Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Portland Show

Today I got up at the ungodly hour of 4:00 AM and headed up to north to the Portland Dahlia Society Annual Show. This year, the show date and location was new. The show was moved up one week earlier from past years and the location was moved from Canby Oregon to Portland Oregon. The actual show site was Oaks Park in the Sellwood district of Portland. This lovely park is located right along the bank of the Willamette river. There are great views north to OHSU up on the hill and toward downtown Portland in the distance.

It was a gorgeous day and the river was busy with sailboats, crew teams, and kayaks.

I had an amazingly successful show. For the first time in 2 years I made it back onto the Head Table. I had three entries on the Head Table which is a record for me and I had my very first Best in Show in Portland!

My Best in Show flower was this single bloom entry of "Hollyhill Jitterbug". It was judged Best BB-sized bloom in show and then went on to win Best 1-Bloom Fully Double In Show. This is a new-to-me variety and I only have one plant of it in the garden. It just began its first flush. The ironic thing is this is the very last bloom that I picked for the show. And I only picked it becasue my sister talked me into taking one more walk around the garden Friday evening. Then I didn't have any vases for it so we carried it back to the house out of water!

But you can't keep a good bloom down apparently! I was really excited about this win. It was completely unexpected. I know the bloom looked good, but I thought it would be seen as a bit undersized and the stem was a bit too long for the bloom, proportionally. But the judges saw otherwise!

I also won best 1-Bloom Pom in Show with this perfect "Willo Violet".

I thought I might have a chance at this award but I certainly wouldn't have been able to pick the variety. I entered 10 single pom entries and I thought many of them looked really good. But it was still a thrill to see one of my Poms on the Head Table.

My third Head Table winner was this 1-Bloom entry of the Orchette "Fancy Pants". Again I didn't have super high hopes for this bloom but I did think it would compete. After two days of 95 degree weather, I was certain that good, open centered dahlia blooms would be few and far between and I was right. All in all is was a great weekend for me and my blooms and a wonderful way to kick-off the dahlia show season.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Night before thew Portland Show

I took today off of work. It was my first full vacation day this year and was very much needed both physically and mentally. But I really took the day off to have a full day to prepare for the first dahlia show of the year. Normally, I have to rush home Friday night and then head right down to the garden to pick blooms. Then its a quick dinner and staging late into the evening. By taking today off I was able to pick my first group of blooms last night. The main reason I picked this early was the either. Thursday hit 95 degrees and today hit 94. Terrible weather to have right before a dahlia show. So I picked 1/2 of my blooms Thursday night, at least allowing them to miss one hot day under the sun. Then I went back early Friday morning and did anther round of cutting. I put all of the blooms in the shop, resting in vases on the floor. They stayed cool and shaded throughout the day. Around 5 Friday, Beth and I went down to the garden and watered everything. After watering she asked me if I needed anymore blooms so I did one more quick look around and picked a nice bloom of "Hollyhill Jitterbug". Back up at the house I began filling cans and vases with foam and water and staging the blooms. I ended up staging from 6 until 9:45! But I staged 22 entries which is a record for me.

At this point I always try to guess which blooms have the best potential to make it to the Head Table. I know I shouldn't "pre-judge" my blooms but I can't help it! So if I were guessing tonight I would say I have 3 blooms with a pretty good chance to go far.

I really like both of the orange "AC Shitake" blooms. They are free of all bug damage - which is HUGE after this hot, dry 2 weeks of weather - and they are rally nice mature blooms. Portland's show allows you to enter 2 blooms of the same variety, so I am going to enter both and let the judge's decide which of the two is better! I also like my "Tahoma Alicia" miniature ball and both of my two open center dahlias. While neither are perfect, the weather has been so hot that it is going to be hard for anyone to bring a good one. An d both of mine look pretty good, especially the "Kelsie Kristie".

Lastly I am happy with my poms. I have a bunch of really good looking ones and have staged 8 single entries and one triple. Part of winning is a numbers game and I have a lot of really good poms.

As  I was staging my blooms tonight, I suddenly noticed that the Western sky was putting on a pretty good show. We haven't had very many good sunsets this Summer, for whatever reason so I grabbed my camera to capture this pretty one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hummers in the Zinnias

My "Country Fair Blend" zinnias are really starting to branch out and put on a nice end-of -Summer show. They are planted right off of our back patio, protected by a make-shift but effective deer fence. Ever since they have begun to bloom, the zinnias have been frequently visited by our hummingbird population. Somehow they are able to pull out some nectar from the ring of pollen in the center of each zinnia. They zip in and out of the zinnias all day long, eating and fighting with one another as only hummingbirds can do! My sister captured this picture of Anna's Hummingbird feeding today. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Harvest Monday - A Golden Harvest

As I harvested and weighted this week's harvest, it dawned on me that much of the harvest reflected the fiery colors of Summer: yellows, oranges and reds. So I begin this week's recap with a bowl of yellow "Galina" cherry tomatoes. This is the third week I have harvested them and the biggest picking yet; 1 lb. 1.4 oz. They are such a reliable producer for me and their taste is a favorite of many of my co-workers.

My only other tomato harvest this week is one lonely "Wapsipinicon Peach". But it deserves some kudos becasue as I was harvesting, I noticed than many of my other tomato plants are suffering from blossom end rot. I have never has a problem with this disease before, with the rare exception of a single variety here or there. So I simply didn't grow that variety in future years. But today I discovered blossom end rot on four different plants. I know my watering has been steady so it must be a calcium deficiency in the soil. I will have to really amend the soil next year. So with that in mind, even though it isn't a super producer for me, "Wapsipinicon Peach" gets major point from me for being blossom end rot free. This guy came in at .9 oz.

And speaking of things that don't really grow well for me, its time to talk peppers! Each year I am seduced by the amazing selection of pepper plants being sold at the Farmer's Market and nurseries. And each year I purchase 3-4 plants, knowing that I never have much luck growing them but hope springs eternal each May. In my rational mind I know we just don't have the hot days and warm that peppers adore but I keep trying just the same. Not surprisingly, this year's results were no different. Four plants, each producing 2-4 peppers. Sigh. On the bright side, I did have a few little gems to harvest today. Left to right:
  • (1) "Padron" pepper ; 1.0 oz
  • (2) "Yellow Sparkler" peppers; 1.6 oz
  • (2) "Cute Stuff Gold" peppers; 1.7 oz

And to round out my yellow theme, I was able to pick 3 more "Lemon" cucumbers yesterday, weighing in a total of 1 lb 2.9 oz. It is suppose to be another very warm week here in the Willamette Valley, so ripening should continue at a good pace in both gardens.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Many More New Dahlia Blooms

It seems that each time I visit the Big Garden, I have 3 or 4 more dahlia varieties that are blooming for the first time. Tonight was no different. I do love the bold, red blooms "Asia", pictured above. This B-sized incurved cactus always reminds me of chrysanthemum blooms.

"Colwood Hope" a B-sized laciniated in white.

Here is one of my "oops!" dahlias this year. This Spring I purchased two tubers of a new white miniature ball called "Hollyhill Ms. White". As the plant grew I thought it was strange that the stalks were a deep red/purple color. This normally only happens on red or purple dahlias. Well, the first blooms have opened and you can clearly see I do not have "Hollyhill Ms. White". I called the hybridizer and sent him two pictures. He apologized and thinks I am growing "Hollyhill Margarita" an incurved cactus in dark pink. That looks about right!

My first bloom of  "Brian's Dream" a miniature size formal decorative in a light blend of white and pink. It has such perfect form.

My one plant of "Tahoma Alicia" is going to town! It is just covered in perfect blooms right now and branching out with future buds and blooms. I definitely want to grow a few more plants of this variety next year.

And this is a welcome site! My first bloom of "Pam Howden". If I could only grow a few dahlia plants, I most certainly would grow this one.

"FV's Dainty"  Pink and yellow

I am also excited about my Mignon Single plants. For the first time, I am growing this form not in pots but in the ground. I have a sweet little "hedge" of them, right along the rabbit fence. Unfortunately, before we discovered where the rabbits were getting through the fence, they found my Mignon plants and gave them a very healthy trimming! They have now recovered and are nicely branching out thanks to the bunnies trimming job. Soon they will be covered in sweet, little blooms

"Stillwater Plum" Purple

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Titus Bush Bean Update

I thought it was time to post an update on my row of "Titus" cannellini bush dry beans. I planted my 20 young starts in the Big Garden back on June 11th. They didn't miss a beat. And with my 2 1/2 foot rabbit fence surrounding the garden, I haven't suffered any rabbit damage this year.

The beans began blooming in mid-July and have been producing bean pods ever since. Some of the pods are getting quite big now and the plants continue to bloom and set more pods. I am encouraged by their growth and production up to this point. Now we just need a warm, most dry September to see the pods to maturity and harvest. I am excited to discover what size of harvest I manage off of only 20 plants and to taste this variety for the first time.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

More Dahlia Blooms

A few more nice blooms down in the dahlia garden today. My four plants of "Eclipse" are looking great but I fear by the time the dahlia shows roll around in September they will be mostly done producing good blooms for the year.

"Bloomquist Dan G" a miniature ball in dark red

Another lovely bloom on my "Blyton Softer Gleam". This was my first dahlia to bloom in the whole garden this year and I think it to will be mostly done producing show quality blooms by the time the shows begin. That's too bad because I would love to get it in a show and see how it performs. I think that will have to wait until next year. Hopefully this cutting produces some good tubers.

A perfect bloom of "Tahoma Alicia", a miniature ball in dark pink.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Garden Sentry

As we approached the Big Garden tonight, we became aware that there were Turkey Vultures roosting in the trees and circling very close in the air. We sadly discovered that a fawn had been hit by a car and killed right across the road from my garden gate. The Vultures had located the body and were closing in. What neat, big birds. While I am sorry for the loss of the deer, I am happy that the Vultures found the remains and will get a few good meals out of it.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Harvest Monday - The First Cuke & First Tomato Harvest

It is always fun when you get to harvest something for the first time. This past week I harvested the very first of my "Lemon" cucumbers, weighting 2.0 oz. A co-worker, who is a big fan of this variety, helped give me some guidelines to look for when this cuke reaches maturity. While they aren't the prettiest cucumbers on the planet, she proclaimed mine as delicious! Now I just want my 5 plants to set some more fruit. They got off to a great start, but have only set one new cuke in the past few weeks. I hit the plants with some organic liquid fertilizer this past week, so maybe that will help get them going once again.

The wild blackberries continue to ripen and the pace is increasing each week. This week I picked 4 lbs .8 oz and could have harvested double that. I need to get busy canning some jam. Until then, the harvest is destined to land on a bowl of vanilla ice cream each evening.

I am also excited to report I harvested my very first tomatoes of the year yesterday. Not surprisingly, it is a cherry variety; "Galina". I harvested 21 of them, with a total weight of 5.4 oz.

Yesterday I also harvested my row of "Music" garlic. The bulbs look great. They are heavy and big, which is kind of amazing, as late as I planted them. They will sit on my makeshift drying rack for a week before they get cleaned and weighed. I am quite sure they will come in with an average weight much heavier then my "Chesnook Red".

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sunday in the Dahlia Garden

"Elfin" Pom 

I spent close to 2 hours working down on the Big Garden this morning. It was the perfect morning to be working outside. We had a fairly heavy cloud cover and the sun only made it out here and there for a few minutes. But it was warm and mild, without a breath of wind. My kind of working weather. My work this morning focused on the dahlia patch. I began by cutting of each spent bloom. This took longer than normal as I am spraying my shears between each cut with a bleach solution this year, hoping to stop the possible transmission of any virus. After I was done with that task I went back though the entire garden dis-budding. I also managed to kill about another 20 earwigs in the process. There just doesn't seem to be any end to them this Summer.

"Hollyhill Frodo"

This beautiful bloom is an introduction from Ted Kennedy of Hollyhill Dahlias up in Oregon City. It is a gorgeous flame colored pom. It is a brand new release and I love it. It just began to bloom this week.

My "Pooh" collarettes are still blooming up a storm, as are all of the open centered dahlias. This part of the garden is just buzzing with the noise of bees right now.

My "Alpen Cherub" collarettes just began to open this week. When they are perfect, like the bloom above, it is such a pretty dahlia.

"Sean C." 

This is the second year I have grown "NTAC Shelly" and I still really like it. It has great orchid form. Now if it can still be pumping out the blooms come show season in three weeks.

And I am still loving my new-to-me "Clearview Audrey" plants. I am so glad that I purchased two tubers this winter. This is my second variety to open this year. I read online that it is an early bloomer but continues to produced blooms all Fall. I certainly hope this is true.

Yet another new-to-me variety; "Hollyhill Pixie". This cute Bi-colored miniature ball was released in 2015 and is the only bi-colored miniature ball out there! While this bloom isn't yet fully mature, you can still see how cute it is. It reminds me of gingham fabric a bit.

A "Haley's Dream" bloom. This early bloomer has been going for a few weeks now. It really could use some shade to keep the hot pink color from washing out.

Here is one of my first two blooms of "Kelgai Ann". You can see just a hint of pink in it right now. As the weather cools come September, the pink increases dramatically and the blooms will become much prettier.

Another new-to-me dahlia - "Sandia Charm" a waterlily in a light blend of pink and yellow. I do have to say this first bloom looks very peach/orange to my eye. But its still very pretty and its big.

I am really liking my two plants of "AC Golden Nickles". It has great stellar form and an amazingly bright lemon yellow color. Now I just have to figure out how to keep the cucumber beetles out of the blooms so I can actually take on to a show. They are in love with its bight yellow color too!

Another glowing yellow bloomer; "Sandia Sunbonnet". I first grew this variety last year and really loved it. I kept 4 tubers so hopefully I will have a bloom or two time out right to take to a show this year. It has really nice Anemone form.

My "Embrace" plants are just beginning their first flush of blooms. As always, each bloom is just perfect. You an see why this variety ends up on the head table so often.

Last but not least is my bloom of "Golden Star". While this isn't an exhibition quality variety, I still like it. The bees love its open center and I think its golden star shaped blooms are cheery and joyful.