Mary Fran McClure
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Welcome to 2013. Here we are putting up a brand-new calendar while here I am mulling over our habitual tendencies in gardening. We are comfortable planting similar varieties of flowers and vegetables year after year. Probably for good reason — these are the colors/vegetables/herbs we like. So, sameness has its advantages.
It seems too early as I write this, but shops are brimming with Christmas goodies and decor. Combine that with the fact that as we age, it takes longer to accomplish most anything. Put two and two together, and — wow, better get deciding on holiday gifts! So with that in mind, I’ve been visiting various local stores, picking up gift ideas for gardeners.
If your get-out-there-a-gardening juices are flowing ahead of tomato planting time, perhaps a dose of pea planting will sustain your impulses. Peas are cool-weather annuals taking only 55 to 70 days to harvest, depending on variety. Plant them now and you can be enjoying crunchy, fresh-picked vegetables by the end of May.
Towering, stately conifers gracing Ohme Gardens are impressive there, but would look out of place on a small home site. Trees in scale with their surroundings make a huge difference. Most lot sizes are a half-acre or less, with the home using a large part of that space. That means smaller trees are the ticket.
A compact garden that produces lots of food — that’s the concept of square-foot gardening. Let’s shorten the name to SFG. Coined by author Mel Bartholomew more than 20 years ago, it’s basically dividing raised beds into foot-sized increments and growing a quantity of vegetables or flowers in those small spaces.
With a fresh new year underway, welcome to these cold and blustery days of winter! Absent the luxurious growth and flamboyant color of the growing season, this is the perfect time of year for re-evaluating what’s in your landscape. January presents an entirely different picture — revealing the real structure of your landscape.
There are types of bamboo hardy enough for our climate, but don’t get too excited and run out and buy just any bamboo. It’s best to thoroughly understand the difference between the “runners” and “clumpers” — the two types of the some 1,400 bamboo species. Surprisingly, bamboo is a grass, although it varies from petite 2-foot-tall species to timber bamboo, reaching up to 100 feet tall.
Leaves shimmering in the breeze, brilliant golden fall coloring, fast growth — what more could one want from a tree? Above ground, aspens are pretty easy to enjoy; below ground, those invasive, suckering roots are a challenge, making aspens among the list of problem trees. Problem trees are just that — problems. Before buying that cute, little 4- or 5-foot tree at the nursery, do some homework and find out if its mature size fits your needs and it doesn’t have other drawbacks, such as suckering, diseases or brittle branches.
Powdery mildew, scorched leaves, brown spots in the lawn, anthracnose — have any of these headaches appeared in your landscape? These are among recent garden problems handled by the Master Gardener diagnostics clinic, where many similar questions come in batches. I recently visited a Monday clinic in the WSU Extension office and found four friendly folks handling diagnostics; Master Gardeners Linda Sarratt, Homer McNeill, Orv Vanderlin and intern Linda Morse. Clinics handle phone calls as well as walk-ins on Monday and Wednesday afternoons 1 to 4 p.m. at 400 Washington St.
English ivy is one of those plants we either love or hate — sometimes a bit of each. It grows quickly, offers a lush evergreen appearance and is easy to grow. The hate part is when it gets out of hand and sort of takes over the world (or at least the immediate yard). This Old World native was introduced to our Northwest, where it grows with abandon, especially on the cooler and wetter west side of the Cascades. Its aggressiveness transforms it into a weed that easily engulfs trees, yards, fences — even houses.