Happy Halloween! We hope that the rain isn’t scaring you yet. We have had one of the driest falls that I can remember. We have also dodged the freezing weather that we usually get by now as well. These are just brief respites, and we can expect a return to cooler, wetter weather in the weeks to come. In anticipation we have moved a lot of our plants indoors or undercover. We hope that you are getting prepared as well.
Also, this weekend is the last one for all the fall festivals that have been taking place over the last few weeks. Get out one last time and enjoy those corn mazes and apple cider! You can also tell it is the changing of the season when Al’s Garden and Home has their annual Evening of Lights. Check out the preview of their event in the story below. We will be switching gears as well in our show as we start to give you some ideas for gifts for your favorite gardener and visiting local holiday open houses. Get ready, winter and, the holidays are coming!
This week we featured...
Little Prince Fall Container
Fall and winter are a tough time to have containers that look good even as the season gets colder. To get an idea for a cool weather container we stopped by the growing facility of Little Prince of Oregon. Mark met us with some of his favorites for containers. He started with Carex testacea or Orange Sedge. This was his height plant and was placed towards the back of the planter. Then he started to fill in around it with Black Mondo Grass, a Maidenhair fern, Selanginella (spike moss) and an alpine water fern called Blechnum penna-marina. These plants will fill in and the container will look great in your summer or winter shade garden! For these and other great Little Prince plants, and where you can find them, check out the Little Prince of Oregon website.
Al’s Evening of Lights – Christmas Trends
Believe it or not, it is time for Christmas. Holiday decorations are starting to make their appearance at local garden centers and other stores. Poinsettias are also starting to show up as well. Did you know that colors of poinsettias and holiday décor change every year? Buyers and designers at your local stores know this and try to bring in the new and ‘trending’ decorations every year. We met with Barb Florig at Al’s Garden and Home in Sherwood (503-726-1162), to see what they found this past year to get for the local homeowner. Barb started us out at one of the nearly 20 themed decorator trees that you can find at Al’s, one called ‘Morning Walk’. The theme of this one was a white and blue. Very bright and loaded with snowflakes and icicles, this one had some of the trending colors of blue, in different shades, sprinkled throughout the tree. It looked like a tree that was just brought in after a fresh snowfall. Barb also gave us some tips for decorating. She said they always start at the top and work their way down. Lights and larger ornaments go on the inside of the tree with small and treasured ornaments hanging on the outer branches. We then moved to the next themed tree ‘Winter Event’. This one featured a Northwest theme with earth tones and nature themed ornaments. This tree was more woodsy and Barb mentioned that you could set this one up and enjoy it during Thanksgiving as well. The final themed tree had a Scandinavian feel to it. This look has been around for the last couple of years and is still very popular. It has a lot of reds and whites, sweaters and Nordic themed ornaments.
Trees and poinsettias are the signature plants for the holidays and poinsettias will soon fill every shop! The big push will be in a couple of weeks but you can get some nice plants right now. The big question that we hear is ‘how do I pick a good one’ and ‘how can I make it last’. If you are looking for a good plant; first look for good branching. A single branch plant will not give you the bunches of blooms that you want. And speaking of blooms, the bright colors you see are not the flowers of the poinsettia. The flower is the small center buds that are usually yellow. The bright colors are modified leaves (bracts). As for the blooms you will want small tight buds that are not yellow yet, that means they are early in their bloom cycle. Also look for good healthy green leaves under the brightly colored ones.
Now that you have picked out a good one, how can you make it last? Al’s recommends that you treat your plant with tender loving care. Make sure that is doesn’t get placed in too hot of a spot, that it doesn’t get in too many drafts and keep it in bright non-direct sunlight. You will also want to water it regularly without over watering or having it set in water. Remember to remove the decorative foil sleeve when you are watering it. If you follow these tips it will be around for a couple of months if not longer! You can find a sheet of ‘care tips’ at all Al’s Garden Center locations or on their website.
Also, you can find some of the nearly 40 different varieties of poinsettias and lots of Christmas decorating ideas at the up-coming Al’s Evening of Lights event. The event takes place at the Sherwood location on November 1st from 4-9pm, the Woodburn location on November 3rd from 4-9pm, the Wilsonville location on November 8th from 4-9pm and the Gresham location on November 10th from 3-7pm!
Make some room for the shroom! In the Northwest, with all this moisture, we are the home of mushrooms. One group that has embraced that love of mushrooms is the Oregon Mycological Society. We were led on a mushroom and fungus hunt with Leah from the OMS. A lot of people are afraid of mushrooms. They think that all of the mushrooms of the wild are poisonous, but that isn’t true. There are lots of tasty varieties out there to try. The key is identification. The day that we joined about 20 hunters, they were collecting everything and after everyone came back to the cars, there was an education session. Leah told everyone there about the good, the bad and the ugly, and a very small percentage were not edible. It is amazing what you can find in the forest!
Your chance to learn more about mushrooms is tomorrow Sunday, the 29th at the World Forestry Center in Miller Hall from noon to 5pm. There will be speakers, cooking demos, vendors and the largest display of mushrooms from around the region! If you are a mushroom lover, this is the show to see!
Rebuilding a Garden Path
We love to visit projects that Rick Naylor does with his Visualscaping through French Prairie Perennials (503-679-2871). He helps homeowners build beautiful gardens all around the Northwest. We met him at the site of one of his current projects in Lake Oswego. The difference between this and his other projects was the scale. Not only does he do larger landscapes, he also help repair and replace parts of older landscapes as well. In this case it is a garden path. The homeowner had originally built a step stone path along a driveway and into the backyard. However, over time that path began to sink in some areas and became unstable, and unsafe. After talking to the homeowner Rick recommended that they replace the old path with a newer more secure one. To do that, everything was stripped down and layers of sand and gravel were alternated and compacted into a new hard surface! This detail to the basics created a nice firm surface for the new paving stones going in.
Not only did Rick and his crew from Desire Landscaping position and lay the new path, they also adjusted the in ground sprinklers and filled in the new soil around the path. We will return in a few weeks and see the finished project , but it is already a vast improvement over the old path and safer too!
Squishing the Squash
You may think that humans are the only ones who really get into Halloween, but at the Oregon Zoo (503-226-1561) the animals enjoy the season as well. Just last week the elephants were able to Squish the Squash. Larry and Christy Nelson of Albany, Ore from the Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers club donated some rather large pumpkins for the Asian elephants to enjoy. The fun continues this weekend as pumpkins from Al’s Garden and Home are supplied to other animals around the zoo as part of their enrichment program. This helps keep the animals mentally and physically stimulated. Meanwhile, a scavenger hunt directs the human trick-or-treaters to activity stations with info about animals, their habitats and adaptations. Kids can collect treats and prizes as they visit each station. So take a trip this weekend to the wild side and enjoy a little Halloween magic with the animals!
Tip of the Week – Planting Garlic
A few minutes now will lead to a flavorful future. Judy gave us tips for planting garlic for the fall. Planting now will allow the bulbs to create the roots that will make for a bountiful harvest next fall. First dig a trench about 4 inches deep. Get some garlic from your local garden store. Don’t use the garlic from your local grocery store; it is treated to keep from sprouting. Break apart the cloves and plant the individual parts about 3-4 inches apart. Top dress with a bulb food and water well. Garlic is one of the easiest bulbs to grow, so this could be the start of a successful garden for next year.