Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Banana Trees in Fall

I don’t actually own a banana plant but I sure see a lot of them in people’s gardens. I am amazed they still look nice in late November. This photo was taken in Woodburn at Al’s Garden Center. It will be interesting to see how it fares without being wrapped & mulched. They are pretty hardy, down to –3F & down to –20F with mulching & protection. Last year, I interviewed Bill at The Portland Classical Chinese Garden on the November 17th 2007 show ( At the PCCG, they want to ensure that the 12-15 ft trunks repel winter damage as that will help to ensure they will bloom & produce fruit. Their banana trees were beautiful this year. The banana bunches were so cute even though they are not edible.
If you are nervous about your banana tree, wrap the trunk with cardboard & burlap & cover the crown with leaves & mulch. Don’t worry about the leaves. In late winter/early spring, just cut off all the old leaves. The tree will sprout new ones. Apply fertilizer once the weather warms up. Use your favorite, general-purpose fertilizer. If the trunk does sustain some winter damage & is mushy, cut back below the damaged part. You don’t have to cut down the whole trunk. The leaves will sprout from the clean-cut healthy tissue.
I’ll put a note in my calendar to report back on the bananas at Al’s & let you know if they get a bunch of bananas.
Take Care,

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The best teacher is experience…

As long as there have been gardens there have been gardeners that have opinions about what, when and how to garden.
I received a call at work a few days ago from a customer who had just heard on a T.V. show that you should not transplant Camellia’s. The person doing the show said that if you moved a Camellia it might and most likely would, die.
Well, I can assure you that after a lifetime of gardening I have moved countless Camellias with great success. My first reaction was, ‘What a quack”. But then I thought about it for a few moments….
I know a lot of wonderful people in this industry and not one of them would ever even think about giving out wrong information, it is just not in their nature. So why this bit of misinformation?
Well, I can tell you that the person that said this really believes it IS accurate.
So what is the public suppose to do, how do they know what information is accurate and which is not, or more accurately, which information will garner them the best success in their garden.
One of the easiest things any gardener can do is A) try it yourself and B) pay attention! There is no information out there on gardening that can compete with your personal experience. I take all the info I can and then process that into a formulation that I can use in my gardens at home. When I hear, ‘you can’t do it that way”, well I just give it a shot! “Those won’t live here”, We’ll see about that! “You aren’t supposed to move those plants…they just do not transplant well”, Tell that to my peonies that have been moved countless times!
What I am saying is that each one of us has more to learn, each of us has ideas and desires for our own spaces and many failures and successes to have. Listen to everything that professionals say and then strike out on your own! It’s your garden with your sweat and efforts pored into it. And then pay attention to your space. Nature is so good at telling us exactly what it needs, we need only pay attention. If you are stumped, take a sample and your questions into any independent garden center, they are chucked full of people that have years and years of experience. But more than anything else…have fun! Take some time this winter to do some planning. How about a new vegetable garden? Maybe you have been waiting to expand your perennial beds, or put in a pathway. It is all with in your reach and you will have plenty of time this winter to plan it all out. And then that first day of warm weather hits and you begin whatever it is you are planning to do.
I know I have already started planning my veggie garden, tweaking it from last year, adding some things, removing some. Successes and failures, but always, always learning.
What can nature and experience teach you?
Warm Thoughts,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lemon Tree very pretty….

Having a lemon tree on my patio reinforces the belief that I live in gardening paradise. I know we get a lot of rain and days & days with no sunshine but we can still grow lemons on our patios or in our house! What a hoot!
It is the easiest fruit tree to grow next to figs, but that’s a previous blog.
My plant is a Meyer’s Improved Lemon. This Improved variety is resistant to a virus that affects commercial lemons. The Improved Meyer’s Lemon was developed in 1970 is the best for containers. It is a cross between a lemon, a type of orange & a mandarin.
This fruit is the best lemon to use for baking. It has a very flavorful juice & zest, the yellow part of the rind. The flowers have a delicious fragrance that fills the air. I sometimes carry the plant indoors for a few days just to get that aroma in my house.
Lemon plants & Citrus plants in general need at least 8 hours of sun.
Water regularly & let dry down a bit. The first two inches of soil can dry out. Make sure the water goes through the entire pot & does not stay in the saucer. The plant’s roots may rot if left sitting in water.
Fertilize in spring & early summer when the plant is actively growing.
The best part is the Meyer’s Improved Lemon bears fruit as young as 3 years old. You may remove some of the fruit when small so the remaining fruit gets larger.
The other great fact about lemons is that they are hardy to 25F.
I left my plant on my covered patio for most of the winter. I just took it into the house on the coldest nights in January. I would then put it back out the morning. It was very happy!
Think about adding a lemon tree or orange or lime to your patio plants. With just a little care, you can be reminded of a garden paradise.

Take Care,