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 

A Garden for Grazing

When someone asked me to help her design a grazing garden, my first thought was, “Wow, I’ve never done that.” But I quickly realized that I have my own grazing garden at home. I didn’t design it for that purpose, but it’s rare for me to go into the garden without nibbling on something. My friend’s request put me on the spot, though: How would I define and plan a grazing garden? Continue reading 

The Tao of Tomatoes

Carol Deppe knows we want tomatoes. “And you want them earlier,” she says, “and you want the most delicious varieties, and you want different kinds and colors.” Deppe, who lives in Corvallis, is a plant breeder, farmer and author. Her book The Resilient Gardener, published in 2010, catapulted her to prominence as an events speaker. Her talks at the Good Earth Home Show in Eugene are always among the best attended. Continue reading 

Jack’s Mason Bees

Most gardeners are aware by now that honeybees are in trouble. This knowledge is driving a surge in amateur beekeeping. Other pollinators, including native bees, are in trouble too, from the same disastrous cocktail of causes — habitat loss, pesticides, disease and parasites. Keeping a hive of honeybees is quite a commitment, and for gardeners and small orchardists, encouraging native bees is a pretty good option. You can do it by growing native plants; leaving some areas, shall we say, unmaintained; and by providing nesting opportunities. Continue reading 

A Year of Salads!

Since I work at home a lot of the time I frequently eat lunch there. Lunch usually means salad, and many of the components come from my own garden. For the past three years I’ve been recording, month-by-month, what goes from the garden into my salads. Picking garden greens for lunch on a nearly daily basis, all year round, turns out to be one of the real pleasures of having a vegetable garden, and I probably eat salad more often because of it. Continue reading 

Keeping Busy

I recently took a couple of hours to do something I’ve been putting off for ages: cleaning and oiling my gardening tools. Until we moved into a different house five years ago, I kept my tools in a dry, attached garage. Now I keep everything but my best pruning tools in a garden shed that’s more or less open to the moisture-laden air. Although the tools are out of the rain, they are rusting. Perhaps this would have happened eventually in my old garage, but whatever deterioration there was in 15 years, I didn’t notice it. Continue reading 

Learn to Love ’Em!

London’s many squares, parks and gardens are planted with a good deal of ingenuity and flair, always with an eye to ease of maintenance and year-round visual value. I have spent quite a bit of time there in recent years, mostly in the colder months, so I have had a chance to observe how much use is made of woody plants that are especially striking in winter. They include winter flowering viburnums and trees and shrubs with distinctive or colorful bark and, of course, evergreens such as Garrya elliptica (an Oregon native) with its long, silvery winter catkins.  Continue reading 

The Skinny on Shrubs

Big houses on small lots. Teeny town houses and condos with no garden. Infill. High-rise balconies. There seems to be an ever-growing inventory of places where there”s hardly room for shrubs at all. Luckily there is also a growing inventory of slim-line shrubs. Virtually all shrubs and trees, including skinny ones, get broader as they age. Pruning to control height is relatively easy, but pruning to limit girth can be trickier, especially with conifers. Continue reading