Thursday, July 30, 2009

Coming up. . .

Washington County Master Gardeners
Demonstration Garden Here’s a chance to ask trained Master Gardeners your garden questions and see the planning and planting that make this area of the fairgrounds so popular.
Washington County Fair Grounds (873 NE 34th Ave., Hillsboro), Thursday through Sunday (July 30th to August 2nd), 10:00 am to 11:00 pm.

Southwest Portland Fuchsia Club Show and Seminar
Fuchsias come in such a variety of colors and forms, and they flourish in our Northwest climate. Plus, many of the most delicate are surprisingly hardy in even our worst winters. See the best of the best Saturday morning when judges decide which plants are worthy of the winning ribbons. There will also be as seminar so you can learn how you can grow these beauties in your own yard.
Al’s Garden Center – Sherwood; Show - Saturday, August 1st, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; and Sunday, August 2nd, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Seminar - Saturday, August 1st, noon.

Entrance Gardens
Join Lisa Annand, garden designer, and learn how to create beautiful gardens to surround and accent your entryway. From simple to more elaborate, learn how to make the entry to your home stunning.
Al’s Garden Center; Gresham: Saturday, August 1st, 10:00 am.

Make Compost for Your Garden
Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District and Metro present tours, presentations, and hands-on learning composting activities, plus receive a free natural gardening gift (while supplies last).
Cooper Mountain Nature Park (18892 SW Kemmer Rd., Beaverton); Saturday, August 1st, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm. Advanced registration required (503-629-6350).

Eating Seasonally From Your Garden
With a greater selection of veggie varieties available now than ever before, you can eat seasonally from your garden all year long. Rose Marie Nichols-McGee, of Nichols Garden Nursery, will talk about what seeds and starts will keep your garden productive through the fall and winter.
Farmington Gardens; Sunday, August 2nd, noon.

Planting Under Big Trees
If Mother Nature can plant under and around large trees, you can too. Russell Graham, Salem's Purveyor of Plants, discusses the challenges that face the gardener under trees, some techniques to consider before planting, and plants that do well in this environment.
Joy Creek Nursery; Sunday, August 2nd, 1:00 pm.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's Growing in My Garden

Though the days seem really too hot to handle, the garden keeps on giving.

For the past two years, I’ve grown Sweet Olive tomatoes, and they are still my favorite. They are hardly bigger than a cherry tomato, so they aren’t going to work all that well sliced on a sandwich. But they have a great, not-too-sweet, tomato-y taste.

And aren’t those beans gorgeous? They are good-looking in the garden, even if they weren’t good to eat. I’ve been eating them right out of the garden, fresh and warm. But if you do cook them, they turn green. I’m also growing green snap beans and scarlet runner beans.

The scarlet runners are mostly for the flashy flowers that cover the trellis, but the beans are yummy, if you get them soon enough. Like all beans, if you let them go too long, they get tough and less flavorful. Just let the lumps of the beans inside the pod start to show, then into the house.

Pulling off the beans tells the plant to keep on making more beans. If the pods are left on the plant, it can stop producing flowers and then – no more beans for us.

So, hot as it is, get out in the garden and reap the harvest your efforts have brought about.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Coming up . . .

Twilight In the Garden
Where better to spend a warm summer evening than surrounded by the delightful plants at one our region’s best display gardens. Join the folks at Joy Creek Nursery for the annual evening open house. Music and light refreshment.
Joy Creek Nursery; July 25th 6:00 to 9:00 pm

Hydrangeas, Beyond the Classics
If you’ve got full sun in your yard, and would love to add a hydrangea, attend this class and learn about some great options. Jerry Brown of Fischer Farms nurseries will share some new and exciting varieties of the classic hydrangea.
Al’s Garden Center – Woodburn; Saturday July 25th 10:00 am
Al’s Garden Center – Sherwood: Saturday, July 25th 1:00 pm

Succulent Container Gardens
Are you tired of high‐maintenance containers? Leah McDonald will help you discover the interesting, colorful world of succulents – many of which are hardy in our climate. Purchase your container and select your plants, and we will provide a place for you to plant them, as well as the soil and fertilizer! No charge other than your materials.
Farmington Gardens; Sunday, July 26th 1:00 pm

Harvest and Storage of Summer Crops
Your garden is growing--so now what? Come join Jolie Grindstaff as she draws on her 10 years of experience as an avid edible gardener and vegetarian cook to share tips, techniques, timing and recipes for harvesting and preserving your veggies, herbs and fruit.
Portland Nursery – Stark; Sunday, July 26th 1:00 pm

Backyard Plant Breeding
How are new plants made? Discover the secrets of plant sex and get hands-on experience with several genera with Diana Reeck, owner of Collectors Nursery. For all levels of gardening experience. (Please bring your own tweezers!)
Joy Creek Nursery; Sunday, July 26th 1:00 pm

Monday, July 20, 2009

Coming up . . .

Not satisfied with the living art they have created, some gardeners seek to embellish their natural world. If you are one of them, this week is the week and the 10th Annual Cracked Pots Garden Art Show is the place.

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week (July 21st and 22nd), over 90 artists will show off garden art to compliment every garden and appeal to every taste. From the dramatic to the delicate, you’ll find sculpture, planters, furniture, and more.

And all items are made from at least 75% reused and recycled materials. These Northwest artists are helping to reduce waste by “re-imagining” cast-off materials into artwork for the delight of gardeners.

Join them and see another side of recycling. 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm at McMenamins Edgefield (2126 S.W. Halsey St., Troutdale). Admission is free.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Flowers Changing Color??

On Saturday, a caller wondered why her Lily of the Nile (agapanthus) would be a lighter color blue this year than last year. I was reminded of a caller earlier in the year who had the same complaint about a favorite, deep-red rhododendron.

Yes, there are many red rhodies and agapanthus from pale blue to purple. But, right from the start, we’re going to assume that these gardeners have good memories and do know what color the flowers were last year. None of that eye-rolling!

So, what might be the explanation? Flower, leaf, and stem colors come from combinations of pigments made by the plant – delphinidin (blue-violet), carotenoids (for yellows), anthocyanins (reds), and, of course, chlorophyll (the many greens).

This explains why we don’t have a blue rose (there are no blue pigments in the rose family) and why some hydrangeas stay white (they have no pink and no blue). But once we the colors are present in the plant – what determines the intensity of those colors?

The complex system that produces the colored pigments depends on the presence of specific nutrients. If these are lacking, the plant may not be able to make enough compounds to give the deepest color. This is a good reason to use compost or natural plant foods, which are always rich in a wide array of essential nutrients.

Temperature can impact color, too. The lower the night temperature, the less intense the flower color is. So, warmer spring nights or cooler summer nights would be a factor that differs from year to year.

And light – that variable and varying Northwest commodity. A high amount and intensity of light builds up the colored pigments in plant leaves and flowers. Our famous cloud cover during critical times could also change the flower display from one year to the next.

So, keep your plants in good health and nutrition. The amount of light and the season’s temperature are nothing we can control. Let’s enjoy whatever Nature brings us.

Thanks to Phillip W. Simon (University of Wisconsin), Dr. Leonard P. Perry (University of Vermont), Dick Bir (North Carolina State University), researchers at Texas A&M University, and the dahlia genetics group at Stanford University for their work on the biochemistry of color in the plant world.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Coming up . . .

Kathy Shearin – workshop leader for East Multnomah Soil &Water Conservation District – will highlight ways to attract wildlife and save water while making the garden a feast for the eyes. Naturescaping focuses primarily on native plants, recommended because they are adapted to our soil and climate and need relatively little or no watering, fertilizing, or care once established. They are also less susceptible to common garden pests and diseases, and they attract a variety of native birds and butterflies by providing food and shelter.
Portland Nursery – Stark; Sunday, July 12th 1:00 pm

Green is a Color, Too
Many of us take the color green for granted, but, as Kermit the Frog reminds us, it is a real and vibrant hue. Come and explore the many ways this color can be used in the garden with Lucy Hardiman of Perennial Partners, a garden design collective recognized for their innovative approaches to garden design. Join Lucy and be prepared to have your eyes opened.
Joy Creek Nursery; July 12th 1:00 pm

Master Gardeners at King Neighborhood Farmers Market Multnomah County Master Gardeners are staffing an information table, so take in samples of weeds or plant problems and get some help for your garden.
NE 7th and Wygant between NE Alberta and Prescott Streets; Sundays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Watering on My Mind

This season I wanted to pay extra attention to water for the yard and garden. Yes, clean water is a precious environmental resource – not to be wasted, but the vegetables need enough to be productive, plus my shrubs and trees need the right amount for best health, too.

I began by more regularly digging into the soil with a trowel to see what was actually happening down there. Was the soil really dry under the mulch? Did the plants need water again, so soon?

I found that the extra effort paid off. I have been surprised more than once – thinking that the plants looked fine when the soil was quite dry down six inches. The plants would have wilted in another day. Just as often, I’ve thought that several hot days must have dried out the soil, only to find that it was still moist just under the surface. (Must be all that organic matter I add!)

And I think the garden shows the difference. So, save water by using it well. Water when the plant needs it, and – as my friend Greg advises – not just because it’s Tuesday or because you have the hose in your hand.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Coming Up . . .

Over the holiday weekend many folks will picnic or enjoy their own garden. If you want to take a stroll through someone else’s landscape, consider one of our local public gardens.

The Oregon Zoo has great horticulture interest, as well as animal exhibits. The Oregon Zoo Backyard Makeover exhibit shows how to design a home landscape for beauty as well as for the environment. There’s a before-and-after design, plus tips.

A favorite of mine is the Leach Botanical Garden in southeast Portland. There are over 2,000 plants in the collection and the cool streamside location is a refreshing spot to be in hot weather.

Another relaxing garden walk is the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden near Reed College. Though the most spectacular show is earlier in the spring, anytime in the deep green setting will refresh the spirit.

In Southwest is the Bishop’s Close, a larger and more dramatic setting. The diversity of plants and garden vistas make it a choice trip season after season.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thinking About Fall Planting

A garden doesn’t have to be something you start over Memorial Day weekend and then stop sometime in October. As summer reaches a fever pitch in late July and August, planting some more vegetables will let you enjoy fresh produce late into fall.

The Home Garden Seed Association has some easy-to-grow suggestions for late summer planting. Here are their top ten:

1. Beets
2. Calendula
3. Cilantro
4. Kale
5. Lettuce
6. Peas
7. Radish
8. Salad Greens
9. Spinach
10. Swiss Chard

As space opens up in the garden – lettuce has bolted, beans are finished – think about putting in a second crop of peas or a row of radishes. These two are especially easy to grow from seed.

Take a look at your garden beds. It’s time to plan how you can continue to pick vegetables on through fall, right in your own backyard.