August 2013
Vol 3, Issue 4

Garden Notes
Garden Notes Logo Bird

Greetings from Christianson's!
Photo by Rosemary Beck
from the blog 'Content in a Cottage'


"There are times when we stop. We sit still. We listen and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper."


- James Carroll



A family member once had an Afghan hound who had a daily ritual of running full speed from one end of the yard to the other as if he were chasing a million rabbits, like a giant mop-head being pushed frantically in all directions. After a few minutes he would come to a complete stop, madly dig a hole in the dirt, flop down into it and lie there for the rest of the day.  It seemed a bit nutty, but he had a system that worked.  The day's activity had been squeezed into one explosive burst. Once that was done, he was free to get on with the serious business of relaxing. We always called him "that crazy dog," but I'm starting to think he had it right.  


As we head into August, many of us are racing through our days, zigzagging from garden work to dinner parties, house projects to farmer's markets, chores to vacations. We hope that eventually we'll have some free time to finally relax. Of course we will - it's August, for Pete's sake! - time for sipping lemonade on the porch and watching the clouds roll by. But really, how often do we come to a full stop and spend even an hour or two in a complete state of laziness? Seems like the most relaxing thing I do these days is water my plants, and even then, as I'm standing there watering for the umpteenth day in a row, I dream of setting up drip lines so I'll be free of that mesmerizing, sedentary chore that draws me out to the garden every day. So who's crazier - me or the dog?  


I'm reminded of a recent conversation with my new friend, Cate. As she was leading me through her beautiful, meandering garden, filled with sweet fragrances, lush plants, and whimsical surprises, we came around a corner and there, under the dappled shade of a fig tree, was a lovely hammock. When I told Cate I've always wanted a hammock, she stopped in her tracks, looked me straight in the eye and said with complete seriousness, "If you want a hammock, do it now. Don't wait. Now that I have it, I realize I should have done it years ago." 


I've taken her words to heart. For those of us who are struggling to sit still, climbing into a hammock might be the only remedy. Think about it - once you're finally settled, it takes more effort to get out than it does to stay put. You're sort of in there for a while, and that's good!


So here's my best advice:  Flop down. Be still. Rest. Recharge. Daydream. If you can put up a hammock, do it. Dive in and stay a while. Be the dog.


Happy August, everyone!

Eve Boe, Garden Notes Editor 
In This Issue
The Garden in August
Seasonal Specials
Staff Picks
Summer Classes & Events
Fresh Ideas
Closing Thought
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The Garden in August
by Rachel Anderson


 It's a rare day that I don't come home with a few plants from the Nursery.  My sweet and understanding husband kindly points out that our yard is getting pretty full, but it sure is lovely!  My stepsons have both observed that there may not be any more space for more plants, but our garden is the best on the block!  At one point this summer, even I could see how almost out of control things had gotten, so Anna (a friend and co-worker with a similar plant addiction) and I decided to go on a plant fast.  That meant no plants for one week, even if they came to us for free!  We solemnly shook hands and vowed not to succumb to our addiction. 

Well, as you can imagine, that lasted about one day - barely!  We quickly justified our plant excess by explaining that we don't spend much money on other areas in our lives, i.e. new clothing.  (If any of you have seen me around the Nursery, then you know this is true). Besides, plants are so beautiful!  

We don't feel too badly about our plant addiction because, as addictions go, it could be a lot worse.  Anyway, there's always the middle of winter to try a plant fast again!


In the ornamental garden:

  • Deadhead lavender.  I like to use a pair of hedging shears for this task because it makes short work of it.  Be sure not to go too far into old wood, as lavender tends not to re-sprout if you go too far down. However, you do want to trim down into the new growth a bit.  This way you are helping to prevent an open woody center, which is so typical of some lavender.  Bear in mind that if your lavender is already sprawling open in the center and really woody, it may be time to replace it.  Lavender is a fairly short lived perennial, and usually only at it's best for five to seven years.
  • Divide bearded Iris.  Do this every two to three years to ensure healthy plants and maximum blooms.  Save four to five rhizomes for your new patch, and replant the remaining in other areas of your yard or share with your neighbors.
  • Towards the end of August, the Nursery will be starting to get in our bulbs for fall (I know - fall already?!).  Look for bearded Iris and fall-blooming crocus and colchicum.  Get these in the ground as soon as possible to get the best blooms this fall.
  • Be on the lookout for seasonal leaf drop on Rhododendons, and needle drop on most conifers.  The inner leaves of rhodies and conifers turn yellow to brown and fall off in somewhat alarming quantities.  Many people come to the Nursery worried that there is something really wrong with their plants, when in reality what they're seeing is perfectly normal.  That's just how they grow and mature.  Since this summer has been so dry, the leaf drop may be more pronounced than in past years.
  • Deadhead dahlias.  They're in full swing right now and, to keep them going strong, continue to pick flowers for bouquets.  Don't have any dahlias in your garden?  Well!  Come by the Nursery and pick up a few because everyone needs dahlias!  Their wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes are unrivaled this time of year.
  • In August many plants begin to look kind of tired, regardless of how carefully you water, mulch, and fertilize.  However, August is also the time when many plants come into their own, such as asters, coneflowers, rudbeckia, and grasses.  Browse the Nursery to see what looks great this season.
  • WATER!  Our summer has been super dry (and lovely, I might add).  Things that you don't normally water because they're so well established might just need a little extra help this year.

In the edible garden:

  • Be on the lookout for powdery mildew on squash, grapes, and roses.  This is a fungus that tends to show up in times of drought (contrary to what most people think when they think of mildew) and when plants are poorly fertilized.  It also seems to show up when night temperatures are cool and days are hot.  Pick off the worst of the mildewy leaves, and step up the watering if you haven't done so already.
  • Late summer marks a decrease in garden pests, however one that is still going strong is the cabbage butterfly.  You've all seen it whether you recognized it or not.  The cabbage butterfly is smallish and a pretty, creamy white with one to four black spots on its wings.  Its flight pattern is pretty spastic and comical.  They look drunk!  They typically lay their eggs on brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc.), which hatch into tiny (at first) green caterpillars which can grow up to one-inch long.  They'll leave your kale looking more like green swiss cheese!  There are a few ways to combat this pest.  The first line of defense is to use floating row covers, which prevent the butterfly from laying eggs in the first place.  This is the best prevention.  Another approach is hand-squishing the eggs and larvae while they're still small and doing minimal damage.  The eggs are about the size of a pinhead and are white to creamy yellow.  They're laid singly, as opposed to in clusters.  Another option is to use BT when you see the young larvae, but this should be your last resort.
  • Harvest your garlic if you haven't done so already.  By now the tops should be withering.  If you wait too long the outermost skins on the bulbs will start to fall away causing the garlic to come apart in the ground.
  • Sow veggies for a fall and over-wintering crop.  If you are starting from seed, be sure to keep your seedbed moist and cool to ensure good germination.  The cool soil also helps to prevent premature bolting, especially if you are planting starts.  Some great choices for this time of year are cilantro, scallions, spinach, Swiss chard, peas for fall harvest, lettuce, and kale.

I love being outside working in the garden.  I love the connection I feel when my hands are in the soil.  I love that plants are the enabling factor there.  If plants are an addiction that keep me going out to the garden, making observations, making mistakes, and learning more every day, then please keep the plants coming!  This can't be a bad thing.  Happy gardening!


 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.

Seasonal Specials




Ornamental Grasses

add graceful texture to your landscape with grasses

(excellent selection in 4" to 1-gallon sizes)


Rudbeckias and Asters

beautiful late season color



hummingbird magnets!


Japanese Anemones

a great addition to the late summer and fall garden


Summer Heathers

many colors to choose from, drought tolerant and easy to grow



add 'Wow!' to your summer landscape with
our great selection of dahlias!





August 1 - 18

Outdoor Containers - 20% off

our huge selection of small to very large
glazed and terra-cotta outdoor containers   

August 19 - 31

Summer Heather - 20% off

hardy blooming plants in variety of colors

August 19 - 31

Water Plants - 30% off

water lilies, floating plants, iris, and more!


Staff Picks

Rachel with Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit' 


This month our 'Staff Picks' come from Rachel Anderson, a Christianson's staff member since 2002. Rachel has been gardening since childhood, thanks to her mom, and is 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.    


Here are a few of Rachel's favorite picks for August:


Echinacea is one of my favorite summer flowers and it looks great paired with grasses.
There are many great varieties to choose from but this year my top pick is 'Cheyenne Spirit' (see photo above) which comes in a mix of flower colors from deep pink, red and orange tones to lighter yellows, creams and white. When buying seed packets, you will get a mixture of colors but when buying plants, you can pick the bloom color of your choice. I especially like the orange in the 'Cheyenne Spirit' group because, unlike many other orange varieties of echinacea, it is sturdy and over-winters well. 



Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldstrum'

Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldstrum':  

Commonly known as "Brown Eyed Susan", this is a classic, oldie but goody and I love it! It blooms in August and keeps on going into October. It's deer resistant, stands up to slugs and snails, drought tolerant, and does well in poor soil (the only thing it really needs is sun). The bees and butterflies love it, it's a great cut flower, and it looks beautiful with grasses, especially in late summer. It will form big clumps after a couple of years but it can be divided so you can spread the love!    



Ornamental Grasses:

Grasses add wonderful texture and motion to the garden. There are so many to choose from but two of my very favorites are Miscanthus and  Mexican Feather Grass (Stipa tenuissima). Miscanthus is especially wonderful in August because that's when it sends out its big showy blooms.



Aster x frikartii 'Monch'

Aster x frikartii 'Monch':

This is a great plant. It has lovely lavender-blue flowers and blooms from August to October. It's hardy, deer resistant, drought tolerant, and makes an excellent cut flower. It will benefit from pinching in June to keep it compact later in the season.   



Lilac 'Miss Kim':

This is another classic plant that I adore. It blooms later than other lilacs and is one of the most fragrant of all lilac bushes with a spicy, clove-like fragrance. One of the things I love most about 'Miss Kim' is that the foliage turns dark purple about mid-August when it's hot and dry (and I mean dark purple - like grape juice).

'Emily McKenzie'



Crocosmia 'Emily McKenzie':

This is a fabulous variety of crocosmia with its profusion of large red-orange flowers. It is a short and dense (so no flopping) and it blooms later in the summer so it offers great color in August when other plants are starting to fade.




For the past couple years, dahlias have become one of my favorite summer flowers. They come in such a huge range of colors, make great cut flowers, and are so colorful when other plants are waning. To make sure dahlias come back for me year after year, I apply a thick mulch once the tops have died away in late fall.  I also put out Sluggo when the new growth is first emerging, and after it rains, but dahlias are so rewarding they are worth the expense and effort.



Honeysuckle 'Peaches & Cream':

This variety of honeysuckle blooms and blooms, and is amazingly fragrant. I have it growing over my chicken coop and it really helps mask that chicken-coopy smell. It only grows 8 - 10' tall so it's not huge and overwhelming, and it blooms from early June right on through to fall. The nursery is out of stock now but put it on your wish list for fall and you will be so glad you did come next August.



Fernleaf Full Moon Maple (Acer japonicum
Fernleaf Full Moon Maple

This is a beautiful tree year-round but I especially love it in late summer, when it goes from scarlet red in late August to rich burgundy by October. It's hard to describe how lovely it is. If you're looking for a small tree (10 - 12' tall and 15' wide) with amazing fall color that kicks off in August, this may be the tree for you.




Here are a couple of Rachel's favorite picks in the 'edibles' category:

'Trionfo Violetto' green beans


'Trionfo Violetto' green beans:

This is my favorite variety of green beans. It's an Italian heirloom with purple pods and purple flowers, and it's a prolific producer. Beautiful and delicious! What more could you ask?


'Patio Snacker' cucumbers:

I was a cucumber failure until 'Patio Snacker' came on the scene. It's a small plant (so it works great in containers) but the cucumbers are regular sized, abundant, and delicious. Again, put this one on your wish list for next year. If I can grow cucumbers, so can you!


Here are a couple of Rachel's favorite tools:


ARS pruners:

I love my ARS pruners! They are smaller for smaller hands, lightweight and easy to sharpen.


Hori Hori knife:

This tool is indispensible. I use mine for everything - weeding, cutting, sawing, digging, dividing, transplanting, you name it!


Summer Classes & Events 


No classes in August ~ time to play!


Coming up in September.... 

Rizaniņo "Riz" Reyes

Saturday, September 7

The Next Generation Gardener 

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

Meet Rizaniņo "Riz" Reyes, who as a first-time display exhibitor at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show this year won the Founder's Cup (Best in Show). He was profiled by Organic Gardening magazine in April as "one of six young horticulturalists who are helping to shape how America gardens" (he turned 30 this year). Riz works part-time at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, has his own landscape design/service company in Shoreline, RHR Horticulture, and writes a blog, The Next Generation Gardener. Come catch some of his enthusiasm and find out what cool plants are coming up in his garden.



Sunday, September 8

The Eggplant Epicure

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


Chef Suzanne Butler is serving up a fun cooking-and-tasting class "for people who think they hate eggplant (and for those who love it and need new recipes)." During recent travels, she learned a wonderful, simple recipe for Summer Eggplant Parmesan in Italy and a tasty Baba ganoush in Oman. She'll also prepare a Szechuan eggplant-and-pork stir-fry that further demonstrates eggplant's versatility. Suzanne, a Culinary Arts instructor at Skagit Valley College, was "Galloping Gourmet" Graham Kerr's television cooking assistant for many years and manager of the Mount Vernon Farmers Market.


Saturday, September 14

Native Plants for Small Gardens

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


Many of our native plants can appear ominously large or aggressive at first, inhibiting our daring to include them in small spaces. Explore species and plant combinations suitable for even the smallest yards with Ani Gurnee of Aulos Design, who has a passion for sustainable and native approaches to gardening. Ani will discuss how to manage many seemingly unruly species that might surprise you with their ease of taming. Plant more natives for a healthier garden, then sit back and watch the birds come to thank you!



Saturday, September 21

Small Conifers for Small Gardens

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


"Robert Fincham is often regarded as the ultimate authority on dwarf conifers in America" - that's a comment you'll hear in the world of alpine and rock gardening. Now at Christianson's, we're fortunate to have Bob talk about his collections and give tips for successful gardening with small conifers. He studied at the side of conifer experts nationwide, owned Mitsch Nursery in Aurora, Oregon, and with his wife, Dianne, has owned and operated Coenosium Gardens since 1979, which now consists of a display collection and conifer nursery near Eatonville in Pierce County. He will have available for purchase his self-published book, "Small Conifers for Small Gardens." Recently retired as a high-school science teacher, Bob is dedicated to education and the sharing of his enthusiasm for conifers.



Saturday, September 28

Bats Incredible

11 am - noon, during our Third Annual Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival

(reservations requested - class is complementary)


Got bats? If you want a healthy natural neighborhood, you'll say "yes!" Bats are a vital part of the ecosystems in which they live. Many are considered "keystone species" because so many other plants and animals depend on them for survival. Kathleen Bander, founder of  Bats Northwest, joins the fun of our Skagit Valley Giant Pumpkin Festival to talk about the 15 species of bats native to Washington. Learn about night-blooming plants attractive to the insects that Northwest bats eat (if we didn't have bats performing this natural pest control, we would be overrun with night-flying moths, beetles, flies and mosquitoes). Get plans to build a bat house to put out next spring. Kids can get up close and personal with real mounted specimens. Bats are our friends!


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


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!
Container CPR:Survival tips for reviving container plants and keeping them thriving

Bird on sunflower
Slow Gardening:
A No-Stress Philosophy
for All Senses and All Seasons

How to get in and out of a hammock

Make your own garden fountain

Our water plants are 30% off

from August 19 - 31
Yummy frozen yogurt ice pops and 37 other recipes for homemade ice pops

Closing Thought...


"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass
on a summer day listening to the murmur of water,
or watching the clouds float across the sky,
is hardly a waste of time."

~John Lubbock



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