Friday, July 29, 2011

Mt. Rainier

Whether you can see Mt. Rainier is a touchstone for weather in Seattle.

I don't think it's common (even in summer), but today was clear and sunny and I saw (in different directions) Mt. Rainier, the Olympics, and the North Cascades.  Woo-hoo!

A great final day in the NW before heading home to the Carolinas.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Woody cooling off!

It's been great fun to introduce our young rescue Golden to fun times...

Here he's cooling off at the dog park!

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Natural Gardening

Visitor center exhibit at Bellevue Botanical Garden
I loved this display at the Bellevue Botanical Garden (of course).

It was accompanied by wonderfully well-done 'green' gardening handouts from the city of Bellevue. It's worth paying attention to these messages...

I'm thinking about the college town where we live most of the year, and our small house in the mountains (but in a city).

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bloedel Reserve

Visiting Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island was magical.

It was overcast (and rainy), but that just made the weather right for a visit-- it's their normal weather.

meadow view
The second-growth temperate rainforest was wonderful (I wished my gardening companion was with me to experience it), since we knew western plants from 'school' -- many years ago.

The haymeadows surrounded by evergreens were what called me, though.

A wonderful landscape.

meadow grasses

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Garden connections

My camera cord arrived yesterday, and I was overwhelmed with downloaded images (I'd somehow managed to take close to 400 photos over 3 days).  So sorting them out and making sense of what I saw will take some time.

But what I do feel strongly about (at the moment) is the power of garden connections.

We're all garden bloggers here at this meetup (basically an informal gathering, even if very organized).  We all embrace garden blogging as a vehicle of expression; some of us have lots of folks who comment, others not so many (I'm in that category).

In Lorene Edwards Folkner's garden
But I love posting reflections about what I've find interesting or rewarding (from my garden or the natural world) at the end of the day.  And it's magic, to be observant and grateful, for that.

In one of the gardens that we visited today, the personality of the garden was evident -- it was an enchanting garden one that exuded the personality of the gardener.

She's got an upcoming book from Timber Press about garden projects, which based on what I saw in her garden should be a wonderfully creative addition to our gardening bookshelves.

a clever basket hose reel

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amazing gardens in Seattle

At the Seattle Fling, a Garden Bloggers meetup, I've visited some spectacular gardens yesterday evening and all day today.

Photos, however, will need to wait until my camera cord arrives, hopefully tomorrow (left behind with my phone charger and camera battery charger, left behind in a last minute change of bags, consolidating into one).

But it's been an amazing visit so far.  Already too many gardens to describe, and we still have three more days (and I'll have three more days on my own afterwards, too, for gardens, urban gardens, etc.).

But something struck me this evening, thinking about how I was mistaken yesterday for another garden blogger from last year's meetup in Buffalo.

There's a bit of a phenotype for active (women) gardeners of Northern European heritage.

I resemble my friend Meg in Clemson (we're of similar size and shape)--we're both gardeners.

And I was totally flattered to be mistaken for my garden blogging friend (she's wonderfully stylish). We share the resemblance of size and shape, too. 

And we had a wonderful docent at the Dunn Garden this afternoon, who I was thinking, I'm going to look like her (clothes and all) in another decade.

This is a good thing.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Potato harvest

Geez, I had no idea about how productive potatoes are.  I planted 'eyes' here and there in my satellite beds among the tomatoes.  So, I spent time this evening harvesting; some were actually in soil, some were in straw, and others were in between. But there were LOTS of potatoes.

This evening's harvest were from a bed that was a straw-bale experiment and a more conventional block at the end of some tomatoes.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

A mushroom foray

One of our neighbors in the mountains is the president of the local mushroom club (which has upwards of a 150 members!) 

An offer to tag along this afternoon on a mushroom foray found LOTS of interesting mushrooms, some edible, some not tasty (but technically edible) and a few Amanitas (definitely not to be eaten).

We had a delightful time (our dogs whizzed around the woods, plopped themselves in the creek, and spent a lot of young dog energy).

Here's a sampling of what we found (that is, the mushroom expert, not me). But I was fascinated by the diversity of the mushrooms that we did discover.  I don't remember which were edible and which weren't (the scientific names that were provided weren't familiar to me!)  But they were all interesting and beautiful.

the final harvest

Woody cooling off in the stream
The woods in the Bent Creek Forest are relatively intact, so great for native plants as well as mushrooms!

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bee-a-thon 2011!

Bee-a-thon 2011 was great!

Learn more about honey bees and native bees by joining The Great Sunflower Project.
Click on the image to learn more.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sowing wildflower seeds

I've had a nice selection of native (and non-native) wildflower seeds that I've been meaning to try to sow and nurture for awhile. The natives included  Liatris species (punctata, ligulistylus, pyncnostachya,  and squarrosa), Rudbeckia triloba, Heuchera americana, Tiarella cordifolia, Rhexia mariana var. exalbida, Angelica atropurpurea and Ratibida pinnata. The non-natives included another Angelica ( I think a European species) and Smyrnium olusastrum.

I sowed them in small pots (in an aluminum tray for watering from the base), and will wait to see what happens. As a plant ecologist (who in a previous life studied germination ecology of native plants), I know that the germination biology of most native wildflowers is normally driven by environmental triggers that break dormancy only after successive seasonal warm-cold cycles, etc. depending on the circumstances of the species' native habitat.

One of my purposes of growing more natives (and other plants) is to support pollinators of all sorts.

I recently received an e-mail about a bee-a-thon, sponsored by YOURGARDENSHOW.COM. 

bumblebee 'sleeping' in Catawba rhododendron flower
Sounds like a worthy endeavor (promoting awareness about all of our native bees as well as European honeybes), and I'm planning to join in this Saturday, July 16.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011


My gardening companion and I have been fortunate to have two gardens in the last couple of years, at least until we 'graduate' and consolidate back to one.  A different view of our back porch transformation had me feeling especially grateful for our blessings.

It created a sunroom as a studio space (for me) -- how nice is that, and it's still a space to be developed more.  I'm grateful.

 Puttering around replanting a couple of young Lithodora plants (tests from Bressingham) and filling up pots for sowing seeds of wildflowers that I'd like to have, I saw a view that I hadn't appreciated before.

back deck view
I had no idea that our neighbors in the apartment next door saw this view. 

I'm always hopeful that we're inspiring them (as younger folks) that it doesn't take much effort to create green space to delight, and a garden to come home to.

front door view
We're not religious, but gratitude is a grounding practice.  We have a lot to be grateful for.  Notice Woody hanging out below the deck.  Mocha did good.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Craggy Gardens

Craggy Gardens, a popular area on the Blue Ridge Parkway, is interlaced with great trails that take hikers through the rhododendrons and grassy open gaps, as well as surrounding forests along the Mountains to the Sea trail and other trails.

A roadside meadow by the trailhead glowed with Rudbeckia, Coreopsis and Phlox, with slopes nearby puctuated with Silene virginica and Campanulastrum americana (formerly Campanula).

Woody enjoyed the cooler temperatures at higher elevations, as well as his first hike in the woods!

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mid-summer plantings

The front perennial beds and the raised beds with herbs and vegetables are looking great.  It's so nice to have the front of the house softened by green, a welcome change from its previous mulched condition (see below).

early July, 2011

Here's a photo of our new gardening assistant looking out the door!

when there was just mulch (not to mention the gravel driveway, now covered with mulch and raised beds)

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Garlic and carrots

carrots from the deep raised bed
My deep raised bed has actually produced some pretty big carrots, in spite of my fussing about not being able to grow good carrots.  These are big, and tasty, too, especially when cooked.

Apparently in the mountains, I can start sowing carrots for fall in mid-July.  I think I'll do that!  Maybe they'll be extra sweet after a bit of fall frost.

A quick trip down to the Piedmont meant harvesting a block of potatoes and a lot of green tomatoes (I didn't like the idea of leaving them for the resident woodchuck).

Hopefully the tomatoes will ripen and be decently tasty, for cooking at least.
fresh garlic ready to use

I've 'processed' plenty of garlic; it's all cleaned and ready to use.

I'll probably use it up more rapidly this year, as curing conditions weren't so good for long-term storage.

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Early July views

Fortunately, it's been fairly wet so far this summer. 
raised beds with vegetables and sedum bed
Lots of afternoon thunderstorms mean rain soaking in, making the difference between the parched conditions of past summers and lush growth in early July.

It's still exceptionally warm, but that means tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are doing better than historically 'normal' here in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

At home in the Piedmont, the weeds have been abundant, requiring quick dashes down the Blue Ridge Escarpment to weed, harvest, and water a few remaining pots (planted to withstand whatever came, but...) So far, so good.

out the front door
edge of front flower bed with freshly painted trim on house
looking down from the deck
The flower bed in front of the house has done well, too, now in its second full season (this post was a reflection in mid-May of this year).

And we're delighted with how the new green trim complements the adobe color of the cedar shakes, and a toned down orange makes an excellent contrast.

One of the blessings of this house is the view into the forest, seen directly through the front door (look behind my gardening companion-aka Tim).

The forest view in back of the house is even more welcoming now, with the orange posts now green, and with a reconfigured railing.
forest view
It feels like being in a treehouse on the upper deck and surrounded by forest at the lower level.
lower vegetable bed