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 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


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


Tomatoes on Tiger Mountain August 12, 2009

Filed under: bloggers' gathering,edibles — greenwalks @ 4:21 pm
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Molly of Life on Tiger Mountain has graciously invited the Seattle garden blogging crew out to her Issaquah-area place for snacks, elderflower beverages and a tomato tasting this Saturday, August 15. Bragging rights will be awarded in various tomato categories (see below), and this might actually be the meeting where we get around to discussing blogging. Maybe.

Here are the details, courtesy of Molly – we’d love to meet some new folks so if you haven’t joined us yet, please come on along!

Saturday, August 15, 2:00 pm – whenever

Garden tour and tomato tasting (at least 5 varieties available for tasting)

You are welcome to bring your favorite variety of tomato for tasting, whether homegrown or from the farmers’ market

Tomato tasting is subjective, so no competition here. BUT! There will be prizes for the largest tomato (homegrown), smallest ripe tomato, and most anthropomorphic tomato (resembling a face or other portion of
the human anatomy).

(For directions, email me at by Friday night, and I’ll send them along!)



(Grandmotherly tomato image courtesy of Finizo via Flickr Creative Commons. To see more images by this photographer, click here.)


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?


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
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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


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


We’re On! January 5, 2009

Filed under: meetings — greenwalks @ 1:12 pm
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OK folks, thanks to everyone who replied with comments and suggestions for the first-ever Seattle garden bloggers’ get-together. I think we have enough folks to make it worthwhile, so I called the Miller Library at the Center for Urban Horticulture and reserved their conference room. Here are all the details:

When: Saturday, February 7, 12:30-2:30pm
Where: Conference Room, Elisabeth C. Miller Library, UW Center for Urban Horticulture, Merrill Hall, Room 102, 3501 NE 41st Street,
Seattle, Washington 98195

Getting there: Click here for the address and directions from the library’s site

What: A chance to meet face to face with others who blog about gardening in the Seattle area. If it’s fun, we can make it a regular thing with field trips, parties, a listserv to coordinate it all centrally – whatever people want!

Bring: Just yourselves. I will try to put together a little something to snack upon while we’re talking.

If you have suggestions for what we should talk about, please leave a comment or just bring your ideas along. I wasn’t thinking that this would be very formal – just a chance to introduce everyone around and talk about gardening, blogging, and, um, blogging about gardening! The library is open from 9-3 that day, so if you want to register to be a borrower or just marvel at their array of hundreds of seed and garden catalogs, feel free to come early. Although the library closes at 3pm, the gardens are open anytime, so we could potentially end the meeting with a stroll around to look at what looks good now and can survive what so far has been an unusually extreme winter!

So far, the wonderful, varied  list of probable attendees includes these brave souls:

– Curmudgeon and WingNut of Weed Whackin’ Wenches

– Aerie-el from Gardener’s Roost

– Paula from Petunia’s Garden

– Melanthia from Garden Muse

– David from David Perry Photography

– Molly of Life on Tiger Mountain

– Lorene from Planted at Home

– and, well, me, your temporary hostess, Karen from Greenwalks

We also might be able to rope in the Cheap Vegetable Gardener, and eventually Jean from Pill Bug’s Point of View if we make it a fiesta next time.

If you can think of anyone else who might enjoy this, feel free to pass along this link. I also invited the Shibaguyz, Willi from DigginFood, and the GardenHelp gal, but haven’t heard anything yet. I think the conference room fits 15 or more, so we have room for more folks. If you know someone who hasn’t started a garden blog yet but is thinking about it, they can come on along too! Look forward to seeing the real humans behind all the great words and pics I’ve been enjoying these past few months.

If you don’t live in the Seattle area, I still encourage you to check out these blogs, as they are some of my favorites and really span a huge range of focus and interest within the general frame of garden blogging.

That’s all for now! If there are any changes or updates, I’ll post them here. Maybe it would be a good idea to check back on the morning of the event to make sure it’s still on – they did say the boardroom could be taken over if they have some kind of emergency meeting need.

Here’s another example of a face-to-face meet-up:


(Image by Randy Son of Robert, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons)

PS I was glad I wasn’t asked for an organization name to reserve the room, or I would have had to get creative on the spot. I don’t really like Associations, Societies, Clubs, Crews, Mafias, or Round-ups too much, all have negative connotations to me. I was thinking Seattle Area Garden Bloggers United to Talk (SAGBUTT) but it seemed a little too close to home after all that holiday eating… any suggestions?