July 2013
Vol 3, Issue 3

Garden Notes
Garden Notes Logo Bird

Greetings from Christianson's!


"Live in each season as it passes;

breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit,

and resign yourself to the influence of the earth."


- Henry David Thoreau, Walden



The irony of writing about July is that I have to step away from nature, in all her breezy, blue-sky glory, and turn my attention to a blank white page. For a nature girl like me, this 'stepping away' is agony. Like a fish out of water, the minute I drag myself into the house, I can feel my vitality and inspiration draining away.


I've tried writing outside, but that's almost worse. There have been so many summer mornings when I've gone to the garden with coffee and notebook in hand but sure enough, one by one, those little weeds at the edge of the patio tickle my toes and, as my husband says, "that's all she wrote."  By late morning, I'm wading waist-deep in the catmint and lavender, still in my pajamas, and happily pulling weeds with my bare hands, oblivious to time beyond the garden.


July is filled with moments (and hours) like these, moments when we let go and lose ourselves in the natural world.  For months we've fussed with nature at arm's length - raking, shoveling, mulching, spraying, pruning. My garden graciously endures all my interventions, but come July, it reaches out and pulls me in. It's like being caught in the undertow of the ocean - and I love it.  In July, the house is just a house, but the garden is home, and there's no place I'd rather be.


Happy July, everyone!

Eve Boe, Garden Notes Editor


In This Issue
The Garden in July
Staff Picks
Class Calendar
Seasonal Specials
Fresh Ideas
Closing Thought
Quick Links

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The Garden in July
by Rachel Anderson


I was on my way out to the chicken coop one morning, when I noticed that the new growth on my apple tree was curled and distorted in the way that only an aphid infestation can do.  Usually aphids are on the bottom of my 'bad bugs' list, but when I stopped to take a closer look...YIKES!  This was bad! There were aphids in every color of the rainbow it seemed, and loads of them.  They were crawling all over each other and I saw that some had wings, which means that the population had become too large and it was time for some to move on to colonize somewhere else.  I felt that I had to do something quick - anything!  I contemplated all of my options as I was turning over leaf after leaf in alarm and growing disgust. 


Then something caught my eye that I had never seen before.  There were tiny golden orange ovals that looked like eggs neatly arranged in rows. These little ovals were all standing on end, maybe 30 of them, clustered on the underside of one of the leaves.  I peered closely at the other leaves and saw that there were indeed more just like the others.  I had a hunch as to what they were, and a little research confirmed my hopes - they were ladybug eggs!  I knew then what I had to do about my aphid problem - nothing at all.  Nature was going to take care of it for me!  How perfect is that?  A couple of days later I went out to inspect the eggs and aphids and, to my delight, there were tons of ladybug larvae all voraciously eating their aphid meals.  It was a beautiful sight and a great reminder to me that a little tolerance goes a long way, and that close observation in the garden is an excellent way to learn.


In the ornamental garden:


  • I think that the most important thing you can do for your garden in July is keep everything watered, especially if you have any new plantings (and I hope you do).  We have finally reached true summer in the Pacific Northwest, which means warm dry weather for a change.  Time your irrigation so that it happens early in the morning so as to minimize moisture loss due to evaporation later in the day.  If you're hand watering, early morning is a lovely time of day to be out in the garden and I always appreciate the quiet coolness before the day begins in earnest.  If you're ever in doubt as to whether you need to water or not, wiggle your ungloved fingers 4-5 inches down in the soil.  If it feels cool and moist, then you're probably okay, but if it's dry and crumbly all the way down then you need to water.  Try to keep water off the leaves and flowers of tomatoes and roses to help prevent disease problems.
  • Keep bird baths clean and filled with water.  The birds need water just as much as your plants.
  • Dead-head roses.  That is, remove the spent flowers to encourage more to come.  In fact, dead-head any repeat blooming perennials and annuals to keep the flowers coming.
  • Summer prune early flowering shrubs like forsythia, lilacs, and mock orange.
  • July is the perfect time to fertilize your roses after their initial flush of flowers. Side dress with a slow release organic fertilizer and a generous handful of alfalfa meal too.  Alfalfa meal, by the way, is a great source of nitrogen and other vitamins and minerals that roses seem to love!


In the edible garden:


  • Begin thinking about fall crops.  I know we just got into summer, but by planning ahead for fall you can ensure that you'll have something good to eat from the vegetable garden all winter long.  We have a great class lined up at the nursery on this very subject if you're interested in extending your vegetable gardening season. It's on Sunday, July 14, from 1 - 2 pm and it's called 'Vegetables for Winter' with popular author and speaker, Bill Thorness. More details are provided in the 'Class Calendar' section of this newsletter (below), and on our website
  • Remove any veggies that have bolted (that is, flowered).  If you're tight on space then this is a chance to clear some room for something new.
  • Keep the birds away from your berries with bird netting.
  • Make sure that any seeds you have sown recently don't dry out.  Keep the seedbed moist to ensure good germination.  If you're seeds have sprouted already, then you can prevent them from bolting too soon by ensuring soil fertility and adequate soil moisture.
  • Keep picking!  Many veggies will continue to produce if you continue to pick them.  Peas, beans, zucchini, and cucumbers are all like that.  If the fruit gets to be too large, then the plant feels that its job of procreation is complete and it begins to yellow and die.  So keep picking!  If you feel like you have more food coming from your garden than you know what to do with, consider sharing what you can't eat with friends and family or donating to a food bank or shelter.  They are always very grateful to receive fresh, seasonal produce.
  • Harvest garlic when the tops have yellowed.  Let them cure for a week or so in the garage before rubbing away any soil and loose papery sheathing.  I've learned that garlic keeps longer if it's kept attached to the tops, than if the tops are cut off.  If you've got lots, then store it in a cool dark place.


Hopefully the warmth of summer and the beauty of your garden will lure you outside to your favorite chair with a good book and a tall glass of something tasty and cold.  The hard work is done for now and it's time to relax and enjoy.


 To download a printable copy of this article, click here  

Rachel has been gardening since childhood, thanks to her mom, and has been part of the team at Christianson's since 2002.  She's a Certified Professional Horticulturist with a passion for roses and vegetable gardening.  Rachel and her family enjoy gardening together and now share their urban garden with a menagerie of ducks, chickens, two cats, and a dog.

Staff Picks


This month our 'Staff Picks' come from Matt Groff, a Christianson's staff member since 1994. After doing landscape work in Seattle, Matt went to Western Washington University in Bellingham and earned his B.S. in Environmental Studies. It was during his time at Western that he came to work at Christianson's. In addition to his work at the Nursery, Matt has a commercial landscape and lawn maintenance business.

Matt with 'Jersey' blueberry
(photo taken in mid-June)


Throughout his career, Matt has had a passion for native plants and follows the practice of 'permaculture,' an approach to landscaping that advocates self-maintained agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems. Matt believes that when we use native plants and do things in natural, sustainable ways, plants are healthy and naturally low maintenance (without the need for spraying and other interventions). As he says, "the plants know what to do." 


Part of the permaculture approach involves incorporating veggies and fruit trees and shrubs into the ornamental landscape. For example, huckleberries and blueberries can easily be added to the residential perennial garden. These are native plants with lovely foliage and flowers, and they also produce fruit. To learn more about permaculture, click here 



Here are a few of Matt's favorite picks for July:


Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa):

Chokeberry is native to the northeast United States but it's easy to grow here in our region. They like full sun and grow to about 3 - 5', spreading to 2 - 4'. Once established, they are drought tolerant. In the spring, the bush is covered in a lovely profusion of little white flowers, followed by little blueberries (which are great for attracting birds). The berries aren't great for eating because they have a leathery skin, but they are excellent for juice because they are very high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Best to use a press, not a juicer, because of the tough skin.   


Chokeberry bush in mid-June
Chokeberry blossoms



Most blueberries are self-fertile but you will get the best results if you plant a mixture of different varieties, including an early, middle and late-season variety. For example, 'Duke' starts bearing fruit in mid-July, 'Blue Crop' will be producing in late July or early August, and 'Jersey' will come on in mid-August.


Here are a couple of my favorite blueberry picks:


  1. 'Jersey' - This is my all-time favorite. It's one of the sweetest berries there is with overtones of cinnamon and nutmeg. The berries are small but that's why they are so good. Many people like the bigger blueberries but I think they are less flavorful. The smaller the berry, the more concentrated the flavor. Be sure to let these berries really ripen on the bush. Another cool thing about 'Jersey' is that it has yellow twigs so it's pretty in winter.
    'Pink Lemonade'


  1. 'Pink Lemonade' - This is a new variety and I have to admit I was a bit skeptical but man - these are delicious berries! The berries are actually pink and taste like lemonade. Very tasty and unusual. In addition to the great berries, the bushes have really nice foliage and are semi-evergreen.





Evergreen huckleberry 'Thunderbird'

Evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum):

This is a northwest native and, with its little bell-shaped flowers (similar to pieris), it's quite attractive and can be used as an alternative to rhododendrons. Evergreen huckleberries are easy to grow and will do well in part-shade (in the woods you'll find them growing on old rotten logs). One of my favorites is 'Thunderbird' because of its attractive reddish new growth in the spring (also a feature of pieris) and a profusion of soft pink flowers.


Red deciduous huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium)

The foliage is not as pretty as the Evergreen huckleberry but I think the berries are tastier.


Matt and a baby Giant Redwood
(Sequoiadendron giganteum)

Here are a few of Matt's favorite trees:

One of my quirks is that I love deciduous conifers, including the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), Larch (Larix decidua), and Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum).    


I also love the Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum), which is the largest living organism in the world and the king of the plant world. This tree is native to California but it does well here. There are many amazing things about these trees...too many to list here. Given their size, they may not be practical in many residential landscapes, but they are magnificent trees and deserved special mention in my 'top picks' list.  

  Click here to learn more about Giant Redwoods



And last but not least, this is one of Matt's very favorite gardening books:

Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Arthur R. Kruckeberg. 


Join us on Saturday, September 14, from 11 am - noon,

as Guest speaker Ani Gurnee presents 'Native Plants for Small Gardens'


For the full class description, visit our website

For reservations, please call us at 360-466-3821 or 1-800-585-8200

Class Calendar


Saturday, July 13

Xeriscaping: Freedom from the Hose!

11 am - noon  (reservations requested - complimentary)


If you're thinking that a xeriscape - a garden with low or no supplemental water  - has to be all yucca and cactus surrounded by sand and gravel, think again. Christianson's staffer, Eric Andrews, has the ideas and experience to give your garden a colorful, varied look that doesn't depend on a sprinkler or irrigation system to stay perky. Many of our landscape classics and intriguing new choices can thrive in xeriscape conditions, as long as you've laid the groundwork for their success. Eric spent several years creating and evaluating a xeriscape test garden in the hot Kittitas Valley of Central Washington and now, as a Camano Island gardener, will share with you the strategies and plant choices that work best in Western Washington.



Vegetables This Winter 

Sunday, July 14
1 - 2 pm  (reservations required - $5 class fee)


Popular Seattle author and speaker, Bill Thorness, returns to Christianson's Nursery in the heat of July to get you thinking about fall and winter, because this is the time to get your cool-season crops going in the garden for a year-round harvest. How would you like to serve your own carrots for Thanksgiving, or fresh-from-the-garden salad at the winter solstice? Or how about collards for Christmas, leeks on New Year's, and lovely red beets for Valentine's Day, all from your own garden? You can do it, if you plan ahead, keep the soil fertile and use season-extension techniques. Bill's new book is titled Cool Season Gardener: Extend The Harvest, Plan Ahead, And Grow Vegetables Year-Round. Buy it at our Garden Store and get Bill's autograph!



Ferns Unfurled
Saturday, July 20
11 am - noon  (reservations required - $5 class fee)


Judith Jones revels in the whimsy, elegance and easy care of ferns, from the tiniest ones growing in a crevice to the towering tree ferns of Australia. Her Fancy Fronds Nursery in Gold Bar is a wonderland of lush greenery where she hybridizes, sells and studies pteridophytes (ferns). Judith finds a special charm in the history and cultivars of Victorian indoor ferns, ever since (as a children's theater student at the University of Washington) she ran across a book, "The Victorian Fern Craze" and thereafter became a confirmed pteridomaniac. She has "a taxonomist's exacting smarts and P.T. Barnum's showmanship"  - do you remember seeing her at Northwest Flower & Garden Show displays in a hummingbird costume or a "King and I" ball gown? Come hear Judith brighten up this shady topic! 

Saturday, July 27
10 am - 12:30 pm  (reservations required - $35 class fee)


Local landscape designer and garden artist, Kathy Hirdler of Floribunda Designs, returns to Christianson's to share her knowledge of making hypertufa containers and garden ornamentation. Make a hypertufa trough to take home for planting with alpine plants or sedums, while learning about hypertufa and other cement-based materials. Planters, water basins, stepping stones, leaves and sculptural pieces can be made using the techniques Kathy presents. All materials and supplies are provided; students should wear gardening/work clothes or a sturdy apron. Space is limited ~ sign up early!

For class reservations, please call us at 360-466-3821 or 1-800-585-8200


Here's a preview of our September classes...


Saturday, September 7
The Next Generation Gardener

with Rizani´┐Żo "Riz" Reyes, landscape designer, winner of Founder's Cup for his display garden at the 2013 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

11 am - noon   (reservations required - $5 class fee)


Sunday, September 8
The Eggplant Epicure

with Suzanne Butler, chef instructor and former television cooking assistant for "Galloping Gourmet" Graham Kerr

1 - 2:30 pm   (reservations required - $10 class fee)

Saturday, September 14
Native Plants for Small Gardens
with guest speaker, Ani Gurnee of Aulos Design
11 am - noon  (reservations required - $5 class fee)


Saturday, September 21
Small Conifers for Small Gardens
with Robert Fincham, dwarf conifer expert and owner of Coenosium Gardens in Eatonville

11 am - noon (reservations required - $5 class fee)


Saturday, September 28
Bats Incredible 
with Kathleen Bander, founder of Bats Northwest
11 am - noon, during our Third Annual Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival

(reservations requested - complementary)

For the September class descriptions, please visit our website


For class reservations,  please call us at 360-466-3821 or 1-800-585-8200


Seasonal Specials

Monarda 'Raspberry Wine'





with over 20 varieties coming into bloom,

it's a great time to see all the colors and variations

(4-inch, quarts, and 1-gallon sizes)


Perennials galore!

salvia, foxglove, agastache, penstemon, monarda, weigela, delphinium,

nepeta, calla lilies, coneflowers, geum, and so many more!



add some pop to your summer garden with dahlias! 


Water garden plants

pond and bog plants, including cattails, water lilies, cannas, and more




July 1 - 7

Annual 40% off Sale

hanging baskets, geraniums, impatiens, petunias,
fuchsias, lobelia, and more!
(annuals in packs, 2-inch and 4-inch pots)


 July 8 - 18

Hydrangeas - 20% off

our huge selection of summer-blooming favorites includes

"hortensias," lacecaps, oak-leaf and peegee tree hydrangeas


July 19 - 31

 Summer Herbs - 20% off

basil, lavender, oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and many more!  


Fresh Ideas

Here's an assortment of helpful tips and fresh ideas for summer living.  Simply click on a photo you like (or the link below the photo) to learn more. We hope you enjoy this month's collection of fresh ideas!

Water Well: How to conserve water without leaving your garden thirsty

The Big Chill:
Tips for freezing berries
and vegetables
(click here for article)

Surprising benefits of walking barefoot
How to harvest and use
English lavender

Blueberry Dumplings
(no oven required!)

Closing Thought...


"I only went out for a walk and
finally concluded to stay out till sundown,
for going out, I found, was really going in."
~John Muir, 1913




Garden Notes Editor:
Eve Boe, Public Relations
Christianson's Nursery & Greenhouse