A customer at our Portland Nursery in the Raleigh Hills Neighborhood walked in the other day, and was quite distraught. Earlier in the spring, she had purchased a rose fertilizer developed by the Portland Rose Society from us.
In the past, she had always bought the conventional form of it directly from the Society, but this time, she had bought the organic version, and she was not pleased.
Fuzzy Rose Mold?
You see, this “rose mold” had developed on the soil surface wherever she had used this fertilizer. She even brought us a sample to see. She said her roses looked fine, but requested a refund in return for what was left in the bag.
if you’ve ever bought plants from a nursery, you might have notices this white stuff on the bottom. Don’t remove it!
We were all mystified. We had never seen this kind of thing before, and refunded her money. But I was still curious, so I called the Rose Society to find out if they had seen or heard about this phenomenon from other rose growers. Indeed they had! In fact, the rosarian on the other end started laughing!
It turns out, that the fuzzy stuff was simply mycorrhizae doing its thing, except in overdrive. Mycorhizzae is a naturally existing fungus that has existed in soils for over 450 million years. It forms a symbiotic relationship with plant root systems, and essentially extends the plant’s nutritional network, and boosts its ability to absorb water, key nutrients and trace minerals.
Usually this network is hidden underneath the soil surface, which is what threw us off. In our customer’s case, it had continued expanding above ground – manifesting itself with this white fuzz. I wish I would have been able to identify it, so I could have told her what it was, but – long story short – prolific mychorrhizae is exceptionally good news for your garden.
image courtesy of wikipedia.org
The world’s mycorrhizae networks are easily disrupted by construction, or even just digging.
It is often completely disabled by industrial farming practices, and with the addition of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
The Benefits of Mycorrhizae Mold On Soil
Mycorrhizae boosts the plant’s immune system, and strengthens its chances of prosperous survival.
Per our amused rosarian – the addition of the mycorrhizae to the custom rose fertilizer was the main reason the organic variety cost more than the conventional.
It seems to me that this was indeed a stellar investment, and I regret that it was in fact lost on our customer. However, it prompted me to write this blog post.
If you ever observe a fuzzy surface like the one in the photo after using a high-end, organic fertilizer during a rainy spring – you will know exactly what it is, and treat it like the gift it is! 🙂
We often get asked what beach plants do well in a coastal situation.
Having just returned from a week on the southern Oregon coast, I had the time and opportunity to see for myself, and am happy to share some good options.
Here in western Oregon we have what is usually referred to as a Mediterranean climate, meaning mild winters and warm, dry summers.
As any gardener here knows, the possibilities to grow interesting, unique, and fabulous plants here are nearly endless. On the coast, there are three additional important factors to keep in mind that might make beach plants and coastal gardening challenging.
To my mind, these factors render coastal conditions even truer Mediterranean than our more forgiving inland version.
The three factors of the coastal challenge: High, frequent winds
1. High and frequent winds
2. Often sandy, fast-draining soils
3. Salt – both in the air, and often in the groundwater
Because of the less extreme temperature fluctuations near large bodies of water, you can also often push your boundaries with beach plants a little more than you can farther inland, which is always fun! 🙂 As a result of this, you will, for example, see Phormiums of a size you hardly ever see in Portland.
And, I bet coastal gardeners have never even heard of a “Phormium winter”, like we experience here, from time to time, when all our lovingly tended New Zealand flax dies.
This Phormium is in bloom, which is another feature we don’t often see in Portland. And, it is of an entirely different proportion than their inland brothers and sisters.
The windy coastal conditions creates a need for screening. Here, the evergreen density of Escallonia is put to work to create shelter from the howling gales and breezy barrages so often experienced on seaside properties.
Climbing roses, Bergenia, Agapanthus, Sedums, Zauschneria, Cistus and ornamental grasses accompany the dark foliage of the ornamental cherries anchoring this coastal cottage garden.
There is a decidedly California flair over this seaside, streetside garden – Leucadendron, Parahebe perfoliata, Phormium, ornamental grasses, Ilex, etc. The large Rhododendrons in the background give a nod to a more traditional Oregon plant palette.
Hebes is a great, popular alternative – here seen with a wind whipped Pine. The general rule of thumb when it comes to Hebe varieties is that the smaller the leaf, the hardier they are.
6. Coastal Hebes
And, since you can push the envelope in milder coastal climates, you can get away with using the showier, larger-leaved varieties. Hebes are evergreen and bloom for a long time, with white, pink, or purple blossoms and are quintessential west coach beach plants.
7. Erigeron and Agapanthus
Erigeron is a tough, pretty, mounding plant that blooms for a long time with small, daisy-like flowers. Here placed in front of a row of Agapanthus.
Succulents are a fantastic option! Agaves, Sedum, and Sempervivum all perform fantastically. Here is the hot pink Delosperma planted with pink Seathrift (Armeria) that has mostly finished blooming.
9. Sedums and Sempervivums
These incredibly exposed wild succulents were growing on a vertical rock face out in the ocean. I snapped the photo during low tide. I wouldn’t have been able to go near it otherwise. These are a mix of Sedums and Sempervivums.
Eucalyptus offers a perfect, evergreen tree for fast-draining soils. The leaves might turn red when heat stressed.
Conifers often do well on the coast. Junipers, Pines and Cypresses are common. Here is the free-form silhouette of a conifer paired with a more formally clipped broadleaf evergreen shrub, and the sky blue rounds of the Agapanthus.
12. Exposed Pines
These exposed Pines put up a constant battle against the Western winds of the Pacific Ocean. As you can see, wind is a major factor in seaside gardens. Use the lee side of your house to your advantage, to cultivate your less sturdy plants.
The dramatic foliage of an Echium is a great attribute to any garden, but be sure to put it in a less windy spot, to ensure its towering flowers do not collapse.
Rosemary does phenomenally well on the coast. After all, it is a Mediterranean plant in a very Mediterranean climate.
Hydrangeas do great on the coast. This one is on the lee side of a building with an eastern exposure, bu. Normally this would be a great spot for a Hydrangea, but this one is looking rather sad. Hydrangeas are thirsty plants, and love ample moisture. If you plant them in fast draining soils, you need to provide them enough water to look their best. You can see from the crispy mopheads that it’s not entirely happy. 🙁
16. Cordyline Australis
You can tell that these photos are from the southern Oregon coast, as some of the plants are decidedly Californian in stature. Here are a couple of mature Cordyline Australis – the likes of which you may not readily see on the northern coast. Yuccas might be a good alternative in those colder areas.
Roses, Crocosmias, Agastache, Ceanothus, Achillea, Salal, Lavender, Santolina, Cannas, Poppies, … the list of tough, excellent, salt-tolerant plants is a long one. You can find an excellent list here. Hopefully this post will get you some ideas of what might work where you are. And, we are of course always available to answer more questions. Just stop by our Portland Nursery in the Raleigh Hills neighborhood.
17. California Poppies
A little past their prime, but still lovely, tough-as-nails California poppies adorn the seaside landscape. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Garden planning is an important thing to do. Haphazardly throwing plants, trees, and shrubs together without a well-informed plan can be a recipe for disaster.
What makes planning even more of a challenge is when you live in a unique climate. How could you know what types of plants will thrive where you live versus where someone else does?
In the beautiful Pacific Northwest that we call home, we frequently receive questions about plants that do well in moist environments. For other parts of the country, however, we realize you might be faced with a different set of challenges. Consider this a comprehensive list to expedite your garden planning process, no matter what type of conditions you might live in. We carry many of these in our Portland Nursery and Garden Center in the Raleigh Hills Neighborhood.
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Plants for Wet Areas
Garden Planning with Wet Soil Plants
The following is a comprehensive list of trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses and all-around wet soil plants. Most every Portland landscape has need for a few plants that thrive in wet soil and can be used when garden planning. Here are tons to choose from!
Trees for Wet Areas
Acer Rubrum Red Maple
Acer rubrum Red Maple
Acer saccharinum Silver Maple
Betula nigra River Birch
Fraxinus latifolia Oregon Ash
Liquidamber stryaciflua Sweetgum
Lirodendron Tulip Tree
Magnolia virginiana Sweet Bay
Metasequoia glyptostoboides Dawn Redwood
Nyssa slyvantica Sourgum
Picea sitchensis Sitka Spruce
Quercus bicolor Swamp White Oak
Quercus palustris Pin Oak
Taxodium distichum Bald Cypress
Thuja plicata Western Red Cedar
Shrubs For Wet Areas
Andromeda Polifolia – Bog Rosemary
Andromeda polifolia Bog Rosemary
Ardisia japonica Japanese Ardisia
Aronia arbutifolia Chokeberry
Calycanthus Spice Bush
Chaenomeles Flowering Quince
Cornus stolonifera Red-Osier Dogwood
Ilex glabra Inkberry
Ilex virginica Sweetspire
Leucothoe fontanesiana Drooping Leucothoe
Lindera benzoin Spice Bush
Lonicera involucrate Twinberry
Myrica pensylvanica Bayberry
Rosa palustris Swamp Rose
Salix Shrub Willow
Sambucus Canadensis Red Elderberry
Spirea douglasii Douglas Spirea
Syphoricarpus orbiculatas CoralBerry
Viburnum opulus Snowball Bush
Viburnum trilobum Cranberry Bush
Perennials For Wet Areas
Aruncus dioicus Goatsbeard
Aruncus dioicus Goatsbeard
Aster novae-angliae New England Aster
Bellis pernnis English Daisy
Caltha palustris Marsh Marigold
Camassia Camas Lily
Canna Canna Lily
Dicentra Formosa Bleeding Heart
Eupatorium maculatum Joe-Pye Weed
Filapendula Meadow sweet
Gunnera Dinosaur Food
Lilium canadense Canada Lily
Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal Lobelia
Mimulus Monkey Flower
Monarda Bee Balm
Polygonatum Solomans Seal
Primula japonica Japanese Primrose
Schizostylis Kafir Lily
Sisyrichium Blue-eyed Grass
Tolmiea menziesii Piggyback Plant
Zantedeschia Calla Lily
Grasses For Wet Areas
Acorus gramineus Japanese Sweet Flag Image courtesy of Monrovia
Attracting Hummingbirds and Butterflies to your Garden is the dream of many. And for good reason. They’re peaceful, and add a sense of calm and serenity in a world that certainly could use more of it.
And the great news is that, if you understand what you’re doing, attracting hummingbirds and attracting butterflies can easily be done.
Hummingbird gardens must offer not only the nectar filled flowers but also must be a habitat that supports their lifestyle.
These little birds need both sun and shade, shrubs and tree branches for perching, fresh water for not only drinking but for bathing too. Oh yes, and they will need materials for nest making such as spider webs, dryer lint, or bits of leaves.
These delicate birds spend lots of energy flying, so it comes as no surprise that they feed many times each hour (3-5 times). While our flowers are blooming, there is nectar for them to sip, but once you have offered them a flower food source, you can also place hummingbird feeders in prominent locations to feed them.
Hummingbird feeders supplement the flower nectar, especially when flowers are few. Hang them from tree branches or a carefully placed shepherd hook, high enough to keep the hummingbird safe from the neighborhood cats.
Flowers that Attract Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds love tubular shaped flowers although that shape is not absolutely required. Fragrance is not important to them, but vivid colors of red, purple, pink, orange and yellow will attract them to your garden. At our Portland Nursery, we have a large selection of flowering annuals, perennials & woody plants that will attract hummingbirds into your garden.
Just a few to checkout
Image courtesy of birdwatchinghq.com
Butterfly Plants: Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden
Here is a thorough list of butterfly-attracting trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals. All will grow well in the Pacific Northwest, and if you’re looking for any help with the following foliage, be sure to visit us at our Portland Nursery
Trees that Attract Butterflies
The following are a few examples of great trees to plant if you are interested in bringing butterflies to your garden
Shrubs that Attract Butterflies
When planting shrubs in your garden, consider the following if you care to invite butterflies for a visit.
Perennials for Attracting Butterflies
Going shopping for perennials anytime soon? Keep the following list handy.
Commonly known as the Heather flower, this beautiful purple flower is scientifically known as Calluna. They’re beautiful, and a great way of adding a splash of purple to the most beautiful, sophisticated gardens.
Where do Heather Flowers Grow Best?
Heathers grow best in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. Plants will perform best if planted in well drained acidic soil. Soil in the Willamette Valley can be improved by adding an acid planning mix to the soil prior to planting.
Planting Heather Plants
Prepare a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball. Partially fill the hole with acid planting mix or compost. The hole should be the same depth as planted by the nursery. Heathers have very shallow root systems, so be sure not to plant too deep. Score or scratch the root ball to loosen up the roots so the plant will establish easier. On an average, the heather flower should be planted 2-3 ft. apart.
Heather Plant Care
Never let the plants dry out. This is a recipe for disaster, especially for newer plantings. Water deeply at least once a week. Remove any weeds carefully. Be careful with weed killers as they easily damage the heathers and heaths as well. Mulching is beneficial in the winter months, but be sure to keep mulch away from the stems and crowns.
Pruning Heather Flowers
Pruning should be done after each flowering period or very early in the spring. Be careful not to prune too far down. There needs to be green leaves under your pruning cut or that section will not grow back. Pruning in the fall or winter will cause the plants to split and create holes.
Fertilization is almost always helpful. A light application of acid-loving, slow release fertilizer in the early spring is ideal. Fertilizers should be granular and not applied to the foliage. It is best to sprinkle the fertilizers around the base of the plants about 2” from the stems.
Where to Find a Heather Plant for Sale
If you’re lucky enough to call the Pacific Northwest your home, we can help you find heather plants for sale at our Portland Nursery and Garden Center . We look forward to working with you on your home garden project!
Researching how to grow hops for the beer lover in your life (maybe you) who wants to add hops to your garden? We here in the Pacific Northwest take a lot of pride in our hops, and think they’re a beautiful, practical, and useful addition to any home garden.
Choosing a Site For Growing Hops
Hops are best planted in full sun. Plants will perform best if planted in well drained soil. Soil in the Willamette Valley can be improved by adding a compost mix to the soil prior to planting. Hops have a very large root system and should not be kept in a container too long.
Hop rhizomes should be soaked for several hours before planting. Examine the rhizome for the buds, these buds will indicate up from down. The buds should be facing up. If you are unable to tell which way is up, plant the rhizome sideways. Hops will thrive in any garden soil, but grow more vigorously with enrichment from compost or manure. As the vine begins to grow it is advisable to train it onto a trellis. In a single season the vine will grow to a length of 25 feet.
How to Care for Hop Plants
Never let the plants dry out. This is a recipe for disaster, especially for newer plantings. Water deeply at least once a week. Remove any weeds carefully. Mulching is beneficial in the winter months, but be sure to keep mulch away from the stems and crowns.
Hops have a perennial root system, but an annual top. After flowering the top will start to die back. After the entire vine has died or turned brown cut it back to ground level. There is nothing that needs to be done to the vine after that. Fertilize again in the spring with a slow release, all-purpose granular fertilizer.
Live in the Portland or Vancouver Metropolitan Area and looking for a place to purchase hops? Look no further than our Portland Nursery and Garden Center, located on Scholls Ferry Road. We’ll be here to help you get started.