Creating Beautiful
Whidbey Island Landscapes

that celebrate the unique history, ecology and character of our island home.

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Time to think

January is the traditional month for reflecting on the past year and making resolutions for the new.  But for me, fall marks the slowing down, if not end of the gardening season.  I have some rainy days and dark evenings to review the list of projects I’d hoped to accomplish and  think about what I’ll do differently next season.  Island gardening is a different animal, so there are plenty of lessons I’ve learned  – usually the hard way.

You may recall in my post of August 17, titled Rework, I was ripping out a border next to our field.   It has taken me until this weekend (that’s about six weeks) to finally finish pulling up the unfortunate choice of groundcovers and the resulting network of weeds underneath.  I was actually despairing of being finished before the Greenbank winds drove me in for the year.  Then the Mr. stopped work on his project to join me in a whole weekend of weeding and our daughter and son-in-law spent this past weekend helping us lay down newsprint and mulch.  On a big piece of property, it’s not often you get to say you’re finished with something, but HOORAY! . ..

Here is the result.  All ready for filling in per the planting plan, early next spring.

Lessons learned:

1. Don’t open up a patch of ground near an open field unless the time and budget exists for planting, mulching and diligent weeding until the plants are big enough to defend the territory. Get the biggest plants you can afford.

2. Short, spreading groundcovers are no match for the weeds from a field or forest.

3. Mow the field more frequently to keep weed seeds from blowing in especially nearest the border.

4. create a “mini ditch” between the field and border to help keep the field roots from crawling into the bed – may need to be done once a year.

5.  Keep a log of plants that did the job, hours spent weeding / mulching sections of the garden, how much mulch was used in each section and how long it lasted. (Actually a suggestion from my brilliant daughter.)

6. Get some help.

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Summer Blues – Catananche caerulea


One of my favorite summer flowers is Cupid’s Dart, because the lavender-blue flowers are a nice contrast or complement to almost any other color in my garden and the wiry stems weave in and out, knitting other plants together and filling in the blank spots.

with Linaria purpurea

Cupid’s Dart is a short-lived perennial, but self sows politely.  In my garden, the center of two or three year old plants die out, but new plants emerge just at the edges.  The two foot stems rise up from a one foot clump and can sometimes be a bit floppy, so it’s wise to plant where it can be supported by other plants.

with Nassella tenuissima and Nicotiana alata

Given its Mediterranean origins, it seems logical that most sources say to plant Cupid’s Dart in full sun with good drainage.  But I’ve also had luck with it planted in my entry garden which is soggy all winter.

with Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldstrum'

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