Archive for the ‘Climate Change’ Category

Inside the Forest

This is the sort of photo I usually present of our garden.  It shows you the south side of the main ornamental garden, with a few marigolds and tomatoes from the veggie gardens in the foreground.  It was taken from along the fence in the back of the veggie garden.  It’s a nice colorful photo full of plants that lets you see what this whole side of the garden looks like, tho I guess this one’s a bit impressionistic, isn’t it.  Lots of colors, textures and forms all blended together.  Getting nice wide shots like this generally means shooting them from outside the garden itself.

This time I’m going to show you photos that were taken looking out from inside of the small forest we’re creating here in the rich peaty soils of our intensely planted little Nature Sanctuary.  It’s what we see when we venture off the lawn and onto the soft bark paths that wind thru the trees.  It almost feels like you’re walking in an actual forest, and it smells like it too.  Inside you’re enveloped within the lush scents of the trees and all the other amazing plants growing in here.  Many of them are taller than we are so it all feels much bigger inside it than it ever looks like from the outside.  It’s a bit different, as you’ll see.

This one was taken from a crossroads at the back of the path that leads into the south side I showed you in the last shot.  The big Elegans Sugi is on your right, and it really feels big when you stand right next to it.  The Red Pygmy maple is on the left, and standing in between them you feel enclosed in the trees’ energies.  It feels deep, calm and peaceful.

This is taken from the same spot as the last one, only now we’re looking directly under the Elegans sugi.  You can see how soft it looks.  It is.  It’s one of my main “pettable” trees because the needles won’t stick you like most other conifers will.  Being next to it you can really pet it!  It’s only been here 10 years and has grown from 18″ to over 25 feet tall in that time!

As you move back into the depths of the forest on  the same path you can see the green, white and pink variegated leaves of the Ukigumo Japanese maple on the right, with the soft droopy Elegans Sugi in the back and the deciduous Japanese Larch “Diana” on your left.  The Larch is all contorted and twists and turns around on itself.   Very cool!  The big “Blue Peter” Rhododendron in the middle has been here for well over 30 years!  The ground is covered with Kinnickinnick.

This is what you see when you turn around and look back behind you, past the Larch and towards the edge of the garden.  You can just see the Japanese Umbrella Pine on the left, with a big rhodie next to it that encloses the space nicely.  The little Licorice Fern on the lower left gives the lush feel of the PNW rain forests.  It dies back every year but returns even better.

If you stand in the same spot again and look towards the deck you’ll see our garden lamp and its wrought iron post.  The Larch is on your left and the Red Pygmy Japanese maple is on your right, with the Alpine Yew Pine in the foreground.

As you move up onto our little deck under the Larch branch you can see the bench and the light, with the fountain in the middle at the back side of the bench.  The Red Pygmy maple is right in front of you and the Bloodgood Japanese maple is the red tree on your left.  And no, we didn’t kill the deer whose horns grace our bench.  Consider it a “found” item….

This is taken from the same spot on the deck as the last shot, only looking to your left a bit.  The huge fern at the bottom left is an Alaska fern that has gotten huge in its 10 years here.  I cut it back to a foot high every spring and it grows back to this!  You can see the Bloodgood maple more clearly here.  On the left edge of the photo you can see the stairs to the house.

And finally, turning all the way to the left you can see the edge of the deck and the path leading back out of the forest to the outside again where the lawn is.  On the edge of the lawn the large conifer on the left is a 30′ tall Weeping Giant Sequoia.  It leans a bit to the neighbors – eek!  The big tree on the left is a Radicans Sugi which is now at least 25 feet tall.  You feel small next to it and can hardly see the top of it when you stand on the deck now.  All this from a 5 foot tree planted in 2013!

So did you feel the difference being inside the forest?  I hope so.  It’s so hard to convey just how cool it is to wander around under these trees and in between the shrubs.  Seeing them up close like this you get to admire all their unique foliages, forms, textures and growth habits.  You get to touch and smell them.  They become real creatures to you, not just colors and shapes you see from a distance.  It changes you to be in there.  It’s all pretty well kept and even semi formal, but it’s full of wildness too.  The plants make it so.  In just 10 years this has become a truly lovely little Nature Sanctuary and Forest.  It’s all part of our efforts to save and enhance a vibrant little part of the Natural World!  Combat Climate Change – Plant a Forest!!

Make your own little Nature Sanctuary!

Steve

Advertisements

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: http://cedar-grove.com/residential/recycle-your-organic-waste.

Seattleites have been recycling for many years and have one of the best programs in the country. http://www.sustainablecitynetwork.com/topic_channels/policy/article_ad6287d2-7491-11e3-9c23-001a4bcf6878.html. 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!

Steve