Thursday, June 25, 2009

Coming up . . .

Ground Cover Solutions
Megan of Little Prince of Oregon Nursery will discuss Stepables and other ground covers to help prevent weeds and erosion, create a low-maintenance landscape, and benefit wildlife. They also work well in container plantings and borders.
Dennis’ Seven Dees - SE Powell; Saturday, June 27th 10:00 to 11:00 am.

Water Conservation in the Garden
Learn about different methods to save on both money and resources in the garden with John Hartog of the Community Energy Project. He will discuss methods such as using mulch, installing drip irrigation, and planting drought tolerant plants. Make a difference in your yard and your water bill.
Portland Nursery – Stark St; Saturday, June 27th, 1:00 pm

Water-Wise Gardens
Summer heat is coming. Get some water conservation tips from the Regional Water Providers Consortium. You can also pick up a free copy of the Willamette Valley Water Efficient Plant Guide, a Watering Gauge Kit, and other materials to help you save water in your landscape.
Al’s Garden Center – Sherwood; Saturday, June 27th, 10:00 am to 2:00pm.

Tried and True Perennials
Landscape designer Sue Barr will discuss some tried and true perennials that are easy to grow, beautiful, and can take whatever the weather is likely to throw at them.
Al’s Garden Center – Woodburn; Saturday, June 27th, 10:00 am.

Simplify Your Garden
What a treat! Local author, Barbara Blossom Ashmun, will tell how to simplify the garden, by planting lower-maintenance shrubs and weeding out the fussier plants. Barbara will also read from her newly-released story, The Garden Saved My Life. After the talk, Barbara will be available to autograph copies of her book, Married to My Garden.
Al’s Garden Center – Sherwood; Saturday, June 27th, 10:00 am.

Building a Raised Bed
Come listen to in-house “handy man” Bill Wilder as he shows you how to easily build a raised bed and planters for gardening in almost any part of your yard. You can also tap Bill’s experience building trellises, arbors and cold frames.
Portland Nursery – Stark St; Sunday, June 28th, 1:00 pm.

Ground Covers
Ramona Wulzen has a passion for ground covers and container gardening. She can help you find plants that will enhance problem areas in your garden and learn how to keep them looking good, whether in dry shade under evergreens or in a sunny hot spot that gets little water.
Joy Creek Nursery; Sunday, June 28th, 1:00 pm.

Opportunities for Gardening Kids

Hooked on Hummingbirds
Find out more about this amazing little bird and how to attract it to your yard. Each child will leave with something to help invite hummingbirds to their home.
Al’s Garden Center – Gresham; Saturday June 27th, 11:00 am. Registration is required. 503 491 0771

When You’re Too Tired to Garden – Read!

There are certainly lots of gardening books out there – many generate oohs and ahhs with glorious color and stylish design. This is not one of them. Oh, there are some sweet line drawings, but The Informed Gardener is a reader’s book.

Author Linda Chalker-Scott is an associate professor at Washington State University and specializes in urban horticulture – which is to say, home gardens. For a number of years I have enjoyed her column “Horticultural Myths.” This book collects the best of her nine-year effort. These well-researched articles take some of the things gardeners accepted as True and digs beneath the surface.

Times change; lawn care professionals, tree experts, and university researchers discover that what we were all taught at our mother’s knee or in our college classroom just isn’t true. We all thought it was, and it seemed to work most of the time; but after some years of study and experience, a better way was discovered.

Chalker-Scott has a direct, readable style and the research to back up her perspective. She includes references to the scientific research that illustrates her point. How many garden books and magazine articles do that?

The articles are quick reads and practical. Look for a new take on tree staking, hot-weather watering, mulching, and wound dressing.

The Informed Gardener by Linda Chalker-Scott; University of Washington Press.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Coming up . . .

Garden of Awakening Orchids

Our wonderful Portland Classical Chinese Garden is bringing us more than just the serenity of its plants and views – there’s music, too.

Every Monday and Thursday from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm and on Sundays from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, the Portland Orchids and Bamboo Chinese Ensemble presents Melody of the Purple Bamboo: Traditional Chinese Music in the Teahouse. Free, with order of tea service and Garden admission.

Free Soil Testing and Tool Sharpening!

Experts from the Portland Rose Society will answer your questions plus determine your soil’s pH. Don’t let a too acid soil slow your garden down! Take a shovelful from several spots in your garden bed, mix it together and bring about a ½ cup in for testing.

And have your pruners gotten dull from all that deadheading? Get them sharpened, while you wait. One per customer, please.
Dennis’ Seven Dees – SE Powell; Saturday, June 20th, noon to 3:00 pm.

Composting 101
Learn the basic steps in transforming your yard and kitchen waste into a nutrient-rich amendment for your soil with Metro’s Natural Gardening Specialist, Glen Andresen. Discover different methods of composting and easy solutions to composting problems.
Farmington Gardens; Saturday, June 20th, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Fabulous Flavors
Herbs are easy to grow and add wonderful fresh flavors to our food. Attend this class and learn some delicious ways to incorporate herbs into your favorite dishes from local expert, Eric Nelson, Executive Chef at Vitality Restaurant/Wellsprings.
Al’s Garden Center – Woodburn; Saturday, June 20th, 10:00 am.

If you’re closer to Sherwood meet with Peter Cook, Cordon Bleu trained Chef and Al’s Edibles Expert for his perspective.
Al’s Garden Center – Sherwood; Saturday, June 20th, 10:00 am.

Water-Wise Gardens
Summer’s coming, so get some water conservation tips from the Regional Water Providers Consortium. Pick up your free copy of the Willamette Valley Water Efficient Plant Guide, a Watering Gauge Kit and other materials that will help you save water in your landscape.
Al’s Garden Center – Gresham; Saturday, June 20th; 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

Winter Vegetable Gardening
It’s time to start thinking about planting that Winter Vegetable Garden. Polly Gottesman of Pumpkin Ridge Gardens has been providing fresh produce through her CSA Pumpkin Ridge Gardens since 1990. From her experience, she will discuss the best varieties for the Portland area.
Portland Nursery – Stark St; Sunday, June 21st, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Opportunities for Gardening Kids

Hooked on Hummingbirds
Find out more about this amazing little bird and how to attract it to your yard. Each child will leave with something to help invite hummingbirds to their home.
Al’s Garden Center – Gresham; Saturday June 27th, 11:00 am. Registration is required. 503 491 0771

People are talking about . . .

Azalea leaf gall is being seen now on azalea shrubs and hedges. It is a fungus that shows up about this time most years – some worse than others. High humidity seems to provide the right conditions for its spread.

When you see the pinkish, thickened growths on flowers or leaves, it’s time to act. Once these galls turn white, they are spreading spores to other parts of the plant. Clip off the infected flowers or twigs and throw them out (don’t compost them).

You can also spray to protect new leaves. Use Lilly Miller Microcop or another copper fungicide labeled for leaf gall. If your plant were infected this year, you might want to spray before bloom next year to prevent any problems. Spray again after about three weeks.

I try to be good about clipping off the galls when I see them. This has seemed to keep it restricted to one end of my hedge, most years. There’s not much we can do to reduce the humidity in an Oregon spring.

Here was a case where conventional wisdom and real-world experience just didn’t match. The usual recommendation is to divide rhubarb every four or five years. This allows the gardener to keep the rhubarb plant in bounds – not take over the garden. Dividing will also stimulate new, vigorous growth, plus a dense, crowded plant is hard to keep well-fed and productive.

One caller said she never divides hers and gets loads of rhubarb year after year. Which just goes to show that not much is "one-way and one-way" only in the garden. There are lots of ways to have garden success – every garden is unique.

We also talked about pruning figs. The caller had a tree that had grown with four tall branches and worried that one would break off with the weight of the figs. This could certainly happen. But, this year’s figs grow on branches grown last summer. So, if you prune figs in the winter you risk cutting off wood that was going to bear fruit. Better to prune after the fruit has ripened and gradually shorten the branches a bit each year – eventually producing a “bushier” tree. Of course, any dead or damaged branches should be taken off during the winter.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Coming up . . .

Get gardening questions answered and vegetable puzzles solved by trained Oregon State University Extension Service Master Gardeners. Call or drop in at local offices in the metro area.

Clackamas County Extension Office
200 Warner-Milne Rd., Oregon City

Washington County Extension Office
18640 NW Walker Rd. #1400, Beaverton

Multnomah County Master Gardener Clinic
Montgomery Park, Suite 453, 2701 NW Vaughn St., Portland
Email questions or photos to

Master Gardeners are also available at some area farmers’ markets. Look for them there:
Lake Oswego Farmers' Market
Oregon City Farmers' Market
Milwaukie Farmers' Market

It’s Never Too Late to Plant Veggies
Attend this class and learn about some vegetables you can plant in June. Jack Bigej, a lifelong farmer tells us how to plant his favorite early summer vegetables.
Al’s Garden Center - Woodburn: Saturday, June 13th at 10:00 am

Summer Watering is Coming!
Did you know that the greatest waste of water is watering too, much too often? Or here in the Portland metro area, water use can double or triple in the summer due to outdoor watering?
Find ways to save water at your house this year. Stop by the Regional Water Providers Consortium's table and pick up a FREE watering gauge kit and other helpful water conservation resources.
Dennis’ Seven Dees - Lake Oswego, Saturday, June 13th, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

Meet the Expert
Is this your first year to grow fruit in the garden? Do you have questions about your growing fruit orchard? Gil Jamison from Kraemer Nursery and ask your fruit questions.
Dennis’ Seven Dees - SE Powell, Saturday, June 13th 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

How to Use Your Own Cut Flowers
Nothing is more personal, local, and seasonal than bringing into your home your own flowers! Kathy Freeman-Hastings, a professional floral designer and Floral Design Institute instructor, will be here to demonstrate her tips for using flowers and greenery from the garden for your own arrangements.
Farmington Gardens, Sunday, June 14th, noon.

Looking Forward to Fall Apples

Apple maggots are a perennial problem to home apple growers. The surface of the fruit is ravaged by the maggots and makes the apples very unappetizing. In June, the apple maggot adults (the flies) start laying eggs in the fruit. Once they’re in the apples, there’s really no way to get to them. So, prevention is the key.

Starting around the first of July (as the flies get busy), there are sprays to protect the fruit.

Kaolin clay (Surround at Home®) is applied as a spray to the leaves, stems, and fruit, every 7 to 10 days through August. Check at local nurseries or online. One source is Gardens Alive!

Then there are sprays to kill the flies before they can lay the eggs.

Malathion, pyrethrin alone, or and rotenone as a mix with pyrethrin. Ask at your nursery or garden center for the products they carry that contain these ingredients and can be used on fruit trees.

The apple maggot trap is also a way to get rid of the flies before they lay eggs.

1 cup sugar
1 cup vinegar
2 banana peels
1 tbsp. molasses (optional)

Fill a gallon plastic milk jug half full of water, add the other ingredients, and shake well. Hang jug from fruit tree with lid off. If tree is larger, you may need more than one.
Leave in trees bloom to harvest, change periodically – when it gets too crusty with dead flies

Another traditional way to protect the fruit is to put a paper bag around each fruit when it is small and allow it to grow larger inside the bag – safe from insect attack. This was a painstaking process, but quite effective.

Recently someone came up with a new twist. Instead of stapling on paper bags, they’re using “footies” – the nylon mesh things you get in the shoe store to try on shoes. They go on faster and expand easily as the fruit grows.

You can get them from the Home Orchard Society or Raintree Nursery. Here’s one from my tree.

Protect our neighborhoods and our environment. Apply all insect controls with care. Read the label and follow it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It’s Still Veggies! Veggies! Veggies!

At Al’s Garden Center find out that It’s Never Too Late to Plant Veggies. Jack Bigej, a lifelong farmer, will help you learn about vegetables you can plant this month. It’s at the Sherwood location on Saturday, June 6th at 10:00 am.

Portland Nursery’s Stark Street store will feature Tracy of Westwind Gardens talking about Seasonal Vegetable Planting and timing your vegetable planting for the most abundant harvest. That will be on Sunday, June 7th, at 11:00 am.

The Multnomah County Master Gardeners welcome the general public to hear Weston Miller, OSU Community and Urban Horticulturist, speak on Year-round, Intensive Vegetable Gardening: Focus on Winter Veggies. With our relatively mild climate in the Willamette Valley, it is possible to harvest fresh veggies from the garden all year round. Harvesting veggies in the winter takes lots of planning and some special tools and techniques. The time to plan is now.
Start planning on Tuesday, June 9th, 7:00 pm, at the Mt.Tabor Presbyterian Church (5441 SE Belmont St. Portland).

The Clackamas County Master Gardeners also invite home gardeners to hear Josh Kirschenbaum, of Territorial Seed Company, speak about Winter Vegetable Gardening. With the price of goods on the rise and significant awareness about where our food comes from and what is on it or in it, the movement to home‐gardening makes perfect sense. Josh will share his knowledge of winter vegetables including best varieties for our region and tips on planting, growing, and extending the harvest.

You can join them at the Milwaukie Center (5440 SE Kellogg Creek Dr., Milwaukie) on Monday, June 8th, 7:00 p.m.

For the Ornamental Gardeners - -

Hear Ann Nickerson, on "Basic Landscape Design" at Farmington Gardens (21815 SW Farmington Road, Beaverton). Learn the basic principles you will need – both with creating a site plan, and with choosing pleasing plant combinations. You will leave knowing what steps to take to create the garden you’ve always wanted! Saturday, June 6th, 1:00 – 3:00 pm.

With Designing Great Ornamental Trees Into Your Garden experienced local designers Ann Marsh and Gary Fear will discuss many small to medium-sized trees and design essentials for putting them into your landscape at Joy Creek Nursery (20300 NW Watson Rd., Scappoose). Sunday, June 7th, 1:00 pm.

Are there still places in the garden that need some attention? Mary Ludlum will introduce many of the New Plants for 2009 at Farmington Gardens – from Japanese maples; conifers; roses; and lots of summer and fall-blooming perennials. Wednesday, June 10th, 10:00 am.

A Westside garden tour - -

Washington County Master Gardeners
2009 Garden Tour

Saturday, June 27th, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Washington County Master Gardeners invite you to enjoy a free self-guided tour of five home gardens, a community garden, and a school garden; all in Washington County.

The tour will showcase sustainable gardening practices for edibles and ornamentals, with an emphasis on home food growing. You’ll see beautiful ponds, a large cutting garden, unusual shrubs and perennials, fruit trees, a 4-season vegetable garden, charming chickens and more. Master gardeners will be on hand to answer your questions. More information at; click on the “events” link.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Getting the Right Care for Your Trees

Sometimes I recommend that a listener contact a professional tree care specialist or an arborist when there is a tricky or seemingly serious situation with a tree. Trees are extremely valuable to an individual home and to the community environment, as well. We all want to be sure that our neighborhood trees get the attention and care they need.

But, how do you choose someone to look after that tree and solve its problems?

Here are some basic tips from the Tree Care Industry Association. See their website for more.

  • Seek recommendations from neighbors, friends or business associates who you know have had professional tree care work done in the past. Local references allow you to measure the company’s abilities and professionalism.
  • Ask for copies of current, valid certificates of insurance. Ask to see current certificates of liability and workers' compensation insurance, if applicable.
  • Verify professional affiliations the company might have
  • Get a detailed written estimate of the work needed and the cost.
  • Don't be rushed by a bargain, don't pay in advance, and do get another estimate or opinion of the needed work.
  • Get estimates in writing and agree to a written work order.
  • Insist on a signed contract as to cost, dates when work is to be performed, and exactly what is to be done.
  • A professional arborist will be aware of the current safety, pruning, fertilizing, and cabling standards.

The Better Business Bureau also has a brochure with some great advice.

Here are three organizations that train tree care professionals and inspect tree care businesses to help you establish the credentials of the company and staff that will assist you.

American Society of Consulting Arborists
International Society of Arboriculture
The Tree Care Industry Association

Trees are a wonderful resource for our community; let’s take good care of them.