Thoughts on the 2017 Perennial Plant Symposium

on Tuesday, 05 September 2017. Posted in Drought tolerant, New Plants

Inspiration from the PPA Symposium by Erik Petersen

Recently I had the opportunity to attend an amazing conference hosted by the Perennial Plant Association.  Held in Denver, Colorado, the overall theme was plants that perform well in high mountain areas, barren soils and low water settings.  The Rogue Valley fits squarely into this designation. 

IMG 0210 1

While there was certainly a lot of discussion about new plants and plant selections, I found many of the big picture concepts to be really eye opening about the current state of gardening we find ourselves in and heading into.

PPA conferencedelosperma

 

 

Regional Appropriateness

For years there has been a heavy presence of either East Coast plant material or plants that thrive on the East Coast that has been marketed across the entire United States in a one size fits all category.  Botanist, breeders and gardeners alike have started to shift away from this mentality and focus more on either western forms or regionally appropriate selections that will thrive in the Western United States.  As an example, some ornamental grasses originating from overseas or the Eastern U.S. or the mid-west struggle in our arid soils containing low organic matter and a high pH.  New western forms such as Bouteloua ‘Blonde Ambition’ (Blonde Ambition Grama Grass) or Sorghastrum nutans ‘Thin Man’ (Thin Man Indian Grass) are excellent examples of grasses that are regionally appropriate since they perform well in our area.

 

Arctostaphylos Howard McMinn 8032077f8a2fbf8f459f39a08c7ee55bAnother issue this area deals with is that we do not get the natural summer and fall rains the east coast does so this factors into what plants will regionally thrive in this area.  Gardeners and designers from around the country are envious that we can grow Arctostaphylos (Manzanitas), Ceanothus (California Lilac) and Rhamnus ‘Eve Case’ (Coffeeberry) here.  These evergreen shrubs won’t miss a beat in our dry summers and early fall and as such we should embrace our region’s environmental uniqueness and plant accordingly.

 

 

 

 

Alliums (Ornamental Onions) while not always native, are another wide-ranging species that perform exceptionally well here.  They can thrive in dry soils that drain well and are devoid of lots of organic matter.  There are literally dozens of forms to choose from but a few highlights from the conference were:  Allium ‘Millenium’ (2018 Perennial Plant of the Year), Allium ‘Christophii’ (Huge ornamental heads with steel-blue flowers) and Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’ (A fall blooming selection).  Alliums are incredible pollinator plants that provide both pollen and nectar for beneficial insects. 

Euphorbia with Allium

Having a love affair with the hose when the trends suggest otherwise!

IMG 0297 1One of the top current trends in gardening is gardens that are low water and adaptive to the conditions.  For a resource in that is often scarce and expensive (water) there are plenty of plants that can be solutions to this need.  Many plants that are regionally appropriate for this area do not want constant or copious amounts of water once they are established in the ground since this can be detrimental to the plants or lead to their death.  Plants such as Agastache (Hummingbird Mint), Arctostaphylos (Manzanita), Penstemons (Beardtongue) and Eriogonum (Buckwheats) and ornamental grasses in general are all water wise plants that thrive in our region and have many attractive qualities about them.  When summer temperatures and heatwaves consistently reach over 90 degrees plants such as these usually go into a hibernation phase of sorts where they stop growing and ride out the heat until temps return to normal.  As gardeners, our natural inclination is to water more as the temperature increases which is often the exact opposite of what we should do.  A once or twice a week deep watering of plants in the ground will be adequate to meet their needs.  Over watering leads to rotting of the roots or stressing the plants.  Designing gardens with low water needs but that also exhibit desirable ornamental qualities is the current and future trend.  Other amazing perennials that are adaptive, low maintenance and drought tolerant are:  Monardella (Coyote Mint), Zauschneria (California Fuschia), Delospermas (Ice Plants), Hesperaloe (Red Yucca) and Sedums (Spreading Stonecrop)

 

New Concept of value of plants.

panicumThe traditional benefits of plants were promoted and thought of as “items” that brought happiness, beauty and increased property value to our life.  Over time new concepts have risen to the top as to the value that plants bring into our world.  Today’s cutting-edge designers are thinking about how plants can help with improved water and air quality, providing food (both to humans and animals), their functionality and how they benefit wildlife.   Many plants can serve multiple functions and overlap criteria when it comes to designing.  For example, Panicum grasses (Switch Grass) serve multiple uses.  Not only are they extremely drought tolerant (their roots can go down 14’) but they sequester carbon from the air and put it in the ground thus helping with air pollution.  Their foliage is very attractive and their seed heads can be a food source for birds.  This is an example of one plant providing at least four sources of value, not all of them just for humans. 

I came away from the Perennial Plant Conference with a new sense of looking at how plants are being used, valued and incorporated in today’s designs and projects and what our responsibility as gardeners, landscapers, designers and plant propagators is in today’s changing world. 

-Erik Petersen

Fall is the best time for planting

on Tuesday, 05 September 2017. Posted in Landscape contractor, Classes

Fallscaping- the benefits of fall planting

Fall is in the air.  It may not seem like it with the smoke and the temps still in the 90s.  But the days are getting shorter and we know that cooler temperatures and autumn rains are right around the corner.  

homeFallPhotos2014

 

 

You won't want to miss that prime opportunity to get planting.  Fall is the best time to plant in the Rogue Valley.  Especially higher investment plants like shade trees.  There is less stress involved when transplanting them during cool weather and when they have started to go dormant.  We like to define fall as when we start to get some rain, the days have cooled off and are shorter.  That can mean late September or early to mid October.  The Rogue Valley doesn't have the extreme winters of the east coast, so we can enjoy fall planting into November and December when trees and deciduous shrubs are fully dormant.  

acer fall colorphotoConcordGrapes250x376geranium biokovo fall colo

Top 5 Reasons for Planting in the Fall~

1.  Cool weather means less stress on the plants (and the gardeners!).

2.  The soil is still warm so root growth continues during the fall months; getting the plant better established for the following summer.

3.  You can plant more drought tolerant plants and have to water them less because they will be more established than a spring planting.  If we have a dry fall, you will still need to water deeply until the rain is more consistent.  

4. You can plant more natives and support wildlife and local habitat.  - Natives will have happier roots with a fall planting.

5.  The soil is easier to work with over the wet soils of spring.  So make the most of those crisp autumn days!

photo echinacea tiki torch 250px

The nursery has a whole series of fall classes to support you in your gardening endeavors.  We are fully stocked for fall, it won't be the dregs left over from summer.   Fall is a great time to add some color or texture to your garden.  Think ornamental grasses, seed heads, and crimson fall leaves.   If you think you need an expert eye on your landscape, contact us about our design and consult services.  Happy Planting!

Fruit Tree Season is Here!

on Friday, 06 January 2017. Posted in Fruit trees, Classes, New Plants

New Fruit tree varieties by Joey Sparks

blueberriesasian pear closeupclass hops vineBlackberries2classPearTreeFruitpeach

With these cold winter months ahead many gardeners are eager to get back outside and work on projects. Bare Root Fruit tree season is here!  So many great varieties of fruit trees are available this time of year that become harder to find during the rest of the growing season. While we carry all of the classic favorites like apples, cherries and pears, we also bring in some in some unusual fruit trees such as persimmon, walnuts, and Chinese Jujube.  

Most people prefer to grow fruit varieties they are more familiar with, like ones they purchase at the store (Pink lady Apples, Santa Rosa Plums). While these varieties are popular for good reason, consider planting a lesser known fruit tree like the ‘Chocolate’ Persimmon or a Mulberry. You’ll never find them at the store- often because they aren’t bred for a long shelf life.  So, you can enjoy unique flavors right from your yard!  

 

chocolate persimmonThe non-astringent ‘Chocolate’ Persimmon has bright orange skin and brown flesh, thus it’s reference to chocolate.  The fruits form and color late in fall and resemble lanterns hanging from the tree after leaf drop. Letting the fruits freeze on the tree a few times before harvest is recommended to enhance sweetness. The rare ‘Chocolate’ variety has a hint of nutmeg spice along with the sweet flavor.

 

 

black beauty mulberryMulberries you will almost never see at a store or even a farmer’s market because they are best picked ripe from the tree and tend to get juice down your arms in the process.   But they are worth the mess- with a flavor and look similar to blackberries, but almost more complex.  They have elongated black fruits and can make a large bush or small tree that could be hedged.  Just plant it far away from the family vehicle.  We carry the variety 'Black Beauty' which is hardy to Zone 7.

 

 

One confusing topic when it comes to fruit trees is pollination. Fruit trees are either self-fertile or they require a pollinator. If a tree is self-fertile that means that it will produce fruit on its own without the help of another tree. If a tree requires a pollinator than you need to plant two or more varieties of that species that are compatible.  There are several pollination charts out there to reference.  Our fruit tree descriptions tell you if they are self-fertile or need a pollinator.

 

class pruning older fruit treesExample: A Granny Smith apple is self-fertile as well as a pollinator for the ever-popular Fuji apple. They would make a great pair! One type being sour and one sweet.  But even if a fruit tree is self-fertile, it will set more fruit with other fruit trees of the same species nearby. Don’t stress too much about how close they are to each other, bees are pretty good at traveling. The important point is that diversity is a good thing .Growing fruit is a rewarding experience. It allows you to share food that you’ve grown with friends and family. It’s important to grow fruit that you not only like but will also use. You would be surprised how fruitful a couple of trees can be once they mature.

 

class asian pear espalieredWhat if I am limited in space? You’re not alone: if you would like to grow more varieties than your space will allow there is a way. One solution is to plant genetic dwarfs like the ‘Dwarf Empress' Peach or 'Golden Prolific' Nectarine. These compact trees only reach about 5’ tall and wide, while still producing a healthy amount of tasty fruit! Another solution is to use a technique called espaliered pruning. This allows you to control the size and form of your trees. Espaliered trees are also a very beautiful way to incorporate fruit trees into your landscape and garden space

 

Be sure to pre register for any upcoming classes you are interested in.  Many of them have limited spaces and the fruit tree classes are always popular.  Looking forward to seeing you!

 You can also see descriptions of most our fruiting trees and shrubs here.  Our availability is always listed here.