The year 2018 is in the rearview mirror, but it’s not too late to catch up on the top stories of the last 12 months. Some were plant-centric (hydrangeas), some were pesky (yellowjackets) and others were practical (pruning shrubs). All caught the attention of readers across the state and beyond.
The criteria for choosing the Top 10 are rather loose. We looked back on a year of weekly stories from Oregon State University Extension Service to find those that most resonated with readers. We scoured questions, comments and social media posts and sometimes went with gut instinct.
Drought driving more yellowjackets into backyards this year; Insects and spiders out to find shelter for winter; Serious pest targets popular white-bark birch trees: This trio of stories gets the nod for No. 1, though if we had to cull it down, yellowjackets would take it hands down. Everyone seemed to be affected by the troublesome pest. Ditto for the box elder bugs and brown marmorated stink bugs that plague some people by covering their homes and outbuildings by the thousands and, though they don’t bite or do damage, they can be creepy at those large numbers and when they start coming inside, well, that’s no fun at all.
Staying in the insect world, we’ve got 25 plants for attracting native bees to the garden and Mason bees go to work early in the season before honey bees emerge, which focus on the good guys and what it takes to keep them working in our world.
Conifers – especially Doug-firs – are suffering from drought brought answers to those wondering why so many of the state’s iconic tree are declining or dying. People don’t think about watering large trees, but that’s exactly what they should be doing.
Get a leg up by learning which vegetable varieties do best gave gardeners the insight of science-based research that resulted in the Vegetable Variety Trials 2017. The plants were evaluated on a cluster of criteria, including size, shape, yield and taste.
You don’t have to be a gardener to know Hydrangeas play a pretty role in the garden. That’s pretty obvious. But this article went into the whys and hows of taking care of this cherished plant. One of the biggest questions answered: How do I turn my pink hydrangea blue?
Know when it’s time to pick pears and apples offers insight into the oft-asked question about two of our favorite fruits. For example, did you know pears need a cooling period to ripen the best? You’ll learn that and much more.
More advice in the fruit department came from Expert tips for growing kiwifruit, which gives a thorough introduction to this little-grown fruit and instructions on how best to nurture both the bigger types and the kiwiberry, which can be popped in your mouth like a grape and grows well in Oregon’s westside climate.
Still hanging in with the fruits (tomatoes are a fruit, after all), we presented information about how Planning brings a good tomato season next year. One tip? Grow an early-ripening variety to have better success in the Pacific Northwest. The story gives eight examples.
Dalliance with dahlias leads to 34-year love affair speaks to readers because it gives a peak into the gardening life of two lovers of the plant and offers loads of information about growing them.
Be kind to your shrubs when you pick up pruners helps take the angst out of pruning shrubs and passes on the wise adage: Right plant, right place. In other words, if you plant a shrub where it will be happy when it’s fully grown, you won’t have to prune it nearly as much or as often.