National Fire Prevention Week

October 8-14 is National Fire Prevention Week. Everyone needs to have an escape plan – Every second counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!

• Practice home fire drills twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home and practice using different ways out.
• Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
• Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
• Close doors behind you as you leave – this may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.
• Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.Fire_know 2 ways out.png

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Horticulture Report: Japanese Painted Fern

Plant Name: Athyrium niponicumjapanese painted fern
Common Name: Japanese Painted Fern
Plant type: Fern – perennial
Height: 18-24 inches
Spread:   18-24 inches
Bloom Time:  N/A
Flower Color:  N/A – Prized for Foliage
Exposure: Full to part Shade: foliage color best in light shade
Soil Requirements: Humus-rich, well-drained soil
Water Needs: Regular watering, constant moisture
Attributes:   Dramatic foliage, Stands out in a shade garden,
Note: Feed regularly during growing season with a general purpose fertilizer. Cut back old fronds after new growth begins in spring.
Uses: Foreground foliage, Containers, Firewise plant, Asian/Zen Gardens, Houseplant, Woodland Garden, Cottage Garden.
Native to: eastern Asia
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-8

Horticulture Report: Foxtail Lillies

Plant Name: Eremuruseremurus isabellinus_foxtail lillies
Common Name: Foxtail Lily or Desert Candle
Plant type: Perennial bulb
Height: 3-7 ft
Spread:   1 ft
Bloom Time:  May-June
Flower Colors:  Dark Orange, Pink, Yellow, White, Apricot
Exposure: Full Sun
Soil Requirements: Well-drained fertile, sandy soil with compost
Water Needs: Average. Regularly, but do not over water
Attributes:   Dramatic flower spikes, Gray-green foliage,
Note: Low Maintenance, but eaten by slugs.  Plant in early spring on a mound of grit with the crown not far beneath the surface of the soil.
Uses:  Cottage Garden, Informal Garden, Tall Borders, Specimen plantings, Prairie plantings
Native to: Afghanistan and Turkistan
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Gardening Tips: Soil Conservation

This is the time of year when those giant paper bags full of fallen leaves start appearing on sidewalks around the country. This is also the time of year I drive around my neighborhood picking up those bags of leaves in my truck and spreading them throughout my garden beds.

The practice of removing our yard waste to landfills is enormously unsustainable:

  • We spend endless hours raking, blowing, and bagging the leaves that fall every year.
  • The use of leaf blowers is a source of noise pollution and air pollution, and uses large amounts of non-renewable fossil fuel.
  • These huge piles are hauled away by truck, using more gasoline and causing more air pollution.
  • Often this organic yard material is dumped into landfills, which destroys wildlife habitat.
  • Then we have mulch trucked in to replace the benefits of the leaves we just hauled away.
  • And we replace the nutrients that were freely available from the decomposition of those leaves with synthetic fertilizers, which are another petroleum product.

This cycle cannot be sustained without causing increasing damage to our environment. It is much more sustainable to manage this yard waste on our own properties.

Fortunately, this is very easy to do and also returns nutrients to the soil, provides habitat for many organisms, and ensures healthy plants.

I pile up these leaves in every one of my flower beds, sometimes it is more than two feet deep. In the spring I take a hand rake and loosen the leaves around my emerging plants, which hide the leaves during the growing season. By the time the next leaves fall, the old leaves have completely decomposed and the soil is ready for a new blanket.

Why do I do this?

  • There is a cycle of life contained in the leaf litter and we destroy many forms of wildlife every time we remove these leaves.
  • Many butterflies find shelter in the leaf litter, either in egg, pupal, or adult form, to safely wait out the winter and emerge in the spring.
  • Leaf litter provides food and shelter to an amazing variety of invertebrates who break down the leaves, which feeds the soil and other wildlife.
  • Healthy plants are dependent on healthy soil.
  • The deeper the leaf litter, the more spiders are supported. Spiders are an essential element in keeping pest insects in balance.
  • Leaf litter is also home to ladybugs, salamanders, toads, and other predators of pest insects. It is no wonder that pests like aphids thrive when we continue to destroy the habitat of the predators that would keep them under control.
  • Every spring these leaves are covered with birds who pick through the leaves in search of a tasty meal.
  • Trucked in mulch is not necessary when the leaves are left to cover the soil because the leaf litter acts as a natural blanket of mulch, controlling soil moisture and temperature.

I know there are many gardeners who cannot bear the thought of even one leaf creating a “mess” in their pristine garden beds. But it’s easy to tuck the leaves under your shrubs or in a back corner where they can work their magic and leave your sense of tidyness intact.

Or the leaves can be composted and then spread over your soil so at least the natural nutrients can be returned to the soil.

The benefits to your local wildlife far outweigh any need for neatness.

Horticulture Report: Calycanthus ‘Venus’

Plant Name: Calycanthus ‘Venus’Calycanthus Venus
Common Name: Sweetshrub
Plant type: Deciduous shrub
Height: 8-10 ft
Spread:   5-7 ft
Bloom Time:  May to July
Flower Color:  White,  with purple & yellow centers
Exposure: Full Sun or Part Shade (tolerates being almost in full shade)
Soil Requirements: Rich well-drained loam, but tolerates clay soil
Water Needs: Medium moist
Attributes:Showy Magnolia-like fragrant flowers, Glossy green leaves, Fall color
Note: Prune out root suckers to prevent spreading
Uses:  Hedge, Accent or Specimen Plant, Foundation Plantings, Cut Flowers, Naturalizing
Native to: Hybridized patented plant by Dr. Tom Ranney, North Carolina State University
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

 

 

 

(Available at Forest Farms Nursery, Williams Oregon)