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We are back to normal. This week I read from one of the local forecasters that we are back to our normal, wet, fall weather. These past couple of weeks are definitely proof of that! Between the showers we’ve been cleaning up our garden, planting the last of our bulbs (garlic and flower) and putting the rest of our less hardy plants in our greenhouse. Soon it will be time to decorate for the holidays! In fact a lot of you have already started to decorate. In this week’s show we visit Terra Casa to talk with Diana about holiday décor and Christmas trees.
Also, the cold days ahead have us thinking about warmer days and travel. If you feel the need to get out and on the road again, you may be interested in our upcoming tour. In September of 2022 we will be traveling to Holland and Belgium! We are scheduled to see a lot of great gardens and some truly one-of-a-kind locations. We’ll visit the world famous Aalsmeer Flower Auction, Floriworld, the University Gardens of Ghent, and the Japanese Gardens of the Hague. We’ll also visit the Floriade Expo in Amsterdam which only occurs once a decade. It’s the world’s fair of gardening. If you would like to join us check out this link for more information.
This week we featured...
People are always looking for plants that will do well in our area. The natural direction to point them is to native plants. These are plants that grow naturally in our area and in our soils. Natives are the way to go if you want to make the local wildlife happy too. Some of the local critters actually prefer the native blooms and fruit that they provide. If you have walked the local garden centers you may have also encountered Nativars. These are a cross between native parent plants and other hybridized varieties. To get an idea about which of the pure native plants you can choose, we stopped by Portland Nursery on Stark Street (503-231-5050) to talk with Sara. She had a cart full of plants, but they were just a small selection of what you can find at both locations of Portland Nursery. We started with Mahonia, the Oregon grape. This plant is the official flower for the state of Oregon. There are lots of varieties of Mahonia, of which a couple are true natives. They have great early winter blooms, followed by blueish berries later in the winter. This one is loved by local birds and bees. Another great native plant is the salal. This is plant that you can find all over the Northwest in our forests. We see it all the time while hiking. It has beautifully shiny round leaves with small flowers that turn to dark blue berries. This will be a smaller shrub in your garden. If you are looking for something taller, then the vine maple may be your plant. This taller shrub/small tree has great fall color and is a great accent plant in the back of your garden bed. Next to it was the Pacific Wax Myrtle. It is a quick growing evergreen shrub. It will make a great screen for your back fence. In between these 2 taller plants were a couple huckleberries. These are beautiful little shrubs and they produce a tasty tiny berry in the late fall that some people can make into a jam, syrup or as a liquor. A native plant that everyone knows is the fern. In the Pacific NW we have dozens of native varieties to choose from. Sara had a deer fern and a sword fern to share. These grow in the same conditions but give your garden a different, softer look. We finished with a couple of conifers. Conifers are the happiest tall trees in our forests and gardens. They love our wet conditions and moderate temperatures, but give them room to grow. The 2 we saw were the White Pine and the Western Hemlock.
As I mentioned before, these are just a few of the choices that you can find at your local Portland Nursery location. Check them out and talk to the knowledgeable staff to see which natives will work well in your garden.
We enter the month of November with a long list of chores in the garden. There is certainly plenty to do, but if you don’t know where to start we stopped by to see Jan McNeilan to get some suggestions with her tips of the month. We started by talking about winter blooming plants that also benefit the local wildlife. Jan showed us her large Mahonia lomariifolia. It will continue to bloom for weeks and is being attacked by local bees and hummingbirds. They love the large bunches of flowers. This is one of the many natives that you should consider when you want to attract local wildlife. We also talked about cutting back your roses. Over the summer they grow and bloom, and can get quite tall. Now is the time to cut them back to about the height of your waist. This will help protect them from the wind whipping them over in the winter. In late winter, usually around mid-February, you can do the big cuts and get them ready for a new season of blooms. Jan also talked about bringing plants inside for protection. This can apply to moving plants inside your home or your greenhouse. We started by talking about a Brugmansia (angels trumpet) that was starting to bloom in her garden. It got moved into her greenhouse so she can enjoy the blooms even if it gets frosty outside. Other plants that she has moved indoors to protect include our favorite lemon tree. The tree which was rescued from the compost pile a few years ago, is now loaded with fruit! She is also keeping a Christmas cactus in the greenhouse for a little longer. It was loaded with buds and the minute she takes it inside for the winter, the heat will cause those buds to pop. When she moves any other plants indoors there are some standard tips that she follows. Check them for bugs or diseases and treat them. Then remove about an inch of topsoil from the plant to remove any pests that may be in the soil and replace it with fresh, clean, potting soil. Finally, we talked about overwintering your dahlias in your garden. She recommends that you cut the stems to ground level, or even shorter. These hollow stems can fill with rain during the winter and cause your tubers to rot in the ground. Cutting them down completely and covering them with mulch will protect those tubers from excess water and frosty soil temps.
I love mint! Being in the Pacific Northwest, and specifically in Oregon, I’m in the middle of it. Ryan Seely, our wonderful co-host, found a place where I could literally roll in mint! He found Seely Mint (503-369-4350) in Clatskanie. This company is run by a relative of his, Mike Seely with his kids, the 4th generation, starting to work on the farm too. Mike took us out to the fields to show us how they harvest this healthful and fragrant product. They grow 2 different kinds of mint on the farm. They grow a single-cut, premium-quality heirloom Black Mitcham Peppermint and a native Spearmint. The spearmint gets harvested twice each season and we were able to watch the last harvest before the fall rains returned to the area. The spearmint is cut 2 different ways. One way is to cut it and leave it to dry in the field. This will be used for tea leaves. The second way is to cut it and then load it in an enclosed trailer/bin. When the trailer is full it is taken to a processing area where steam is pumped through the trailer from the bottom. The steam rises and takes the mint oil with it. This extraction of the oil through steam is relatively quick and pulls the highest quality of oil out of the plant. The oil can be sold to other processors for use in products. It is a powerfully strong essential oil! One pint of oil can flavor 55,000 sticks of gum or about 2,500 pounds of chocolate. That is strong stuff!! What you find in a lot of other products is a synthetic mint product that doesn’t have the same flavor as Seely Mint.
For the home gardener, you can’t grow enough mint to draw off any significant oil, but you can still enjoy it in your kitchen. You can dry it for tea. You do this by cutting and hanging the stem upside down for a week or so to dry the leaves. You can use the leaves in salads and other dishes. Did you know that Pepto-Bismol used mint to settle stomachs? You can still use it for that too. The stems can also be used in your pets bedding to ward off ticks. There are lots of uses, but just remember to grow it in a container to keep it under control in your garden, because it will run through your flower beds!
The best way to enjoy Seely Mint is to enjoy one of their candy treats! They make a mint patty that will knock your socks off! They also do mint melts, peppermint bark, candy canes and even a ribbon candy that are all flavored with real Seely Mint oil. You can find these products all over the country and at many stores in our area. You can find out a few of the locations on their website and even get a little more history of this great product and family. You can also order mint products from their site if you don’t want to leave your home! I don’t know about you, but I’ve found another reason to love the Seely family!!
Terra Casa Holiday Decor
The holidays are upon us! People are pulling out their old decorations and getting started on preparing for the celebrations ahead. For a lot of people that means a lot of the same old decorations. Some people may be looking to freshen up their holiday look, and that will require a stop at Terra Casa (503-577-8242)! We met with Diana to talk about Christmas décor and a few decorating tips.
First of all, take a look at all the themed Christmas trees that they have around the store. There are a lot of ideas for decorating a whole tree, but remember you can add single ornaments or small groups if you are looking to freshen up your look. Trolls, Santas, and the clean and bright looks of gold and white never seem to go out of style and they have a huge selection of each to choose from. Diana also gave us a nice tip that incorporated the use of sprays. These are branches or groups of berries or leaves that are bound together on a single stem. The use of these branches can take your Christmas tree to the next level. It is not hard to use them either. Simply slip them in between the branches holding your existing ornaments and lights to create that decorative pop!
Then don’t forget your other décor items. Mantles, table tops, walls and coffee tables all can tie your holiday look together. A central theme that is wrapped through all your holiday décor can tie the whole room together!
For more holiday ideas and the help to pull them all together stop by Terra Casa and talk to Diana and her staff. They can make your holiday season merry and bright!
Critical Infrastructure Month
For years we have done stories on the efficient use of water both inside and outside your home. The Regional Water Providers Consortium has helped us get that message out to gardeners and homeowners. Recently they told us that November is National Critical Infrastructure Security & Resilience Month. For us gardeners that means they are working to make sure the water we use in our homes and gardens is safe and reliably delivered all year long. To learn what that means, we met with Wendy from the City of Gresham at the Grant Butte Reservoir. The reservoir was completed in 1990, but recently went through an earthquake safety retrofit. This means that this supply that provides water to 66 percent of the Gresham community, including nearby medical facilities, will be safe during an earthquake. The funds for this safety retrofit came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through a $2.2 million grant.
This is just one of the many projects that local water providers do every day to make sure your water is delivered in a safe and reliable way. For more information on everything ‘water’ in our local area, check out the RWPC website.