Sunday, October 26, 2014

First Snow winter 2014-15

Saturday I winterized a few irrigation systems.  Normally by now we have had or an Arctic high blast by now or one is in the forecast.  The NWS is predicting a winter warmer and drier than average.  This morning I thought I felt some snow on top of the hot tub when I opened the lid at 5 am.  When it was light enough to see this is what I saw. 

View to the north from Bearwallow road, just what I call powder sugar snow.
top of log steps to my patio lite covering snow

My bear had snow on his fore head,
I will get all irrigation systems winerized this week, and fall clean ups will start the following week.  Enjoy winter.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Winterize irrigation systems

October first is the traditional beginning of the season when irrigation systems are winterized.  It is an important profit center for many landscape contractors.  Several contractors have told me they make $1,000/ day winterizing irrigation systems.  I do it as a service to my customers and a few others.  I limit my list to 100 customers.  I can do all of these in a long week or a couple of easy weeks.  I own my compressor with gives me the flexibility to work with customers and the weather.    I monitor soil temperature each week and use this along with monitoring long term low temperatures forecasts.   Although grass tops stop growing about the 2nd or 3rd week in October, roots continue to grow until soil temperatures drop to below 40 degrees F.  If irrigation systems are turned off before the roots naturally stop growing it puts the plants into water stress.   Plants that go into winter under stress do not come out of dormancy in the spring with as much vigor as those who go dormant in a hydrated condition. 

soil temperatures so far this season are as follows:

October  2nd  55 degree
October  9th   55 degree

Enjoy the winter, I will


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fall the best time of the year in Central Oregon

September, it is still summer but nights begin to cool and days are warm and clean.  Oh, I love this time of the year.  Last week I begin to notice vine maples and red maples are beginning to show some fall color.

Acer rubum
In Skyliner Summit
One thing I enjoy about my work is seeing the changes each week in the landscapes.  Color changes week to week and then it is full winter soon.  :) 

A sugar maple I planted for a customer several years ago.  What it the colors change quickly. 

 I keep getting more catalogs for spring bulbs.  Time to make those last minute orders.   For me living up Skyliners spring is a long time away but nothing says winter is nearly over than spring bulbs.  I have several thousand bulbs at my home. Snow drops, crocus, daffodils, and so many more.  By selecting multiple varieties and species I am able to extend the blooming season over a much longer time. 

Remember, enjoy every day and plan for the fun days ahead.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Grooming Perennials, & dead heading

The beauty of a garden can be enhanced greatly by spending a little time dead heading and grooming perennials during the growing season.  It only takes a few minutes per plant with a little experience. 
 Rhododendron at peak bloom, looks so good.
 Same rhododendron a week later, not so attractive. 
After a few minutes of dead heading spent flowers and doing a little pruning to reshape plant.  Much more attractive  for the rest of the summer season.  We often buy plants in bloom and forget that the bloom only lasts a few weeks at most.  What about the rest of the year?

Many plants benifit from dead heading, here is a few photos of plants before and after dead heading.



 Lavender can become weedy if not dead headed soon after flowers peak, the benifit is a bouquet of lavender in the house that will last all winter.  :)


Sometimes context suggest dead heading, in this case the Japanese spirea is past prime but others are in full bloom.  By dead heading the spirea it goes to the background and the flowering shrub comes to the foreground. 


afterwords, much nicer?

FYI, none of the pruning / dead heading was done with hedge shears, all with hand pruners.  They do a much better job. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pruning Mugo pines

Mugo pines are easy to prune but most contractor's use hedge shears, Not the way to do a good job.  Hedge shears can be used on the growing candles when they are still growing but should NEVER be used on stems that are hardened off.  I do not understand other contractors if they do not know any better or just do not care. 
Before pruning

5 minutes later after pruning

Central Oregon Shade gardens

Native, Clintonia uniflora

native, Smilacina stellata

foreground, Pulminaria, background, dead nettle (not kidding) 

Lily of the valley, nice fragrant cut flower

weed or not a weed?  Bishops weed

native strawberry  yum, get before deer get them
One of  the greatest challenges is to grow a shade garden in Central Oregon.  We have so many grand pines that shade our gardens year around.  No or little sun light summer or winter.  FYI, full sun is defined as 8 hours of direct sun each day.  partial shade is 4 to 8 hours direct sun each day, full shade is less than 4 hours direct sun each day.  here are a few plants I have at my home, "Snowshoe Inn" .  I live west of Bend in the Cascades,  it is a great place to challenge plants.  :)

Natives are great when you can find them.  Most of mine were collected from my own lot and replanted in shade garden.  Add a little irrigation and they do very well.

Horticultural plants are tougher to choose, read label if it says full sun not a good choice but sometimes worth trying one plant to see if it works in your conditions before buying many plants.  Be sure to buy fresh plants, I often wait for the newest delivery,  shop around.

Some of the plants common to the West Side of the Cascades will survive, but they generally do not look as nice in our Central Oregon envermnet.  We often have 50 degrees F,daily temperature swings.  that is hard on many plants.
Native, Shooting star, great in water feature

Native, Collumbine

Rododendron, does well but not as good as on Westside

Native, bleeding hearts,  good to July

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

So called Professional Landscape Contractors

Each spring I fire up irrigation systems for my customers and few systems for friends of customers.   Occasionally leaks appear in spring, generally it is a street ell at the base of a spray head that fails, or occasionally a pipe has a tree root that grows near and pushes the pipe against a stone.  I have never seen an irrigation installation except my own that screens the back fill around pipes.  Having been self taught I find my standards are far beyond anything I see in the field.  Last week I fired up an irrigation system of a new customer in Broken top and saw water coming up next to an aspen tree.  OK a root and rock, just dig it up, and put in a quick fix and move on.  I wish it was so.  It appears that the irrigation crew and the planting crew did not talk.  A very nice aspen was planted directly on top of the irrigation line.  OK any one can make a mistake right!  Upon further investigation I found that a tee with a funny ell was also under the tree.  It appears that the irrigation crew plumbed in for a spray head and changed there mind and just cut the funny pipe and then folded the funny pipe in half and slid a two inch section of PVC pipe over the fold to stop the water flow.  Any contractors working on Tam MacArthur Loop in 2000 like to justify this high quality work? 

note tee and funny pipe
slightly closer view
After removing

repair, better than removing tree