Saturday, September 11, 2021


So many words in a botanical glossary, some are easy to pronounce, others can be a bit of a tongue-twister.  Whether we use them or not is not important.  What is important is that when we hear or see them written we can feel a little smarter than we were.  We may just need to jog our brain a bit to remember we really have heard them before.

ALLELOPATHY  The excretion by some plants of compounds from their leaves and/or roots that  inhibit the growth of other plants. 

APOSEMATIC  The characteristic, such as a color, odor or other markings, some insects have to serve as a warning to predators that it's toxic and they should stay away.  Red, yellow, black and white are the most common colors.

CANDELABRUM  A strong dominate rose cane with accelerated growth that originates from a bud union and explodes with many blooms.

Ligularia dentata
DENTATE  Having a toothlike or serrated edge that projects outward, such as a dentate leaf or root.  French lavender (Lavandula dentata) and ligularia (Ligularia dentata) have dentate leaves.

ENTOMOPHILY  When plants are pollinated by insects, that process is called entomophily.  Both insects and plants benefit from pollination,.  As they travel from flower to flower, insects gather nectar as a food source, at the same time spreading pollen to other flowers, which aids in plant reproduction.

EPINASTY  An abnormal downward-curving growth or movement of a leaf, leaf part, or stem.

ETIOLATION  Development of yellow, long, spindly growth on a plant as a result of insufficient light.

Fasciation of a Rose
FASCIATION  Distortion of a plant that results in thin, flattened, and sometimes curved shoots.  Can affect asters, geraniums, primroses, and lilies.  May be caused by a bacterial or viral infection.  Can return but doesn't spread.

GLAUCOUS  Covered with a grayish, bluish, or whitish waxy coating that is easily rubbed off.  Blue spruce needles are an example of glaucous leaves.

HAUSTORIUM  A modified hyphal branch (a single fungus filament ) of a parasitic plant.  Grows into a host plant's cell to absorb food and water.  Writer's note--not all of nature is warm and fuzzy!

INDEHISCENT  Not bursting open at maturity to release seed.  Green beans, grapes are examples.

MESOPHYLL  A leaf's inner tissue, located between the upper and lower epidermis, where raw materials (carbon dioxide and water vapor) are held for use in photosynthesis.

PEDUNCLE  The main stem supporting a cluster of flowers (as opposed to a pedicel, which is the stem of an individual flower). 

PLEACH  To intertwine branches of trees, vines, or shrubs to form an arbor or hedge.

REMONTANT  A plant that has the ability to produce flowers more than once in a growing season .  It is common for modern roses (Rosa hybrids) to bloom from spring through fall.  In other plants such as hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp) and bearded iris (Iris hybrids) it is less common but much coveted.

THIGMOTROPISM  The ability for vines to find something to grab onto--plants can detect and respond to solid objects.  Climbing plants and vines use  tendrils to twine around solid objects to gain support.  That has always been one of my "wonders of nature"--how did they know how to do that!

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Garden All Year: Build a Cloche" segment on Tues Sept. 21 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 a.m.

Saturday, August 28, 2021


All it (motivation) takes is the arrival of a large dumpster delivered to your side yard by your local disposal company.  At the request of a family member, I might add.  But that's another story.

I live on 2 acres so there has been ample space  during the past 30 years to "save" in case we might need it.  Who knows when you may need dozens of cut off pieces of PVC pipe ranging from 4 inches in length to 12 inches?

Moving on---the dumpster arrived and the family went to work carting half rotten plywood scraps, short pieces of 2 x 4"s, the PVC pieces, a pair of sawhorses that had been scheduled for repair 10 years ago, a wooden step ladder I was going to use for garden art many years ago.  Eventually the dumpster was filled to the brim.  

What a release it was.  However, my family has now created a Dumpster Monster who is almost ready to dump anything that isn't nailed down.  I've got the fever and am ready to dump.  I have always

recycled as much as possible and I will still move forward with that philosophy.  However there is so much  accumulated stuff from over the years that can't be recycled, some because of restrictions, some because  "make do, or do without" is no longer a household golden rule.

Now that the "boneyard" is cleaned up under the massive juniper tree across the ditch, I have to start on my passion of saving gardening magazines.  

I subscribe to four gardening magazines with the justification of needing them for continued research information.  The plain truth is I love the beautiful photography, the wisdom of the garden gurus, the pictorial visits to botanical gardens, plus the new research developments from non-commercial sources.

The new plan for my new life is to have breakfast every morning with one magazine from the stash.  I peruse the pages one last time removing anything that seems of value and then take the magazine directly to the recycle basket.  Before the end of the day I will give a second look to what was saved asking the question, "Does this REALLY apply to Central Oregon"?  The answer usually results in tossing several of the items.  

The process of purging and tossing is very therapeutic.

The next chapter will be the pleasure of sharing what is appropriate, either in the blog or the basis of an article for the scheduled newspaper articles. 

A good example of why it's important to have a second read of what I saved involves a tip regarding wine corks.

The tip was to save the wine corks and put them in a mesh produce bag.  When planting a large container in the spring you use the bag of corks for a lightweight filler.  At the end of the season, you hose off the dirt and save for next year.  Another tip was to use the corks as a top dressing mulch in a container.  Although the tips sounded reasonable in the beginning, I became more skeptical the more I thought about them.

I have been told that wine corks for the most part nowadays, are man made, not natural.  How do they make them?  What chemicals could leach into the soil, the root system?   Needless to say, that tip went into the recycle basket.

Perhaps the years of "research-based" master gardener training makes Master Gardeners more skeptical.  We are more comfortable with facts, not cutesy window dressings.  The moral is if you come across a tip think twice before implementing it.  Think WWMGD--What would Master Gardeners do?

Mark your calendar for the next Gardening: Get Good at It "Roses in Central Oregon" segment on Tues. August 31 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 a.m. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021


you plant herbs that don't get along very well with other plants?  The simple answer is they fight for their space and resources in the garden.  The question came to my mind after reading that rosemary is a bad companion to tomatoes.

WHOOPS!!  I have grown rosemary in my greenhouse in the same bed as my tomatoes for at least 15 years.  It was a puzzle as I had never noticed any problems whose origin I could correlate to the relationship between the rosemary and the tomatoes closest to the rosemary.

After much thinking of, was it this or was it that, the only answer I could come up with is that I had mixed two plants with different water requirements.  Rosemary needs a Mediterranean climate of sunlight and dry soil.  Tomatoes also need lots of sunlight but more water.  Because of the greenhouse conditions of  high humidity and air circulation, I have always been frugal with the watering so generally don't have fungal or disease problems with the tomatoes.

The exercise took me to checking the herbs I have planted to learn more about the good, bad and the ugly features of each.

Cilantro draws beneficial insects into the garden-deters aphids, potato beetles, and spider mites.  Benefits beans and peas when planted closely.  Good companions are basil, tansy, yarrow, lavender, dill, spinach, tomatoes.  Bad companion is fennel.

Lavender needs full sun, attracts pollinators and is most valuable planted near the vegetable patch.  It makes an excellent companion for roses.  Lavender is valued in Central Oregon as a deer-resistant plant. Lavender is a Mediterranean herb.  Good companions include rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano and thyme., all of which do well in pots.  Bad companions would be moisture-loving herbs and plants.

Parsley can be a little tricky to germinate.  Asparagus is believed to benefit the most out of all the veggies planted near it.  Parsley has the reputation of getting along well with roses.  Planted around the base of roses, it is said to enhance the fragrance of the flowers.  Parsley flowers attracts hoverflies, which eat harmful insects including aphids and thrips.  The plant is a favorite of swallowtail butterfly caterpillars as well.  Good companions include beans, basil, cilantro, radish, tarragon, tomatoes.  Bad companions include mint, lettuce.


Sage deters pests such as cabbage moth, bean beetle and carrot fly.  Attracts beneficial insects and pollinators, which helps the whole garden.  Good companions include beans, cabbage, carrots, peas, rosemary, strawberries.  Bad companions include basil, cucumbers, onions.

Thyme is the perennial herb that appears to be everyone's friend.  Thyme is able to protect companion plants from cabbage worms, corn earworms, tomato hornworms and flea beetles.  Attracts beneficial pollinators such as honeybees.  Good companions include rosemary, lavender, oregano, sage, cabbage, potato strawberries, Brussels sprouts.  Bad companions are listed as none. 

What is the difference between an herb and a spice?  Many people use the the terms interchangeably, but there is a difference that distinguish one from the other.  Herbs are obtained from the leaves of plants that do not have woody stems.  They tend to thrive in more temperate climates and can be used fresh or dry.  Spices can be obtained from woody or non-woody plants and are always dried before use.   Except for the leaves, all other parts of the plant are spices, including the seeds, fruits, flowers and bark.  Spices are usually native to hot, tropical climates.

All these definitions mean that the same plant can be both an herb and a spice.  Cilantro is a good example.  Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander leaves and because of this, cilantro could be classified as an herb.  Dried coriander seeds (a spice) are frequently used in cooking, making it completely legitimate to refer to coriander as either an herb or a spice, just depends on what part of the plant you are using.

Dill you know department.: dill derives its name from the Old Norse word "dilla, meaning "to lull."  The oil derived from the seed has long been used to soothe colicky babies and settle adult digestive upsets.  Ancient Romans wove the yellow flowers into wreaths that served double duty in their banquet halls.  In addition to their beauty, the flowers had a unique aroma which was fresh and spicy.  Perhaps we would be better off using dill flowers rather than plug-in or spray room fresheners for our homes.

Just a thought.

Be sure to mark your calendar to listen to Gardening: Get Good at It "Spiders" segment on Tues. August 17 on KPOV 88.0FM between 9-9:30 a m



Saturday, July 24, 2021


Wickiup Reservoir

A recent news clip on local TV stopped me in my tracks with a big "WHAT?"  The newscaster went on to explain if the Deschutes River water level reaches a certain level, perhaps in August, Parks and Recreation will have to cease irrigating major public parks.  First and most alarming would be Drake Park in downtown Bend.  Think of your favorite park and it would probably be included.  How could this be?  Bend has always had the reputation for inviting green, grassy, mind refreshing public parks.

Yucca in Bloom


The news clip ended with short interviews of two residents, one from California and the other from Arizona, who both said brown grass in the summer was the norm for them.  We have much to learn in how to accept changes, even in our gardening.

I'm not sure if I've gone through another "quarantine" eye-opener, but it seemed when I was out and about doing errands that I was seeing a greater number of yucca plants either in full bloom or just starting to open.  All were well kept with last years brown leaves trimmed off .  To me it indicated that the homeowner was intentional with the planting and proud to show it off. Curiosity led me to call a nursery and inquire if they had any yucca plants.  "No, all sold out" was the answer with the added comment that more were due in the next plant shipment.

Maybe we are changing our thinking and becoming more conscious of water consumption and not taking our water for granted.  Maybe we are starting to set a different criteria for our garden purchases.  Maybe instead of grabbing up what is newest, biggest and most popular we are thinking more about water-wise and fire resistant choices.

Plant developers are faced with two specific conditions and challenges.  They are on the hunt for new plants that can withstand dry conditions and that will offer interest suited to smaller gardens and landscapes.  Emphasis is leading towards finding varieties of agaves and yucca.

The noticeable difference between agave and yucca plants is the shape of the leaves.  Yucca leaves tend to be long and slender often compared to the shape of swords.  Agave leaves stand out because of the spikes that run along the edge of the leaves.  Yucca is featured in both the Water-Wise and the Fire Resistant OSU Extension Publications.

Yuccas make a great low maintenance screen or garden accent, especially when the plant flowers.  I have three and finally one bloomed last year and again this year.  The other two are alive and well but not blooming.  Unfortunately I didn't record the year they were planted but I did learn that yuccas only bloom when they reach a certain age of maturity--still have research to do on that.  Regular fertilization and trimming encourage flowering.  Adding phosphorus-rich fertilizer or bone meal encourages flowers to form.

When I drive from Bend to Redmond on Deschutes Market Rd. and see fields not being irrigated I think maybe it is time to have a second look at the Water-Wise and Fire Resistant publications to make wiser purchases.  Our agriculture community needs all the support they can get.

Mark your calendar to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It Season Extension Techniques segment on Tues. August 3 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 a.m. 

Saturday, July 10, 2021


The opening of the Plant Clinic to the public on a face-to-face basis is indeed an exciting time, makes us feel we are coming alive .  However, we can't help but feel a little "rusty".  Some of the best knowledge exchanges in the past have taken place with hands in the dirt working next to someone in the demo or community gardens. We helped problem solve among the group which often led to understanding the problems that might be coming into the clinic.  But with the social distancing even those conversations were somewhat limited.

The unusual heat dome we have been experiencing will have caused damage that generally we aren't familiar with.  Perhaps a review of the problems that are created by abnormal heat, dry winds and low soil moisture would be a good scenario to review. 

Several of my tomato plants have bleached white areas on their leaves.  That is definitely an abiotic
condition caused  by the extreme heat and dry conditions. referred to as leaf scorch.   I'll remove the leaves and all will be well.  The condition of spotting on the leaves to the client could spark the thought that maybe it's a terrible fungus.  This is when all the basic questions are asked as to the culture provided-plant location, watering, fertilizing, what should the plant look like.  In the case of the leaf scorch, it is pretty straight-forward as to what it was, but if it would have had a few other problems, the answer might have been different.  You never really know until you fit all the pieces of the puzzle together, (then sometimes, you still have to call for help from Toni!)

It will be interesting to track the problems that do come into plant clinic this year.  Probably with the heat and no rain there will be concerns over the tips of evergreens turning brown or conifers suffering from needle drop.

I kept a copy of a report in response to a problem and samples that were sent to the Plant Pathology Lab in 2014.  Plant clinic number: E14-2089 to be exact.

The client who lived on Wells Acre Rd. came in with some "white worms found on her driveway next to lawn in a rain puddle on 9/26/2014".  They were a total mystery to everyone  so it was decided to send them off  to OSU.

The Faculty Research Assistant identified the worms as Enchytraeid worms, also called pot worms.  The researcher wrote, "Enchytraeid worms are small, white worms that most often live in soil with a lot of organic matter.  They feed on bacteria, fungi, and decaying organic matter and are perfectly harmless.  They may have washed or crawled out of the lawn and ended up in the rain puddle on your driveway."

So--now you know.  If we ever get any rain and these little guys decide to spend time on someone's driveway and the client comes in all panic struck, you can calmly tell them the rest of the story!!

I am planning that the subject of my next article for the Bulletin will be on utilizing the services of the OSU Master Gardeners Plant Clinic.  I plan to emphasize the importance of providing complete information and what that info should include.

We need to give the community a wake-up call that we are alive and well, and willing to solve problems!!

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Clematis" segment on Tues. July 20, on KPOV 88.9FM between 9-9:30 am


Saturday, June 26, 2021


The excitement started about June 9,  with a dogwood in a gallon container awaiting it's planting out to the landscape.  All that changed when I spotted chewed leaves and realized I had work to do finding the answer to "whodunit".

I spent time going through Cranshaw's "Garden Insects of North America" chapter on leaf eating insects.  Although it didn't look exactly right, I was leaning towards a white-lined sphinx caterpillar.

Just like Superwoman, who should stop by in times of stress, the friend to all, enemy to no-one--MG, Toni.  I shared my discovery.   Toni went home and started researching also.  She discovered that the caterpillar has variations in color ranging from black to yellow and also variations in patterns from straight stripes to complicated patterns of dots and dashes.  We agreed that it was probably a  white-lined sphinx moth.

I watched the caterpillar eat its way up, down, and all around the dogwood.  On June 17 I looked and looked through the plant and found no trace  of the critter.  I checked the surrounding area thinking maybe it fell off a branch but found nothing.  My assumption was that it decided it was time to pupate and was somewhere in the soil.  

While this was going on in the gallon size black nursery pot on the floor of the sunroom, things were happening in my hanging basket of fuchsia.  A friend was admiring how delicate and complex the fuchsia flower is and commented, "Oh look, the plant has a companion."   

Yes, wonderfully hidden under the foliage was another white-lined sphinx caterpillar--the same but different.  This one had different markings and was larger.  Both had the distinctive feature of the caudal horn on the posterior part of their body.  I tracked the critter daily.  One day it was stretched the length of the branch and I was able to measure it at over 3.75 inches.

On June 23 I couldn't find it so I assume it was time to drop down into the soil and pupate for 2 weeks.  They emerge in midsummer and begin the second generation. 
The white-lined sphinx caterpillar matures into the sphinx moth.  Also called Hawk Moth or Hummingbird Moth.

The moth, Hyles lineata is a color combination of dark olive-brown, silver-gray with streaks of creamywhite, deep pink and black.

I have had my fair share of experiences with damage to my tomato plants by the tomato hornworm.  When I saw the posterior horn on the first caterpillar, I panicked as that is one of the tell-tale signs of a tomato hornworm.  The major difference is the tomato hornworm is bright green with 7-8 V-shaped white lines on their back, plus they are much larger than either of my caterpillars could hope to be.      Their Latin name is Manduca quinquemaculata. 

Tomato Hornworm

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Small Space Gardens" segment on Tues. June 29 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Who Has the Greater Need for CPR----

the plant or the gardener?  When the nighttime temperatures register between 32 degrees F and 43 degrees F six days into June, you can't help but think Mother Nature needs help.

The personal hands-on experience of failure and success is our most impactful teacher, although sometimes fraught with heartaches.

From the time of our arrival to Central Oregon in 1978 until early 2000, Dick and I maintained the tradition we grew up with--plant your garden on Memorial Day weekend or you might as well forget having a garden.  We rolled out black plastic in April to warm the soil which we rolled up at planting time.  Lots of unnecessary work but by the traditions we knew, no respectable gardener would plant through the plastic.

By 2000 we were running out of the steam for all the prep work and started reassessing our procedures.  We weren't ready to give up the massive vegetable garden.  We learned to start working smarter.

Instead of trying to keep up with warming the soil, etc. we bought a soil thermometer and relied on the information available at the OSU Extension and eventually the OSU "Growing Vegetables in Central Oregon" publication to do in-ground seed sowing and seedling transplanting.

This meant possibly not planting-in-ground until the second or maybe even the third week of June.  (I can hear some of you gasping).  By then the soil is a more consistent 60 degrees F.  We quickly learned that planting later gave us better, stronger results with much less work.

Fast forward to the spring of 2021 and the extremely hot days in early June that slid into the very chilly days and cold nights we have recently experienced.  I was again grateful that very few new plants were in the ground.

A frost in Central Oregon at anytime during the summer isn't uncommon.  Think ahead and plan what you can grab if the 6:00 news predicts a frost.  The best covering is the row cover available at the Extension office,  an old sheet is also acceptable, but definitely not plastic.  Plastic actually draws in the cold.

Here is what you might experience when frost is predicted.

29 to 32 degrees F:  Light freeze with damage limited to tender plants.

25 to 28 degrees F:  Moderate freeze.  Many plants experience some damage but will regain growth.

24 degrees F and colder.  Severe freeze.  Most plants experience heavy damage.

Hope you raise your hands and do a happy dance in gratitude for recent rains with hopes they will continue for a few more days.

Check out Gardening: Get Good at It "Bug Trivia" segment on Tues. June 15 on KPOV  88.9 FM between 9-9:30 am.