Did You
Know?
Yves Piaget can substitute for peonies in a bouquet.
Tobacco Nausea
March 24, 2009
Blog PictureRead an article today about "green tobacco disease" where workers harvesting tobacco leaves take in nicotine through their skin and suffer from dizziness and nausea.

It reminded me of a story Mom told us about her work in the greenhouse before she married Dad, during the 1940s.

She had several jobs, including being the first rose grader for J. Peterkort (before it became Peterkort Roses). Another great job was squishing bugs on the orchid plants (by hand). Probably high on the list of ickiest jobs.

What brought up the reminiscence was the job she had of lighting cans of nicotine smoke as a fumigant. This was a bug-killing method involving tin cans filled with some kind of nicotine preparation, with a fuse coming out. You put the can down in the greenhouse, lit the fuse, and left.

If you didn't leave fast enough, or had to light a number of cans in the same greenhouse, you would get some of the nicotine and it was pretty nauseating.

Needless to say, that is something we don't do anymore!!!!

I guess it's good to remember that even working with plants (such as tobacco) can make you sick!!!!! Everything organic isn't benign to humans. Plant alkaloids are some of the worst toxins known.

Luckily, roses are one of the friendliest plant families to people - maybe that's why they are so beloved in all cultures...

Pictured above: Roses from Peterkort Roses (503) 628-1005 including Karamel Antike (pale yellow), Helga Piaget (cream), and Talea+ (pale pink). A beautiful combo - the unusual shape of the garden roses, like peonies, a little scent from the Helga Piaget (one of our best-smelling roses), and the pale colors.

It's SPRING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
March 20, 2009
Blog PictureIt's finally spring - today's the vernal equinox - halfway to the longest day. We have turned the corner - at least in the seasonal department!!!!

Chicken report: the bigger ones are now clucking instead of peeping. I sneaked up on the biggest one yesterday and was able to pick it up. It was not happy!!!! And the rest of them scattered. But we are probably going to have to clip their wings so they can't fly, because they are starting to perch on areas we don't want them to...like the crossbars of the lilies. They are supposed to be eating weeds, not lilies!!!

Portland Farmers Market starts tomorrow on the PSU campus. Visit our only farmer's market outlet, operated by Cathy. Although our primary customer base is wholesale, it is very educational to find out what the retail customer wants, and we have gained new florist customers this way too. Other wholesale growers such as Kenyon Growers also sell through this market.

Have a great weekend!!!!

Botanizing
March 19, 2009
Blog PictureDuring the Florida trip we visited two botanical gardens: Leu Gardens in Orlando and the Edison/Ford Winter Estate in Fort Myers.

Also at the same time I was reading a great book called "The Botany of Desire: A plant's eye view of the world" by Michael Pollan.

Here's a photo of Leu Gardens - the azaleas were in bloom, they had old oak trees hung with spanish moss, and it has also a very large collections of camellias. I found a camellia I crave for my asian themed backyard - it's a weeping camellia, very small leaves and flowers. I've never seen a weeping camellia, so I took a picture of the tag so I can try to find it.

The Edison/Ford Winter Estate is where Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, who were friends, both had homes so they could escape the northern winters. Edison originally bought the property because he was interested in plants such as bamboo (explored as a fiber for the filaments in electric light bulbs) and varieties of the ficus tree (for rubber.)

Henry Firestone, the tire magnate, spent a lot of time there too, as did Herbert Hoover and Charles Lindberg.

More on the book "The Botany of Desire" later....

Chicken Status Report 3-14-09
March 14, 2009
Blog PictureThe Peterkort Roses chicken flock is prospering. Everybody is getting more adventurous - they are wandering further from the chicken coop into the wide open spaces under the hydroponic beds.

Their job of weed eradication has been expanded into official fertilizer providers but hasn't yet matured into organic egg layers!!!

Does it count as "free range" if the free range is inside a nice cushy greenhouse?

Harleys & Hush Puppies
March 4, 2009
Hello from Florida, where I am spending a week. Coincidentally it's "Bike Week" in Daytona Beach which is just a few short miles from where we are staying in New Smyrna Beach, on the Atlantic coast. Lotsa big motorcycles with equally big people riding them - grey moustaches & do rags!!!

I've been doing a lot of botanizing and bird watching here - all the plants are different and there are so many incredible birds. I'm not a big golfer but I do like to go along with my husband with the bird book and the binoculars.

Cool things seen today: a pair of sandhill cranes, who got REALLY close, doing their mating dance - a flock of cedar waxwings eating the berries on a yaupon holly (a native holly species to the east coast) - a Louisiana heron, anhingas drying their wings in the sun after fishing, mockingbird singing a long song, and many ibises and egrets.

Meanwhile Norm is covering for me at the flower market - thanks bro I owe you!!!!!

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