Whoa! It has been a hot one this week and everyone, including your plants, are just trying to make it through the heat until the cooler air returns! A few tips about this weather. Keep an eye on those plants. Give them a good watering in the morning before the heat of the day kicks in. You can water them in the afternoon too if they are looking a little out of it. Don't worry about sun-burning the leaves with water droplets in the mid-day sun. That's an old wives tale. It doesn't happen in nature, so it won't happen in your garden. Don't water at dusk! The heat of the day, the extra water, and the coolness of the night are a recipe for mold, mildew and fungus.
You should also remember to keep yourself and your pets well hydrated too. If a plant can't seem to get enough water or shade, make a note and move it this fall when things cool down, to a better location. Most of all, just hang in there!
This week we featured...
Port Orford Cedar Disease
The Port Orford Cedar (also called Lawson Cedar) is a true Oregon native, found near Coos Bay, but this native is being challenged by a new disease, Phytophthora lateralis . This root disease is a mold that resembles a fungus. It attacks the root cambium and inner bark. Even though a tree may be affected it often takes a few years before the tree actually dies, but there is hope. We stopped by Hoyt Arboretum (503-865-8733) and took a walk with Martin, the curator at the arboretum, to a place on the Redwood Trail to look at a very small Port Orford Cedar. This little guy is the hope of the future. He is a variety that has shown some resistance to the disease. The experts at Hoyt are partnering up with a bunch of different group like the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service and OSU to see how this guy will do in the forest. Hoyt used to have quite a few cedars in their collection, but now they are down to just 3,and one of those is dying. This could make a big difference for the homeowner who would like to have a healthy cedar in the future and also for the wood products industry. If you would like to see this tree and some other cool specimens, you can find a map at the Visitor Center at Hoyt. Take a walk and read the informative signage about this very important project.
Planting an Iris
One of the plants of spring is the iris. In May of each spring you can see fields of color just north of Salem along I-5. Those fields belong to the Schreiner's Iris Gardens (1-800-525-2367). The Schreiners have been growing iris for generations, four generations in fact. We were joined by Ben Schreiner in the display gardens at the farm. These beds are full of color, but now they are getting replanted for next spring. That means that the plants are being dug, divided and replanted. Ben joined us to show us how they go about dividing and planting these spring beauties. When you dig up your 2-3 year old plant you will find a dark center rhizome. This is the primary rhizome from which all the new parts of the plant started. Ben showed us how 4 new plants have grown off this 'mother' plant. To divide the rhizome you can cut them apart or you can just break them off the old plant. Trim the roots a little bit, leaving a few inches of root on each rhizome and cut off the leaves, leaving about 3 inches of leaf on the plant. You can then plant them in your garden. Use a garden compost or mulch to amend your garden bed and dig a shallow trench planning the rhizome roots away from the front of your bed. The roots are at the back of your plant. Cover the roots and leave a small portion of the rhizome exposed. You can also use a light fertilizer now when you plant them and again in the early spring before they develop their flower stalks. Water them in well!
You can do your digging, dividing and replanting between the beginning of August until the end of September in the Willamette Valley. You can also still order your iris plants if you wanted to add some to your garden. Give Schreiner's a call or check out their website for a description of plants and colors.
Dahlia Hybridizing and Regional Show
The dahlia is one of the most varied of all garden flowers. There are numerous colors and bloom styles available for the home gardener, but all that started with a hybridizer who was willing to do a little work to make all those styles and colors. To learn about the process we met with Larry Smith, the president of the Portland Dahlia Society. He has won numerous awards for his flowers and he took us on a tour of his garden to show us the variety of blooms he grows. We ended up in front of one flower bed where he described the process of hybridizing. Normally the bees do all the pollinating work in the garden, but if you are looking to create something different you need to take control of the situation. A breeder will pick two parents that they like for certain characteristics, like flower color or shape. They will then cross pollinate those two parents, usually with a feather or Q-tip, then remove the petals and cover the bloom to prevent cross-pollination with an unwanted variety. When mature the seeds are saved and planted. The different flowers that are produced are then graded and judged to make sure that they perform well for the home gardener (and meet the criteria of the breeder), and only then, are they introduced to the market. This has resulted in 20 recognized types of dahlia blooms and over 15 different colors.
Your chance to see all these wonderful styles and colors is at the Pacific NW Regional Dahlia show. It is taking place at the Dance Pavilion at Oaks Park on August 26th and 27th. It is a free event with free parking! For more information you can check out the Portland Dahlia Society website.
Raised Bed Irrigation
The heat is on and your vegetable garden may be looking a little beaten up with all this hot weather. What it might need is just a little drink! We stopped by the home of Bonny Cushman with the Regional Water Providers Consortium to see her incredible raised bed vegetable garden. We were here a few years ago and were impressed then!
Her raised beds were not your normal raised beds. Bonny and her husband had bought large cattle watering troughs. She had shown us how she used a system of planting based on 'square foot' gardening. Each square foot of garden contains plants with the same water needs and the drip system she uses waters each square foot evenly. The emitters give out about a half gallon an hour, not a lot of water but the right amount concentrated at the root zone. You can tell if the plants are getting the right amount by watching your plants to see if they thrive or if they wilt. You can also check by simply sticking your finger in the soil to check the depth of the moisture. Bonny's system was just a splitter off of a regular garden hose. Each spigot had an on/off valve for 4 different drip lines. The most important part of this system was the 'regulators'. These are pressure control valves that lower the pressure of the hose so the drip emitters are not blown off. Once these were in place Bonny was able to build her system with confidence, though it took a little tweaking over the years.
We then moved around the house to see her full-sun beds. These really get baked in the mid-summer sun. Here she had used a large soaker hose and weaved it back and forth in the beds to cover a large assortment of plants. She had also covered the hose with compost and straw to help prevent evaporation. The best part of these two systems? She had tied them into a simple system so all she had to do was turn on the hoses on both sides of her home for 15 minutes and then she was done. No more dragging a hose around the garden. That has also helped her neighbors to water her garden when she goes on vacation!
Well If you are looking for tips on building your own system you can check with your local garden center. If you are looking for tips on saving water in your garden or around your home you can check out the Regional Water Providers Consortium website.
Deadheading Fuchsia Berries
If you have a hanging fuchsia basket you may notice that as the summer goes on the flowers don't seem as prolific as they were when you bought it. To learn why this happens we stopped by French Prairie Gardens (503-633-8445) in St. Paul and talked with Katie. The problem may be the fruit. Like most other plants, once the fuchsia is done blooming it starts to create a seed or fruit (it is called a fuchsia 'cherry' or 'berry'). This takes energy away from new flowers and sends it to those seeds. To keep your fuchsia blooming longer just remove the seeds and give it a shot of liquid fertilizer at least once a month. Then you can enjoy those wonderful blooms all summer long!
Garden Gallery Tiny House
Would you move out of your 2-3 bedroom home into a house that is less than 400 square feet? That is a choice that has been made by Sherry. She has a sense for adventure and the people at Garden Gallery Iron Works (800-452-5266) wanted to join her on that adventure. We stopped by to talk with Sherry, Don Sprague, and a whole team of people that are helping her make this jump to a 'tiny home'.
The Tiny House trend is in full swing. It is a choice being made by people who just want to downsize and simplify their lives. Garden Gallery wants to help her do that. We met with Jim Ash, the builder from Daystar Tiny Homes. He has built many of these tiny homes and even though this one is around 400 square feet, the average has been around 240.
We then moved over to the design team. We started with Janna Allbritton from Yellow Prairie Interior Design. She has a knack for using the Farmhouse décor theme in her designs and has been quite successful with it. Farmhouse style is country/rustic/casual style that is warm and inviting. One of the best places to experience farmhouse style is at Garden Gallery Iron Works. Carol is the head buyer at GGIW and she is part of the design team tasked with helping to find pieces that fit into this tiny home without overwhelming it. She told us that she is looking for pieces with multiple uses to be more efficient with the space.
We finished with Don again and he told us that the process won't stop with the interior, we will be looking at trellises, handrails and window boxes, for the outside too. Follow along in the next few weeks as we see this process from start to finish.