Monday, December 21, 2009

Lemons, Limes & The Cold Weather

I love having plants in containers. They add so much texture & structure to the front door or patio. The tough part of container gardening is borderline hardy plants in winter. I don’t have a greenhouse so they are left to “fend for themselves”. I know this sounds harsh but, it’s a chore to protect them & coddle them.
The very, very cold spell we had 2 weeks ago took its toll on my ‘Bearss’ Lime plant (pictured on right). I did take it & the ‘Improved Meyer’ Lemon plant inside during the wickedly cold nighttime temps. In the morning, I put them back out on the deck. I’m not used to paying attention to daytime temperatures. I figure it warms up during the day so what’s the problem. Not so during that week. Our highs were in the high teens & low 20’s.
Limes are not that hardy. They are not as hardy as ‘Improved Meyer’ Lemon plants.
On my way home one night from the gym, I noticed the temperature reading at the local school was 26F. Oh-Oh. I had left the citrus out all day. I pulled them both in & saw leaf damage on the Lime. The Lemon looked OK.
Over the next days, the leaves kept turning browner & browner. It finally dropped all of them. The Lemon & even its flower buds look great (pictured on left)!
I think the Lime will eventually recover. The stems are still green. I think it will leaf out by spring after a bit of dormancy.
I did put it back outside on the covered front porch. It’s more protected than the deck & it’s out of the wind. I believe Citrus plants do better outside than in our too warm, dry houses.
Whatever happens to my Lime plant, it is OK by me as it’s an experiment. Gardening is always an experiment as every year is different. Now I know what it can really take by way of winter temps. Next year, I will be smarter about plant protection or not. If I need another Lime plant, I know where to get one.

Enjoy the Holidays

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Whoa, it is cold outside. It seems to me that no matter how much we prepare for winter it always seems top throw us a curve. As I came home a few days ago from work I raced out to the water shut off valves to turn them off and drain the sprinkler system. I thought it may get as cold as predicted and wanted to make sure I had done everything I could to assure a smooth transition back to warmer weather.
I noticed that a few feet away from me was a Correa ‘Dusky Bells’ which I had just planted this summer. This plant is not terribly hardy here so I had my misgivings as to how it would fair. After two nights below 20 degrees…it looks stunning. Covered in the soft pink and mint green pendulous bell shaped blooms, the coldness seems to enhance their color, making them glow against the dark, evergreen small oval leaves…just lovely.
I did also see that with such a harsh freeze my Dahlias and Chrysanthemums finally gave up the ghost. Boy do I think these are so underused in our gardens! They have been blooming for months now, offering nonstop color. I purchased three varieties at the Chrysanthemum show in 2008 at Portland Nursery on Division and was too delighted to see how amazingly they preformed in their first year, especially the spider mum.
My palms I wrapped seem to be fairing ok as well…I did have to recover the top as the rains we had a few weeks ago filled them up like miniature swimming pools.
My Musa Bajoo could not withstand the freezes either. And no, I did not make the time to wrap them. Hopefully they will once again forgive me and come bursting out of the ground next year again, content to start from deep within the earth rather than at six feett tall already.
And much to my surprise, my bulbs are already pushing their way out of the ground. Imagine that, in December! Some people say to push them deeper in the ground a cover them with mulch but I figure if Mother Nature’s telling them to start growing…who am I to stop them? Besides, selfishly, it makes me think spring is just around the corner…an event I am already greatly anticipating…
And lastly I was watering inside the greenhouse when I went around a corner and felt really cold air! You guessed it. There was an 18” tear in the plastic. It looked like someone had falling into it because their were finger stretch marks where they tried to right themselves. Nothing a little greenhouse tape can’t mend.
If you don’t have a greenhouse you should really consider the investment. How beautiful it is to stroll thru there when it is this cold outside and feel the warmth of the tropics…The Greenhouse Catalog store in Brooks has really nice greenhouses that aren’t cost prohibitive. Check out their website…they do shipping as well. What could be easier?
Sometimes I feel like being on Gardentime should force me to have the perfect gardens year round. Well, I’m here to tell you my friends, that’s just not the case. But nevertheless, I adore my gardens and even though I never seem to get everything done that I desire to, I try to be as gentle and forgiving to myself as much as mother nature is to my gardens.
Stay warm, be happy and dream of spring…
Happy Gardening,

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Falling Leaves…

Time is an odd taskmaster. It seems to me that time has become rather disjointed. Each year there are things I do in the garden that seem to be like clockwork. Perhaps it is really my own mind making these perceived timelines.
While filming Monday Judy made a comment on vegetables and planting when I realized it was almost November! November…and people are still planting…
This erstwhile thought came to me again yesterday as I took a rare, casual stroll through my gardens. Generally by this time of year I have Halloween decorations up, the leaves are all on the garden beds and I am ready for whatever Old Man Winter has to through at me…well, to the best of my ability.
This year has been different. There are precious few decorations up, the leaves are still all over the driveways, paths…and the lawns and I realized with that ‘sideswiped-on-a-Tuesday-morning’ feeling…I am not prepared for this winter or the Holidays.
What I have accomplished though is something I have never done before. This Summer I planted three palm trees in the yard. A Bismarckia and two Triangle palms. Working in a nursery gives me the benefit of free plants because they are diseased or struggling. I always take these less than desirable plants and nurse them gently back to health. Probably 80% of my gardens are clearance or throw away plants. As many of you may remember, I do love the more tropical settings on this spinning orb so anything I can get to grow that is a tropical feeling plants makes me giddy as a little school girl. I did my research on these two palms and found that they are cold hardy to 15-20 degrees. Not wanting to take a chance with other people’s opinions on them, I decided to wrap them up for the winter. I have always admired the Portland Classical Chinese Gardens for the beautiful and loving way they wrap their Musa Bajoo bananas every year. I never take the time to do that with mine so they die down each year but come back with a vengeance, however I don’t have the 15’ stalks they do. This year I made the time to wrap my palms. I carefully tied the frond up, then placed HUGE tomato cages over them, wrapped them in burlap, filled the cavity with leaves and put a giant black plastic bag over the top. I am hoping this protects the crown from moister and the insulation of leaves add enough protection to keep the lower temperature at bay.
Now I must get to putting the rest of the leaves on all the beds. It feels to me that time is short and I really need to hurry to do this. I mean Halloween is this weekend and the scariest thing to me is how unprepared I feel for winter!
The leaves, once placed on the beds, will provide a warm covering for all those many plants that I force to live where they most likely would prefer not to…
Then in early spring I will gently rake and hand pull them all off only to compost them in the veggie garden and start the whole process over again. If I remember to I will let you all know how the palms fair this winter…and myself too…
Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More Holland Gardens

I have traveled a fair amount over the past 25 years.
I love to visit different places & see how people live their lives. I enjoy walking in neighborhoods, far from the touristy sites. I want to see the similarities & differences of where the real people live.
Being a plant person, I always have noticed the plants people grow in their gardens or front doorstep.
It must be in our genes, our DNA to keep plants surrounding our living space.
Last year, I enjoyed Therese & Jeff's blog & photos of their trip to Italy.
My favorite photos were from Venice. The city is surrounded by water & yet everyone has potted geraniums on their balcony!
On my trip to Amsterdam this summer, I again was impressed on the gardens of this very urban city.
There were flower boxes on the pedestrian bridges!
Wisteria & climbing roses erupt from the cobblestone pathways in front of houses. They look ancient.
Flower pots hang from balcony railings.
Private courtyards provide respite from city life.
Inconspicuous doorways open to reveal lush gardens just for the residents of the townhouses.
The Civic building in the photo is awesome with hanging baskets & railing plantings of petunias.
Looks like a few buildings I know in Portland.

In smaller cities like Edam, I saw gardens with a bit more size than the small spaces of Amsterdam.
One garden was bursting with plants & adorned with whimsical pieces of Dutch nostalgia.
I loved the use of old wooden shoes & wash pans. It was funny & pure Holland.
The garden beyond the iron gate frames a beautiful home. It seems such a peaceful space.

All of these gardens make me think that the world over, we are all the same inside. Gardeners!

Take care,

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall fun

Fall is a great time to get outside. When the rain and cooler weather is chasing everyone indoors you can still get outside and enjoy the garden and many other events around the area.

Right now there are lots of Harvest festivals happening around the area. In the past few weeks we have visited a bunch of cool ones including the one at Bauman’s Farm and Garden where they had the giant pumpkin weigh-off and tons of fun every weekend until the end of the month. This past week we found the really neat harvest festival at French Prairie Gardens. The French Prairie festival had the very fun and exciting pig races… something you can’t miss, but be prepared for the ‘pig’ jokes, there are some real groaners.
If you are not a ‘harvest’ type of person, you can still enjoy fall. Check out these pictures that we captured in our garden and at the local garden center.

The color is tremendous this season… check out the sumac. There are new varieties that are out there, but they all share this wonderful color.

The witchhazel is also showing off with striking color and even the hosta has one last blast of color before the leaves die off.

Finally we found this euonymus (also called Burning Bush) with its intense red foliage.

See there are lots of reasons for stepping outdoors and, after all, we are Oregonians (and Washingtonians) and a little rain never hurt anyone.

Garden Time Producer

Friday, October 2, 2009


This Summer I was very lucky & with permission from the Garden Time gang, I went off on vacation to The Netherlands or as most of us call it - Holland. My family converged on my niece's house in Amsterdam. Not only was I seeing my sister & her family, but my Mom was along too.
Family & gardens what a combo. We had a blast!
Holland is a kind of the holy place for gardeners as it's where so much plant breeding is done today. It's also the birthplace of plant geeks. Tulipmania happened in 1637. Tulips were the newest flower in Holland brought there from Turkey. The wealthy class had to have the beautiful new flower bulbs & there was a spending spree. Where else in the world would tulips sell for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman of the time.
The bottom of the market eventually fell out. Another flower probably turned their heads.
Unfortunately, it is not tulip flower time in August but bulbs were for sale everywhere.
Someday, I hope to visit Keukenhof Gardens in April & see the 5 Million, yes 5 Million blooming tulips.
Holland is a wonderful country to visit in the summer.
It reminds me of Oregon with it's very green landscape & varied crops growing across the countryside.
On farms, canals are used for irrigation water. The beautiful windmills of The Netherlands were used to pump this water, mill grain & keep the sea at bay. There are few original windmills left in rural areas. We visited an historic village called Zaanse Schans that had several working windmills.
Amsterdam reminds me of Venice, Italy as there are canals everywhere.
The canals were the roadways of earlier days. Now they are for tourist boats
and resident's houseboats. How cool but to live on a canal in the heart of Amsterdam on a boat.
These houseboats are as varied as houses on a regular street.
There are brown & green, new & old houseboats and even floating wooden shoes.
My favorite houseboats were the ones that had gardeners aboard.
The craving to garden even hits these water dwellers.
Most house boats had a container of geraniums or potted palm. Many houseboats had whole flower beds.
There were even the busy gardener's bed of weeds. I felt at home!
My family was very patient with me & let me visit gardens and garden centers. I will have a few more blogs and photos in the next few weeks.
Take care,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Small Space Veggie Recap

Way back in May, I planted a mini-veggie garden in a hanging basket and herbs in containers. I was into small space gardening at the time and those containers were the space I had.
I have vegetable garden envy with William's beautiful garden. I know he blogged how disappointed he was with the production but it was still a work of art in my mind. (He's a perfectionist!)
I planted a Cherry tomato, leaf lettuce and onions in the hanging basket. The lettuce turned out great as it was cool and kind of shady where my garden hung. I used the leaves for sandwiches & a few salads. I just stepped out my patio door & clipped the leaves. The lettuce grew back a few times until the heat of June became too much for it. It was very easy & convenient.
The tomatoes & onions were more challenging. In June, the temperatures were up & down. That is hard on heat loving vegetables like onions & tomatoes. That patio did not get a sun until about 2PM but it was intense afternoon sun. I thought the PM sun, reflective heat off the cement & small container would equal out the shorter duration of sun. My experiment had not panned out as I had hoped. The tomato plant was just not very fruitful. I fertilized, watered & also trimmed off extra foliage to help produce more fruit. I got few tomatoes but they were very tasty. I was glad of that. The onions were OK as green onions. I had not expected them to grow too large as there was not much space.
The herbs fared much better. I planted Rosemary, Italian Parsley, Basil and Chives. Even though these are herbs that do well in the sun, they grew well on the patio. I think foliage plants do not need as much sun as fruit producing plants need. Well, Duh?
I think it was a good experiment. I was entertained most of the summer and enjoyed the
Cherry Tomatoes as they ripened. I went to the local farmer's market to feed my tomato addiction.
That was always a fun excursion. There is nothing like vine ripened tomatoes and Summer is not the same without them.
I agree with William about the trials & tribulations of vegetable gardening. We gardeners have good years & not so good years. We work with whatever space we have available.
Whatever your success or failure was, try again next year.
That's the fun of it!

Take care,
PS The photo is from Mid-July

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Senior Gardening Day

Many of you may know that I am the store director of Portland Nursery on Division St.
Every year we have a Senior Gardening Day. Hundreds of senior citizens from all over are bused in and many that do not live in assisted living homes come in as well. It is a day filled with laughter, music, food and fun. For many, it is the only time a year that they get out. Seniors tend to get a bad wrap in our society. Many think that all of them are crotchety and mean. If that is true…there is no sign of it on this day at our store. Smiles are as ubiquitous as sand at the beach. There is dancing and conversation and remembering more youthful times in their gardens. It is very heart warming to be a part of as it both honors me and humbles me at the same time.
As everything in my life makes me reflect on nature, I couldn’t help thinking this year during the festivities how very connected to nature each one of us are, whether we realize it or not. For the people that live a long time life must be much like an oak tree. It starts out so small but as time passes, such strength and stamina abound and before you know it there is a behemoth tree in front of you that certainly will eventually pass on but for this moment in time, withstands everything that life can throw at it.
It is always with excitement that I listen to someone’s tale of their youth, what vegetables they used to plant or ‘wicked’ little tales of fruits stolen from some neighbor’s yard, only to become sick on the bounty from eating too many or ones that were not ripe enough.
Yes, we humans and our gardens are inexorably tied together, for better or worse.
If you have parents or grandparents still around you, ask them about some tales from their youth. Plant those seeds so that you can, in turn tell your tales eventually. Or perhaps donate a bit of your time to work in an assisted living home. They will appreciate it completely and what you grow will be as beautiful as anything nature has to offer.
Whatever you do, do it with the vigor of nature, because even a lifetime can go by too quickly…
Happy Gardening,

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I was very disappointed with my vegetable garden this year. After a harrowing winter...spring and summer were not all that much kinder. As I walked thought my veggie garden today I was so frustrated. Powdery mildew, poor quality tomatoes, cucumbers and squash, peppers? I shouldn't even planted them this year!
As I was whining in my own mind about the dismal display in front of me, I was ok, as I knew that none of this was my fault. I can not control nature and nature was the major component of my less than admirable veggie garden.
And all of a sudden I thought, "I have done this for decades...I know it's nothing to do with my abilities" However, this year saw so many new gardeners trying their hand at home veggie gardens. And I have heard so many complaints about the lack of success with people's veggie garden this year. So I thought, I should blog about this and encourage people to not give up!
There are simply going to be years when veggie and other gardening attempts will not do well. It's just life. But when everything comes together...on those out. Because the success will go directly to your head. But then we have a year like this and everything comes into balance again. Nothing brings balance to us humans like Mother nature.
So if your gardens have been less than you not lose hope. It happens to the best of us!
Happy Gardening,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Big changes

Many of you are wondering about the recent announcement that Garden Time TV is moving to KOIN Local 6, in fact some of you may have noticed that you can watch the show on both channel 6 and channel 12. I can fill you in on some of the reasons for the move to KOIN. Gustin Creative Group, the producers of Garden Time, also puts together the Fusion TV show. Fusion is a home improvement, home design and cooking show that recently had a 13 week run on KOIN Local 6 during the spring. KOIN approached GCG about having Fusion return for the fall. We were very interested in having the show back on the air and we also wanted to have both Garden Time and Fusion together. Both KPTV and KOIN wanted the shows, and after negotiations we decided that KOIN was a better fit for us. KPTV has been a GREAT partner for us during the past 3+ years, in fact, producer/owner Jeff worked there for over 18 years and so it was a hard decision to make.
The key thing to remember is that the shows are products of my company and the decision to move them around is not the stations, but mine (i.e. if you have complaints, send them to me). Starting on the 12th of September you will be able to watch Fusion and Garden Time back to back from 8-9 am every Saturday morning. It will be a one-stop place for all your home and garden questions. We hope you understand and continue to support Garden Time, Fusion and the clients who make both shows possible. We look forward to being your local choice for home and garden information for years to come.

Garden Time and Fusion

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bring out your dead…

Although it has been a long time coming, I finally have the time to write about plants that died this winter…just in time to write about the ones that are now struggling with summer heat.
Which brings up an interesting question I had someone ask me the other day…”Are the zones that you see on plants as important when the go higher as when the are lower?” And the answer is…Yes. But more on that later.
This last winter was difficult at best. For gardeners in the northwest that are accustomed to a temperate year round climate, the horrific cold we had this winter really tested the limits of plants and gardeners alike.
My original thought was to give a list of plants that had died, tell you which ones I replaced and why and which I gave up on. But quite frankly the list was far too long. So I decided to write about a few that either really saddened me by their demise or ones that truly surprised me as to why they did not make it.
The first and most surprising to me was my Ceanothus. This lovely evergreen shrub had actually become a small tree. Having been in for several years I did not think twice about it not surviving…however, it did not. Other smaller and more newly planted species did but not my Ray Hartman. I did do a hard prune on it last year but it had already begun a healthy amount of re-growth. So my analysis is that because I had pruned it so hard it had less protection from the winter’s harsh weather and thus the added stress caused it to expire…much to my chagrin. I replaced it with a beautiful variety of Eucalyptus.
Another plant that caused me great consternation was a South African shrub that for the life of me can’t remember, nor find, the name! It was planted four years ago and was not suppose to be hardy here. The evergreen leaves were delightfully fragrant. As it had survived for so long I was confident it would make it. And it did…until a month ago. New growth had sprung abundantly from it and I thought,’ wow…this puppies gonna make it”. It didn’t. I noticed three weeks ago the new leaves were wilting. With in a few more days they were completely flat against the stems. The only explanation for this I can come up with is that the plant had stressed too much, lost the majority of its root system and even though it started to grow, it did not have the roots to accommodate and sustain new growth. I dug it up and shed a silent tear…I replaced it with nothing as it was a very full bed anyway. I would try it again if I can ever find its name in my plant name cookie jar. Yep, I keep all my tags in a cookie jar.
I was very saddened by the loss of my Chamaecyperis ‘blue surprise’. Fortunately I have two and only one expired. I for the life of me can’t figure out why. You may have heard that these plants were not terrible hardy in the sense of their root systems but the growers did come up with a new grafted one that does seem to hold up better. Both of these were that newer kind. And as only one died and one survived just fine…I got nothing on what happened.
Coleonema pulchrum is a tropical feathery small shrub with wonderful fragrance. The blooms, which are nice too, do not have so much fragrance but brush by the foliage and…wow. My entire hedge of these beautiful plants died. They had been in for about 4 years, I put in wax leafed begonias for this year because I really want to replace Coleonema but have not decided if it is worth the risk yet.
So as not to end on a sad not I wanted to tell you of a few fantastic surprises. My Buddleia ‘Kews Red’ which I thought was dead for sure came back from the roots. I am especially thrilled about this because all Buddleias are quickly becoming illegal to sell in Oregon as some people believe it is extremely invasive as it can reseed prodigiously in the right environment.
Also, Colquhonia coccinea, leafed out very late spring. I was almost certain this woody member of the salvia family would not make it, but much to my pleasant surprise it did. It has such soft grey green leaves that are eclipsed in beauty only buy the salvia shaped, large orange-red blooms in summer.
So there you have it. More importantly than anything else to me is that new gardeners realize that ALL of us have success and failures every year. Even though I have been in this game many, many seasons, each season is fraught with new experiences. Some make me sad as I see plants I adore vanish silently into oblivion. Other experiences bring me ecstatic pleasure as I realize…’you made it, Yeah!’ And it is always eventually big fun to find and try new plants, testing the water with some and having a certainty with others, for success.
Whatever your proclivity for gardening, keep trying. It will always reward you with some experience that will, as you help your garden grow, help you grow as well.
Happy Gardening,

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July

For some, summer began on Memorial Day, others when school finished! But for a small group the 4th of July is the true beginning of summer. Why? Because it only starts getting hot in July. And boy has it gotten hot! The heat has chased everyone out of the kitchen. So to the grill we go! We have finished about half our shows for this 4th season and we often mark the half way point with a stop at Gartner’s Meats.
Short ribs, chicken and kabobs are in the freezer and ready for a quick dinner. Don't forget the twice baked potatoes! We have spent most of the spring working in the garden (or shooting stories for the TV show). Time to relax, before we start working on the next series of shows. I’ll be planning the next show after I finish eating…

We also would like to remember Jack Gartner who passed away just a few weeks ago. What a great businessman and a nice gentleman.

Garden Time Producer

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oregon Coast Garden Expo

We are on the road. Garden Time will be in Newport this weekend for the Oregon Coast Gardening and Landscaping Expo. This year’s theme is ‘Gardening on the Edge’. Today, Friday the 26th, and tomorrow the 27th, there is a huge plant sale at the Newport Middle School. Over 50 plant vendors, garden artists and informational booths will be set up.

Sunday, there will be a secret garden tour. You can take this self-guided tour and see some of the best private gardens on the coast while you enjoy live music, food and wine and a glass blowing demonstration (at some locations). The cost for the plant sale is $5 for a single day, and $8 for a 2-day pass. The cost for the garden tour is $20. All the proceeds benefit the Samaritan House family shelter of Lincoln County.

Stop by the ‘Garden Time’ booth and sign up for the Garden Time On-line magazine and have a chance to win a plant or a cool Garden Time t-shirt. For more information about the Expo, check out their website,

Garden Time Producer

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rose Days

Wow, color! The gardens at Heirloom roses are looking great. A lot of people want to get ‘into’ summer when the seasons change. Well this is the place to do that. The gardens are looking fantastic. It is a great place where you can hang out with just a blanket and a picnic lunch and enjoy the day. Every time we stop by for a shoot it is hard for us to get in the car and drive away. It is a little oasis outside of Newberg. Check out some of these varieties that we found out there.
Benjamin Britten,
Rock and Roll,
Velvet Fragrance.

Your chance to enjoy the gardens and enjoy a true springtime event is this weekend (June 20-21) for the annual Rose Days event. Heirloom will have a ton of events happening this weekend and you can enjoy them all. There will be tours of the gardens, wine and chocolate tasting, hot bar-b-que and lots of garden tools and art to take home. It should be a great time. Stop by and enjoy the garden. Check out for more info.
Garden Time

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Small Space Veggie Gardens

Spring is in the air & so is my yearly drive to plant tomatoes & vegetables. It must be an Italian thing. I did get my love of gardening from my Grandpa Sam (Salvatore Miritello, now that's an Italian name). I have vague memories of his tomato plants in his small, city size garden in Chicago.
His garden would be very trendy today! The whole yard was about 400 SF with a huge cherry tree in the center. He also grew “fig shrubs” as he would have to bury them each winter to protect them from the very cold weather. He was also into Zonal Denial.
Grandpa loved to garden & tomatoes were his favorite. He made the best use of his garden space as there were always fresh tomatoes at the Sunday lunches at his house. I'm glad I have inherited my love of gardening & of growing tomatoes. Ever since I have had my own home, I have put in a veg garden. I have made raised vegetable beds in the past & they worked well. Raised beds are great as you add compost & topsoil above the normal soil level. This lets the soil get warmed up faster which helps the plants grow faster & produce more. The plants are grown in great soil which also has great drainage. Happy vegetable plants make delicious vegetables.
This year, I am going to shrink that growing space even more and try my hand at growing tomatoes in containers. To me, it's a mini raised bed. I think it will be a fun challenge and a new experiment. I can grow all kinds of plants in containers, I don't think vegetables can be that difficult. I do think there will be a bit more planning. I planted a Cherry Tomato, Lettuce & Onions in a hanging basket. I also started a Tomato in a container. I'll keep you posted!
Take care,

I have listed the tips that are the most important to think about for Container Vegetable Gardening
Sunlight 6-8 hrs
Bagged potting soil
Good sized containers (minimum14 inch diameter)
Healthy starts or seed
Trellis/supports like Tomato Cages

Plants to try for sure fire success
Hot & Sweet Peppers

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mother Nature and ‘Hardy’

This winter was a rude awakening for many gardeners. I am one that loves to push the envelope on zones. Pressing nature to make it be something it isn’t or can’t or won’t.
I adore the tropics; hot days and warm nights filled with exotic songbirds, intense fragrances and the pulsating feel of nature as it runs uninhibited by cold weather or the concern of such banal things as snow.
But I live in Portland, Or. Snow happens. Cold spells that even though they may show up only occasionally…they DO show up. And in those winters when that occurs it can wreck havoc on our gardens.
Playing it safe has never been the way I live or garden. I was walking my dear friend Valarie around my gardens a week ago and was devastated by the amount of plant material that had simply died during the winter. Many plants that should have been hardy did not make it and many that were on the cusp didn’t stand a chance.
On the bright side, many did. A great plant from South Africa (I will say more on this in my next blog, ‘Bring out your dead’…) that truly should have been dead is pushing new growth. Although I lost about 50 plants in all, the process of removing them, identifying them and the possibility of replacing them made me start pondering the concept of the word ‘hardy’.
In this Industry we are constantly looking for the next new plant. One that will be different from it’s predecessors in some way and will make it necessary for everyone to have. Although this can be fun and exciting, It is incumbent upon us, the people that sell these plants, to make sure that they are hardy in our area or at least tell customers when they are not. Opinions abound about just what that means. For me the bottom line is what does the word ‘hardy’ mean. We first have to have a base understanding that we can all agree on. If you have to wrap something to protect it, it really isn’t hardy. If you need to move it up by the house or in the garage or greenhouse, that’s not hardy. If you must mulch it heavily, probably isn’t the true meaning of the word ‘hardy’.
Websters defines hardy as
3 - a. inured to fatigue or hardships: ROBUST b: capable of withstanding adverse conditions
Hum…there you have it. ‘Capable of withstanding adverse conditions’. This winter certainly threw its fair share of adverse conditions at my gardens and many of my plants couldn’t withstand those conditions.
So what does that mean? Am I less likely to plant in a zone denial state? No! Will I perhaps spend more time ‘protecting’ those more temperature sensitive plants. I would love to answer with a resounding yes…but no! Will I still try to create a tropical paradise in Portland…You betcha! Because it’s my nature. And my nature is well able to take on Mother Nature any time. Sometimes with success and sometimes, like this last winter, with dismal failure. But even in that failure I can choose to learn. What worked and what didn’t and why. Many things are factored into why a plant survives sometimes, and why…sometimes…it does not. That for me is the joy of gardening.
So whatever your proclivity in gardening is, whatever style you enjoy, whatever design you want to achieve, make sure that as your buying your plants you are well informed. Ask questions. Your Independent Garden Centers are well equipped to assist you with those questions. And if you, like me, had some failures this year…take heart! Try again and rejoice in the beauty that you can create with this wonderful nature we call “Mother”.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Feeding frenzy

We were out working in the garden this last week and couldn’t believe all the activity at the Ribes sanguineum. It is covered with mason bees, hummingbirds (sorry, I couldn’t get a picture of them) and other beneficial bugs. The funny thing about this plant… it is a volunteer. We think a bird did a little seed dropping, and voila, we have a new plant in the garden! Another great benefit of bringing birds to your backyard!
Check out the happy mason bee in our bee block. They have been busy with the ribes and all of the dwarf fruit trees we have in our garden.

Garden time

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Break Part 2

This weekend is the real Spring Break!
The false Spring Break is a distant, sad memory, if you were hoping to have fun in the garden. Even as kids, we hoped for a warm Spring Break just to ride our bikes or run around with our friends. Our hopes of warm weather hasn't changed, just our activities.
My 'To-Do List' has gotten a bit long for this weekend. Does this sound like yours?
Buy Compost
Buy Tomatoes
Buy Lettuce & Onion Starts
Plant the above starts
Make a 'To-Do List' for next week

I have been ready to get the veggies started for a long time.
I have a new plan to containerize the tomatoes this year.
The big buzz is veggie gardening & container gardening had been popular for the last several years. I am going to combine the two.
Each year I am a bit disappointed with my tomato crop. The sprinkler system in the garden beds waters them all Summer long & they taste weak. There is not that robust tomato flavor I had when I gardened in Chicago. The intense heat in Summer sears flavor into the tomatoes. Many nights, it is still 90 degrees at 10PM. The tomatoes are fantastic.
In Oregon, our beautiful, cool evenings are great for sitting out of doors without mosquitoes & sweating to death, but not for ripening tomatoes.
I want my Chicago tomatoes, so I'm going to try tomatoes in pots. The theory is that the smaller soil volume, the solar radiation on the pot and control of water will make a more flavorful tomato. I can almost taste them now.
The lettuce is for early satisfaction for fresh from the garden produce. I love walking out the door & picking lettuce for my dinner salad. It's easy. Plant it just like planting petunias & let it grow. The onions are easy too. I plant them in a row and harvest
every 3rd or 4th for green onions. I leave the rest spaced & let them mature to be big onions later in the Summer.

When all the planting is done, maybe I'll get my bike out too. Hello Sunshine!

Take care,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Garden ‘Fusion’

Time is tight around the home of Garden Time. We are not only busy with the Garden Time show. We also just finished the hugely successful Gardenpalooza event. The Garden Time On-line magazine is receiving rave reviews (you can sign up for your free copy on our website I’m also working on the new Fusion ( show. This new show deals with Home Improvement, Home Design and Cooking. You can find it on KOIN-6 at 7am on Saturdays and at 10am in Hood River on CGN-7. It features Ken Ackerman and Robin Burke as hosts.
I will be looking for ‘garden’ type ideas that we can do on the Fusion show. In fact, this weekend on Fusion we will be doing a story on indoor plants from Al’s Garden Center. Give it a look and let me know if you have any garden ideas that we can tie into our new ‘home’ show.

Garden Time and Fusion producer

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Gardenpalooza is here!

Well it is that time of year again. Gardenpalooza has arrived. People get really excited about this event. It seems to be the place a lot of people come to get their plants for their summer gardens. Gardenpalooza started 7 years ago at KPTV when I was producing the Good Day Lifestyles garden segments. There were a lot of smaller nurseries that couldn’t afford to advertise on the TV show. I was looking for a way to get them some exposure and to get people excited about the TV show (and about gardening). This event seemed to fill a need. Boy, did it ever! The first year we held it at the OSU Research Station near Charboneau and we overwhelmed the property. We had people parking nearly a half mile away and walking to the event. It also was a foreshadowing of future events. It was COLD and wet. We had the Millstone coffee cruiser there and they ran out of hot coffee, one of the few times that had ever happened to them. The OSU people loved us, but asked us to leave. It was hard to control all the people and keep them from wandering through some of the research plots!
The next year we moved to Hoffman Dairy Garden near Canby. It was a great location with lots of permanent covered areas in the barn. The only drawbacks were muddy parking and vendor space. The event really started to grow! After a couple of years Hoffman’s moved most of their activities to Hillsboro. I decided that we needed to stay south of Portland and near the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival, more activities in the same direction and we had become good partners in promoting each others events.
So we moved to Fir Point Farms! We have had the great pleasure of working with 3 different groups of managers at the farm and are excited to be working with the Femrite family for the first time this year. The Gardenpalooza event is now the property of Gustin Creative Group and the Garden Time show. It has become a labor of love for the Garden Time crew. We are still bringing smaller nurseries and other garden vendors to you. They have the latest in unique plants and cool tools, and in the past few years we have started to include garden artists too. Some estimate that we have been getting between 7,000 to 9,000 people every year and most of those years have been in the rain! We always hold out hope for dry weather, but local gardeners have shown us that they love their plants no matter what weather we have.
If you have visited in the past, we hope that you have had a good time. If you haven’t been out to see us, give us a try this year.

Jeff and Therese
Garden Time owners/producers

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gardening made Easy?

At Garden Time TV, you might often hear us say how easy gardening is in some aspect or another. Having a far too open mind and being way too honest, I sometimes cringe when we say that.
Bottom line is...sometimes gardening is, plain and simply put, HARD WORK!
I would never want to scare someone off from the delight of spending time in their gardens or starting a new one up but I would be remiss if I didn't say that sometimes you just have to roll up your sleeves and get down and dirty.
I just came in from working in my yard. Now remember, I worked at store, Portland Nursery on Divison St., from 7:00 am until 4:45 pm, so I had already put in a good days work. I had decided this year in an attempt to save some money to try to do my yard alone. Whoa...what was I thinking? I tackled a Choyisa Ternata that was 9-10 foot tall and a Viburnum Davidi that was just totally out of control. They whupped me...and good! But, after a couple of hours and some language I won't repeat here, they are pristinely pruned.
What I am not able to explain to people is this. Even though the work is very hard (I really was rolling around on the ground, covered in dirt and thinking things that made ME blush I was so frustrated) when it was all said and done...perfection!
Seeing my yard to the level I demand it to be is a reward I am not sure many people can even understand. It fills me with pride and excitement and a sense of communion with nature that is almost spiritual.
After I was done, while showering and trying to remove dirt where dirt should never be on a human, it dawned on me that this extra hard work was actually my own fault. You see, gardens need constant attention. I have found that only when I delay or ignore a part of my yard does it demand increased care and maintenance. Both of these plants tend to root in very easily when a branch lays on the ground. And as I had not pruned them well in several years it cost me an extra amount of effort to get them back to where they needed to be. In truth, gardening is usually difficult only when we allow things to get out of control. Consistency and maintenance are key.
Always an optimist me, I can tell you that the blooming Daphne Oderata fragrance would waft thru the air and right when I thought I was going to implode with frustration while pruning, that indescribable smell would invade my olfactory and honestly would calm me like a drug.
So I guess my moral to the story is IF you don't keep up with your yearly pruning and IF your a perfectionist as I am, and IF you find that you have to tackle something in the yard you really don't want to...make sure you do it when the Daphnes are blooming!
And always remember that the best things in life may be free but the cost of a exquisit garden is...ocasionally...some hard work!
Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Herbs in the Kitchen

Herbs in the kitchen, what a concept! I don't mean the dried kind of herbs you have stored in zip-lock bags or the Herb Bouquets you've purchased at the market.
I mean containers of live herbs growing in your kitchen or inside the house. This idea may or may not be new to you. Sometimes an idea needs to resurface & be tried again.

Most people like to cook with fresh herbs or like the idea of cooking with fresh herbs. We see it in all the magazines & on all the cooking shows. It's a healthy way to get flavor in our meals.
It's also a budget minded practice. Growing herbs inside, on our patios or in our gardens is a renewable resource. Most herbs are perennial plants. They live for a long time. The annual-type herbs like basil* & cilantro* are worth their flavor in gold while they are growing. Enjoy them when they are in their warm weather growing season.

Easy tips for growing herbs indoors

Select containers with drain holes & saucers
Use good quality potting soil like Black Gold All Organic Soil
Select herbs that grow easily indoors
Bay Leaf
'Boxwood' Basil (New small leaf Basil - Ideal for indoors)

Place containers in a window with bright light like an Eastern exposure.
Western or Southern Exposures may get a bit too much sun in the Summer.
You make need to move the container a few feet away to prevent leaf damage.

Water containers thoroughly as needed. Let the water go through the whole pot, but don't let water stay in the saucer. This may damage the herb's roots.
Herbs need to dry out just a bit between waterings.
Harvest the leaves as needed for recipes. By harvesting, you are actually pruning the foliage to keep the plant compact.
Pick off Herb flowers to add to salads or use as a garnish.

*Large leaf Basils are best grown outdoors
*Cilantro is best grown outdoors

Enjoy your new indoor herb pots. I'm sure you have recipes in your collection to try them out.

Take care,

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Full speed ahead…

Well, we are in our 4th season of the Garden Time show! It has been crazy as we get back up to speed on gathering stories for the show. We usually put 100+ miles on the car every week as we visit nurseries, garden centers and different locations. We try to get out and show you different garden places around the area, which feature plants that will work in your garden. So even if we don’t make it to your neighborhood you can be sure the plants we show will grow here. I have also received a request for a home make over. Unfortunately we can’t do make-overs. It is very expensive and tough for growers, retailers and landscapers to give up the resources to get it done. Landscaping is very subjective. What you may find attractive, others may not like so much. We recommend that you work with a designer or garden center and do your own makeover. Many garden centers have design people on staff or they can recommend one to you. Most will work with you on a budget and a timeline for any size project. Plus, half the fun of gardening is getting your own hands in the soil. To get ideas for a landscape, take one of the local garden tours in your area. There are more and more tours as the season progresses. Take notes of what you like. Watch for shade and sunny areas and which plants are used in those places. Most of all look for something that fits your personality and lifestyle. Keep watching the show and we will give you more tips from the experts!

Garden Time Producer

Saturday, February 28, 2009

YGP show

Wow, what a busy week. We started this week shooting stories for the new season of the Garden Time show. Then we ended it by shooting the first show of the season at the Yard, Garden and Patio show at the Oregon Convention Center. This show is one of the best shows if you are looking for the coolest new things for the garden. We saw tons of people visiting great places like Ferguson's Fragrant Nursery,

the Swan Island Dahlias booth,

And the award winning Dinsdale Landscaping display.

William and Judy had a seminar on Gardening Myths…

And then met with viewers in the Home and Garden Journal booth.

Garden Time even had a container on display…

But we couldn’t compare to the 1st place container done by Deby and her crew at Cornell Farm.

There is one more day left (Sunday March 1st) to enjoy this great event. Take your family and stop by! It's a great time.

Garden time producer

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Strong Statement!

Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer. ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

Every year I go through the same's a winter sickness accompanied by the distaste that comes from drinking sour milk. Sometimes I feel a physical aching for spring.
Then, right when I think I am at the end of my abilities to handle one more day, one more frustration, I walk through my gardens and see something bright and beautiful bursting forth. Like the proverbial balloon bursting in a mid summer water balloon fight, I am instantly taken to a place of happiness.
While wrapped in a coat and several layers of clothing a few days ago I happened upon my Lonicaera Fragrantissima.
This demure family member of the honeysuckles is exactly what I needed to see. It's small white (almost translucent) blooms not only laugh at the still hanging on winter weather but they pack a powerful delightful fragrance as well. Their blooms appear in February to March on leafless rather unattractive wooden stems. This plant, with one foot in the vines grouping of plants and the other in the shrub family, is well suited to taking a good pruning. It trains very well too, so whether you want a espaliered form, shrub or gangly hedge (mine is trained as a small tree with a single trunk) it's blooms are it's glory!
Science tells us that things that smell good to us do so because they release endorphins in our brains. I am aware that every time I take a deep breath around this plant...I do get a bit happier. My winter illness abates a little and the hope that spring really is coming takes a stronger foothold.
The beauty of Nature is that she does not comprehend nor does she care for the insanity of man. Her clock is set by a much grander design that what we mere mortals cling to.
With so much bad news around us, one sometimes wonders if spring itself will shy away from showing it's face. Well, if my garden has anything to say about it, it's going forward regardless of what anyone thinks.
So wrap up warm, take a walk in your yard or one of the many Public Gardens we are so blessed to have in Portland or even walk through an Independent Garden Center. Let the fragrances and the early blooming plants inspire you to hold on few more weeks....
Happy Gardening!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tracy stops by

We had the pleasure in the Portland area to hear Tracy Disabato Aust recently. She stopped by the Al’s in Sherwood to talk about her new book ’50 High-impact, Low-care Garden Plants’. She picked 12 criteria that she wanted plants to meet to be included in the book. Areas like cold tolerance, minimal division and deadheading, being non-invasive and disease resistance. All of these helped narrow down a list to the 50 she mentioned. Some great plants she found include Golden variegated sweet flag, Paperbark maple and Rozanne Hardy Geranium.
Tracy is such a great speaker and she knows what gardeners are looking for in these tough economic times. You must get this book! Check out the Timber Press website for more info. She also has a website you can visit, Also, check out her story on the Garden Time show coming up in March. We will also be featuring her in the new Garden Time On-line magazine coming out in April.