MUSICEYES & EDGE

GARDEN BOOTCAMP - JENNA BAYER

MUSICEYES & EDGE
GARDEN BOOTCAMP - JENNA BAYER
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We literally couldn’t have had more fun with Jenna Bayer, founder of Garden Bootcamp, when we visited her at her beautiful property in Hillsboro. On that beautiful Oregon day we sat, ate fresh hazelnuts and secretly wished she would just adopt us so we could stay forever.E+E: Tell us what you guys do here at Garden Bootcamp.Jenna Bayer: We are organic entrepreneurs who are in touch with our environment and we’ve been doing it a long time. And feeling this way for a long time.With the economic downturn, the nursery industry, who ship internationally and nationally, have felt the housing market and construction market slow down a lot. The first thing that goes is any budget for plants, gardens, the lawn and greenery outside. Many builders will use the construction budget to create a complete structure before spending on any outdoor design. It’s understandable in a difficult market, but this economic hard time has directly affected our industry. The nursery industry didn’t really crash, it’s very sustainable, but it has suffered.  There were some old growers who said “We are just done.” Their knowledge is immense, and we are losing so much talent and knowledge. At Garden Bootcamp, one of the things we are trying to do is promote our local growers, spread the word and the knowledge, and get gardeners in touch with the source.Educating our clients – right plant, right place, right purpose – that’s our mantra. I’ve been saying that for 20 years.  If you use this simple guideline, you’ll do very well.  Identify which plants you are drawn to and why, define your requirements such as privacy screening, and research plants that fit those needs.E+E: How did you come up with the idea for Garden Boot camp?JB: So many people ask me, “Why isn’t this plant doing what I want, why isn’t this area working? Is this plant dead?” All along for the 20 years I’ve been doing this, I’ve been educating my clients and that’s the fun part. Seeing that light bulb go off in their heads, gets me going. I get especially excited when I can teach a young gardener, because that’s how I started out. I bought a house when I was 24, stood there looking at the brand new house, with red clay dirt and thinking, “What am I going to do with this?” And I went and took a class. But that’s what I get a kick out of: learning.I was driving around about a year ago, thinking to myself, “What can I do in my own backyard where I can do what I love, at least pay for it, maybe even make a little money, and make a difference?”I use the boot camp model: get in, focus on targeted information, create a successful experience and hope that people can take something away from it and make a difference, and then get out. Short, to the point, and sweet.  I view this class as lifestyle enhancement. You can have an urban setting, grow vegetables; have something that is scented, textured, speaks to you, that creates a sense of peace, or a sense of activity.There are all these dead balconies all over the Pearl now that people aren’t even living in. Imagine if we just covered them all with plants; everyone would want to be there! I mean, you walk down 11th and 12th now and it’s gorgeous because everyone has planted things. Twenty years ago, 1st Thursday was fun because it was very industrial feeling down there and now the trees and plants are there, just due to people putting a little effort into it.E+E: How many people do you usually have in your classes?JB: We have had an average of eight in each class. Our biggest was 23 and that was a little too large. We felt like it was too much and we were racing around, herding cats, as I like to call it. We’ve had twelve to thirteen in the last couple weekends and that is good number, but we’re definitely getting better at larger groups.E+E: How often do you have the classes?JB: Typically there are two to three a month. I’m going to be gone all of July in Ireland and with other commitments so I am trying to schedule it so everyone who wants to come can come before and after that. We will have a big push at the end of August and September on maintenance because those are big months for outdoor activities; people are having parties and enjoying the fantastic weather. October we will be putting our beds to sleep for the following spring. Getting everything ready in the fall makes the magic happen in the springOne great and simple trick is putting organic compost into your beds by layering the leaves from your yard, taking the organic compost that you have made or purchased and layer it right on top. Make a club sandwich with these layers!! And let the rain mix it all together – it makes this wonderful compost tea and it rejuvenates the soil. It’s like putting baking soda in your biscuits, it just gets it going. The microbes and the worms go crazy and make this wonderful garden factory for you. So by throwing things away (your kitchen scraps and leaves) you will have a beautiful garden next spring and summer.E+E: So what takes you all the way to Ireland?JB: Dublin’s high tech industry has exploded, however the countryside is many years behind the rest of the world. The economy there has suffered tremendously.  Therefore, the philanthropic groups are pretty limited. There are many historical estates that were built over the years and some are in poor repair or have basically been abandoned. These estates are landmarks and their gardens have suffered, amongst other things. The historical societies need money and people to help with restoration and maintenance.It’s a little easier and cheaper to restore gardens than ancient castles. Many tourists want to go on garden tours and do some volun-tourism. So come to see the garden, and do some good while you are visiting.  My friend Ginger is leading the charge to help lead a team of gardeners in restoring small parts of some very special gardens such as Enniscoe.  She is very passionate about helping the Irish people, their heritage, and seems to know everyone in the country.  The tours are entertaining, and educational, with fun and lots of terrific food!  The trip is professionally guided by Ginger and accommodations are exceptional.[Ginger Aarons from Time Travel Tours  and I are planning to lead a hands-on gardening adventure. We are focusing on the rockery garden, which is an Alpine garden, similar to what we have in the Northwest. It’s going to be a lot of fun.]E+E: It’s great that you are combining everything you love and helping a country.JB: And I get to go on a fantastic trip with my daughter!E+E: As gardening changes and evolves, are there new trends you are seeing?JB: People are living in urban settings because they love the location, and then you have people like me who live a bit farther out because they like their space. What’s happened is, we have created this concrete jungle and left very little room for the natural environment. Because of that we are introducing fabulous things like self-watering containers. People who are busy don’t have to water something every day, because water is so important for living and sustaining. A number of companies are creating these self-watering devices and we demonstrate them at Garden Bootcamp.We are also pushing for a vertical garden where you have limited real estate. With  pocket gardens and with metal racks you can create a large, sustainable garden on your deck or balcony.The other thing we are doing, architecturally and in design, is using rain curtains. From the roof, when the rain comes down, we are putting it into a trough and we are running it down the inside of a planter, across the face of a building. Instead of having these giant pipes running straight down very fast with a lot of water into our storm drainage, into our rivers, we are storing that water and letting it dissipate into a planter. We are doing things like that in order to use our natural resources in terms of growing and enhancing our environment. Those infrastructure trends are making a huge difference on our environment Products are being developed that are in zippy fun colors, and are easy to use and affordable. Other products are very “green” and compost themselves, such as the wonderful biodegradable pots now available. Many products are now  transportable, repurposed and recyclable; it’s a green thing.Oregon is wonderful for growing and being surrounded by nature. I swear, you could take a number two pencil, stick it in the ground, and two years later it will be a beautiful rhododendron (OK, not really, but it sure seems that way some days!). Magically, some god came in and made  everything grow here. All year long. Garden BootcampRosemound Farm13395 SW River RoadHillsboro, OR 97123503.468.2103