The days of fall are here. This week we had those cool nights and the warm (and a little hot) days. This is the gateway to the next season. Plus we also heard this past week the long term forecasts for the coming winter and they are saying a warm and wet one, but as we all know things can change. The thing to remember is that we are entering into our last days of warm weather. Get out and enjoy these great days and store up that solar energy for the coming wet and cold ahead.
Some sad news for the garden community: This week’s show is dedicated to Don Powell of Garland Nursery. Don just passed away but his memory lives on in the family and staff at Garland Nursery.
This week we featured...
Fall Hydrangea Care
Hydrangeas are a wonderful plant. Most gardeners find them to be a terrific plant that delivers great color to the garden without a lot of care. Now is the time to start cutting back your hydrangea plants in preparation for winter. We traveled to Hydrangeas Plus (866-433-7896) to get some tips on making those hard cuts to your hydrangeas. This time of year you will start to see the buds for next year’s growth and fall is an excellent time to prune your plants to shape too. Don’t worry about making those hard cuts; you can take off as much as a third of your old wood if you want. Kristin VanHoose showed us where to make those important cuts, but if you still are worried you can give them a call (or drop them a line) anytime.
Blooming Junction Fall Plants
Fall is a great time to get new plants into the ground. The soil is still warm, the rains help them get established and that will give them a jumpstart on growth next spring. Plus, there are lots of plants that are ready to put on their fall show right now. To see some those great plants we stopped by Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) and talked to Ron. He brought out over a dozen plants for us to look at! We started with a barberry called ‘Gold Pillar’. This one is covered in bright yellow foliage right now, but it will be bright red. Plus with a columnar shape it will be a tall one in the garden. Then we moved to the Hydrangea ‘Preziosa’. Right now it has burgundy flowers and that color will soon spread to the leaves for the fall. A favorite in a lot of gardens is the tall sedums. Elsie’s Gold is the one we were looking at. This one is starting to bloom with dark pink flowers all over it, which the bumblebees love. Then we moved to another bright gold one, a goldenrod called ‘Little Lemon’. The tall stalks of sulfur yellow are bright in the sun or the shade. It is great when paired with the darker Plumbago ‘Ceratostigma’ with its blue flowers and bronze fall leaf color. We then looked at an ornamental grass, ‘Burgundy Bunny’. The foliage on this one turns a nice dark burgundy color and the seed heads are nice little puffs. This one is one that you shouldn’t cut back in the winter as the seed heads are nice food for the native birds. Another plant that is just starting to bloom are the asters. The one, ‘Wood’s Blue’, that we saw was just starting to bloom with blue flowers. Another blue bloomer is the Caryopteris ‘ Good as Gold’. The flowers are a soft blue color, but the foliage will turn yellow in the cooler days of fall. Amsonia was next and its fine leafed foliage will also turn a nice golden color in the fall to go with its tiny blue flowers.
We then had a few shrubs to share. The first, Nandina ‘Blush Pink’ had great color in the leaves, with reddish pink leaves that will only get redder as the days get shorter. Another full color shrub is the Abelia ‘kaleidoscope’. The foliage on this one is outstanding already with multiple colors that only get more intense as the season progresses. The final shrub was the Viburnum ‘Brandy Wine’. The leaves on this tall plant will get a brilliant red in the fall and the berries will turn pink and blue as well. And don’t forget trees! We saw one called Nyssa ‘Green Gable’. The Nyssa are known for their great fall color and this one is no different. The leaves get a vibrant red in the fall for a show that you won’t forget!
So if you are looking for great fall color, now is the time to stop by Blooming Junction or any local independent garden center!
Irises are known for their great blooms and sweet smells. They are also one of the first plants in the spring garden. Steve Schreiner from Schreiner’s Iris Gardens (1-800-525-2367) told us about some varieties that re-bloom, bringing you color 2 times a year! These varieties are consistent, but not guaranteed to re-bloom, though some varieties are close to 100% re-bloomers for our area. Re-blooming depends on different variables including weather, soil type and watering. This year was a great year for re-bloomers and Steve had about a dozen containers full of color and fragrance to show us. Varieties that were featured included ‘Total Recall’, ‘Stellar Lights’, ‘Mother Earth’, and ‘Cantina’. All of these varieties are blooming now in the Northwest garden, but if you are from a different geographical location you will want to check with Schreiner’s to make sure you get a good variety for your area. You can also start thinking about cleaning up our garden for the fall and winter. Cut off your dead flower stalks and trim and remove the dead leaves as we go into fall. This will help your iris remain healthy and disease free. If you are interested in these varieties or if you have any questions, give Schreiner’s a call.
Everything is getting ripe in the garden and one of the vegetables that seems to ripen all at once are tomatoes. Once they start to produce they can really overwhelm you! To learn how to save some of the harvest we stopped by Smith Berry Barn (503-628-2172). First Joelle showed us how you can freeze the whole, ripe tomato. In one method you just wash the tomato and core out the center and just place it in a plastic freezer bag. Once they are frozen you can just pull out the tomato and remove the skin before or during cooking. You can also place them on a cookie sheet and freeze them before transferring them to a freezer bag. You can also blanch the tomato first. Place the tomatoes in a bath of boiling water for about a minute and then transfer them to an ice bath for 3-4 minutes. This will allow the skin to come off easily and then you can freeze the whole tomato until you need it. You will want to use them within 9-12 months.
Another way of quickly preserving your tomatoes is to roast them. Wash them, core them and cut them in half. Place them on a cookie sheet that has been pre-greased with olive oil. Once the sheet is full then sprinkle more olive oil over the top. Add garlic and herbs if you like and place it in a 325 degree oven for 2 hours, or until the skins are brown and crispy. Once the tomatoes are done roasting you can scoop them into a food mill and work out the puree or you can just peel the skins of the tomatoes in the pan and hand mash them. Take the puree and place in glass canning jars, leaving at least a ½ inch to an inch of space at the top and place the jars in the freezer. The extra room you leave at the top of the jar allows for the expansion of the frozen puree. You should also use these jars within a year after you freeze them. If you are looking for more tips of preserving the harvest, see some of the equipment or are a little short on tomatoes you can stop by Smith Berry Barn. They carry a wide selection of tomato varieties that will help you carry the flavors of the season through the next year!