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Now this is more like it. The weather has returned to a somewhat normal pattern. Cooler mornings and moderately hot afternoons. This is how the summer is supposed to start. The good news is that the cooler weather is giving our plants a break to recover from the recent heat wave. We could use a breath of fresh air too. Time to get out and assess your plants, and see which ones are hurting and which ones survived. After this week, they should be less stressed and ready for some ‘clean-up’ pruning.
It is also a good time to prepare for the next round of heat which we know is coming before the end of this summer. Adjust your sprinklers, add protective mulch where needed and figure out protection for those tender plants. Good luck!
This week we featured...
CNT Midsummer Madness
The blessing of living in the Pacific Northwest is that we are surrounded by wonderful specialty nurseries and wholesale growers. A group of those growers and nurseries have joined forces and are known as the Cascade Nursery Trail. This group of 8 nurseries coordinates a schedule of shows and this weekend is one of their best, the Midsummer Madness Sale. To get a preview of this great sale, we stopped by two of the participating nurseries, Secret Garden Growers and Garden Thyme Nursery.
We started at Secret Garden Growers (503-651-2006). Pat had a table full of plants, most that were new to gardeners. She had the amorphophallus konjac. This is related to the large corpse flower, though it doesn’t get that big. It gets that wonderful huge flower and it will smell a little bit, but the bloom makes it worth it. It also has cool mottled stems. The next plant was an abutilon, or Chilean/Brazilian bell flower. This is the hardiest of the abutilons and is a hummingbird ‘crack’ plant. They just LOVE this one. The bell shaped flowers just keep coming all season long until frost. On the cart was also the Cast Iron Plant. This one is called ‘spangled ribbons’, with spotted leaves. The Cast Iron plants are tough! They can survive in low water areas and deep, deep shade. On the table next to that was an Agapanthus ‘Twister’, with a two toned purple and white bloom. It can handle the hot sun and the flower is striking for the showy display it makes in the garden. The next plant was another great hummingbird plant, Cuphea vermillionaire, also known as the firecracker plant. These blooms look like little firecrackers and they must be little magnets as well, since they seem to draw in the hummers all summer long! This one can overwinter if it doesn’t get too cold and is in a well-drained soil. Next to that was a great shade plant, Bergenia ‘Susan Riley’ The large fuzzy leaves are great and this one also has a wonderful white/pink flower in early spring. It likes moist soil and shade, but it can be a great accent plant in your shade garden. Pat also had a couple of oxalis on her table too. People confuse these with clovers that grow wild and spread in your garden, but these are clumping varieties and are perfect in the garden. The first was the Purple Shamrock Plant (Oxalis regnellii 'Francis'). This one is a low ground cover plant with deep purple leaves and tiny pink flowers that pop up in the foliage. The other was Oxalis ‘Iron Cross’. This is also called a 4 leaf clover, but it is another tight clumping plant with a purple cross on a green leaf with tiny pink flowers. It is as close to a ‘lucky’ plant as you will get. If you have a taste for gardening the next plant is for you. It is a variegated horseradish. It has a tropical looking leaf with the same spicy roots for making sauces and spreads. The next to last plant was a Jasmine ‘Fiona Sunrise’. This plant has bright golden yellow/lime colored foliage with fragrant white flowers. It is a climber, so find a place or structure where it can spread its wings. The final plant was Sedum ‘Dark Magic’. It has deep purple foliage topped by deep red/rose colored blooms and is a tough plant that can handle full sun and needs pretty much little or no care.
Then we moved over to Garden Thyme Nursery (503-551-1875) where Judy was meeting with Pati about what she was featuring for the tour. Pati had brought out a collection of her ‘tried and true’ plants for gardeners. If you have problems with plants, these are some of the best to try for your garden. These all love the sun and similar soil conditions. The first plant on her table was the Coreopsis verticillata (Threadleaf Coreopsis). This plant was covered with bright yellow daisy type blooms. It has a nice lacey type of foliage and fills in a garden bed nicely without blocking out other plants. There are also other colors like Red Satin and Shades of Rose. Echinaceas are a popular plant and are hardy for our area. There have been a lot of newer introductions lately with different colors and heights now available . There were two that we looked at from the Pow Wow series. We had a tall white and a shorter rose colored one. These will keep blooming and blooming all summer long. The next plant was a Cat Mint/Nepeta called ‘Walker Low’. This has tall stalks of purple flowers that keep coming as long as you give it a hair cut after the first bloom. It looks like a lavender, and has a fragrant foliage as well. The final plant on her table was a Asclepias ‘Ice Ballet’. These are also known as milkweeds and are the favorite plant for the monarch butterfly. It is a tall plant that is capped by white flowers later in the summer.
Pati had all these plants set up as a simple design as well. She showed us how you can pair them so they go from small and short, to large and bold all in one garden bed.
These plants are just a small selection of the plants you will find at the vendors on the Cascade Nursery Trail. Check out their website for a map and descriptions of all the nurseries involved.
Willamette Valley Lavender Festival
The Willamette Valley has the perfect conditions for growing lavender (similar to the famous Provence area of France), so it is only natural that we found the Willamette Valley Lavender Festival and Plein Air Art show in Newberg in the heart of the Willamette Valley. The Chehalem Cultural Center is the location of the 16th annual event. This event celebrates lavender with art, food and crafts. The best part is that it is a free event with no admission charge.
We met in front of the Cultural Center with Marilyn Kosel who helps run the event. She told us a little history of the event and why lavenders do so well here. The Northwest it the premiere lavender growing area of the U.S. We have conditions here similar to the south of France, where lavender thrives. Because of that, you will find hundreds of different varieties of lavender that can be used in many different ways. The festival is a great place to learn about all the different styles and types of lavender. You can also check out lavender themed vendors and even grab some lavender flavored treats.
The second part of the festival is the Plein Air Art show. Artist from around the Northwest have been working for the last couple of weeks to produce paintings and artwork at a select group of locations. These various pieces will be judged and will be for sale at the festival. That are over 300 different pieces that will be displayed. We were lucky to have local artist Shannon Ray working on a piece for us as we shot the story. The detail was amazing!
This is a great weekend event for the whole family, so make the trip to Newberg to check it out. Also, if you want more information on lavender, the Lavender Northwest website has great resources to offer so you can learn more about lavender, it’s applications, how to grow, and where to visit in Oregon.
Garland Deer Resistant Plants #1
Bambi is cute, except when he is munching on your tasty garden plants. We stopped by Garland Nursery (1-800-296-6601) between Corvallis and Albany on Hwy 20 and talked to Lee to learn about deer resistant plants and other ways for thwarting Bambi’s advances. First of all, when we say ‘deer resistant’ we are not talking about ‘deer proof’. For the most part, if a deer is hungry he will eat anything, even plants that taste terrible to him. Lee talked about some of the plants that are considered deer resistant. The plants were grouped into 3 categories. Some were texture plants, some were taste plants and some were fragrance plants. The texture plants were ones with rough leaves, spikes or thorns. They are tough to chew and so the deer avoid them. The taste plants are awful or are poisonous and so they stay away from those too. The fragrance plants are ones that the deer can’t stand the smell.
Lee had a huge selection of all 3 types. We started with the Salvia ‘Black and Bloom’. This is an update on the Black and Blue with more flower stalks. It is also a great perennial plant if you are trying to attract hummingbirds to your garden. We moved to another one that has tons of colorful blooms on long spikes, the Agastache Kudos ‘Mandarin Orange’, also known as hyssop. It gets a couple feet high and will rebloom with those spectacular orange blooms all summer if you cut off the spent blooms. A favorite of bees and hummingbirds. Keeping with the bee and hummingbird theme we went to the Caryopteria (bluebeard) ‘Blue Balloon’. It will lose its leaves in the winter but will return with clusters of blue blooms, a favorite for bumblebees. It is also drought resistant so you can put it in a drier place in your garden. The final tall plant was the Cypress ‘Wilma Goldcrest’. This little guy can get quite tall, topping out at 15 feet tall. The foliage has a lemony, citrus smell when you brush up against it, and that is what the deer hate.
The next group of plants were a little closer to the ground. These were not all ground covers but stay on the lower side. The Rock Rose – Cistus ‘Sunset’ had beautiful pink blooms and is another drought tolerant plant that pollinators love and deer hate. The next plant was one of the spiky kind that deer won’t munch. Barberry ‘Admiration’ has little thorny branches, but the foliage is a winner with small orangy/red leaves ringed in cream coloring. Like the Cistus it will stay around 2 feet or lower in your landscape, but the variegated foliage is a winner. Another one with great variegated foliage is the lavender ‘Platinum Blonde’. The striking foliage is the backdrop to the traditional blue lavender blooms. It is also another drought tolerant pick for the garden. The final one was a winner in the garden, whether you have a deer problem or not. The Daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’ blooms all summer long, has a great fragrance especially at night and also doesn’t get too tall either.
There are also products that you can buy to keep deer away. Most of them are a deterrent spray, and Garland has 3 products to choose from. These sprays usually have a combination of natural ingredients like cloves, garlic and pepper to make even tasty plants yucky. You should look for ‘putrescent (rotten) eggs’ or wolf urine on the label. Both of those odors are known to chase the deer away. You can also try the Scarecrow sprinkler. This is a sprinkler that turns on when it senses something in your garden and gives it a squirt of water to scare it away. For more deer resistant plants and other ideas you can stop by Garland Nursery or check out their website for a handout.
Blooming Junction Fall Vegetable Planting
If you love to have fresh vegetable past fall and into winter, now is the time to start planting! Yup, July may be hot and may seem to be the wrong time to get anything in the ground, but it is the best time to get some of your late season crops planted. Justin from Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) is an expert in vegetable gardens as the Farm Manager at the nursery and he joined Judy to talk about what the home gardener should be doing right now.
The crops that people should be focusing on getting in the ground right now are the root crops like beets, carrots, parsnips and even some leafy greens. Some cole crops like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower can go in the ground a little closer to fall since the cooler temps can make those crops a little sweeter and tastier. When planting seeds you should also be looking for varieties that will do better with fall plantings. Some packages will even tell you if they perform better in the fall. During the heat of summer we also have to remember to water consistently for good germination. We should also work on providing good drainage. Even though they need good watering now, when those fall rains return we will need that excess water to drain away quickly.
Protection from summer heat and pests is a good idea too. At the farm they use a shade cloth that they cover the veggies with on the really hot days, it also provides protection from flying pests and aphids while the plants are establishing. Speaking of pests, you will also need to watch out for slugs and snails. Justin uses Sluggo on their fields because it is safe for people and pets, but there are a lot of safe slug products out there to use. If you don’t want to try your luck with starting seeds, you can also buy plant starts at a lot of your local garden centers to get a head start.
Finally we headed up to the farm market where they sell a ton of fresh produce for those who want to do it the easy way! You can even sign up for their Fall CSA program, which will bring you an assortment of fresh produce every week throughout the fall. For more information, seed, starts, or even flowering plants, just stop by Blooming Junction and get everything you need!