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Ahhh… the rains have returned. It will be a wet weekend, but that’s ok. We need the rain, or should I say the plants need the rain. I have often noticed that our garden plants seem to jump in growth when we have a nice break in the weather. They respond to the break in the weather, just like us. Next week it looks like the heat will return, so let’s follow the lead from our gardens and just enjoy this nice little break.
We are getting close to the end of our hour long shows again. Every spring we go to an hour long format for 13 weeks. This allows us to cover a lot more topics when our gardens are waking up and actively growing. We also have a lot of seasonal sponsors that allow us to expand the show. If you visit one of our sponsors, be sure to say thanks and tell them you saw them on Garden Time.
This week we featured...
FPP Textures and Colors
Building a beautiful garden is more than packing in a bunch of plants into your garden and standing back. Though there are some gardens that come together naturally, most of the rest of us need a plan. To get some tips on building a beautiful garden we stopped by French Prairie Perennials (503-679-2871) and talked with Rick Naylor. Not only does he co-own FPP, he is also the driving force behind Visualscaping. It is a unique way of landscaping that gives you options in your design and saves you money. He met with Judy in the outdoor plant area. The first thing he told us was to make every plant count. Each plant should be placed in the garden so it can compliment every other plant in your garden. The points he talked about were mixing color and texture and staggering your plantings.
He had 3 different small conifers for us to start with. They were 3 different colors, but the textures were all the same. Placed together they would not bring the same impact to your garden as if you had 3 different textures and colors. To illustrate what he was talking about we moved to a bunch of different plants that mixed various textures and colors together so that each plant brought something different to the design. Foundation plants, those that are the focal points in your garden, were placed first. Rick had a maple and a couple different conifers as his starting foundation plants. These had visual interest for more than one season, another one of Rick’s design tricks, he is a big believer in 4 season color and interest. To these he added other smaller evergreen perennials which had different textures and colors. Each plant was chosen for its ability to match or contrast with other plants in the landscape. Lastly, he filled in the blank spots with colorful annuals. Even though these last additions will only be there for one year, they mixed in with the existing color palette well.
He also emphasized at this point, the importance of staggering your plants. If you line them up in row in your garden there is very little visual interest from different angles. By staggering your plants they add depth and substance to your garden design. It looks good from any angle. All this was done in the holding area of his nursery! Rick mentioned that he can help anyone with their design, you just need to stop by the nursery. He recommends that you bring a picture of your landscape and the rough measurements so he can help you with ideas for plant selection and placement.
If you are at a loss for how to put together your garden or you need an extra plant or 2, stop by French Prairie Perennials in downtown Aurora.
Lan Su Garden Imagery
We’ve been to Lan Su Chinese Garden (503-228-8131) many times to enjoy the beautiful flowers and unique architecture, and during those trips we noticed a few floral patterns scattered throughout the garden. Recently when we were at the garden, Justin, the curator of horticulture, started to tell us about all the flower and plant imagery. This garden is designed to showcase nature, plants and the environment in the walls, floors and buildings. We started when you first enter the garden. There is a large building in the open courtyard, the 4-Sided Pavilion. On the roof gable you will see a pomegranate and a peach displayed on the roof. The peach represents longevity and the pomegranate represents fertility. On the ground around the garden you will see other imagery dealing with plants. In the Fragrance Courtyard you will see a pattern of lotus in the stonework. The lotus is a symbol of summer, the time when the lotus is in bloom. Next to that is the Scholars Courtyard which also has a unique pattern. Here the stonework looks like plum blossoms falling on cracked ice, representing the arrival of spring.
Another interesting place for imagery is in the Leak Windows. These open windows show us a framed view from one area of the garden to another. Many of the patterns in these windows reflect nature, with floral and animal shapes in their design. There are over 40 of these windows in the garden and each with a different pattern. Poetry is also a part of the garden. You can see Chinese characters painted and carved into many structures and rocks throughout the garden. The theme of the garden is that it is a Scholar’s Garden. The scholar in the Ming Dynasty would have been a poet and an artist. You can find many of these poems showcased around the different structures. One that we found in the Scholars Study is about the plum and said this…
(Couplet 1 – right side) Braving the snow, myriad of flowers come into blossom
(Couplet 2 – left side ) Leading the world, a single tree heralds the spring.
Once you start looking you can find even more images in abundance! With flowers on the railings of the bridge to carvings under your feet as you stroll. If you would like to learn more about the garden before or during your next visit you can find a great page on their website. There you can find an app for your phone which allows you to download tours and other useful information to make your visit even more fun and informative!
Moles, Voles and Gophers
These 3 are the big names in large garden pests. Everyone will blame one of these 3 if they have damaged plants or bulbs in their garden! Sometimes we don’t even know they are around until we see a mound in our lawn. We met with Dana Sanchez from OSU on the campus in Corvallis to learn more about Moles, Voles and Gophers; and to see if what we had heard was true. Dana first told us how to identify these different animals. The pocket gopher is typically the largest of the 3. It has a mound of dirt that sometimes looks like a horseshoe shape with one end open. The mole is generally just a mound of dirt, sometimes with a small crater or hole in the center. The vole is the smallest and is more likely to have trails above ground right at the soil line. People sometimes confuse the different diets that these animals have as well. The gopher is most likely a vegetarian. He will eat your bulbs and plant roots. The mole is going after grubs (though, if you have a large mole they can eat bulbs and roots as well), so if you have them in your lawn it is a sign that you have critters in your lawn. Now the next question is do you need to get rid of them. If they are in an area where there isn’t a lot of activity or a part of your yard that isn’t important, then it might be better to leave them alone. They do good things with the soil by rotating it, moving nutrients around and breaking up the clay. If you do need to move them or get rid of them, the best methods are poisons and traps. The poisons can be placed in the ground and so there is not as much exposure to other animals in your garden (it is always good to keep these baits away from pets and children). It is recommended that poisons be your last resort. The other effective method is with a gripping trap like the Cinch Trap. The things that don’t work so well are the vibrating methods, which are supposed to scare them away and things like chewing gum. There has not been a lot of studies to prove that they are effective. If you would like to find out more you can check out the OSU Extension site. They have an ‘Ask an Expert’ link where you can send in your questions and get a good science based answer.
TOW – Nursery Pot Protection
Out tip of the week is about protecting your tender seedlings during those hot and sunny spring days. This tip comes from our friend, Ed Cunningham from Fishingham Garden. He used some old black plastic planting pots. These he cut in half and punched holes in the top rim of the pot. These were flipped over and, using landscape staples, fastened to the ground with the pot open facing east, and the pot walls facing west. This allows for the morning sun to enter from the east side to warm the plant. Then when the sun moves over the pot to the west, you have the barrier of the pot to protect the tender seedling from the intense sun and heat. When the plant has established its root, you can simply remove the pot and put it in storage until next year!
Blooming Hardy Fuchsias
The summer is a time for fuchsias to shine, and for a lot of people that means the hanging basket, annual kind of fuchsia. Still, there are lots of fuchsias that you can put in the ground and they will come back every year to grace your garden with color and texture. We stopped by Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) where they have over 50 different varieties of fuchsias to choose from. Manager, Ron Guilford brought out nearly a dozen to share with us. Here are a few that he featured (in his words). ‘Fuchsiade 88’ – tons of magenta blooms that drip from every stem of this upright grower that reaches 24 inches in height. ‘Double Otto’ – Large, exuberant, tropical looking double flowers with large green leaves. Vigorous upright growth reaching 36 inches tall. Fulgens ‘Speciosa’ – A unique and uncommon variety with bright orange flowers and large fuzzy leaves growing 24- 36 inches tall. ‘Erecta’ – A stiffly upright shrub with charming flowers that sit upright like tiny cups and saucers. Reaches 36 inches in height. ‘Debrons Smokey Blue’ – Double blooms feature deep eggplant centers that pop when planted with lime foliage plants. Reaches 36 inches in height. ‘Kat Jan’ – hummingbirds love this small shrub with red blooms and bright green foliage that grows 24-36 inches tall. ‘Groene Kans Glory’ – has beautifully colored large blooms that are accented by bright colored new growth and dark leaves on this upright grower that reaches 30 inches tall. ‘Yolanda Franck’ – an upright variety with dainty blooms featuring pink sepals that fade to white. It grows 24 to 36 inches tall. ‘Variegated Lottie Hobby’ – a diminutive beauty with adorable little flowers set against tiny white and green leaves. Grows to 24 inches tall. ‘Golden Herald’ – golden leaves contrast beautifully with red and purple blooms. This compact grower has the potential to grow large, heights range from 24 to 48 inches.
Ron also talked about how to plant these hardy bloomers. You can plant these a little deeper than regular plants. Most of the time you shouldn’t plant something where the crown is buried, but fuchsias can go a little deeper. This will also help keep them protected during the winter months.
There are so many to choose from! You should stop and check them out, and add a little more color to your garden.
Bartlett Boxwood Blight
Boxwoods are almost everywhere. A lot of people love the structure of the single tall varieties and others love the form of a trimmed hedge. Others like the fact that for the most part (unless it is a trimmed hedge) they are pretty maintenance free. Recently though, there has been a problem that is starting to pop up, Boxwood Blight. To learn more we paid a visit to a local garden and talked with expert, Dr. Tom Smiley from Bartlett Tree Experts. He said that this disease is relatively new to our area, just appearing in the last 10 years or so. This is a fungal disease that starts with dark spots on the foliage and lesions on the stems, and quickly leads to defoliation (loss of leaves) and eventually the possible death of the plant. Dr. Smiley recommended that homeowners keep an eye out for anything unusual with their plants. If it is boxwood blight they should take a sample to the local extension office (in a sealed plastic bag) for confirmation, or they can contact Bartlett for assistance. The treatment for the plant includes cutting out the diseased part of the plant and allowing for more airflow. Then you should apply a fungicide to the affected plants. Good gardening techniques like disinfecting your pruners and cleaning up diseased leaves and cutting and putting them in your garbage, not your compost, will help limit the spread. He also told us that people and animals brushing up against diseased plants can transfer the spores, so be careful and wash your clothing if you have been work on the diseased plants. To find out more check out this great OSU Extension website, or contact the local Bartlett Tree Expert office.
Rosie's Summer Tropicals
This year because of Covid-19 and other issues a lot of people are looking to vacation, or staycation, in their own backyard. Not making it to the tropics may seem like a depressing idea, but what if you were to bring the tropics to your deck or patio? You just need the right plants! To find some of those plants we stopped by N&M Herb Nursery (503-981-9060) near Hubbard. Rosie met Ryan in the greenhouse to share some great foliage plants that will help create that tropical effect! She had so many for us to look at, it was like being in a jungle! We started with the Colocasias. These have large leaves that point downward at the tips of the leaves. These can handle full sun or full shade! Most are a little tender and need a little protection in the winter for their dormant period, but there was one that is a little hardier than the rest. The Alocasias however, like a little afternoon shade if possible. These have leaves that point upward. These tend to be tender and make a great house plant in the winter, but make sure they have lots of room. They get big! She also had some canna lilies to show us as well. The large Canna Banana looks like a large banana but it doesn’t get the blooms as other cannas do. The regular cannas have the great tropical foliage, but also have wonderful, colorful blooms. The Canna ‘Pretoria’ was on the table and it was getting ready to bloom with orange flowers. Other canna colors include oranges, yellows and reds. Blooming cannas also love full sun!
Rosie recommends that you put some in your landscape, but also in pots so you can move them around and bring them inside when the temps start to drop. If you would like to see these plants and more like them, you can stop by their nursery which is only open from now until July 5th, or you can find them at some of the local farmers markets in the area. Check out their website for locations and details!
Little Baja Piñatas
Every kid loves a piñata. It is one of the great party games of the summer and a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors. One of the best places to get a quality piñata is at Little Baja (503-236-8834) on Burnside. Jared told Ryan how they started carrying piñatas. Someone asked were they could get some authentic piñatas and so, on the next buying trip to Mexico, they found a family that was making well-built piñatas and started buying them. They were shipping their pottery up from Mexico and the piñatas didn’t take up much room or weight so they were loaded on the truck too. They still work with the same family many years later. These are so authentic that the Portland Art Museum had them featured at an event they had a few years ago.
Jared also filled us in on a few rules for using a piñata. First make sure you are out and away from anything breakable. Don’t use a baseball bat to break your piñata. In fact, don’t use anything that you wouldn’t want to be hit with yourself. A plastic bat is sometimes the best. Everyone gets 3 swings per turn, with anyone older than 7 wearing a blindfold. Make sure that there is not a mad rush once the piñata is open. Hold all the kids back until the candy is all on the ground, then let them go! Treat your kids, and the adults in your family to this traditional outdoor party game this summer.
Early summer has arrived and that means the strawberries are looking ripe and ready for picking. You may enjoy strawberry shortcake and slicing strawberries over ice cream, but there are so many more ways to enjoy them. Ryan and Judy thought up some interesting combinations for dipping sauces for you to enjoy. We featured a few combinations, but have also heard of ‘night and day’ which had strawberries in half white chocolate and half dark chocolate. We also had ‘Coco-berry’ which was a dip into frosting with coconut flakes. All of them were delicious! Some people also try filled berries, which we found on the internet! For this you can hollow out a berry with a small melon baller and then filled it with cream cheese frosting, then topped that with ground graham crackers for a mini-cheese cake berry. If you are looking for more ideas, check out the Garden Time On-line magazine from June of 2009.
Grimm’s Fuel (503-636-3623) produces one of the best garden mulches in our area. Grimm’s has been composting yard debris and making this great garden mulch for use in local gardens since 1982. Jeff Grimm joined us once again to fill us in on their new production facility. This facility came about through a bunch of different plans and groups working together. When you make compost it can be messy and sometimes a little stinky. That smell was not always a welcome thing for local neighbors. Grimm’s started looking for ways to reduce that smell while continuing to produce their quality product. Jeff mentioned that Metro, the city of Tualatin and the local neighbors all joined together to create a plan. That plan resulted in the construction of the new facility. The new process streamlines the breakdown of the composting materials. Control of air and moisture, plus the timely turning of the composted material helps keep the smell down and helps the good bacteria do a better job of breaking everything down. The result is a better product, that takes less time to make and smells much better.
As Jeff said, this was a great example of everyone, government, neighbors and business, working together to make things work! So next time you get a load of Grimm’s mulch for your garden, know that it is great stuff made by a responsible local company!
Geranium Bud Worm
When the flowers start to bloom it brings out some new pests in the garden. Right now we are starting to see the reappearance of the Geranium Bud Worm, also just called the ‘bud worm’. The bud worm is starting to show up on petunias, geraniums and other flowering plants. What you are looking for is notches in the blooms. Sometimes you will also see notches in the buds themselves. You may also see the little caterpillar that is the problem. It can appear green or a light brown and is sometimes hidden on the stems and under leaves. Right now you can use the Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew from Bonide. This is a natural product and can be used to treat the problem or as a preventative. It treats the pest bacterially and since it is a natural product it can be used in organic gardening too. Of course we always recommend that you read and follow all label directions. Look for the dreaded bud worm and then look for Captain Jack’s to get rid of the problem.