end of May and that late spring heat means the peonies are blooming. They are looking great! Peonies are an easy and worry free plant that are great in the garden and the best place to see them is Adelman Peony Gardens (503-393-6185) near Brooks. The best part of this garden is that they have display fields and a display garden. The display gardens still look fantastic but the fields feature waves of color! The plants are in full bloom and we are being treated to a show that just seems to get better every day. Carol Adelman showed us the fields and also the display gardens. We started in the fields where she showed us how they hybridize plants to get new varieties to offer for your garden. Carol told us that it starts out by picking 2 plants based on positive characteristics that you want to feature in a new plant. These characteristics could be flower color, nice strong stems, or flower form among other things. You then take pollen from one plant and use it to pollinate the second plant. You are doing the work that the bees usually do, but a little more controlled. Once you’ve pollinated the flower you cover it so no other pollen can get in. The fertilized flower then produces seeds. The next year you plant those seeds and watch them grow for at least 3 years. Then you spend another 3 years (at least, maybe longer) to evaluate the blooms. In the field where we were standing they had over 500 plants, but in the end they may only save 25. Out of that small number, you may only get a couple of plants that may make it to production. To get enough plants you then work for another 6+ years. So from the starting point to the sales floor it can take 12 years or more! We then traveled to the display garden where you can see a lot of different peonies of all types growing in the ground. There we saw 3 peonies that show the family of one peony group. The papa peony was ‘Lemon Chiffon’. The mama peony was ‘Salmon Dream’ and the baby of those 2 was ‘Pastelegance’.
Did you know there are 3 basic types of peonies; herbaceous, tree and intersectional peonies. The herbaceous peony is one that will die back to the ground during the winter. Not to worry these plants are a favorite in the upper Midwest and can handle our coldest winters. They will return year after year. Then there are the tree peonies. These are not really a tree, but a peony with a woody stem. These will lose their leaves but will also return every year and reward you with great blooms. These can be pruned back but you need to be careful not to cut off too much. The final type is the intersectional or Itoh peony. These were first hybridized by Mr. Itoh in Japan and combine some of the best attributes of the 2 other forms. They have wonderful foliage and great bloom color, plus they are hardy in all areas of Oregon! She also told us about common problems that the home gardener might be experiencing. She told us that to get a stronger plant you need to pull off the side buds from your peony stalks. This lets your peony stand tall if it rains. Of course you can leave the side buds on and that will give you more blooms. We also asked about ants on peonies. A lot of people are worried about the ants on their plants. There is nothing to worry about. They are there because the plant is pushing sugary sap up the stems to the buds and the ants are just enjoying the feast. It is not causing harm to your plant. They will disappear after the flower blooms because the sap is gone! Also we found out that the peony is one of the toughest plants in your garden. If they can survive in the snowy and freezing Midwest, they can survive here! The gardens are open every day from 9 to 6 until the 15th of June. The fields are open and free to wander. Check out their website for more information. While you are visiting be sure to pick up a copy of Carol’s new Peony book from Timber Press. They have signed copies for sale in the gift shop.
Jan’s May Tips
Mid-spring is a busy time in the garden and there is so much to do! To help you target a few chores we stopped by and visited with retired OSU Extension agent, Jan McNeilan, in her garden. This is planting time and tomatoes are at the top of a lot of people’s list. Jan told us that there are a lot of myths about growing tomatoes and one of them involves the application of magnesium to your tomato plants to prevent Blossom End Rot (the black spots on the end of your ripe tomatoes). Some people apply Epsom Salts and others look for products with magnesium on the label. This doesn’t work. The addition of calcium, or garden lime, will help prevent those ugly black spots. We then turned our attention to a couple of ‘so-called’ pests in the garden. Right now people may be seeing lots of tiny spiders in their gardens as spider eggs are hatching. These are not bad. The small spiders become food for hungry birds and eventually the few that make it to adulthood will help keep down the population of other bugs in your garden. The same is true for wasps and bees. You can probably see paper wasps and mud daubers building their nests around your home or garden. These too are beneficial in your garden and you should leave them alone unless they are near a high traffic area on your deck or patio. They tend to be non-aggressive and mind their own business if left alone.
We then talked about powdery mildew on your plants. Certain plants are susceptible to this fungus and with our cool nights and warm days it provides perfect conditions for it to show up. It may look like someone sprinkled powder sugar on your plants and it will weaken your plant. Pick the affected leaves off and do not put them in you compost. Then look for a product at your local garden center to spray on your plant to help control it. There are lots of solutions available so make sure you pick the right one for your garden. Jan then pulled out a fuchsia that she had wintered over in her greenhouse. She then showed how to pinch back the tips of the new growth to help the plant push out even more branches. This will help the plant look bushier and you can get more blooms too. Pinching back other ‘saved’ plants like geraniums can help them become bushier too. Once you pinch it back, give it a dose of fertilizer too. We also noticed some spittle bugs on the fuchsia. These little critters do very little damage to your plants, but their little cocoons of spit can look ugly on your plants. Just spray the plants with water to wash them off and other critters on the ground will eat them to eliminate your problem.
With all the new plants growing in her garden, Jan also had a tip on how to keep track of them all. She took an old photo album and inserted her plant tags and seed packets in the plastic covered pages. Now she had a log of all her new plants and how to grow them well. A lot of those new plants could use some support and Jan had a solution. She has a clumping bamboo in her garden and when she cuts it back she saves the tall canes for plant supports in her garden and for her seedlings. It’s a great way to use some garden debris for other purposes.
Finally, we talked about ways to get some other great gardening information. One way is to check out Jan’s page on Facebook. She posts a lot of information from her own garden and her years of experience at OSU. She also told us about the 10 minute university page from Clackamas County Master Gardeners, 10-minute-university/. They have videos, handouts and other information that you can use to educate yourself and get your garden questions answered. One final place to get your questions answered is at the OSU Extension website through their ‘Ask an Expert’ link.
We only scratched the surface of spring garden chores, but we hope this helps you get started.
Using Fertilizer Effectively
You want to take care of your plants and give them the best chance at surviving and thriving in your garden. For must of us, that includes the use of fertilizer to help feed those hungry plants. If you are using a water soluble fertilizer, one that dissolves in water, you want to make sure you water your plants first, especially if they are in a container. This first dose of plain water helps hydrate your plant before you add the fertilizer. The fertilizer will follow the moisture from your watering and becomes available to more of the plant. For your hanging baskets and potted plants you can use this type of fertilizer every one to two weeks.
If you have a granular fertilizer or one that is coated, like a Osmocoat type of fertilizer, for slow release, then you want to spread that around the base of the plant near the drip line. That is where the edge of the foliage ‘drips’ when it rains. Work the fertilizer in the soil with a rake or trowel. The fertilizer will work better if it is in the soil and stays a little moist.
Of course we always recommend that you follow all the directions on the label for amounts and safety measures.
Portland Nursery Hardy Fuchsias
Fuchsias are great in our gardens. They bloom prolifically, have great bloom colors and can add an almost tropical feel to your deck or patio. For most of us the word fuchsia brings to mind hanging baskets, but that is only one way to enjoy these wonderful bloomers. We stopped by Portland Nursery on Stark to chat with Sara Ori about hardy fuchsias. These are fuchsias that you can plant in the ground and can survive our winters to return with more blooms the following year. These varieties of fuchsias stay hardy because of their strong root system. In fact, they are one of the few plants that you can plant deeper than the crown of the plant. You can bury the hardy fuchsia plant so the crown and a part of the stems are underground. This will help it survive those colder winters, as long as it is in well-drained soil.
Sara mentioned that there are many types and styles of hardy fuchsias to choose from and had picked 3 to feature for us. Little Giant has tiny leaves and tiny blooms, but can get to be a big plant. Once they set blooms they can be covered with them. It can get up to 4 feet tall and can work in full sun and even part shade. The next one was the ‘Golden Herald’ with its golden colored foliage. This light chartreuse foliage color offsets the red and purple flowers that start in early summer and go until late fall. The final plant we saw was the Fuchsia speciosa. This one’s a little rare and very beautiful. The flowers are a little different as they form long orange/red tubes, which are complemented by fuzzy leaves on the main plant. It can get 2-3 feet tall and is a hummingbird magnet, blooming all summer and into late fall.
If you are looking for the tender ‘hanging basket’ fuchsias, or ones that return year after year, stop by Portland Nursery to see their huge selection.
Schreiner’s Iris Gardens
May is a busy month for local blooming plants. The leading plant for most of May is the Iris and we are lucky to have the leading iris grower in the country at Schreiner’s Iris Gardens (1-800-525-2367). The warmer weather that finally arrived has the blooms going crazy and that has meant a full garden. It’s a busy time for Ben Schreiner and the Schreiner family, but irises are in their blood. In fact they have been growing iris as a family for over 95 years, growing award winning irises. Part of that is the hybridizing of iris to create more varieties to choose from. Ben was holding one of their new plants for this season, Tillamook Bay. This iris was a stunning display of purple and white, and is their featured bloom on this season’s catalogue. We have to tell you that it looks great on the front cover, but is much better in person. Ben told us how he and his father, Ray, cross different types of iris to get new varieties. They can start with over 10,000 seedling every year and that is worked down to about 16 new introductions for each season. What they start to look for when the plants start to bloom is the color of the bloom. Is it something new and different? Then you look at bud count. Iris stems have multiple blooms on one stem and the more buds, the more blooms. Strong stems and resistance to diseases are also considered. Commercially they are now carrying around 700 varieties. This whole process can take a decade or more to get a new plant to you.
These are tall bearded iris but there are many more to choose from. With different varieties of iris you can extend your bloom time to 3 months or longer! You can start in April with ‘miniature dwarf iris’ that only get 6 inches high. Two weeks later you can enjoy ‘standard dwarf bearded iris’. Then shortly after that you can get the ‘intermediates’ starting to bloom and will last into May. Finally you get to enjoy the ‘tall bearded Iris’ that Schreiner’s is famous for. Then, after those start to fade you can enjoy the Louisiana Irises which bloom in June! Of course, if you pick the right varieties, you can also enjoy the re-bloomers of late summer! They have these and even daylilies available on their website.
Here are some tips about growing bearded iris for you. The number one tip was about watering. Bearded iris are the perfect plant for areas with water restrictions. Iris are drought tolerant! Once they are established they can survive on very little water. You should also look out for slugs. Bait for them regularly. Fertilizing your plants should be done before they bloom and you should use a light fertilizer. Nothing too strong. If your iris are having problems blooming you might also need to give them more sun! They need at least 6 hours of sunlight a day, anything less and they don’t perform well.
If you are looking to come out and visit the display gardens you should know that things are a little different. You have to book a time to visit and purchase tickets to visit. The cost is $5 a person and you can find those tickets on their website. The gift shop is open and you can buy potted iris and cut iris for your home and garden. Stop by and check out the gardens, it is always beautiful and relaxing.
C-Bite Plant Supports
Growing plants sometimes requires support, and we don’t mean the support of friends and neighbors, we are talking structure! For some plants you may need a trellis, arbor or cage to hold them up. This can make the blooms more visible or make it easier to harvest ripe fruit. However, there are limitations. For example a tomato cage only goes so high and when your tomatoes decide to make a break for it, you may not be able to contain them. We found a new product that can help you, no matter how big your plants get.
We met with Morgan Rider the co-founder of Thriving Design, the makers of the C-Bite Plant Support System. Years ago her brother Jason got tired of having plants outgrow his plant cages and trellises. He developed the C-Bite clip. This clip allows you build plant supports of nearly any size and shape. There are clips that fit steel garden rods and even ones that can work on small bamboo canes as well. The clips are designed to fit together and be used in different combinations so you can construct something as simple at a small trellis or teepee, or even something much larger like a cage, an arbor or an extended longer pole for really tall plants. There are over 140 different combinations of how to use them. Once you are done using them for the season, they can be disassembled and stored for the next season.
Another great thing about the clips is that they have hooks so you can secure netting or cords to your structures. They also have holes in the clip if you need to secure plant ties. We were very impressed! They come in 3 different colors. Sweet Tangerine Orange, Incognito Green (the standard sizes) and Sublime Green for those smaller stakes. You can start by buying a starter kit with poles of different lengths, clips and plant ties. Once you use them you’ll be back to pick up more stakes, clips and ties, which are also sold separately.
If you are tired of a lack of support in the garden (for your plants) check out the C-Bite system. You can find them at Al’s Home and Garden, Farmington Gardens, Garden Fever and Portland Nursery in our area, or online at https://thrivingdesign.com
Sedum Chicks Favorites
Sedums and succulents are a favorite of many gardeners because of their beauty and versatility in the garden. They can be used in containers or in the ground, and come in cool varieties for sun and shade. One of the best places to get these little beauties is at Sedum Chicks (503-508-7727). Becky and her family are known around many of the plant sales and garden events in our area, and she always has great plants. We stopped by to check in with her and her kids, Jorja and Jacobe, to see what their favorites were for the garden. They pulled 6 wonderful plants to share.
The first plant was Hens and Chicks ‘Raspberry Ice’. This one has frosty white fur on a deep red leaf. This one holds its color in full to partial sun and is great in any location, including containers. The second plant was Sedum Divergens, also known as ‘Old Man Bones’. This one look like those old cartoons of skeleton bones. It is very cool! It starts out green, but with lots of sun it can change colors. Becky recommends this one for rock gardens or the edge of containers so it can drape over the edge. Another great plant is Sedum ‘Lime Twister’. The bright variegation on the leaves is incredible! Once again if it gets sun it can have even more color change, so you want to put it in a place that gets a good dose of sunlight. The next one was another crazy one called Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Cebenese’. It looks like it is covered in spider webs! No spiders created this masterpiece, it is the natural habit of this plant to create these webs. The fifth plant was the Hens and Chicks ‘Desert Bloom’. This one has wide open leaves that are a vibrant red! This one likes to show off so put it in a prominent part of your garden. The final one was is sempervivum ‘Oddity’, and it really fits the name! This one has leaves that look like purple tipped tubes. If you are looking for something different in your garden, this is the one to pick!
If you would like to get your hands on these great plants you can contact Becky through her website, or stop by this weekend on Sunday, May 16th. She is opening up her nursery for visitors and customers. You can find a huge selection of succulents to choose from. Be sure to check out her plants and then add some great color and texture to your garden!
Tis the season for slugs. They are all over the garden. Some people don’t mind them, but for others it can wreak havoc on garden plants and vegetables. For those who need to get rid of slugs there are lots of commercial products on the market. We covered 3 of the most popular products and what they are made of. The first was the Deadline product. This contains metaldehyde, also called meta. This is toxic to slugs and not safe for use around pets or children. It is very effective to get rid of your slug problem. You simply leave little drops, or scatter pellets of Deadline around your vulnerable plants like hostas and irises and the slugs are attracted to it, eat it and die. The second product was Sluggo. This is an iron phosphate product. It is safe to use around children, pets and other animals too. This one is a pellet and you can just sprinkle it around those vulnerable plants just like the Deadline product. This we would recommend spreading a little distance away from your plants to draw the slugs away from the plants. The final product is Corry’s Slug and Snail Killer. The Corry’s product contains sodium ferric EDTA. This product is also safe for children and pets. Just sprinkle it around the garden to target the bothersome slugs.
A couple of notes to remember. First, use the product lightly, that is why we recommend using it around areas where you have slug problems. It would cost a fortune to try and bait your whole yard. Address the areas where you have problems and you will save money and have a safer application of the product. Second, sprinkle the product around and don’t make piles. Even though some of these are listed as safe for children and pets, they need to be applied correctly. That means, three, follow directions! The label is the law. These products are tested to be effective when used in the correct manner. Don’t guess and just apply what you think will work. Read all directions and follow them!
Lake Oswego Iron Mt Park
There is a new park in Lake Oswego, but it comes with an old history. Iron Mountain Park is located between Lake Oswego and Lake Grove off of Iron Mountain Boulevard. We met with Megan Big John-Hicks from Lake Oswego Park and Rec to learn more about this new gem to their park system. This park is a reclamation of an old production area for the Oregon Iron Company. The iron ore was dug from the hillside of the mountain and was then transported to a smelter near the Willamette river. You can see remnants of the smelter at George Rogers Park.
The park has a small stream that was moved to make way for trails, a play area, picnic tables and even a restroom. This park has also been replanted with tons of new native plants to help it become a home to wildlife and native pollinators.
The trail system is great and now helps link different trails that take you in and around the city of Lake Oswego. If you are looking for a nice hike, a place to play with your family, or to see a different side of the city, stop by and check it out.