Archive for January, 2014

A Winter’s Rainbow

There are many plants that lend their colors to the winter landscape. Last time I focused on blue but this time I want to cover the rest of the spectrum a bit. Here are plants from many families that all have colored foliage – either all year round, like the Dusty Miller, or just seasonally, like the Cryptomerias that turn colors in the winter.

These beauties run the gamut, from red to brown, white to silver, golden to purple and other hues as well. They come from many families tho my favorite – the Ericaceae  – has many of them. I’ve tried to arrange them in family order but there are so many different ones that there’s a lot of variety here.

Starting off is the Cappucino Sedge, in the Cyperaceae family, with its brown grasslike leaves that lives on a corner in the front garden. Next to it is one that’s a bit hard to see but it’s there in all its red glory – the Coral Bark Japanese Maple, also known as the Sangokaku. It’s in the Sapindaceae family.

The next one will be familiar to many of you as its pretty common but I love the pure white of its foliage. The Dusty Miler is in the Asteaceae family and has lovely yellow flowers in late summer that hold on for months. The greenish white one is a Wintercreeper, also called Eunonymous Emerald Gaiety, in the Celastraceae family.

Now we come to some of my favorites – the Heath family, or Ericaceae. Here is a Lily of the Valley Shrub, or Pieris, called Little Heath, with its cream edged leaves and bright pink buds. Next to it is a small Wintergreen which is the flavor used to enhance many foods with its minty essence. By it is a Himalayan Blueberry that turns this lovely red in the winter. No berries yet but I’m hoping for some soon.

Continuing on with the Ericaceae is the Bog Rosemary, or Andromeda, I featured as blue plant last time. This is its winter color. A multi-hued plant which is even more beautiful when it’s covered with pink blossoms. Next is an odd one I found at a local nursery that is a vaccinium, like Huckleberry or Blueberry, etc. It’s the Coin Whortleberry, and I haven’t the faintest what that means! But I like it….

Next is another vaccinium, the Huckleberry that grows wild in our Pacific Northwest forests and has sweet tiny blue/black berries in the fall. It turns this lovely shade of purple and red in winter. Last in the Ericaceae is the Dog-hobble, Feterbush or as it’s more commonly known, the Leucothoe “Rainbow”. It doesn’t have as much color as it should and I’m not sure why. I may need to amend the soil with something to bring out the color more. Research is needed….

From here we go to to the Cornaceae family – the Dogwoods. This is a shot of the Bailey’s Red Twig Dogwood I featured awhile back with a tutorial on how I’ve pruned it up into a tree. It’s working well so far… The next one is a familiar one too – a Golden Bamboo, which is just starting to show that color on its stems. I’m keeping this one in a pot because it spreads like crazy and I don’t have room for it to do that. It shields us from the neighbors a bit tho so it’s nice where it is, for now anyway.

Next is the French, or Spanish, Lavender, depending on who you ask. It’s in the Lamiaceae, or Mint, family. It’s silvery foliage is a bright spot along the kitchen wall in the herb bed in winter and all year round. It has beautiful purple blue flowers in spring. The next one looks a bit peaked from the cold, but it’ll perk up soon. It’s an Elephant ears in the Saxifragaceae family and has gorgeous reddish purple blooms in summer.

Here are a couple of similar shots of the Oregon grape. In the first one you see mostly the Nandina with the Oregon grape beyond in a line of the two combined. They’re both in the Berberidaceae, or Barberry family, and go well together. You can see the colors of the Oregon grape in the second picture better. It runs a range of deep colors from bronze to red to purple. Its yellow flowers and blue berries add color in spring and summer and food for the birds and bees too.

Finally are the conifers. First are a couple of Cryptomerias in the Taxodiaceae family. First is the tiny Pygmaea which only gets to a foot and turns this lovely bronze in winter. Following it is the Elegans which gets to 30 feet and turns this gorgeous purple in winter. It’s one of my “pettables” as it’s so soft and elegant to touch. It also grows very fast. This tree is only 4 years old and it’s 9 ft tall from a foot at its start! Wow…

The last two are in the Cupressaceae family. First is a Globe Arborvitae Louie planted many years ago. It’s gotten quite large and is one of only a couple plants we actually shear to keep it in bounds or it’d get too big where it is and close off the path to the front garden. It turns this lovely shade of bronze it the winter but in summer it’s a bright green. Amazing how different it is from season to season.

Last is another favorite of mine- an Incense Cedar which grows in California in the Sierra Nevada mountains and northward. This is a cultivar called Maupin Glow from Oregon that has golden tips which will become more pronounced as it ages. It’s a bit subtle but you can see it’s golden tips OK if you enlarge it. In fact all these shots benefit from doing the slide show and seeing them larger. I know some of these are small plants but I tried to get good shot shots of them. I took all these yesterday when it wasn’t raining yet. It is now….

So that’s my latest tour. I hope you enjoyed it and see the tremendous range of colors I have in this small garden. I know there are many other possibilities that are around but these are what I have and they make a huge impact on me in walking the garden in winter. There are always colors in the garden whether it’s summer’s heat that brings them on or winter’s cold.

There are so many colors to the Rainbow of plants here and in general. I encourage you to explore their great diversity when you plan your garden or visit the nursery next time. They all add something that we wouldn’t have with just evergreens or deciduous plants. They give us beauty all year round and change as much as their deciduous cousins do. I’m happy to have this collection of colorful plants in our little Nature Sanctuary.

Planting for color for all seasons,



Beauty in Blue

This time of year there’s not a lot of color in our gardens. Not much is blooming, if anything is, and we come to rely on the conifers and other evergreens we have in our spaces to provide us with some color and interest. One of the most predominant colors I find in own garden is that of Blue. Maybe it’s a silvery blue, or a grey blue, maybe even blue green or just plain sold Blue. They all add color that we wouldn’t have without them.

I did a bit of an inventory of my plants and found that I have about 15 different blue plants of various hues. They come in all sort sorts of flavors and varieties, from several families and genera. I’ve got several different Chamaecyparis from the Cupresaceae (Cypress family), and Pines and some Spruces from the Pinaceae (Pine family), Andromeda from the Ericaceae (Heath family), Wormwood from the Asteraceae, (Sunflower family) and even Eucalyptus from the Myrtacea (Myrtle family). Quite a collection for such a small garden… They all love our peaty soil here as it’s acid and all of these folks like that to grow in.

Of course there are many other colors, in the conifers especially. I’ll do a post on other colors later on but today I want to focus on Blue. I’ve heard it said that blue is not a very common color in the garden, but that was years ago and things have changed it seems to me. I did another inventory of blue flowers I have and they came out to more than 20 of them, tho some are more lavender then true blue but that’s OK. Blue is cool and it’s so available it’s a shame not to use it.

It’s a good idea to click on the first picture and do the slide show so you can really see the blue in each of these shots. I tried to put them in a slightly organized fashion, tho not entirely, and I included all the plants I have that have blue tones to them, at least in my opinion. I even included our mascot, the Greenwood Blue Wood Duck. I mean, it was so happy in its pool of rainwater when we snapped this I just had to include it. We also have many other birds here too… 😉

Blue is Beautiful,


Onion Art

Oignon 4445544444

Oignon 3334433333

Oignon 2223322222

Oignon 1112211111

A cousin of mine just sent me these photos from France and I thought they were so cool I just wanted to share them. I don’t have much to say about them because I didn’t get any information,  just the pictures. But they are so unique and original I thought maybe some other folks would appreciate seeing them. That’s it. A simple post for a change… 😉



PS. I credit my cousin Marilyn for sending these to me and her cousin in France Patrick for sending them to her… There are many circles that connect with this one here… 😉

Taking Out the Compost

This may seem like a bit of  a frivolous post but what I really want to talk about is Seattle’s excellent recycling and composting programs. I decided to do it by showing you our daily walk to the compost bin. I think it makes it more visceral to see how we do it. This is the walk we take several times a day to take out our compost.

These are the views I have as I leave my back door and go out to the compost bins. I walk out the door and look left, at the Contorted filbert, the Greek Laurel, the Irish Yew, the Eucalyptus cinerea, the Pieris “Brookside”, the Red Hot poker plant,  and finally the Blue Surprise Lawson Cypress.

To the right is the Golden Bamboo and the Vine Maple as well as our wonderful cedar picnic table that we use all summer and whenever it’s nice enough out to eat there. Going  straight ahead is a Gotohime Goshiki Japanese Maple and a small Carnation.  The maple is exceptionally beautiful in the fall when it turns bright red and orange.

As I approach the stairs you can see down them a bit to the edge of the Fern Bed with an Alaskan fern and the Mahonia “Charity” in such full and bright yellow blooms. This is the door to the garage as well and the next shot is of the Nandina that lives there. Under it is a small Chamaecyparis pisifera called “Snow”. In front of it is some Black  Mondo Grass.

The next shot is totally down the steps and onto the entry/exit to the garden. I take a moment to gaze at the  Weeping Purple Beech and the Cephalotaxus with its ferns and large leaved Andromeda on the left. Across the walk to the right is the Chirimen Hinoki Cypress and Curlew Rhododendron and a bit of Corsican Mint to tread on and smell its fragrance….

As I go thru the gate I see the Maupin Glow Incense Cedar with its ferns around it at the end of the path and the bins on the way. The last shot is of the bins themselves. I didn’t bother showing you what’s inside. It’s pretty gross what with all we can put in the bins. We can put in all our yard trimmings and waste of course but we can also put in all our food scraps. Yuk!

So that’s the trip. Short but sweet. I always stop and look at the plantings on my way and enjoy them. Of course we have a small garden on the deck as I’ve shown so we can see plants out of the kitchen windows. It’s nice to bring the plants a bit closer to the house this way. And we get to enjoy more plants that we don’t have room to grow in the ground too! It’s a fun walk…

We used to have compost bins ourselves but it was hard to produce enough compost for our garden and it took up a lot of space. So we looked into the City’s programs and found that we’d be better off just adding our compost to the city’s and buying it back as finished compost from the company that does its work, Cedar Grove Recycling:

Seattleites have been recycling for many years and have one of the best programs in the country. We have 3 bins at our house that we put all our recycling and compost in as well as the little bit of real garbage we create.

One bin is strictly for recycling – paper, yogurt containers, newspaper, glass bottles, cans, all the usual stuff. They’re understandably uptight about people using this correctly. One bad article in a bin and it has to be tossed out or gone thru by hand and that’s a lot of work. So we all try to be good and only put in what’s approved.

The other bin is about 1/3 of  yard and it’s for our yard waste and composting. We can put all our yard waste and our food scraps, including meat and bone and other things you wouldn’t think would be compostable in it. We try to cut up all our wood pieces to manageable sizes and if we have more we can tie up bundles of sticks 4′ or less in length and leave them by the bin. We’ve put a whole tree in this bin on occasion.

The little black bin is just for regular garbage and we don’t use it much except once a week for the few things we just can’t recycle. I’ve read that the rates of people recycling in Seattle are very high. I couldn’t find the latest numbers but just a few years ago we were at 47% and it’s gone much higher since then. It’s a model program that many other cities are looking to for inspiration and advice.

I’ve been recycling for about as long as I can remember -at least since my college days in the 60’s. I lived in Berkeley for awhile and they had recycling going on even then, tho it was in its infancy. I remember taking our recycling to a center and it was like a party with every one being so proud of the good work we were doing to help save the planet.

Of course it’s not really the planet we’re worried about tho is it? It’s our own survival that’s at stake. The planet will survive and make it OK but humanity might not if we don’t get our act together. One of the things they do with the compost here is to make methane gas from it to use in fueling vehicles for the city and other uses. That’s gas that won’t come into the atmosphere as air pollution, which reduces our chances of survival.

A bit of a side note here – I think many people are worried about Climate Change and the effects on the planet and they should be. But I think it’s really the fear of the loss of our civilization we’re worried about. The Earth will go on without us if we don’t get it together. If we don’t recycle and compost and change our ways of emitting gasses into the air, our great grandchildren might find a very inhospitable world.

So if you’re worried about this don’t just focus on the earth, focus on yourself and what you can do to alleviate the problem. We all have a chance to make the world better by our efforts in doing this important work. I’m very lucky to live in a place that values the earth as much as it does. We’re a pretty liberal city here and it’s no surprise to hear that we have these programs here. It’s a part of the Seattle psyche to recycle now, it’s so pervasive.

I hope other cities will look at us and see what we’re doing here and try it for themselves. As far as big cities go we’re in the top 10 or so of places that have a large percentage of household recycling including the composting organizations that get rid of so much. I find I don’t know what to do when I visit friends that don’t have recycling or composting. It seems like such a waste of material.

So I hope you’ll consider joining me on my walks to the compost bin and encourage your community to start or increase your own recycling and composting programs. It’s a good thing to do and as gardeners we should be at the forefront of this work. We all know that compost is proven good stuff, and we know how it’s made. If we have a program that can help us so much the better. We all benefit from programs like these.

Happy Recycling and Composting!


Dwarf Redwoods

I mentioned recently that Redwoods are perhaps my favorite trees. It’s so hard a make a definitive judgement about something like and absolute like a Favorite, but I’ll make an exception for these remarkable trees. There are only 2 species of what we think of as Redwoods, tho there is also the Metasequoia that I profiled recently in another post ( but here I’m focusing on the 2 that most folks think of when they think of the Redwoods – the Coast and the Giant.

Unfortunately I don’t have anywhere enough room to grow either of these trees in their natural states, so instead I’ve planted a couple of dwarf forms of the two of them and I’d like to show how they’ve grown for me over the last few years. Both are unique and interesting and much smaller than their parents, which are the tallest and biggest trees in the world, tho some ancient Douglas Firs may be taller as some recent fossils have shown.

So here’s the first one: A dwarf form of Sequoiadendron giganteum called “Pendula”. The species gets to over 300 feet and 30 feet across but this gem only grows to 35 or 40 feet tall. Still a large tree but nothing like its parent. It weeps too but still has the distinctive needle arrangement that the regular tree has. It just grows all over the place as it shift and bends. I’ve staked mine up to give room for the path on one side of it but it’s now wanting to bend and twist as they do at its upper reaches so this year will be interesting.

I’ve arranged the photos here as I’ve done before – from when they were little to how they are today, just a week ago. I’ve had to stake and tie this one for a few years so I can get to that path, but now I’m letting it grow. In just 4 years it’s gone from about 4 feet to over 14 I’m guessing. It grows as fast as its parent does. Both species here grow very fast and make majestic cathedrals of their groves.

In fact the Giant Sequoias were only an hour from my home growing up so I got to see them often and they were my first Temples and haven from the world to stand in and were full of grandeur and majesty. I’ve never forgotten those early visits to their sanctuaries and I’m so glad that they turned out to be lousy timber trees that split when they were cut down so that we still have some of them to us to appreciate and enjoy.

They’re incredible treasures and I just saw them again in 2012 on a visit home. We tried to visit the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite but it was full so we found some in the King’s Canyon National Park and I got to show Louie what they look like. He was pretty impressed I have to say.

They’re so Huge and full of wisdom you can just tell. These trees were alive 2 thousand years ago and what stories they could tell I’m sure, tho they’d probably be both bucolic and wild, telling stories of fires and wind and rain that ravages and nurtures the forest. They are archives of this information if we only knew how to read it. Maybe someday we will.

The next 9 shots are of a dwarf form of the Coast Redwood, the Sequoia sempervirens, called “Kelly’s Prostrate”. It only grows to about 12 inches tall they say and 4 feet across. Quite a change from a 365 foot tree in its native ranges. This plant was pretty big when I got it and it it’s grown so much that it’s reached both those sizes and more. It’s going to be quite large in time, since it is already.

In the second picture you can see how it burned the winter of the second year we had it. It just got too cold and wasn’t acclimated here well yet I guess. Since then it has acclimated and this year we had weather in the teens and it didn’t affect it adversely. Its foliage is the same as the species and is fluffy and soft. One friend of mine even likened it to a fern when he first saw it. It does look like a huge fern I guess because it’s so lacy and fine in its growth.

I planted many of these in my landscaping business over the years. I suspect some of them will get rather large for where I put them as I’ve learned more about how to do a good job of placement but most of them are growing in good spots to be fine as they are, I hope.

The ones I planted for my folks 45 years ago have been cut down so I can’t see how big they’ve gotten, but a neighbor has one I planted 30 years ago that is 50 feet tall or more now. They grow Fast! And it pays to start with young trees, because they will tend to catch up with taller ones in few years so I did that with the ones I planted. It’s true of many other plants as well.

These trees are still threatened in their natural habitat. I’m not closely in touch with their current plight I’m sad to say but I know that they still log them and I think it’s horrible. To log Old Growth trees is a crime to me personally and I think it should be a criminal offense.I”m sorta hardline I guess in some ways when it comes to my favorite trees.

These trees have so outlived anything we can dream of it’s cruel to end their lives just so we can have their fine wood. They’re worth far more as trees than as wood. Just my opinion but I feel it strongly. I so admire the folks who have worked to save the Redwoods.

We need these incredible trees as part of our Natural Heritage and I hope that people learn to respect them and their histories and give them a chance of survival. We lose so many species every day it’s terrible and we mustn’t lose these.

I hope that if you haven’t seen these trees you get the chance to do so someday. It’s worth the trip to sunny California to do it if you can. I hope they’re there for many years to come, and that we are too, to be able to see and admire them.

Appreciating Nature is one of my Jobs I believe and I try to promote trees and plants in any way I can, even tho I may bore some of my friends I guess… I can’t seem to help myself. I just feel so connected with plants and with these particular specimens I’ve shown you here today. I’m a Tree Faerie at heart and always will be!

I can’t fit the Big Trees in my garden but I’m so grateful to have these smaller specimens of their wondrous glory. They give me the”feel” of the Redwoods without their huge sizes and I still have them in my yard. It makes me so happy to visit them every day to see how they’re doing. What a a joy it is to grow dwarf conifers!

Long live the Redwoods!


Shauny Too


I realize after re-reading my last post several times that I need to add a bit to it. Mostly I want to say more about the bloggers I nominated for this award. I didn’t do a good enough job of praising them and I intend to try to remedy that now.

I chose them all for one simple reason – they all have excellent blogs that I have read a lot of and they all embody the tenets of this award really well. I want to thank them for what they’ve done for me personally and for the WordPress community with their work. They all engage me in their own unique ways. Each one of these folks has the ability to put their thoughts into words or art on their blogs so that they call to me and draw me in to read more. I have been stimulated, enlivened, entertained and had my thoughts provoked in good ways.

Some of these people are similar to me I think. Others are very different. But they all make me laugh or cry, or see the world in new ways or even confuse me and cause me to question my own views of reality and look at things anew. They all make me feel like I should honor them for their work. And I am so grateful that they are here to share their insights into the world with all of us. They’re the type of bloggers who makes this community so rich and varied and this really is a varied list of folks.

From herbal insight infused with Natural wisdom to Photos that startle and amaze me. From original art that inspires me, to funny stories or takes on difficult subjects, or how to grow a good food garden and have fun with growing things. From just plain silliness and fun to deep insights into the human condition, they all thrill me with the way they work with such grace and ease.

They all are unique and I hope that many people will visit their sites to see them and learn more about their worlds. In a word, I feel a Kinship with these people that transcends the ordinary and that’s such a treasure to me. I value these people so much and I hope you will too when you get to know them as I have. Many thanks to you all for your work and play with your blogs. You are very much appreciated!

I chose these particular bloggers with care, because of all the things I just said, even tho I knew that some of them don’t accept awards and others may feel this to be a burden to them. I apologize if the latter is true. If you don’t want to accept or deal with this award I hope you choose to say Thanks but No thanks, and not be offended by my award to you.

I may be making a fool of myself here but that’s OK. It’s more important to me that I try to explain myself and make any amends I need to make. I care deeply about these folks, especially a few of them, and I wouldn’t want to do anything that damaged or harmed our relationships. So if I’ve done that I apologize and hope you’ll still continue to come around and visit me and I’ll do the same with you, for sure.

I hope I’ve accomplished what I set out to do in re-framing this last post some and offering more reasons why I did it the way I did. Life means taking risks and I’ve just taken one I know, but it’s alright. Relationships take work and we’ve all worked at these and I don’t want an award post to challenge those efforts on all our parts. Thank you for reading my words and I hope to see you soon.

Peace and Love,


The Shauny Award


I’d like to thank Tamara of My Botanical Garden for my nomination for the Shauny Award. This is a new award and I’ll talk about it in a minute. But first a few words about Tamara. I’ve been following her blog for some time and I really enjoy it a lot. She has a philosophy I can really relate to in presenting her Botanical Garden. She sees them Everywhere and if it’s beautiful it’s a Garden to her. Or that’s how I see it in her posts at least. They are varied and beautiful and cover a wide range of plants as well as other topics. I highly recommend you visit her at: and see her work. I think you’ll be very impressed, as I am. I thank you so much for this award, Tamara, and wish you all the best in your future blogging endeavors.

This award was recently originated by Dr. Rex in late November of last year (see: ). She saw something in Shaun Gibson of Scotland that everyone who visits his site sees. A wonderful and generous man who researches his subjects well, covers a broad range of topics in his blog, and embodies the principles of this Award so well. You can see his blog at: I hope you’ll visit these sites and see why this award was created and enjoy Shaun’s work. Shaun says this award is for Blogging Excellence and he chose the rules for this it. I’ll post them now. They’re quite unique:

  1. Show humanity, show love, be yourself, don’t be others, don’t gossip, and then share with 10 others.

I try my best to embody the tenets of this award in my life and in my blogging. I hope that this is seen in my work here on WordPress and to those who know me in my life outside of cyberspace. I think these are maxims to live by and they aren’t always as easy to pull off as it might seem. But it’s worth the effort to do so because what else is there if we don’t love, and show our humanity and honesty to others? What’s the point? Being oneself is critical to my way of thinking if we want to be real, and that’s always been a big goal of mine. It’s a constant bit of work but that’s because we’re all complicated people and have many facets to our personalities. I tend to show different parts of myself to different people, depending on the situation. I’m very versatile in that way. That’s why I have 2 blogs on here, one for my world of Gardening, and one for my inner world at Naked Nerves, which is much more intense and deeper in its portrayal of my energies and ways of being. In both of these blogs I try to follow Shaun’s advice to show humanity, be myself and be real, not to gossip and to show Love most of all, towards myself and my topics, and towards those who visit me and read my posts. I dunno if he wanted us to talk about oursleves but it seems necessary to do so if we want to show how we’re following Shaun’s rules. I hope I haven’t blathered on too long but I felt it was important to say these things. Now, on with the program, more or less…

There are a lot of people I could nominate for this award. But in the last 2 months I’ve already received 3 awards and the folks I most want to award this to have already been nominated by me for other awards and I really don’t want to overwhelm anyone, or give an award that’s not desired. No offense meant. In fact I mean it as a compliment to you. I’ll make my list but I won’t be contacting people as I usually do. So if you see your name here and want to accept this award please do. If you don’t want it then that’s fine too. I just want, as always, to honor you for your wonderful blogs and to thank you for being so good to me and to the overall community for your excellent and continuing efforts to make this place interesting and alive with thought and possibilities. I think all these blogs show excellence. They make me feel good about blogging. I know there are many people who deserve this award and hopefully it’ll continue to spread. I hope I help do that even if my way is a bit different. So here are my 10 nominations and I do hope you’ll go to visit them and see their diverse and inspiring blogs:

  1. White Rabbit’s Gallery:

  2. Apothecarys Garden:

  3. Palm Rae Urban Pottager:

  4. The Belmont Rooster: (deleted, but I love and miss it… and he deserves the honor)

  5. Mix and Match Meme:

  6. This Time, This Space:

  7. Cancer Killing Recipe:

  8. Jane Adams Art:

  9. The Jiggly Bits:

  10. Bipolar Codex:

I sincerely hope that the folks I’ve nominated for this award are pleased to receive it, even if they don’t want it or feel overwhelmed by too many awards, as I seem to be feeling myself right now. I think the awards are a very good way to meet new bloggers yourself and to introduce them to your circle of followers and friends. They help to build the community here by our connections and interactions. I mean no dishonor to them by my way of doing this award. Maybe I’m overreacting but I doubt it. I’ve talked to some of these folks and I know they feel similarly, as do many others I’ve been in contact with recently. I’m very grateful for being nominated for these awards but I think maybe I’ll take a bit of a break from them now. If I get another one I will do my best to honor it but I may just say Thanks but no thanks as so many others do. I understand now why they do that. It makes me a bit sad but I came here to blog about my life and garden, not to be honored for it. I get good feedback from the people who read my blogs and I’m very grateful to all of you who are reading this now. I hope you’ll be back to visit me again, and I promise to get back to blogging about my garden as soon as I think of a new topic… 😉

All my best to Shaun and Tamara and to the incredible bloggers I’ve named above.

Peace to you all,


PS. Please see next post for more information on this Award. Thanks…