Annuals Brighten Native Gardens

Annual plant species are a great garden addition

Annuals rarely get a mention in books and articles on gardening with native plants. That’s too bad, because a succession of annual species can add a lot of color to your springtime garden, and attract pollinators, too. Flourishing plants of farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena) can bloom for many weeks — a happy thing, because it’s one of the showiest natives we have, and an eager self-sower. Mine escaped into a well-watered blueberry patch last year, providing months of gorgeous rose-pink flowers on bushy plants, not to mention abundant seed.  Continue reading 

Lane County Propagation Fair

Come learn about propagating plants

The 2016 Lane County Propagation Fair will take place from 11 am to 4 pm Saturday and Sunday, March 26-27, at the old Whiteaker School, now the Whiteaker Head Start Building, 21 N. Grand Street. There will be outdoor workshops on a variety of topics on Sunday, March 27. This free annual event aims to promote local food security by supporting home orchardists, vegetable gardeners and native plant enthusiasts in and around the southern Willamette Valley.  Continue reading 

Seeds for Where We Live

Seasoning gardening for the PNW

A search for escarole seed late last summer led me to the excellent website of Adaptive Seeds (adaptiveseeds.com). The seed they sent so promptly (for escarole “Diva” and a locally bred fava bean, “Aprovecho”) was terrific, delivering uniform, vigorous germination at a rate close to 100 percent. “Diva” has proved exceptionally cold-hardy, and the beans are growing strong.  Continue reading 

Manzanita!

Manzanitas are pretty cool plants

Most Willamette Valley gardeners know the popular native groundcover kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). Less familiar are larger members of the same genus known as manzanita. I fell in love with manzanitas when I visited a botanic garden in the Berkeley hills, where I saw mature specimens of several California species and could really appreciate the stems and bark that are their most striking feature. Continue reading 

Gardening in a New Era

This summer really got me thinking. Should summers like that of 2015 become frequent, just how much yard am I interested in watering? I let some areas go dry this year, out of sheer exhaustion combined with a sense that it’s inappropriate, with all of Oregon in a state of drought, to have sprinklers going all the time. Some areas I placed on a regular but restricted water regimen. It has been interesting to see what survived and what did best. Continue reading 

What, Already?

In flower gardens, there’s not a lot to do in August besides attempting to keep up with watering and deadheading, but the food gardener doesn’t get a break. Just when watering and harvesting chores are peaking, it’s time to think about a fall and winter veggie garden.  You are, in fact, a bit behind the eight ball if you like to grow everything from seed. July’s the time to get that going. Nurturing seedlings through July is never easy and this year must have been especially challenging.  Continue reading 

Blue Blossom and Friends

Few things in the plant world are as blue as the flowers on the bluest ceanothus. Otherwise known as wild lilac or California lilac, shrubs of this genus (which are not lilacs at all) are native to the Americas, mostly California and south to Guatemala. The majority are evergreen. That and their often stunning flower color makes the genus popular in gardens. Wild lilacs with the deepest blue flowers mostly come from California species, but Oregon has several species well worth growing.  Continue reading