Saturday, January 31, 2009

I see a ...

Keeping up with the Jones is hard work. I got so busy with work and other posts that I had to delay an assignment from David Perry of A Photographers Garden Blog. Earlier this week, he asked others to capture their gardens and beyond, all from within their home. This was an interesting task since we weren't allowed fix, clean or otherwise prepare that perfect shot. Just point and shoot. Here's some of what I found.
Looking west, our neighbor's imposing garage is a visual black hole. A dark expanse that always seems to tower over us and I'm forever exploring ways to hide it from view. Naturally, this would be the first thing my lens captured. And to my surprise, I rather enjoy the stark contrast of the metal lamp and how it draws the eye up to the sweet little stained glass window.
While we're on the subject of garages... Here's the sole window that filters light into our little catchall. We added two birch trees this Fall to frame the window, but not block too much light. Of course, that means you can also see my husband's tool box propped open against the pane.
A Coral Bark Maple sits potted just outside the back door. It's a nice pop of color during gloomy Winter days. It also complements the holiday window sticker that has yet to be put away.

Looking further down the window, I really can't see the outside. Can you tell an 18-month-old, two dogs and two cats live here? Moving on ...

Turning south, another neighbor's arbor (an upgrade last Summer) provides some interest of its own. The terracotta-colored sun and moon faces stand out against a backdrop of English Ivy. That little bird feeder in the foreground is also a siren for many squirrels. Shortly after shooting this picture, a couple were quarreling over its contents and one ended up sliding down the pole like a fireman rushing to a call.

At the front of the house, looking east, our old Apple tree stands guard before the bay window. OK, actually I took this while looking west, but at a full-length mirror reflecting the outside.

Past our yard and across the street, this little garden gnome appears to be launching a diatribe on passersby. Enough said.

A little bling under the eaves. I placed this just to the north of the window shortly after we bought the house. I realized I don't notice it anymore, but on this day it was catching a gentle breeze and this viewer's attention.

More mirrors, this time catching the wrought-iron detail in the front door. We recently added this entry, replacing a solid wood expanse that only let light in above and below the door. Its replacement is so much better, blocking unwanted views from outside but still giving me a glimpse of something garden related.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Seattle's NW Flower & Garden Show Fading

(One of the multitude of display gardens that last year drew 54,000 to the NW Flower & Garden Show in Seattle)

What the &%$#!

Excuse my language but my son isn't in the room and I'm terribly bothered by the latest word that Seattle is losing its garden event of the year. Local papers report that if the Northwest Flower & Garden Show doesn't find a buyer it's likely dirt, and not the good, fresh, can grow anything kind.

This is horrible news considering since the show first bloomed in 1989, it has grown to be the second largest of gardening events in the country. My first visit was only last year and it was lovely, spectacular, informative ... I could go on and on!

This year's show is held Feb. 18-22 at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in downtown Seattle. Now, with tickets in hand, I'm wondering if I'll have to plant a tree in memory of the event.

Another victim of the economy, right?

The show's owner, Duane Kelly, says he's been trying to sell it for "under $2 million," although it's worth sooo much more. He blames hard times and lack of new blood. The show drew 54,000 in 2008, down from a peak 84,000 visitors in 1999.

"The current downturn is only half the story. Kelly said the larger problem is an aging demographic that threatens the garden industry as a whole, reducing flower shows' ability to attract sponsors and visitors."

(A NW Flower & Garden Show display garden featuring water-wise plants like Hebes, Yuccas and several grasses)

Hey, I may be 31 but I'm not anywhere near pushing up daisies. And for quite some time there's been plenty of talk about the next generation of gardeners. We may not be traditional, but we're there.

So, how do we save our garden show? Shall we pool our resources and have a plant sale?

Humble Beginnings

(A view toward Elliott Bay in Discovery Park, Seattle)
The other day I was outside and noticed a heavy warmth to the air and those little bugs were swarming around as birds swooped low. Spring apparently was sending out scouts to see if the area was ready to blossom.
It was about this time I started seeing various seed posts from Blunders with shoots, blossoms 'n roots, Family and Flowers and You Grow Girl, and more recently over at Greenwalks and Petunia's Garden. There's going to be serious planting going on over at their plots. Me? Well, everyone has to start somewhere.

At this very moment I have 16 seed packets, all from the 2008 planting season. Don't they fit neatly in this little photo album? It's not that I don't want more, I just don't get around to buying them. In fact, I haven't really been to my trusty nursery haunts in awhile. I know I'm usually a frequent visitor to Magnolia Garden Center, because LAST year one employee saw me and said, "It wouldn't be Spring without you here." I was flattered.
But you know how life takes over; leaves don't get raked; shrubs don't get pruned. The bulbs! I did get those bulbs planted.

Anyway, yesterday I opened the Life and Arts section of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Marty Wingate was writing about all the great seed companies. Yup, I knew I could no longer ignore it. So I'm going to try a little winter-sowing like A Gardener in Progress has mentioned and perhaps do some local shopping. And maybe I'll mosey over to Cold Climate Gardening where there's a contest to win some more booty (seed packets that is).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Warning: Amateur at work

Photos are a powerful medium that can tell a story, evoke emotions or transport people back in time. I have friends whose flair behind the camera leaves me awestruck. Their ability to capture a scene and draw you into the moment is amazing.

I often come across others with this gift while perusing garden sites like David Perry's, or hanging out at Soliliquy, Hoe & Shovel and Dig This Chick. Their photos are always a delight, and I'm forever pouring over every detail.

Another impressive talent is capturing all the winged visitors that swoop around the garden. Now, I get lucky every so often, and actually get off a shot or two. But it's never anything like what you would see over at Robin's Nesting Place or Thanks For 2 Day. Their images are crisp and colorful. And I swear every bird goes to their gardens just to be photographed by them.

Still, they inspire me to try. Anyway, it wouldn't hurt to practice developing a steady hand. So dear readers, pardon the occasional smattering of fuzzy photos like this Stellar's Jay I caught harassing some other twitterers in the yard.

And this little guy taking a bath in the overflowing rain barrel. Not a beautiful backdrop, but I thought it cute how he would pop his head up as if he were watching me watch him.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A little grass now and then

A little grass here and there never hurt anyone. It's easy on the eyes and allows the mind to wander freely. It wasn't too long ago that I swore I'd never partake, but the more I saw it used the more I wanted it for myself. Now I like to tuck it away in little pockets, like secret friends I can enjoy on a whim.

Not all grass is the same. There are varieties that have little appeal to me, that I find are too drab in color or are a disappointingly dull texture. Others however, oh they have countless qualities to be enjoyed throughout the season. Some even provide a little burst of sunshine during those gray days.

Whatever your preference, I highly recommend trying a little grass. And if you don't like, pass it along.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

How do they do it?

Mother Nature clearly has a sense of humor. The early-morning ice formations yesterday gave way to a rather sunny, albeit chilly day. Today, however, brought a skiff of snow that dusted many of my plants that are already limping along. It didn't last long, of course, turning into one of Seattle's more dependable misting rains.
So I'm glad I did get out to capture a few shots this morning. I had intended to post earlier but the day got away from me. Now it's 8-something at night, and as I'm finally sitting down to the day's post, I marvel at those who seem to be machines. I don't mean those heartless, robotic things but the type that can crank out delightful, informative posts that keep bringing us back for more.

Even as I write this I have a story to finish and edits to address on another. But since I'd rather blog and read blogs I'm doing this and will just be up late into the night, coffee by my side. And then there's my garden. We won't even go into the list of to-dos out there.
When not wrangling my toddler or writing for money I'm busy trying to digest everyone else's garden knowledge. There's not time to produce thoughtful informative snippets to help others. So how do they do it? Those like Jodi at bloomingwriter, Linda at garden girl or Carol at May Dreams Garden who not only blog daily, but treat us to unique stories and snapshots into their lives, all while weaving in helpful information. Then there's the Garden Rant ladies or the crew at Gardening Gone Wild who I read religiously for one-stop shopping on all the latest in gardening news and tips. And I mustn't forget Chris and Katie at garden punks, Karen at Greenwalks or Catherine over at A Gardener in Progress. I just plain look forward to reading them because it's like sitting down with good friends.

These only scratch the surface of my usual haunts. There are countless others whom I envy for their extensive knowledge and energy, not to mention their gardens!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fire and Ice

Morning is my favorite time of day. Everything is crisp and fresh, offering a chance to begin again. Today's start presented a unique contrast of sun and ice, when what appears warm and comforting is actually cold and frigid.

Rhododendrons cup the ice like little crystal balls resembling a royal scepter. Very fitting for this plant that in 1892 was selected as Washington's state flower.

Our fountain is a common photo subject of mine. And in its semi-frozen state it presents a shimmering cascades of diamonds tumbling toward the ground.

Slivers of ice cling to the wilted petals of a Poinsettia I had set on the deck in my indecision toward tossing it in the compost bin. Always such a beautiful plant at Christmas but after that it's much too leggy for my taste.

The Strawberry tree stands at attention, with a thin frost coating its sturdy leaves.

Aborvitae catching some morning rays as the last bits of cold cling to its leaves.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Seeds of Opportunity

Snow is falling again in Seattle. The small, whirling flakes zing through the air making the world look like a snow globe turned topsey-turvey.

Batik print by artist Kabugo Lukoma. Purchased by Isis Initiative, Inc., founder and president Cheryl Hatch in Kampala, Uganda in 1993.

My life in the past year and a half has been just as jumbled and frantic. The birth of my son put me on a new path, one that I have far less control of but am enjoying so much more.

One of the unexpected adventures has been an opportunity to join a close friend, Cheryl Hatch, in her mission to help educate young women around the globe. As a war photographer, Cheryl has met many people, especially women, whom have lacked the opportunities that money and an education could afford them.

Armed with determination and a few friends (myself included), she has established Isis Initiative, Inc., a small nonprofit that works to help pay for educating these young women so that they can help improve their communities.

Serving as a board member for Isis Initiative, I feel this is my chance to plant a seed in the garden of life. One that with time and attention will produce opportunities in a too often barren field of hope.

We aren't the Gates Foundation by any means, but we know it doesn't take much and we're going to make a difference, one person at a time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


A stroll through the garden should be pleasant and soothing. Unfortunately, there are a few too many wounded and dead hanging around my little sanctuary. After seeing the beautiful frosted plants of Karen's over at Greenwalks, I figured I'd do one on the many casualties my garden suffered in the December snow. I'm not morbid, I just need to catalogue everything I'll need to replace!

One of several Hebes that fell prey to harsh winter climes. This one came in a little 4-inch pot and had grown to about 2 feet by 3 feet, despite various abuses by dogs, husband and child. I fear its recent relocation during the renovation and all the snow was just too much for it to handle.

OK, this (the name escapes me right now and the boy is waking so I must finish!) probably isn't dead but several of its kind that I have spread around the back yard have suffered injury. The poor little things clearly got frostbite.

The Strawberry Tree has a few "age spots" now, but I think it will come through fine.

Down, but not out. The Arborvitae hasn't bounced back from winter. This will obviously need human intervention. So, what's not growing so well in your garden?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Acts of desperation

Desperation has set in and I'll do anything to putter in my yard. Even a shift of dog-doo removal (blecht!)
I know the soil is way too soggy to be tromping through garden beds so I just went around snapping photos of random happenings in the backyard. The lawn in itself has me worried. All our snow last year did a number on the recently installed sod. It's yet to really dry out and I fear having to replace it come spring.

The Pieris that stood wedged against the back of the house got a new home by the upper deck during the backyard renovation. It was supposed to be a temporary move but I rather enjoy the privacy it affords that spot. The new location also allows for better views of the trunk, which I had never really noticed. Apparently over the years it has twisted and wrenched its way upward.

And what pictoral would be complete without a squirrel shot? I have to say, these little guys (knock on wood) have pretty much ignored this year's emerging bulbs. They obviously are well fed so the source of grub must be somewhere close. Neighbors' bird feeders perhaps?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Growing strong

My real garden journey began 18 months ago with the birth of my son. There's not a tree, shrub, perennial or herb in the world that could have prepared me for the time and attention I give this little sprout.

Like plants in my garden, he sometimes perplexes me with his unusual behavior and picky demands. Yet it is his smiling face that I seek each morning, and the comforting weight of his head on my shoulder that I cherish every night.

Time with my lad is like visiting a new garden patch each day. Nothing is ever the same as before and there are surprises around every corner.

Just as I have hopes and dreams for all that grows in my garden, so too do I for my son. I want him to be healthy, happy and successful in the plot of life. And may he always know that he is the most loved sapling I've got growing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Era ...

I have no words that could do this day justice. I'm giddy with excitement and hopeful for the future of our country, which too long has been under a dark cloud. There is no doubt that the storm has yet to pass, but perhaps now we as a people united will weather it better and emerge stronger as a whole.

"Hope over fear. ... New era of responsibility."
Barack H. Obama, 44th President of the United States

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bright Spots

Sometimes the big picture isn't as beautiful as the detail. If you've followed me for awhile, you know I like to get up close and personal with most of my plants. They may not be the brightest, the most beautiful or the best, but they're mine and they make me happy.

Now, this area... That's another topic. I'm not so chummy with this spot. But I know this downtrodden patch of garden has potential! I'm just having trouble finding it.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is along the property line where once stood a mighty (ugly) Holly. It's not a huge area and we've already planted several blueberries and a Witch Hazel. But the twig look needs a little fattening up, don't you think? This is what I see looking out our window toward the southeast, so plenty more bright spots are a must.

The Witch Hazel is still just tiny buds, unlike many of the beautiful blooming varieties I've seen out in the blogosphere. There's a fence that we assume marks the property line, but we're trying to collaborate a bit so the planting as a whole blends well. The blueberry bushes have nice color but they need a proper backdrop. I sure am glad the Northwest Flower & Garden Show is coming up next month. With suggestions from my wonderful readers and inspiration from the show, I'm bound to come up with something!

The more I look at these photos, I realize this whole side of the yard needs work! Starting with that tacky composter. We have three but surely I could camouflage it a bit better. Yes indeed, I have my work cut out for me this spring!