KENNEWICK -- Next weekend is the Tri-Cities Home & Garden Show at TRAC in Pasco.
If you're a gardener, this is a great opportunity to talk to local experts about flowers, trees and gardens.
You'll find a standard flower show presented by the Blue Mountain District of garden clubs. They'll of course have lovely flower arrangements, forced spring flowering bulbs, tree and shrub specimens and educational exhibits on display. More importantly, you also have the chance to talk to local garden club members who know all about growing flowers in area gardens.
Down on the arena floor, you have the opportunity to ask your tree, shrub and garden questions in the side-by-side booths of the Mid-Columbia Community Forestry Council (MCCFC) and the WSU Extension Master Gardeners.
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If you want to know about tree selection and proper pruning, stop in at the forestry council booth. The MCCFC is a nonprofit group with the goal of educating local residents about planting trees correctly and keeping local trees healthy with proper care. At their booth, you can find information on tree selection, planting trees, pruning and tree care. As a member, I'll be at their booth for part of Sunday afternoon.
Also on Sunday, Howard Madsen, the president of the MCCFC, and Brian Cramer, a council member representing the PUD, will be giving a seminar at 1:00 p.m. about tree pruning dos and don'ts.
At the WSU Extension Master Gardener booth you'll learn about upcoming classes for local gardeners and find information about the three-acre Master Gardener Demonstration Garden in Kennewick. Have a yard or garden problem? An insect you need identified? A sick plant? The Master Gardeners will be available to help answer your questions.
You wouldn't believe the mountain of seed catalogs that I've received in the mail. I've already talked about some of the specialty vegetable catalogs in the pile, but I must tell you about a new one that I just received from Cloud Mountain Farm.
It's not one of the mainstream purveyors of mail order plants and seeds with a glossy and impressive catalog. It's a much smaller company that isn't trying to woo you with pretty pictures, but offers plants that aren't quite so common.
Cloud Mountain Farm is located in Everson, which is "along the western edge of the Cascade Mountain range in northwestern Washington" about 20 minutes from Bellingham.
The catalog is not large, and it's on newsprint paper. I thought this would be just a a specialty fruit catalog with a black and white picture of an apple blossom on the cover, but there's much more than just fruiting plants that they offer.
Cloud Mountain Farm (CMF) has some special and tempting ornamentals to sell. They will ship quite a few plants, but if the plants being offered are too big for shipping, they must be picked up at the nursery. While they may have a more moderate climate in Everson than in our region, they offer a number of plants that are hardy in our region too. Here's just a few that might pique your interest:
-- Stellar Dogwoods (Zone 5): These hybrids are a cross between flowering dogwood and Kousa dogwood. CMF offers Aurora with white flowers and Stellar Pink with light pink flowers. These hybrids start blooming right after flowering dogwood and don't produce any fruit.
They're resistant to dogwood borer and dogwood anthracnose. They're a shrubby tree reaching 20 to 30 feet tall.
-- Camellia Hybrids (Zone 6-10): These beautiful flowering broadleaf evergreens prefer acidic soils and partial shade. Hardy for our area, one of these beauties may be worth a try if you can pamper it a bit. CMF offers spring and fall blooming types. Autumn Spirit might be a good bet since it's reported to be very hardy and fairly sun tolerant, though partial shade would probably work best here. It produces deep rose pink flowers in October.
-- Dwarf & Miniature conifers: It's easy to find full-sized fir, cypress, cedar, juniper and pine trees, but it's hard to find dwarf and miniature versions. CMF designates dwarfs as those that grow 1 to 6 inches a year and reach a size of 1 to 6 feet in about 10 years. Miniatures are Lilliputian in growth and stature, growing less than 1 inch a year and only reaching a height of a foot or less in 10 years. These smaller plants have a niche in smaller landscapes and in rock and miniature gardens.
CMF offers a number of other unique and unusual ornamentals, as well as tree fruit, nuts, grapes and berries.
You can find Cloud Mountain Farm at www.cloudmountainfarm.com or by calling 360-966-5859.
* Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for the Washington State University Extension Office in Benton County.