Archive for December, 2013

The Dragon’s Loyalty Award


I’d like to thank Lonnie Miller, the Belmont Rooster, for nominating me for this award. He is a real inspiration to me as a blogger who is very involved in the world as well as his blog. He advocates for causes he believes in and also covers a huge range of plants in his blog about “gardening, and plants, and maybe more”, as he puts it. And that “more“ is what makes his blog so wonderful to me. He engages me with his style and he tells stories along with his plant impressions. His wit and humor shine thru his writings. I’m very honored to receive this award from Lonnie because it’s such a very special award and he so embodies the qualities of loyalty with his comments and likes that I think of with this award. More on that soon. I highly recommend you go to his site and view his work. You can find him at: and I encourage you to visit him and enjoy his posts. Thanks so much, Lonnie!

The rules for this award are as follows:

  1. Thank the person who offered it to you and link to their site.

  2. Display the award on your site and write a post about it.

  3. Present 15 or so other bloggers with the award and let them know about it.

  4. Write 7 things about yourself.

  5. List the Rules.

I’d like to say a few things about this award first. I’ve read that it’s a combination of the Versatile Bloggers Award and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. That’s a very cool reason for it. But the reason for it I like the best is that it’s given to people who have commented or liked or followed your site and it’s a way to thank them for being loyal fans of yours. Thus the naming of Loyalty and the memory of Dragons who stay true to their ways. I think this is a very interactive award and I really appreciate the chance to thank these folks I’ll nominate for being willing to visit me and comment or like my posts or for following my blog and reading what I have to say. I’ve cut my list down to a manageble amount as I couldn’t possibly list all those who have liked my site, so if I haven’t mentioned you don’t worry. I still appreciate you and hope you’ll continue to come visit me as I will you. It’s about connections as I see it and I feel connected to these folks in a good way thru these blogs.

So here are my choices. Feel free to accept or not as you choose. This is meant as a compliment to you and not a chore, tho it may seem like it when you try to do the work. But frankly I think it’s worth it to encourage those connections we have with each other and be good netizens and bloggers. If you want to take this award and put it on your site please do and follow whatever of the rules you can. I hope people do accept this, as I’ve given awards to others who never even contacted me back and I wonder about that. I know people have different opinions of awards and mine is that they’re a good thing and need to be treated with the respect with which they are offered. I hope you take it this way when I offer this to you. I sincerely do thank you for being a friend to me in the last couple of months I’ve been back on line. So a big Thank You to you incredible people and bloggers. Peace and love to you all!

Jane Adams Art:

Mix and Match Meme:

Palm Rae, Urban Pottager:

Apothecary’s Garden:

White Rabbit’s Gallery

Arthur in the Garden:


A North East Ohio Garden:


Cancer Killing Recipe:

The Talking Violin:

She Brings Me Water

Sandra Danby:

Karen Ellis Blog:

Edwin Colon Pagan:

So that’s my list. Now I need to start contacting you so that you know I’ve given you this nomination. I wish the best to all of you and hope you know how much I appreciate each of you. Thank you for brightening my world with each visit you gift to me. I’m very grateful.

Oops! Almost forgot to list 7 things about myself. I suspect a lot of people almost “forget’” to do this one… 🙂 It’s always hard to talk about yourself isn’t it?…

  1. I’m a Scorpio with a Sag Moon and Gemini Rising, and I act like it…

  2. I Love the Fall of the year. It’s when I was born and I have an affinity for the “Time of Falling off and Dying”, as I’ve heard it called.

  3. I have Bipolar Disorder, and I do well despite it, or maybe because of it, who knows?

  4. It only rains in Seattle some of the time, right? (I’m a cynical optimist…)

  5. I want to live long enough to see the trees I planted get big. I’ll only be in my 80’s then so why not?

  6. I’m lucky to be in love with the most wonderful man on earth.

  7. I like to explore the limits of what is known as “reality”.

OK, that’ll do, as an old friend used to say to his sheep dog. Works for me. Time to go now.



Metasequoia in Training


This is a cultivar of the Dawn Redwood, or Metasequoia glyptostroboides, called “Miss Grace”.  As I understand the story, it was developed by Talon Bucholz in his nursery and he thought it was going to be a ground cover. One night his employees tied them all up into trees and that’s what they’ve become in the nursery trade now. A weeping Metasequoia instead of a ground cover.

I planted this tree in the winter of 2008 when it was only about 4 feet tall. It’s now over 8 feet and still growing, but I’ve had to work at it to get it that tall. If you click twice on this photo and look closely you can see the green ties at the top of the tree where I’ve trained the tips up to be straight up in the air. No weeping here, tho it was a lateral I tied up and it wanted to be level to the ground. I had different plans.

I’ve been training this tree up by tying up the laterals since I’ve had it and I’ve gained several feet of growth in that time because of it. I just tie up the tips Very carefully and let them grow. They seem to want to continue to weep tho, so I’ve had to go clear to the top of the tree to get it to stay as straight as it can and let it grow upright instead of weeping.

I’m not sure what would happen if I let it alone. I suspect it might build up on itself, in time anyway, but it’d be a much slower process and I’d have a very different tree. I like that it’s getting up to its supposed 10 foot height so fast. I suspect it may get even taller, but then I may have to train it up to do that and I don’t know how long I want to do this.

These trees are Very fast growing as you can see with this one. I dunno how well you can see the trunk on this but the base of it is a full two hands around and that amazes me. Up close this tree looks like something from some prehistoric time, which in fact it is. I love its aged look. It’s very evocative of old growth forests and almost hoary in its shape and character.

The Metasequoia was only discovered by modern man in the early 40’s in China in a wet valley where it rains all summer. But they seem to do fine here in Seattle where they don’t get much summer water from the sky. I’ve also grown them in central CA where they also thrive even in the abysmal heat and dryness there. I planted a species for my folks there and it’s huge now. They do like a lot of water.

They’re in the family of the Cupressaceae, the Cypress family, but it contains far more than cypress. It also holds the redwoods of California, and many other wonderful conifers. It’s a huge family and I have many of its representatives in my garden.

One of the things I love the most about this tree is how “pettable” it is when the leaves are on it. They’re very fine and lacy and look like a sheer version of the coast redwood, and feel like soft feathers when you brush them with your fingers. It’s really delightful.

Then in winter they start to develop their spring buds as soon as the leaves fall, so it always looks like it’s about to burst forth in new growth. It makes me happy to see it like this and I love the unique structure it has that you can see in the winter when it’s bare and lost its covering of leaves. You can see that structure well now.

Growing dwarf plants is a joy and a challenge if you want to keep them in their spots and yet allow them to get to the sizes they want to become. They usually grow so slowly that it takes them years to do this. But with a fast grower like this, and a few others, I have to take a hand in training them. I wrote about my Red Twig Dogwood recently and how I’ve trained it into a tree. I’ve done the same with other trees and plants.

This Metasequpia is one of my favorites in the garden and it has been for many years as a large tree. It’s so cool to be able to still have its beauty as a dwarf that will grow to a reasonable size for me. This is really my secret. Growing things that will fit where I put them and growing them with minimal training and adjustment with pruning is my goal, but it takes careful work to do it well.

I love that work. Helping the plants to grow to be themselves as much as possible is one of my chief joys in growing the garden. It’s such a pleasure to see things become themselves, just as it is with my fellow humans. We all become ourselves with the proper training and it’s as true with trees as with people. Good training when you’re young makes you a good person or a good plant.

It’s worth the time and energy it takes and I recommend it to you who have plants that need some assistance in their growing habits. You can change them some but you always have to do it in context with what a plant wants to be on its own or it won’t work. So follow the lead of the plant world and you’ll do well.

Happy Training to you,


Solstice Greetings!


As of a few hours ago the Wheel turned once more and we moved from the waning light to its joyous return. In a few days we’ll be able to see that the days are starting to get longer, something which every gardener longs for at this time of year. We have few plants to enliven our gardens with color now tho a few things do bloom still.

But mostly it’s the time of evergreens, and so we decided to do something a bit different as well as our usual house lights and the Holiday Tree and all. This year we decorated the little Cryptomeria Vilmoriana on our front porch. It greets all out visitors as they come up the steps to our front door. I think it looks great with the little bulbs on it. Not the usual tree to decorate but who cares? It still works for us.

As well as enjoying the conifers and other evergreens in the garden right now, it’s also time to be looking at seed catalogs now and dreaming of what we’ll plant in the spring. And how we’ll be sure to do it right this year and not make the same silly mistakes we did last time, right? I’m sure I won’t do the same foolish things I did last year, will I? I hope not… 😉

I hope you’re all enjoying this relative down time for us gardeners and relish the seasons delicacies that still turn up now and then. Like the “Charity” Mahonia I have that’s been blooming its bright yellow flowers for months now it seems. And the Winter Daphne that’s just starting to bud out in preparation for its so fragrant blooms.

I’m ready for a change already and it’s just Solstice today. I guess I’m impatient, but then I know I’m not really. I just love to see things growing and find the fallow time more difficult. Going within to the darkness of winter is always hard on me and I miss the ability to put my hands in the dirt as often as I’d like to. Time to get into the greenhouse and work there I guess.

So I wish you all a very Merry Solstice and a Happy New Year, and hope that all your gardening dreams come true for you this year. It’s a special time of openness and it’s good to be open to what Nature has to offer, even in this season of cold and darkness. There’s still the Return of the Light and it’s happening now. So go enjoy it!

May this Season of Lights be bright for you and yours,


Yes, It Does Snow in Seattle!


Well, not much really. But it does come down sometimes tho it’s a rare occurrence. I shot this early this morning just to give a glimpse of what it looks like when we get our odd snow that drops a few inches and covers up things with a light dusting of white. It’s not a problem for the garden at this level of snow, but it could get bad if it snows more.

But it won’t they say. This all will be gone by this afternoon. It will have all melted off with the rain. It’s sprinkling now in fact just a bit. It’ll take the snow away in no time so I’m glad I got a few shots in before that happened. It’s so pretty with that little bit of snow and the colors all fade into a dull grey which gives a nice tone to the shot.

You can see a lot of different plants on here. In particular you can see the red twig dogwood and the neighbor’s Metasequoia on the right side, and the Inverleith Scotch Pine at the very far right. The large tree on the left is an Italian Plum, one of the few fruit tree we have left. In the center you can see the Sequoiadendron giganteum and in back the Tsuga, or Mountain Hemlock.

Seattle can be treacherous in the snow because  many people don’t know how to drive in it here and we have a Lot of steep roads in town proper, including much of downtown and getting to it. I try not to drive in this kind of weather, even in my 4wd Subaru. It’s just too dangerous. Much better to stay home and enjoy the sights of this Garden Sanctuary in it’s snow covered glory!

Happy snow to those who love it, and so sorry to those who hate it! 😉


Early Days

Here are some photos that Louie took starting a full year before I started my own journal of photos. So he has some of the very early shots from before we even started the garden and I’m showing some of them now with some others that show what it’s grown up some to be in the first year or two. I’m amazed at how fast things grow but those first years were slow and I re-arranged things quite a bit to get the right balance.

The first shot shows the back of the lot before I started to change it to a garden. It had some nice big Osmanthus, Gold dust plant, a big Blue Peter Rhodie, and some Alberta Spruce that Louie salvaged from the neighbors. As you can see it’s just grown up and formed a nice shrubbery. All that changes in the next picture a year later as you can see with the new path and plants.

The next one is still that old but from the other end of the path so you can see how it goes from there. And the next one is of the very back of the yard a year later when it’s in growth.  You can see the small Metasequoia in this one tho it’s bare in the previous shots. It’s huge now after 5 years of growth and is now almost 10 feet tall!

This one is of the very front of the house by the street. You can see that I’ve just planted these Nandinas and Oregon Grapes in 2008. In the next shot it’s 2009 and they’ve started to grow, but just barely. They take off in years to come. Next is the fern bed before it was anything more than a bare bed. In the next shot you can see some ferns I’ve planted. A lot of them made it but some didn’t and I had to replant them.

These next ones are all shot from the inner front yard. Starting with the first you can see that there’s not much there except the lawn and a rockery Louie put in years ago. The Arborvitae makes a nice backdrop to all these plants. You can see from under the apple tree in one of them and the whole line up of plants starting from 2008 going to 09, and one of the other end so you see out of the garden in 2009.

The next ones are more of the inner front and are taken in 2010. They show how much things have grown here. I have lots more shots of all this but I was trying to give you an idea of the overall changes and these seem to do it the best. I hope they give an idea of how sparse things were at the beginning in comparison to what I’ve been showing you lately.

Here we’re in the back yard in 09 and the very back as well. The next is sort of in the middle of the back yard and the next is one of the fountain in it’s place with a few plants around it. You can see the stone pathway we put in to walk to it here. It makes it nice to be able to walk on it to get to work on the fountain when we want to clean it.

The final shots are of the whole back yard garden with some of the wheelchair accessible path we put in to the deck in case it’s needed. The other one’s a larger wide shot of the whole back yard as it was in 2010. It’s changed a lot since then and I’ll show more pictures of what that looks like in the coming days as I get to them.

I hope these pictures have shown you how little there was to begin with when we started this garden back in 2008 and 2009. It seems like it has been a short time but in other ways it’s been an eternity to wait for the little things to grow. I’m patient, but c’mon! 😉

That’s the problem and the joy of dwarfs. You can watch them stay in place for years and years without having to do much to keep them OK. They may take awhile to get there but they do in time and now many of ours are bigger than I am, a good test of growth for me. With a small garden like this you have to plant mostly dwarfs tho I have few larger tress I’ve planted as well.

I think that’s the true test of an optimistic gardener. As Wendell Berry put it, more or less, “I see my crops as the Redwoods, which I did not plant, and which I will not live to harvest.” Planting big trees when you’re in your 60’s is an act of faith that tho you may not get to see them some day as large trees, we’re really planting them for future generations, and that’s a cool thing to do.

Gardens for all!


Arborizing a Red Twig Dogwood

As any of you who have grown this plant knows, it tends to want to become a 10-15 foot ball. I’m trying something different. I’m training it up to become a tree. I got the idea at the NW Flower and Garden Show a couple of years ago with a yellow twig one and it caught my imagination. And since I had a wet space for a small tree but not a ball, I decided to try to see if I could train it up to become that small tree.

This can be done with many plants that are often at that middle range between real trees and large shrubs. I’ve seen this done well with lilacs, and laurels, strawberry trees and even some rhodies. If it gets too big to be a shrub for you, you might consider making it a tree instead. It exposes the inner bark which can be wonderful. Many shrubby trees have nice bark… like this dogwood that is bright red in the winter.

So often I think people think in terms of cutting Back a plant, cutting it Down in effect. Sometimes it’s good to look up and see what can happen in that piece of sky above the plant. Maybe you can make use of it to increase your garden “airprint” as well as its footprint. It makes your garden bigger even if it’s not… Something we smallholders have to keep in mind…

I’ve put these pictures in chronological order and you can see how insanely fast this thing grows. I  was shocked. I planted it in April of 2011 as the first couple of pictures show. Even there you can see the difference in just 3 weeks of growth. The next one is in July and it’s grown a lot by then. I’m beginning to be amazed…

Here it’s the spring of March in 2012. Then March again and later on in June. The next one is of the tree in fall in November after losing its leaves. You can see that I’ve done some removal of branches I didn’t want but I haven’t taken off everything. I just want to be careful. I sometimes have a tendency to prune too heavily and that’s not always wise…

The next shot, in March of 2013, is one of the whole north side fence area. It shows you how huge that dogwood has gotten in context with the other plants. You can see how big the Scotch Pine Inverleith has grown well here and the choke cherry near the dogwood too has done well. But the dogwood is the standout. I am truly amazed by now!!

The remaining shots are all during this last year. I guess I decided to shoot it often. I pruned it heavily at first and then let it go where it wanted except for pruning off some suckers that I knew I wouldn’t want. I established a good framework with the 6 branches I had in the first year. And I waited to prune it this year till all those gorgeous colored leaves had fallen. Patience has its rewards…

The next shot shows you the same line of the north side back fence that I showed you above. But here it’s taken in late October of this year and you can barely make out the branches of the dogwood high above the ones of the Taxodium and the choke cherry. It’s much taller than they are.

The last shot shows you the tree as it is today, actually this morning since I took this just now. I pruned it a bit after it lost its leaves so it has the structure I hope will work for it for now at least. I have no idea what will come in the years ahead. I’m envisioning a round headed tree about 10-12 feet tall and the same across, but up high.

It’ll compete with the Taxodium and the Cryptomeria perhaps, but I think they’ll do alright together. I’ll try to help them along to do that. They both grow much slower than the dogwood does, tho both do pretty well. They can hold their own I believe, with some careful pruning to make sure the dogwood doesn’t shade them out too much.

So this is it. I let the dogwood grow a lot and then pruned it to shape it and removed the suckers and crossing branches I knew I didn’t want early on. I’ve kept to that practice since the first year or so and pruned off things I thought were in the way of the framework developing into a tree like structure. It’s different I’ll admit. But I like it, and I think it’ll work really fine… 😉

Making trees from shrubs,


BTW: In actual specific fact this tree is a Conus sericea “Baileyi”, or Bailey’s Red Twig Dogwood, a cultivar selected for it’s lack of suckers (Ha!) and it’s intense red colors in the winter (Yeah!). The species may in fact get somewhat larger and I’ve seen them at 20 feet or more in the wilds. Just so ya know…

In Remembrance of Plants Passed

I sometimes wonder if it seems like I have a perfect garden. Like I never lose plants and everything grows well for me. That’s mostly true, but it’s also true that I’ve lost quite a few plants over the last 5 years, as any gardener would expect, and I’ve got pictures so I can always remember them. Here are some of my favorites that bit the dust and are now compost for another garden… And the Wheel turns…

The first one is a real loss. It’s the big Cherry we had in the back yard. It was dying and falling apart so we had to take it out this spring. It was a tragedy but what could we do? It was clearly dying and there was less  foliage each year. We had an arborist take it out so we didn’t hurt ourselves or hurt the plants underneath. It’s a huge loss and I miss it badly but I planted a new Cryptomeria in its place which will fill in nicely and even get bigger in time.

I’ve replaced these Wissel’s Saguaro Cypress since they died but it’s a strange story. I took the dying one into the nursery where I got it and they said it hadn’t gotten enough water! I was shocked as I water so carefully. But I guess these dried out and they went into conifer shock from which they can never recover. You know, when they turn that funny color of dead? That’s what they did. So sad…

This one lit up underneath the apple for some time. It’s a form of Coral Bells called Citronelle and was a highlight under the tree. But it got crowded out by the wild strawberry I planted in there. I’ve since removed all of it and don’t even have a picture to show it. I’m glad it went tho. It was way too invasive and when plants kill other  plants they have to go…

This lavender was just a bit too tender for our winter one year and it died then. I replaced it with a hardier variety of lavender. It’s doing well now. The next is one of my saddest ones. It’s a huge Ceanothus Julia Phelps that got killed by the excess water in the area where it was planted. Partly the neighbors broken water line but also just too wet an area which I didn’t realize. It would have been beautiful!

This Leopard Lily is a native of the PNW and grew well for a couple of years and then just disappeared. I don’t know why but I miss it. Next is a Rhododendron Ginny Gee that did so well at first but gradually just bit it. I think it didn’t get enough water too as it was on a bright corner of the garden in front. I had to put in something that will stay hardy so I got a Kleims’ Hardy Gardenia to replace it.

This is another huge loss. It’s the apple tree that was in the front of the yard. It was slowly dying as was the cherry and the apples were lousy so we decided to replace it with a Japanese Katsura tree. It’s gonna be much nicer in a few years but it sure looks bare out there now. It’s a sad loss for us both…

This is a native thrift, or Armeria. It got crowded out by the invasive Redwood Sorrel. It’s nice but it sure does take over. This Thrift had some nice flowers on it for a couple of years before it died. Next it a simple annual called Plum Crazy Oxalis. It did well for a year and then that was it but it was so pretty at the time I had to show it. Love the purple with the yellow flowers!

This is another sad loss to me. It’s a Subalpine Fir that is native to the Cascade mountains here in Washington. It did well for a couple of years and then just went south for some unknown reason. I dunno why as it was well established. Plants just die sometimes tho and this was one of them. I replanted it with a Podocarpus macropylla that will get pretty good size as well. It’ll be alright but I miss this tree.

This is a funny little plant called Aussie astroturf. It got ripped out by the crows. Who knows why they do what they do but I guess they liked it for nesting or something. They decimated it which is why I have the sticks in it to hold it down. Didn’t work… Oh well. It ‘s cute and I may still try it again some day…

This one really made me cry. It was a Mountain Laurel called Raspberry Glow and it was blooming like crazy and then it got a rot and just died in about a month. No reason for the blight but it sure did a number on this plant. I feel so sad about this one cause it was so special and it’s hard to grow and I’d done so well for so long. Sigh. Sometimes it hurts more than others…

This is one of many ferns I lost. It’s a Holly fern and did well for a year or two and then just died like so many others. I replaced it with a different fern and it’s doing well. The next one is a weird one. It’s a volunteer that I left tho I usually don’t do that. But it was so pretty and got so huge it even had lovely white flowers in the summer. It’s an annual but I’m not sure which one. Very beautiful tho but I had to take it out eventually to restore the look of the landscape.

Here’s a Hinoki that didn’t make it called Nana lutea. It gets about 2-3 feet all around and would have been lovely in its spot. It also grew well for 3 years and then just turned that dead look confers get and died on me. I tried to save it in the greenhouse like I’ve done with other things  but to no avail. But some make it in there, like the Japanese painted fern. It’s doing great after a spell in the greenhouse.

The Valley Valentine Pieris was buried alive by squirrels. They dug up a whole bunch of soil over its roots before I noticed and then it was gone. Really too bad as it gets quite large and would have been wonderful where it was. It did bloom well for a few years but then it was it’s time and it went away. Too bad..

This is a little heath called Ruby Glow that only lasted for a couple years before it just died. Again I don’t know why but it did it. It would have gotten to a foot or two big but now I’ll never know. That’s one of the things that bothers me about losing plants. I never get to see what they would become. It’s a sad loss to a gardener like me who loves his plants.

This is a Royal fern which gets to 5 or 6 feet and I was so looking forward to seeing it in the back of the garden someday. But it only lasted a year and then it bit it. Who knows why? I say that a lot I guess but it’s true it’s a mystery most of the time, at least to me…

Next is a Rhododendron called Abereconway from England. It lasted a couple of years  then went the way of all things and died away. It had lovely white flowers on it and turned this great red color in the fall. I replace to with a small growing Rhodie called Bow Bells that is doing well now.

You’d think I could grow Maidenhair fern but I guess I can’t. I’ve tried about 4 or 5 plants of it and they all died on me. I dunno, maybe I need to try a new variety. We’ll see, but I’m leaning more toward evergreen ferns these days to keep the green all year so I don’t know if I’ll try one or not.

This was one of the first things we lost. A Mahonia Charity, it was beautiful but got too much water oh the north side of the garden. It’s right on the neighbors broken pipe and it flooded out bad. I have another one now that it in a better place and doing well, but it doesn’t change color as well. Trade offs I guess. You get one or another.. it all balances out I think.

These last two are sorta cheats since they’re biennials and would die anyway in a couple of years. But I included them because I liked them a lot. The first is a Russell hybrid Lupine that got 4 feet tall when it was in full bloom. And the last is simple garden Pansy that kept coming back for 3 years till it gave up the ghost. It’s gone now but I remember it thru these pictures.

So that’s it. I’ve lost a lot more plants than this but I don’t seem to have pictures of them all or else I just have a bit too much information….;) I hope you enjoyed the Dead Plants Tour of the past. I sure did. It’s so good to see all of the plants I’ve put in and grown over the years. The photos of them as they grow are a treasured resource and commentary of what all we’ve done.

I keep a journal of all my plants and when I planted then and what they’ve done over the years. It and the photos keep me in touch with the past as well as seeing the possble futures. It’s sad to lose plants but it’s all part of the game when you garden. You have to accept it and get over it and move on. One way that I look at it is that every time I lose a plant I have space for something new!

That makes it alright with me. More or less. I still mourn them but I have so many wonderful plants in this garden that I have what I need and it’s all good. Loss is part of gardening and you have to take it when it comes. It’s sad but it’s all part of the Circle of Life that is moving thru all things, including our gardens…

Gone but not forgotten,


Building the Greenhouse

Some of these next posts will take us back in time a few years to when we first started some of the garden. I’m going to do a bit of an overview of how we built our greenhouse first. We started with a blank wall where the garage ends and we begin the work to level the ground to put in the greenhouse. We left the floor as dirt with gravel on it eventually, so it’s really grounded in the earth well.

To start the building itself is a picture of the framing of the foundation for the walls. After that we poured concrete mixed by hand in a big box made for it and put in the foundation. It’s got a wide foot on it and comes to a top of 4 inches wide to accommodate the frame. We poured it in a day, or was it night, I forget.. We worked at all  hours to get this one done. These first shots are from January 2010 when we started to build. Winter was not bad that year so we could work fine thru it.

Next we start to frame it and the walls are partly up here. We definitely overbuilt the thing since we managed to score a huge pile of wood at a local lumber store and got most of the wood for a mere $45 dollars. We got 2×8’s and 2×10’s and 2×4’s and trim wood and all sorts of stuff that they had in a special pile to sell cheap, So we took out generator and chop saw down to the store and cut the pieces to fit the van and hauled it all back home. It was a real deal and made the cost of the greenhouse much less expensive than it would have been.

We also scored on the windows. We found some big Millgaard last forever windows at a neighbors house where they were giving them away. They’re both double paned and are some 4′ wide by 3 1/2 high and make up the south west corner of the greenhouse. It’s was a real deal that saved us hundreds of dollars. It’s great when neighbors share their cast offs and they can be reused in our own place. Thanks, neighbors!

Next is a bit more framing with the door in it. Then one of the initial cladding of fiberboard to make the walls out of. Then the cladding with the door in it as well. We got a new storm door to put in since we don’t have a lot of light in the north side since the sides are walls instead of windows. So this big glass double paned door works great. It’s useful for letting in the light and keeping in the heat both.

Here are some interior shots as we put it together. In one I’m putting up some insulation which we put on all the walls. The garage was already insulated so we didn’t have to worry about that side. The whole place is insulated well with the thickest we could put in and it seems to work well. It’s sealed up really tight and when we first finished and shut it it was so tight we called it our Volkswagen Greenhouse. It would float! We had to open a window to get the door closed at first it was so tight!!

This is an interior shot of the greenhouse when we first did the seedbed and are getting ready to make it real. Next is the interior finished with the seedbed and the bench to put the finished plants on to grow. It looks like it has plenty of room here but we’ve filled up the space quite well over the years. At times it was bursting as I’ve shown in a past post. We made it as big as we could and fit the free windows in with an inch to spare. It’s tight as I said…

Here’s the seed bed all ready to go with the covers on it to hold in the moisture and keep the seeds moist and warm. There’s a coil of electric wire in the sand in the bed that heats up and provides bottom heat to the seedlings as they start to grow. It makes a big difference in starting seeds and in keeping the whole greenhouse a bit warmer when it’s on. But we only use it some of the year of course as heat. The rest of the time we just put plants there to use the space. Next are seeds in the seed bed growing. They look so cool and this was so exciting to see for the first time I’ll tell you!

This is my tool rack, or one of them. We have to use part of the greenhouse as a tool and storage shed – a potting shed if you will. It’s actually a combination of potting shed and greenhouse and I like the two combined. We both love to just hang out and sit in here on a rainy day and listen to the rain on the roof. It’s all done with fiberglass so the whole thing gets lots of light. So even tho some of it is walls there’s plenty of light to allow things to grow well in here as the years have shown us.

Finally here are a couple of shots of the outside of the greenhouse when it’s all done. First from the north side where the door is and the water barrel we use to gather the rain from the greenhouse roof and use it almost all year to water. We have to augment it in summer when it doesn’t rain (Yes, there are Months where it doesn’t rain here in Seattle, despite what you’ve heard… 😉 Next is the west side which gets the most sun along with the south side. The east is a garage so we don’t get much early daylight but it gets sun early enough to warm it up well each day when the sun shines

So that’s it. I made it in one post which surprises me. I guess it’s a lot to take in but it’s from start to finish, more or less, and I’ve given you an idea of what it takes to build a greenhouse. Or at least This greenhouse, anyway… The last pictures were taken in April of 2011 so we did all this in about 3 months or so. It was a lot of work but we’re so proud of it. It’s allowed us to grow so much good food and flowers it’s all been worth it. We get to grow all sorts of things we couldn’t grow outside, like the peppers we still have going after two years.

It’s a treat to have a greenhouse and if you have one I hope you’re enjoying it as much as we are. It’s a great thing to have to enhance your gardening, even if it’s a little one like ours. BTW this whole place is only about 6 x 14 feet overall with a ceiling of 7ft or so. It’s compact and just right… I wouldn’t want anything bigger or I’d go crazy trying to fill it. It’s big enough that we’re happy with it and will be for years to come.

Happy Greenhousing!