Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Aphid Management

Notice I didn't say "Aphid Control"? Aphids are a natural part of a natural garden. You have nice pretty plants then you will aphids.

A friend of mine called recently asking for advice for controlling the aphids in his yard and here is a more detailed version of what I told him.
The aphid is a sucking insect and sucks the plants juices, creating stunted or curled leaves and potentially killing the whole plant. They hang out mostly on the stems and tops and bottoms of leaves and reproduce rather quickly. Sometimes you will see ants running around with aphids too. One person asked me if the ants eat the aphids but they actually "farm" them, tending to them for a sweet substance that they excrete. Yum.

There are other beneficial insects used to help control or manage the aphid population such as ladybugs and lacewings. You need a pretty good population of aphids to keep the beneficial insects around and they are usually more effective in a greenhouse environment. Most nurseries though have bags of live ladybugs and kids love helping with them so give it a try, at least it'll be fun.
According to Rodale's Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, some tips to help prevent aphids in the first place is to plant nasturtiums, to eliminate all weeds and to have humus rich soil . You will hear me say to everyone I meet that the soil is the foundation of the garden. Think you've added enough compost to your soil? Add more. Especially here in Central Oregon where our soil is practically sterile. And if you add top soil to your garden, that is just sterile soil from somewhere else in Central Oregon. If you prepare your planting area well you will avoid much of the problems people have in their gardens and lawns.

Aphids have never caused me much trouble but I also make sure to grow plants that are relatively hardy on their own and don't require much coddling to survive.
For aphids I've always sprayed them off with a gentle yet firm spray from the hose, making sure to get the underside of the leaf too. You probably will need to do this a few times to really eliminate them.
If that is not working then you can try the homemade version of insecticidal soap (you can also buy insecticidal soap too). The soap breaks down the bodies of the aphids, thus killing them.
About.com had a good article in their Organic Gardening section with a recipe for Tomato Leaf Spray. I've never used it but it sounds really interesting. Click here to see their article. The simplest version is to use about 4 ounces (3 tablespoons) of dish soap per gallon of water, spraying this solution on the tops and undersides of the leaves. You may need to spray a few times to get the entire population. As with most sprays, if it's a hot sunny day the water can cause some burn on the leaves so spray earlier or later. This kind of solution, as far as I have read, does not harm beneficial insects.

If you have other questions about gardening or landscaping just leave a comment or send me an email and I'll be happy to help you out. Happy gardening!

Sources: Sciencejrant, Life123, "The Encyclopdedia of Organic Gardening" by Rodale and Staff

Friday, July 24, 2009

Master Gardners 2009 Garden Tour

I almost missed this years garden tour since I don't read the paper or watch TV and didn't see any of the notices. Why didn't they put big posters up in the nurseries? That's about the only place I go on a regular basis these days it seems.

I was on my way to hike with my father when I saw the tell tale sign of an open garden. Thank God for round-a-bouts because I turned right around. Shevlin Park just had to wait for me to hike another day.

Looking at gardens is one of my favorite past times and everytime I go to Portland (garden city USA it seems) it is just dangerous for me to drive. Even though my husband thinks driving on a street is akin to racing on a raceway, I put up with it so I can "ooh" and "ahh" at all the plants and gardens.

Here's some shots from the day. Super highlight was Alana Markle's own garden (she's a local landscape designer too). She and her husband buy old homes, totally renovate them, sell them and move on. And this one is for sale too, man is it lovely. It's up at NW Trenton and 7th, just beautiful. This was the first time she's had her own garden finished enough to put on the tour and it's made me wonder why the Master Gardeners don't include more designer's gardens, or client's gardens. Is it because they are supposed to be regular people's gardens? I think that should change.

Anyway, here are the shots:

This next one is a birdcage with real live birds in it. At least the birds got to be outside.

Yeah! More edibles!

The "Potting Shed"

Every garden worth it's weight in compost should have a Rugosa Rose

I had never thought of filling in the space under a bench this way before, but I like it

One day I'll have my own garden on the tour, but for that to happen I have to find the time for it. In the meantime I'll make other people's gardens spectacular.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

You do installs?

I just finished a project I had been working on up in Broken Top last week. It was a "remodel" of the existing landscape, filling in with more colorful and seasonal interest plants (deer resistant as well!). We had started the design phase during the winter for the entire property and the clients were just wonderful to work with.

About three months ago, they called me up to say that they would be out of town for about two months and if I could manage the installation of the plan for the front of the property. "Of course" I said, that is part of the service I offer to my clients. Plus, after all my work designing the plan, I like to make sure it's installed right.

Problem was that early summer is about the busiest time of year for the installers. I was able to get one of my preferred guys - Brad Reiter of Earthlogic Landscapes - to install the big evergreen trees:

He was (is) awesome and the clients were super happy with the photos I sent them of the progress. They were so happy they told me to continue and fill in with the perennials (they initially wanted to just put in the evergreens and see how that looked before anything else was planted).

"No problem" I told them. Well, by this point, I was running out of time considering I had to order the plants and the clients were coming back soon. So....

"Wait, isn't that you?!?" you say. Well yes, that is me.
"But you're a design/consult only business?" Well, yes, you're right.
But, if there's a job to be done, I do what it takes to make sure it's done, and done right. And who better to do it right? Yep, me.

I actually really enjoyed getting physical and dirty again. I used to do design, installation and maintenance back in my younger days and I totally loved it. Now that I'm older (but thank you, I know I don't look like it) and have a family, design only works out much better. Plus, I really enjoy totally focusing on just one thing and going as far as I can with it. Plus there is just so much you can do with design. Each project has totally new parameters, new opportunities and possibilities, I love it!
Here are some before and afters of the job:


The client did this, and yes, I did admonish him for buying the Pom Pom Spruce from Costco. If you can't tell, they didn't make it:

I did this:

This is what you see at the end of the driveway before. Yes, overused Mugo Pine and a scraggly Burning Bush.
What an improvement! I love the way the Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar picks up the blue in the rock wall. The ground cover is Lydia Broom which just finished flowering. It flowers a lovely yellow and will look stunning next to the blue of the cedar.

Previous view along the driveway:

New view. I designed a low formal Barberry hedge for the front of the bed, Buttercup Iris's that will bloom yellow and white earlier in the season, Daisies and Caryopteris to fill in for the summer and fall, and Karl Foerster grasses to add that extra element of movement and seasonal interest (I don't cut grasses until spring).
Now, you remember that the client was out of town for most of this project? I was finishing the planting when he drove up (in a strikingly beautiful ocean blue convertible jaguar - so hard not to love this client) and one of the first things he said to me, face beaming: "This is exactly what I wanted."
No better ending to a good story than that.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Oregon Garden

About a month ago we took a trip over to the valley visit some friends in Portland and to experience a little botanical lushness. I have been meaning to get to the Oregon Garden for years now but we're horrible travelers just trying to get to our destination as quick as we can without enjoying the journey there. I thought it was time to change that.

The Oregon Garden is about 80 acres of botanical loveliness located in Silverton, Oregon, pretty close to Salem. Check them out at http://www.oregongarden.org/. They have so many different sections of landscape it was difficult to plan what to see first.
Since we had Liliana with us who is about 16 months old, we figured we should hit the Children's Garden first. But it took us a while to get there because I couldn't help but get distracted from everything along the way.

Let's hear it for green roofs! I can't wait to work on a project involving a green roof or living wall. I almost convinced a client to do a living wall, but darn it, they went with something else. I'm scheming to convince my mother to let me put one up in her patio...

I love the continuity of this stone pathway. Lovely transition.

It's hard to see in this photo, but above the wall is a trough from which the water spills. So simple, natural and stunning.

Ah yes, the Dr. Seuss trees.

This was possibly my favorite section, the conifers. So many times when I am looking up images for clients I end up with images from this garden. So many fantastic varieties I was in heaven!

This one is a perfect example. It must be years old and I know I would have to be patient to achieve the same look, but I just love the way it drapes over itself . It is a Sargent's Canadian Hemlock.

Finally we have arrived a the Children's Garden. I love this Hobbit Hole. I am looking for a landscape to put one of these in. So simple, just a very large piece of culvert pipe under a pile of dirt, and then of course planted very well. My daughter was so intriqued by going through it again and again (and again). And then she got to run up and over it. So much fun!

This is an example of integrating edibles into your landscape. Behind this lovely arched walkway are beds of berries and to the right were veggie beds. I found this section of the garden very romantic and relaxing even though it was the most formally designed with box hedging and shaped beds.
There are two fountains connected by this waterway. The texture of the river rock was very effective.

This is my kind of landscape. This was in the Lewis and Clark section where a path takes you through the different ecosystems that the explorers encountered on their way over here. This meadow is mainly Bluebunch Wheatgrass and Idaho Fescue. This is what I want in my front yard. Can you just imagine looking out your windows and seeing this?

There were many demonstration gardens and I liked the use of different plant materials here. I wish we could grow those huge leaves but in the meantime I'm settling for Ligularia and Ornamental Rhubarb.

The finale, a sweeping planting rounding up to a view over their wetlands, which actually functions as a natural treatment for waste water.

This is the kind of place I could go back to many times and never have the same experience. It was almost overwhelming and I just can't wait to go back!