Tree Talk

Which trees do well in our soil and climate?

Alby Thoumsin. Photo by Athena Delene

I made a date recently with arborist Alby Thoumsin to chat about how to choose trees. “I bet you called me now because it’s the best time to plant trees,” he volunteered when we met. “You can’t do better.” So which trees do you recommend, I asked. “It depends what people want. They should think about what purpose they want the tree to serve — privacy, shade, fruit, or a striking specimen.”  Continue reading 

Camas Time

A recent trip to a hiking destination near Oakridge reminded me that early May is peak bloom time for camas lilies. Camas can bloom quite a bit earlier in some locations (on the west-facing grassy slope at the Masonic Cemetery, for instance, and the well-drained, sunny top of the Oak Knoll in Hendricks Park).  Continue reading 

Hops at Home

I like farms and I like beer. What could be better, on a sunny evening in mid-May, than a visit to Agrarian Ales? Brothers Ben and Nate Tilley set up a brew house in an old dairy barn on the family’s organic farm, just west of the Coburg Hills. Ben senior and his wife Debbie grow chilis and sell them at the Corvallis and Lane County farmers markets. You’ll recognize the Crossroads Farm stand — it’s the one where, later in summer, peppers will be fragrantly roasting in a rotating drum.  Continue reading 

Are You Bugged?

Are any of your rhododendrons looking pale? You may be bugged. If you see pale speckles all over rhododendron or azalea leaves, turn over an affected leaf. If there are smutty-looking, blackish spots on the underside, especially along the midrib, then you may be looking at the larvae and poop of azalea lace bugs. You may see adults, too. An adult lace bug is a small, slow-moving, fly-like creature about one eighth of an inch long, its transparent wings marked with a black and white pattern. Last year, Hendricks Park staff noticed damaged plants in the rhododendron garden. Continue reading 

Crimson & Clover, Over and Over

Hats off to gardeners who grow a fall and winter vegetable garden from seed. You have to get started at the height of summer, when watering and harvesting are at their most demanding. Sowing in situ is often impractical, so starts must be raised under shade cloth or in some cool part of the garden not occupied by summers’s heat-loving crops.  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 

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 

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