Tillamook County Master Gardener Association

Growing Wildflowers isn’t Difficult. And its Urgent!

In a shifting climate, with environmental diversity at risk, it’s never been more important to propagate native plants. Here’s how.

~ From the New York Times, Margaret Roach, September 8, 2021

The nonprofit Wild Seed Project wants to encourage people to learn the simple skills required to propagate native plants, and to use those skills to repopulate the landscape with homegrown natives like butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and its cousin swamp milkweed (A. incarnata).Credit…Heather McCargo

The native perennial species of our meadows — milkweeds, asters, Joe Pye weed and others — will make one more offering in fall, as if they haven’t given enough already. They will offer up their seed.

Gardeners can nurture the next generation by collecting some of it, and propagating more of their favorite wildflowers. But there’s a little wrinkle.

“Everything about sowing native seeds is counterintuitive to what people have been taught in horticulture,” said Heather McCargo, who founded the nonprofit Wild Seed Project in Maine in 2014.

Sowing wildflower seeds requires a shift in the how-to mind-set centered around the late-winter-into-spring ritual of sowing vegetables and annual flowers, she said.

That’s because wildflowers are sown at a different time: from late November to early January. They’re sown outdoors, not inside under lights. And they’re not sown one lonely seed or two per cell in six-packs, like lettuce or kale. Instead, they are sown thickly, into pots or open flats.

As Ms. McCargo put it: “Native seeds are like teenagers. They love to be together.”

She would like to see more of us learn the simple skills required to propagate native plants — and use them to repopulate the landscape with homegrown natives. That is the mission of Wild Seed Project, one that the organization sees as increasingly urgent in the face of a fast-shifting climate, with so much diversity at risk.

Native Penstemon plants have small, pod-like seed capsules that get brown and woody as the seed matures. To gauge ripeness, look to see if a little hole on top of each one has opened a bit, revealing tiny seeds inside. Credit…Lisa Looke

“Sowing seeds is like becoming a plant midwife,” said Ms. McCargo, who has been at it for more than 35 years, as native plant populations have shrunk alarmingly. Her hands-on experience includes five years as the head propagator at Garden in the Woods, in Massachusetts, the headquarters of Native Plant Trust.

“Everybody wants to just toss seeds into the landscape, but the life of a wild seed is fraught with risk,” she said. “Most land where it’s too wet or dry, or where a bird or mouse eats it.” The majority of seeds dispersed that way never become full-grown plants.

But if you collect seeds in a timely manner and sow them in a protected way — using basic tactics like rodent-proofing the nursery bed with mesh sheeting — “you can have a plant from each seed,” she said. A small pinch of seed can yield 50 or more plants for your garden, or for a community planting at a school or park.


The remainder of the article and how to make a wildflower nursery can be found at this link. Take a few minutes and review the OSU catalog library on growing wildflowers here.

This is What We Do

Learning Garden – Post-Fair Observations

Master Gardeners were present in the Learning Garden during the Tillamook County Fair Aug. 11-14.  Hours were generally 9:30am to at least 6:15pm.  The total number of visitors to the garden was 889.  This number is significantly fewer from other years.  However, it still indicates strong interest given the uncertainty of COVID-19.

Master Gardeners had set up several educational demonstrations in the hoop house.  They included information on pollinators, good bugs and bad bugs, season extenders, propagation and vegetable families and crop rotation.  Free seeds were available in the hoop house.

The new paver area in the shade of the tree was a popular attraction.  It was a quiet oasis in the busy Fair atmosphere and a perfect place to enjoy a Tillamook ice cream cone.  Pam’s Tiny Library in that area also attracted children who were able to borrow a book or to enjoy listening to a story as someone read it to them.  Many who visited enjoyed picking juicy blueberries and raspberries.  Admirers also commented about the colorful dahlias as well as other dedicated areas. 

Given the late start due to the pandemic, the garden was transformed from an overgrown jungle into an attractive, colorful, lush, fragrant display.   Many thanks to the Master Gardeners who participated in making this happen and the 889 folks that stopped by!

Notes from the Garden Hosts below reflect how much visitors enjoyed the garden and the variety of observations and questions received.  Most gardening questions were answered at the time or were written up and passed on for additional research and response to the client.  This is what we do!


The One-Man Band
  • Happy Friday (the 13th).  Semi-smoky, hazy, foggy, sunshine day.  First question:  Why aren’t my zinnias blooming? 
  • Nice couple from Forest Grove said the garden is beautiful!!  They admired the work (after COVID halt) to get it into the shape it is now!  Loved the Albion strawberries, took photos of many dahlias.
  • White moths are out! I use a fly swatter at home on them.
  • The One-Man Band walked by and made it so festive – we waved & he said “Make that garden grow” over the loud speaker – so fun!
  • Nurse from Springfield stopped to sit in the shade and feed his baby a bottle.  Nice visit & talk of fires, etc.
  • Hoop house was extra warm so turned on the other 2 fans.
  • Host speaking to a mother daughter about strawberries, mother’s plants aging out and then about acidic soil.
  • One gentleman came by and asked about currants and then asked to see the ‘gooseberries’, I said we have blueberries & raspberries but no gooseberries.  He said “what’s the matter with you all!” LOL
  • LOTS of people are taking photos especially of the dahlias
  • Gentleman visited from Yakima Master Gardeners.  Similar concerns about COVID and interaction with the public (missed them!)  Commiserated about the Plant Sales.  They have a separate ‘Production Garden’ dedicated to the local food bank.  Focus on strengthening their Heirloom seeds.
  • Something landed in the Shasta Daisies.  Pruned them back and made a water can daisy arrangement for the picnic table.
  • Questions:  What are the small green things growing from the leaves of the potato plants (seed pods!)  Is purple Toadflax invasive?  (VERY!)

It was our pleasure to visit with everyone who wandered through the Learning Garden. We’ll see you again next year.

~ Linda Stephenson, Camile Hickman

Visit Us at the Fair!

It’s Our Time to Shine!

Tillamook Master Gardeners Learning Garden

We’ve been weeding, raking, mulching, pruning and indeed polishing our Learning Garden located on the Tillamook County Fairgrounds. We’re excited and very proud to host visitors to the garden while at the Fair.

Over the years, the Learning Garden has been the centerpiece and learning laboratory for the OSU Master Gardener TM Program. The Learning Garden now boasts a climate controlled Hoop House where plants are started from seed and grow over the winter – most of them for our annual Plant Sale. The Hoop House also serves as an educational forum for community education classes. The most recent being the local Girl Scouts learning about Pollinators. Great hands-on science lessons, card making, and honey sampling were on offer that day.

The Learning Garden features examples of raised beds, trellis for raspberries and hops, a winter garden, a shade garden, a glorious dahlia bed surrounded by displays of native and perennial plants that grow well in our climate – including tomatoes. (Yes, you can really grow tomatoes in Tillamook County! Roses too!) Just ask us.

The more recent additions to the garden is ‘Pam’s Tiny Library’ and our recently completed patio area – both in memory of a beloved Master Gardener who’s forte’ was reaching out to the younger prospective gardeners in our lives.

Master Gardeners have prepared Informational Displays and brochures addressing a variety of gardening topics. Displays include:

  • Propagation
  • Vegetable plant families and crop rotation in the garden
  • Good Bugs vs. Bad Bugs
  • Pollination and how to encourage pollinators in the garden
  • Garden Season extenders


Enjoy a peaceful stroll through the Learning Garden. Take a few moments to rest in the shade and enjoy your lunch or a snack. Pick a strawberry or raspberry. RELAX!

The Tillamook County Fair opens on Wednesday, August 11 thru Saturday, August 14. Master Gardeners will be in the garden each day from 10:00 am to 6:15 pm.

See you there!

August Digest – Here’s what is Happening

As I was preparing my outline for today’s this post, I realized the Tillamook Master Gardener Program is definitely ‘Happening’. Topics on the list began to grow, i.e. the Tillamook County Fair, Farmers Markets, plans for Fall Bulb and Garage Sale, Ask a Master Gardener, Classes and more, –hence our ‘August Digest’ follows.


‘Time to Shine’ – Visit us at the Learning Garden during the Tillamook County Fair. The Fair opens on Wednesday, August 11 and runs through Saturday, August 14. Master Gardeners will host visitors to the garden showcasing our hoop house where demonstrations will be held throughout the Fair. Enjoy the dahlia bed, vegetable garden, native plantings and much more.


Farmers’ Markets – Master Gardeners will be at Neskowin Farmers Market on August 14, 9am – 1pm, Manzanita Farmers Market on Friday, August 20, 4pm – 7pm, Tillamook Farmers Market on Saturday, August 28, 9am – 2pm and Pacific City Farmers Market on September 5, 10am – 2pm. If you have a questions, problem or just want to talk ‘dirt’, stop by. You can also submit your question and upload photos of the problem via our ASK A MASTER GARDENER link.


Fall Bulb and Garden Garage Sale – Plans are in the works for a Fall Bulb and Garden Garage Sale at the Learning Garden (weather permitting, otherwise at the 4-H dorm) on Saturday, September 11, 2021. Check our website as they are finalized. Not having a Plant Sale in 2020 as well as a scaled down sale in 2021, I can guarantee there will be plenty of garden related items available at the garage sale. We’ve been saving our best bargains. It will also be a perfect time to buy your spring bulbs for planting.


Online Classes – OSU Growing Oregon Gardeners – Level Up Series is available on a variety of topics. These monthly ZOOM presentations are free to the public and continue through November, 2021. If you cannot view them live, OSU records them for later viewing. A full list of the series can be found on our Resources page. You may want to bookmark our Calendar for a complete schedule of our events, classes and activities. Be sure to stay tuned as registration will be open this fall for the 2022 OSU Master Gardener Program TM training.


TCMGA Donation Options – Tillamook Master Gardener Association accepts donations from the public to pursue our community horticultural education mission. In addition to specific funds, the public can now donate to us through the Amazon Smile and the Fred Meyer Community Rewards program. Details and additional information can be found at Donate to TCMGA. We sincerely appreciate your support of our activities and outreach to the local community.


Garden Calendars – Lastly (for now at least) make a bookmark for quick access to the OSU Monthly Garden Calendars. These are excellent guides to monthly clean up, what to plant, what to prune, in the Oregon home gardens.


Hey! Why not just bookmark our website and sign up to receive our Blog Posts via email?


Happy Gardening & we’ll see you at the Fair!

Gorgeous Gardens Gardens to Visit in Salem, Oregon

Excerpts from June Russell-Chamberlin’s July 15 article titled 7 Gorgeous Gardens to Visit in Salem, Oregon. Published in Travel Awaits

From shaded green oases to colorful fragrance-filled flower gardens and stylized spaces designed to impress, gardens in the city offer a respite from the bustle and noise. But the gorgeous gardens in Salem, Oregon, provide more than a moment of beauty and peace; they also showcase the seemingly endless variety of fruits, flowers, and other flora that thrive in the Willamette Valley.

Some of the gardens highlighted here are historic, reflecting the dominant influences and varieties of the time. Other gardens are more modern and incorporate native plants and butterfly favorites. One is on a working farm, and another is at a retail nursery. The Oregon Garden, the state’s premier botanical garden, is designed for both pleasure and education. Whichever garden you choose to wander, you can stroll the paths, soak up the colors and fragrances, and discover new garden ideas along the way.


Martha Springer Botanical Garden
JUNE RUSSELL-CHAMBERLIN

Martha Springer Botanical Garden

The first thing you notice about the Martha Springer Botanical Garden is the birdsong, trilling from an unseen warbler. This narrow 1-acre garden hidden behind the Sparks Center for athletics on the Willamette University campus is devoted to native plants and organic gardening. Many of the plants provide food and habitat for wildlife and pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. Sixteen raised beds and tall bushes fill the center of the garden. The Mill Race flows along one side, the back of the Sparks Center defines the other. Sword ferns, maidenhair ferns, thimbleberry, wild roses, and other native plants provide cover for nesting birds. Butterflies and hummingbirds are drawn to the monarda, showy milkweed, poppies, evening primrose, and other flowers. A small artificial waterfall and a small pond provide water for the wildlife. Benches — some hidden, some in the open — invite visitors to linger. To find the garden, park in the lot in front of the Sparks Center and follow the sidewalk around the side of the building.


The Garden at Gaiety Hollow
JUNE RUSSELL-CHAMBERLIN

Gaiety Hollow

Once the home, studio, and private garden of the Pacific Northwest’s first woman-owned landscape architecture firm, today Gaiety Hollow showcases the garden design principles of its original owners. Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver began designing the garden in 1932, incorporating garden rooms, sightlines, points of interest, and other features. An allele framed by boxwood hedges, rhododendrons, and camellias stretches along one side. A parterre flower garden with a complex pattern of brick walkways, benches, and an arbor blooms from spring through fall. Roses, lilies, delphiniums, and more fill the space with color and fragrance. A grape-covered pergola links the parterre garden with the allele and provides a shady spot for relaxing.

The garden is maintained by the Lord and Schryver Conservancy, which offers free open garden days from April through September, workshops, and other events. Check the calendar on the conservancy website for open garden dates. Parking is available a block away on Mission Street in a lot at Bush’s Pasture Park or around the corner on Church Street.nd.


Bush’s Pasture Park Rose Garden
 JUNE RUSSELL-CHAMBERLIN

Bush’s Pasture Park Rose Garden

With more than 2,000 plants representing more than 100 hybrid tea and old rose cultivars, Bush’s Pasture Park Rose Garden is filled with fragrant blooms from May to September. The garden began in 1955 with hybrid tea and floribunda roses. Today, rose varieties from the 1950s to the present are planted in more than 80 flowerbeds. North of the gazebo, the beds are filled with rose varieties dating from the 1920s and 1930s that were collected from around the Bush family estate. Even older roses are part of the Tartar Old Rose Collection, planted in 17 beds in the northwest corner of the garden. Mae and A.R. Tartar collected roses introduced to the public before 1857 when the first hybrid tea rose appeared. This collection of old roses is considered the finest on public property in the Pacific Northwest.

Don’t miss a chance to explore the greenhouse and surrounding gardens near the parking lot at the end of Bush Street S.E. Known as the Bush Conservatory, the greenhouse dates to 1882. Inside you’ll find cactus and other exotic plants. Outside, espaliered apple trees and a series of mixed borders surround the structure. Both the rose garden and conservatory are free to visit and open year round.


Pro Tips:

The gardens change with the seasons, so plan to visit multiple times to catch the gardens at their seasonal peaks. Tulips and spring flowers bloom in April, summer flowers put on a show in June and July, and fall color adds drama in late September and October.

Take a camera and a notebook to record new plant discoveries, planting combinations, and other ideas to use in your own garden. Check each garden’s website for a calendar of informative tours, talks, and other special events to learn more about the plants and principles at work.