Creating Beautiful
Whidbey Island Landscapes


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

Learn more!

Who has the last word?

The theme of this year’s Hardy Plant Study Weekend was “Married To Your Garden: How to Save the Relationship”, this year hosted by the Northwest Perennial Alliance in Bellevue.  Four days jam-packed with plant and book sales, area garden tours, meeting up with old friends and colleagues and an incredible horticultural display.  Morning and evening speakers took primarily humorous positions on the topic – gardening as a couple; “flings” with newer cool plants,  garden burnout.   We got to hear Frank Ronan twice and  sounded much like the column he writes for Gardens Illustrated, self-depracating sprinkled with a few well-earned jabs to this primarily northwest gardening community – such as the ghastly use of plant labels in the garden.  He also took issue with our overuse of mulch because then you don’t get self-sowers – those plants that sprinkle themselves around, often into the perfect places.  Several of his quotes resonated with me, such as “A garden is at its best when nature asserts itself and makes it better.”

Of course, every garden on the tour faced with 450 visitors was primped to be at it’s best.  But nature still had her own way a bit.

Grotto in a Bellevue garden.

Grotto in a Bellevue garden.

Georgetown garden.

Georgetown garden.

Georgetown garden.

Georgetown garden.

Spilling into the alley, Georgetown garden.

Spilling into the alley, Georgetown garden.

Spilling into the alley, Georgetown garden.

Spilling into the alley, Georgetown garden.

North Seattle entry posts.

North Seattle entry posts.

Ruin in Bellevue.

Ruin in Bellevue.

Normandy Park garden.

Normandy Park garden.

 

  • posted
  • categories
  • author

Gardens and Art on Orcas Island

My month long absence has been for good cause – my daughter’s wedding on Orcas Island just two weeks ago.  Two weeks before that, we took a trip up to find the perfect wedding present and quickly secured a commission with a local photographer.

With a delicious amount of extra time on our hands, we explored Eastsound.  The Fourth of July Parade was colorful and fun.  And look at these concrete sidewalks, reminiscent of wood right down to the nails.

Wouldn’t it be great to create a modern totem for yourself or someone special in your life to add to your garden?

The Emmanual Episcopal Church has lovely grounds, a beautiful mixed border and a fabulous labyrinth.

Just outside of town, we explored the Anthony Howe sculpture garden.  Amazing kinetic sculptures that move with the slightest of breeze in ingenious ways.   My photos do not do them justice since the beauty is in their movement and in the music they create.  http://www.howeart.net/  Make sure you click on the photos to watch videos of the sculptures in action.

You can view all the photos from this day by clicking on the Flickr icon at the bottom of this page.

 

  • posted
  • categories
  • author

Thank goodness for the Mr.

Years ago, my long suffering husband (who for privacy and brevity’s sake I refer to as Mr.)  came home to find me ripping out the orange shag carpet in the bedroom of our Kirkland home.  We’d planned to eventually pull it out since the day we bought the place, but this was the day I could stand it no longer.  Unfortunately, by the time Mr. came home I was only half way through the job.  So, like he always does when I get a bee in my bonnet, Mr.  changed into work clothes and we got it all out by bedtime, including the dangerous tack strip.

This week a similar thing happened in an area along our little dirt road where I have been planting trees in little islands in anticipation of joining all these little islands into one big island screen of trees, along with native or native-looking shrubs and bulbs – a transitional space between the wilder and cultivated parts of our garden.  I’d reached the end of my tolerance of all the isolated islands.

To dig out all of the sod for this new bed would be impossible and would remove a precious amount of soil, so we are creating the bed on top of the sod.  I create an edge with my favorite little sharp spade,  then cut another edge 4-6” inside of this.  This strip of sod gets dug out in chunks and placed upside down inside where the bed will eventually be – again I don’t want to waste any soil.  I’ll cover all the sod with 3 layers of newsprint, which I purchase in bulk from a moving supply store.  This is much easier to deal with for me than unfolding the Sunday paper.  I overlap the sheets to make sure that no green can poke through.  I also remove any weeds with sharp leaves or stems, like thistle that might be able to poke through before they rot.   Then a 4” layer of aged manure will go on top of this – making sure I keep it away from the tree and shrub trunks.  I’ve also used chips for this purpose.  In the meantime, it will look rather nice and in another  3-6 months time, the sod will have decomposed, leaving a bed with nutrient rich soil and then AACK, I’ll need to get it planted quick before the weeds move in.   Maybe I can do this before the Mr. gets home . . ..

 

  • posted
  • categories
  • author

Afield

This was a week full of field trips.  Luckily I love field trips.  I remember seeing bears and having a tuna sandwich on my very first school field trip to the zoo when I was in the first grade.  I home-schooled my daughters in elementary school and we went on field trips whenever we could.  Once when we were studying Washington state history, we dropped everything and took a trip to the Canadian border.

This Tuesday, I led a group of oh, so smart fifth-graders through Meerkerk Gardens, where I am the part time education coordinator.  On Wednesday, I went to the zoo with my daughter’s kindergarten class.  Friday I left the island with some of my BGFs (Best Gardening Friends) to tour a great garden near my old stomping grounds in Kirkland, followed by shopping trips to Wells Medina Nursery and City People’s Garden Nursery.  While I do enjoy reading about gardens in books or magazines, there’s nothing like visiting the real thing for inspiration.   I’m introduced to new plants, see old plant friends used in new ways, and discover interesting plant combinations.  I also often come home with fresh ideas for the hardscape part of a garden – fences, arbors, patios and the like.  What was great about this trip was that the designer and owner of the garden took the morning to show us around and talk about what her vision for her garden is and how she’s gone about developing it.  I was reminded that if you define what you want to do in your garden, what you want to feel and experience in your garden and make choices based on that vision, it’s easier to stay focused.  That’s especially good news, since like the rest of you on Whidbey my spring gardening is just getting started thanks to an exceptionally long winter.  And there is so much to do . . .

The Northwest Perennial Alliance. http://www.northwestperennialalliance.org/index.php has open member garden tours spring through fall. Whidbey gardens will be open on selected weekends in June and July.

And don’t forget to buy tickets for the Whidbey Island Garden Tour on Saturday, June 25.  http://wigt.org/index.html

 

  • posted
  • categories
  • author