In like a lion and out like a lion. The month of March seems to have been a month of extreme swings. As we finish up the month it is in the middle of a big surge of storms. We also had snow and sun in the last 31 days. Crazy! We can only hope that things mellow out. Already some of the flowers that were blooming on time have been pushed back with all the cold and rain. At least I have more time to do some pruning and cleaning up the garden… right after the show!
This week we featured...
Pruning Apple Trees
Now is the perfect time to prune your fruit trees. We caught up with our friend Terrill Collier and his crew from Collier Arbor Care (503-72ARBOR) as they were pruning an apple tree to get some tips for the home gardener. The first thing Terrill told us was to make sure that we know what type of tree we are pruning. First there are the ‘stone fruits’ which include cherries, peaches and plums. Then there are the ‘pome fruits’ which are apples, pears and Asian pears. The type of pruning you do depends on the type of fruit you have. Apple trees fruit on 3 year old fruit or older, on what are called fruiting spurs. These are tiny spurs on the smaller branches of the tree and look like tiny wrinkled buds. You don’t want to prune out too much of the old wood because you are cutting away part of your harvest. You do want to cut out the suckers or ‘water sprouts’ that are usually growing straight up from the limbs and look like new, smooth growth. You can thin these out and shorten the long branches to reduce the risk of too much weight on the end of your branches when they fruit. The key to good fruit production is light and if you prune out a lot of the unproductive wood you will allow light to get to the branches where your fruit is growing. Don’t prune your tree only at the bottom and at the top. A very productive tree will be evenly pruned through the entire tree.
World’s Largest Hanging Basket
The Oregon nursery industry is a leader once more! Thanks to some forward thinking people we can now boast the World’s Largest Hanging Basket. This basket is HUGE! It is 16 feet high and 10 feet wide and weighs over 2 tons! It is filled with grown in Oregon plants! We visited with the man behind the vision, Jonn Karsseboom, the owner of the Garden Corner (503-885-1934). Jonn and his staff are known for the hanging baskets around Lake Oswego and Tualatin. In fact they are experts at building hanging baskets, they have even made hanging baskets out of rocks! Jonn came up with the idea nine months ago and approached Don Sprague from Garden Gallery Ironworks. He jumped in and built the frame and basket with his staff. Holding the soil and plant material is 200 feet of moss cloth, provided by TropiCare of Oregon, St Paul, Oregon. Soil within the basket was provided by ProGro of Sherwood, Oregon. He also receive some support from the Oregon Association of Nurseries. The basket is s tribute to passion. They have a passion for hanging baskets at Garden Corner and Jon thought it would be great to celebrate that and salute everyone who has a passion whether it is in the garden or not. If you would like to see this behemoth, stop by the Garden Corner in Tualatin.
3 Cut Pruning
With end of winter and the storm season coming to a close we have seen a bunch of damaged trees around town. A lot of these trees have bent or broken limbs from the wind and snow. To help you take care of the small branches and to preserve the health of your trees we decided to share the technique called ‘3-cut pruning’. This technique should be used if the branch is on the lower part of the tree and smaller than the size of your arm. Anything bigger or higher in the tree should be tackled by a certified arborist. We started by cutting off most of the small branches from the end of the broken limb. This reduces the weight of the limb to reduce the risk of injury when you are cutting it off. Next go to the trunk of the tree and, on the underside of the broken limb make a cut of about 2-3 inches deep. Then go to the top side of the limb and go further out on the limb and cut through the limb. The limb should start to fall, but the cut on the underside of the limb will keep the bark from pealing back into the trunk and the good bark that the tree will need to heal. Make sure to be careful when you get to the end of the cut so the limb doesn’t fall of you or your feet. Finally, you will now have a small piece of wood to cut off to finish the project. Around the base of the limb where it meets the trunk you will notice a wrinkled ‘collar’. This is important to keep when you cut off the final piece of wood. Cut the last part of the limb off as close to the collar as you can without cutting this collar. Once the limb is gone the tree will start to grow over the wound where the limb once was. If you notice rotten wood in this cut area, call an arborist, it could be a sign of deeper damage. In a few short years your wound area will be covered with new bark and your tree will continue to grow in your yard for years to come. If the job seems too big for you and you are looking for a certified arborist, check out our friends at Collier Arbor Care (503-72ARBOR).
One of the easiest perennials to divide is the hosta. We paid a visit to Sebright Gardens (503-463-9615) to learn how to do it from Thomas Johnson. Sebright grows over 300 different varieties of hostas so they know what they are doing. Thomas told us that you should see the points of the new growth poking out of the ground before you dig them up. If you are seeing the new leaves starting to unfold you should wait a couple of weeks so you don’t damage the new growth, but that is the only warning he gave. He just got his hands dirty and pulled a plant apart, but you can also wash the clump and then just tear it apart by hand. It is so easy that you can chop up a clump of roots with a shovel and still not kill the plant! You can see some of Thomas’s hostas at Gardenpalooza on April 14th at Fir Point Farms.
Spring Chinese Plants
Spring is a special time at Lan Su Chinese Garden (503-228-8131) in downtown Portland. The Chinese seem to have a special affinity for the spring. They celebrate the new year and move right into celebrations of plum blossoms, camellias and the QingMing or ‘Clear Brightness Festival’. It must be the promise of the new year of growth and beauty in the garden. We found Glin Varco in the garden at the Scholars Study where she shared some of the poetry that you will find on signs and engravings around the garden. If you can read Chinese these sayings are profound (if you can’t there are books and brochures that will translate some of the signs). The Chinese not only look to the flowers in the garden to provide inspiration, they also tie in the structures and hardscaping to create an overall message. It is very beautiful once you see how it all fits together.
But we can’t forget about the plants. We moved into the middle of the garden to see what the plants were doing and we weren’t disappointed. We found some great plants blooming all over the garden including the Camellia transnokoensis, which has some beautiful white blooms with a slight touch of red, this was paired with Kerria japonica with it’s bright yellow blooms. A very nice couple! In other parts of the garden we saw Edgeworthia and the Daphne odora which will knock you over with its powerful fragrance! We even saw a bunch of camellias in full bloom as well. There are truly tons of plants showing off in the garden. And this weekend is your chance to add some of these plants to your own garden. Lan Su is having their annual spring plant sale this weekend at the lot behind the garden. From 10:30 to 4pm on Saturday the 31st you can stop by and pick out some great plants for your garden. In addition, if you buy a plant you will get a 2-for-1 coupon for admission to the garden so you and a friend can come in and check out the beautiful garden at your leisure.