Greenwalks

Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Check Out the Bellevue Botanical Garden March 25, 2010

… with SAGBUTT this Sunday, March 28, at 1pm! For details, click the “What is SAGBUTT” link at the top right of the Greenwalks home page. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment here or shoot me an email: greenwalksblog@yahoo.com

I visited the BBG last spring at around this time, when they were in the throes of revamping their perennial beds. It was a huge undertaking and it will be exciting to see how much things have transformed over the course of the year! Sadly, I can’t find my pictures from that visit, but if I do I’ll try to do a before/after sequence next week.

On an unrelated note, shrubs and trees are leafing out with wild abandon, since spring continues to advance with warm days galore. I don’t think my yellow-twig dogwood usually buds up in March… this one’s flowers are usually not much of anything special, but I liked this one branch that seemed to float out above the rest.

Yellow-twig dogwood blossom in spring

 

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

 

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

Filed under: bloggers' gathering — greenwalks @ 6:09 pm
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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
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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 George@crows-hop.com

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

 

Looking Forward to Saturday February 4, 2009

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

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