Monthly Archives: July 2015

Busy Bees

On a morning stroll through the garden noticed some interesting bee activity this week. On one side of the path, bumble bees were just covering the Penstemon and Lavender. On  the other side of the path, the honeybees were buzzing away on the Bupleurum.    Guess they don’t like to share!

Bumblebees on Pestemon 'Hildago'

Bumblebees on Pestemon ‘Hildago’

Bumblebees on Lavender

Bumblebees on Lavender

Honey bees on Bupleurum

Honey bees on Bupleurum

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Blast from the Past: Adventures in Hiring a Gardener

I have officially reached that point in the year when my garden overwhelms me.

Where to start?

Where to start?

We just moved into our house last fall, so this is the first year I have seen the garden in action.  Up until now I have been diligently watering almost everyday desperately trying to keep things alive in this heat. My husband and I have been learning our new irrigation system, fixing broken sprinklers, and readjusting spray patterns as brown spots appear.  We have taken out a few things that were obviously dead or dying and trimmed up some trees that were in desperate need (More on that in another post!). I have brought home a few plants from the nursery, but I have been trying really hard to wait to make any big plant decisions until I can see a full year in the garden, a very difficult thing when you work at Joy Creek!

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Hill of Weeds

But last week pushed me over the edge. I walked through the backyard, down the hill overgrown with spent flowers, weeds, and a general mish-mash of random plants thrown in over the years, most towering over my head.  I was almost in tears with the immensity of the project ahead.  I came into work the following day and I started reading the old blogs on our website.  I found this gem from Nadine, one of our landscape consultants. It reminded me that it is ok to ask for help, it leaves more energy for the fun part of gardening! I hope you enjoy this little blast from Joy Creek Blogging past as well.

Dana Pricher

Originally published May 30, 2012

“Well, I finally did it. I called for help in my garden. The weeds
finally pushed me over the edge. It is a relief to have made the
decision . So this is how my process went.

My garden is on a large city lot and is complicated. There is a lot
to be done, so I had to prioritize my needs before I called anyone.
As I said earlier, the weeds are my priority. I determined that what
I would ask my would-be gardener to do was weed (most of it by hand)
and spread mulch. I didn’t decide until during the interviews whether
I wanted the bids with mulch delivered or whether I would arrange for
the mulch delivery. I realized that a lot of this process is about
control.

A Garden in Need of Help

When I shop for services like this, I always shop in 3’s. I had been
collecting fliers for years from landscapers who had either put them
in the paper or my door. I picked three that listed the services I
needed and called each one for an appointment. #1 wanted to have an
hour spread during which he would show up. (It turned out at the
latest time.) Numbers 2 and 3 made a specific time commitment.

#1) Showed up with his book and was raring to go. As we walked
around the garden I realized he was not listening to me and was
wrapped up in assessing the property according to what he wanted to do
with it. He even wanted to relocate my blueberries so that he could
put Caseron in the bed! Needless to say, I DON’T DO CASERON. After
10 minutes, he handed me my bid and left.

#2) Showed up promptly. I showed him some of my trouble spots ie: a
clematis that I have growing on the ground with weeds growing up
through it. He understood that there were complications like that all
over. He was very enthusiastic but in a different way from #1. He
was interested in my plants! He was also interested in the way I did
things and why. After 30 minutes he gave me my bid. I really liked
him.

#3) Was a young man with a brief case full of receipts. He seemed
tired. He wanted to put down a large amount of mulch. I could tell
he had done this many times before and he knew what he was talking
about. He said he ran 2 crews in the Portland/Vancouver area. He
gave me his estimate after about 20 minutes.

The first estimate I got took my breath away! Even including the
delivery of the mulch, it seemed extremely high. The amount was about
4 times the amount I budgeted. The other 2 estimates were much more
in my ball-park. One with mulch and the other without. The second 2
offered either payment plans or senior discounts, and one said if you
don’t like my work, you don’t have to pay me.

You might have deduced by this time that I chose to hire #2. He was
competent, interested and he just struck a chord with me. I took 3
references from the last 2 people but confess that I did not contact
them. When I called to tell him, he was very grateful. He will be
doing the job in a couple of weeks. That is when we shall see if my
instincts were right.

So, some tips: Know what you want and stick to it; Talk to neighbors
or friends for their experiences and references; Contact the local
high school or community college if they have a horticulture program;
keep meticulous records of all contacts; Be sure to have a number of
contacts and Do let your instincts instruct you. I’ll let you know
the results in a few weeks. Thanks to the members of my Aging in the
Garden class for many of the suggestions.

Nadine Black

I have to add that Joy Creek has a wonderful maintenance crew.  Nadine didn’t consider them, but I feel like I will get in trouble if I don’t mention it. And I will probably be giving them a call myself!

Hydrageas in Bloom

In case you missed the Hydrangea tour and talk with Maurice last weekend, here are a few highlights.

PHydrangeaMacMerritSupreme#2071201The crowd favorite of the tour was ‘Merritt’s Supreme’.  This Hydrangea is in the macrophylla family which includes plants with the classic mophead flower shape. The color in our garden is especially striking, being an intense blue fading to purple. Remember, hydrangea’s will change flower color with different soil pH: 5.0-5.5 for blue flowers and 6.0-6.5 for pink flowers. Here in the NW our soils tend towards lower, more acidic pH levels due to the high rainfall which leaches out water-soluble minerals like calcium, which raise soil pH. To keep your soil even more acidic, try adding coffee grounds, fine bark dust or sawdust around your plants.

The group also looked at the less common Hydrangea aspera. The latin ‘aspera’ means “rough-textured” and refers to the downy underside of the leaves. The aspera complex of hydrangeas is rich in species and selections of underused shrubs for our borders. We have several in our collection. PHydrangeaAsperaMacrophylla#2071701Hydrangea aspera ‘Macrophylla’ (Big-leaf Chinese Hydrangea) is an exceptionally attractive large shrub. It recently gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.  The lacecap flowerheads are proportionate in scale and domed. Good-sized, antique white sterile florets encircle the sizable, fuzzy looking cluster of fertile florets. The “macro” leaves referred to in the cultivar name are a good 10 inches in width and are covered with a felt-like layer of fine hairs. This felting is echoed in the young wood as well where new growth is similar to the velvet on a deer’s antlers.   pHydrangeaasperavarvillosa072209 Hydrangea aspera var. robusta is magnificent and somewhat mysterious in appearance.  This selection of Hydrangea aspera has immense wooly leaves that are just shy of a foot long and five inches wide. Purple leaf petioles add to the allure of the plant. In addition, the matte green leaves recurve along their edges as if trying to imitate the rounded shape of the large, six-inch lace-cap inflorescences. The fertile flowers are lavender pink and fuzzy in appearance. They are surrounded by white sterile florets consisting of four (occasionally 3 or 5) sepals. The flowering stems are covered in velvet like that on deer’s antlers. The rust colored bark on the older branches defoliates much as birchbark does.

Overall it was a fantastic tour and a unique opportunity to spend a few hours with Joy Creek Nursery owner, Maurice Horn in the garden.

Looking forward to next week’s class ‘Cuts from the Garden’ with our plant propagator, entomologist and plant pathologist,  Leslie Glover. She will talk about ways to use all aspects of your garden to create beautiful cut flower arrangements. Hope to see you there!

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Hydrangea Tour ~ with Maurice Horn

Sunday, July 5, 2014 1:00PM at the nursery

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Hydrangea ‘Sensation’

Once again, Maurice is going to lead a tour through the garden to look at our Hydrangea collection.  Joy Creek Nursery houses a large collection of hydrangeas, not only the showy mop-head and lacecap types that are familiar to the public but also less common species, climbing forms and close hydrangea relatives. Many of these shrubs are more than 20 years old in the garden and will be at their best in July. This tour is designed to acquaint gardeners with the large variety of hydrangeas that are available and to teach good cultural practices.

Free and open to the public.

Dress appropriately for the weather.

There is a $10.00 class fee for ‘CEH’ Certification.

For details visit http://www.joycreek.com/education.htm