Diva Arrives and more

IMG_0427All of us at the nursery breathed a collective sigh of relief on Tuesday when the cooler, rainy weather arrived.  The nursery staff, like the rest of Oregonians, runs the gamut of cool lovers to heat seekers.  After a long run of 85-100 deg days, we were all sick of watering and sweating.  The plants were happy, too.  Many of them sprung back to life, looking almost fresh.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the sun as much as the next person.  July-October are my favorite months of the year.  I have greater mental and physical health in the warm, sunny weather than the cool, rainy stuff.  But sometimes it is just nice to get a break.

One benefit of the cooler temperatures was that I baked the zucchini rellenos I featured in last week’s blog.  I shouldn’t admit that I wrote about them before I actually tried the recipe.  I trusted the source and the recipe looked simple enough.  And it turned out nicely.  My husband and I enjoyed it.  But I made some discoveries.  “4 medium zucchinis” is open to interpretation and the size of the zucchini impacts the baking time.  I had to bake mine an additional 10 minutes.  Also, the recipe did not specify whether to peel and seed the tomatoes for theIMG_0396 sauce.  I did not and it turned out nicely, but doing so might yield a more attractive sauce.  As in past experience, I was surprised at how sweet homemade tomato sauce is.

The second benefit of the cooler weather is it got me thinking about fall, my favorite

season.  Many of the plants in pots and in the ground are looking a little peaked after the hot weather.  Many of the customers at the nursery are looking to replace such plants.  We have some fresh stock of summer annuals and perennials but also we have a supply of fall bloomers, like Rudbeckia, Sedums and violas.  We even got several flavors of Callibrachoas (Million bells) that will flower up to and possibly past the first frost.  So things are beginning to perk up at the nursery.

IMG_0366croppedAnother new introduction is Diva, the newest addition to the Garland Nursery pet family.  Diva is a 9 week old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, from a local breeder.  She arrived last week and has captured everyone’s heart with her youthful energy and gorgeous looks.  She resides with me and my husband but truly she is shared by all.  Her schedule fluctuates with mine…she will be at the nursery whenever I am.  Next week that is Monday-Friday.  Feel free to come by and say hello.

Next week starts the show circuit.  Karen, Lee, Erica and I will be visiting the Farwest Nursery Show (put on by the Oregon Association of Nurseries) at the Portland Convention Center.  That show will be followed by several distributor shows and our buying group convention.  This year we be looking for copper sprinklers, good buys, and anything new.  Let us know if there is something you’d like us to search for.

Have a happy Labor Day!  Enjoy the sunny days in the garden as well as the cool days, when we get them.  And come out and visit Diva!

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It’s Harvest Time

IMG_7317It’s harvest time in the Willamette Valley. My husband and I have been enjoying blueberries, strawberries, beans and summer squash from our garden. We have two small raised beds at our home and a small collection of veggies in pots at my parent’s house. The snails are so prolific at home that I find I succeed much better with the above mentioned produce, rather than leafy greens. Tomatoes do well for me also, and they are just beginning to ripen. My husband eats the cherry tomatoes like candy!

As many of you know, I love to cook. I have a large collection of cookbooks, subscribe to 2 cooking magazines and am always on the lookout for new recipes. My sister, our advertising consultant, and I were brainstorming about blog posts last week. I had made some gluten free blueberry muffins using coconut flour. Erica and Lora were enjoying them, so we talked about a blog about harvesting blueberries and making that muffin recipe. Well, the blueberry harvest is nearing an end in my garden. Plus I’m freezing most of my blueberries to use in green smoothies. (We Kid_Orchardwon’t delve into that right now.) So I wasn’t that excited about blogging about blueberries. Then I read the Sunday paper and I had an inspiration. The editor reminded us that August 8th is “Sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch night.” Okay, I know what you’re thinking…do we really need another day, another blog, another recipe about zucchini? Well, in my opinion, yes we do. Because either you grew zucchini and you need a new, delicious recipe to use said vegetable or you didn’t grow any but your neighbor is going to leave some on your porch Friday night and you are going to have to come up with something to do with it. Unless you (horrors) throw it away.
So I am going to give you a couple of ideas how to use that over-abundant, green vegetable. My sister-in-law gave me a subscription to Bon Appetit for Christmas. Last month there was a photo of a gorgeous zucchini salad with corn and squash blossoms. I decided to make it. Try finding squash blossoms. Granted I do have a zucchini and a pattypan squash plant in my raised bed. But the recipe called for 10 squash blossoms. So I pulled them off the plants, but it seemed like the squash didn’t mature after I pulled the blossoms off. Plus, the corn IMG_0363had to be cooked and cut off the cob. The end result was definitely not as pretty as the magazine photo! There were other zucchini salad recipes online that called for steaming the zucchini. Finally, I found one that was simple, tasty and I knew I could make come out like the photo. It is from Willi Galloway’s cookbook Grow, Cook, Eat. Willi is a Master Gardener, former editor of Organic gardening, and a blogger from Portland, Oregon. I had the pleasure of meeting her when she spoke at Garland Nursery while promoting her cookbook. She is down to earth and enjoys using all parts and stages of a vegetable. I knew her recipe would be simple and easy to prepare. And so it was. A little lemon juice, olive oil, romano cheese and thinly sliced summer squash and basil. Use both yellow and green squash for a visually appealing salad. Pretty, simple, and tasty. Okay, a mandolin is helpful but not a requirement. (I admit I own a mandoline but are much more comfortable using a peeler.) Yum. Checkout her recipe.

Another lady who knows a thing or two about vegetables is Renee Shepherd. From the Shepherd seed family, Renee has built her own successful seed business and established herself as an influential woman in food. Garland Nursery has been selling her seeds for a while and I love them! Renee’s Seeds has my favorite sweet pea blend (Queen of Night) and my favorite beans (Emerite French filet). She has a great website, blog, You-tube videos, and 2 cookbooks. I was thrilled when the sales manager for Renee’s Seeds (Kathy Chesus) visited me this spring and gave me a copy of Recipes from a Kitchen Garden. I knew that I would find a great zucchini recipe there. There are many in the book, but the one I chose to try was Zucchini Rellenos. I love Mexican flavors and Chile Rellenos are my husband and my favorite recipe. In the past I have roasted the peppers, peeled them, stuffed them with cheese, dipped them in an egg batter and fried them. Totally decadent, definitely gluten free, but a lot of work! I was excited to see if using zucchini in a casserole type dish would be simpler and still give the flavor I was craving. It did not disappoint! Here is the recipe….

Finally, a recipe I have shared in the past but worth repeating. Nigella Lawson is a culinary heroine of mine. I won 3 of her cookbooks. This recipe, however, I found in a magazine or newspaper (Parade perhaps). It is still a favorite to me and a crowd-pleaser at any potluck. I will not say that it is easy to make but it is fairly simple. It can be adapted to be gluten-free. My only problem with it is that I am the only gardener in Oregon that cannot grow mint. When I had a craving for it and went to make this dish 2 weeks ago, I was unable to find mint in the 3 grocery stores I checked. (It must have been an off day). So I bought a plant at the nursery to use. It probably was cheaper than the package of leaves anyway. Now I have the cut off plant waiting to see if I am courageous enough to try growing it one more time. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

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It’s Almost August? Really?

Brother of the groom and son.

Brother of the groom and son.

It’s been a busy month at Garland Nursery!  It seems like a blur, really.

First, Erica married Jim Kaminskas in her backyard.  Family and friends gathered to help them celebrate.  I had the honor of officiating.  Surprisingly, it went off quite well.  The rain stopped early in the day.  The train left before the start of the ceremony.  And the mole that has been plaguing their lawn did not make an appearance!  Erica’s garden looked spectacular.  She looked pretty darn good EWedherself.  And happy.  Best wishes, little sis.

Two weeks later, Garland Nursery rewards members had a special after hours dining and shopping experience, complete with a tour through Erica’s garden.  So many wonderful customers turned out.  Thank you to everyone who joined us.

Immediately after that we started preparing for our annual Art and Wine in the Garden event, which is coming up this weekend.  It Birdhousewas hot, hot, hot temperature wise.  We were spending a lot of time watering, but we were able to consolidate and open up space for the artisans.  There will be over 40 of them this week, selling their beautiful paintings, jewelry, garden art, birdhouses, baskets and more.  We’ve been holding this event for over 13 years.  At this point, I’ve lost count how many years it has been.  It is a great 2 days and we hope you can join us.

During the clean-up, one of our workers inadverently found a bald-faced hornet nest.  Now to most sane people, that discovery is an “Eek” moment.  But there are a few of us at the nursery that find all manner of insects fascinating.  Sharon especially was excited.  She did the smart thing and phoned a local gentleman who came out on Monday and collected the hornets to use for anti-venom.  Monday was the day that Garden Time tv came down to film a segment to air this Saturday about our Art and Wine event.  The timing was Garden_timeperfect and Jeff Gustin, creator (and cameraman) of Garden Time, arrived right at the same time as the hornet guy.  Jeff was super excited and ended up filming a segment about the hornet guy and what he does.

I would like to offer a special thanks to Jeff and Therese Gustin and Garden Time tv.  They share the gardening love and promote Garland Nursery.  It is always a pleasure to spend time with them, and a true treat to get to interact on camera (and off) with William and Judy, the hosts of Garden Time.  I’m going to put in a plug now to watch their program this Saturday at 8:30 on KOIN Portland.  The show is also broadcast on a Salem and Eugene affiliate.  To find out the particulars, check out their website: http://www.gardentimetv.com.

So, as I said, we have been pretty busy at the nursery.  We’re hoping that we’ve created a nice event and a beautiful environment to enjoy it in.  Please come see us, this Saturday and Sunday from 10am- 4pm.  There will be music, food, and wine.  Oh yes, and over 40 wonderful, creative people hoping that one of their pieces of art will speak to you.

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It’s Berry Picking Time

Berry_bowl When I was a kid, my favorite part of gardening was harvesting!  I loved digging for potatoes, pulling out carrots and picking blueberries.  Of course, I had to eat a few berries or a carrot as I went along.  They tasted so delicious, freshly picked.  Forget about pies and  jam, in my opinion there is nothing better than a handful of blueberries or one (or two or three) juicy strawberries enjoyed in the garden.  My husband is of the same mind, although I’m not sure that he had much harvesting experience as a kid.  Today, he enjoys picking a few berries, and later on cherry tomatoes, while he mows the lawn.

It is even a small ritual, harvesting the berries together.  Even in our tiny garden, we have 6 blueberries, 50 strawberries, 3 grapes, 3 raspberries and an apple tree.  Also, the neighbors planted a cherry tree and we figure anything that hangs over our fence is fair game.  So right now we are loaded down with fruit.  It is hard for me to know exactly when to stop buying fruit at the farmer’s market and grocery store.  But we are managing to work our way through everything.  Last year, I froze a lot.  I had been planning on having protein shakes for breakfast.  The frozen fruit works great for that, giving them a milkshake consistency.  It seems like I have spent most of my life on a diet.  My husband does well on a low carb eating plan but I have never been able toKid_Orchard make that commitment.  In the last 6 months, I have discovered I can stick better to an eating plan when I allow myself fresh fruit.  Because of my fickle eating plan, I didn’t manage to work my way through all of last year’s harvest, so I still have a lot of frozen berries.  This year I am concentrating on eating all of the harvest fresh.  Freezing is the back-up plan.  I have discovered a most delicious way to incorporate strawberries into the menu: spinach and strawberry salad.  Fresh spinach, strawberries, nuts and onions with a poppyseed dressing.  It is easy to prepare, simple and delicious.  Yum.  Click here for a copy.

Let’s be truthful.  I didn’t get anything fertilized this year.  The strawberries are showing the lack of fertilizer.  They are tiny.  Granted, I have not replanted in years.  Traditionally, Blackberries_Handyou are supposed to remove the original plants after 3-5 years and replant with runners or fresh plants.  I brought home new plants this year but my hubby couldn’t bear to pull the old ones out, so we planted them elsewhere.  I will say that my new ones aren’t very large either.  They got a starter fertilizer but not a follow-up.  Also, the strawberries are competing for water with the blueberries and apple tree.  We have been watering but it has been a dry spring.  The blueberries are extremely loaded with fruit.  The heavy branches are actually hanging into the walkway.  We cannot pass under our grape arbor without brushing the blueberries on either side.  We’re not complaining.  And neither are the birds that are enjoying a small share of the bounty.  We have noticed what could be a lookout bird on bareblueberry the rooftop when we are out gardening.  At least, romantically, that is what we think it is.  Even though there are a lot of birds in our neighborhood, we still have a lot of berries and cherries.  Unlike at the nursery, where the birds stripped the cherry tree before the cherries even ripened.  We do have a lot of pie cherries, however.

Erica and Jim have gotten into fruit/veggie smoothies because of the influence of Jim’s daughter, Mattie.  I thought I would include a recipe for a kale and blueberry smoothie.  I have tasted it and it is palatable.  If you’re trying to get your 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables (and we are not counting pizza and french fries) by eating them for breakfast or a snack, this is a good way to go.  They use blueberries, kale, strawberries &/or blackberries, almond milk (or coconut milk), Barerootstrawberryalmond butter, chia seeds and unsweetened yogurt.  Erica and Jim don’t use a recipe, but there are numerous recipes on the internet.  I especially liked the one that looked purple rather than green!

Finally, Kathy has assembled some great recipes for our Garden 2 Table classes that we had this year.  Here is a link to them to give you some more ideas for how to use those fresh berries that are in abundance now.

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Hot Trends for Decorating the Garden that make Sense

kathy

New Contributor Kathy Weirich-Zane

With the warm days of summer quickly approaching I’m starting to conjure up images of myself relaxing in my yard. Whether I’m entertaining friends or just hanging out with my husband and our four legged companion Sam, I’m envisioning how I want my space to look, sound, smell and feel. Our outdoor living space encompasses every one of our external senses, which is why I think it is so important to make it a place we love to be a part of. In doing that, there are some hot trends for decorating the outdoors which I plan on incorporating into my own outdoor oasis.

Trend #1: It must be low maintenance but look good. Being in the nursery business as a buyer of hard goods for 9 years now and also becoming an avid gardener myself, I love doing some work in my yard but I don’t want to be a slave to it. This means I look for outdoor products such as furniture that will wear well in our wet and sometimes harsh IMG_9918winter environment. I want something that is attractive and can be left out year round without the worry of having to replace it the following year. Some great examples are powder coated patio furniture like the classic French bistro sets by Fermob. Another favorite for wear and tear are the concrete benches which now come in a variety of beautiful colors, textures and styles. And let’s not forget the super sturdy yet very attractive Seaside Casual furniture that is made from recycled high-density polyethylene. All of these items can be left to the elements and still be enjoyed year after year.

Trend #2: Create a “sound” garden. Does the sound of trickling water tickle your fancy and create a sense of calmness, peace and wellbeing? What about the clatter of song birds IMG_9910belting out their best chorus and the mental stimulation that comes along with it. Sound can come in many modes and can be just what is needed to make your outdoor living room complete. There are some wonderful ways I like to create harmonious sound in my yard to enhance my outdoor experience. The sound of water is one of my favorites while I’m unwinding in my garden and there are a lot of options for creating it. The choices are endless whether it’s concrete, glazed or lightweight acrylic fountains. Or maybe you want a pond with a waterfall and fish. You can also create your own beautiful and unique water feature by hand- picking allIMG_9907 the components yourself and easily putting them together. Rain chains are another fabulous audio and visual experience for those who like to sit under a covered porch in the middle of a winter or spring storm. If it’s the birds you enjoy hearing, which I do, then there are very attractive bird feeders and birdbaths to adorn your garden with. There is nothing better than hearing hummingbird’s buzzing right over your head to get to the hummingbird feeder you provided for them. Wind chimes are another option for creating beautiful rhythms while also offering visual stimulation. Gracenote Chimes and Music of the Spheres are wind chime companies that make their product right here in the USA and are tuned to actual music chords. While Woodstock Chimes also made in the USA, are known more for their aesthetically pleasing wind chimes.

Trend #3: Establish a garden with a sense of “smell”. Theirs is nothing more intoxicating than the sweet smell of fragrant flowers being carried along in the IMG_9914evening breeze. However, if you are left fragrantless near your patio area but you still want the aroma experience, candles are a great alternative. Garland Nursery carries my favorite candle brands; Legacy by Root and Tyler candles. Both have an array of fragrances to choose from, and Legacy by Root comes in a rainbow of colors too. Candlelight with an alluring bouquet will most definitely set the mood for a fabulous evening in the garden.

Trend #4: “Light it up”. My husband didn’t nickname me “the Moth” for nothing. This is IMG_9902because I feel lighting in the garden is one of the most important and I seem to be constantly gravitating towards it. For me, being able to enjoy your garden at night is one of life’s greatest delights. There are many selections of lighting to choose from and now-a-days companies have come out with environmentally and economically friendlier options. Companies like Viz Art Glass make these amazing “Chihuly looking” blown glass solar stakes that come in an assortment of bright and vibrant colors. There is also Allsop, which produces solar Japanese lanterns in all colors, shapes and patterns, as well as, cute solar table-top lanterns that can be placed anywhere or on anything and can also be hung. If that isn’t enough to get your garden sparkling with light there are also natural looking twig lights from The Light Garden that can enhance any covered patio area.

When you combine all of the above; the look, the sound, the smell, you get the “garden experience”, which is the over-all feeling it brings you. Don’t hold back, make your garden a sanctuary that you can’t wait to revisit over and over again. Remember, it’s your space and you can make it anything you want it to be. So have fun, see what’s out there, and be creative. However, if you need help making your dream garden a reality, please don’t hesitate to seek out the professionals at Garland Nursery. It’s what we love to do.

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Fabulous Foliage

chamaecyparisobtusananaluteagardenThe longer I have gardened, the more I’ve realized that fabulous foliage is far more important than flowers for long term interest in my gardens. Good gardening involves creating year-round interest by having enough evergreen plants for winter structure along with plants that show the glories of spring, the lushness of summer and the fireworks of autumn.

For the winter bones of the garden, there are many conifers with great foliar texture. Hinoki Cypresses (Chamaecyparis obtusa) are like living sculpture with their sculpted, fan-like sprays in gold or emerald green. Japanese Cedars (Cryptomeria) can have smoky, billowy foliage or intricate coral-like foliage in dwarf gems to large pyramids. Lemon Cypresses like Golden Pillar and Wilma Goldcrest form spires of chartreuse feathery foliage that are like a ray of sunshine on gray winter days. Broad-leaved plants with great foliage include Hellebores, evergreen ferns, Heucheras, Acanthus,IMG_9884 Pieris, Aucuba and Fatsias for shade and Choisya, Euonymous , Privets(Ligustrum) and Nandinas for sun.
Gorgeous spring foliage is evident on many Japanese maples, Spiraea, ninebarks (Physocarpus) and barberries for your sunny sides while Pieris, Winter Hazel (Corylopsis), the unfurling new fronds of ferns, Brunnera, the myriad colors of Heucheras and Hostas, Astilbes, and Epimediums are stunning in the shade garden.
By summer the full lushness of huge-leaved plants like Gunnera, Rodgersias, Fatsia, IMG_9892Hosta, Bananas, Cannas, Elephant Ears and Castor Bean create a tropical-looking paradise. Colorful coleus in sun or shade are stunning. Ornamental grasses, Phormiums, Cordylines, Irises and Yuccas add spiky texture to complement the rounded forms of other plants.
As temperatures get crisp in autumn, the fireworks begin. Maples, Ginkgos, Persian Ironwood (Parrotia), Sourgum (Nyssa), Raywood Ash and Oaks are some of the best trees for fall color. Burning Bush (Euonymous), Sweetspire (Itea), Smoketree (Cotinus), IMG_9881Barberries, Fothergilla, Sumac (Rhus), Spiraea and Viburnums sport vivid fall colors. For perennial autumn color try Amsonia, Darmera and Muckdenia Crimson Fans.

Great foliage creates a beautiful tapestry upon which flowers can shine like jewels.

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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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