Saturday, December 26, 2009

Genessee Meadow

Genessee Meadow: path through natural area

Genessee Meadow: lawn with natural area beyond

Genessee Meadow: crows bathing in seasonal pools

Genessee Meadow: Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

Genesee Park, located on Lake Washington in the Mount Baker neighborhood of southeast Seattle, is an important site for active and passive recreation and wildlife, providing lawns and trails, playing fields and approximately 10 acres of natural areas, including about four acres of second growth forest. Most of the site formed part of Wetmore Slough prior to lowering of the lake in 1916 with the construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. The City of Seattle purchased the site in 1947, and subsequently used it as a landfill until 1963. Park development began in 1968. From 1997 through 2006, more than 50,000 native plants were planted Genesee Park by the Seattle Parks & Recreation & the Washington Native Plant Society. A portion of the vast lawn was left unmown to become Genessee Meadow. Depressions fill with water during the rainy season in both mown & unmown parts of the meadow. Ducks & Canada Geese are common here. The meadow is filled with light on clear winter days. There is a major path around the meadow. A smaller path meanders through the meadow & the forested area to the east.  Click here to read about more parks along Lake Washington Boulevard.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Volunteer Park Conservatory

Seasonal Display House

Cactus House

Fern House

Bromeliad House

Palm House


The Volunteer Park Conservatory is a welcome respite from the cold Seattle rain. It is open except on Mondays, even on holidays, from 10 to 4. Decorated for the holidays in early December, it is a charming place for a quiet stroll on Christmas or New Year's Day, unless those holidays fall on a Monday. The conservatory has 5 houses, each quite different. There are bromeliad, palm, fern, seasonal display & cactus houses. It is hard to say which is most lovely.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Asian Style

 Design for a Japanese Garden

Simple & elegant, this Seattle front yard relies on elements of traditional Japanese garden design, yet features plants that are easy to maintain. A hedge of Japanese Holly conveys formality, as does the gated entrance, & the stone elements, which are carefully placed. Strawberry Trees & deciduous Burning Bushes offer seasonal interest & color. Round pavers lead to a granite bench by the 'pond,' a simple excavated area lined with landscape fabric & filled with gravel. Douglas Irises add a touch of color in spring. --text from Low-Maintenance Gardening.

Plant List
A. Arbutus unedo (2) Strawberry Tree
B. Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Gracilis' (1) Dwarf Hinoki Cypress
C. Euonymous alatus 'Compacta' (3) Dwarf Burning Bush
D. Fragaria chiloensis (18) Wild Strawberry
E. Ilex crenata 'Convexa' (8) Japanese Holly
F. Iris douglasiana (9) Douglas Iris
G. Pinus mugo pumilio (2) Dwarf Mugo Pine

I designed this garden which appeared in the 1998 Sunset publication, Low-Maintenance Gardening. It is appropriate for USDA Zone 8.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Paeonia corsica

Paeonia corsica in April

Paeonia corsica in September

Paeonia corsica in October

I use Paeonia corsica because it is easier to spell (& say) than Paeonia cambessedesii. Peony expert Josef J Halda lists the plant as P corsica in his 2004 book, The Genus Paeonia. It is 'one of the most charming peonies' according to Halda. I agree. The blooms of my Corsican Peonies are a beautiful pink, simple yet bold wildflower. Leaves are silver-blue on top, red below. April blooms are followed in August by large weird seed pods arranged like a jester's hat. Shining red seams split open in October to show jet black seeds against a shocking pink interior. My seeds came from the Northwest Perennial Alliance seed exchange, courtesy of Marion Raitz. It took 2 years for them to germinate. Then they grew quickly, flowering within 3 years of germination. They need a dry site. I planted mine on a sunny slope.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Magnolia ashei

Magnolia ashei leaf underside November 2009

 Magnolia ashei fall color November 2009

Magnolia ashei flower June 2009

Magnolia ashei is a small tree with big flowers & bigger leaves. The flowers are the size of dinner plates. The leaves are roughly the same size & shape as violins. The large white flowers stand out boldly, fade quickly. The period of bloom can last 2 weeks. In Fall the leaves turn golden-brown on top, white underneath. The pale leaves lie luminous on the ground. The tree grows to a height of 20 feet, naturally rounded, easily pruned to a more sculptural form. The large leaves give it a tropical look. Magnolia ashei is native to the Florida panhandle, yet tolerates the winter cold in USDA zone 8. I got mine from Gossler Farms in Oregon by mail. Gossler Farms offers many Magnolia.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ornamental Fruits

 Arbutus unedo October 2009

Sorbus gonggashanica September 2008

Callicarpa bodinieri November 2008

Rosa rugosa November 2008

Ribes sanguineum August 2008

Here is a list of shrubs & trees with ornamental fruits, some of them edible, for Seattle area gardens.  Fruits add interest to the garden, especially in fall & winter. They look particularly good planted against an evergreen backdrop or screen. Arbutus unedo  (Strawberry Tree) is very colorful in the fall when fruits appear with flowers. Callicarpa bodinieri (Beautyberry) has a unique purple fruit. Diospyros (Persimmon) & Ribes (Currant) are often grown for edible fruit production. Vaccinium parvifolium (Red Huckleberry) is a native plant with colorful & edible red berries.

Shrubs & Trees with Ornamental Fruits 
Arbutus menziesii (Madrona): sun, inedible, Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree) Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’ (Compact Strawberry Tree) Arbutus unedo ‘Elfin King’: sun or shade, edible but insipid
Amelanchier alnifolia (Western Serviceberry) Amelanchier canadensis (Eastern Serviceberry) Amelanchier laevis (Allegheny Serviceberry): sun or part shade
Aronia arbutifolia (Red Chokeberry) Aronia melanocarpa (Black Chokeberry): sun or part shade, edible but unpleasant when raw, high in antioxidants, read Aronia in America
Aucuba japonica 'Rozannie': shade, poisonous
Berberis georgei, Berberis wilsoniae (Barberry): sun, inedible 
Callicarpa americana (American Beautyberry) Callicarpa bodinieri 'Profusion', Callicarpa dichotoma 'Issai', Callicarpa japonica (Japanese Beautyberry): sun, inedible
Cephalotaxus fortunei (Plum Yew): sun or shade, inedible
Chaenomeles japonica (Japanese Quince): sun, edible
Dichroa febrifuga: shade, inedible
Diospyros kaki (Japanese Persimmon) Diospyros virginiana (American Persimmon): sun, edible
Elaeagnus umbellata (Autumn Olive): sun, inedible
Ficus carica (Fig): sun, edible
Gaultheria miqueliana (Spicy Wintergreen): shade, edible, Gaultheria procumbens (Wintergreen): shade, inedible, Gaultheria shallon (Salal): sun or shade, edible
Idesia polycarpa (Idesia): sun, inedible
Leycestercia formosa (Himalayan Honeysuckle): sun, inedible
Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grape) Mahonia bealei, Mahonia nervosa, Mahonia repens: & other species, most for shade, some tolerate sun, edible but not tasty
Malus ‘Adams’, Malus ‘Dartmouth’, Malus ‘Katherine’, Malus ‘Thunderchild’ (Crabapple): sun, edible
Mespilus germanica (Medlar): sun, edible
Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo): sun or shade
Pernettya mucronata (Chilean Wintergreen): sun, inedible
Prunus cerasus (Cherry) Prunus domestica (Plum) Prunus japonica (Bush Cherry) Prunus persica (Peach) Prunus spinosa (Sloe): sun, edible
Pyracantha 'Apache', Pyracantha 'Navaho', Pyracantha 'Orange Glow', Pyracantha 'Red Column', Pyracantha 'Teton' (Firethorn): & other cultivars, sun, inedible
Pyrus communis (Pear): sun, edible
Ribes odoratum 'Crandall' (Clove Currant) Ribes 'Red Lake' (Red Currant) Ribes sanguineum (Flowering Currant) Ribes speciosum (Fuschia-flowered Gooseberry) Ribes 'Titania' (Black Currant): sun or shade, edible
Rosa glauca (Redleaf Rose) Rosa moyesii (Moyes Rose) Rosa rugosa (Sea Tomato) Rosa virginiana (Virginia Rose): sun, edible but not very tasty
Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry) Rubus parviflorus (Thimbleberry): sun or shade, edible
Ruscus aculeatus (Box Holly) Ruscus hypoglossum (Dwarf Box Holly): shade, inedible
Sambucus caerulea (Blue Elderberry) Sambucus nigra (European Elderberry) Sambucus racemosa (Red Elderberry): sun or shade, edible when cooked
Skimmia japonica: shade, inedible
Sorbus alnifolia (Korean Mountain Ash) Sorbus aria (Whitebeam) Sorbus cashmiriana (Kashmir Mountain Ash) Sorbus commixta (Japanese Mountain Ash) Sorbus hupehensis (Hupei Mountain Ash) Sorbus scalaris: sun, inedible
Symphoricarpos albus (Snowberry): sun or shade, inedible
Taxus brevifolia (Pacific Yew): sun or shade, inedible
Vaccinium corymbosum (Blueberry): sun, edible, Vaccinium ovatum (Everygreen Huckleberry): sun or shade, edible, Vaccinium parvifolium (Red Huckleberry): shade, edible
Viburnum betulifolium, Viburnum davidii, Viburnum opulus (Cranberry Bush) Viburnum setigerum, Viburnum tinus: sun or light shade, inedible

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Crocus ochroleucus

Crocus ochroleucus

At the end of October, when it seems that nothing will flower for a very long time, Crocus ochroleucus pops up among the fallen leaves. Crocus ochroleucus is native to Syria, Lebanon & Israel, where it grows on rocky hillsides. It is a natural for the Stony Slope in the Cascadia Garden. I got the bulbs from McClure & Zimmerman in 2005. They have increased every year since. This picture was taken on November 1, 2009 when this Crocus has been blooming for about a week.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Groundcovers in the Cascadia Garden

Euphorbia cyparissias ‘Orange Man’ April 2009

Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco' January 2009

There are over 5,000 square feet of ground to cover at the Cascadia Garden in sun & shade. I really count on my groundcovers to fill up space & discourage weeds. Some of these are better at the job than others.  The really hard workers are Ajuga reptans, Dicentra formosa, Fragaria vesca, Geraniums, Lamium maculatum ‘Beacon Silver’, Laurentia fluviatilis, Liriope spicata ‘Majestic’, Maianthemum dilatatum, Oxalis oregana & Veronica pectinata. Together they cover a lot of ground. The others are smaller. Even though they don’t spread very far, they are useful in tight spaces. Sedums are wonderful groundcovers in pots. Pots often get weedy without them.

Achlys triphylla (Vanilla Leaf): shade
Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegatum’ (Bishop’s Weed): shade
Ajuga reptans (Carpet Bugle): sun or shade
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick): sun
Asarum caudatum (Wild Ginger): shade
Blechnum penna-marina (Little Hard Fern): shade
Blechnum spicant (Deer Fern): shade
Campanula poscharskyana (Serbian Bellflower): shade
Dicentra formosa (Native Bleeding Heart): shade
Euphorbia myrsinites (Myrtle Spurge): sun
Fragaria vesca (Woodland Strawberry): sun or shade
Gaultheria procumbens (Wintergreen): shade
Geranium cantabrigiense (Cranesbill): sun
Geranium himalayense (Cranesbill): sun or shade
Geranium orientalitibeticum (Cranesbill): sun
Geranium phaeum (Mourning Widow): sun or shade
Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Oak Fern): shade
Hypericum cerastioides (St John’s Wort): sun
Linnaea borealis (Twinflower): shade
Liriope spicata ‘Majestic’ (Creeping Lily Turf): shade
Luzula piperi (Wood Rush): shade
Mahonia nervosa (Longleaf Mahonia): sun or shade
Maianthemum dilatatum (False Lily of the Valley): shade
Microbiota decussata (Carpet Cypress): sun or shade
Oxalis oregana (Redwood Sorrel): shade
Pratia pedunculata (Blue Star Creeper, formerly Laurentia fluviatilis): sun
Sedum spathulifolium: sun or shade

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Strybing Arboretum

Banksia in the Australian Garden

The California Native Garden

From the California Native Garden

On October 2, 2009 I visited the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park. Strybing Arboretum is one of the most interesting & beautiful public gardens in the United States. The California Native Garden is particularly impressive. There are many more gardens within the arboretum. Strybing Arboretum is easily reached by taking the N Judah to 9th & Irving in the Inner Sunset. Parking is also available nearby.

Here is a list of the many gardens within Strybing Arboretum:
Mediterranean Climate
California Native Plants
Redwood Trail
John Muir Nature Trail
Central Coastal Chile
Cape Province (South Africa)
Southwestern Australia
Mediterranean Region
Mild-Temperate Climate
New Zealand
Moon-Viewing Garden (Japan)
Takamine Garden (Asia)
Temperate Asia
Montane Tropic
Meso American Cloud Forest
Southeast Asian Cloud Forest
Special Collections
Ancient Plant Garden
Succulent Garden
Conifer Lawn
Rhododendron Garden
Garden of Fragrance
Zellerbach Garden of Perennials
Dwarf Conifer Pond

Saturday, September 26, 2009

How to Control Weeds

Taraxacum officinale

The most effective way to inhibit weeds is to plant something in their place. Weeds will grow on any open ground. But most weed seeds will not sprout on densely shaded ground. The best plants to shade the ground are groundcovers, shrubs & spreading perennials. Weeds are less of a problem in shade. But seeds will still sprout on lightly shaded open ground.

I don’t want to discourage you. But there will always be weeds. You must be vigilant: Pull weeds before they set seed! Weeds come from seeds. Plastic, rocks, gravel & bark will not keep weeds away forever. Weeds mostly seed in from above. Bark & other mulch will help to keep weeds under control for a time, while other plants have a chance to get established. Be sure you can distinguish weeds from the groundcovers you have planted.

To get rid of weeds that already exist, you should probably just pull them out. It will help if you loosen the soil with a garden fork, hoe or hook. Don’t be fooled into thinking that is the end of the weeds. There are undoubtedly still seeds in the ground. Keep watching for new weed sprouts.

Weeds with long, fleshy roots (like dandelion & bindweed) will grow back, if part of the root is left in the ground. This is also true for blackberry. It can be very difficult to get all of the roots of a blackberry vine. If it grows back, keep cutting it off at ground level. I don’t think that herbicide is any more effective than cutting.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Groundcovers for Shade

 Dicentra formosa April 2009

 Achlys triphylla May 2009

Oxalis oregana April 2009

Here is a list of groundcovers  that grow in shade for garden in Seattle, the Pacific Northwest & USDA Zone 8.  Generally, groundcovers are perennials that spread over the ground by one means or another. Groundcovers are very helpful to control weeds. They give depth & richness to a garden. They make plantings look more natural. Choose several groundcovers if your garden is small, many if your garden is large. A single groundcover will spread throughout, looking a bit weedy. As in business, it is better to give groundcovers competition than to let them monopolize your garden. You will also get better coverage & weed-suppression by using a variety of groundcovers.  The groundcovers pictured above are all Pacific Northwest native plants.  Many sources of information will tell you they require moist shade.  But these will all survive the summer with very little irrigation.  I've seen Achlys triphylla growing luxuriantly in dry Ponderosa Pine forest on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains.  Although they grow in shade, do not use Hedera helix (English Ivy) or Euphorbia amygdaloides robbiae (Mrs. Robb’s Bonnet). They are too aggressive, will overwhelm other plants & grow out of control. English Ivy is considered a noxious weed by the State of Washington.

Groundcovers for Shade
Achlys triphylla (Vanilla Leaf): tolerates dryness,spreads widely, but not densely by rhizomes
Ajuga reptans (Carpet Bugle): tolerates some dryness, many cultivars, spreads by stolons & seed, also grows in sun
Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle): tolerates dryness, forms large clumps
Asarum caudatum (Wild Ginger): needs moisture, spreads by rhizomes, but not quickly
Blechnum penna-marina (Sea Plume): needs moisture, forms mats
Campanula poscharskyana (Serbian Bellflower): tolerates dryness, trails & spreads by seed
Dicentra formosa (Native Bleeding Heart): spreads widely by creeping & by seed
Fragaria vesca (Woodland Strawberry): tolerates dryness, spreads widely by runners but will share space, tasty fruits, also grows in sun
Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff): tolerates dryness but better with moisture, can spread widely  
Gaultheria nummularioides (Gaultheria): forms mats, needs moisture, Gaultheria procumbens (Wintergreen): spreads modestly, needs moisture
Geranium himalayense (Himalayan Cranesbill): forms spreading mats, not aggressive
Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Oak Fern): needs moisture, forms small spreading mats
Lamium maculatum 'Beacon Silver' (Dead Nettle): despite the ugly common name, a beautiful plant, forms creeping mats with limited seeding
Liriope spicata (Creeping Lily Turf): spreads widely & densely by rhizomes, will overpower other groundcovers & perennials, use under shrubs or in contained spaces
Maianthemum dilatatum (False Lily of the Valley): tolerates some dryness, spreads by rhizomes to form large patches, but will mix with other perennials
Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' (Black Mondo Grass): not a grass, needs moisture, spreads modestly by stolons
Oxalis oregana (Redwood Sorrel): tolerates some dryness, spreads very widely by rhizomes but willing to share space, not difficult to remove
Pachysandra terminalis: needs moisture
Phlox divaricata, Phlox stolonifera (Creeping Phlox): forms mats, needs moisture
Pleioblastus fortunei 'Variegatus' (Dwarf Whitestripe Bamboo) Pleioblastus viridistriatus (Dwarf Greenstripe Bamboo): spreads aggressively, keep in enclosed area
Polypodium glycyrrhiza (Licorice Fern): forms slowly spreading mats, also grows in trees
Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot): tolerates some dryness, spreads slowly by rhizomes
Sedum forsterianum (Forster's Stonecrop): for light shade, spreads slowly
Smilacina stellata (Starry False Solomon's Seal): tolerates some dryness, spreads by rhizome to form large patches, but will mix with other perennials
Soleirolia soleirolii (Baby’s Tears): needs moisture
Tellima grandiflora (Fringecup)
Vinca minor (Dwarf Periwinkle): spreads aggressively by creeping & rooting stems, not for small gardens

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Groundcovers for Sun

  Arctostaphylos uva-ursi February 2010

Veronica pectinata April 2009

Geranium orientalitibeticum May 2009

 Sedum reflexum February 2010

Thymus pseudolanuginosus February 2010

Here is a list of groundcovers  that grow in sun for garden in Seattle, the Pacific Northwest & USDA Zone 8.  Generally, groundcovers are perennials that spread over the ground by one means or another. The exceptions here are some woody trailing or vining plants & some low spreading shrubs. Groundcovers are very helpful to control weeds. They give depth & richness to a garden. They make plantings look more natural. Choose several groundcovers if your garden is small, many if your garden is large. A single groundcover will spread throughout, looking a bit weedy. As in business, it is better to give groundcovers competition than to let them monopolize your garden. You will also get better coverage & weed-suppression by using a variety of groundcovers. Most of the groundcovers listed below tolerate dryness. Xeric plants prefer dryness & often require well-drained soil.

Groundcovers for Sun
Acaena microphylla (New Zealand Burr): xeric, spreads widely, can overwhelm smaller perennials, often used between stepping stones
Achillea millefolium (Yarrow): xeric, forms spreading mats
Ajuga reptans (Carpet Bugle): many cultivars, spreads by stolons & seed, also grows in shade, shares space well
Arctostaphylos x media (A columbiana x A uva-ursi) Arctostaphylos nevadensis (Pinemat Manzanita) Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnick): all xeric, spread by prostrate branches, can be controlled by pruning
Armeria maritima (Thrift): xeric, forms small mats, easy to remove
Aubrieta deltoidea (Rock Cress): forms mats, spreads by seed
Aurinia saxatilis (Basket of Gold): xeric, forms low mounds, spreads by seed
Campanula carpatica (Carpathian Harebell): forms slowly spreading mounds
Ceanothus gloriosus (Point Reyes Ceanothus) Ceanothus griseus var. horizontalis (Carmel Creeper): xeric, low spreading shrubs, can be contained by pruning
Cerastium tomentosum (Snow in Summer): forms small mats, short-lived
Chamaemelum nobile (Roman Chamomile): tolerates some dryness, can spread invasively by seed, this is not used for tea
Erica x darleyensis (Darley Heath): low spreading shrub
Erigeron glaucus (Beach Aster): xeric, forms mats with limited spread, Erica karvinskianus (Santa Barbara Daisy): xeric, short-lived, but returns & spreads by seed
Euonymus fortunei 'Coloratus', Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety' (Winter Creeper): low spreading shrub, tolerates dryness
Euphorbia cyparissias (Cypress Spurge): xeric, spreads widely by rhizomes & seed, can be invasive, Euphorbia myrsinites (Myrtle Spurge): xeric, forms prostrate clumps, spreads by seed
Fragaria chiloensis (Sand Strawberry): tolerates dryness, spreads by runners, little fruit, Fragaria 'Pink Panda': spreads by runners, no fruit, Fragaria vesca (Woodland Strawberry): spreads widely by runners, but will share space, tasty fruits, also grows in shade
Geranium x cantabrigiense (Dwarf Cranesbill): forms mats, tolerates dryness, Geranium orientalitibeticum (Tibetan Cranesbill): forms small patches, tolerates dryness
Hebe glaucophylla, Hebe x pimeleoides, Hebe pinguifolia 'Pagei' (Hebe): low shrubs with limited spread, tolerate dryness
Hypericum cerastioides (St John’s Wort): forms mats, spreads from seed, easy to control
Iberis sempervirens (Evergreen Candytuft): tolerates dryness, spreads moderately to form mounds
Juniperus conferta (Shore Juniper) Juniperus procumbens (Japanese Garden Juniper) Juniperus squamata 'Blue Carpet': tolerates dryness, shrubs form mats with prostrate branches, can be controlled by pruning
Leptinella squalida (New Zealand Brass Buttons, formerly Cotula): needs moisture, spreads widely, can overwhelm smaller perennials, often used between stepping stones
Lithodora diffusa (Lithodora): xeric, sprawls modestly
Penstemon pinifolius (Pineleaf Beardtongue): xeric, low spreading shrub
Pratia pedunculata (Blue Star Creeper, formerly Laurentia fluviatilis): tolerates dryness, spreads widely, but shares space fairly well, may prevent some bulbs from emerging
Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’ (Trailing Rosemary): xeric, low spreading shrub
Sedum oreganum, Sedum reflexum 'Angelina', Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco', Sedum spurium (Stonecrop): xeric, spreads by rooting stems, many species & cultivars
Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears): xeric, spreads widely by rooting stems & seed, but easy to remove
Thymus serpyllum (Creeping Thyme) Thymus pseudolanuginosus (Woolly Thyme): xeric, forms very low mats
Trachelospermum asiaticum (Japanese Star Jasmine): vining stems spread densely to 20 feet, use under shrubs, not with perennials
Veronica pectinata (Woolly Speedwell): xeric, spreads very widely, but not terribly difficult to remove, Veronica prostrata (Harebell Speedwell): xeric, spreads widely, Veronica repens (Creeping Speedwell): xeric, spreads modestly

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rototilling Weeds

Here is a question sent to me in June 2009 about rototilling weeds.

We're starting to get serious about landscaping our backyard. Time and money have been the main reasons we've been unable to since we moved in. Since we've moved in, the area has been taken over by weeds. I tried to work on removing them, but it's turning out to be a lot of back breaking work!!! I went to home depot and they notified me that rototilling it would be my best bet. but they mentioned to rototill the area, and then leave whatever's been tilled there, including the weeds. I understand that this will turn into a good compost for the ground? If we have plans to eventually lay out patio blocks for a sitting area, should I keep the tillings there still? And for the areas that we'd like to just have rocks, or maybe bark, should we also leave them there? As you can tell, I'm pretty novice to this, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

It may take a while for you to control your weeds. You need to remove the roots from the area you have rototilled. Many weeds can regenerate from just a small piece of root. If the weeds have set & dispersed seeds, which they probably have, you will have many new weeds growing in the area. Rototilling will not destroy weed seeds, it will merely move them around. You will have to pull weeds, by 1 means or another, for 6 months or a year. Weeds do not make good compost because they are full of seeds.

If you lay out blocks for a patio, you will likely have weeds growing in the cracks. These will come both from seeds remaining from the rototilling & from new seeds blowing in from the surrounding area. Rototilled ground is loose & will settle. It is much better to lay paving materials on hard-packed earth. Otherwise, your blocks will sink over time, settling unevenly. It would be better to scrape off the top layer of soil with the weeds in it, or pull the weeds. If you have particularly pernicious weeds in your yard, like blackberry, don't pave over them. They have deep & extensive roots. They will definitely come up through the paving.

I'm sorry to tell you that weeding is forever, even in areas with bark or rocks, although bark does help for awhile. The best defense against weeds is to plant shrubs & groundcovers. Most weed seeds will not sprout on densely shaded ground.