Gardening tips from Portlanders

Portland neighborhoods are known for their bustling summertime streets, with  neighbors chatting on the sidewalk and families biking the lanes.

Foster-Powell neighbors took that liveliness to the next level Saturday, inviting strangers into their backyards to behold the vegetal spectacles (and share lemonade, cheese and other treats).

The seventh annual Foster-Powell Garden Tour featured nearly 20 yards this year. The event is funded by the neighborhood association.

We asked several participating gardeners for their best tips. Here's what they had to say:

Donnie Palermini has a unique garden neighbors call "the jungle." He likes big, invasive species, such as bamboo and banana trees.

Gardening tip: Go the Portland Nursery and buy something you normally wouldn't. Find out what kind of soil it wants and replace the soil with that. Also, invite your artist friends to come over and help with the design.

Kathy Ireland likes a little whimsy in her garden creations. The landscaper incorporated a number of toys into a Foster-Powell resident's garden, including a plastic camel and a little rock climber.

Gardening tip: Use boiling water to kill weeks instead of Roundup. You can use vinegar, too. Use epsom salt on your yard to make it green — but only put it out when the yard is dry, or you'll burn it.

Joe Weisensee and Elaine Simer retired to the neighborhood two years ago and got to work on their garden right away. The space produces foods varying from kiwi to lettuce, and there's also a tipi for the grandkids to enjoy.

Gardening tip: If you raise beds for produce, you don't need as much space as you think you do. You can get a lot in there. (Weisensee)

Beth John, who has been in the neighborhood for 4 years, scatters ornament alliums throughout her yard for a whimsical touch. She likes plants that "bring life to the garden" by attracting birds and bees.

Gardening tip: The most important thing is that the soil is good. (She uses composted manure and Black Forest mulch.)

Caren Marre's garden is a 21-year work in progress. She works at home, and having a quiet place to escape outside is important.

Gardening tip: Perennials are a wonderful investment. They give and give. It's OK to really hack away at them when they get too big. Cut them back, don't be shy. Also, incorporate your family as early as possible.

Blake Kincaid moved into the neighborhood 2 years ago and saw the boring, withered back yard as a blank slate.

Gardening tip: Don't be too fussy. Pull things out if they don't do well. They feel like children, but it's OK to rip them out. You want to get a plant in there that will do well as early as possible.