The Practical Gardener – May 2017


Mark Leichty from Little Prince of Oregon is our speaker for May.

Hardy Orchid

Hardy Orchid
Photo from The Oregonian/Oregon Live

Mark will be speaking on Hardy Garden Orchids and Made-in-the-Shade Plants for the Niche.

He will bring plants for sale.

A little bit about Mark…

‘I grew up on a grass seed farm outside Albany, Oregon. Farming is in my blood, but has been transformed from fields to greenhouses. I owned Fry Road Nursery in Albany for 25 years, prior to being hired by Little Prince as the Director of Business Development. I’m a committed plant nerd, and enjoy creating beautiful gardens full of rare and unusual plants. I love visiting beautiful gardens wherever I go, and am frequently out and about visiting garden centers in Oregon and Washington with my partner in crime Michelle. I also enjoy fishing, golf and travel. “


Little PrinceLittle Prince of Oregon Nursery is a wholesale grower located in the beautiful Willamette Valley.

Little Prince of Oregon Nursery is committed to producing premium quality plants and meeting customer demands. By providing unsurpassed quality, service, delivery and information we intend to make life easier for our customers.

Offerings: Perennials, ground covers, ornamental grasses, ferns, native plants, and succulents.

Little Prince of Oregon



President’s Message

Plants as ‘Social Creatures’

Your human friends and family each have their own personality.  Your pets have different personalities:  turns out – your plants do too.

Different plants have different behaviors and “many gardening mistakes are a result of not paying attention to this,” landscape architect Thomas Rainer told the New York Times.

Plants in the wild live a different life than plants in a garden:  “In the wild, every square inch of soil is covered with a mosaic of interlocking plants, but in our gardens, we arrange plants as individual objects in a sea of mulch,” Rainer said.  “We place them in solitary confinement.”

For example, the butterfly weed’s flower is the height of the grasses it grows with in the wild. The butterfly weed’s narrow leaves hug to stems to reach out in the wild. Its taproot drills through the roots of grasses.  It is all part of a social network.

Rainer suggests gardening should be more about management than maintenance. “When you plant in a community, you manage the entire plantings, not each individual plant,” Rainer explained.

Rainer points to the German idea of sociability of plants, developed by Friedrich Stahl and Richard Hansen.  “They rank a plant’s predilection to spread on a scale of 1 to 5. A low-sociability plant is one that in the wild is almost always found by itself.” High sociability plants spread into large colonies.

Gardeners should plant according to sociability, Rainer told NYT article author Margaret Roach.  Lower level plants (1 & 2) are individual or in small clusters.  Higher sociability plants (3 to 5) are best in groups arranged around others. Such rankings tell gardeners which plants “you should mass, and which you should mingle,”

Rainer finds, textbooks tend to emphasize what to plant, rather than what plants work together. “When we fit our plants together like a tight jigsaw puzzle, the maintenance goes way, way down,” Rainer declared. One step is to notice a plant’s shape, he recommended. “Upright plants with low or minimal basal foliage like Joe Pye weed or spiky upright plants like bear grass have adapted to growing through other plants,”

Rainer pointed out.

“You almost have to look at a plant from the vantage point of a chipmunk to see its shape,”

Rainer told the NYT. Roach noted that nurseries don’t put “sociability” on plant labels.  “What should the label say to help me put plants together successfully?” she asked Rainer.

“My dream label would describe things that are actually useful to understanding how it grows,” Rainer responded. Plant labels should describe shape, root system, lifespan, sociability level and “its adaption to stress.’ “The big shift in horticulture in the next decade will be a shift from thinking about plants as individual objects to communities of interrelated species.”

There are websites with information on how a plant grows in the wild and what it grows with (i.e. the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website: “But mostly, I think gardeners can get to know their plants by going outside and getting reacquainted,” Rainer told the NYT. “Take a look at their shape, how they spread and see what they are trying to show you.”


Happy Gardening,





tips-from-tomTips from Tom

Prune spring-flowering shrubs, such as lilacs, and large-flower climbing roses immediately after the blooms fade.

They set their flower buds in autumn on last year’s growth. If you prune them in fall or winter, you remove next spring’s flower buds.

Apply only composted, rotted manure that has cured for at least six months to your soil.

Fresh manure is too high in nitrogen and can “burn” plants; it may also contain pathogens or parasites.

Manure from pigs, dogs, and cats should never be used in gardens or compost piles because they may contain parasites that can infect humans.

Photo by:

Photo by:

Perennials generally need three years to achieve mature growth. Remember the adage that they “sleep, creep, and leap” over the three-year period.

Learn how long your growing season is — your last frost in spring and first frost in fall — so you can start some plants inside or avoid growing them.

In the Portland metro area, the last frost is usually around April 15th and the first frost of the fall is usually around October 15th.

Deadheading — removing spent and faded flowers — is a good practice for perennials and annuals. Because the goal of annual plants is to flower, set seed, and die, removing the old blooms tells annual plants to produce more flowers.

Removing spent flowers also encourages plants to place energies into stronger leaves and roots instead of seed production.


Plant of the Month

Fothergilla 'Blue Shadow'Fothergilla ‘Blue Shadow’

This beautiful blue leafed shrub is perfect in the spring garden with it’s cream colored cylindrical blossoms that are at the end of the leafless stems in early May.

After the blooms come the blue leaves which are shown in the photo.

The shrub is usually around 5-6’ tall and prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil in Zones 5-8.

The best part about this shrub is the gorgeous orange leaves in the fall after the first frost.

It’s truly a wonderful, three-season shrub for every garden.




Another Plant Sale Success (Message from Scott)

The 2017 Plant Sale was successfully executed Saturday, April 29th. The preceding week’s weather certainly had me checking the weather forecast several times a day, but the garden gods came through with warm, sunny skies for plant drop off on Friday and for the entire sale on Saturday.

Net proceeds from plant, pot and book sales and the raffle netted the Club $3480.85. These funds will enable the club to continue our support of local gardening organizations.

I want to give many thanks to the members who donated plants, books and garden pots. Also kudos to the many members who volunteered their time on one of the first nice weekends of the year!

I want to give a special thanks to Judy and Jan for coordinating the raffle.

This year, there were few plants left at the end of the day, so our income was limited by product. It’s not too early to be wandering your garden and noting what can be divided for next year.

Since Potlatch will not be held this year, the Plant Sale is our primary fundraiser. Let’s shoot for more than $4000 next year.

The banner was put up the week before the sale.

The banner was put up the week before the sale.

Plants were located according to sun or shade

Plants were located according to sun or shade

Information about the club proudly displayed. Who is that in the sunglasses?

Information about the club proudly displayed. Who is that in the sunglasses?

Garden Books and Magazines were for sale.

Garden Books and Magazines were for sale.



Cashiers were ready!

Cashiers were ready!

People started looking for that favorite plant.

People started looking for that favorite plant.

Get your Wagon!

Get your Wagon!

Continue Shopping and put your plants in the Holding Area

Continue Shopping and put your plants in the Holding Area



Plant Sale Raffle

This year we raffled a beautiful potting table.

The WINNER: Karen Applegate. Congratulations!

Bench 2



Special Thank-You!

Greetings John and all Members,

We want to send our sincere thanks and gratitude for the plants you added to our landscape.

What a joy to walk by or look out and see ‘color’. It was such a wonderful addition.

Not too many of our members have seen them yet but, be assured I will point them out.

It will be exciting to watch them grow and add some ‘extra attitude’.

Sincerest Thanks You To You All. It’s a pleasure to share our facility with such a great group!

German American

Margie Schmidt
>General Manager
German American Society
5626 N.E. Alameda St.
Portland, Oregon 97213

(MGCP donated plants to the German American Society facility where Plant Sale was held and we meet for monthly meetings.)

Past Speaker

Due to unforeseen circumstances, our speaker for April was not able to come to the meeting.




osu2Did you know…?

The Portland Japanese Garden is now open

The renovation is complete.

After decades of dreaming and years of doing, the Portland Japanese Garden has unveiled their finished Cultural Crossing expansion project. Explore new Gardens, galleries, and more.

The Portland Japanese Garden is a traditional Japanese garden occupying 9.1 acres, located within Washington Park in the West Hills of Portland, Oregon, United States.

Japanese GardenAddress: 611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205

9 acres

Hours:  10AM–7PM

Phone: (503) 223-1321

Public and Private Gardens in Oregon

There is a comprehensive list of public and private gardens in Oregon at

Public and Private Gardens in Oregon





Upcoming Events and Club Business

Save the date!

The May meeting is on Tuesday May 23rd. Snacks are appreciated.


Next Month’s Meeting:
June 27 Club Meeting
Speaker: To Be Announced
Topic: Taking Care of Bees


July Event

Out in the Garden(2)In addition to our July club meeting, members have been invited to attend The Wine and Cheese in the Garden event at Out in the Garden Nursery.

Owners Dale and Carol are requesting a $5.00 donation fee but are allowing MGCP members to attend for free if they show their club membership card.

Additional information will be sent out and you can sign up at the next meeting.




Club News

Club member Julie Harper (currently on the Board) is the new club Vice-President as voted by the Board.

Thank You and Congratulations Julie!


Out and About

Club member Betsey Soifer is sharing a photo of her beautiful rhododendron.

Betsey Soifer

Club member Jenn Ferrante has photos to share:

Jenn 1 Protect from Heat

Too much sun

Jenn's Yard 2 Jenn's Yard 3 Jenn's Yard 4

Club member Michele Gardner has photos to share from North and South Carolina.

 Michele 1 Michele 2  Michele 3
Michele 4 Michele 5 Michele 6


Thanks Betsey, Jenn and Michele!


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