Ask the garden expert

Published:

 

I am new to the Northwest as I just retired from the military. I hadn't seen hummingbirds before. Wow so beautiful! My friend gave me a tiny glass feeder that fits into a potted plant and some food to refill it. She told me to keep it clean and refill often in hot weather. That is all I know about them. She also told me to look online for information. Do you know some of sites that I could learn about local events and gardening things — even volunteer some time?

Aren't we lucky to have such wonderful "jewels of nature" in our gardens? I find them endless enchanting and such charming little visitors to have around.

Mom Nature is generous with these wonders of nature. Hummingbirds feed by site as they do not have a since of smell, having blooming plants in your yard is such a draw. The are extremely territorial and defend what they regard as their territory near their nesting spot. (perhaps this point explains the squabbing at the feeders) I've read they follow regular route with-in their territory called traplines, however they are inquisitive by nature which leads to investigating any possible new feeding source. Keeping your feeders clean, and full will certainly be a way to keep them coming back.

The Internet and magazines are full of good information on hummingbirds. Vancouver Farmers Market has several vendors that have tons of information for you, (I saw a vendor at Vancouver Farmers Market that offered tiny glass tubes as feeders). Additionally scope out the Back Yard Bird Shop by the mall, and visit with their knowledgeable staff.

There are quite a few local sites that would love to have you offer some volunteer time. Contact the WSU Clark County Extension office Their site is http;//clark.wsu.edu. You will find many volunteer opportunities on this site such the Master Gardener Program, the Watershed Stewards, and others. You might also check out another site. It is the Vancouver Botanical Garden that is run by volunteers. The site is www.naturescaping.org

The Master Gardener Program is recruiting trainees for the 2012 volunteer training class, I believe Dr. Brun and Program Coordinator, Erica Johnson will be happy to explain the program to you, and if you hurry, you may have time to join the 11 week classes offered by WSU. Master Gardener Program.

Go to http://clark.wsu.edu when it opens see volunteer opportunities on the left, pick Master Gardener Program, and select the training application online. The training classes are invigorating and even fun. You'll learn do much — you'll learn things you didn't know you didn't know!!

We have moved into a place that has a field with peonies that have been there for many years apparently. We plan to get a cow before winter so we will be fencing the area. I want to move the peony into my garden area. Do I keep the tops when I move it? Can I do it now? Are there any special things I should know to move them successfully?

Peonies are a herbaceous perennial so will die down for the winter. Experts tell us they resent disturbance, but if you wait until later in the fall, they are heading toward dormancy so you'll stand your best chance of success. I moved mine that had been in for over 10 years. I waited until mid-September. I cut the foliage off, dug up the roots, examined them and found them tangled, but I was able to separate them. I planted the bare roots in 6 suitable spots around the garden ( they need full sun) the plants all took off and begin producing bloom by the next spring. See to it that each root has several 'eyes' or growth sprouts in order to produce a healthy plant, another point is to make sure you plant them only an inch or so below the surface.

Celeste Lindsay is a WSU-certified master gardener. Send questions to mslindsay8@gmail.com.