“We can grow more plants in the Pacific Northwest than anywhere else in the world except for the tropics”. Is it any wonder why new arrivals to the South Sound are completely confused? We have too many choices! It can be pretty overwhelming. I don’t know many gardeners who can get along without Sunset Western Garden Book and Right Plant, Right Place. They’re a little “common” but they’re common because they’re reliable.
Blue Poppy Alert
If you were lucky and rich enough to purchase a Himalayan Blue Poppy in the springtime, now is the time to make sure that it will come back and you’ll still have it next spring. Assuming it was watered and fertilized and you fended off the slugs all summer, now is the time to assure success and see that beautiful blue flower next May. When the foliage dies back, slug bait it again and then cover it with an inverted terra cotta pot. This keeps the crown dry. Snow keeps them dry in the Himalayas. We have terra cotta.
As if we didn’t already have enough horticultural numbers to memorize…USDA zones…Sunset zones…now there are some new ones. They’re called Heat Zones. So, you might start seeing an extra set of numbers following the cold hardiness zone numbers. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that our USDA zone 7 is the same as the USDA zone 7 in, say…Little Rock, Arkansas. Well, it isn’t. The USDA hardiness zones are for cold hardiness but have nothing to do with heat. The new heat zone map is a product of the American Horticultural Society. Just for fun, check out both. For instance, zipcode 98406 (Tacoma) is 7b (cold hardiness), 3(heatzone). Zipcode 77210 (Little Rock, AK) is 7b (cold hardiness) and 9 (heatzone). Quite a difference!
Autumn is bulb planting time but it’s also the very best time to plant shrubs, trees and perennials. The soil is still warm and the rains are coming. If you can find fall vegetable starts, try some of those. It’s the easiest gardening you’ll ever do. There is even a book about it, Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest by Binda Colebrook, Sasquatch Books.
The first hybrid tea rose, “La France” was developed in 1867. Any rose before that is considered an “old rose” and any rose after 1867 is considered a modern rose. Old roses are easy to propagate from cuttings and now is a great time to do it. Cut a healthy stem section about 6” long, remove the leaves and put about 2” of the stem in soil, vermiculite, sand or a mix of all three. Put it outside where it can get plenty of rain and forget-about-it. The success rate for Fall rose cuttings is about 90%. Old roses are much easier to start than hybrid teas. Generally, the newer the rose the more difficult it is to propagate by cuttings.
Column reprinted with permission, Premier Media Group, South Sound Magazine, Tacoma, WA