Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Sad News


Elizabeth (Liz) Douville 1936 - 2024
We mourn the loss of our great, dear friend but celebrate what a wonderful blessing it was to have known and been loved by her. We know she's in a happy place with her dear Dick "Coupe" Douville. 

Please scroll down to read and enjoy the five years of blog articles she wrote for us as a Master Gardener of 36 years. 

Saturday, February 24, 2024

The National Garden Bureau has declared 2024 as the Year of the Lily.  It has also named 2024 as the Year of the: African Violet, Squash, Angelonia (summer snapdragon), Buddleia and Hosta.

The genus Lilium contains about 100 species of true lilies.  But the common name "lily" has been attached to various trumpet shaped flowers.  These include day lily, peace lily, water lily, calla lily, canna lily and lily of the valley.  

I discovered that my Blackberry Lily is really a Belamcanda chinensis and a member of the iris family.  The magic machine also revealed that my Lily of the Valley actually belongs to the Asparagaceae (asparagus) family.  Yes, they both have trumpet shaped flowers.

A list of native Central Oregon lilies is available on the Deschutes Land Trust website.  The List includes:

Spotted Fritillary-common name: spotted mountain bells

Columbia Lily-common names: tiger lily, Oregon lily

Sagebrush Mariposa Lily
Subalpine Mariposa Lily-common name: mountain lily

Queen's Cup-common name: bead lily

Cascade Lily-common name: Washington lily 

Sagebrush Mariposa Lily-common name: green-banded lily

Check https://www.deschuteslandtrust.org for more information.

Many stories surround the history of the white lily some call the Easter Lily, others refer to it as the Madonna Lily.  It has always reflected purity-"being white without and gold within."  The stamens and pistils of the lilies on church altars were removed so they "remained virgin", in spite of Pliny's instructions for making them purple by soaking the bulbs in red wine.

In Ancient Rome the bulb was considered medicinal and ground to form poultice for wounds and sores.  Roman legions are reputed to have grown it near roadsides for the benefit of foot weary soldiers. 

We still have white "Easter" lilies and florists remove the stamens, partly, they claim, to prevent pollen making a mess and partly to make the gelded blooms last longer.  Then we get to the truth.  Our "Easter Lily", although white, is not the true Madonna lily but one of the Oriental lilies introduced in the nineteenth century.

Soon the potted Easter Lilies will be available at garden centers and you can enjoy them knowing a little history.

Saturday, February 10, 2024


 deer will be feasting as soon as you plant,

 then along comes the bunnies and they feast too.

Maybe the most valuable heart to heart gift for Valentines Day could be a book titled 'Creating a Deer & Rabbit Proof Garden' by Peter Derano.  The book features 159 deer/rabbit proof and deer/rabbit resistant plants with 400 full-color photos.

The Table of Contents includes chapters on Deer & Rabbit Proof/Resistant: Perennials, Grasses & Ferns, Bulbs, Tubers, Annuals, Vines, Ground Covers, Evergreen Trees & Shrubs, plus a list of Plants to Avoid.

The subject is another gardening puzzle to put together. Solving the puzzle requires sorting the wheat from the shaft.  In our garden jargon that means selecting choices that are appropriate for our USDA Climate Zone 5.

Deer-repellent sprays perform either through a scent or taste deterrent.  The scent activated deterrents last approximately five weeks and needs to be reapplied after each rainfall.  The taste-activated sprays gradually start to lose their effectiveness after the spray becomes dissipated throughout the plant which generally takes a few weeks. 

The best way of deterring rabbits is fencing.  A 2-1/2-foot fence constructed of common chicken wire or heavy nylon netting.  Run the fence around the bed with stakes every 8 inches.  It is important that the fence is buried a few inches below ground, so rabbits do not burrow under it.  

Distinguishing between deer and rabbit damage on plants is fairly simple to learn.  Deer damage will show jagged or torn edges on the stems left behind. 

Rabbit damage is a very neat, precise cut leaving no rough edges and is usually on a 45-degree angle.

A few suggestions from the book for new deer/rabbit resistant plantings might include the following:

Achillea-Fernleaf Yarrow is an interesting plant with both attractive and interesting flowers and foliage.

Yarrow is a medium-size perennial, best suited in the middle of a border or in a rock garden as a single specimen. Full sun, Water-Wise selection. Perennial.

Echinops-Globe Thistle is for those who like the unconventional.  The flowers are small individually but bloom in profusion as a sphere or globe shape.  Excellent cut flower.  Water-Wise selection. Perennial 

Heuchera-Coral Bells.  There have been so many hybrids offered in the marketplace these past few years. The plants are valued for the intense coloration of foliage.  Grows best in shade or partial shade.  Moderate water.  Perennial.

A few annuals to consider for your hopefully deer/rabbit resistant garden would be marigolds, ageratum, cleome and geranium.  

I do have an ongoing 30 year plus relationship with deer.  My expectations for a beautiful garden are somewhat different than 30 years ago. I'm fortunate, I have never seen any sign of a rabbit in our neighborhood--the deer have been enough to contend with.

Saturday, January 27, 2024


 more about a research project.

A news release from the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology in the College of Agricultural
Sciences at Oregon State University triggered the need-to-know button in my brain.

The news release involved studies being conducted at OSU involving the nutritional value of chia seeds, in addition to their ability to improve human health.  The researchers identified chia genes associated with improving nutrition and pharmaceuticals that could be used to treat many conditions from cancer to high blood pressure.

Researchers are hopeful of possible growth in Oregon where they say the growing conditions are similar to their growing conditions in Mexico and Guatemala.  Studies are undoubtedly being considered for the west side of the Cascades.  However, with climate change being a consideration in many areas, who knows what could happen in Central Oregon.

"Now we are at the point where long-term food and nutrition security requires diversifying the human diet by breeding and making genetic improvements to nutrient-rich, so-called, minor crops like chia," said Sushma Naithani, an associate professor, senior research in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology.

The global demand for nutrient-rich so-called orphan crops such as chia, millets and yam has increased in recent years.  In addition to their nutritional value, they are important because they can often grow on marginal land unsuitable for many traditional grain crops, which is an important asset considering climate change.

Remember back in the 1980's and the popularity of 'chia pets'?  Who would have thought the seeds would have greater success years later when they became known as a 'superfood' or functional food.  The terminology created more by the marketing sphere than by nutrition experts who understand that there is no magic bullet or replacement for a healthful diet that relies on a variety of nutritious foods.

Photo credit: Pankaj Jaiswal
Chia seeds come from the plant Salvia hispanica L, (Lamiaceae-mint family).  The seeds were cultivated as a major food crop in Mexico and Guatemala as early as 3500 BC, it was offered to Aztec gods in religious ceremonies.

Chia seeds are small, round and can be black, brown and white, there is no difference in their nutritional value.  They have little if any distinctive flavor so they don't compete with other flavors in a dish.  Seeds are often added as a functional ingredient to less nutritious items like baked pastries and snacks to improve their appeal to health-conscious consumers.

Sprinkle a few teaspoons into breakfast cereal (hot or cold), salads, soups, or stews.

Stir into salad dressings, sauces, marinades, or cake/muffin/bread batter.

Use chia gel as a thickener added to smoothies, puddings, and soups (stir the gel into these foods after they are prepped or cooked).  Check the internet for recipe ideas.

According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, two tablespoons of chia seeds contain about 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber 7 grams of unsaturated fat, 18% RDA for calcium, and trace minerals including zinc and copper.  

OSU past research has found:

Polyunsaturated fatty acids found in chia improve cardiovascular health and cholesterol and have anti-cancer properties.

Chia seeds' high fiber content helps stabilize blood glucose levels in type-2 diabetes patients and aid people with gastrointestinal-tract related diseases.

Photo: Pacific College of Health & Science
The protein content of chia seeds range between 16%-23%.  The protein content of other grains is less than 16%.  You can understand why chia development is becoming more important.

There are a few rare cautions when eating seeds.  Do not eat dry chia seeds.  Dry seeds eaten and followed by a glass of water will result in the seeds expanding in the esophagus and cause a blockage.
Also, if you have any digestive issues, check with your physician.

More  information: https://today.oregonstate.edu/news/new-study-eyes-nutrition-rich-chia-seed-potential-improve-human-health


Saturday, January 13, 2024


who the first female Botanists were? 

What prompted this subject you ask?  A few days ago, a friend share an article from the Wall Street Journal regarding developing new tomato varieties meant for processing into pizza sauces and ketchup that will survive on a fraction of their traditional water needs without sacrificing taste or juiciness.  Research is also being done to create hardier crops of less water-intensive rice and shorter corn that can handle higher winds.

The tomato research is being done in the Bayer pharmaceutical and agriculture testing facility in Woodlands CA.  The pictures featured women in the lab.  Certainly not an eye-opener in this day but it did make me wonder who the first females were to lead the way.

Jane Colden 1724-1746 can be considered America's First Female Botanist according to a New York Botanical Garden article written for Science Talk.  Colden was the daughter of the Lieutenant Governor of New York who was also a scientist and physician.  Colden was trained in the Linnaean system of plant nomenclature.  Linnaeus himself wrote--

"As this accomplished lady is the only one of the fair sex that I have heard of who is scientifically skillful in the Linnaean system, you, no doubt, will distinguish her merits and recommend her example to the ladies of every country."

Jumping forward to America's Progressive Era 1890-1920.  The 1920's was characterized by the Women's Suffrage Movement.  Although industrialization had increased, work opportunities were still limited. 

Jane Bourne Haines was inspired by the horticultural training of women in England and Germany.  Haines mission was to establish an institution that would be able to take their place in the male-dominated field of practical horticulture.  

Haines purchased 71 acres of farmland north of Philadelphia, recruited trustees, and instructors and on February 12, 1911, opened a school with 5 students.  Historic photos show students in their long black dresses climbing trees to do pruning and running through fields herding cattle.

Students at the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women began each day at 7:30 am and ended at 5:30 pm.  Their time was split between classroom learning and hands-on work in horticulture, botany, orchard care and livestock management.  After 45 years, in 1958 PSHW merged with Temple University, later becoming known as Temple University Amber Campus.

Carrie Lippencott 1863-?  One of the first women to establish a seed-selling business based in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1886.  Her full color images of women and children lounging amid beautiful flowers seemed to work.  She claimed to receive a quarter of a million catalog orders by 1898.

Ellen Biddle Shipman 1869-1950 was one of the first women to break into the male-dominated field of landscape architecture.  Her works include gardens at Duke University, Longue Vue Gardens in New Orleans and space at the New York Botanical Gardens

The list goes on and on and all are worthy of our praise and second thoughts.

Saturday, November 25, 2023


homemade and crafty.

The Jack-O-Lanterns have made their way to the compost pile.  You know what to do with the leftover leftovers, make soup, of course.   Now it's time to have some fun planning holiday decorations.

Last year I turned my tomato cage into a Christmas tree.  The directions have been in my file for many years.  It was either time to create the tree or throw the directions in the recycle bin. 

In tomato culture, the largest rim of the cage is at the top.  In creativity culture, the largest rim is the bottom.  The photo indicated a red metal cage had been used.  My cage had many years of faithful tomato support.  I decided it was time to give it a new life by wrapping all the rims in green yarn.  When all the rims are covered, you pull the legs together to form the top of the tree.

Wide wired ribbon is used to enhance the shape and give your tree a personality.  I did learn one thing.  The material I used was too stiff, and I couldn't create the draping effect that I wanted.  A better choice would have been a wired ribbon that was softer, like a taffeta ribbon.  I decorated the tree with favorite ornaments. You could also add some miniature lights; stores were all sold out last year.

The tomato tree inspiration I had was for a container porch or patio setting.  If you plan on using it outdoors in a container attach a bungee cord to the bottom ring from one side to the other.  Weight the cord down with bricks, pavers or rocks.

Holiday time can be an exciting time to recast your garden in new roles.  Pinecones can be dipped in wax or glue and sprinkled with glitter, then added to a basket of greens.  

Styrofoam balls from the craft store can turn into magical spheres with the help of Elmer's glue or a glue gun and a little imagination.  Maybe you have some garden seeds that you meant to plant a few years ago but are now expired.  Use the seeds to cover a ball, add some decorative rickrack or trimand you will have a one-of-a-kind treasure.  A moss-covered sphere doesn't mean you have to collect from the forest floor, craft stores have all you need.

Think of the grey branches of our rabbitbrush with just a touch of silver glitter and arranged in a burgundy, or other rich color container, can be an eyecatcher.   A bundle of small twigs wrapped together with a decorative trim can be just as attractive as a spendy bundle of cinnamon sticks. 

Gardeners can incorporate the love of gardening into holiday decorations.  Our resources are somewhat limited but with the spritz of some gold paint or a dab of glitter, the weeds we hate in the summer could possibly be the star of the winter.

Look outside and be appreciative of what we do have.  

Saturday, November 11, 2023


 last year's saved waxed Amaryllis bulb.

At the end of the 2022 holiday season, friends talked about cutting the spent Amaryllis bloom, removing the bulb from the soil and storing in a paper bag in the garage or a closet.

The "what if" side of the brain kicked in.  I decided to try the same process with the waxed Amaryllis bulb I had been gifted.  After blooming, the waxed bulb was put in a paper bag and stored in the garage.  On the first of November I brought the bulb in.  Then the question was "now what"?  I found the answer in a fact sheet from the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension from January 10, 2022.

The process starts with carefully removing the wax.  Try to leave as much brown covering on the bulb as possible.  The wax removal on the base can be a little delicate.  My bulb had actually started growing roots along the base so I was extremely careful not to damage the area where I could see growth.

Next step was to find a suitable container.  Suggestion was to use the lid of a bakery box from the store.  I am using a berry box.  A paper towel should be at least a double thickness and should be folded to fit.  The towel should be barely damp.  Place the container in a sunny window and monitor the towel dampness 
every few days.  After one-week, white roots are starting to appear.  When 4 or 5 roots are approximately 3 inches long, I'll transplant to container with potting soil.  The soil level should be just slightly below the top of the rounded part of the bulb.

Now that the recovery effort is under way, the wonder begins of how to turn a 2024 purchased bulb into a waxed Amaryllis bulb.

The magic machine knows everything.  I was hoping to find a research-based educational source.  What is available are blogs, some with more involved details than others.

The basic process is to soak the bulb in water for 4 to 6 hours, soak should only cover half the bulb.

Dry for approximately 2 hours.

Cut off the basil plate (the flat area where the roots will grow).  That will shock the bulb into a survival mode thinking that it is dying which forces it into trying to reproduce itself.  Let the bulb dry for a few hours. Regular household paraffin is used, also candle stubs.  Now you know why you saved the old candles.  Wax is melted in a double boiler (water in the bottom pan, wax in top pan), or in a clean tin can placed in a pan of water.  

Paint the wax on the bulb using a narrow brush or it can be dipped into the hot wax.  Process should be repeated several times for good coverage.  Application should be from the neck down covering the sides and the base.  Bulbs can be decorated with craft glitter, spray painted or gold leafed.

Place the bulbs in a warm area that receives sun to encourage growth.  Bloom time is 4 to 6 weeks.

Seems like we just put the gardens to bed and already we are thinking of Holiday decorations.  Time flies.