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

 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?

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

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Water Conservation

Your automated irrigation system can be your single largest source of wasting water or the best source of conserving water.  The key to irrigation systems it proper design, maintenance, and operation.   Each spring when I fire up you irrigation systems I adjust the heads to make sure they are functioning correctly.  Unlike most contractors I start your system so it puts a solid 1/2 to 3/4 inch of water for each cycle.  This puts water 6 to 12 inches into the soil.  By putting water to that depth the roots will strive to reach deeper into the soil.  With deeper roots the plants are more drought tolerant.  That means when we get those few very hot days in August or September the landscape plants will be under less stress.  Also unlike others I do not irrigate the landscape on the every other day schedule.  I start the season only irrigating one day / week deeply and let the landscape dry out between irrigation.  As the weather warms and the landscapes need for additional water increases I add a day to the cycle.  By using this technique I reduce the wasted water often put in landscape each spring. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pruning Ponderosa Pines

On the left you will see Dan from Oliver Arbor Care‎ after he climbed a small pine with a rope before pruning the dead limbs and those infected with dwarf mistletoe. On the right you can see him in the same tree after pruning it.  Green limbs should only be pruned between end of November to end of February.  This is to reduce infestations of Sequoia Pitch Moth.  The moth generally does not cause severe damage to healthy pines but severe infestations can result in significant pitch bleeding from the tree.  This can make quite a mess in landscape.  See my facebook page for more information on the Sequoia Pitch Moth.