The Practical Gardener – August 2016

Speaker Information

SpeakerThis month’s meeting features Steve Schreiner from Schreiner’s Iris Gardens.

Schreiner’s Iris Gardens has been a family-owned and operated small business since it’s beginning in 1925.

It is located 32 miles south of Portland and 5 miles north of downtown Salem,

Steve is in the 3rd generation of Schreiner family members in the Gardens. Aside from a few years working in the cannery, the only job he has ever had is working at the Gardens.

Currently his duties are supervising the retail order crew, setting up the Flower Show, photography and writing catalog descriptions, etc. He is 71;married late in life at 48; and, lives in Portland with his wife Sarah.

Iris-GardensSteve takes great pride in his family business and strives to do the best that he can in customer service, and offering healthy and beautiful iris to the public.

His presentation covers a year in operation for the nursery. Mixed in are close-ups of some new additions that feature a bit of the history, iris culture, kinds of iris and lightheartedness.

Steve will be bringing Iris to sell.




Directions to Schreiners Gardens


President’s Message

presidents-messageWelcome to August 2016 – a prime month for vacations.

Yes, gardeners can and should take vacations.

Here are a few tips to protect the plants left at home:

When considering new plants for your garden, choose ones that are more likely to
tolerate your anticipated holiday schedule:

  • Add water-absorbing materials at the beginning of the season.  One pound of polymer crystals absorb about 50 gallons of water.  That’s why they are used in disposable diapers; the polymers release water as the soil dries;
  • Beyond the do is a don’t:  Don’t fertilize shortly before leaving for vacation. Fertilizer fosters plant growth and that growth requires water;
  • Container plants may survive better inside – which is usually more humid and less sunlight;
  • Or if plants are going to remain outside, move pots to a shady area out of the wind to reduce moisture loss by evaporation;
  • Don’t leave hanging baskets drying in the wind;
  • Can the picnic table be used to shade certain volatile plants?  Or can the picnic table be used to block winds that dry plants and soil?  However, don’t block air circulation creating a “heat trap.”;
  • Add a mulch of bark or wood on top of garden soil. Before leaving soak the soil, then add the mulch.  This combination can last a week;
  • Try a battery-operated drip-irrigation system with the taps pointed into plant roots.  The more rudimentary alternative is a rope run from pot to pot or plant to plant from a simple higher placed bucket of water;
  • Anyone owe you favors?  Friends, neighbors, relatives or others can be plant-sitters; and,
  • Lawns are of less concern than many of your favorite plants.  The grass may go brown, but the lawn will come back with watering when you return.

The added benefit of letting lawns go is that you don’t have to find someone to substitute for you in mowing.

Happy Travels!



Tips from Tom

tips-from-tomTo keep the mosquitoes away, plant these: basil, rosemary, garlic, marigold, lemongrass, lemon balm, catnip, lavender and lemon thyme.

If you’re planting something for the fruit or roots (like grapes or carrots), you need full sun. If you’re planting something for the leaves (like lettuce), partial shade is all you need.

It’s a good idea to “chit” your potatoes before planting them. “Chitting” means exposing them to light for a few days so they have nice sprouts. An empty egg carton works wonders as a potato stand!

Tomatoes do best if you prune them to a single stem supported by a string or trellis. Choose one main stem and train it up, eliminating other side stems and snapping off the “suckers” (shoots which sprout between the main stem and each leaf petiole).

You can extend your celery harvest by just cutting off the outer stalks, as you need them…. new stalks will sprout from the center.


Plant of the Month

Cardinal-FlowerLobelia cardinalis (Cardinal Flower ‘Queen Victoria’)

This wonderful bright red flower with burgundy leaves grows in Zones 3-9, prefers full sun/part shade and needs plenty of water.

It’s deer resistant, attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

Lobelia grows 36”-48” tall and blooms in July, August and September.

It looks best combined with canna lilies, red-hot pokers, dahlias and helenium.


Upcoming Events

upcoming-eventsSave the dates!

August Meeting

We will not be meeting on the fourth Tuesday of August. The August meeting is on Saturday August 27th from 1:00-3:00 PM. (Arrive at parking lot no later than 12:45)

The speaker is Steve Schreiner from Schreiner’s Iris Gardens. Steve will be bringing Iris plants to sell.

This meeting is at member, Tom Barreto’s home and garden. This meeting is open to members only.

Driving and parking directions will be sent to members via email. Please bring snacks to share. The meeting will be outside in the garden.

2016 Metropolitan Garden Club Wine and Garden Tour

Please join us for gardens, vineyards and fun on September 10th. We are accepting reservations for members and guests.

The cost is unchanged this year at $45 for members and $50 for guests, which includes a continental breakfast, two wine tastings and lunch.

Contact Scott at to reserve your seat!

This year’s tour will begin at:

ShortysShorty’s Garden & Home

705 NE 199th ST
Ridgefield, WA 98642

where we will enjoy shopping and 
a continental breakfast, and then board the bus for a 3.8-mile drive (6 min) to:

Lucy-GardenLucy’s Garden

3302 NW Carty RD
Ridgefield, WA 98642

for a tour of this lovely garden and vineyard on “five acres of family owned and operated property that features a large and luscious garden with a charming water feature and pond, a dazzling landscaped yard and gazebo, and an amazing big red party barn.”

Then we will re- board the bus for a short .6-mile drive to:

Volcano-ArtVolcano Garden Art

2201 NW Carty Rd
, WA 98642

The owner is staying open 
after Labor Day just for us! 
“Let your imagination take
over…. as you view their 
unique fountains, bubblers, 
statuary, stepping stones and 
birdbaths (many made on-site) 
displayed in a garden of 
lavender and dahlias.

You will find a variety of
 concrete wall plaques to adorn
 your walls or fence. You can 
enjoy shopping in this lovely 
garden and also hear all about bees 
and managing a hive.

If you purchase something too large for the bus, you will be able to drive over after the tour to pick it up—it’s only 6 minutes from Shorty’s!

We will board the bus for a 13.5-mile drive (23 minutes) to:

Heisen-House-WineryHeisen House Vineyards

28005 NE 172nd Ave
Battleground, WA 98604

where we will enjoy a wine tasting at this National and State Site, a beautiful farm and vineyard. We will hear about its history, stroll the grounds and present our raffle prizes.

Next we will travel 5 miles (9 minutes) to our final destination,

Emanar Cellars

1113 SE Rasmussen Blvd
Battleground, WA 98604

Emanar-CellarsMar and Richard are excited to have us taste their Spanish and Northwest wines and serve a buffet lunch of Spanish tapas on their patio and tasting room in downtown Ridgefield.

From here we will return to 
Shorty’s Garden & Home to pick up Nursery purchases and head home.

Please note that as on prior tours, reservations are non-refundable. If you are not able to attend, you can certainly give your ticket to a friend or family member.


Annual Potlatch/Silent Auction Fundraising Event is on Saturday October 22, 4:00-8:00 PM at the German American Facility.


Past Speakers

Our July meeting was on Saturday July 23rd at Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Island.


Cistus nursery began as a source of special plants for projects and an experimental plot for new plants in a range of 100-year old greenhouses in North Portland, and has grown to include mail order and retail with several thousand taxa in production at any given time.


Sean Hogan, the owner, was to be our speaker but was called away. We were fortunate to have Luke as our guide.


Luke guided us through several of the private mail order greenhouses where the public is not allowed to venture.

We saw plants from all over the world and were able to ask Luke questions.




After the tour, members explored the retail side of Cistus and many purchases were made.


All had a good time!



Our meeting in June was on Healthy Soil for Healthy Plants. Member Marta Lansing found an article by Mike Darcy on phosphorus in fertilizer and whether it is actually needed. The information will surprise you. Click on the link below to read the article in full:

Is this phosphorous really necessary?


What’s in Your Garden Library?

(Your favorite garden related book)

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

book-coverMGCP member Ruth Hoard’s favorite garden book (this year) is The Well-Designed Mixed Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust.

The author has earned international acclaim as one of America’s most entertaining and knowledgeable garden writers and professional speakers.

She has extensive experience in the United States, and abroad working for over 30 years in the industry, speaking for over 25 years and designing for over 20 years.

This is a garden design book with a difference. It is written for gardeners who are passionate about plants of all kinds; design theory; practical ideas; and, plant maintenance.

There are particularly useful chapters on color theory; drawing a plan; and, detailed instructions on what size plants to purchase and how to space them.

I read the book over the winter knowing that I wanted to try something new in my garden in the spring.

color-wheelI decided to follow the author’s recommendations on color theory and design and set out to revise my existing garden in the backyard and design a perennial garden following the color wheel, trying to plant mostly native plants.

The author goes into detail to clarify the differences between “hue” and “value” and demonstrate how intensity of light can affect the way in which flowers are perceived.

Although many examples are from the author’s own garden or other American Midwest locations, they’re applicable to other plant hardiness zones.

One of my favorite chapters is a nicely photographed section on attractive plant combinations and a series of appendixes for plant selections.

my-gardenThe photo is from the red/orange section of my new garden.

Beginners may be overwhelmed by this book’s wealth of information, but they should not let that stop them. My suggestion is to read each chapter; think about the author’s ideas and suggestions and how they could be applied to your personal garden space.

After reading the book (It is important to read the entire book and then plan and design.), I choose ideas and plant combinations that would work in my much smaller landscape.

Seasoned gardeners will come away with greater practical know how and a better understanding of the art of gardening. The book is written in a simple direct format and easily understood.

Paperback: 460 pages – Publisher: Timber Press (August 26, 2009)
Language: English – ISBN-10: 088192967

(If you have a favorite garden book, please send title, author, publisher, ISBN number to

Include a summary of the book and how you used the information in your garden.)


Out and About with Members

While following the Lewis and Clark Trail, club member Ruth Hoard found this log planter by the river in Cathlamet, WA


Michele Gardner (member) shared the following photos:




Sonie Selzer (member) shared a photo from her neighbor’s yard.


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


My Garden Story

Kathy and Freddy Harrison’s Garden

(MGCP members Kathy and Freddy Harrison have invited you to see and read about their garden.)

In July of 2005, my husband and I moved from St Helens, Oregon where we had a large yard, huge garden and a small orchard to La Center, Washington.

We found that our new yard was sparsely landscaped so we decided to make some changes.

We were inspired after seeing Tom and Ruth’s (club member) yard next door.

We began our project by tearing out arborvitae and other unwanted shrubs so that we could start with a clean slate.

We contacted Tsugawa Nursery to find a designer.  Plans were drawn up for most of our yard, leaving a small area that adjoined Ruth’s front yard for us to design later.


We wanted a yard that would supply us with trees, beautiful flowers and shrubs, but most importantly fruits and vegetables.

I didn’t want to put in a space for my garden that would look horrible after my garden was finished for the year, so we decided to put a short fence around it.


We hired a local landscaper who helped us with the hardscape, water feature and a sprinkler system. We reduced the size of our lawn by at least half.

With our plans in hand we set out to buy our plants, trees and shrubs at the best prices available. We found several small nurseries that were very reasonable.


I think we planted trees first, and then added shrubs and plants later. We built the raised beds in the garden as well as a trellis at the entrance.


Eventually it was time to address the area next to Ruth’s front yard. Ruth designed the area connecting our dry riverbeds. We landscaped the area so that both yards complemented each other.




Our garden has 2 plum trees, 3 apple trees, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and grapes. Each year we plant tomatoes, beans, peas, onions, garlic, squash, cucumbers, corn, lettuce, spinach and kale.


Our yard and garden are ever changing. We enjoy spending time caring for it, and sharing it with our friends and family.

(If you would like to share your garden (photos and history) with other members, please send information to: