The Practical Gardener – April 2017


Petal Heads

Photo from Petal Heads Website

The topic for April is Latest and Greatest Spring Plants.

Dave and Annilese Doolittle are the guest speakers and owners of Petal Heads.

Combined they have over 25 years of horticultural education and work experience.

Petal Heads offers unique plants, both annuals and perennials.

Dave and Annilese always give a great presentation.

There will be awesome plants to buy!



President’s Message

Gardening Plots in Germany

I was in Germany a few weeks ago and discovered “Sunday Gardens.”  In Germany they may be referred to as “Schreber Gardens” (Schrebergärten).

The original English term in Britain was “Allotment Gardens.”  In the U.S. they can be called “Community Gardens.” You see them frequently at the edges of towns throughout Germany.  A large parcel subdivided in a few or a hundred gardens for individuals or families.

Schrebergarten Public Domain,

Public Domain,

The gardens developed from industrialization and urbanization of Germany and other European countries. Cities and employers provided open spaces for poor people to grow crops.  Thus another name was “Gardens of the Poor.”

A century ago society didn’t have the food distribution system then that we have now.  Food for many came from the garden plots. Schreber Gardens provided food security during both World Wars. Some countries called them “Victory Gardens.”

The importance of the gardens was evident during World War I, resulting in the 1919 “Small Garden and Small-Rent Land Law” providing land tenure and fixed lease rates. Today, there are about 1.4 million such gardens in Germany.  In the urban city of Berlin there are 833 garden complexes.

The gardens are more than a few crops.  That parcel of land is dotted with a variety of huts for tools and seasonal shelters or even weekend accommodation.  The gardens can be an escape from “box apartments” in the cities.

Individual gardeners are usually organized in an association, which leases the land from a public or private owner. The gardeners pay a generally small fee to the association. Today they are used more as hobbies than as a vital food source for the poor.

While most Metropolitan Garden Club members have their own yards for gardening, seeing the dozens or hundreds of huts surrounded by gardens at the edge of so many villages shows even the most urban dwellers want their own green space to cultivate.

Happy Gardening,




tips-from-tomTips from Tom

When sowing your spring annual seeds such as zinnias and cosmos after the danger of the last frost (usually after April 15th) , lay down a wire tomato cage on it’s side over the seeds.

The seedlings will grow up over the cage but will still be supported by the wire.

Many people like to have moss grow on rock walls, fountains and shady areas. Now you can make moss grow faster.

  1. Making MossMeasure two cups of water and two cups of buttermilk.
  2. Pour both into the blender.
  3. Top with moss to fill the blender.
  4. Blend until you have a milkshake consistency. You want the existing moss to separate.
  5. Paint or pour the mixture on rocks, fences, foundation, bricks, ceramic pots, trees or wherever you’d like to see moss grow. You can get creative and draw pictures if you’d like, or write things if you’re feeling fancy.
  6. Use a mister to keep the moss moist for the first couple of weeks and if possible grow your moss in a shady area.

Plant of the Month

Puschkinia scilloidesPuschkinia scilloides

These bulbs prefer a sunny to half-shady situation on fresh to moist soil.

The substrate should be sandy-loamy, gritty-loamy or sandy clay soil with a pH between 8 and 10.

They tolerate temperatures down to -29°C (USDA Zone 5).

Summer-dry soils are preferred. It likes woodland borders (soils usually rich in humus).

The plants are only 10 cm tall and are native of Turkey.

The ornamental value lies especially in its fragrance.

Suited for naturalizing and for rockeries, as well as suited as a groundcover, cut flowers and as a bee pasture.

Best grown with other spring bulbs.


The Metropolitan Garden Club of Portland’s Annual 2017 Plant Sale is coming soon!

miss-saleSaturday April 29th from 9:00 AM-3:00 PM             

German American Society Facility

5626 NE Alameda St,
Portland, OR 97213

The sale is well attended.  Mark it on your Calendars. Tell friends, neighbors and family.

Photos are from 2016 Plant Sale.

Banner Tagged Plants Customers

Plant Sale Raffle

Don’t miss your chance to win this beautiful $200 garden plant-potting stand

Raffle Tickets are $2.00 each or 3 for $5.00

Tickets will be sold at Plant Sale.

 Bench 2

Past Speaker

Past SpeakerKris Lamar, Master Gardener, was a very dynamic, enthusiastic speaker on the “Underground World” of Summer Blubs, Corms. Rhizomes, Roots and Tubers at the March Club Meeting.

How often do we think about the world under our plants in our gardens?

Kris LaMar brought to light the importance of knowing your plants, not only for their showy appearance, but also for how they live underground.

Thank you Kris for a very enlightening and entertaining evening on many of our favorite summer plants.




osu2Did you know…?


The Oregon State University Master Gardener™ Program*

Have a gardening question?

The Oregon State University Master Gardener Program is an Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service program that educates Oregonians about the art and science of growing and caring for plants.

This program also facilitates the training of a highly educated corp of volunteers. These volunteers extend sustainable gardening information to their communities through education and outreach programs

Master Gardeners are trained volunteers, educated through OSU Extension Service to offer the local community Reliable, Relevant and Reachable gardening information and education opportunities.

  • Reliable: our gardening advice and education is science-based.
  • Relevant: customized information for your gardening situation.
  • Reachable: Call us on the phone, email us a question, or visit with us at markets or gardens in your community.

What We Do and Where We Work:  In 30 counties across Oregon, Master Gardener volunteers answer gardening questions at OSU Extension offices, at community Farmers’ markets, and at Master Gardener events.

Volunteers create and manage demonstration gardens, school gardens and community gardens.  They host garden tours, workshops and classes in their communities.

Gardening Educational Resources

OSUResearch-based educational materials about Gardening from the OSU Extension Catalog:

*Information from Oregon State University Extension Website



Upcoming Events and Club Business

Plant Sale 1


The Plant Sale for 2017 will again be at the German American Society clubhouse on April 29 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM. Plant drop-off will be available on Friday afternoon although the time has not yet been confirmed. Set up will occur on Saturday morning from 7 until 9:00 AM.

Things you can do to help:

The all-important assignment: begin dividing and potting the specimens you plan to donate. The longer they have to become established in their pot, the better they will look on Sale day! Please make sure the specimens you bring are “sale ready.”

If you plan to volunteer for the sale, you can do so by contacting Scott Southwell at This
year, all sign up will take place electronically, so be sure to respond NOW with your plans for donating plants, helping at other members’ gardens, deliver plants for other members on Sale day, provide set-up to take-down assistance or provide assistance as sales clerks during the event.

Knowledge of plants is not required!

Please help this fundraising event be a great success by donating your plants, your knowledge and your time! Thank you.


Plant Sale 2 Plant Sale 3 Plant Sale 4


Save the Date!

Hardy Orchid Photo from The Oregonian/Oregon Live 4/29/2010

Hardy Orchid
Photo from The Oregonian/Oregon Live 4/29/2010

Next Month’s Meeting:

May 23 Club Meeting
Speaker: Mark Leichty
Little Prince of Oregon
Topic: Hardy Orchids

Annual Plant Sale:

Saturday April 29th
German American Society Clubhouse
5626 NE Alameda St,
Portland, OR 97213
9AM to 3:30PM.



Do you have an idea for a summer field trip? Would you like to host a meeting at your home? We still need a plan for the July meeting. Please email and let the board know if you have any ideas.

2016 field trip to Cistus Nursery

2016 field trip to Cistus Nursery

July 2015 meeting in Member Kathy Harrison's garden.

July 2015 meeting in Member Kathy Harrison’s garden.

Board Positions

Please take the time to consider being on the board. Send an email if you are interested and/or have questions about the positions.

Out and About

Club member Suzanne Stevenson shares photos from her trip last month to Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua 2 Joshau 3 Joshua 1

Club member Sonie Selzer share photos from her yard.

Sonie 1

Cherry Blossoms and Palm

Sonie 2

A Chorus Line

Sonie 3

Thanks so much Suzanne and Sonie!


Please send photos of your garden, plants, and interesting garden related items etc. when you are out and about to: