The flowers are busting out all over! In this weeks show we are covering 3 great flowers which are all hitting their peak right now. We check out the Lilacs at Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens, the great rhododendrons at the Cecil and Molly Smith Garden, and the incredible dwarf iris at Mid-America Gardens. Plus the tulips are still blooming at Wooden Shoe Bulb Company! This weekend you should jump in the car and head out to see some of these great gardens! While you are at it, stop by your local garden center to buy a beautiful plant or check out our events calendar for a list of local plant sales around our area.
This week we featured...
Everyone knows about the tall bearded iris. We have many great growers of iris in our area. But one of the shining stars of the spring garden is the dwarf breaded iris. We stopped by Mid-America Garden (503-390-6072) to chat with Thomas Johnson about these little beauties. You may recognize Thomas from Sebright Gardens (503-463-9615) which specializes in hostas, ferns and other perennials. He is also a grower and breeder of dwarf iris and he took us on a tour of his test garden to show what the dwarf iris were all about. These small irises are early bloomers in the garden. Their taller cousins will bloom two to three weeks later. They need the same type of growing conditions to thrive in our area. Well drained soil, no over-watering and not planted too deep. If you follow these simple rules they can be one of the most trouble free plants in the garden. They also offer more variety too. Because of their breeding history, they have more colors and styles to offer the home gardener. If you would like to learn more about these great little spring plants you can get in touch with Thomas at Mid-America Garden and see when you can come out and view the blooms!
The Hulda Klager Lilac Days 2012
We took the short trip up I-5 to Woodland Washington to check out the lilacs at the Hulda Klager Lilac Days (360-225-8996). The 2012 Lilac Days are one of the best in years. The warmer weekends this spring has blooms popping and they smell wonderful! They are just hitting their peak this weekend. Ruth met us once again to fill us in on what was new for this season. It is a great time to see some of the different varieties and what they might look like in your yard. We looked at ‘Sunday’ which had huge blooms that had a cascading look to them, the variety ‘Miss Kim’ which was one that could be cut into a hedge and was yet to bloom, and finally, the ‘Dappled Dawn’ which has the variegated leaves that you can enjoy after the blooms have faded. She also gave us the simple tips for success in growing these beauties: Alkaline soil, good drainage and sun! Hulda hybridized many lilacs and became known as the ‘Lilac Lady’ in the Woodland area. She opened her garden to the public for an open house in the spring during the 20’s. She passed away in 1960. The Hulda Klager Lilac Society now runs the garden and opens it every year for this festival. They charge a small $2 fee during the festival. That, and the proceeds from the gift shop, keeps this garden going all year long. Take the time and visit it when you get a chance, it is spectacular!
Cecil and Molly Smith Gardens
Every year around Mother’s Day we usually stop by the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden to see the blooms before the big show and sale. This year in anticipation of the big weekend we decided to visit a little known gem named the Cecil and Molly Smith Garden (503-771-8386) near St. Paul. This garden is owned by the Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. This garden is spectacular because of its very mature rhodies and other unique plants. Karen Cavender is a member of the society and an expert of the garden. She told William all about the garden and Cecil and Molly. The Smiths bought the property because of the great soil and the position of the property that allowed great air and water drainage. They collected and started growing unique plants on the property to compliment the rhododendron and azaleas they had there. A lot of the plants are 50 years or older. The garden is only open on weekends from April to the end of May and there is a 3 dollar admission charge if you are not a member of the society. The admission fee is worth it! You will be able to walk acres of great paths shaded by huge Douglas Firs that create a great environment for these large rhodies. They will also have plants for sale during these open weekends. You can find the garden at 5055 Ray Bell Road, in St. Paul. Stop by for a visit and then head down to the Big Rhododendron Show and Sale at Crystal Springs in SE Portland! It would be a day full of blooms!
The hottest plant on the market this late spring and early summer is not a new plant but an old favorite with a twist. Grafted tomatoes have made an appearance recently at Portland Nursery. Grafted vegetable plants are not new. For years growers in Europe and Japan have used disease resistant root stock and familiar fruiting varieties in combination to get better and bigger yields from their plants. Not only can they resist disease better, they can also handle stress better and even produce fruit earlier (depending on the variety). Sara from Portland Nursery on Stark (503-231- 5050)showed us a couple of the varieties that they carry and also showed us a double grafted plant that will produce 2 different types of fruit. Pretty awesome! There are some tips for ensuring the success of your grafted plant. First, you can’t plant these tomatoes deep. We have told you to plant your tomatoes deep, but these are grafted and if you plant the graft below the soil it will negate the benefits of the grafted root stock. Also, you will want to use a tomato cage or support of some kind. The young plants will need the support until the graft becomes stronger. Keep an eye out for suckers coming from the graft and prune those off if they start to grow. If you are interested in trying these ‘new’ plants, check out the selection of plants available from Portland Nursery on Stark or Division. You can also learn more from the grower’s website, http://loghouseplants.com.
Your roses are probably just getting started for the season. Leaves are forming and if you are lucky you may even have some flower buds showing. If you are not so lucky, you might even have some pests starting to show up too. To learn some ways of controlling these pests we stopped by Heirloom Roses (503-538-1576) and chatted with Kathleen about what they do to control bugs and diseases. She first pointed out some of the roses in their garden. These had been pruned to leave the middle of the plant open for air circulation. This will allow the plant to dry quickly after watering or rain to prevent water borne diseases like mildews and fungus. Next she told us about some natural and organic products that they use occasionally in the garden to control pests and disease. They also have some great homemade remedies on their website under their ‘Rose Growing & Care’ link. Finally we talked about the ‘natural’ way of battling pests by attracting predators to your garden. These predators are little bugs, beetles and wasps which feed on the aphids and other bugs that can plague your roses. They can be bought at your garden center and released in the garden or you can grow other perennial plants that will draw them into your garden. They also have a list of great companion plants on their website. If you have any questions about roses and how to care for them, stop by the sales cottage when you visit the fields or give them a call!