The Practical Gardener – July 2016

Speaker Information

Trachycarpus wagnerianusNurseryman, designer, author and lecturer (and clearly dilettante) Sean Hogan spent his child-hood years exploring the wilds of the west with family from his Portland home.

The privilege of being submersed in unspoiled plant communities propelled his desire to explore world-wide, focusing on the American Southwest and Mexico, temperate South America, South Africa, New Zealand, and most importantly the diverse Siskiyou country of Southwestern Oregon and Northern California – to learn how plants behave together in the wild, and to introduce new colors and textures to horticulture- and promote those still under appreciated.

After studying the systematics of taxonomy and plant distribution and just how these things work, Sean curated several sections of the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley prior to his return to Portland in 1995 and opening Cistus Design and later Cistus nursery.

Local design projects include the planting and curation of Portland’s Classical Chinese Garden, the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal building – a very low water landscape with a backbone of natives and the Argyle Winery campus with hopes it will become a template for Willamette Valley low-impact gardens.

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 on Sauvie Island just north of the City.

Sean has been featured in over half a dozen national or international periodicals in the last year and his books include “Flora” a gardener’s encyclopedia (Global, Timber) and “Trees for All Seasons – Broad leaved Evergreens for Temperate Climates” (Timber press).

The July meeting is on Saturday July 23rd at Cistus Nursery 1:00-4:00 pm

SpeakerWe can arrive as early as 1:00. The speaker will begin at 3:00 pm on the topic of: Growing Plants During a Drought.

Please eat lunch before arriving, as snacks and drinks will not be served.

Cistus Directions

presidents-messagePresident’s Message

Our June 28 Metropolitan Garden Club speaker made references to a prime summer garden subject: Watering.

In his “Healthy Soil for Healthy Plants” presentation, Glen Andresen noted that compost added to your garden soil “helps soil retain moisture – thus saving on water use.”

Oregon doesn’t have California’s water crisis … but we could faces shortages.  And we pay water bills. So here are some tips for saving water:

  1. Mulching reduces moisture evaporation during dry spells.
  1. Can you water less?
  • Watering too often is time and effort wasted in addition to water.
  • Don’t just check the top of the soil for dryness.  Go down into the dirt:  If it is damp six inches below the soil, wait to water.
  • Watch the plant for signs of water stress – such as leaves changing position or getting darker.
  • Does the weather forecast for the coming week include heat but no rain? Watering the garden before a dry spell helps the soil’s moisture levels and reduces chance of getting too dry too early.
  1. Water in the evening as temperatures drop to reduce evaporation.
  1. Don’t over water.  The Royal Horticultural Society guidelines call for 5.2 gallons per 10 sq. ft. every seven to 10 days.
  1. Hand watering is labor intensive but can be more precise.  You can deliver water specifically to the base of plants to get moisture to the roots.
  1. Seep hoses buried under the soil or mulch avoids evaporation. Automatic irrigation systems allow water to drip into programed growing areas.
  1. Have a pot of water left over from dinner preparation?  Step outside and share the water instead of giving it all to the drain.
  1. Collect rainwater by diverting water from your gutter drains to a variety of water storage bins.
  1. Bring a guest to the to the July 23 meeting.  How does his help with watering?  Maybe it awards you water karma?

We had neighborhood guests at the June meeting who came to learn about healthy soil.  Guests who leave a meeting after learning garden tips may find it worth joining.

Happy Gardening!


tips-from-tomTips from Tom

As soon as perennial flowers or stems start to die back, cut them back to live growth. This not only improves their appearance, but helps prevent insect pests and diseases from moving in. And it will encourage some plants to re-bloom later in the season. Cut and come again favorites include yarrow, daisies, and delphiniums.

Mail order bulb catalogs are on hand now or you can shop via the Internet. These outlets will afford you a far broader selection of interesting and colorful spring flowering bulbs than you’d ever see at your garden center so feast your imagination on the enticing offerings. Order now so you’ll get them in time for fall planting. One of my favorites is Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.

Are your favorite annuals like California poppy and verbascum going to seed? If you like them, let them, and you’ll have a crowd next year. But a couple should be reined in, before it’s too late by clipping off the fading flowers or developing seed heads.

Dried flowers for arrangements and craft projects are easy to make. Just remember that whatever form or stage the blooms are in, that’s how they’ll dry, with no changes. Arrange them on screens in a hot, dry, well-ventilated room or place them in a plastic box of silica gel for a few days.

Any signs of distress in your shrubs right now may be attributed to drought stress. Of course, occasional deep soakings will bring some relief. You might also hose down the entire plant, in an effort both to cool it off and to dislodge pests like spider mites.


Plant of the Month

DETA-212Knifophia – ‘Echo Mango’

These perennials are easy to grow in the
garden so long as the soil is well drained,
particularly in winter.

This selection was bred to repeat bloom.
Plants form a mound of grassy, evergreen leaves with taller stems bearing spikes of bottlebrush blooms in a warm shade of apricot. Stems are wonderful for cutting.

Knifophia-Echo Mango is drought tolerant (once established) and attractive to hummingbirds. Part of a series developed by Richard Saul; the ‘Echo’ in the name referring to the repeat-flowering nature of these plants.

Plant in full sun and the height is usually around 3-4’ tall.


upcoming-eventsUpcoming Events

Save the date!

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.

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.

MGCP Garden, Nursery, Wine Tour September 10th, 2016

Reserved Seating. Sign up and pay at the July club meeting or via email.

Remember tickets are non-refundable. The bus holds 45 people and will fill up fast!

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

This year’s tour will begin at Shorty’s Garden & Home 705 NE 199th ST Ridgefield WA. (More information will be sent)

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

Suggestions Wanted: 2017 Topics & Speakers

The board is seeking suggestions for both topics and speakers for 2017.

  • Programs are about 45 minutes in length.
  • PowerPoint presentations and/or digital photos are encouraged.

Please email your suggestions by the end of August 2016:
The board hopes to announce the full 2017 schedule in the Fall.

IMG_9897Past Speakers


The June 28 Metropolitan Garden Club meeting featured Glen Andresen’s “Healthy Soil for Healthy Plants” Presentation.  Glen answered many questions from members and guests concerning the soil in their yards and gardens. Glen is sponsored by Metro.

Andresen is a composting advocate. Here are excerpts from the points he made:

  • Compost adds nutrients to the soil. Plants need 18 different nutrients;
  • Compost helps soil retain moisture – thus saving on water use;
  • Compost increases aeration and heat absorption;
  • Composting reduces soil compaction. (Gardeners compact the soil by walking or driving where they want plants to grow. Compacting soil squishes out water.) ;
  • Adding compost helps drainage in clay soil;
  • Composting also keeps organic waste out of landfill;
  • Compost becomes an all-natural way to add nutrients. “You cannot fertilize your way to good soil,” Andresen declared; and,
  • Composting helps soil.  Using compost reduces the need for soil testing. “Maybe once in a lifetime,” Andersen said of soil testing.

“Everything goes into compost,” Andresen pointed out.  He cited dead animals in a forest as an example of “everything” going into compost. Leaves in composting provide more nutrients than manure, Andresen noted. Let roots rot in ground.  This allows space for microorganisms, he explained. Those microorganisms are vital to healthy soil.

20160629_190329-1Adding compost to create healthy soil pays off in the long run.  Andresen decided for 2003 he wanted to have at least one serving of food every day of the year from his urban garden.  In 2003 he kept track on a chart on the refrigerator and his tally at the end of the year:  1,123 servings or more than three times the goal.

Several of our members took Metro’s Pledge to reduce or eliminate pesticides like “weed and feed” in their yard. They received a free yard sign in honor of their commitment. The yard sign lets their neighbors know that their yard is healthy and safe.


Good Weed or Bad Weed?

lambsquarters-wendell-smithLamb’s Quarters

Despite the name this isn’t meat. Lamb’s quarters is a weed commonly referred to as “wild spinach.”

It starts to appear, fortunately enough; in early summer after the last of the spring spinach has disappeared from farmers’ markets. It’s loaded with calcium and protein as well as vitamins A, C and K (even more so than traditional spinach).

The best way to eat the leaves, is to wash them well, sauté them in olive oil while they’re still wet—the steam helps the leaves wilt—then add a dash of salt, garlic, pepper and a squeeze of lemon or lime.

Remember when looking for free munchies to ID them with a credible source if you’re not plant-savvy. Also, wash your harvest thoroughly before consuming, and steer clear of areas that may have been treated with chemicals or pesticides.


Out and About with Members

Club member Sonie Selzer sent several photos to share.

Sonies Porch

Sonie’s Front Porch

Sonie Chinese Fam Palm

Chinese Fan Palm

Sonie Heron Crystal Springs

Heron at Crystal Springs

Sonies Bench (1)

Bench purchased at open garden club event.

Sonie Tomato Sale

This year’s tomato sale in Sonie’s driveway.

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

Thanks for sharing Sonie!


Scott Home 1My Garden Story

Scott Southwell’s Garden

(MGCP member Scott Southwell has invited you to see and read about his garden.)

Every garden should have a theme-of course it should. That’s what I said when I looked for a house in Vancouver 10 years ago. As I searched, I gave quite specific guidelines to my realtor: a large, sunny lot; NO RV parking; a finished house (who wants to spend time refurbishing when you have a garden in the Northwest?); and, I really wanted to be able to walk to work.

Scott Rocky Ground 2He took me to see a bunch of places. Several of them had RV parking; I wouldn’t get out of the car… but when I saw the house on McGillivray, I knew it was right: just remodeled; two miles from work; almost a third of an acre; mature trees on the north side; and a broad expanse of lawn just waiting to be tilled and filled.

Two months later I moved in, grabbed my shovel, ran out the door, slammed it in the ground and… groaned.

Turns out I’d just bought some ancient Columbia riverbed. I could get the point of that shovel two or three inches into the ground before I hit round stones, small ones, medium ones, and large ones…and lots of them!

Scott Raised Beds 3I’ve spent years pickaxing and sifting them through an old milk crate. They make very nice mulch under my eaves. That and one hundred yards of soil and compost and mulch and wood chips wheel barrowed around have made it possible to sink that shovel all the way to its hilt in almost every corner of the yard. Aaaah…

Well, at least I had a theme. I focused on edibles. I built five raised beds. I bought heirloom apples and blueberries and strawberries and asparagus and plums and pears and quince and persimmons.

Scott Mulch 4I bought the kind of juniper you need to make Gin. I even bought blackberries! And I dug and planted and mulched and weeded. I planted cucumbers and squash and tomatoes and beans and all manner of tasty stuff. I planted mint (don’t ever plant mint!).

And did I mention weeds? That first year, there was a beautiful yellow flowering guest, with a tall flower spike and a dark green rosette. I let it bloom since I had so much lawn then and not very many flowering plants. It set seed. And set seed. And set seed. And a tradition was born…

Scott Weeds 5Each spring, I vow to eliminate a particular weed. That beautiful yellow flowering weed was my first target. But while I focused on it, the thistle (which has a beautiful purple bloom) took hold. And the next year I dug that out. And the oxalis came on. And I dug that out. And the bindweed showed up. And I dug it out (and still dig it out). And the story continues. This year it is the evil crabgrass… and I don’t think I will ever get rid of it.

After several years, my plan fell apart. It turns out I don’t like gardening for harvest.  So I got gardener’s fever.

When I saw a pretty plant, I bought it. When friends had divisions to share, I took them. When I found MGCP and attended my first Plant Sale, I took one of everything. And it rolled down hill rapidly from there. At one point, I had to name my garden “Kakoph.”

Scott Pretty Plant 1 Scott Pretty Plant 2 Scott Pretty Plant 3

I spent all my free time weeding, and transplanting, and pruning and worrying how things would look next year. There was no joy in my garden then.

But two years ago, I went into garden fever therapy.

Scott Therapy 6

My treatment was fourfold:

Scott Yellow White Flowers 7

First, I limited my craziness by collecting only yellow, white and purple blooming plants;

Second, I added structure to the garden by installing a winding brick path through the back yard;

Scott Install Path 8 Scott Install Path 9 Scott Install Path 10

Third, I gave myself permission to remove the plants I didn’t like any more or that didn’t work; and,

Fourth (and finally), I make myself sit down and enjoy the beautiful garden I do have, despite its weeds and mismatched beds and in all its cacophony.

Scott Enjoy Yard 11 Scott Enjoy Yard 12 Scott Enjoy Yard 13. jpg
Scott Enjoy Yard 14 Scott Enjoy Yard 15 Scott Enjoy Yard. 16

Thank You Scott!

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