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Archive for the ‘Vines’ Category

Indigo Rose Tomato

‘Indigo Rose’ Tomato

Pink blueberries and now blue tomatoes!  Not just cool in color, the ‘Indigo Rose’ Tomato, newly released in 2012, is one a few exciting new tomatoes, part of a series of tomatoes bred by Oregon State University.

'Indigo Kumquat' Tomato

‘Indigo Kumquat’ Tomato

The reason this tomato sports a blue-purple color has everything to do with anthocyanin.

Research on anthocyanins has intensified recently because it is believed to offer protection from cardiovascular damage and have anti-cancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Some studies show a role in vision improvement and diabetes prevention.  So how do you get more anthocyanin in your diet?  You get fruits and

'Indigo Apple' Tomato

‘Indigo Apple’ Tomato

vegetables that have this bluish-purple color like red cabbage, plums, eggplants and blueberries.

The purple pigment develops as the tomato is exposed to the sun. Portions shaded by leaves do not develop the anthocyanins. As the tomato ripens, it becomes less purple and the green turns red. The flesh is red but the anthocyanins are primarily in the skin and outer flesh.You can learn more about “Indigo Rose” and the Indigo Tomato Series on the OSU website.

'Indigo Blue Beauty' Tomato

‘Indigo Blue Beauty’ Tomato

Other fun Indigo Tomatoes you will find at The Plant Farm this year include: ‘Blue Beauty’, ‘Sun’ and ‘Kumquat’. Arriving soon from the Indigo Series are ‘Apple’ and ‘Blue Berries’

Healthy eating was never so much fun.

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Argyranthemum butterfly

Argyranthemum butterfly

Spring is finally here! Okay, yes, in typical Pacific Northwest style, it’s a wet spring, but that just means that in this time of putting away sweaters and woolens, it’s more important than ever to bring out your brightest spring prints. Your wardrobe isn’t the only place you need to pump up the color palette.  It’s time for your garden to have a spring makeover as well. Let’s get some fresh color into your spring garden.

Calibrachoa Cabaret Cherry Rose

Calibrachoa Cabaret Cherry Rose

Color is a basic of gardening and with a bit of planning it can transform your garden from a collection of plants into something that can really create a mood. Color works in relation to other elements, so think of it like the movie Pleasantville. Without color, your garden might be a beautiful place of contrasts and textures, but it would be like a static collection of plaster sculptures. It’s the addition of color that brings it to life.

Have you ever been in a garden that transformed your mood? Do you ever find your eyes being drawn to one part of a flowerbed or overlooking something even though it’s right out in the open? Color has a lot to do with that. The proper use of color can influence

Begonia Bon Bon Sherbet

Begonia Bon Bon Sherbet

mood and perception and by selecting and mixing your colors with care, you take your garden and make it an exciting party place or a corner of quiet contemplation.If excitement is what you’re after, go for warm colors like the reds of a Calibrachoa Cabaret Cherry Rose, the yellows of a Begonia Bon Bon Sherbet or the orange of a Calibrachoa MiniFamous Double Rose Chai. Warm colors draw the eye and stimulate the senses as they shout, “look at me!” They create a focal point and draw attention. Alternatively, do you want to draw people to a particular corner of your garden or highlight that birdbath? Then use something like an Argyranthemum butterfly or a Verbena Superbena coral red.

Petunia Supertunia Royal Velvet

Petunia Supertunia Royal Velvet

If peace and meditation is the mood you want to set, then go for cool colors like a Blue Verbena Superbena, purple Petunia Supertunia Royal Velvet or maybe a Green Ipomoea Marguerite. These colors soothe and welcome visitors, inviting them to sit a bit and enjoy the quiet.

You can even use colors to change the size of your garden. Okay, not really, but they can make it seem larger or cozier. Warm colors make things seem closer while cool colors make them seem further away. For example, if you use small plants in warm colors close up and larger, cool-colored plants further away, they give your garden a sense of perspective and make it look bigger. On the other hand, if you want a large garden to seem more intimate, then use warm colors like a Coleus Chocolate Covered Cherry.

Petunia Supertunia Raspberry Blast

Petunia Supertunia Raspberry Blast

I love a bright green potato vine against a deep pink Petunia Supertunia Raspberry Blast. That’s because colors are great for giving a bit of contrast. Ever use a color wheel? You may remember it from the last time you painted the living room. Color wheels are used by decorators and artists to see which colors go together and which ones contrast. As a rule, colors close to one another on the wheel produce a sense of unity while colors from the opposite sides of the wheel produce contrast. Yellow and purple, for example contrast while yellow and green complement one another.

Bacopa Snowstorm Giant Snowflake

Bacopa Snowstorm Giant Snowflake

This means when you start getting out the potting soil, using contrasting and complementing colors, you can control how strong an impact your plants make. If you want them to stand out from one another, then use contrasting colors. If you want to produce a harmonious effect, then go for complementary colors. And it’s not an “and” “or” situation either. Whites, such as a Bacopa Snowstorm Giant Snowflake, and neutral colors can soften the effect of vivid colors. Throwing in some white or pastels like a Calibrachoa MiniFamous Double Rose Chai can tone down a color effect and let one bed of plants blend into the next.Here’s a tip: choose one dominant color and keep repeating it. It can be different plants, but try for the same color. It

Green Ipomoea Marguerite

Green Ipomoea Marguerite

really helps to tie everything together. With a bit of planning, you can manage all sorts of effects. Think out your patterns and you can use unity and contrasts to draw attention to highlights in your garden and away from things you’d rather not be noticed, such as standpipes and composters.Still not sure, what would look good in your garden? Our Landscape Design expert, Ryan Sanders, gives this advice: “Walk the aisle to see what attracts your eye. One of the best ways to pick garden color or work out a garden design is to see your plants working together.”

So, here’s one more great tip: come into The Plant Farm, grab a cart and start picking up what draws your eye.  Our friendly and knowledgeable Plant Farm staff members are ready to offer advice and show you our vast selection of Annuals so you can turn up the color dial in your garden.

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BareRoot Berries 001It’s time for the talk. That’s right, we need to talk about the berries and the bees because February is the month to pick up your bare-root berries and your mason bee cocoons. You know, a bowl full of fresh berries is a true summer delicacy, but growing that luscious summer fruit starts right now.

Mmmmm... fresh, healthy, delicious Blueberries!

Mmmmm… fresh, healthy, delicious Blueberries!

Have you decided what sort of berries you’d like? The Plant Farm has a huge variety of bare-root berry plants tucked into sawdust beds waiting for you to bring them home and plant them in your garden. Ripe, flavorful Raspberries; dark and juicy Blackberries; tart, fat Gooseberries; crisp, festive Cranberries or even succulent grapes… okay, they’re not berries, but they are succulent and we definitely have bare-root grape vines. And then there’s my favorite: Blueberries. Where’s the bowl and cream, am I right?

Blueberries are delicious and they are also very nutritious. They are a low glycemic impact food, which is great if you’re watching your sugar (or if you’re going to drown them in cream). They are an excellent source of the essential dietary mineral manganese as well as vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fiber and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals have the potential to affect diseases such as cancer, stroke or metabolic syndrome. Did I sell you on the Blueberries? The Plant Farm has over 16 varieties of Blueberries to choose from. I encourage you to check out our Blueberry information sheet.

bee-in-handTalking about Blueberries reminds me that we need to talk about the bees, too. Mason Bees that is. You probably know that Mason Bees are a great pollinating partner for your Fruit Trees, but did you know that they will also pollinate your Blueberry shrubs? Mason Bees are great little pollinators because they don’t discriminate as to where they gather pollen and because, ironically, they aren’t very efficient in gathering their pollen. It’s gathered dry on their hair, which means it’s more easily scattered to each flower they visit. Mason bees are easy to raise and interestingly they don’t usually sting because they are solitary bees with no hive or queen to protect.

Mason Bee expert Dave Hunter

Mason Bee expert Dave Hunter

If you’d like to know more, Dave Hunter is giving a fascinating seminar this Sunday at The Plant Farm, where he’ll discuss the threat to traditional bee populations and what you can do to help. When you come in for the seminar, you can pick up your bare-root berries!

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 Uh oh…it’s coming up fast, isn’t it?  Don’t get caught forgetting to get your Mom one of her favorite baskets of long blooming colorful annuals from The Plant Farm. We always have the best selection before her big day and longer store hours to aid you in your tight time schedule; we are open 9 to 7 PM daily.

But besides the beautiful hanging baskets we carry, maybe Mom would love some permanent color added to her garden as well. Maybe a rose bush or a Flowering Dogwood or Cherry tree or perhaps one of the plants listed below.

What a hero you’ll be when you bring her in to pick out her own favorite Mother’s Day gifts or surprise her with a bounty of colorful plants from The Plant Farm on Mother’s Day morning.

Here is a short list of popular ‘Mom’ plants that can add a bit of interest in fragrance, color or shade to her garden this year. 

Mountain Fire Pieris

Also known as ‘Lily of the Valley’ shrub, Pieris is a versatile broadleaf evergreen shrub and an award winner in my book.  Absolutely everything about it is beautiful! The pretty white flower display early in the season, from February through April is a sure attractor for our hard working little pollinating friend, the Orchard Mason Bee. After the flowering season the flashy new growth comes on; a rich mahogany red color which will reappear constantly throughout the growing season with little snips off the stem ends to encourage more new colorful growth. This shrub can act as an accent with flower and leaf color in the landscape beds and is a very attractive hedging plant; either low at 3’ or allowed to grow taller, up to 6 foot in height. Plant these in full sun to part shade for best red leaf color and flowering.

Coral Bark Japanese Maple

OK- I know I just listed this maple as one of my picks in the last blog but I cannot get enough of this one so have to share it again. This is one of those hard working plants that can be used both as a medium sized container tree or a colorful landscape addition. The new growth right now is bright lime-gold green, rimmed with a red margin, that truly ‘pops’ out at you. The coral red stems are very visible accented with this bright gold-green foliage. In the fall this foliage turns on its bright gold to orange-red display. Then in winter the real show begins; this special maple shines with the most vivid coral-red branches imaginable. Easy to grow and love, this maple will impress your Mom with its multi-tasking ability to please. Happy to grow in a big ceramic container as a colorful accent or as a special feature in her garden, Coral Bark maples are a great gift for Mom’s everywhere.

Grows up to 20’ in the landscape but can be kept much smaller, up to 10’ in a container. The best stem color shows up in winter, with the exposure to chillier weather, so place this tree where it will grab everyone’s attention in the winter months.

Little Princess Spirea

A wonderful summer blooming hardy shrub, this little lovely will give your Mom a smile every time she sees her sweet Little Princess blooming in her garden.  This performer is not shy about showing off with her display of dainty pink flower clusters during the summer months. A repeat bloomer, if sheared after the first bloom, these low growing deciduous shrubs will easily grace landscapes with their showy pink flower display for years to come.

Easy to grow, you should plant these in full sun for best blooming display, but they will bloom well if only getting ½ days sun.

This little sweetie grows up to 3’ tall and spreads wider to 5-6’. Hardy to zones much colder than ours, you won’t have to worry if Mom will lose her new favorite plant with our colder winters we’ve had lately.

Winter Gem Japanese Boxwood

 A tidy little low growing hedge or accent line of shrubs can help to pull various landscape elements all together for Mom. If she has a flower bed of roses or perennials this can keep them all rounded up with a look that makes the display more complete to the eye. Since many flower beds in the winter months can look bare and unfinished, Winter Gem Japanese Boxwoods will outline these spaces and crisp up the look for all seasons. At my friends parents home we used these to line the front walkway and add some punch to the entry approach to the home. The curb appeal really soared as these filled in and increased the welcoming look to their front walk; the effect was immediate.

The glossy small rounded evergreen leaves are present all year long, accompanied by a discreet display of yellow green fragrant flowers each spring. A bit slower growing than English Boxwood and a prettier color in colder winter months, this variety can be planted in full sun to a very shady site. Small evergreen borders can really dress up a driveway or walkway, so check out the Winter Gem Japanese Boxwoods for your Mom’s garden soon.

Lilacs

Spring means lilacs to me and admittedly this was the easiest pick to come up with for this blog because I think Mom’s of all ages would be thrilled to get a lilac or lilacs for Mother’s Day! The large colorful clusters of flowers are deliriously fragrant and herald our spring like no other blooming shrub can. Always a bit earlier than roses, they are a good companion plant in the rose garden.

Lilacs will grow to different sizes depending on the variety and there is a variety suitable for most all gardens. There are semi-dwarf types like ‘Miss Kim’ or ‘Prairie Petite’ with fragrant lavender flowers on a compact bush that can grow up to 6-7’ tall but could be kept much shorter.

Or pick out one of the taller growing types like Rochester, President Grevy, Paul Therion, Mme. Lemoine,  Monge to name just a few, (we have blues, purples, white, red-purple, pinks and shades in between) that will give Mom fragrant bouquets of flowers year after year.

Grown in a location that gets lots of sun, lilacs will pump out their heady fragrant blossoms each & every spring. Another easy plant to care for, Lilacs give a lot of satisfaction without asking for much. Give Mom some old fashioned love with a fantastic old fashioned plant, the fragrant lilac.

Ninebark-  ‘Coppertina’ or ‘Diablo’

Growing up, my Mom shared with me her love of watching the wild birds. I can remember looking up different species of feathered friends with her as they came to our feeders. As I got older I never lost this bird watching interest and now try to coax the little loves into my yard with some natural berried plants like the versatile Ninebark. Ninebark is a native plant in the Pacific Northwest so you know they grow well in our part of the world.

Now there are new varieties being offered that give not only the prized fruit in the fall for birds, but beautiful flowers each spring that attracts butterflies and then fantastic colorful leaves all summer.

‘Diablo’ is a dark reddish-purple leafed variety that blooms with flattened nosegays of white-pink clusters of flowers. The red berries come on in late summer to fall and are prized food for birds.

‘Coppertina’ is a variety with bright orange-copper colored foliage each spring maturing to a rich red in the summer. The white clusters of flowers every spring bring on those same tasty berries for birds every fall.

Both varieties take a full sun location to part shade and grow to around 6’8’ tall, although I keep mine under 6 foot.

Red Maple ‘October Glory’ and other varieties

Red Maples are a very pretty variety of maple that turns some of the most brilliant blazing colors of red-orange each fall that you have ever seen! We have an October Glory variety planted in our driveway area here at The Plant Farm and every summer and fall we get people admiring this beautiful shade tree. The ‘flowers’ (tiny but clustered &  quite showy) come out bright red each spring followed by the display of new growth that starts out red then goes to a nice strong green for the summer. Every fall red Maples will bowl you over with their display of blazing reds and oranges. A fantastic, fairly fast growing shade tree, Red maples can take our damp situations very well, even wet soils!

We carry October Glory, Red Sunset, Brandywine, Armstrong, Bowhall, Autumn Blaze & Autumn Flame varieties of Red maple. All of these varieties will give you incredible fall displays and planting a few different varieties will give some fast shade for summer and extend your fall color show.

Mountain laurels – ‘Tiddlywinks’ and more

 Don’t let the common name fool you- this is not the type of laurel you may think this is. Mountain Laurels are an evergreen leafy plant that blooms each May with a very unique flower cluster that is unlike any other flower I’ve seen! The little flower buttons grow from tiny little skinny sprigs in early spring into fat rounded capsules that pop open, one at a time, giving a colorful two toned appearance. The color display is quite long lasting since the flower buds, unopened at first, give you a peek at the color coming on.

 A native to the east coast this is a very hardy shrub for our area, having similar preferences in soil and exposure as our rhododendrons and azaleas. If you are thinking about getting Mom a rhododendron, why not check out the Mountain Laurels instead. Your Mom is unique and special so she deserves something special like a pretty Mountain Laurel.  Varieties we have in stock right now; Tiddlywinks, Carol, Sarah, Olympic Fire, Peppermint, Raspberry Glow, Minuet, Elf & Keepsake.

Mountain laurels are a super easy shrub to grow and one of the prettiest flowering specimens you can add to the landscape. Your Mom would love to show them off!

Clematis – Those glorious flowering vines!

 A natural pal to the rose bush is the clematis vine. Often used as a blooming cover for the naked legs of a climbing rose bush, many clematis varieties will clamber up any support given and pump out flowers all summer. The super hardy varieties are the most colorful, but the evergreen clematis blooms fragrant white flowers early spring.

 The deciduous type’s flowers range from white to blues, purples, reds and lavenders.  Great as a cut flower too, the blossoms are a glorious display on this favorite old fashioned vine. Mixing up the varieties can be great fun; creating a display of colors blending together to form a living tapestry.

 I bet your Mom would love to grow a clematis vine, adding summer blossoms to arbors and trellis’s or climbing up the trunks of trees or shrubs like lilacs.

Honeysuckle ‘Hall’s’ & ‘Purple-leaf’

 Speaking of vines, these two are all summer-long blooming performers in the Pacific NW. The fragrant flowers are borne along the stems in pretty clusters. Hall’s is a white flowering variety that goes to a butter yellow color after a few days and ‘Purple-leaf’ has a rose pink flower in bud, opening to white then maturing to a creamy yellow after a couple of days. Both are sweetly fragrant and very easy to grow.

 Add Honeysuckle vines to Mom’s garden spaces that are ‘near her nose’ for scented sniffing treats. I have even grown these vines in a rockery with out a support and let them tumble over, dripping their flowers under our noses to temp a sniff or two as we pass by.

I could go on and on, but I think you can read that to me Mother’s Day is all about flowering plants and has been since I was a little girl. My Dad would take us to the nursery and let us pick out flowers for Mom, so I will always think of Mother’s Day and Mom’s favorite flowering plants.

 Why not start a tradition with your own kids and bring them to pick out flowers for their Mom. Or bring Mom in and let her pick out some of her own color this year.

 And as a final idea, if nothing else floats your boat, get Mom a Gift Certificate from The Plant Farm. You cannot go wrong with one of these!

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August is a beautiful time to live here in the Puget Sound, especially if you are a gardener.  To keep your garden and landscape beautiful here are a few tips I’d suggest thinking about this month.

Water smart! To me, when the sun is hot it means drier soils and sunburned plant! This is only because I get to see leaf samples on a daily basis once the heat sets in. Folks that water for a few minutes, even daily, see crisp-scorched leaves and panic. Sun scorched soil that is too dry produces leaves that curl upward and turn quite crispy. If this sounds like one of your garden issues see the July 9th blog on watering tips for heat. Water smart!

Plant some more veggies! Planting seeds now will reward you with tasty spinach, radishes, carrots, beets, lettuce, and green onions this fall. The veggie garden needs regular watering and whenever possible, water in the morning or early afternoon. We still have some super nice tomato plants and peppers in big pots ready to go home with you, it’s not too late to still enjoy some home grown goodness of your own.

Strawberry Shortcake time! It is still planting season for our Seascape summertime strawberry crop, the Plant Farm preferred variety perfect for your strawberry desserts. This new ever-bearer has bowled us and our guests over with its exceptional taste and productivity. More folks than ever before have commented on how great they are! You can plant them in a sunny garden space or in a large container on the patio for quick picking… Yum! 

Get rid of the girls….begonia girl-flowers that is!   Remove single-petal female begonia flowers from the tuberous begonia plants to grow the biggest flowered begonias you have ever seen!   The female flowers are small, single and have a winged seed pod right behind the flower, as you can see in the photo below with only one flower. The girls are produced right next to her male flower counterpart.  

If the male flower pollinates the girl, he falls off, job complete. The male flower is very full with petals and much showier than the female flowers, so I get rid of all the girls. My begonia in the back yard is my red accent plant in the garden to the left of the patio. I love red flowers and the huge double-red male begonia flowers are just about the flashiest bloom around for my shaded space. We still have non-stop tuberous begonias available!

  The male blooms on my begonia, pictured, are retained for weeks if no girls are around to distract them! Female flower.

Vines- climbing color!  Prune back the overgrown wisteria vines now and tie-up other fast growing vines before the tangled mess can’t be trained. The wisteria grows lots of extra shoots and you may get gobbled up trying to reach the porch someday if they are left to their own devices!

You can plant clematis right now with the roots buried a bit deeper into the soil. The roots of the clematis prefer cooler, shady ground that is well draining and enriched with organic compost. A tip: I always plant the clematis on the north side of another shrub that will help shade the root zone. Cooler roots= a happy and vigorously blooming garden performer!

Don’t worry- plant now and be happy with your outdoor rooms.  You don’t need to wait for the fall to plant; I assure you the plants want to get into the ground! The roots will be much happier with cool soil surrounding them than the hot, confining plastic walls of a pot!

Summer is when we are outdoors and really living in the yard, so why not make the rooms you live in outside as beautiful as the indoor spaces. Watering the new arrivals is usually handled every four to six days or so if you water deep when you water and mulch the ground around the new plants with organic compost or bark.

This is not the time, however, to dig up a plant and move it to another location. Wait until late fall to start such projects (except for perennials past their blooming, see dividing perennial notes below).

Lawns were also mentioned in the July 9th blog. The same watering and mowing information applies for this month, so check out that blog entry for a refresher.  

You can get a new lawn started pretty fast now that the soil is warmed up. In the chilly spring, grass seed is super slow to germinate and even though fall is the ideal time to start a new lawn, sometimes the opportunity presents itself around this time of year! We have seed, fertilizer, lime and organic compost and all the instructions you’d need to create the lush green lawn of your dreams.

Hanging basket haircut time? Sometimes even with all the best fertilizing and attention the hanging baskets get to looking a little long and scraggly. Give them a hard haircut with hedging shears! (I’ll have to cut my big basket back soon and post the photos in our facebook photo album to show you why it’s such a good practice.) Cutting the entire basket back will promote a brand new flush of growth and flowers. I’ll cut my basket back by ½ its size and then cut some of the topmost stems farther back to promote a bushier top. I know it’s hard to do this when they are still flowering, but remember, pruning stimulates growth! Then make sure you are feeding the baskets every other watering with the Summer Liquid Feed 20-10-20. This is the only fertilizer formula we use on our hanging baskets! 

Perennials- early spring/summer bloomer can be dug and divided now. Perennials are those hardy plants that grow and bloom year after year. If they are spring and early summer bloomers that no longer bloom like they once did, then you can dig them up and divide now to get them ready for next spring. Tip: water well prior to digging. Divide the big clumps up, giving some chunks to friends and neighbors, if you have too much for your own garden.  There is such a rich selection of perennials to choose from right now at the nursery and it’s always fun to look for colorful additions to add some new summer interest in your garden.

 
 

Stop in soon...the fish are hungry!

Water quality for your fish pond? We have some big floating Water Hyacinths for sale at the nursery right now. Every May we bring in 50 Water Hyacinths to float at the top of the waterfall in order to help with the biological filter system. Right now there must be thousands! Because we have so many fish and they get fed constantly by guests and their kids, the floating raft of plants grows to massive quantities and we have to start selling some off. These are big healthy plants that will help use up the nutrients from the fish waste to grow before the alga gets a chance to take hold. 

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