Tuscan Blue Rosemary, Sweet Bay and “A Taste of Herbs”

Some of us think being told what to do and when to do it sounds too much like another job (hand flies up). So, let’s just say cleaning and winterizing the garden “sometime” in November is close enough. What to do…what to do…

      Gardening during the holiday season is nearly at a standstill except for harvesting late vegetables and enjoying late fall color. But there is more…add to that appreciating those cold hardy herbs that keep going straight through the winter. Herbs like…

‘Tuscan Blue’ Rosemary

Location, location, location…that’s all you need to grow enough Rosemary to supply the neighborhood. Rosemary officianalis ‘Tuscan Blue’ is an evergreen shrub that blooms winter through spring. It only requires a sunny, infertile spot with occasional deep watering. It grows best in the ground but can also be grown in a container. And it only fails when it’s too wet in winter; not because it’s too cold in winter. It survives temperatures as low as ten degrees. “Tuscan Blue” is particularly cold hardy. Plant it in soil that doesn’t retain water. Once it takes off you can forget about it until: it’s getting in your way, or you need it for cooking or making hair rinse (really).  And you can put Rosemary branches on a baking sheet and bake on low for about an hour just to fool people into thinking you cooked, a trick you can apply year round. Soooo many uses for Rosemary and its Mediterranean friend…

The Noble Sweet Bay

Laurus nobilis “Sweet Bay” is a trickier herb to grow but it’s definitely worth the effort. Further south it’s a tree but in the South Sound Sweet Bay is a darkest green shiny leaved shrub. Like all of the Mediterranean plants that grow well here, its needs are simple: as much sun as possible and excellent drainage. Bay is slow growing and thrives particularly well in a moveable container, one that can be placed in a sheltered spot if we get the dreaded “Arctic Blast.” Freshly dried bay leaves add a slightly floral or herbal fragrance to soups, stews and spaghetti sauce. Fresh-from-the-tree bay adds a menthol, minty or clove-like fragrance to meats and stews. Bay is evergreen and deer resistant. Cook with it or mix it in a holiday wreath. It’s the fragrance that makes Bay the most used herb. Rosemary and Bay are both culinary and ornamental marvels and loom large in…

“A Taste for Herbs” by  Sue Goetz

The second book by Sue Goetz, Tacoma’s local herb expert is a companion book to her first book, “ The Herb Lover’s Spa Book” Sue is a designer (www.thecreativegardener.com) and popular speaker, both locally and nationally. She knows herbs and their uses inside and out. This companion to her spa herb book focuses on herbs as seasonings, mixes and blends. 

     “A Taste for Herbs” is filled with unique ways to mix and use herbs you probably already grow. Sweet mixes like Basic Herb Sugar for baking or Rosemary Infused Agave are explained along with savory herb flavored oils and vinegars and mixes for flavorful tea infusions. Page 120 has a good Mojito recipe.

     Add to this some timely explanations about the various crazy sugars and salts available now and you have a recipe for another fun and informative herb book by Sue Goetz. St. Lynn’s Press,

$23.95

September in the Garden and “A Way to Garden”

     Truth be told…For South Sound gardeners, September/October is just as welcome as May/June. Both mini seasons transition us from extreme to milder temperatures and, as a result, give us renewed “garden brain” energy. Herbaceous perennials in particular get a year’s head start by dividing, planting and transplanting now.

     Time to ponder, prepare and plan.

 Ponder Your Garden’s Successes

      It’s always a good idea to take stock of what worked and what didn’t work. Observing things like, “Did the Rosemary languish or thrive? Should I really have surrounded a fertilizer hungry, thirsty rose with a Portulaca that thrives in poor dry soil? or “I had no idea I was such a talented colorist”. (You never know.)      

THIS WORKED!

      If you’re a list maker, try writing down what you observe but if you’re more visual (like most of us), take a 3 minute September/October video to refresh your memory for next May/June when you wonder what you planted. Having some kind of record helps…

Prepare for What Comes Next

The Fall Cleanup…it isn’t for everybody. For instance, in perennial gardens neatness may not count. The tendency is to cut back everything and pick up every leaf but that’s not always the best thing to do. There are two schools of thought.

     First thought:  Armed with pruners and a big bucket, cut back every summer perennial to the ground, carefully clean up around them and rake up leaves. Your garden looks tidy. You are a happy, tidy gardener. You probably lowered the slug population and if you have any diseased plants, cleaning up like this really helps.

     On second thought: Back off! This is by far the easiest and laziest method. Just let the herbaceous perennials die back naturally. The left alone seedheads feed songbirds, the decaying leaves and stems protect the crowns from any future freezes and also mark where you planted them in the first place. When you wait until early spring to clean up beds, it’s a snap. Everything has pretty much disintegrated. All you need to clean up is a rake and that bucket…shortly followed by your favorite beverage and a good book like…

“A Way to Garden” by Margaret Roach

If you’re one of the bazillions of people hooked on podcasts you might recognize the book title. “Away to Garden” is also a popular weekly garden podcast by Margaret Roach, former editorial director for Martha’s Omnimedia. She chucked it all and moved to the country.

     She calls herself a woo-woo gardener but her book that guides you through seasonal gardening is filled with practicality. 

     She speaks softly on her interview heavy podcast which comes through in her book. She is a gentle writer who shares real garden experiences about her journey from corporation to country garden. It’s a how-to and memoir along with solid and carefully thought out garden advice with a touch of “woo woo” thrown in.  

Timber Press, 320 p. $30

Your Weeds Tell a Soil Story

This is reprinted with a thank you to http://www.sundialseed.com. I love this information…

Your weeds are here because of what’s going on in the soil.Every wild weed that sprouts in and around your garden is growing there in response to the current conditions in your soil.

If your soil is rich in nitrogen, you might see Chicory showing up on the scene. If your soil is low in fertility you might see yarrow popping its head out to condition the soil.

You can use this information from the weeds as you would a soil test to help you work with your soil.

The weeds themselves are processing these soil imbalances in an attempt to amend and balance the profile of the soil towards a climax ecosystem. We can read these weed signs and help the natural process on its way in our gardening.

We compiled this table of Weed plants and their associated soil conditions that might be at play.

Weed Plant Indicates possible Soil Condition
Amaranth Rich soil, high in nitrogen
Bindweed Compacted soil
Chicory Rich, sweet soil high Nitrogen
Chickweed Rich, sweet soil high Nitrogen
Groundsel Rich soil
Crabgrass Soil depleted of nutrients and low in calcium
Dandelions Poor soil, low in calcium & high in potassium
Dock Wet, poorly drained soil
Goldenrod Wet, poorly drained soil
Henbit High nitrogen
Knapweed Rich soil high in potassium
Knotweed Compact ground
Lamb’s quarters Rich soil, high in nitrogen
Little blue-stem Dry sandy soil depleted of nutrients
Moss Soggy acidic soil low in nutrients
Common mullein Low fertility & possibly soil too acidic
Mustard Dry sandy soil high in phosphorus
Common wood sorrel Low Calcium
Oxalis (Wood Sorrel) Low calcium and high magnesium
Ox-eye daisy Low fertility in acidic, possibly soggy, soil with poor fertility
Pearly everlasting Acidic soil low in nutrients
Peppergrass Sweet soil
Plantain Compacted sour soil with low fertility and often indicates heavy clay or garden path areas
Purslane Rich soil, high phosphorus
Quack grass Heavy clay or compacted soil
Queen Anne’s lace Poor dry sweet soil
Ragweed Low fertility
Sensitive fern Poorly drained soil low in nutrients
Sweet fern Sandy acidic soil
Stinging nettle Rich acidic soil
Sheep sorrel Acidic soil low in nitrogen, dry sour sandy soil, low in calcium
Yarrow Poor dry sandy soil with poor fertility, low in potassium

 

 

Go Native in the Pacific Northwest Garden

     Stomping through the woods on a summer evening (sorry Robert Frost) can send a South Sound gardener into a “tizzy” over a whole new world of plant possibilities for the home garden. Whether you call them natives, wild things or indigenous plants they are a tempting alternative to cookie cutter landscapes.

Native plant gardening is trendy but effective.

As with most garden trends a little education goes a long way. To begin with, keep a good ID book with you. “Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast” by Pojar and McKinnon is a pocket sized and complete native plant identification book with 1100 color photographs, habitat maps and tidbits about how the native plants have been used. After identifying what you like the real fun starts…trying to find what you like. Local mainstream nurseries usually have a few natives among the marigolds…familiar plants like…

Salal and Kinnickinnick

In the forest they’re understory plants but in a home garden, they’re tough, fresh looking year round evergreen groundcovers with leathery glossy leaves (unsluggable), flowers (for the bees) and berries (for the birds). They grow in sun, shade, wet, dry…you name it. These show up in local nurseries along with cultivated and mass propagated groundcovers because both Salal and Kinnickinnick grow anywhere and require zero care once they’re established. Reclamation projects often have plenty of salvageable “you dig” Salal and Kinnickinnick but local nurseries can easily get full flats of them for planting large areas. Mainstream nurseries also carry more common native shrubs and trees like…

Mahonia and Vine Leaf Maple

Once again, mainstream nurseries carry these natives because they are reliable, easy to grow and have year round interest. Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon Grape) attracts hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators and with enough sugar, the berries can be turned into jam.  Acer Circinatum (Vine Leaf Maple) is the native maple that blasts out the bright red leaves in autumn, a foil to all of the native Doug firs and Western Red Cedars in nearby forests.

Salal, Kinnickinnick, Oregon Grape and Vine Leaf Maple are a small peek into a world of new plant opportunities. Native plants are already adapted to our wet winters and dry summer so you know they’ll grow. The trick is giving them what they want and putting them in the right place. Questions about how to incorporate natives in your garden are answered in the third edition of…

 “Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest”  by Arthur A. Kruckeberg and Linda Chalker-Scott (3rdedition)

Go native!

     Since its first edition in 1989 “Gardening with Native Plants” has been the go-to book for demystifying exactly how to use and take care of plants that grow and thrive naturally in and around the South Sound.

     In this new third edition (March 2019) the authors have managed to explain both the science behind and practical applications used to successfully grow native plants in our cultivated gardens.

     The first section deals with the all-important basics, why grow native plants and how do I choose and maintain native plants for a home garden environment? The rest of this 30 year best seller is a complete list of native ornamental shrubs, conifers, deciduous trees, perennials and a few annuals that are worth growing in the home garden. The authors are quick to point out that not all native plants are garden worthy and not all “wild” plants are considered native. Nettles, for instance…not native.

“Gardening with Native Plants” is a science based reference book that deserves a special spot on your South Sound bookshelf.

University of Washington Press, 374 p, 948 color photographs with habitat icons, $39.95

 

 

 

Sidebar?

Local chapter of Washington Native Plant Society

http://www.southsoundchapterwnps.org

 

Native Plant Nurseries

 

Sound Native Plants, Olympia

http://soundnativeplants.com

 

Black Lake Organic Nursery, Olympia

http://www.blacklakeorganic.com

 

Woodbrook Native Plant Nursery, Gig Harbor

http://www.woodbrooknativeplantnursery.com

 

 

Pruning When You Feel Like It

      Most of us are “I’ll prune it when I feel like it” gardeners which is usually okay but springtime pruning can make some crucial differences in how plants bloom and grow…plants like…

The Ubiquitous Rhody

     Every self-respecting South Sound gardener has at least one. It’s practically a requirement…the hybrid Rhododendron. They’re easy to find, easy to grow and Rhodies love what we have to offer… rain, acid soil and (normally) mild winters.

     In return, the Rhody gives back loads of luscious clusters of bell shaped flowers in everything from Sherbet shades to dark and dramatic reds. The flower clusters (or “trusses” in Rhody-speak) are the number one reason we grow them so knowing when to prune them and keep the flowers coming is imperative. Rhodies don’t have to be pruned every year but if you want to reduce the size or reshape one, grab your Felco 2 pruners and start trimming right after they blooms.  Rhodies start making next year’s flowers immediately after blooming. Prune them any later and you’ve lost next year’s flowers. And nobody wants to see a naked Rhody.  

     Azaleas need the same kind of attention. If you want to cut them back or reshape them do the shearing when this year’s flowers start to shrivel and turn brown, i.e. when they start looking a little on the ugly side. For other spring bloomers just remember …

The Magic of June 15

     The general rule for pruning other spring flowering shrubs is to prune by June 15. Any later and you lose the following year’s flower.

     Forsythias. Lilacs, Weigela (not grown nearly enough) and Viburnums will all give you more flowers next year if you prune right after they bloom.

     Evergreen Clematis requires pruning from time to time to keep it under control but a hard pruning after it has bloomed is best done in late spring.

     Spiraea varieties that are pruned and shaped after springtime bloom will likely bloom again. Spiraea can be twiggy and unwieldy to prune so make it easy…tightly tie up the shrub with a rope about one fourth of the way up. Shear the part above the rope into a ball or to recover symmetry. Take off the rope and you have a perfectly shaped Spiraea.

     Berberis (barberry) varieties are grown for their bright, fresh foliage, not their inconspicuous flowers. Those red, orange, chartreuse and Kelly green leaves only happen on new growth so don’t be shy about cutting them back now.

     Pruning is the bane of both new and experienced gardeners. It can be a mystery. Help is here with…

.“Pruning Simplified” by Steven Bradley

      A lot of how-to pruning books are filled with good directions…but in pesky words. That’s great if the directions are clear. Other pruning books present “before and after” glossy pictures which can sometimes be helpful but not always   Short of someone standing next to you and showing you how, nothing better for learning how to prune than a good line drawing with hash marks where you’re supposed to make the cuts. “Pruning Simplified” solves the mysteries of when and how to prune 50 of the most popular shrubs and trees.  It’s a reference book, not a coffee table book. That means it will be well used. It’s a keeper. Timber Press, reprinted for 2019, 192 p., 200 illustrations, $19.95

Springtime Ephemerals (Wood Anemones and Trillium)

Spring Ephemerals (Catch ‘em while you can)

South Sound Spring ephemerals begin blooming the minute the temperature starts warming up, i.e. right now. Spring ephemeral plants are just as the name implies. They bloom for a short time and then disappear (go dormant) until next spring. They disappear above but their roots continue to grow like mad. Their appearance may be fleeting but nothing is more appreciated after a cold rainy winter than a few pops of color no matter how long it lasts. One our very favorite ephemerals is the…

Pacific Trillium

Whatever you call it, Wake Robin, Toadshade or Western Trillium, our native Trilium ovatum is one early spring bloom that everyone knows. It’s the one with three pure white petals above three dark green leaves. Coming upon a drift of them in a woodland setting is an unforgettable experience. Some myths surround the home cultivation of our native Trillium. Some true, some not.

  1. Don’t pick Trillium flowers! True. All of their energy for next year is tied up in the flower…doing this sets it way back.
  2. Don’t dig Trillium plants in the wild. True unless you are reclaiming them before another strip mall is built.
  3. You can’t move or divide them. False. If you get a big enough clump of soil, they transplant fine. Wait until June to do it though.
  4. It takes 7 years to get a bloom from seed. False. It only takes 4. Only 4.
  5. Trilliums are endangered. False. You need permission to dig them though.
  6. They are very difficult to grow. False. Give them what they want, a woodland setting. It’s pretty simple. They like shade, moisture and rich native soil. And luckily they’re easier to find than ever before because of the interest in native plant gardening. A good partner plant for the earliest Trilium is the sweet….

Wood Anemone

Wood anemone flowers (Anemone nemorosa) look as delicate as lace but they’re as tough as nails. They make a beautiful spring groundcover at only 4” tall and pack a powerful color punch when massed. The flowers are white (single and double), lavender, pink or “almost” blue with dark green foliage. They are extremely easy to grow and have the same needs as Trillium: shade, moisture and rich native soil. Wood anemones are easier to get into drifts. You can divide and replant. These are also much easier to find now. But just like the Trillium, you have to be early to get them. Getting good information about these old fashioned ephemerals is a pleasure when you find a classic garden book like…

The English Flower Garden by William Robinson

Isn’t it comforting to know that there are garden classics that don’t get dismissed or forgotten? “The English Flower Garden” is such a classic. It was originally published in 1883. The reprints are in the 15thand final edition, the last one approved by the author. It should be on every perennial gardeners shelf for its charm and its “never goes out of style” advice. It has black and white line drawings and photographs, which already sets it apart from today’s gloss. It has over 700 pages and covers everything a self-respecting 19th century English flower gardener should know and it informs 21st century gardeners just as well. The Amaryllis Press, $35

 

Not to Miss Authors Speaking at NWFGS 2019

  Get ready for a shot of spring!  I know the real spring is still a few months away but we got lucky.  We have a winter reprise in the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, Feb. 20-24. This year’s theme is “Gardens of the World”.

     Newbies to the show usually spend most of the time in awe of the display gardens and deafened by the cacophony of excited gardeners winding their way through aisles of plants, garden art and trending garden supplies. They may be missing out on the best part of the show, the seminars.

    Once you attend a few times and know the drill, you realize what a colossal treat it is to go down the escalator to the quiet and relaxing domain of garden seminars. It’s another world. Take some time off to listen to expert gardeners, many of them new authors, who have found ways to share garden passions through books like…

“Creating Sanctuary” by Jessi Bloom

     Speaking of relaxation…”Creating Sanctuary”(Timber Press, $24.95) proposes that we all need our own sacred spaces. We need quiet places for unwinding and self-healing.  Author Bloom is a Holistic garden expert. She describes ways to garden that focus on the well being of the gardener…garden havens and meaningful garden rituals included.

Saturday, Rainier Room, 11:45, “Sacred Space Design”

“Peony” by David C. Michener and Carol Adelman

They know what they’re talking about! Carol Adelman and her husband own Adelman Peony Gardens (Salem, OR), Michener is rejuvenating the largest public collection of historic herbaceous peonies in North America. “Peonies” (Timber Press, $27.95) gives a little history, explains plant growth, and describes how to show them off in the garden and best of all, 150 pages of beautiful and tempting peony blooms. Carol Ade

Rainier Room, Friday, 2:15, “Growing Gorgeous Peonies” by Carol Edelman

“Gardening Under Lights” by Leslie F. Halleck

My how things have changed…the subheading of “Gardening Under Lights “(Timber Press, $29.95) is “The Latest Tools and Techniques for Growing Seedlings, Orchids, Cannabis, Succulents and more”. It’s all about indoor gardening…whatever the crop.

Hood Room, Saturday,, 11:15, “Gardening Under Lights: Grow Food Year Round Under Lights”

“Hot Color, Dry Garden”by Nan Sterman

 “Hot Color, Dry Garden”: Inspiring Designs and Vibrant Plants for the Waterwise Garden (Timber Press, $24.95) is an intensive introduction to identifying and using drought tolerant plants.

     Each listed plant has all the information you’ll need, including lowest and highest tolerated temperatures and soil type.

     Even here in the rainy South Sound, we need plants that can survive our dry summers.

Hood Room, Thursday, February 21, 1:45

“Gardenlust” by Christopher Woods

Christopher Woods had a personal quest…find the world’s most beautiful contemporary gardens. He settled on 50 and traveled for 3 years to find them. “Gardenlust: A Botanical Tour of the World’s Best New Gardens” (Timber Press, $40) is the perfect book for this year’s NWFGS theme., “Gardens of the World”.  “Gardenlust” is a 400 page dream book. It answers the question. What crazy things are going on in modern gardens in the rest of the world?  Don’t miss this one…good slides!

Rainier Room, Friday,1p.m.

 

All author speakers round out their talks with book signings.

 

 

Gifting a Gardener

 

    Just like any other passionate hobby, the gardening bug progresses in three stages:

  1. I need. I only need the basics.
  2. I want. The basics are fine but I want more.
  3. I wish. This would be a great gift for me because I can’t justify buying it for myself.

 

 What a Gardener Needs

     The first stage is the easiest. Very little is needed to start gardening on a small scale. The basics are: trowel, pruners, a weeder and gardening gloves. Simple until you try to choose. Buying the best you can afford is key. You can’t go wrong with USA made trowels by Wilcox ($15-$25). The best pruners are by Felco ($60 and up). USA made Diggit is best for dandelion digging ($20) and the Nejiri Gama Hoe from Japan is the best for shallower weeds ($15). Gardening gloves are a personal choice but Nitrile gloves have continued to be a favorite ($7).

Felco #2 Pruner

Nejiri Gama Hoe

USA Made Wilcox Trowel

USA Made Diggit

USA Made Original Cobrahead Weeder

nitrile gloves

What a Gardener Wants

      Stage two delves into the wonderful world of nurseries and seed catalogs or these days…seed catalog websites. Luckily, here in the South Sound there is no shortage of  great nurseries, large and small. Instead of waiting until May, take a few nursery trips in the off season so you can monitor when they start getting the good stuff.  Familiarize yourself with your local nursery. They’ll appreciate that you’re there and will be a big help when May rolls around. Gift certificates are always good.

     Every second stage gardener gets hooked on seed catalogs. Now it’s even more fun because the seed catalogs are all online. You can fill up your cart and hone it down to a reasonable amount. It’s easy to get carried away and it’s one of those gardening “cheap thrills”. Ed Hume Seeds, Territorial Seeds, Renees Seeds and Botanical Seeds are all good websites and you can find the seeds on racks in local nurseries. You can research online and buy the seeds locally.

Hori Hori Knife (original)

     Tool wise, second stage gardening usually includes a Hori Hori Knife ($25), some loppers for heavier pruning ($40-$80) and a spade for digging ($40).

What a Gardener Wishes

      Stage three is a full blown, down and dirty, “don’t bother me while I’m weeding” gardener, one who loves to garden and loves to get garden gifts. Sound familiar?

     The third stage gardener wants things like truckloads of good garden soil, mushroom compost and steer manure… really.  Specialty nurseries take the place of mainstream nurseries because they have more unusual plants (they have gift certificates too).  The tools of the trade go to the next level with Rockery trowels ($25), Potato Scoops ($30), Fruit  Pruners ( $25), Haws Watering Cans ($40 and up), Cobrahead Weeders ($25) and books with more information than pictures. Books like

“The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving”

      “The Seed Garden “ is a fascinating and comprehensive book by The Seed Savers Exchange, the non-profit group that has dedicated itself to preserving heirloom seeds for decades.

    Any gardener who wants to start collecting and saving seeds can find everything needed to collect and store 75 targeted plants, both ornamental and edible. Each plant listed has in depth directions for no fail seed saving. Any gardener would find it invaluable. This is one of those books that will be well used. It’s a practical purchase. 390 pages, 8 ½ x 11, $29.95, Seed Savers Exchange

Best Western Washington Gardens to Visit

When out-of-towners visit Western Washington, the real challenge isn’t what to do with them, it’s what beautiful area do we choose to show off first?  We are spoiled with choices. Along with  the beauty of the mountains and ocean and the iconic Space Needle and Pike Place Market, we have some of the most beautifully kept public and private gardens in the country.

Bloedel Reserve

Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island is 150 acres of gardens within gardens: a Japanese garden, the color laden glen, an ethereal soft moss garden carpeted with more than 40 species of moss, a bird marsh filled with dragonflies and nesting birds and a woodland of native Pacific Northwest huckleberries, hemlocks and cedars.

     The 2.5 miles of trails give you a chance to see it all. The creators, Prentiss and Virginia Bloedel shared a love of nature and the Pacific Northwest. The French Chateau where they lived for 35 years is open to view.  The back of the house opens to a spectacular view of Puget Sound.

     A resident artist house on the property is home to authors, musicians and poets. They stay for several weeks and have the gardens all to themselves for inspiration and solitude.

Check for summer concerts. Bloedel is made for a slow, relaxing stroll. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy it.

http://bloedelreserve.org

Heronswood

Heronswood is in Kingston on the Kitsap Peninsula and is the former home and garden of world-renowned plant hunter and horticulturist, Dan Hinkley.

     Now owned and maintained by the Port Gamble S’Klallam tribe, 15 acre Heronswood is a botanical garden with collections from around the world many from the Hinkley plant hunting trips in Asia, South America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand . It is well known for its environmentally friendly design.

http://www.heronswood.com

Bellevue Botanical Garden

      The Bellevue Botanical Garden is 53 acres of just about everything that grows well in the Pacific Northwest. It is laid out in a walkable and beautifully designed group of gardens featuring a perennial border, rock garden, fern collection and Dahlia display.

     BBG is a garden of ideas to admire and recreate with an emphasis on community and horticultural education.

http://bellevuebotanical.org

Powellswood

Powellswood is a sweet, tidy and lush 3-acre garden tucked away in a 40-acre forest in Federal Way. It has a magnificent Leyland Cypress hedge that serves as backdrop to well-designed perennial beds filled with uncommon treasures.

     The upper part of the 3-leveled garden leads you through a wide arch into a circle garden. A left turn drops down and winds around a running stream and eventually toward a pond with a resident mallard duck.

     Bring lunch and enjoy the calm.

www.powellswood.org

 Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden

The RSBG is much more than rhododendron even though they have planted thousands. It is 22 acres of a good hike through and around a Victorian stumpery, an alpine garden, Meconopsis meadow and a glass house conservatory complete with waterfall and blooming Vireya rhododendron. The  Pacific Rim Bonsai exhibit at the end is not to be missed.

      The non-profit garden has sent its director Steve Hootman on plant hunting exhibitions from the Appalachians to India and China. Plants are for sale.

https://rhodygarden.org/cms/

University of Washington Botanical Gardens

The University of Washington Botanical Gardens is the combination of the Washington Park Arboretum and the Center for Urban Horticulture.  The Arboretum is 230 acres of world class plant collections of conifers, oaks, Japanese maples, birches, poplars and larches.  Stay on the trails or go exploring.

     The newest addition is the Pacific Connection which features plants from Cascadia, Australia, China, Chile and New Zealand. Stop at the Graham Visitors Center to get started. You might need a map.

https://botanicgardens.uw.edu

Point Defiance Park

Point Defiance Park in Tacoma maintains a Japanese Garden complete with pagoda, separated gardens of roses, dahlias, herbs, Northwest natives, Rhododendrons and irises, all near the entrance.

     In addition to its gardens Point Defiance is a full family experience with picnic areas, a zoo, trails for hiking and biking and a beach. The five-mile drive that skirts the 760-acre park has magnificent viewpoints to take in spectacular Puget Sound.

https://www.metroparkstacoma.org/point-defiance-park

 

    

 

Late Summer Flash in the Plants

      Late summer days in the South Sound may not always produce the hottest temperatures but they certainly bring on the garden’s hottest colors.  Yellows, oranges and reds change the calm of early summer’s pastels into blazing combinations that make the best of a well planned…

 “Triple Threat”

     One surefire way to make a big impact in the late summer’s “hot” garden is using the  “rule of three”.  Group three each of three different plants in three different colors. Most perennials and annuals are sold in larger containers this late in the summer so using these principals you can have an instant floral punch.

     Red-flowered perennials like Monarda ‘Cambridge Scarlet’ and Crocosmia “Lucifer”; yellow flowers of flat-topped Achillea “Moonshine” or feathery Goldenrod ‘Fireworks’; orange-flowered Asclepias (butterfly weed) and daisy-like Helenium make striking combinations. Mix and match and substitute. Add fiery annuals and you have a garden that does…

“Double Duty”

     Annuals bloom all summer and take up the slack of perennials that normally have shorter bloom times.

     Still using the “rule of three”, you can add bright yellow Calendula or Zinnias;-flaming red Salvia or Snapdragons and brilliant orange Coreopsis or the newly popular Tithonia. They match and extend the color and form of  “hot-colored” perennials. Add some cream or white low-to-the ground plants like Alyssum or Bacopa just to break up the “hot”.

     All of these perennials and annuals are easy to find, grow and maintain.  They can make a big impact if you want a simple bit of flash. They all survive with a minimum of summer water and can attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.  They also make good cut flowers. Take advantage of that. There is a reason why they are called “cut and come again” flowers. More cutting produces more flowers.

     However…sometimes easy to grow and find just isn’t as much fun as the search for the unusual and the challenge of growing something completely new.   Rarer plants are creeping into both mainstream and  specialty nurseries.  They fit perfectly in our South Sound dry late summer gardens. Get ready to learn all about the new influx of better than borderline flashes of color with…

“Hot Color, Dry Garden” by Nan Sterman

     The new-to-most-of-us Australian and South African plants are giving us a whole new reason to beef up our plant knowledge. These days they are than we ever thought possible, thanks to global warming.

      “Hot Color, Dry Garden”: Inspiring Designs and Vibrant Plants for the Waterwise Garden is a great introduction to some of these plants and how we can use them.

     Several years ago these borderline hardy plants were called “temperennials” because they came and went. Now they can be a more permanent addition. Sterman’s guidelines for what to plant starts with the facts and figures of a site including elevation and rainfall and then lists plants good for that site.

     Some of the plants listed will sound familiar like Achillea, Salvia and Yucca but the addition of Aloes, Aeonium and Echeveria can make a South Sound garden come alive with the hottest of hot colors.

     Each listed plant has all the information you’ll need, including lowest and highest tolerated temperatures and soil type.

     “Hot and Dry” is all you need to start a new gardening adventure. What once was just for the South can now be grown in the South Sound. How lucky?

Timber Press, 300 pages, 360 color photos, $24.95