Gardening where the sidewalk ends

SAGBUTT Saturday – February 27 at CUH February 25, 2010

Filed under: bloggers' gathering — greenwalks @ 5:46 pm
Tags: , , , ,

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 the  “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


SAGBUTT III: The Zombie’s Revenge April 24, 2009

Filed under: bloggers' gathering — greenwalks @ 6:09 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

A small but friendly crew gathered this past Sunday at the Good Shepherd Center in Seattle to yak about gardening, blogging, weather, weeds, seedlings and much more. Our genial hosts, Curmudgeon and Wingnut of Weed Whackin’ Wenches, brought homemade rhubarb bars from their freshly harvested fruit and provided us with a perfect space to meet and a very relevant view out the window of  Seattle Tilth’s leaf mulch bins. They have already got a lot of stuff going in their potager (they can use that word without sounding sniffy because Curmudgeon speaks fluent French), some under cloches that are keeping the cool nights and critters at bay.

We welcomed a new member, Devon, who is a fairly recent transplant to Seattle but seems to have already put her garden into high food-production gear. She is thinking of starting a blog to document her progress – I hope she does, as I’d love to hear more about her huge variety of edibles from loads of peas to plums, hardy kiwis, cherries, peaches and blueberries.

Paula from Petunia’s Garden spoke of all her happy little seed starts and brought more pumpkin seeds to share, including mine that I’d forgotten at the previous meeting. Thanks, Paula! I’m sure she will have a great time this summer when all of her broccoli, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, lettuces and other wonders are ready to harvest.

Another new member – Dakota. I completely forgot to take pictures during the meeting, so if you want to see what she looks like, you can click here. She was the quietest one of the bunch and didn’t seem to want to share her seed-starting or other garden secrets, although she is reputed to be perfectly well-behaved in the garden and also keeps it squirrel-free. I sincerely hope she recovers soon from her painful leg problem!

Every time I go to one of these get-togethers, I learn so much and also enjoy absorbing terms I’ve never heard before. This time around, it was new to me that carrot rust fly supposedly can’t fly higher than a foot off the ground, so planting carrots in tall containers might keep them pest-free. I also heard about a new potting soil that I want to try from Gardner & Bloome called Blue Ribbon. New terms: Bush Hog (turns out it’s a brand, Paula’s husband’s friend bought some kind of ground cutter off of Craigslist, super macho power mower deal), mountain beavers (large rodents who are actually not beavers at all, see this Seattle Times article for more info, they sound a little scary), and “zombie rhododendrons” (rhodie plants that are hacked down but sprout back unkillably from the stump – the inspiration for this post’s title).

It was a little hard to take that the sun was shining and it was perfect gardening weather while we were indoors, just talking about gardening… luckily, most people had time for a walk in the surrounding gardens after our mini plant swap (I brought inexpertly potted sarcococca and Devon came with a wayward strawberry and some happy little sedums which she’d pulled out of a crack in the rockery. I got to claim two of the latter, although I have yet to plant them – here’s what they look like.)

Two Little Sedums

After the meeting, I went off to meet my family in the park but as we were leaving we bumped into the Wenches, who were still enjoying the Tilth gardens and soaking up some sun and photographing bees. I didn’t have a lot of time to stay and look at plants, but took a few quick snaps on the way to the car. I have a giant batch of Tilth photos from earlier in the spring, but I can’t find them at the moment. Maybe next winter, when I have nothing to do in the garden, I’ll happen upon them and put up another post.

Brush pile in a cage construction, beautiful detrius:

Layered Brush Pile Cage

Mauve-flowering akebia, ready to take over the universe:

Purple-Flowering Akebia Vine

Colorful coffee bean sacks like the ones Paula brought us in February, used as a weed barrier:

Coffee Bean Sack Weed Barrier

Fruit tree trained into sculptural form:

Sculptural Fruit Tree

Our next meeting is slated for Sunday, May 17 and we need someone to step up to plan and host. I’d volunteer, but am putting on a crazy princess birthday tea party for my daughter the day before and one gathering per weekend is about my max as far as planning goes! Is anyone up for it? Or should we try for June and just spend that day in our gardens?


SAGBUTT II: The Bloggers Return March 16, 2009

Filed under: bloggers' gathering — greenwalks @ 9:17 am
Tags: , , , ,

Does this sound like the title of a bad horror movie sequel? (Really, is there any other kind of horror movie sequel?) Maybe so, but it’s also the follow-up to our fun initial meeting of Seattle-Area Garden Bloggers United to Talk!

This time around, Paula of Petunia’s Garden graciously organized a spot for an afternoon of yakking, snacking, and seed-swapping, along with a special International guest blogger, Matron of Down On The Allottment from the UK. Please see Paula’s post here for all the info, and feel free to leave an RSVP so she has a vague idea of how many folks might be there.

If you live within driving distance and have a garden blog (or if you’re even just considering starting one), please join us. It’s a great group of people and I think we all came away last time, or at least I did, with new knowledge, fun connections, and even some great swag (black pussy willows and jute coffee bags).

Don’t be shy, come on along. And if you’re too far out of range to attend, you can always plan a visit to Seattle for one of our future meet-ups and be our next honored guest!

March SAGBUTT Meeting

Sunday, March 22: 1-3:30pm

Bellevue Regional Library, 1111 110th Avenue NE, Bellevue, map and directions here

Seed envelopes and snacks provided – bring seeds to exchange and topics to discuss

Pre-Meeting Volunteer Opportunity

Sunday, March 22: begins at 10am

Bellevue Botanical Garden 12001 Main St, Bellevue

Help pot up and prepare plants from the Border for the Spring Plant Sale. Opportunities for all skill levels and abilities, including labeling, etc. Lunch will be provided. For questions or to let them know you will attend, contact George Lasch at

(“Picking worms from plants, Belmont girls farm LOC” – uncopyrighted image from the Library of Congress, courtesy of Flickr Commons)


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!)


Looking Forward to Saturday February 4, 2009

Filed under: bloggers' gathering — greenwalks @ 6:53 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It seems like eons ago, rather than just a few weeks, that I put out the call to local garden bloggers asking if anyone would be up for a face-to-face meet-up. I figured maybe one or two would say yes and if anyone else was even a maybe, it would be a miracle.

The response, both from local invitees and folks further afield who wished they could be here, has been thrilling. I am so excited to meet these people as humans, not just avatars, and hope it’s fun enough that we decide to do it again so that those who can’t make it this time can be included in the future.

The Gardeness over at Garden Muse was kind enough to help me brainstorm some topics for the gathering. I would also welcome any further input by Friday afternoon so that I can try to put together at least a rough agenda. So far, we have these proposed topics (including some that came in via comments, thanks!):

Introductions Does anyone have spare sticky nametags? If not, I will try to go and buy some.

Organization name Oh please, not SAGBUTT!!??!! I’m sure someone can come up with something better, and less embarassing, than my initial in-jest suggestion!

Listserv for those who are interested

Facebook page for those like me who are also wasting time on FB

Garden hopes/plans for the next growing season – maybe a specific focus, like what are you planting for spring/summer and what are your biggest challenges in the garden?

Ideas for future meet-ups Botanical garden tours, seed/plant swaps, relevant volunteering/community service, checking each others’ gardens out, etc

Garden Show What days are people going? Do they want to meet up there?

Blogging technicality questions Platforms, functions, bugs, etc.  Maybe we could keep this one fairly brief and leave most of the details for the listserv, if that idea is a go?

Parking lot swap Jute bags for weed barrier use have been kindly offered by Paula of Petunia’s Garden. Anything else garden-related you have excess of and would like to share?

Next meeting Should it be on a Sunday so people who work on Saturdays can come? Could we make it work as a regular thing, like the third Sunday of the month or ??

Please add to this as you wish but also consider that two hours is probably going to fly by and there’s a chance we won’t get to everything the first go-round. Also want to say that I am definitely not “in charge” of this group by any means and am not a natural meeting leader to boot, so I hope it will just shake out as a fun, cooperative gathering and a chance to share our common interests. Then anyone who has time to stick around afterward can visit the surrounding gardens. Maybe we’ll even get some ideas for our own plots!

Look forward to meeting all who can come. Full details here, recap below.

Woo hoo!

Seattle Area Garden Bloggers’ Meet-up

Saturday, February 7, 12:30-2:30pm

Conference Room, Elisabeth C. Miller Library

UW Center for Urban Horticulture, Merrill Hall, Room 102

3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle


(Image courtesy of katiescrapbooklady via Flickr Creative Commons. To see more by this photographer, click here.)


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

Filed under: meetings — greenwalks @ 5:17 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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)