Message from Anne
What a fantastic summer and fall we've had in the Pacific Northwest! I knew it was highly unusual when we did not receive any drenching rain in late August or early September. Now the Portland area has entered the record books for the driest 3 month period in the last 125 years!
With a summer like this it's good to talk about irrigation issues and begin thinking of changes you may want to make in your own garden next season. Possibly you've never had a system installed or maybe, like us, you have a system that needs upgrading. Irrigation systems have gotten very sophisticated just like many other devices. The newest systems are linked to weather satellites and can time the watering schedule based on rainfall. Though the devices can sense many things you will still need to consider your soil conditions when setting the timer on your system. With the clay soils here in the Willamette Valley, it is critical to water for shorter durations and run two cycles of the system within a short time period. This allows the water to penetrate without running off during the first run then to penetrate further on the second cycle. This can save money on your water bills and make for healthier plants with the water reaching into the root zone. About 7 years ago we activated some drip lines into areas of the garden I had previously hand-watered. The difference in plant vigor was dramatic with drip watering over hand-watering due to better penetration of the clay soil.
The prominent thing I've noticed in our garden this summer is high growth rates for perennials in particular. You will see from some of the photos how tall the perennial border grew this year and the star was Helianthus, 'Lemon Queen'. It grew to almost 11 ft tall and has been in full bloom since July. If you have room at the back of your borders this is a 'must have' perennial that grows with almost no care. Eupatorium or Joe Pye weed (all varieties), Japanese anemones, Polish Amaranth and Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva' were also beautiful. The other star performers were the hardy Fuchsia's which began blooming in June as the mild winter of 2011-12 left their stems intact in stead of frozen to the ground. We and the humming birds have appreciated the extra long show from these outstanding bloomers. If you haven't added them to your garden consider doing so for next season. When planting them be sure to site the root of the plant at least 4-6 inches under ground which will help keep them hardy. Even if the plant dies to the ground the roots stay viable and sprout new shoots the following spring.
Fall clean-up and pruning time are upon us. Gary and I are completing some thinning out on some of our medium sized trees. It's easier to see the structure of the tree while the leaves are still intact. The borders are still quite beautiful and I love to leave them up to catch the frosts that will come. We hope you've enjoyed a great growing season and hope you can visit us in the garden in 2013. We will have some big changes to share with you.