Feed Me!

FeedMeHave you seen the musical (or the 1986 movie version) “Little Shop of Horrors”? Nerdy Seymour works at a florist shop. He buys a plant strongly resembling a venus flytrap, which does poorly until he accidentally discovers the plant thrives on human blood.  The plant in true fictional license, screams “Feed me, Seymour, feed me!”  Each time it needs more and more blood, and finally flesh.  The musical has everything you’d want: catchy songs, a hero you can relate to, and romance.

What on earth does “Little Shop of Horrors” have to do with the topic for the week, fertilizing?  Aside from revealing my slightly twisted mind and love of movies and musicals, it actually has a lot to do with fertilizing.  Erica, my sister, and I were brainstorming about our e-mail for the week.    “Now is the perfect time to start feeding all your plants,” she said.  “The plants and lawn are starting to grow.  They need nutrients and the rain will wash the fertilizer in.”  That information went  to our advertising guru, who came up with the idea of “feed me”.  Of course, my twisted mind obviously thought-”feed me” = “feed me Seymour” = “Little Shop of Horrors”.

Then I started to think about it a little bit more and I realized it is really applicable.  AfterFood all, “Audrey II”, the plant in the musical at first is lanquishing under Seymour’s care.  What Seymour doesn’t realize is he needs to fertilize Audrey II.  Unfortunately, due to a cosmic accident Audrey II requires blood.   The more Seymour feeds her, the bigger she grows and the more demanding she becomes.  What we want to do with our plants is to feed the soil and give them more usable forms of fertilizer (organics are especially good) that nourish them but don’t overfeed and cause excessive growth.  We’re striving for a happy, full plant not an overgrown plant that can’t go on unless it feeds its addiction for high nitrogen, water soluble fertilizer that has to be applied weekly.

Not to worry.  If you fertilize now, with organic fertilizer, your plants will not become blood-sucking super creatures.  They will be happy, healthy, perfectly behaved plants.  I promise!  Here are the products we’re recommending to make everything in your yard look great.

For new plantings of shrubs and trees and plants that were bare-root earlier in the season, give them a one-two punch of Espoma Bio-tone Starter Plus and Fertilome Root Stimulator.  Bio-tone innoculates the soil with mychorrizae that helps the plant aborb nutrients better.  Root Stimulator works great on plants that are struggling after our extremely cold winter, too.  It contains a rooting hormone to encourage roots broken in transplanting or that may have been damaged in the cold. Anytime a plant is stressed, Root Stimulator is a good product to apply.

For acid-loving shrubs, such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellias, Heather, and Blueberries we suggest using Espoma Holly-tone. Feed now and again in late summer/early fall for optimal results. For a general purpose fertilizer for all other shrubs and trees, use Espoma Plant-tone. Plant-tone is an organic fertilizer that is safe and long-lasting. It contains beneficial microbes that make your plant and your soil very happy

Fianlly, feed lawns Espoma All-Seasons Organic Lawn Food, lime, and Soil Activator.  All-Seasons Lawn Food is safe to use around children and pets.  A first application now means a lush lawn this spring.  Lime raises the pH of the soil, discourages moss and encourages healthy growth.  A neutral pH unlocks soil nutrients, so your lawn is able to absorb more nutrients.  Fertilome Soil Activator also unlocks nutrients that are in your soil but not able to be absorbed by your lawn or plants.  It feeds and encourages soil microbes making your soil healthier.  Healthier soils = healthier plants.

Many thanks to Sharon, whom I asked to write a few bullet points and I would fill in the rest.  Little did she know!  I’m sure she will enjoy the little twist I’ve brought to the topic.  Sharon is our bug, bird and beneficial specialist and she’s pretty twisted, too.  There are many more fertilizers that Garland Nursery carries, including some specifically for Roses and Tomatoes.  If you have any questions about the best fertilizer for your plants, give us a call or stop in.  We’d love to help you make your plants healthier, without out all that loss of blood.


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Why I Love Sweet Peas

Sweet_peaWhy do I love Sweet Peas?  This was the question I asked myself to stir the creativity in my brain.  I chose the subject for this blog, after all.  I knew we received a good selection of sweet peas in at the nursery.  Sweet Peas are something that can be planted early (like now) from seed or starts.  They are fragrant (most of them at least) and they make a nice cut flower.  I could tell you all of that in about 3-5 sentences, but that doesn’t tell you why I am particularly enamored with this lovely flower.

To find the answer, as always I searched in my memory.  The first thing that came to mind was my grandfather and his garden on the Puget Sound.  He was a farmer by trade. By the time I got to know him he was retired from farming and driving a school bus to bring in some extra income.  Or to keep busy.  He was a slow-moving but very hard-working man.  He and my grandmother had a nice, large yet simple house that overlooked the Puget Sound in the key peninsula of Washington state.  There was a lot of lawn to mow, a few flowers, chickens and a very large garden.  Grandpa

Royal Wedding (Renee's Garden)

Royal Wedding (Renee’s Garden)

Allen loved to fish and dig for clams and oysters.  I learned about recycling first from him.  He loved my grandmother and brought her orange juice in bed every morning.  I could probably write a book about him.  The only things that I remember about his garden are that it was huge, it was fully enclosed by deer fencing (and sometimes they still got in), he had a huge raspberry bed and he always grew sweet peas.  I’m guessing now, with adult knowledge, they were probably the mixed colors of old-fashioned Sweet Peas, possibly Royal Family.

As I was talking this over with my husband (he is often my muse) he asked me why my grandfather grew Sweet Peas.  My answer was I remember him bringing a small bouquet for my grandmother to use on the table.  Very simple, beautiful and fragrant.  Just like my grandparents.

SONY DSCSo that memory, the beautiful photos on the seed packets and the early appearance of plants persuaded me to plant Sweet Peas.  I think I am enamored with their cottage garden style and romanticism.  They are “the Queen of the Annuals” and the flower of April.  Sweet Peas were first discovered in Italy by Franciso Cupani.  Great Britain has wholly embraced them.  They have been bred from the original (what I refer to as Old-fashinoned but also called Grandifloras) into at least two more types: Spencers and Cuthbertsons.  If you want to read more about their history, check out austinwildflower.com.


Queen of Night (Renee’s Garden)

Surprisingly, the original, first cultivated variety,  Cupani Sweet Pea is still available in seed through Renee’s Garden (Renee’s seeds are available at Garland Nursery).  As is the second cultivated variety-Painted Lady (in plant form, too).  Renee’s Gardens has single varieties and a number of lovely blends.  My favorite is Queen of the Night, a combination of: Captain of the Blues, Cupani, Lord Nelson, King Edward VII, and Miss Willmott.  Check out a blog at reneesgarden.com/articles/sweetpea.html.

The main types available are the Old-fashioned or Grandiflora type, the Spencer varieties, and the Cuthbertsons, which have a sub-category-Early Multiflora Giganteas.

The Old-fashioned varieties are antiques, popular in the early 1900′s.  They keep blooming even in hot weather. They are very fragrant.  Varieties include: Incense Mix Lord Nelson, Old Spice Black Knight, OS Janet Scott, OS Senator, and Painted Lady.

The Spencer varieties have ruffled blooms.  They are the largest flowers.  Their long stems make them the best Sweet Pea for cut flowers and arrangements.  They are usually fragrant. They include: Beaujolais, Blue Velvet, Noel Scott, Old Spice Janet Scott, and White Ensign.

Mammoth Choice (Territorial Seed)

Mammoth Choice (Territorial Seed)

Cuthbertsons and Early Multiflora Giganteas are early flowering varieties often called “winter-flowering types”.  They are often fragrant and are well suited for coastal climates.  In this group are the Royal hybrids, Mammoth Choice and Winter Elegance.

Sweet Peas can be started directly in the garden by seed or transplanted as starts.  Seeds germinate best once the soil is 55 deg F.   Plant your sweet peas in full sun in a garden spot with well-drained soil. If summer weather is hot very early in the season where you live, sweet peas can thrive in a spot with morning sun and bright afternoon shade. Dig deeply to loosen the soil and enrich it with aged manure or compost before planting seeds. Don’t forget to set up a well-anchored trellis, fence or vertical support for climbing varieties before planting seeds. If all your seeds don’t germinate in 10 days to two weeks, don’t hesitate to plant more as they will catch up quickly. Some gardeners like to soak sweet peas overnight before planting them; others never do it and still have good results. If you do soak seeds, be sure you leave them in water no longer than eight hours before planting immediately.Transplants and new seedlings should be protected from slugs and snails.

Happy Gardening to you.  Enjoy the lovely bouquets of fragrant sweet peas you will be cutting in just a few months.

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Hellebores Galore

Hellebore_PinkIn the last few weeks, we have received our biggest supply of Hellebores.  There are 29 varieties.  When they arrive, I am like a kid in a candy store whose parent has told her she may only pick one sweet treat.  Every year I want to buy them all, they’re so sweet, but with the size of my garden, I only allow myself to plant one Hellebore.  What’s not to love about them?  They add color in the winter and are quite charming in appearance.  Plus they do great in containers and my containers always need a pick me up in February.  I can’t resist the allure of these painted ladies.

Hellebore_snow_frillsThis year, I selected one called Snow FrillsSnow Frills is a perky Christmas Rose selection from the Helleborus Gold Collection (HGC).  It is fairly compact at 9-12 inches tall.  The lovely double, white flowers have a light fragrance.  These flowers are not double in the way that Peppermint Ice and Frilly Kitty are.  They struck me as very unique.  The Snow Frills went into a container with Obconica Primroses and a viola.

Hellebore_peppermint_iceI like Hellebores for a number of reasons besides being a winter bloomer and great in containers.  They are hardy for our area, mostly evergreen, and they like dry shade and the slugs and snails don’t seem to cause them too much damage in my garden.  Of course, the slugs and snails may have other more succulent plants to choose from at my house.  Hellebores are deer resistant as well.  My garden tends to be wet, so a couple years ago I planted Jacob Hellebore in a Hellebore_jacob1acontainer. It has done well, even through our December cold spell.  The pot is under the front porch overhang and right next to the house.  Last spring, I planted a variety similar to Painted near my Japanese Laceleaf Maple under the eaves of the house.  It has been a problem area as it gets no natural rainfall at all.  I figured I would remember to water it during the summer or that my husband would get the drip irrigation to it.  No such luck.  It died.  So I can tell you from experience, that although they are drought tolerant, they won’t tolerate 4-5 months with no water when they are Hellebore_painted-2newly planted.  Other than some consistent watering early on, Hellebores are not very fussy.  The only pests I have seen on them are aphids.  Although they can get botrytis, like Peonies do, it doesn’t seem to be a major threat in the garden.

There are so many different cultivars.  Some bloom as early as December and some bloom as late as into April.  There are the Christmas Rose cultivars (Helleborus niger) and the Lenten Rose cultivars (Helleborus orientalis) as well as crosses and a few other significant species, with different foliage.  There have been so many different cultivars introduced in the last few years that I have a hard time keeping track of them all.  I’d rather just enjoy their beautiful flowers.

Here are a few of the 29 varieties we have on hand.  Visit Garland Nursery to see the rest.


Monte Cristo






Pink Frost


Onyx Odyssey




Shooting Stars


Amethyst Glow


Cherry Blossom

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Amazing Conifers


Abies koreana ‘Silberlocke’

How can you create a garden with 12 months of color that’s easy to maintain and tolerates weather extremes? Conifers are the answer. Conifers are like living sculptures that you can use to accent and create the bones or framework of your garden.

Conifers offer an incredible palette of color, texture and form from which to choose the perfect specimen for any spot in your garden. They are classified in sizes ranging from miniature (less than 1’ in 10 years) and dwarf (1-6’ in 10-15 years) to intermediate (6-15’ in 10-15 years) and large (15’ or more in 10-15 years).

There is an amazing array of colors available in conifers ranging from every shade of green

Cryptomeria japonica 'Twinkle Toes'

Cryptomeria japonica ‘Twinkle Toes’

to blues and silvers, gold, plum-purple and white. Textures add so much character to these plants. There are the sculpted fans and sprays of Hinoki cypresses, bottlebrush needles of spruces and firs, stiff or soft needles of pines, feathery foliage of Japanese cedars and some that look like coral reefs. Forms vary from well-behaved ground covers to low spreaders, globes and mops to narrow sentinels, and broad pyramids to towering spires. Weeping conifers add drama and movement to any garden.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana'

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana’

It’s hard to find words that can portray the incredible beauty and diversity of conifers. For inspiration you can search the web for www.iselinursery.com , one of Garland Nursery’s main suppliers. There you can see individual pictures of the myriad of conifers available and also some gardens incorporating them into the landscape.

I plan to select some of my favorites to plant in decorative pots for spots in my garden where I lost large broad-leaved evergreen shrubs from the freeze we had in December. I grow them in pots for a few years until they have enough size to make a statement in the garden. You can put a single specimen in a pot, plant combinations of conifers, or mix in grasses or colorful annuals for summer color. For combos, the use of an

Tsuga canadensis Pendula)

Tsuga canadensis Pendula)

upright grower (thriller) with a fuller rounded plant (filler) and a trailing plant (spiller) makes a harmonious mix. Pines and spruces seem to be hardy enough to leave out in pots all winter. Most other conifers are hardy if planted in the ground but potted specimens should be moved into a garage or some other protected place when temperatures get to low 20’s or lower. Potted conifers also look great on patios, decks and balconies.

Garland Nursery carries a huge selection of conifers in sizes ranging from 4” starter plants to larger specimens with a knowledgable staff to help you find the perfect plant for anywhere in your garden.

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Experts agree, houseplants are good for you!


by Char Campbell

My vocation as a houseplant manager met my love of science fiction when I learned about NASA’s research using houseplants to purify air in sealed environments. The original goal was life-support for moon bases (cool), but in the process the scientists found out that indoor plants can actually absorb toxins from the air and break them down into harmless by-products. Not only the chemicals released by practically every man-made material (carpets, clothing, cleaning products, computers, etc.), but also the “bio-effluents” that all humans emit. (See  “How To Grow Fresh Air ” by Dr. B.C. Wolverton.) Add these revelations to the facts I learned in school just before I hopped the wagon train to head out west from Fargo: plants give off oxygen, raise humidity and circulate the air as they live and photosynthesize, and it becomes clear that the philodendron on the table is a healthy- air-making machine!

Red Anthurium

Red Anthurium

I think houseplants just make a room more comfortable, less sterile, and give the eye and nose something natural to play on. Check out an article by Dr. Leonard Perry at University of Vermont Extension (www.uvm.edu/pss/ppp/articles/plantswork.html). He tells of studies showing that plants reduce stress, even reduce blood pressure, and increase productivity. Once, a school teacher told me that she always keeps plants in her classroom because she’d found they made the students less likely to cause disruptions and more able to concentrate. If a person gets interested in the many different types of indoor plants and how to grow them it can be a great hobby, and that’s good for something too.

OrchidMy conclusions? Houseplants could improve indoor environments in homes, schools, stores, offices, hospitals, prisons, etc., especially in new and energy-efficient buildings. The more houseplants the merrier and healthier.

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Emerging with a Fruity Disposition

100_0224As we emerge from the coldest winter we’ve had in 40 years, many of us will have casualties among our evergreen shrubs and vines. We could replant the same shrubs and hope for warmer winters, or we could explore new ideas for replanting hardier plants which Garland Nursery will cover in a class on coping with plant losses on Sunday, Feb. 16. One possible strategy would be to incorporate more edible landscaping into our garden.

Most fruit trees and berry plants would survive our coldest winters. Fruiting plants can be Fruitbeautiful when well grown and there is no comparison between the mouth-watering flavor of fruit picked at its peak of perfection and that of fruit picked unripe for shipping to grocery stores. Growing your own fruit gives you many more choices of varieties and you will know if they have been sprayed. There is a great need for all of us to lower our carbon footprint-growing your own is as good as it gets and costs less than paying premium prices at the farmer’s market. In addition to our usual huge selection of fruit trees and berries there will be a few new selections available.

Sonny_brazzleOregon’s largest blueberry grower is introducing its collection of deliciously beautiful plants called Brazelberries. Last year they brought us Raspberry Shortcake, a thornless, dwarf raspberry that forms a compact, mounding 24-30” plant. It’s ideally suited for large containers, requires no staking and rewards gardeners with super-sweet raspberries in mid-summer. This year will bring new blueberries Peach Sorbet and Jelly Bean. Peach Sorbet forms a compact 1 ½-2’ mound with colorful new spring growth, white bell-shaped blooms and abundant crops of healthy sweet berries. Jelly Bean forms a compact 1-2’ sphere with brilliant green foliage and a bumper crop of super sweet berries. Both perform well in containers or beds with acidic, well-drained soil and regular watering. Pruning on all Brazelberries involves pruning out canes that have fruited, leaving new canes to fruit the next season.

Newly available this season will be three varieties of Pluots ( plum-apricot crosses) and flavor supreme pluotPluerries (complex hybrids of plums and cherries). Smooth skinned like plums, pluots are sturdy and durable with luscious sweet flavors and chin-dripping juiciness. Pluerries are a taste test favorite combining the sweetness of cherry with that fresh summer zing of plum. Pluerries are much larger than a cherry with reddish-purple skin and amber flesh.

Also new this year will be Garland Nursery’s monthly classes called Garden to Table (G2T), where we will cover everything you need to know to grow your own fruit trees, berries and vegetables and then give you delicious ways to bring these harvests to your table with delectable recipes and tastings. In January we will cover apples, strawberries, rhubarb and asparagus.

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Kate’s Primrose Blog

Kate Hemlock

Kate Hemlock

by Kate Hemlock.

It happens every year, as soon as the sparkle and clutter of the holiday season is packed away; the hopeful anticipation of spring! The first sign, the symbol of the fresh and bright coming year, are primroses. With their vast array of colors, tolerance of cold, frost and short day lengths, bedding plant primroses are trusty little heralds of seasonal change. Plant a super hardy Acaulis primrose and it blooms from darned near Jan-May! But especially when I most need it, in the dark of winter. They are awesome in pots as well as landscape, where they die back with the warm long days but return for many years every late winter. In pots I usually dump them come May, but in the landscape they come back IMG_9501to brighten the most forgotten places.

Notch it up with the double ruffled Belarina Primula and you have a fantastic, hardy, bigger, semievergreen perennial that blooms for months and comes in at least 6 colors. In my yard, the Belarina Blue was indigo in February, but bloomed violet by the sunny days of June. And the yellow is adorable! Its “buttery pats” rest atop leafy sepals like they are served on little plates.

obconica_primroseBut the squatty little prims are not the only specimens of the family to cheer; also to be admired are what I call the Porch Princesses: Malacoides and Obconica primula. The ultra-long blooming Malacoides primrose is also called a Fairy Primrose. It is not as cold hardy as its shorter cousin the Acaulis. But its size, delicate texture, and propensity to bloom in the dead of winter make it a premium to add height and interest to a mixed planter, or as a centerpiece in a protected spot. Also, consider the Obconica primrose. This plant is the epitome of every child’s cartoon rendition of what a flowering plant should be! Obconica Primula’s flowers are larger than Malacoides, and born on slightly longer stems, making it Malacoides Primrosea great backdrop in a planter box or anywhere a 12″ tall color spot is desired. And I love the sky blue or peach inch-wide flowers, but it also grows in other pastel shades. Ooh, imagine a planter with peach Obconica Primrose, white Malacoides Primrose, orange Pansies, and maybe a dark Heuchera or Ajuga! Even if I don’t intend to cultivate the mix for more than a season, I consider it a long lasting bouquet to bring a little spring to my patio or porch.

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