Friday, December 1, 2017

Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay Ferry

Vancouver Island is shown in the 2 photos above.

The waters of the Straight of Georgia

British Columbia Lower Mainland is shown in the 2 photos above. These photos were taken in August 2014.

The Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay ferry route is run by BC Ferries between Lower Mainland (Vancouver Area) & Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.  The crossing takes 1 hour 40 minutes.  It's a beautiful voyage.  The photos above show the progression from Departure Bay near the city of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island to Horseshoe Bay near Vancouver BC.  The route is mostly open water across the Straight of Georgia with stunning views of the mountains, hills & forests on each side of the straight.  The Straight of Georgia is part of the Salish Sea, which also includes the US waters Puget Sound & the international waters of the Straight of Juan de Fuca, among other bodies of water.  Nanaimo is a charming little city for tourists willing to travel beyond Victoria. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Olympic Sculpture Park

Photos were taken in September 2014.

The Olympic Sculpture Park is one of the finest gardens, public spaces & tourist sites in Seattle.  You can walk here fairly easily along the waterfront from the Seattle Aquarium, through Belltown from the Pike Place Market, or from Seattle Center.  It's about one mile from the market along Western Avenue, or from the aquarium along Alaskan Way & only half a mile from the Space Needle.  It features interesting sculptures, excellent native plant gardens, wonderful views of Elliott Bay, Puget Sound & the Olympic Mountains.  A charming part of the park is the pocket beach on Elliott Bay, which was created there, yet looks completely natural.  One of the most impressive sculptures is Wake by Richard Serra, consisting of 5 large rusted steel pieces, set in a small valley, creating a shaded micro-environment.  The Olympic Sculpture Park was created by the Seattle Art Museum, which can be found in Downtown Seattle on 1st Avenue at Union Street.  The park opened in January 2007.  It covers 9 acres & connects to Myrtle Edwards Park, which extends along the waterfront to the north.  The Olympic Sculpture Park is not gated & entry is free.  The park is open during daylight hours every day of the year.  There is pay parking available in the garage beneath the PACCAR Pavilion. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Portland International Rose Test Garden

These photos were taken in October 2014.

The Portland International Rose Test Garden is located in Washington Park in the hills above Goose Hollow, near the Alphabet District.  It is fairly easy to walk from those locations.  The excellent Portland Japanese Garden is nearby in Washington Park.  While I wouldn't be inclined to visit the rose garden if it were the only attraction there, it is certainly worth a stop when visiting the Japanese garden.  If you are walking up from the city below, you can easily pass through the rose garden on your way to the Japanese garden.  As far as rose gardens go, this one is quite extravagant.  There are over 7,000 rose plants on 4.5 acres.  It's all very nicely arranged.  There is an excellent view of Mt Hood.  But my enthusiasm for roses is limited.  The plants aren't particularly attractive.  The flowers vary in color, but all pretty much look & smell the same.  Roses are probably the most beloved & common garden flower.  That explains both the allure & also the unexciting nature of this garden & rose gardens in general.  Roses are evaluated here & Portland is the only North American city that gives awards to roses from around the world.  Portland is known as the City of Roses.  The Portland Rose Festival has been held in the city every year in June since 1907.  The garden opened in 1924.

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.