Friday, December 20, 2013

Construction of the Ell Alley Garden

The native soil is clay.  

The first pile of compost.

At in November 2013

Stone wall with utilities meters behind.

Ell Alley Garden in November 2013

I moved into Ell Alley with Rusty & Steve on Saturday, November 2, 2013. It was a new townhome at the north end of a building of 5 units, within a development of 41 units in 10 buildings, plus 20 single family homes. Ell Alley is bounded on 2 sides by alleys lined with single-car garages. Because these alleys form an ell (a configuration in the form of the letter L) we decided to name our new home Ell Alley. Ell Alley is located in the Rainier Vista neighborhood, in the Rainier Valley of Seattle. Rainier Vista is comprised of 65 acres of land controlled by the Seattle Housing Authority, which manages apartments rented to people with low incomes, many of them refugees from Somalia & Ethiopia. There are also a number of developments like ours, which are privately owned. The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) maintains control of the land-use issues for all of Rainier Vista.

The story of the Ell Alley Garden starts at the offices of the Seattle Housing Authority, in Uptown. I met with the project lead on June 1, 2013 to discuss the guidelines for landscaping at Rainier Vista. Screening was strictly prohibited. Shrubs over 4 feet were allowed only against the walls of buildings. It was impossible to place tall shrubs against the walls of our particular townhome, because the utilities meters (gas & electricity) as well as cable boxes for internet & television, for every unit in our building, took up the only blank wall. There was space for planting taller shrubs on 2 walls of the garage. Plants cannot exceed 3 feet in the front yard, or 4 feet in the back yard. After some consideration by the project lead & one revision of my landscape, we were allowed 4 trees spaced 12 feet apart.

10 cubic yards of Cedar Grove compost was delivered on Monday, 11/4. It didn't rain that day & rained very little on 11/5 & 6. I spread most of the compost during that time. It rained fairly heavily on 11/7. It didn't rain on 11/8 & another 5 cubic yards of compost was delivered. That was spread during the next few dry days. There was very little rain until 11/18. I had completed most of the planting & stonework by then. Temperatures were mostly in the 40s & low 50s. Saturday, 11/23 was a beautifully sunny day. Rusty, Steve & I went to in Snohomish to buy 3 Acer circinatum (Vine Maple) & 1 Thuja plicata 'Excelsa' (Excelsa Cedar). Rusty helped me place them in the holes I had already dug. The trees were 7 feet tall with root balls 2 feet in diameter. On 11/25, I bought bark & spread it on the paths. In the evening of 11/26, Rusty helped me place pavers for the walk between the front door & the alley. By Thanksgiving Day on 11/27, the initial work on the garden was done.

We had been planning make a garden of native plants in the area beside the house & garage. We loved the native plants at our private campground & along the trails of the Mountain Loop Highway in the Cascade Mountains. The ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest Coast extends from northern California into the Alaskan pan-handle. I decided to use a few plants that were not native to Washington, but to the region. I moved many from the Cascadia Garden. Some of those had been moved from the Phantom Lake Garden at the home of my grandparents in Bellevue to the Cascadia Garden in 1961. That garden was largely a second-growth forest of 60 acres. We collected other plants from our private campground. I bought more from the Washington Native Plant Society plant sale & from Go Natives!Nursery.

I left our small Patio Garden open to plants from around the world. I ordered quite a number of different bulbs, adding Ajuga reptans 'Black Scallop' & Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco' as ground cover. Hebe recurva, Hemerocallis 'Bela Lugosi, Hemerocallis 'Rootbeer' & Luzula sylvatica 'Aurea' was moved from the Cascadia Garden. I bought Alchemilla mollis, Campanula 'Birch Hybrid', Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Ellwood's Column', Daboecia cantabrica, 3 more types of Hebe (H. ochracea 'James Stirling', H. pinguifolia 'Pagei' & H. 'Red Edge') & Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal'. The patio garden includes a wall of cement blocks, in 2 tiers, down to the parking pad. I placed Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'Massachusetts', Juniperus conferta & Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus' to trail down from the upper tier.

The area in front of our unit was landscaped by the builder with a wide swath of Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis & Juniperus conferta, along with a single Hydrangea quercifolia. This garden is shaded by a large ash tree (Fraxinus sp.) of undetermined species. Digitalis purpurea (Common Foxglove) Dryopteris erythrosora (Autumn Fern) hellebores (H. foetidus, H. x hybridus & H. 'Ivory Prince') & Lamium maculatum 'Beacon Silver' were added to the Ash Tree Garden.

Native Garden Plant List
Acer circinatum (Vine Maple)
Thuja plicata ‘Excelsa’ (Western Red Cedar)

Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Glauca Compacta’ from Forest Farm 2008 via the Cascadia Garden 2013
Mahonia repens (Creeping Mahonia) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Ribes sanguineum ‘White Icicle’ (White Flowering Currant) from cuttings taken from the Cascadia Garden 2012
Rubus parviflorus (Thimbleberry) from TRC 2012
Sambucus racemosa ssp. pubens var. arborescens (Red Elderberry) from TRC 2012
Thuja plicata 'Grune Kugel' (Globe Western Red Cedar) from West Seattle Nursery 2013

Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) from WNPS 2013
Achlys triphylla (Vanilla Leaf) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Aruncus dioicus (Goatsbeard) from WNPS 2013
Aster chilensis (California Aster) from seed collected where? 2013
Athyrium cyclosorum (Lady Fern) from Cascadia Garden & TRC 2013
Blechnum spicant (Deer Fern) from City People’s & TRC 2013
Camassia quamash (Camas) from John Scheepers 2012
Erigeron speciosus (Showy Fleabane) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Erythronium oregonum (Fawn Lily) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Geum macrophyllum (Largeleaf Avens) from WNPS 2013
Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Oak Fern) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Lilium columbianum (Tiger Lily) from WNPS 2013
Iris douglasiana (Douglas Iris) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Luzula piperi (Wood Rush) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Penstemon serrulatus (Coast Beardtongue) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Penstemon venustus (Blue Mountain Penstemon) from WNPS 2013
Polypodium glycyrrhiza (Licorice Fern) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Polystichum munitum (Western Sword Fern) from Cascadia Garden & TRC 2013
Potentilla anserina var. pacifica (Silverweed) from WNPS 2013
Smilacina racemosa (False Solomon’s Seal) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Stachys cooleyae (Cooley’s Hedge Nettle) from WNPS 2013
Tellima grandiflora (Fringe Cup) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Trillium ovatum (Western Wakerobin) from Cascadia Garden 2013

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Massachusetts’ from McClendon’s 2013
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Vancouver Jade’ from McClendon’s 2013
Asarum caudatum (Wild Ginger) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Dicentra formosa (Pacific Bleeding Heart) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Fragaria vesca (Woodland Strawberry) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Maianthemum dilatatum (False Lily of the Valley) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Oxalis oregana (Redwood Sorrel) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Smilacina stellata (Starry False Solomon’s Seal) from Cascadia Garden 2013

Patio Garden Plant List
Plants in Pots
Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple) seedling found in Cascadia Garden 2012
Alnus rubra (Red Alder) from TRC 2012
Callistemon pallidus from Pat Calvert Greenhouse 2005, moved from Cascadia Garden 2013
Callistemon subulatus seedling found in potted plants brought from Cascadia Garden 2013
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Port Orford Cedar) seedling found in pot at Rusty’s house 2011
Cupressus lusitanica (Portuguese Cypress) from seed collected at Castelo de São Jorge in Lisbon in 2012
Cupressus sempervirens (Italian Cypress) from seed collected at Villa Cimbrone in Ravello, Italy in 2006
Eriogonum umbellatum (Sulfur Wild Buckwheat) from WNPS 2013
Fritillaria pudica from seed from WNPS 2002
Hebe recurva seedling found in Cascadia Garden 2012
Lewisia leana from Mt Tahoma Nursery 2005 & 2008
Maihuenia poeppigii from Kerston’s Nursery @ NHS Fall Sale 2005
Phlomis fruticosa from seed collected on Cascadia Avenue 2011
Pinus bungeana (Lacebark Pine) from Forest Farm 2008
Pinus edulis (Pinyon) from Forest Farm 2005
Pinus leucodermis (Bosnian Pine) from Forest Farm 2006
Pinus peuce (Macedonian Pine) from Forest Farm 2008
Quercus gambelii (Gambel Oak) from Forest Farm 2005
Quercus kelloggii (California Black Oak) from Forest Farm 2008
Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar) seedling found in Cascadia Garden 2012
Tsuga heterophylla (Western Hemlock) from Copper Creek 1993

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Ellwood’s Pillar’ from Wells Medina 2013
Daboecia cantabrica ‘Atropurpurea’ from City People’s 2013
Hebe ‘Red Edge’ from City People’s 2013
Hebe ochracea ‘James Stirling’ from City People’s 2013

Alchemilla mollis ‘Auslese’ (Lady’s Mantle) from McClendon’s 2013
Allium cristophii (Star of Persia) from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Allium karataviense from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Allium nigrum from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Campanula ‘Birch Hybrid’ from Wells Medina 2013
Calochortus venustus (Mariposa Lily) from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Chionodoxa luciliae (Glory of the Snow) from McClure & Zimmerman 201
Crocus sieberi from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Euphorbia rigida from Cascadia Garden 2013
Hemerocallis ‘Bela Lugosa’ from Roots & Rhizomes 2004
Hemerocallis ‘Root Beer’ from Roots & Rhizomes 2010  
Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Woodstock’ from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Iris ‘Blue Magic’ (Dutch Iris) from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Iris bucharica from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Leucojum vernum from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Lewisia cotyledon from City People’s & Wells Medina 2013
Lilium ‘Ariadne’ from The Lily Garden 2013
Lilium ‘Copper Crown’ from The Lily Garden 2013
Lilium ‘Yellow Whoppers’ from The Lily Garden 2013
Lilium ‘Pizzazz’ from The Lily Garden 2013
Lilium ‘Silk Road’ from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Luzula sylvatica ‘Aurea’ from Cascadia Garden 2013
Narcissus ‘Baby Moon’ from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Narcissus ‘Beersheba’ from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Narcissus ‘Hawera’ from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Narcissus ‘Jack Snipe’ from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Narcissus ‘King Alfred’ from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Narcissus ‘Little Gem’ from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Narcissus ‘Minnow’ from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Narcissus ‘Thalia’ from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Narcissus ‘W. P. Milner’ from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Ornithogalum umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem) from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Paeonia mascula (Peony) from Botanica 2013
Paeonia veitchii (Peony) from Heronswood 2004 & Botanica 2013
Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ from Wells Medina 2013
Scilla peruviana (Giant Squill) from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Tulipa batalinii ‘Red Jewel’ from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Tulipa ‘Little Princess’ from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Tulipa tarda from McClure & Zimmerman 2013
Tulipa turkestanica from McClure & Zimmerman 2013

Groundcovers & Trailers
Ajuga reptans ‘Black Scallop’ (Carpet Bugle) from West Seattle Nursery 2012
Hebe pinguifolia ‘Pagei’ from City People’s 2013
Lamium maculatum ‘Beacon Silver’ from Cascadia Garden 2013
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’ (Trailing Rosemary) from City People’s 2013
Sedum divergens (Spreading Stonecrop) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Sedum oreganum (Oregon Stonecrop) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Sedum oregonense (Cream Stonecrop) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Sedum palmeri (Palmer’s Stonecrop) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’ (Pacific Stonecrop) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Sedum spathulifolium ‘Carnea’ (Pacific Stonecrop) from Cascadia Garden 2013
Thymus vulgarus (Culinary Thyme) from City People’s 2013

Ash Tree Garden
Dryopteris erythrosora ‘Brilliance’ (Autumn Fern) from McClendon’s 2013
Helleborus foetidus (Stinking Hellebore) from McClendon’s 2013
Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’ from McClendon’s 2013
Hydrangea quercifolia installed by builder 2013
Juniperus conferta (Shore Juniper) installed by builder 2013
Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis (Himalayan Sweet Box) installed by builder 2013

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