Gardening where the sidewalk ends

SAGBUTT Saturday – February 27 at CUH February 25, 2010

Filed under: bloggers' gathering — greenwalks @ 5:46 pm
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Seattle Garden Bloggers United to Talk hasn’t met for a while, so we hope to see anyone who can make it this coming Saturday, back where it all started this time last year – the Miller Library at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

If you don’t know what SAGBUTT is (and how we got that silly name) and are curious, I’ve added a page – click on “What is SAGBUTT?” next to theĀ  “About” link in the top right corner of the Greenwalks home page.

The kind librarians may have time to give us a brief, informal tour of the collection. Members of the public may borrow up to three items at a time from it, for a three week period. I recently began volunteering there, and feel so fortunate to be even a small part of this amazing resource for the community.

Come one, come all! It’s great to see stalwart members and new faces alike. We usually just yak for a while about our gardens and many folks bring seeds, plants, and other stuff to share. It’s a pretty wonderful group of like-minded humans.

When: Saturday, Feb. 27, 11am-2pm
Where: Miller Library, UW Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98195
Library web site, for directions, etc. :

Miller Library "Open" Sign


February Gold February 24, 2010

No question about it, this has been the weirdest winter I can remember. Yes, I’m counting last year’s Snowpocalypse; this one is even odder. Spring came months earlier than usual this year – I’m confused, the trees are confused, the birds are confused. I just hope we get back to some semblance of normal next year or it’s going to start seeming like a pattern instead of a few anomalies strung together.

Anyone reading this from under a pile of snow on the roof is probably wondering what’s to complain about. Sunny days and 60 degrees in February? Well, it’s not typical, so it’s getting everything started sooner (including garden pests like aphids and popping weed, not to mention allergies!), which just seems wrong. I wonder things like, if the migratory hummingbirds come back and the flowers they are used to have all bloomed already, will they have enough to eat following their exhausting trip? If my roses leafed out too early and I didn’t cut them back until this week, will they still bloom? If the bumblebees are already out but it gets colder later, can they go back to sleep?

The upside of all of this, of course, is sun. Lovely, warming, spirit-lifting, unusually present sun. I can’t remember eating lunch outside at a cafe at this time of year before. Essential Baking was on my way home from an errand the other week and I couldn’t resist stopping in.

Essential Baking sign on sunny Seattle day

Their special soup was beet something, I can’t remember the other ingredients but it was heavenly, along with a salad of spring greens and some tasty flatbread. The sun made the soup look like was sparkling.

Sunny cafe lunch - outdoors in February!?!

The cafe has a nice little parking strip garden, with euphorbias and a cute, small witch hazel which was just glowing on this day.

Glowing witch hazel blossoms and euphorbia

Sunlit streetside euphorbia at Essential Baking

Some kind of eucalyptus (?) is planted in brick planters on the cafe side of the street. I liked the way the red-rimmed leaves softened the severity of the iron railing.

Eucalyptus leaves and iron railing

Outdoor dining in the dead of winter. What is this, California??


A Garden Valentine February 14, 2010

Filed under: flora — greenwalks @ 8:46 am
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Hope you give and get some love today, whether it’s between you and a sweetie, family, kids, pets, and/or plants! Here is my valentine to you.

The neighbor’s pink camellia blossoms are already emerging. Seems early but maybe I’m just paranoid at this point.

Pink camellia

Coral-bark maple seen in a nearby parking strip, maybe a new planting since I didn’t notice it until recently.

Coral-bark maple in parking strip

It’s violet time!

First violets

Ribes (flowering currant) species of unknown name, planted in a rockery (well, a stumpery actually, since the beds are rimmed with big tree sections) near my house.

Flowering currant

Rained-on radicchio in my front veggie patch. Doesn’t it look like a raw red heart?

Heart-like radicchio

And, last but not least, this emerging tulip foliage with its red edges delicately rimmed in dewdrops looked just like the perfect Valentine heart to me.

Tulip "heart" outlined in dewdrops

Hope you have a good Valentine’s day, however you celebrate it (or don’t)!


Skywatch Friday – February 12, 2010 February 12, 2010

Filed under: sky,Skywatch Friday — greenwalks @ 8:46 am

Subtitle: A View From the Bridge

Taken from a speeding car on the I-5 Freeway heading north through Seattle; I’ve heard there are often crashes at this spot because drivers are swiveling their heads to look at the Cascade mountains to the East (pictured below) and the Olympics to the West. When they’re out on the same day, as they were on this day, it’s hard to resist ogling them. Luckily, I was just a passenger this trip.

Cascade Mountains Over Portage Bay, Seattle

Too bad about the ugly crane and hideous buildings in the left foreground. At least there’s water (Portage Bay) and trees and sky and all those amazing snow-capped peaks.

Happy Skywatch Friday! To see more skies from all over the world, click here.


Foggy Garden February 9, 2010

Filed under: my garden,spring,weather — greenwalks @ 9:02 pm
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On first look today, our world was enrobed in a down-to-the-ground cloud. It was the thickest fog I can remember in ages. School looked super spooky:

Spooky schoolyard

Back at home, I thought how blah and sad the street garden looked, as it has since the deep December freeze killed off so many things that often overwinter and I didn’t plant enough winter interest to keep it looking good all year.

Haunted hell strip

Then I decided to take a closer look to see if I could see something beautiful, something interesting, something worth noticing, signs of spring to come or summer past. In just a few minutes of slowing down and looking closely, here is some of what I found in my seemingly nondescript landscape.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ seedheads

Sedum seedheads in winter

Purple sprouting broccoli sticking out its wet “tongue”

Purple sprouting broccoli

Lemon balm seeds (need to get rid of those pronto!) against Mexican feather grass tendrils

Lemon balm seedheads against Mexican feather grass

Crocus awaiting the sun’s kiss to open up shop for the day

Closed-up crocus

One giant dewdrop and a million little ones on a lupine leaf

Dewdrops on lupine

Gossamer strands, evidence of a spider’s presence on iris seedpods

Iris seedpods and dewy spider strand

and coneflower too

Coneflower seedhead covered in dewy spiderweb

Then this, which would have been enough on its own to banish the gloom of the day

The first tulip! Don’t scream, yours aren’t behind. This tulipa greigii came up first here last year, before the snowdrops and crocus had stopped blooming, so it must be in its nature to be the earliest bird.

Even in the less spectacular garden seasons, there’s probably always something to notice – even if it’s “just” spiderwebs on a dead flower or, in another climate, bird tracks in the snow. We just have to slow down enough to find it.


Tiny Treasures February 8, 2010

Filed under: flora,trees,winter — greenwalks @ 8:21 pm
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I owe a big thanks to David Perry of A Photographer’s Garden Blog – without his post about and spectacular photos of the female flowers on his contorted filbert tree, I would never have known to look for them in my own garden. I bow to David’s far-superior eye, camera, framing and description and hope you will check out his blog if you haven’t already – he’s a master.

My “Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick” tree, planted by the previous gardener, has brought me much enjoyment every winter as its ridiculously curvy branches are covered in a busy array of grouped catkins. How can I have never noticed the “girl” flowers before? Well, because they are so absurdly tiny, probably less than 1/8″ across and sparsely scattered around the tree, placed kind of oddly at the spur where the catkins emerged. They look to me like fuchsia-colored baby sea anemones. Do they bloom for longer than a week? I can’t imagine so, but maybe they do. Their appearance has coincided with the end of the witch hazel’s blooming season, so the timing could not be more perfect.

Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ – if you live in Zone 4-9 and don’t have one already, you might want to start saving your birthday money so you can see this happen next spring… (Note: I think this is how all filberts act, not just contorted ones, so you don’t have to save so many pennies if you just want a straight-branch one!)

Harry Lauder's Walking Stick flowers

Contorted filbert female flower emerging

Contorted filbert female flowers and male catkins

Contorted filbert flower

Catkins and flower

Many catkins, tiny flowers

Gracias, David, for helping me see what was right in front of me.


Orchidmania February 7, 2010

Filed under: flora,garden shows — greenwalks @ 4:05 pm
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You could see a certain look come over people’s faces the moment they saw Blooming Ecstasy, the orchid display garden at the NW Flower & Garden Show this week. It was a bit of a glazed look, mixed with longing, plus a little bit of disbelief and a small helping of madness. Even those like me who have never been bitten by the orchid bug were hard-pressed not to gasp over each succeeding marvel. The volunteers from the Northwest Orchid Society who staffed the show beamed proudly over their progeny, as many mental notes were made to look for these at the sale booths later on.

I will do my best with botanical names here, but I didn’t write any down and my photos didn’t show all of the tags. Please feel free to correct any you see here that are incorrect or un-named. (Note: if you are reading this via Blotanical and the images are getting cut off to the right, I apologize – if you click on this link, it should give you the full, wide versions. Thanks!)

This was the brightest orange flower in the entire garden show, I think. (Many of the tags included abbreviated names, maybe to save space.) This one was termed Epicat. ‘Butterfly Kisses’:

Epicat. 'Butterfly Kisses' orchid

Encyclia cochleata X lancifolium – they looked to me like skirts for the flower fairies:

Encyclia cochleata X lancifolium orchid

This one was a much deeper purple than my camera could register in the odd light. Still, it was one of my favorites so I wanted to include it here. The top part looks like a clematis, but then the bottom busts out with those crazy colors.

Mottled purple orchid

I loved the “Smell Me” tag on this one. Of course I had to obey. Undeniably sweet!

"Smell me" orchid

This foliage plant was almost as riveting as the orchids. Someone will surely know its name? Probably a common houseplant, again not one of my specialties.

Unknown tropical foliage

Hot hot hot pink:

Hot pink orchids

So delicately spiky:

Spiky orchids

Crazy stripes:

Striped orchids

Tiny cascades of flowers on Dendrochilum fragrans:

Dendrochilum fragrans orchid

I think this one’s tag said Paphiopedilum sukhakulii ‘Jeannette’ – maybe a type of Ladyslipper? Coming upon a patch of native Ladyslipper orchids in the wild is one of my most treasured hiking moments.

Paphiopedilum sukhakulii "Jeannette' orchid

Guess Jay Leno decided to escape from the spotlight in LA and come on up to the garden show:

Ladyslipper orchid

What about you, have you succumbed to Orchidmania?