Welcome to fall and the cooler weather. Actually, it has been cooler for a few days now and fall seems to have come early, but now they are predicting the heat to return this coming week. Yup, it’s fall in the Pacific Northwest. Wait 5 minutes and it will change! Still, enjoy the weekend with its cooler weather and then pull out your shorts and t-shirts for a couple more days next week. There is still plenty of time to enjoy the garden!
This week we featured...
EZ Orchards Hazelnuts
We get questions every once in a while about hazelnuts. People are wondering if they can grow their own tree to get their own nuts. To find out, we stopped by E.Z. Orchards Farm Market (503-393-1506) and talked with Mark Zielinski about that question. E.Z. Orchards has been growing fruit for generations and now they are growing nuts too. We met with Mark at a field close to the store to ask him a few questions. The first consideration about growing your own hazelnuts is the size of the tree. They are not a dwarf tree! If you do prune your tree to a shorter size, you will have to prune it every year to maintain that size and it could affect your yield. Mark told us that, in a commercial setting, they also have a ‘pollinator’ tree. This is a male tree that helps with pollinating the other trees and increases their harvest of nuts. They never have the pollinator more than 60 feet away from the other trees. A well pollinated, mature tree will produce around 25 pounds of nuts. A homeowner should also look for a newer variety of tree that is blight resistant. There has been a problem with Eastern Filbert Blight, but there are new varieties that are resistant to the blight that are now available. Mark recommends the ‘Jefferson’ variety, which is resistant and also produces a larger nut.
Of course, the easiest way to enjoy hazelnuts is to pick them up from a local grower or farmers market. E.Z. Orchards Farm Market carries hazelnuts and hazelnut products all year long. Plus you can get a ton of other fresh produce and gifts too. Don’t forget their great cider donuts as well. For more information you can check out the Oregon Hazelnut Industry website at http://oregonhazelnuts.org.
Lan Su Autumn Moon Plants
The fall season at Lan Su Chinese Garden (503-228-8131) is a magical time. The plants are changing colors and some are still blooming, plus the fall calendar is full of great events too! To see and hear what’s happening we stopped by and met with a couple of the staff at the garden. The first person we met was the new curator of horticulture, Justin Blackwell, and he was excited to show us around to see what was looking great in the garden. We started in the courtyard of tranquility and we saw a huge planting of the hardy Begonia grandis ‘evansiana’. This little bloomer was popping out from every little crack in the stonework. They have just started to bloom and will continue to bloom through November. Another great bloomer in this garden was the Kleim's hardy gardenia. This one is a favorite in the local gardens because of its great bloom season and the fragrance. This garden is no different with a few large plants enchanting visitors as they arrived. Across the patio from these plants was a pot that gets lots of attention right now. It has a small pomegranate in it that is covered in fruit. Pomegranates are fairly hardy in our climate, but not a lot of gardeners use it in the garden. This plant is popular in Chinese culture because of the many seeds in each pod. These symbolize abundance, especially with fertility or wealth.
We then moved to another part of the garden to check out the Heptacodium miconioides or ‘Seven Son Flower’. This was a medium sized tree with wonderful pealing bark, but the real show was the prolific blooms on its branches. Each cluster of flowers has 7 tiny blooms on it, thus the name. When these white blossoms fall off they reveal a red calyx (the protective layer on the outside of the bloom). The fall color is great too, with orange leaves covering the tree. The final plant was the Belamcanda chinensis or Blackberry Lily. This plant has wonderful orange colored flowers that, when they die away, reveal a seed pod that looks like blackberries! It is a very unique plant in the garden!
This Saturday, the 22nd, you can see these plants and more during their Autumn Moon Festival. Scott told Judy about the events that are filling the day! The garden has extended their hours from 10am to 9pm to fit in all the events that are happening. Plus you can save $2 off your admission during this event! There are Chinese calligraphy and Chinese folk art demonstrations, a Mooncake sale, and family craft activities. Outside the garden and free for everyone is the Community Festival Lot full of vendors and food carts. The whole event is capped by a lit dragon procession at the end of the evening. Stop by and get a taste of the Autumn Moon!
Botanical Eco-dye Fabrics
If you are looking for a way to capture the beauty of nature and wear it proudly in a garment, we found someone to help. We met with Anna Zell, a fabric artist, at Leach Botanical Garden (503-823-9503). She is going to be teaching a class in ‘Botanical Printing’ in a week, on the 29th of September, starting at 9am, and you can learn her processes and take home a garment of your own.
This dyeing process is really very simple. It uses cloth that is soaked in an iron solution and then is wrapped with leaves in a tight roll. The roll is then steamed to activate the chemical reaction. The iron works with the tannins in the leaves to create detailed patterns that are outstanding, and because it uses new leaves each time, there is never a repeated pattern. Each one is unique.
A lot of people have noticed the increase in spiders this fall. We have been hearing questions about whether there are more spiders than normal and are they bigger? To get some answers we went to Corvallis and talked to Gail Langellotto, an entomologist with Oregon State University’s Extension Service. She told us that there are not more spiders, nor are they any bigger than in the past. They are just more active in the fall and are either looking for food or a mate and that makes them more visible in the garden. A lot of people have an aversion to spiders, and they do look kind of creepy, but they are great garden helpers! They are a natural pest control for the gardener. They don’t feed on plants, they just catch other bugs and pests. The spiders you see in your garden are not even a threat to us. They only bite infrequently and will usually run away if bugged. Of the 700 to 800 species of spiders in Oregon, only the black widow has the potential to cause serious harm to humans. This spider is found in the drier areas of southern Oregon and east of the Cascades more commonly than in the Willamette Valley. Hobo spiders, research shows, are not poisonous to humans, but their bite may cause pain, redness and itching. Poisonous brown recluse spiders do not live in Oregon, according to Gail. If you would like to keep them at bay here are a few tips.
• Wear gloves, pants and a long-sleeved shirt when handling firewood or stored boxes where spiders may have built funnel-shaped nests.
• Seal holes around doors, windows and outlets for plumbing and wiring where spiders can find entry into the house.
• Sweep webs from corners, rock walls and under eaves. Repeat as necessary.
• Keep porch lights switched off as much as possible to keep from attracting flying insects that make good prey for spiders. Or switch to yellow bulbs, which attract fewer night-flying insects.
• Place simple cardboard sticky traps (without the use of insecticide spray) along baseboards and bed frames where wandering spiders tend to move.
• Keep vegetation near house mowed or trimmed.
You can also contact your local extension office for help in identifying the ones in your garden.