What a nice break in the weather. I know we have just gotten started on summer, but the cooler weather was great. I was able to sleep through the night without the air conditioning on! The mornings have been pretty nice too and the cooler weather has helped our raspberries bounce back too. It seems like even the plants are enjoying the break. Now that the heat is starting to return, be sure to keep your plants and yourself hydrated!
This week we featured...
Water-Wise Small Garden
Having a small garden creates all sorts of problems that people with large yards don’t have. The key to a compact garden is all in the planning! We stopped by a garden in southeast Portland to see how one homeowner tackled her small space and what she was able to accomplish with help from a local designer. Diane, the homeowner, pretty much had a blank slate when she started a few years ago. The only thing they started with was a bird feeder, but Diane wanted to attract more birds to her garden. The next step was to bring in native plants but to do that she needed a plan. That is when she brought in Amy Whitworth from Plan-it-Earth Design (503-239-0105). She helped bring natives into the garden but she also worked with Diane to create some entertainment areas, places for grandkids to play and even some areas for storage. The other objective of the garden was to be water efficient. It had to be low maintenance too. They started with a rain garden that would take some of the rain runoff and give it a place to percolate back into the soil. They placed a soaker hose in the bed to help water the new plants for the first year and now it is used less and less. They even had a great idea of marking the end of the hose with a small pile of rocks so when it was needed they could find it. The grass is still part of the landscape, but now it only gets its water from the sprinkler when the grandkids are over. It also has a bunch of small lawn daisies that use less water and still look great. If you are looking for tips to help you save money outside your home (and inside) you can check out the Regional Water Providers Consortium at www.conserveh2o.org.
Oregon Berry Festival
In celebration of the Oregon Berry Festival happening today at the EcoTrust building in Portland, we paid a visit to one of the nicest berry growers in the area, Julie Schedeen welcomed us to her nursery in Gresham, Schedeen’s (503-665-4730). William talked to her about the wide range of berries that you can find growing here in the Northwest. Julie and her husband have been growing berries for over 35 years and grow over 30 varieties of berries, so she knows her berries. She started with the Olallie berry one of the parents of the marionberry, obsidian blackberries and tayberries. The Tayberry is a Scottish berry with a very complex flavor. We then looked at the ‘Black cap’ Berry. This one is a relative to the raspberry and got its name from the little ‘cap’ of a berry that fits nicely on your finger. A cool fact about the black cap berry is that the juice is used as a dye in the stamps that the USDA uses on meat and cheeses. We then looked at Loganberries, one of the original raspberry/blackberry hybrids, and also one of the original flavors in Dr. Pepper soft drinks. You can grow almost any berry in our area, and so we moved over to the area where they sell berry plants. Julie started with the native huckleberry. These berries are small and you need a lot of them to make jellies or jams.The flavor is very unique, but people have the most success with blueberries due to our naturally acidic soil. They are also attractive because of their wonderful fall color and low maintenance. Julie also recommended planting more than one variety of blueberry plant. Different varieties fruit at different times and that will extend your harvest. We then looked at a couple of unusual fruits. The gooseberry is very easy to grow but they have a tart taste to them and have to combine with sugar or some other form of sweetener. The lingon berry is a great small berry plant that can be used as an evergreen ground cover as well as a berry plant. The plant is better known as one that you would find in Swedish preserves because of its tart taste. It is a great producer and can be harvested with a scoop that has small teeth, which is where it got its other name as a ‘dry land cranberry’. The final berry plant we saw was the brand new variety ‘Mara de Bois’. It has become the hottest variety for sale at all the farmers’ markets. They are an intensely sweet ever-bearing variety with a great flavor! If you have any questions about berries you can stop by any of the Schedeen’s locations or come by the Oregon Berry Festival, happening all day on Saturday, where Schedeen’s will have a booth.
Jan’s July Tips
This month we found Jan in the garden… relaxing! She was there in a summer dress, fanning herself with a hosta leaf and sipping on a drink with a little umbrella in it. She was there to make a point, now is the perfect time to be out in the garden and NOT working. You have spent a good portion of the spring and summer working to get your garden in shape and now is the time to enjoy the fruits of your labors! Your spring flowering shrubs should be pruned and if you do find something that needs doing you can always make a list of things to do… in September! And if you are out cutting in your garden you might actually be cutting off some of the bloom that is setting for next year or promoting new growth that won’t harden in time for the fall and may freeze off. You can always get tips for the garden at the OSU Extension website and that is available 24/7 so there is no hurry to get things done. Just sit back and enjoy the good old summertime!
Water and Bog Plants
A lot of people have areas in their garden that involve water, whether it’s a pond or water feature, or simply a marshy area, Hughes Water Gardens (503-638-1709) has a plant that will thrive there. We stopped by the nursery to talk to Eamonn Hughes about some of the plants he would recommend for those moist areas. We started with plants that would do well in the front area of your pond. These would stay lower so they don’t block the look of your pond or water feature but still help make the transition from the ground to the water. The first plant was the Lindernia or Blue Moneywort. It flowers all summer and it has a creeping habit so it can make a nice transition plant, softening the edges of the pond. The next one is one that might surprise you, a horsetail. This one is a different variety than the invasive one, Equisetum scorpoides or Dwarf Horsetail. The next plant had no flower but a great variegated foliage, a Pennywort called ‘Crystal Confetti’. It had a nice trailing habit just like the next plant on the table, a ranunculus or Small Creeping Spearwort. It is very hardy and will bloom on and off all summer. The next plant was more of a grass. It was the Sweet Flag ‘Ogon’ which will stay evergreen all year long with golden variegated foliage. Another one that flowers all summer is the variegated Society Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea) this one will return year after year and does smell like garlic if you crush the leaves. You can also consider annuals in your garden too. Some plants like the Rain Lily (Zephyranthes candida) will start blooming in the late spring and then keep blooming through the summer and into fall, then it will die away, but the flower show is worth it. All these plants will also work well in a water bowl garden. Just find a bowl that will hold water and you can plant any of these.
Next we moved to the larger plants that would work well in the background of the pond or marsh area. These are taller and in some ways more showy. One of the showy plants that Eamonn had was the canna ‘Marmalade Skies’. Some of the newer cannas can handle more water than others, so you will need to check with your garden center to make sure you pick the right ones. Another showy plant was the “black Magic’ Taro (Colocasia). It has large black tropical looking leaves that help make everything else around it ‘pop’. You can save this one by moving it into a protected area during the winter. Next we saw some tall grass-like plants. The variegated Mediterranean reed (Arundo donax) has striking foliage! It can get out of hand if you don’t keep it contained, but it is a dramatic plant! Another great plant for the pond and the animals is the variegated cattail (Typha latifolia). It is not as vigorous as the regular cattail with the same cinnamon brown seed pod, a favorite of all the birds. The final plant we pulled from the cart was the native Columbia Slough Sedge (Carex obnupta) it is evergreen and adds great structure all winter long.
If you would like to take a look at some of these plants you can check them out at the annual Waterlily Festival and Art Show happening from the 20th through the 29th at the nursery. They have a bunch of events scheduled including some activities for the kids. It is also peak time for the Waterlilies to bloom and you can also check out the incredibly large Victoria Lily. Hughes is the place for all your water garden needs.