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.
The heat has returned! Of course I didn’t need to tell you that. It has been a crazy summer. Can anyone remember the cool days of spring? They seem so long ago. Judy said that when we shoot some more stories on Monday we may need jackets! A cool day in the lower 80s will be welcomed! As we have said many times in the past, now is the time to mark those trees, shrubs and plants that are suffering in the heat. Later this fall will be the time to move them to shadier and cooler spots, or you can just replace them! Keep yourself cool and hydrated, and your plants too!
This week we featured...
Hughes Summer Color Plants
There is nothing like a pond or water feature in your summer garden. The addition of water adds a new dimension to your garden and can introduce you to a new group of plants that you would not necessarily use in your normal landscaping. One place to go to find some really wonderful water and bog plants is Hughes Water Gardens (503-638-1709). Eamonn Hughes met us at his nursery to show us some plants that are really looking great right now. We started in the Waterlily House to see those plants that REALLY love the water. These are all flowering plants that can grow from submersed pots and containers. We started with lotus These are hardy for our area, but do need a little bit of work. They need to keep their roots warm which may mean a little protection in the winter, but they can also grow in containers on your deck or patio. Waterlilies are also in full bloom right now and look incredible as each new bloom seems to pop up from the water among the floating leaves. Finally we looked at the huge Victoria Lily with it’s large floating leaves. Leaves so large that they can hold a small child. The ‘Victoria amazonica’ has a night bloom that last just a couple of days and smells like a pineapple.
We took a short walk outside the humid Waterlily House to a table of plants covered with colorful blooms. Eamonn had his staff pull out a bunch of plants that love the water or even boggy conditions in your garden. We began with a large canna. There are lots of different types of canna that are available to the gardener. These are great near a pond or even in a container. They bloom continuously through the summer and into the fall. Their blooms and foliage can transform your garden into a tropical paradise, and they will come back year after year! If you are looking for something that is a little less bold and is a great contrast plant, then you can get the Ruellia or Water Bluebell. This plant has very fine foliage and tiny blue flowers that keep coming. The plant we looked at was covered in buds! Another continuous bloomer was a smaller plant in the front of the Bluebell, the Yerba Yerba (Yerba Mansa). This will spread out slowly in your pond and has a little white flower with a center that looks like a tiny cone or pineapple. Next to that plant was a Sagittaria, the Arrowhead plant. The name comes from the arrowhead shaped leaves which look great in contrast to other foliage plants. This one also tiny ‘double’ white flowers that resemble little roses. All of these taller plants can use a lower groundcover. The Water Sprite is one of Eamonn’s favorite plants. This one can fill in all those bare spots under those taller plants and it ends up covered with spikes of pink/light purple flowers. A taller plant that Eamonn uses a lot in his pond designs is the Purple Pickerel. Tall foliage supports even taller flower spikes of purple flowers. This one will start to bloom in May and it continues to bloom until those fall frosts arrive. This one is a bee magnet which is an added bonus. Society garlic was next in line. This one was a variegated variety and had beautiful purple blooms on stalks that were close to 2 feet tall. This plant smell like garlic when you crush the leaves and some people even use the leaves and blooms on soups and salads. Some say it gets its name from the mild smell and flavor. You can eat this and enjoy ‘society’ without smelling like garlic! The final plants were a couple of showstoppers! The hardy and marsh hibiscus are in full bloom right now and are another plant with a tropical look to them. They looked great and will continue blooming near your pond or water feature for months to come.
If you don’t have a pond or water feature you can also use a container. Eamonn showed us how they put together a water bowl that included some of the plants that we featured and a few more that we didn’t get a chance to show. If you don’t know how to build one, you can always stop by Hughes Water Gardens to get some help. Take your plant palette to a new level with some of these great water loving plants.
The plant that probably brings the most smiles in the late summer are sunflowers! There is a place where these spots of sunshine can brighten your day and you can support a great cause. It is the Sunflower Festival on Stafford Road. This ‘not so little’ event is taking place at The Neighborhood Church (503-638-8765) just off of I-205 at the Stafford Road exit. We met with Pastor Paul Owen who filled us in on how they got this event started. Paul and his daughter started by growing sunflowers and then they decided it would be a great thing to do during the pandemic. It is a wide open space where people can get out with their families and see some beautiful plants. Not only are they providing a safe place for families, but they are also raising funds for an all abilities play structure near their church. They have already raised a large portion of the money for construction, but this will hopefully help them get closer to their goal. The entry fee is $5 and u-cut flowers are $2 each.
If you are worried about missing the blooms, don’t be! They have 12 acres of blooms and paths covering about 3 acres so you can wander and enjoy the blooms. With 27 different varieties you are sure to see some blooms no matter when you stop by. The colors are incredible! From the traditional bright yellow blooms to whites and even deep red, you will be surprised at the variety of colors and blooms. They are open on the weekends through August 22nd. You can stop by Thursday through Sundays, check their website or Facebook page for hours. They are just off of I-205 at exit 3, Stafford Road. Bring a little sunshine into your life with a stroll through their fields and then take a little of that sunshine home!
Blooming Junction Fire Resistant Plants
The last few years have been a little scary but educational for homeowners in our area. For those who have wide open spaces, the threat of wildfires has been a real and present danger. Some of the safety measures you can do to protect your property have been featured on our show earlier this season, but we have never talked about plant choices and what plants can do to minimize the danger of fires near your home and on your property.
Ron from Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) in Cornelius had some plants and ideas to help you minimize your risk. If you are looking for plants you want plants that don’t dry out easily, don’t have an oily sap and don’t leave your landscape full of dead or dying (i.e. dry) debris. Now we also wanted to let people know that ‘fire resistant’ doesn’t mean ‘fire proof’. These plants are more likely to slow the spread of fire in your landscape and not meant to stop fire completely.
We started with ground covers. These can be plantings that are up close to your house. These included vinca, pachysandra, ajuga and sedums and succulents. The succulents are great because of the big fleshy leaves that retain a lot of water. Larger plants with fleshy leaves or that retain moisture include Bergenia, hostas, and huecheras. Fine foliage plants are also good since they don’t have a lot of large dry leaves to burn. Ron had yarrow, native geraniums and some of the irises and thick leaved sedges. For even larger plants you can look at shrubs. Cistus, honeysuckle, caryopteris and red hot poker. Even large plants that can slow down the progress of flames include the red twig dogwood and the Burning Bush. The Burning Bush name is a reference to the bright red fall color and not to its possibility to burn.
OSU Extension has a great brochure dealing with Fire Resistant Plants for your landscape. You can get it here. Blooming Junction is also a great place to start if you are going to build a safer garden.
Jan’s August Tips
The middle of summer presents its own set of concerns and chores for the gardener. To see what we can be doing in the summer garden we stopped by to see retired OSU Extension agent, Jan McNeilan. We met her on her back lawn area. She showed us how half of her lawn was brown and dry and the other part was still green. This was due to the summer heat and lack of water. The green area was shaded and so it hadn’t dried out as much as the other half. The brown grass wasn’t dead, it just goes dormant in the summer heat. This doesn’t need to be watered. In fact, it would be a waste of time and water to try and get it green again. Just wait for those fall rains and it will be green once again. This brought up the topic of watering. This is the time to wander your garden, especially in this heat and see what plants are not doing as well as they should. Jan had looked around her garden and found that most of her plants were doing well, but there were a few that she will consider moving or replacing. One plant of concern was a very large rhododendron in her front yard. This one usually does well, but the recent heat and a lack of water has the leaves dropping. Jan is going to give it a little more tender care and a some deep watering to help it survive and come back. A lot of rhodies are taking a hit and even though they are tough, they can suffer serious damage. So keep an eye on them. Jan also told us that she had recently bought some new plants for her garden. She is going to hold off on planting them until the heat has subsided. She has them bunched together in their nursery pots in the deep shade of her patio. There they will get plenty of water and will wait for cooler days ahead before they move to their new homes in the garden. With all the heat we also addressed mulch. Extra garden mulch can help your plants stay cooler (since it blocks direct sunlight from frying the ground/roots) and can help retain moisture. The key is to make sure that the water is getting to your plants. If you have too much mulch it can prevent the water from getting to the roots. Pull back your mulch and see if the water is getting down into the soil. If you are not getting water to the roots, do a deep soaking and then cover the soil with your mulch again. It will make sure that your water goes where you want it and it doesn’t run off.
If you think watering and avoiding the heat are the only things to do in the garden, you would be wrong. Now is the time to plant your garden with cole crops and other vegetables for a second harvest of veggies this fall. You can also trim back your June baring strawberries. These early fruiting strawberries can have their foliage trimmed off and they can be fertilized so they can set their fruit for next spring. You can also start to harvest some of your tree fruits. Apples are ripe when they show color and start to fall to the ground. Pears need a little more attention to know when they are ripe. Hold the pear in your hand and lift it up to about 90 degrees. If it snaps off, it is ripe. Don’t just judge it by color. It will need to be stored in a cool, dark place for a few days to even out the ripening. If you wait and let it ripen on the tree, it will get mealy and grainy.
Irises are known for their great blooms and sweet smells. They are also one of the first plants in the spring garden. Ben Schreiner from Schreiner’s Iris Gardens (1-800-525-2367) told us about some varieties that re-bloom, bringing you color 2 times a year! These varieties are consistent, but not guaranteed to re-bloom, though some varieties are close to 100% re-bloomers for our area. Re-blooming depends on different variables including weather, soil type, fertilization and watering. Late summer is a great time for re-bloomers and Ben had a few for us to look at including ‘Cantina’, ‘Tillamook Bay’ and ‘Oregon Firestorm’, though there are many more that they offer. All of these varieties are blooming now in the Northwest garden, but if you are from a different geographical location you will want to check with Schreiner’s to make sure you get a good variety for your area. You can also start thinking about cleaning up our garden for the fall and winter. Cut off your dead flower stalks and trim and remove the dead leaves as we go into fall. This will help your iris remain healthy and disease free. If you are interested in these varieties or if you have any questions, give Schreiner’s a call, or check out their ‘Reblooming’ page on their website.
If you are interested in buying Iris or some of their great Daylilies you can still do that before September 12th. They have shipments going out daily!