Tillamook County Master Gardener Association

Crows – The Smartest Bird in the World

A few robins are beginning to show up in the yard this past week. I’ve also seen one of my hummingbirds scouting the feeders. As they turn away I don’t blame them. The feeders need a THOROUGH CLEANING! But back to the Crows. They have been around all winter, talking vociferously from the tree tops as I walk by and swooping down in flocks to see what is on offer in the yard. This article from The Audubon Society ‘Meet the Bird Brainiacs: American Crow’ describes them as the ‘smartest bird in the world’. Author John Marzluff is a wildlife biologist at the University of Washington.

The American Crow – Photo by John Quine

The crows in your neighborhood know your block better than you do. They know the garbage truck routes. They know which kids drop animal crackers and which ones throw rocks. They know the pet dogs, and they might even play with the friendly ones. If you feed them, they probably not only recognize you but your car as well, and they might just leave you trinkets in return. These birds live their lives intertwined with ours, carefully observing us even as most of us barely take note of them. That’s how they survive, and they’re good at it: In recent decades the American Crow has taken over our suburbs, and even moved into the hearts of our big cities. As we’ve reshaped the landscape, we’ve created an ideal environment for an animal that is canny and perceptive enough to exploit our riches. MORE……

Want to learn more about this topic? Explore more resources from OSU Extension: Wildlife

The Garden Jungle or Gardening to Save the Planet

This Eventbrite presentation caught my eye. The Garden Jungle or Gardening to Save the Planet presented by Dave Goulson. ‘The Garden Jungle is a wonderful introduction to the hundreds of small creatures with whom we live cheek-by-jowl and of the myriad ways that we can encourage them to thrive. Dave will be talking about how we can create gardens alive with insects that will help save the planet followed by a Q & A.’ The program is scheduled on March 4, 2021 from 11:30am to 12:30pm. It is FREE but attendees must register. The complete description of the program and Registration can be found here.

OSU has published a Fact Sheet ‘Beneficial Insects in the Home Garden‘. The Overview states: ‘Among the more than 28,000 species of insects in the Pacific Northwest, only one to two percent damage crops, plants or structures. The majority is beneficial and helps the home gardener with controlling garden pests or pollinating fruits and vegetables. This handout explores common, beneficial insects found in our region and shares ideas on ways to encourage their presence in our home gardens’.

Hellebores for Valentine’s Day

A lovely bouquet of vibrant red roses is the pre-eminent gift for your special loved-one on Valentine’s Day. But why not Hellebores, too?

I received these beautiful photos from fellow Tillamook County Master Gardener, Mark Kuestner. He took the photos this morning. Aside from the multitude of colors and variety of blooms, these plants have other virtues being both drought tolerant and deer-resistant. And, as is obvious from the photos below, bring outstanding blossom color and foliage to your winter garden.

After a week of sleet, rain, fog and wind my ‘winter garden’ is looking pretty bleak. To get ideas on future plantings to cure this issue, I found OSU’s article ‘The Winter Garden Doesn’t Have to Be Bare of Flowers‘ which discusses Hellebores as follows: ‘Commonly called Lenton Rose or Christmas rose, hellebores come in several colors and foliage forms. They are sturdy and grow 1 to 2 feet tall, with large flowers in white, yellow, green, pink or purple. Some of the species are hardy to USDA Zone 4, making them suitable for gardens throughout most of Oregon. In most places, you can expect blooming to begin by late February.’

So our appreciation to Mark for sharing this portion of his garden with us today. Mark and Linda’s entire garden is featured in TCMGA’s 2020 virtual Spade & Wade Garden Tour. All of the gardens on the tour can be viewed on our Events page.

Hope everyone had a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Scotland Yards


Left, a ladder stands against the wall of a private community park beside the Water of Leith near Stockbridge, Edinburgh. During the Midland Revolt of 1607, thousands of people pulled down hedges and fences to protest the enclosure of previously public land. Upper right, a gate within an overgrown border in Ravelston, Edinburgh. More than 30 different styles of hedgelaying evolved in Britain. Lower right, a dramatic boundary hedge in Blackhall, Edinburgh. (Kieran Dodds)

This article is particularly interesting and timely as February’s Growing Gardeners – Level Up Series topic is ‘Multifunctional Hedgerows’ with Pami Monnett. Participants will learn how to ‘design and utilize these multi-functional plantings in order to achieve your land management goals.’ The webinars will be broadcast via Zoom, the second Tuesday of the month, at 3pm, January through November, 2021. Although registration for this class is closed, recordings of the webinars and a listing for the entire series will be posted on the OSU Extension Master Gardener website. This series is open to the public, and OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers receive continuing education credit. You can take one, or take all. Cost is free. Enjoy!

A shear celebration of the ubiquitous boxy bushes that have defined the British landscape since the Bronze Age

Welcome to Hedgeland. The streets of suburban Britain are edged with merry green. Boxy bushes of privet, beech, holly, yew and other plant species act as boundaries around gardens, demarcating property lines and separating our domestic and public lives. Town planners call them “woody linear features,” but they are so much more than that. They are a charmed circle drawn around family and self. What the white picket fence is to America, the hedge is to Britain, a cozy symbol of conservatism. The distinctive sound of a British summer, apart from the melancholy hiss of rain, is the insistent growl of the motorized hedge trimmer, the staccato rasp of hand shears. Hearken to those blades; every snip is a snipe: “Mine. Not yours. Keep out.”

On a recent morning, I took a walk through the northern suburbs of Edinburgh. The ancient castle and bristling swoosh of a skyline that make Scotland’s capital so romantic could not be seen from here, for I had entered the realm of the hedge. They are so mundane, hedges, as to be almost invisible. Yet allow eyes and mind to refocus, and banality yields to fascination. One begins to suspect that hedges are psychological portraits of those who live behind them. A hedge left wild and overgrown suggests a certain lassitude, especially when growing right next to one pruned with geometric rectitude.

Outside the home of J.K. Rowling, a towering barrier of leylandii screens the 17th-century manor house from the road; More……


From Smithsonian Magazine – November 2020

Copyright 2021 Smithsonian Institution. Reprinted with permission from Smithsonian Enterprises. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any medium is strictly prohibited without permission from Smithsonian magazine.

In Phytoremediation, Plants Extract Toxins from Soils

Photo – JSTOR Daily – where news meets its scholarly match

Researchers have a cheap, easy way for cleaning up oil spills: letting plants do the work.

Why isn’t it used more often?

Imagine a field contaminated by an oil spill. The toxins have reached deposits of water, and fumes have overtaken the air. Unfortunately, situations like these are common all over the world, presenting hazards to both the environment and to human health. Cleaning up such toxic sites can be very expensive and dangerous, but, in the last three decades, researchers have been working on a new technique: letting plants do the work for us.

Bioremediation, the microbiologist Carol Litchfield wrote in BioScience, is “any use of living organisms to degrade wastes .” Phytoremediation, the use of plants for these purposes, is a part of the larger field of bioremediation. In a sense, people have been using the technique through all of human history, but bioremediation first became a field of scientific study in the 1970s. At first, researchers focused more on microorganisms, either adding nutrients to facilitate the growth of microorganisms at the contaminated site or transporting the contaminated soil or water to bioreactors, where decontamination occurred.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that plants were included in the roster of organisms used in bioremediation, mainly to restore fields contaminated with agrochemicals. Soon after, researchers started to explore a wider range of compounds that could be cleaned from the environment, including petroleum derivatives, heavy metals, TNT, and volatile compounds from paints and refrigerants.

Finding the right plant to use for this purpose is not easy. Most plants cannot grow on contaminated soil or water and, even if they can, most will simply avoid absorbing toxins, leaving them in the soil. Crops used in agriculture also are not ideal, since they have been selected for yield, not remediation. But when the right plant is found, it can pay off.

The entire article may be viewed at JSTOR Daily

Sophia La Banca