Wow, the heat has definitely returned! This week we have been blessed with warm summer heat. This week also marks the opening of the Oregon wildfire season. It is time to start thinking about drying conditions and how that affects your garden and the area around your home. Make sure you know about the dangers of drying plants around your home and how you can prevent wildfires.
Also the heat marks the return of the Oregon Lavender Festival. This week we visit a lavender farm and learn about lavenders, but you can stop by any of the list farms to learn more. Just check out the story below for more details about the festival.
Simple Drip Irrigation
Being green doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful garden. It means you should be responsible with the resources that you use. A drip irrigation system is a great way to use your water more efficiently. Mark from Al’s Garden Center (503-726-1162) showed William how easy it is to build a drip system with supplies that many garden centers carry. First Mark recommended that you figure out where you need the water. Then purchase enough materials to cover the amount of lineal footage you need to get the job done. You also want to make sure that you don’t try to water too many pots or planters with your system. Most drip systems use ‘emitters’ to get the water to the plant. There are 2 types of emitters that you can use; a slow drip and a small sprayer. Once you have figured out the number of emitters you want, you just punch a hole in the tubing, attach the small emitter and place it in the plant. If you make a mistake, they even have plugs to patch the hole! If you have any questions you can check with your local independent garden center. Call first to make sure they have all the parts you need.
Top 5 Lavenders – Festival
It is July and that means the lavender is in bloom. To check out these fragrant plants we stopped by one of our favorite lavender farms, Lavender at Stonegate (503-638-5218), and talked to Sarah Berringer Bader. Sarah just put the finishing touches on her new book ‘The Lavender Lovers Handbook’. This is a great book that covers everything that you need to know about lavenders. It has segments on pruning, planting and even recipes for cooking. One of the best parts is Sarah’s top 10 favorite lavenders. She brought some for us to look at too. Her number one favorite is called ‘Folgate’ which is an English lavender. Folgate has a sweet fragrance and is very easy to grow; it even looks great in the winter time. The second one she brought out was ‘Purple Bouquet’. This one is known for its long stems and great fragrance. It is great for crafts, cut flower bouquets and will produce a second crop if you cut off the first blooms. It is what they line the driveway with at the nursery because it is so showy! The third one she showed us was ‘Buena Vista’. This one was bred in Oregon and is a continuous bloomer. It is also one of the best varieties for culinary uses. The fourth one she brought out is considered the most fragrant of all lavenders, Grosso. About 70 percent of the lavender oil production in the world comes from this variety. The final one we looked at is also an Oregon bred variety called ‘Ana Luisa’. This one is hardy with long stems and wooly, silver foliage.
If you would like to check out Lavender at Stonegate and pick up a copy of her book, this weekend would be a great time. Lavender at Stonegate is part of the Oregon Lavender Festival which is happening this weekend around Oregon and SW Washington. You can check out their website to see all the participating farms, download a map and check out some of the special events that are happening around the area. Sarah will be signing copies of her book at her place and answering all your lavender questions.
When you think of hardy, beautiful roses you think of Heirloom Roses (503-538-1576). But Heirloom started as a small company, and I mean small like in miniature. Before there was Heirloom Roses selling large plants, there was John’s Miniature Roses. John Clements was a lover of small roses and that is how it all started. Heirloom still has one of the best collections of miniature and micro roses in the country. Cheryl met with us to tell us more about the roses and how they compare to the larger varieties. Miniature roses are just like their taller brethren in that they like lots of water, well drained soil and a good fertilizer every 6 weeks or so. The smaller varieties can be easier to deadhead and maintain though, and are excellent for a raised bed or container. The ‘miniature’ and ‘micro’ categories are mainly based on flower and leaf size. We saw some plants with flowers as small as your finger nail. But don’t think that these small plants can’t perform. They are just as hardy, fragrant and beautiful as their bigger cousins. If you stop by the Heirloom display gardens don’t miss out on touring the small flower bed where there are some big-time winners.
Hughes Water-Earth Bowl
Having a water feature in your backyard doesn’t require a lot of room. You can have the sound of water in a small space too. In the past Eamonn Hughes at Hughes Water Gardens (503-638-1709) has shown us how to build a simple water bowl with a fountain in it. This time we returned to learn about his ‘surf and turf’ special. What we are talking about is combining a water feature and a planter in one pot. First Eamonn showed us a container that had soil along the side of it. In the center there was a space for a bowl that would hold a small water feature. The larger container had a hole in the bottom for drainage of the terrestrial plants we would be using. We placed the bowl in the center and then started to added plants around it. These plants don’t have to be water plants because we treat the rest of the container as if it were a regular planter. Once everything is planted we started to work on the fountain. In the bottom of the ‘fountain’ bowl we placed a small pump. Next we put in a small basket, upside down, with a small hole for the pump hose to go through. This went into a small piece of pottery which topped the fountain. We dressed the area around the fountain to hide the edges and then we plugged in the fountain. It was done in less than 10 minutes! It is a great way to enjoy the best of both worlds, and planter and a fountain. If you are near Hughes you can stop by and pick up all the supplies to build your own Water-Earth bowl. You should also mark your calendar for the Annual Waterlily Festival and Art show. The event runs from July 20th through the 29th, with the big kickoff ‘Bloom Night’ evening at 6:30 on the 20th. Check out their website for more details.
Outdoor Watering Tools
Even though the winter and spring have been wet, we still have to think about the coming summer months and keeping everything watered. No one wants to waste water and most garden centers have a bunch of watering tools to help you get the water to where the plant needs it. Our friends from Dramm sent us a bunch of their wonderful products to demonstrate. First of all, you need a good hose. A lot of the hoses you will find on the market are pretty flimsy. This is one place where you get what you pay for. A good hose will not kink or leak and it should last more than one year of normal wear and tear. Next a soaker hose is a good idea. This will get the water to the root zone of your favorite plants and since it slowly drips water you won’t lose much to evaporation. Next we looked at spray nozzles. The one from Dramm had different settings so you could adjust the flow to the type of watering you were doing; a light mist to a ‘jet’ stream, and all you do is twist the knob on the front. Timers are also a good idea; there are battery operated ones and some that work on a spring system. The spring type are good if you are going to be around the house and just want the water to run for a certain time. The battery ones can be set to turn your water on and off for weeks if you plan to be on vacation.
Finally we talked about tools for getting water to those hard to reach places. Dramm had a watering wand with a shutoff valve. This is great for hanging baskets! Remember that hanging baskets can dry out much faster than your other containers so keep an eye on them and when you water them, give them a good soaking! Check your local independent garden center for more tools and ideas. If you would like more tips for watering check with the Regional Water Providers Consortium.