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The spring has finally arrived… or has it? This weekend we are finally seeing multiple days of warm weather. We have visited a bunch of local garden centers recently and they are filled to the brim with great plants that are ready to go home to your garden. Now that the weather is warming up, it might be time to get your vegetable garden in the ground. Don’t be too stressed about it. Watch our story this week with Jan McNeilan to see why we are relaxed about the whole process.
We are also a week away from the Memorial Day weekend. There are a lot of local festivals and plant sales going on. Check out our events calendar to see what might be happening in your area.
This week we featured...
Jan’s May Tips
This spring has seen record setting cold and rain. We already hit our average rainfall for May and it is only about 2/3 of the way through the month. All that cold and wet has our gardens (and gardeners) longing for a few warm days so we can return to the soil. To get some tips on how to navigate these cooler spring days. First of all, vegetable seeds. Jan has yet to plant most of her seeds for her veggie garden. She has planted peas, lettuce and potatoes, but for most of the rest of her garden, the soil is still too cold. She then told us that the latest she has planted her garden was June 22nd. That seems pretty late, but she told us that by the time August and September rolled around, everything had caught up and she was still harvesting. The cold soil slows everything down and so, even if you planted in April, your plants just sit there and wait for the warmer weather anyway. If you are concerned about starting from seeds, just know that your local independent garden center probably has vegetable starts that are well on the way to fruiting. We then looked at a couple of plants that Jan had wintered over in her greenhouse. A brugmansia and the ever surprising Meyer lemon tree. The brugmansia is sending out another flush of blooms for Jan to enjoy and the lemon tree was looking pretty rough, but it will soon pop back with some warmer weather and a little TLC from Jan. The benefits of a small greenhouse are pretty incredible.
Then we moved to the garden to see a tree that did not make it through the winter. We had a wet snow and this plum, which had been stretching out looking for sunlight, just couldn’t handle the weight and it snapped off. That is what happens when plants compete for light. We also talked about spring blooming shrubs. Once these plants finish blooming for the spring, like rhododendrons, lilacs and some hydrangeas, they can have their old blooms cut off. This will allow new blooms to form on the older wood. If you prune later this summer of fall you will be cutting off next year’s buds, since most of these plants set their new blooms in the mid to late summer. If you didn’t get to pruning your cane berries or grapes, you can still get in and do a little clean up. Removing dead or diseased limbs can help with airflow, and help control diseases. However it might be too late to do heavy pruning. Enjoy the fruits this season and then look to prune a little sooner later this year or next season.
With this cold weather, keep an eye on your plants. The wet weather and soon to be warmer temps may create disease and mildew problems. Keep an eye out for problems and don’t over treat for a problem you may not have. This goes for damage as well. Some people have noticed hail damage in their gardens. Know what it is (and not a pest problem) so you don’t have to treat a problem you don’t have. If you would like more information about what to do in the garden, check out the OSU Extension website.
Portland Nursery Pest Controls
This spring is a prime time for pests. As conditions get more comfortable it may be time to start looking for pest and for ways to control them. We stopped by Portland Nursery (503-231-5050) on Stark to chat with Sara about a few natural and organic methods for controlling some common pests.
First of all she talked about barrier controls. If you have a problem with moles, deer, rabbits, and squirrels you might consider a physical barrier to block their access to your garden. This could include using fencing, borders, chicken wire or even simple traps to distract and block them from entering your garden. For the larger game, the fencing and netting may work. For the smaller pests it might be beer traps for slugs and chicken wire for squirrels and rabbits. You don’t have to go ‘full Rambo’ and kill the critters to accomplish your goals.
We then moved to products to consider. Sluggo is a great slug bait and it is safe to use around pets and children if you follow the directions. A new product is Sluggo Plus. This newer product helps get rid of other pests like cutworms, earwigs and sowbugs. The next product was Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew. This product from Bonide works great and is approved for organic gardening. It can also handle a large group of pests. Bagworms, borers, caterpillars, codling moth and spider mites are all controlled with this product. The next product was the Monterey B.T. This also is organic and is OMRI listed. It controls destructive worms and caterpillars like the geranium budworm. The final product was a pheromone trap. This trap was designed to trap the male codling moth. This moth is destructive and destroys your apples and pears by boring into the fruit and eating it from the inside out. This trap attracts the male with a scent and so there are no males to mate with the females, thus no worms to destroy your fruit. It may not get all the males, but it will give you an idea if you have a problem so you can treat for the bigger problem.
If you think you might have a problem with pests in your garden, stop by either location of Portland Nursery and check with their expert staff for a solution.
Succulents ae a HOT topic in the gardening area this year and sempervivums are a big part of that. Sempervivums are better known as ‘hens and chicks’ and that is because they have a main plant and the new plants grow like ‘chicks’ off of that main plant. One of the experts in the field of sempervivums is Kevin Vaughn. We have visited with Kevin in the past about his various hybridizing programs involving daffodils, iris, daylilies and hostas to name a few.
For the past few years Kevin has been focusing on growing new ‘semps’ that are bigger and bolder. The result is the new ‘Chick Charm Giant’ series of plants. These plants are easily 3-4 times as large as the previous types of sempervivums. He got to this point by cross breeding some already large varieties, and letting ‘survival of the fittest’ take over. These are huge and incredibly colorful. He is continuing to do selective breeding on newer varieties that will focus on bolder colors and leaf patterns. What we saw in the pipeline were fantastic! If you are looking for these new, huge plants, they will be arriving at your local garden center in the near future. Right now there is a limited quantity at Dancing Oaks Nursery near Monmouth. Call them to check on availability and then add them to your garden for a big splash of color!
Salt and Straw Flower Flavors
A few years ago we met Tyler Malek from Salt and Straw Ice Cream. He introduced us to a Tomato and Olive Oil sorbet, using fresh local tomatoes. Tyler is known for making these wonderful and interesting ice creams, sherbets, and sorbets, using locally produced products. These unique and tasty items have helped Salt and Straw grow to cover multiple cities on the west coast. This time we met him at one of the original locations on NW 23rd street in Portland. Here he told us about his new creations using flowers and plants. During the month of May you can stop by the local Portland area stores and enjoy 5 flavors. They include Jasmine Milk Tea & Chocolate Almond Stracciatella, Pistachio Rose Water w/ Strawberry Mochi, Rhubarb Crumble w/ Toasted Anise, Saffron & Honey w/Crystalized Flower Petals, and Mathilde's Hibiscus & Coconut Sherbet. The key, according to Tyler, is to balance the flavors so that the floral characteristics don’t overpower the other flavors. In fact, the flavors are so fresh that you will find actual flowers in your ice cream with some of the varieties!
Now you might look at these flavors and think that they are not your cup of tea, or scoop of ice cream, but let me tell you, they are good! Your chance to try these flavors runs out at the end of May, but don’t worry Tyler is always working on new and more exotic flavors that will thrill your tastebuds. The other big news… you will soon be able to enjoy his flavors in Cedar Hills later this summer! Another great location to enjoy these tasty treats.
Bosky Dell Trees
We talk about adding native plants to our gardens to attract native pollinators. Let's not stop at native blooming plants! If you incorporate native plants of all types you will find that you will have plants that work really well in your garden because they are accustomed to our soils and climate. That is especially true for native trees. To see a few that you might consider, we stopped by Bosky Dell Natives (503-638-5945) and talked with the owner Lory. Bosky Dell is known for the great selection of native plants and for the way they display them, and Lory is a big cheerleader for these plants. We started with the Western Red Cedar. This is known as a tree of life by the native population because they could use it for many purposes including making clothing, shelters and even canoes. It can become a huge conifer so make space for it. The second tree was the Western Hemlock. This tree is one of the most prolific in our forests and is used for timber and paper production, but it is a winner in the garden too. It also can get pretty big, over 150 feet tall or taller, so give it plenty of room too. Lory recommended that you can plant these two trees in a mixed planting for a nice privacy wall between neighbors. The small plant behind the Western Hemlock was the Mountain Hemlock. This one stays much smaller and grows at a slower rate. This one only grows about an inch a year so you can place this plant just about anywhere in the garden. Lory called it Nature's Bonsai. These hemlocks can also come in interesting shapes. Some even look twisted and windblown, which gives them even more character. The last plant we looked at was the native Vine Maple. This plant usually shows up as a shrub with multiple trunks, but you can cut and train it into a tree form too. This plant can get up to 25 feet tall, but doesn't really spread out a lot. The best part is the incredible fall color! Oranges and reds will shine and it becomes a main focal point in the fall garden, so put it in an area where you can see it in the fall!
These are just a few of the native trees and shrubs that you will find at Bosky Dell. So if you are thinking of adding natives to your garden don't just look down for texture and interest, look up for trees with wonderful height too!
Sun and Shade #2
A few weeks ago we stopped by Garland Nursery (800-296-6601) to chat about plants that do well in sun and shade. There were so many plants that Lee Powell found that we had to return for a second story. We started with an Oakleaf Hydrangea called 'Ruby Slippers'. These are called oakleaf because of the shape of their leaves. This hydrangea has a panicle type of flower, meaning it looks like an upright cone, which starts as a white bloom and changes to a ruby color by the end of summer. It also has great fall color as well when those leaves start to get ready for winter. The next plant was a much smaller plant, perfect for the borders in your garden. The Geum 'Tempo Rose' has wonderful pinkish blooms, but there are lots of different geums that work in sun and shade. If you cut off the spent blooms you can also get another flush of blooms later in the season. The next plant was a Glossy Angelica. This plant is known for the great foliage texture and unique flower stalks. The blooms are nothing spectacular, but the foliage makes up for it. If you are looking for another plant that can stand out in the sun or shade, the Carex/Japanese Sedge 'Feather Falls' might be the one for you. The variegated foliage of cream and green pops and it also curls in cascading waves over the edge of a container. Another shrub type of plant for your garden is the Itea/Sweetspire 'Little Henry'. This one is a shorter version that only gets 2-3 feet high. It ends up covered in white bloom spikes and then ends up with great fall color that lasts for weeks. A popular plant that a lot of gardeners already use is the Nandina. This variety, 'Tuscan Flame', is evergreen, or should we say ever-red? The new growth is a bright red with great fall color lasting through the winter months. We were getting near the end of Lee's cart when we saw the Birch-leafed Spirea called 'Tor'. Clusters of large white pompon blooms covered this plant already and they looked like they would last for quite a while. Next to the spirea was a blindingly gold Choisya (Mexican Orange) called 'Gold Fingers'. It absolutely glows, though it will be a little more light green in the shade. Lee also included a native on the cart. The Salal (Gaultheria shallon) is a plant you can find all over the Pacific Northwest forests and will grow well in sun and shade, as will a lot of native plants and shrubs. It flowers and has berries that the local wildlife will love. The final plant was a Japanese Yew 'Emerald Spreader'. This plant will stay small and compact in your garden with selective pruning, but could eventually get 2 feet tall and up to 8 feet across. The foliage is a lighter green in the sun and a little darker in the shade. Remember that most of these plants will need a little more water in the sun. They may also have less blooms in the shade and different colored foliage. To find the right plant for your sunny and shady areas or anything in between stop by Garland Nursery and ask their great staff.
Lan Su 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!
Bonide Neem Max
Neem oil has been a go-to product for the local organic gardener. The neem oil itself is produced by the neem tree fruit. It is used as a coating spray to smother pests and diseases without using synthetic chemicals or ingredients. In the past the product was recovered from the fruit using heat and lots of processing. Bonide recently came up with a better product by using a cold extraction process. Tom from Bonide joined us to fill us in on the new product and why it was so much better. He had both the ‘old style’ neem oil, which is highly effective, and in a ‘ready to use’ spray bottle, and the new style neem oil in a concentrate. Tom explained that when you heat the neem for extraction you lose a little bit of the natural benefits of the oil. The cold extraction leaves some of those beneficial elements in the product. Judy likened it to cold pressed olive oil. The cold pressed olive oil is packed full of lots of stuff that you may not get with a filtered oil. Tom told us that their scientists had come up with a way to preserve those beneficial elements without spoiling. The new product works in many ways; either by smothering the destructive pests or spores, or by interrupting their lifecycle, and because it has the tan corner on the label you know that both products are natural and listed as approved for organic gardening. Check it out at your local independent garden center this spring.
Garden Time YouTube
Every once in a while the Garden Time show has a little ‘blip’ when it airs on our TV partners and people don’t get the whole show in its entirety. We also hear from viewers that may have missed the show due to vacations and other circumstances. Don’t worry, you can still watch each episode and stories, even weeks after it airs by going to the Garden Time YouTube channel.
Simply go to the www.GardenTime.tv website and click on the YouTube icon in the upper right corner. That will take you to our channel and you can watch current and past shows and stories, as many times as you like. Once there you can also sign up as a subscriber to receive notification of all our stories as soon as they are posted (sometime days before they broadcast!) So don’t worry about missing Garden Time, we’re as close as your computer!