September is Houseplant Month
close up of an Anthurium

This Week: Anthuriums

The anthurium, also known as Painted Tongue, Flamingo Lily, or Tail Flower, is a large genus of possibly 1000 species, belonging to the arum family. With their brilliant glossy spathes (the brightly colored ornamental part of the flower), and slender spadices, anthuriums are classic tropical flowers. The favored "flower" of this plant is actually a bract, or a modified leaf flaring out from the base of a fleshy spike (spadix) where the tiny real flowers grow. Their bracts display bold color including white, pink, red or green with a high-shine, gathered texture. The true flower in yellow, green or white is the spadix, the slender protrusion above the bract.

Owing to the meaning and symbolism of anthurium with its open, heart-shaped flowers and tropical disposition, it's no wonder that anthuriums have come to symbolize hospitality. It is a warm flower that inspires happiness and abundance. Exotic and compelling, with bold flowers and shiny, dark green foliage, anthuriums, like the hospitality they represent, are long-lasting and irresistibly beautiful.

With eye-catching blooms and attractive foliage, the anthurium, is an herbaceous perennial native to tropical America. Its seductiveness lies in the fact that the plant adapts effortlessly to any interior and any style: traditional or modern, on its own or in a large group. The anthurium feels at home anywhere, and remarkably retains its character every time in any setting whether it is placed in an earth pot or in a glass container.

As well as its exotic background, the anthurium's popularity is assured because its undemanding nature. That means both experienced plant lovers and beginners can care for it effortlessly. And in return for such little attention, the anthurium gives back a surprisingly large amount of pleasure by flowering almost all year long.

  • Featuring glossy, green foliage
  • Bright light; no direct sun to promote blooms
  • Fertilize regularly in April to August
  • Keep soil evenly moist - especially during warmer seasons
  • Flowers last a long time before fading to green.

I don’t know about you, but I love Fall. It must be all those back to school pictures on Facebook, and the anticipation of Friday night football games. It’s especially fun when you decorate for the season with wreaths, and by adding pumpkins, hay bales and cornstalks, you can really take it all the way through Halloween and on to Thanksgiving.

Traditional

This wreath enjoys all the colors of fall. Decorated with gourds, seeds and pinecones this wreath pairs well with bright orange pumpkins. Your children will enjoy all the spooky signs that can be added as we approach Halloween. Don’t forget to take pictures!

a collection of traditional fall decor

Rustic

With burlap leaves, this wreath explores all the textures of fall. Add pumpkins covered in nubby wooden beads, and rough yarn, and you have an easy, rustic look. Enjoy relaxing with your friends and family around the fire pit with some hot cider, and you’ll feel like you’ve just enjoyed a mountain weekend getaway.

a collection of rustic fall decor

Glamorous

Go glamorous with a little glitter and glass owls, and by adding votive candles you have a lovely table display. The pair of gold pumpkins have LED lights inside, for added sparkle. The addition of a silk ribbon would pull the whole look together. Pour a glass of bubbly and you’re ready for entertaining!

a collection of glamorous fall decor

Regardless of your style, enjoy Fall. It’s a special time to reconnect with friends and family, establish new traditions, and enjoy your old favorites.


In the Pacific Northwest we are fortunate to have a seasonal weather pattern this is ideal for gardeners to plant in the fall. Our normally dry, warm fall days allow for root growth before the winter months arrive.

Fall Planting

Heuchera planted in the ground

The cool evenings, and eventually cooler days of autumn, will slow down the loss of moisture through ‘transpiration’ - the loss of water through their leaves. New plantings don’t dry out as quickly as in the intense spring sun. The soil is still warm, encouraging root development.

In the winter, nature provides free, effortless irrigation. The top growth slows or stops when the temperatures drop, and the daylight shortens. Although the soil is cooler, the available moisture provides slow-growing roots with plenty of water.

In early spring as the days lengthen and the air warms, plants begin putting energy into their top growth. The roots continue to develop for the coming surge of growth in shoots, leaves and flower buds.

Then in late spring the temperatures continue to warm with hot days, increasing the loss of moisture through top growth and in the soil itself. If you planted in the fall, you’ll have established roots which are less prone to drought damage, and are ready for a spring surge of top growth.

So for those of us that are able to plant in the fall, you’ll enjoy a quicker start because you gave those roots a chance to get established. With a little pre-planning, it’s a great way to get a couple of extra months of solid growth.

Fall & Winter Vegetable Planting

a hand planting onions

Fall and winter gardening, although an old practice, is an excellent solution for keeping the tilth and fertility of your garden's soil at its peak levels. At the same time it yields crops of delicious vegetables throughout the fall and winter that cost a fraction of produce purchased in the supermarket.

When it comes to vegetable and flower gardening, the climatic patterns of the lower elevation areas west of the Cascade Mountains in Washington, Oregon, Northwestern California, and British Columbia are quite suitable for fall & winter gardening. Winter low temperatures range from 35°F to 45°F with occasional cold continental arctic air outbreaks lowering it to +20°F to 0°F or so. The garden soil can freeze 3 or 4 inches deep for short periods, but the usual winters are not severe enough to damage carefully mulched winter vegetable plants.

The key to successful winter gardening is knowing the average date of the first killing frost in your region (for example late October in the Pacific Northwest). You then plant your winter crops early enough to let them reach their full maturity before that killing frost.

feet walking over a leaf-covered lawn

Early Maturing Crops

Plant by mid September (Approximate maturity 30 days)

Rootcrops

  • Chives
  • Bunching Onions
  • Radishes

Leafcrops

  • Broccoli
  • Cover Crops
  • Leaf Lettuces
  • Mustard
  • Spinach

Lawns

Whether you are reseeding, fertilizing or redoing your lawn, fall is the best time of the year. Your lawn will respond better to all your efforts, especially in the months of September and early October.


You may be finding it a little cooler in the mornings, or actually have seen leaves falling. You certainly can’t miss the Back to School reminders in stores where you shop. Maybe you’re just wishing for that break in the heat and a chance to get back out in the garden. Regardless, we have all the fall colors color and textures that you’re hoping for.

rudbeckia blooms

Try adding Rudbeckia hirta, which is commonly called black-eyed-Susan, and is a member of the sunflower family. Other common names include brown-eyed Susan or brown Betty due to its brown center. Rudbeckia hirta is the state flower of Maryland, and is used by many Native American tribal nations as a medicinal herb. Known for being a remedy for colds, flu, infection, swelling and snake bites, it is multipurpose and highly valued. And if that wasn’t enough, Rudbeckia attracts butterflies to your garden when planted in large color-masses.

close up of a rudbeckia hirta bloom

Rudbeckia hirta

  • Upright annual, growing 12-39 inches tall
  • Approx. 12-18 inches wide
  • The leaves are covered with a coarse hair, with stout branching stems.
  • Daisy-like composite flower head approx. 4 inches in diameter, with yellow florets circling a conspicuous brown or black, dome-shaped cone of many small florets.
  • Can be found in a range of sizes and colors including oranges, reds and browns. Perfect for adding fall color to your home or garden!

I know we have a lot more summer left, but is anyone else looking forward to the cooler days of fall? Wrapping up in a warm throw or even trading your flip-flops in for slippers?

Even though it's not quite time for hay bales and fresh-picked pumpkins, there are many other ways to transition into fall. It's a busy time in the garden and home.

Garden

Mums signal the fall for me, and the way millet smells just like syrup on French toast reminds me of a crisp fall morning. Trade out your annuals for the autumn hues of Echinacea. If you can't decide what color to choose, you can enjoy 3 varieties of Echinacea in a single pot with our Tri-color Echinacea pots - grown especially for Al's at The Farm in Hubbard.

closeup of an orange mumGarden Mums
millitMillit
tri-colored echinaceaTri-colored Echinacea

Home Decor

Our Home Decor departments are full of decorative pumpkins of all kinds. We have pumkpins made of tin, glass or wood. You can even find pumpkins made of textile burlap or velvet. We also carry a great selection of seasonal decor including silk flowers and autumn wreaths.

decorative pumpkins
decorative pumpkins
decorative pumpkins
decorative pumpkins
decorative pumpkins
decorative pumpkins

Fall Fashion

Al's Boutique in Sherwood and Woodburn feature all the styles you'll be craving. From Lucy to Prana, Tribal, Sisters and Habitat - we carry a great selection of the new fall styles. Green is a big color this fall. You'll see forest greens and olives, brown green and sage. Add a bag and a scarf, and you're ready to layer your way into fall.

fall fashion jacket
fall fashion sweater
fall fashion scarves

Wenatchee Valley produces tons of apples each season, but non quite as delicious as Al's exclusive Ice Apples.

a basket of Ice Apples in an orchard
Doug and Jan MerrimanDoug and Jan Merriman of White River Farms

The Merrimans like to call themselves a "two-horse operation." Doug manages the apple orchard while Jan works the small retail nursery. Tucked away in Washington's Wenatchee Valley, about 6 hours from Portland, their 35-acre White River Farms produced 200 tons of apples last year. A small crop compared to the bigger orchards nearby, but people from all over love their Gala, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Fuji apples, sold in supermarkets.

On this day, the husband and wife team are between harvests. We caught up with them as they surveyed the orchard with their two year-old beagle, Butter. We're here to talk apples. Ice Apples. These delicious treats have become an annual favorite at Al's. Like clockwork once the weather cools, customers begin inquiring, "When will the Ice Apples arrive?"

If you've never tried an Ice Apple, you might wonder what it is and why they're asking. Just one bite and you'll understand. Ice Apples are Fuji apples that are purposely left on the tree until the first frost. This causes the inside of the apple (the water core) to crystallize, resulting in the sweetest, crispest, most delicious apple you've ever tasted!

"I can't say the first time we picked one it was purposeful," says Doug. "We had some Fujis that were too green and small for commercial harvest, so we just left them on the trees. When some friends asked for apples after the harvest, we had nothing left, so we picked them."

a beagle eating a slice of Ice AppleButter the beagle agrees: Ice Apples taste the best!

While Ice Apples are superior in taste, their high sugar content makes them less ideal for the supermarket sales, which requires lang warehouse storage. Further, harvest time for Ice Apples can be unpredictable because it is dependent on cooler conditions. Doug says for the water core to appear, temperatures must drop below 40°F for at least three nights.

"Where we live, you're skirting disaster occasionally, so we keep a close watch of weather and temperatures," he says. "These apples don't freeze at 32°F because they have so much sugar. But, if they freeze, they have to thaw out on their own. So, sometimes we only have a window of a few hours to pick them." In the mid '90's, the Merrimans lost two-thirds of their crop when temperatures dropped to 15°F for an entire week.

The inside of an Ice AppleThe crystallization of the water core is what makes the Ice Apples so delicious.
A full bin of Ice ApplesPhotography by Randy Dawson

Al's owner Jack Bigej was introduced to Ice Apples about ten years ago. "We were doing some nursery business with Doug and Jan and they brought some down for the girls in the office," says Jack. "Before Al's got into the plant business, we were in the fruit business for many years - so, I know a good apple when I taste one. These Ice Apples were the best darn apples I've ever eaten! I immediately knew we had to sell them in the stores and with limited quantities, Al's had to have them all!"

"We figured they might take off - if Jack had anything to do with it," laughs Jan. The first year Jack ordered 7,200 pounds for Al's stores, and had plenty to spare. But as word-of-mouth spread, that changed. Last year, Jack commissioned the Merrimans to expand the crop, bringing in nearly 30,000 pounds of Ice Apples, which promptly sold out in an matter of weeks.

It's just good to know there are still people who want apples that taste good. They don't have to be solid red and perfect, like at the grocery stores. It's all about the taste," says Jan. Doug agrees, "Ice Apples are the highest dessert quality, and definitely my favorite. And, I've got a choice of a LOT of apples to eat."