Gardening where the sidewalk ends

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??


Happy Palindromic Day! January 2, 2010

Filed under: digressions — greenwalks @ 1:03 pm
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Today is an unusual one in terms of the date – 01/02/2010 is a rare palindrome, the numbers reading the same both forward and backward. My daughter and I made a little picture to commemorate it out of some holiday greens and berries my parents brought us for our mantel, cut from their woods (cedar and holly).

Palindromic Date - 01/02/2010

Hope your palindromic day is a good one.


Wishing You A Reindeer’s Rest on Dec. 25 December 24, 2009

Filed under: digressions,fauna — greenwalks @ 11:50 pm
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They must be pretty tired today, those sky-striders. So is anyone else who has been scurrying around getting stuff ready for the big day, if they celebrate Christmas in any secular or sacred way.

Best wishes to all and hope there is time to relax in this season that can overtake us all with too much of ***everything*** (food, people, stuff, emotions, expectations) at times.

Sleepy Reindeer at Swanson's

(We met this particular reindeer at Swanson’s Nursery in Seattle. Don’t you love those soulful eyes?)


PlanTV December 19, 2009

Filed under: digressions — greenwalks @ 3:24 pm
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This post on nestmaker made me start looking more closely at plant images in feature films and TV that we watch. Hope I am not breaking too many copyright laws here, and sorry for the poor-quality images.

Disney’s “Jungle Book” is full of tropical flora. Whether or not it is accurately rendered, that’s for someone more in the know to judge, but I enjoyed it and did see in the credits that there were certain animators who worked specifically on the backgrounds.

The titular jungle:

'Jungle Book' jungle

Little Mowgli all tucked in snugly by his friend Balou the bear in an understory plant:

Mowgli asleep in a plant

Grouchy but protective panther Bagheera and Mowgli asleep in a tree (can you tell we have the smallest TV on the planet, outside of a handheld?):

Bagheera and Mowgli asleep in a tree

And finally, Coach’s wife on “Friday Night Lights” chatting on the phone while taking a pot of aloes outside:

Coach's wife with aloe plant

What are your favorite guest-starring appearances for plants on film?


New But Not Necessarily Improved December 12, 2009

Filed under: digressions,edibles — greenwalks @ 9:28 pm
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Since my family is a little bit apple-crazy, I figure I have to try just about any named apple variety I can lay my hands on. Farmers markets and orchard stands are of course the best places to find unusual varieties, but every once in a while something new pops up in the grocery store.

Last week, I spotted a sign for a new hybrid of Braeburn X Royal Gala, called a Jazz. It had the super-firm feel of a Fuji, which is not my favorite (I’d like to keep my front teeth into old age, thanks), but I decided to try it anyway.

"Jazz" apple

I don’t know if I got a poor specimen of the variety, but I have to say it did not make the cut for me in terms of flavor or texture (too sweet and chalky). Looking it up to make sure I had the hybrid varieties right, I saw that this particular apple has not only a trademark, but its own web site, Facebook page and Twitter following. I kid you not. I am not linking to any of them since I fear their PR flaks would take me to task for criticizing their product, which seems to have originated in New Zealand but is licensed to growers here in Washington state and elsewhere. But you can look it up if you don’t believe me or just want to see the cute young members of the JAZZ™ Apple Tangy-Sweet Crunch Bunch, coming soon to a town near you to offer up some slices. No, I did not make that up either.

I’m not knocking hybrids, I know they are an important part of keeping the plant kingdom thriving. In fact, it seems that the Royal Gala itself is a hybrid from New Zealand (Golden Delicious X Kidd’s Orange Red), ditto Braeburn (Granny Smith X Lady Hamilton, possibly). Those two combined represent a huge chunk of worldwide apple sales, so I guess I can’t blame them for trying to find the next golden goose. Has anyone else tried this apple? Was it any good? Did the name attract or repel you? (Do you think they focus-grouped the heck out of it?) Am I just being an old grump for preferring my apples not to wear stickers with company logos and trademarks on them?


A Moment in Time August 7, 2009

Filed under: digressions — greenwalks @ 8:44 pm
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Did you notice what you were up to at 12:34:56 on 7.8.09 (by the UK/Euro way of writing August 7)? I was having lunch at Grateful Bread Cafe in Seattle (home of the most delicious Struan loaf in town) with some very nice fellow moms and their incredibly sweet, funny and well-behaved children. When I mentioned the goofy time/date number string, the kids got really excited and wanted to help me capture the “moment in time.” I let them decide how to pose, so this is what they came up with:

Lunchmonkeys at 12:34:56 on 7.8.09

My daughter and the adults elected not to be included. Maybe they were worried about veggie chili splatters?

For more memorializing of this funny little moment, visit Veg Plotting for links to others’ blog posts.


Moving Up June 19, 2009

Filed under: digressions,trees — greenwalks @ 11:13 am
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It seems like it was about two weeks ago that I wrote this micro-post about sending my only child off to kindergarten. I’m not too sure where the ensuring 10 months went – some was spent here, avoiding other tasks and looming unfinished projects. It was always more fun to think about the plants in my own garden, those around town that I saw here in Seattle, and to read about everything you folks have been up to all over the world and to exchange ideas through comments.

Some things went smoothly for my daughter this year, others will continue to be a challenge. She has some brain differences and although she is undeniably smart, funny, observant and creative, her sensory, social and flexibility issues make “doing school” pretty exhausting for her (and, in its aftermath, for me).

It’s easy for me to get caught up in the negatives but I just want to take a non-garden-related second to congratulate my baby for her achievements this year – making new friends, learning to write, studying in-depth about green sea urchins, figuring out how to navigate in the noisy hallways, going on a few field trips without mom, always participating in games during PE, sharing a locker, and many many more things that seemed impossible at the beginning of the year.

Congratulations to all graduates and their families. Hope the transition to the next phase of school, work or life goes fabulously!

Girl in stump

(I may be here in blogland pretty sporadically until September – my small amounts of very precious free time will likely be spent in the actual garden. Happy Summer Solstice to everyone, and may your gardens grow well this season.)