Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Hen Party Plus One August 18, 2009

The August meeting of the Seattle garden bloggers crew was largely a female affair this time, for the first month in a long while. While we have enjoyed the presence of Daniel, Michael and David at previous get-togethers, it looked at first like it was just going to be us chickens, including a few that were new to the group.

But then one brave rooster showed up – I hope all the clucking didn’t scare him too much.

Young Araucana hens and rooster

Oh wait, those were Molly’s new Araucana hens and their boyfriend. Here’s (most of) our flock:

August SAGBUTT crew

Aaron was the new guy (at far left), he blogs at erasei and in his first year of vegetable gardening appears to be outstripping all of my many years of efforts. Way to go, Aaron! Next to him, in blue with the camera, is Melanthia of Garden Muse, coming back from some time away from the blogosphere, where she was much missed. In tie-die is Paula of Petunia’s Garden, who as always brought something to share (a basket of perfect-looking garlic). Yvonne and her friend Donna (next over, sorry that Donna is behind a tree) also came along for the first time – both are avid gardeners among many other talents. Aerie-el from Gardener’s Roost, also with a camera out and also partially obscured, has been with us via comments and our listserv but had never been able to attend a meeting – it was so great to finally meet her. Melanthia’s friend Cheryl, in the elegant ensemble complete with pink handbag, was a really good sport for a non-gardener, having really been here mostly for a board meeting of the Isis Initiative, a non-profit that supports education for women in the devolping world. Last but not least, at far right, our gracious and hilarious host, Molly, telling us more funny stories about her Life on Tiger Moutain. Also with us were Curmudgeon, Wingnut and Dakota the dog, all in fine fettle and full of stories about critter challenges in this summer’s garden – they are not in the picture, probably already working on their post about the event, which seemed to go up almost instantly.

We all got to go on the “herding cats” tour of Molly’s magnificent property, a five acre spread at the edge of wilderness of which she personally tends quite a large chunk. I admit to missing a lot of the tour’s narration, since I was once again at the back, yakking, straggling, admiring, and generally comparing my own garden most unfavorably to what I saw.

Walking towards the barn and greenhouse, the veggie patch in raised beds begs you to come closer and take a look at what’s growing and how carefully and intelligently it has been tended.

Molly's barn, veggie garden and greenhouse

Have you ever seen healthier pumpkin vines?

Pumpkin vines that ate the universe

They grew up and over a net trellis that had been put there for other purposes (Borlotti beans visible below but not nearly so visible as the pumpkins!).

Pumpkin and Borlotti bean trellis (lacrosse net?)

We talked about TP rolls (or “loo rolls,” as Matron would call them) and how some have found them to be less than wonderful for seed starting, perhaps due to chemicals or coating in or on the cardboard. Molly says they work fine for her leeks – they certainly look happy.

Leek bed with TP rolls

I could be wrong, but I think this was only one of several tomato beds. Netting is to protect from chickens when they’re out free-ranging, I believe. Chickens are good for some pest control but they also scratch sort of indiscriminately; they also don’t eat slugs, but the ducks do so they seem like a good team.

Tomato bed

I forgot to peek in the greenhouse – I bet there was some great stuff in there. Dang. On to a few highlights from the rest of the property.

Clematis seedhead:

Clematis seedhead

Peach tree:

Peach tree

Big rock and Japanese willow at the front of the house, with striking sedum at the base:

Big rock and Japanese willow

Bed by the front steps with such a great mix of leaf colors, shapes, textures, and hues:

Entry bed

When gardeners get together is good food and drink ever far away? I know Molly worked very hard to put all of this together, but she didn’t make a big deal out of it. Highlights included pizza fresh out of oven, covered with homegrown tomatoes, and blackberry clafouti, from freshly harvested berries.

The spread

Elderflower beverages were promised, elderflower beverages were delivered. How to describe the taste? Delicate, sweet, subtle, delicious! To read the story of St. Germain liquer, and how the elderflowers are gathered (it involves old Bohemians on bicycles in the French alps, hard to beat that), click here.

St. Germain elderflower cocktail fixings

Not being a tomato lover, I didn’t participate in the tasting, but there sure were a lot of juicy-looking ones.

Tasty tomatoes and zinnias

I didn’t get a good photo of Molly’s dog, about whom she has told us many stories (I liked the one about how she picked up a bucket of blackberries and dashed off with it, handle in mouth, berries flying everywhere), nor the hide-ier of her cats, whom I glimpsed once gliding by, but this one put up with us at least until a faceful of German Shepherd got a little too close for comfort (in a friendly way, but still).

Feline host

Thank you, Molly, for sharing your beautiful food, drink, garden, and self with us. Life on Tiger Mountain seems pretty sweet indeed.

Molly at home


11 Responses to “Hen Party Plus One”

  1. Oh Karen what a day and what a wonderful post, thank you for sharing. I love the whole place!

    xoxo Tyra

    ps to Molly
    Your garden looks so great, you are a lucky girl! Well done

  2. jean Says:

    I love reading your posts Karen. It sounds like a wonderful gathering.

  3. Jen Says:

    Holy flying pumpkins! That’s a pretty garden! But I don’t think you have enough tomatoes on the table (kidding)

  4. Alice Joyce Says:

    Wow… It’s as if I was trotting along behind the Seattle garden bloggers, listening in & taking secret snaps. A wonderful garden, and fab company, Karen! It’s so cool that you’ve formed a group and have it together enough to orchestrate days such as this one. Impressive, indeed….

  5. Catherine Says:

    Sounds like you all had a great time! I wish I could grow pumpkins like that!

  6. Ohhh what a wonderful visit. If I can ever get the ankles biters off I would love to join you guys! Kim

  7. Aerie-el Says:

    I love your take on the day and your photos! It is interesting to see what each of us captured and wrote…each an individual, but part of a collective goal for the day.
    AND it was so wonderful to finally meet you in person! I look forward to the next meeting and the one after that and the one after…and after…and…(I’ll wear one of my caps next time :->)

  8. Aaron Says:

    I consider my success a combination of dumb luck and a variety of plants in the ground. I call it the ‘shotgun approach to gardening’. If you put in enough seeds something is bound to grow! 🙂

    Thanks so much for the post! Especially the part where you link people to their blogs. I considered it a success that I remembered the few names I caught on Saturday, but never caught which blog linked to which person, so thanks!

    I showed the post to my lovely bride and now she wants pumpkins next year. Molly sets the bar high..

  9. What a wonderful garden to visit. Those pumpkins are so wonderful…and that tasty spread, sounds like you all had fun. I’ve never heard of the tp roll as seed starter before. Very interesting! To bad there are issues with it!

  10. You know I love any story that has chickens.

    What a magnificent garden!

  11. Paula Says:

    Look what you started, Karen! We are all just delighted. One of my pumpkins that started out green is turning orange. It CAN’T be time for that yet! See you next time. Paula

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