Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Bloglull December 29, 2010

Filed under: berries,blogging,flora,summer,veggies — greenwalks @ 3:04 pm
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My garden blog buddy Jordan of Metropolitan Gardens (check out his incredible blog if you haven’t already) said the other day that he noticed Greenwalks has been “in a bit of a lull” lately. That was a rather kind way, I thought, to point out the obvious, which is that I had basically abandoned it, and indeed all of garden blogland, since the end of last spring.

Why did I stop? Many reasons:  life challenges, lack of time, feeling like I had nothing novel or of interest to say or show, the usual. Did I miss it? Yep. Did I feel bad for just trailing off without explanation? Kind of. But here’s the weird thing – after two years (okay, not quite) of frequent posts and obsessive tagging, a ghost trail of Greenwalks still exists out there in Web land and the clicks didn’t completely stop. I did miss the comments and the nice exchanges with fellow bloggers, though, and maybe there will be a time when I am able to come back to this world more regularly, since it has been so fun to be a part of.

In the meantime, Greenwalks will probably stay in its unofficial lull. I hope to be back eventually, but for now will leave you with the last images I uploaded to my Flickr account at the end of summer – a bit of warmth on a day where snowflakes are floating down from the Seattle skies.

Cheers and Happy New Year to all, and may your gardens grow well this coming year!

Northgate Community Center Planters

Well-composed planters outside the Northgate Community Center. Lots of kids zipping around the next-door playground, but the pottery and flowers are intact. Miraculous!

Blueberry trio

Sum total of our blueberry harvest this year. I moved the bushes to a sunnier spot, so maybe next year we’ll get a few more?!?!

Green bean first harvest

The green beans are reliable performers in our small veggie garden. We enjoyed these within about 10 minutes of picking them!

Late summer harvest

Our harvests will never tip the scales, but it’s nice to have a little something fresh every day from the garden. The end of the snap peas (planted super late, but then a bumper crop since the summer was cool), some cherry tomatoes, basil (rescued from the jr. gardener, who usually eats every leaf before I can snip any!) and chives for three-onion risotto.

Favorite sunflower

Last but not least, my favorite volunteer Mexican sunflower of the summer. I haven’t planted these for years, they just keep coming up in my parking strip veggie patch! Every year, the colors are slightly different. I wonder what colors will show their faces this coming year?


One-Year Blog Scorecard August 8, 2009

Filed under: blogging — greenwalks @ 11:35 am
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Oh, the hubris of the newbie. Well, I probably still fall into that category, but on this one-year anniversary of the first post here (or anywhere, for that matter), I thought I’d look back to the beginning and see how I’ve upheld my mini-manifesto.

So, let’s take it point by point…

“Here are some things I hope this blog will be:

  • a place to look at photos of cool parking strip gardens in Seattle and wherever else I can find them
  • OK, I started out thinking this would be all I would do. Then I worried it was too boring, so I started interspersing other topics. Then I felt bad about that, so I put a few more on-topic posts back in, then I gave up on finding the perfect balance and just started writing whatever I felt like. I admire those who can stick to a single topic, I guess I’m just not one of them.

  • inspiration for folks who want to rip out their boring old matted grass or hideous groundcover on the street and plant something more interesting
  • Well, I have yet to hear from an actual convert, but if you have a story to share on that account, please do! I’m still working on my neighbors… And I do love to show what people have done with this little part of the public/private interface, so I hope that at least one person has gotten an idea they could adapt or use for their own place.

  • a forum for sharing stories and tips about tilling that narrow patch of ground between the street and the sidewalk
  • Again, not sure I have achieved this but a few of you have shared sightings or linked to posts you did about street gardens (and I know I was not the first to start noticing them, for sure!) so that has been fun. Keep ’em coming!

  • a discussion of street gardening philosophies (whom does it belong to: the city? the gardener? the neighborhood? passersby? all of the above?)                                                                                                                                         

I could do better here. Seattle recently changed its regulations about strip gardens to include more flexibility  and fewer needed permits and fees. I hope other cities will either follow suit or are already there. A project I keep meaning to get to is contacting the entities in charge for some major cities and finding out what the current scoop is, then putting the info here as a centralized resource. Maybe in the fall! I’ve heard lots more conversation about the hows and whats rather than the whys and ifs lately,  so that seems like a good trend.

“Here’s what it won’t be:

  • me bragging about my adorable garden and telling you how to make one just like it (trust me, once you see photos, you will understand)
  • Uh huh. Well, I sincerely hope there hasn’t been much bragging. Maybe a little fond admiring, or stunned surprise when something looks half-decent.  Mostly I’m just kind of embarrassed about my garden so only try to share a few close-ups or the frequent semi-tragic failures.

  • Master Gardener-level plant advice (I’m just an enthusiast, not an expert.)
  • Yes, we can all agree here, I’m no sage. However, I have met many of you here who are, and your comments and advice are always so useful and appreciated. I feel like I’ve gone back to school, only from home and for free, with much nice teachers and only self-directed homework.

  • a lot of off-topic posts about my life
  • Oh dear, failed on this one. It’s hard to resist sometimes. My kid is kind of the ultimate garden ornament, when she chooses to be still enough to capture on pixels. Plus, she is an enthusiastic, if somewhat Godzilla-like, presence in the garden. Always up for whatever I have the patience to invite her to do. I hope I haven’t gone too far overboard with the kid pics. I try not to, although I always enjoy others’ so this is not meant as any criticism!

Truly, I can’t say enough how much this goofy little endeavor has brought to my life in terms of enrichment – I have met so many cool people, either virtually or in real life, through this medium and although at times it has felt like a bit of a burden to keep up with it all, overall it’s been one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever done. How’s that for hyperbole! But, it’s true. Plus, it’s kept my eyes open to all the possibilities that streetside gardens can hold, even when they’re not yet planted.

Thank you to everyone who’s been along for even a little bit of this ride so far. I am pretty blown away by what an awesome community the garden blogging world has turned out to be, and I look forward to the next year of shared information, opinions, joys and sorrows, and whatever any of us choose to do with our physical and virtual tilth.

My late-July street garden


Long Live SAGBUTT! February 7, 2009

A few brave souls, some of the Seattle-area garden bloggers, got together for the first time today for a historic and thoroughly enjoyable gathering. I’m somewhat horrified to say that the joke name SAGBUTT (Seattle Area Garden Bloggers United to Talk) seems to have stuck. There were lots of funny ideas for a logo, which I will leave you to imagine, but suffice to say that whatever the name, it was great to meet everyone who could come and we are full of plans and ideas for future gatherings!

Not everyone was wild about the idea of a picture, and a few folks had to go before we asked one of the librarians to come outside with us and take a group shot (she was not only kind enough to do it, but she took some with three different cameras!), but here we are:

SAGBUTT Founding Members (Most)

(From left: Jean, Daniel, Melanthia, Paula, Wingnut, Molly and Karen)

The Elisabeth C. Miller Library on the University of Washington campus was a great place to meet. They provided us with a free meeting space and the librarian on duty even asked me to provide her with a list of all of our blogs, so that the library can help to publicize them (I’ll try to get to that this week). The surrounding gardens and grounds are worthy of a long look, and I hope to return there in the near future to see more of what they have growing there.

Spring arriving at UW Center for Urban Horticulture

I owe a big thanks to Melanthia, blogging as Gardeness at Garden Muse, who helped with the planning and brought delicious treats. She also kindly set up a Facebook group, which you can find under Seattle Garden Bloggers if you are on FB. She also kindly accepted the task of setting up a Yahoogroups network which we can use to keep in contact and have a centralized way to get info to everyone. If you didn’t make it to the meeting today but want to be on the info list, head over to Garden Muse and let Melanthia know you’d like to be included. Here she is, getting a little giddy in the parking lot at the prospect of all those coffee bags (read on to see what that’s all about).

Melanthia and Jean

Further proof, in case any was needed, that gardeners are a generous bunch – many folks brought something to share, from cookies to jute coffee bags for weed smothering to black pussy-willows and even a beautiful, edible pumpkin. Many are excited about future seed and plant swaps in addition to public and home garden visits.

One interesting thing we discovered is that nearly everyone who came today grew up elsewhere. Seattle is infamous for being a place where it’s hard to make new friends, and often the ones who really do make the effort to reach out and connect are those who either grew up or at least lived elsewhere for a long stretch. I’m generalizing here, obviously this is not uniformly true, but out of the nine people who showed up, I think at least seven mentioned that this was true of them.

Another trend seemed to be that gardening, as one member so succinctly put it, is “in the blood.” So many people mentioned that parents, grandparents, or many generations of their families were truck farmers, “crazy gardeners,” and otherwise plant-friendly, that it did make me wonder if there could be a “gardening gene.”

People’s motivations to blog ranged from personally chronicling their garden for themselves, family and friends, promoting a business, distracting themselves from other aspects of life, putting out info or inspiration for others, etc. and one attendee, Margaret, found out about the meeting 20 min. before it began and came because she wants to start a blog herself.

Molly of Life on Tiger Mountain probably wins the prize for earliest entry to the blogosphere, since she started her first blog in 2000. Others of us are much more newly minted (try 6 mo.!) so it will be nice to look to the more experienced for advice and help. Actually, we didn’t talk about blogging all that much – it was just so interesting to hear everyone’s backgrounds, stories, interests that time flew by and the two hours allotted grew to past when the library needed to close, and some stayed and kept talking outside in the gardens, as well as the parking lot (where Paula of Petunia’s Garden so generously shared a station-wagon-load of the aforementioned coffee bags).

Jute Coffee Bags for Garden Use

I have already learned so much from these folks just by reading their blogs, but taking it into the sphere of real life was such a revelation. I hope to go and visit Wingnut from Weed Whackin Wenches up at Sky Nursery to take advantage of some of their current and upcoming sales, am planning a trip down to Macrina Bakery in SoDo to see the life-size tree mural painted by Jean of Pill Bug’s Point of View, want to tap into the knowledge and vision that Liisa of The Intercontinental Gardener gained in her graduate studies of Garden History and years as a garden designer and rehabilitator in Australia and Sweden, and have hopes to someday see the astonishingly large and prolific home vegetable bed (60′ X 160′, yes, that’s feet!) that Daniel of Daniel Mount Gardens has going out at his place in Carnation.

After some discussion, we decided to alternate Saturdays and Sundays for future get-togethers, to include as many folks as possible. Our next meeting is planned for Sunday, March 22, and may include a special international guest member, Matron of the UK’s Down on the Allotment. Paula is planning something, so look to her blog or sign up for the Yahoogroup so you don’t miss out!

To anyone who has read this far and isn’t from the Seattle area, you are of course welcome to come to any of our future meetings if you should happen to be in town for one. And if you have thought about starting something similar in your own area, I’d encourage you to go for it! The worst thing that can happen? Nobody shows up and you get to eat all the snacks. I actually thought that might be the case today, but instead I got to meet eight wonderful people who share a common interest and whom I hope to see again next month! Making connections in the virtual world is great and it can make the world seem smaller, but meeting your neighbors helps so much to keep you rooted in your community. And who could understand that better than a bunch of garden bloggers?

Urban Horticulture Center in Seattle

(The only drawback of today? I spent so much of the day on getting ready for, attending, and then blogging about the event that I didn’t get out in the garden on a gorgeously sunny day!)


Seattle Area Garden Bloggers Meet-up? January 2, 2009

Filed under: meetings — greenwalks @ 5:17 pm
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I’ve been thinking for a while that it might be fun to get together with the actual humans behind the Seattle-area gardening blogs I’ve been reading and enjoying so much in the past few months. It seems like folks in other areas (Austin, TX comes to mind) have done this, so it’s certainly not an original idea, but since it’s winter and we can’t do all that much actual gardening at the moment, maybe we could at least meet up and talk about gardening, blogging, planning for next summer, or whatever people wanted to discuss.

If this ends up happening and we decide to do it again, maybe we could pick a monthly meeting date and people could take turns “hosting.” I’m probably getting ahead of myself here, but I thought maybe the host could bring something to nosh on that either comes from their garden or is at least vaguely related (I could make thyme scones if any of my thyme survived the freeze – keep forgetting to check!). Or we could try for a field trip someday, to the Bloedel Reserve maybe or Kubota Gardens or elsewhere. We could also discuss gardening books we’ve been reading lately that have sparked our interest, or ??? Your ideas are most welcome! I’m not much of an organizer by nature but just thought I’d throw this out and see if anyone was interested.

I thought that we could try for our first meeting either the last weekend in January or the first in February, and that it might be interesting to meet at the Miller Library at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture. They have free meeting space, which I’d be happy to reserve if there’s any interest.


If it seems like something you’d enjoy, feel free to either comment here or to email me at

PS I certainly don’t mean to exclude anyone outside the Seattle area – if you live further afield but would be up for the journey, please let me know!!!

(Image courtesy of the UW Center for Urban Horticulture site)


Reply-o-rama September 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — greenwalks @ 11:25 pm
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One thing that I don’t seem to have got the hang of with this whole blogging thing is the replying-to-comments part. I already feel like I spend a ton of time (that I could instead be putting to use in the garden or on a million other things) on the writing, photos, and visits to other people’s sites. It’s astonishing to me how well some of you manage to keep up not only with your gardens and posts, but also with your comment replies.

I was feeling really guilty about it today, not to mention avoiding some other big projects and boring house tasks, so I decided to do a comment-reply marathon and not go to sleep until I finished. Well, it’s 11:20 pm and I’m finally done!

Reading through all of the comments I’ve received from visitors to Greenwalks really warmed my heart. Whether people stopped by once or have come back almost daily, I truly and deeply appreciate every (non-spam) word, whether it’s encouragement, a tip or hint, a story shared from your own experience, or something you saw and wanted to pass along. I made every effort to respond to each comment individually, but forgive me if I accidentally skipped a few. I was getting pretty tired towards the end!

My in-laws are coming for a visit tomorrow so I may not have time to put up anything until next week. Until then, happy fall gardening (and blogging) to you all, and thanks again to those who took the time to connect here.

Late summer color


Birthday September 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — greenwalks @ 2:53 pm
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Greenwalks celebrated its one-month birthday today. Thank you to anyone and everyone who has stopped by, left a comment, read a post, clicked on a link or offered support. All you other gardeners and bloggers out there are so inspiring! It’s so nice to be part of this online green community.

– Karen

Big Rock, Little Rocks