Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Crocus kotschyanus

Crocus kotschyanus is a fall-blooming perennial bulb, flowering in late September & early October.  There are several subspecies from Turkey, the Causasus, Syria & Lebanon.  They can be blue, pink, lilac or purple, usually with conspicuous veins.  They are said to spread readily from seed, but that wasn't true in my garden.  Foliage appears in spring.  The are xeric to the point of needing little or no irrigation.  They can be ordered online or by catalog from various bulb companies.  There are many other species of  Crocus that bloom in the fall.  But most are not easy to find.  If you like Crocus, consider searching for them.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Anacortes-Sidney Ferry

Spieden Island.  These photos were taken in August 2014.

Think of the Anacortes-Sidney Ferry as an inexpensive cruise ship through the San Juan Islands in the waters of the Salish Sea between the US mainland in Washington & Vancouver Island in Canada.  This is the most scenic way to get to Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia & a popular tourist destination.  The ferry route passes very near Blakely, Decatur, Lopez, Orcas, Shaw, San Juan, lovely little Spieden & numerous smaller islands, islets & rocks.  The trip takes approximately 2 hours & 30 minutes to 3 hours in each direction.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Eucomis comosa

Eucomis comosa is one of the most beautiful perennial bulbs.  It usually blooms in August in Seattle.  The first blossoms open at the bottom of the stalk & slowly proceed to the top.  The dark red seed pods are also quite attractive.  Eucomis comosa is known at the Pineapple Lily because of the tuft of leaves at the top of the flower stalk, which cause it to resemble a pineapple.  This plant is native to South Africa, but hardy in Seattle.  The flower spikes multiply every year.  It comes in colors from white through light pink to deep burgundy.  It is easily available through mail order, the least expensive way to buy it.  You can also get it at nurseries when it is in bloom, but the number of plants available are usually rather few.  Eucomis comosa needs full sun, regular water & rich soil to grow well.  It does not tolerate dryness.  It looks lovely in pots, but does much better in the ground.  I think they look very nice combined with oriental lilies, as shown in the photo above.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Alphabet District in Portland

These photos were taken in October 2014.

The Alphabet District is my favorite part of Portland OR, a city I have visited often.  It is one of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Portland. Much of the architecture is quite charming, built between 1890 & 1950. It has an impressive retail district, with many shops & restaurants on NW 23rd Avenue, somewhat fewer on NW 21st Avenue & W Burnside Street. The Alphabet District is named for the alphabetical arrangement of streets from Burnside to Wilson across the district. These same streets also run through the Pearl District & Old Town/Chinatown, within walking distance.

John H Couch staked a claim to the square mile directly north of Portland in 1845. When laying out his claim, he used the same 200 x 200 foot blocks as the original plat of Portland. Streets were given numbers & letters in alphabetical order, later named in 1891. He followed the bend of the Willamette River in orienting this grid, creating angled & misaligned streets along W Burnside Street. The original plat went as far as west as 8th Street & north to Glisan Street. Subdivision reached NW 16th Street by 1865. This grid was later extended to most of Northwest Portland.

The Alphabet District is part of the Northwest District & also called Nob Hill. The North South Line of the Portland Streetcar runs through the district on NW Lovejoy & NW Northrup Streets as far as NW 23rd Avenue on its was to & from the Pearl District & Downtown Portland.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Clematis integrifolia

Clematis integrifolia 'Hanajima'

Clematis integrifolia is a flowering perennial for sun.  It blooms from early to mid-summer in Seattle.  The word Clematis is taken from the Greek word for climbing plants.  Integrifolia means entire-leaf.  Botanically speaking, an entire leaf has a smooth edge, is not toothed.  This Clematis is not a vine.  It has stems of maybe 18 inches long that don't cling.  The stems are floppy & will cascade over a low wall, lie flat on the ground, or prop themselves against other plants.  Each stem bears several flowers.  The number of stems increase as the plant matures.  The usual flower color is blue, but 'Hanajima' is pink.  Flowers are simple & charming, each with 4 petals.  The plant is not drought tolerant, but doesn't need a lot of water.  Plant them among other perennials, but don't allow them to become shaded. Clematis integrifolia is native to Italy, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Siberia & Central Asia.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Mole Hill Community Housing Society

All photos were taken in August 2014.

Mole Hill Community Housing Society occupies the block bounded by Comox, Pendrell, Bute & Thurlow Streets, adjacent to Nelson Park in Vancouver’s West End. The Mole Hill Community Housing Society provides affordable housing for low & middle income people in houses dating back to the late Victorian era. Mole Hill is the highest point in the West End & is named after Henry and Elizabeth Mole, original settlers to the area. The City of Vancouver started buying properties around Mole Hill in the 1950s. Those houses were razed to create Nelson Park. The houses of Mole Hill were to be the next stage of the park’s creation. Friends of Mole Hill was formed by Vancouver citizen activists in response. They were successful in preserving these houses & having them converted to affordable apartments. The work was done between 1999 & 2003. Mole Hill Community Housing is a very pleasing urban landscape: vintage houses combined with attractive landscaping. While Nelson Park is not particularly interesting, a community garden is located there. This community is very near Davie Street in Davie Village, filled with shops & restaurants.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Erigeron glaucus

Erigeron glaucus is a very flowerful & easy plant to grow in dry sun.  It blooms continuously through the summer, with the largest number of flowers coming in June.  Bloom can start in April & end in October.  Bees love it.  The normal flower color is blue-lavender.  'Sea Breeze' has pink flowers & seems to be the form most commonly sold in Seattle.  The plant is low & spreading, not more than one foot high & up to 3 feet wide.  It looks nice cascading over rocks & walls.  It is drought tolerant, but can't do entirely without water during the summer.  Water regularly, but not heavily, or more than once a week.  The stems of this plant & sometimes also the leaves survive the winter.  Don't cut it back to the base, just remove the obviously dead parts, mostly the flower heads.  It is native to the California & Oregon coasts, where it grows on bluffs, sand dunes & beaches.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

River Trail

Rhododendron macrophyllum (Pacific Rhododendron)

Adiantum aleuticum (Maidenhair Fern) & Blechnum spicant (Deer Fern)

Stout Grove

Sequoia sempervirens (Coast Redwood)

Oxalis oregana (Redwood Sorrel) Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in April 2014

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is located in northern California near Crescent City.  It is one of several parks in the area designed to preserve redwood trees & their ecosystem, which stretches from northern California to the Alaskan panhandle with minor variations.  The understory plants found here are the same as those in the forests near Portland OR, Seattle, or Vancouver BC.  Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is very accessible from the coast highway.  Stout Grove is a short hike from a small parking area.  It is not nearly as crowded with people as some of the other redwood groves in the area.  The trees are very impressive.  Jedediah Strong Smith led the first American explorers to pass through this area in 1828.  Frank Stout was the lumber baron who owned this land.  His family donated the parcel that established this park in 1929.  The park now covers more than 10,000 acres.  It is part of the California Coast Ranges International Biosphere Reserve.  The Smith River, which flows through the park, is the only major undammed river in California.   

Friday, May 19, 2017

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' is a very attractive perennial for shade.  The heart-shaped leaves are mostly a silvery-white, but with green veins.  It's eye-catching.  I think it's not gaudy, but probably too bright for some.  The small, bright-blue flowers come in May.  They are pretty, but bloom is usually not very dense.  The plant forms a mound about 2 feet wide fairly quickly, but does not seem to exceed that.  When in flower, it reaches 2 feet tall.  It disappears in winter.  Brunnera macrophylla is native to the Caucasus, Georgia & Turkey in forests & on grassy slopes.  The common name is Siberian Bugloss.  Brunnera macrophylla is better in part shade than deep shade.  It needs moderate water in summer & tolerates some wetness in winter.  Use it in a shaded perennial border, or between shrubs under trees.

Friday, May 5, 2017

VanDusen Botanical Garden

All photos were taken in August 2014

There is a lot to see at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver BC.  It's a more traditional botanical garden than the UBC Botanical Garden in Vancouver, or the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle, which are more forested & informal.  VanDusen Botanical Garden reminds me of botanical gardens in New York & London.  The RHS Garden at Wisley comes to mind.  There is a beautiful visitor center, plant collections from Asia, the southern hemisphere including Chile, Australia & New Zealand, the Mediterranean, eastern North America, redwoods & other conifers including members of the cypress family, also lindens, maples, ashes, mountain ashes & rhododendrons.  The diversity of plants is quite amazing.  The are also interesting features including 5 lakes, a meditation garden, an Elizabethan maze, a tiny farm with vegetables, bees & medicinal plants. a formal rose garden, a rock garden, a fragrance garden & even more.  It's really quite a beautiful, diverse & interesting place, well worth a visit when you are in Vancouver.  The garden opened in 1975 & has had plenty of time to grow impressively.  It covers 55 acres (22 hectares) & is open every day of the year, except Christmas Day.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Geranium phaeum

Geranium phaeum makes a great background plant & filler of space in lightly shaded areas.  It is fairly tolerant of dryness.  It's a pretty plant with a profusion of dark blue, purple or black flowers in April & May.  Black flowers suggest the common name Mourning Widow.  Geranium phaeum is taller than most  species.  It grows to a height of nearly 2 feet when in flower.  The flower spikes with seed pods are also attractive.  There is no need to cut them back after bloom has faded.  The leaves are pleasing in form.  Some have nice purple blotches, like the cultivar 'Samobor'.  Geranium phaeum is native to Europe in the Pyrenees & Alps in subalpine meadows & forests.  This is a good candidate for dry, light shade.  

Friday, April 7, 2017

Green Plate Special

Shed with plans & information.

The garden is completed enclosed with fence.

All the planting beds are raised beds of wood.

The public entrance

Wood-fired pizza oven with the Treehouse building in the background

Kitchen.  These photos were taken in October 2014

Green Plate Special introduces middle school students to gardening & cooking fresh produce through after-school programs, summer camps & evening cooking classes. Food growing & cooking are tied to academic subjects like math, science & history. They provide snacks & lunch! Students can take home food they have cooked & produce from the garden. Chickens are also kept here. There are various opportunities for volunteers, such as helping out at the Garden Gala in September, working with the kids, maintaining the garden & tending the chickens. I went to a Garden Gala & it was a lot of fun. It's a wonderful space. Green Plate Special was founded in 2011 & moved to this space nextdoor to Treehouse in 2013.  It is located in the Rainier Valley of Seattle.

Friday, March 3, 2017

UBC Botanical Garden & Centre for Plant Research

Kirengeshoma palmata (Yellow Wax Bells)

Rodgersia in the David C Lam Asian Garden

Eucalyptus coccifera 

Alpine Gardens

Physic Garden.  All photos were taken in August 2014.

The UBC Botanical Garden is a charming place to visit at any time of year.  The garden was established in 1916 at the University of British Columbia.  Plants of every type cover the garden more than 100 years later.  The David C Lam Asian Garden is forested with Asian trees.  Quite large Rhododendron of many species expand beneath them.  Areas near this garden are also forested with species of Acer, Cornus, Magnolia, Sorbus &  the family Styracacia from North America & Asia.  The Greenheart TreeWalk is suspended between the trunks of tall BC native evergreen trees.  The E H Lohbrunner Alpine Garden, with many small shrubs & rather few trees, is a stark contrast.  Xeric plants from around the world live here.  A pedestrian tunnel leads from the shaded forest to this sun-drenched part of the botanical garden,  Here you will also find a physic (medicinal) garden laid out in a formal pattern of concentric circles.  The entire botanical garden covers 110 acres.  Allow at least an hour to walk its many paths.