Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A hoe, a claw and a rake : Part II

The potager is completely cleared, the soil has been turned and amendments have been incorporated. We're ready to sow our peas! While cleaning the bed we had to pick out lots of rocks, small and not so small thanks to the plumbing work done last winter. Wing Nut found some very interesting little rocks.

Hey, those aren't rocks at all! They're purple potatoes from my little experiment last summer. They were spuds that went a little too long unused and sprouted in our wire hanging basket. I thought the little violet colored sprouts were so beautiful, I threw them in a container and threw dirt on top. We so did not follow Steve Solomon's advice in Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, usually our bible when it comes to growing things we've never grown before. These were store bought spuds and not the garden center's certified ones. I didn't hill them up. I watered at the wrong time. It also never occurred to me to check the pot in the fall, so certain was I that there would be no potatoes in there. So imagine our surprise and glee when we dumped out the pot that you see sitting in the potager in the photo from our post "A hoe, a claw and a rake : Part I" and found about 2 dozen purple spuds that looked to be quite edible.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Where in the gardening world are YOU?

We live and garden near a TROLL! The story behind this troll is not a very happy one. Though I guess you could say that most stories involving trolls do not end well. In the photo below the blue drawbridge in the background is the Fremont Bridge. The taller bridge in the foreground is the Aurora Bridge. The Fremont Troll lives under the north end of the Aurora Bridge. The troll is about 5.5 meters tall and weighs about 2 tons.

Jodi DeLong from
Bloomingwriter recently threw out a challenge to garden bloggers. The Garden Bloggers Geography Project challenged bloggers to tell readers about their corner of the world. We're begining our third season of gardening in the Pacific Northwest--Seattle, Washington. Originally from the east coast and the Caribbean, we've meandered our way across the U.S. spending about 15 years in the midwest with a few stints in Europe along the way. Currently we're located in the mini-microclimate known as the Puget Basin. According to Seattle Tilth, this is "A microclimate kissed by the salt water winds of Puget Sound." Our first and last frost dates are typically March 15th and Nov. 11th. This year many of our summer annuals were still blooming when we did our Jan. 1st 2008 post! While I'm throwing out stats, let's just go ahead and dispell the myth that it is always raining here. Our annual rainfall is around 36 inches which, according to a report released last May by San Francisco based Weatherbill Inc., ranks Seattle 41st in terms of U.S. cities with the highest annual rainfall.

WINTER: Washington state is known as the evergreen state. One of the things that really struck us during our first winter here was that things got greener in the winter. In the summer most people let their lawns go brown. With the first pineapple express storms in Nov. the lawns start to green up. If all the rain and the wind storms start to get to us, we head over to the
Volunteer Park Conservatory and get our fix of greenery and flowers there. For those who absolutely need to get their fix of snow, Snoqualmie Pass is about an hour and 45 minutes away. Total snowfall this year is up to approximately 445 inches. Even here in the city on Dec. 1st. we had our taste of snow--if only for a few hours before it all melted away!

Around these parts peas are supposed to be sown by President's Day which was last Monday. Right now the camellias and hellebores are in bloom and the daphnes are scenting the air. The snow drops, daffs, reticulated irises are all in full bloom. The tulips are on their way. The freesia and day lilies are yawning and stretching. Typically February is very rainy, but so far we've had a week long run of dry sunny 50+ days. We hope to get the spring greens, beets and radishes sown this coming week. Since the weather has been so wonderful, we were really torn last Thursday when we found ourselves indoors at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show instead of outside working in our garden. Yesterday morning this is what we saw when we opened our front door.

SPRING: April and May weekends are filled with plant sales. Two of our favorites are FlorAbundance and Seattle Tilth's Edible Plant Sale in late April and early May respectively. Not to be missed Spring events--The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in April and the blooming azaleas at the Washington Park Arboretum in May. Below is a picture of our hillside garden taken last Spring. It took us two summers before we realized there was a stone wall running along the far side. It took us a third summer to actually clear away all the blackberry and other vines to actually reach the stone wall. The hillside garden has been a major trial and error to see what will survive the winter. Last spring and summer we had hummingbirds visiting regularly.

SUMMER: Shortly after we moved here we were told that you just can't grow tomatoes, eggplants and peppers here--the summers are just too cool. The magic word of course was "can't". The first summer we used the bubble wrap leftover from our cross country move to build cloches around our container garden. We put the containers on the patio as close to the brick wall of the house as we could. We've learned to keep the cloches on the heat lovers until the end of June. Not to be missed Summer event--
Sequim Lavender Festival.

FALL: Always fun gambling with mother nature on when the first frost will arrive. Last fall I picked the last batch of peppers and tomatoes mid Oct. They ripened nicely on the kitchen window sill. The first wind storms and pineapple express rain storms arrive in late Oct. or early Nov.

We're very lucky to have so much dirt in which to play. You may have heard that real estate is at a premium in our area. That includes futon real estate!

If I had to pick one image that represents for me my corner of the world, it would be the image below. This is Mt. Rainier as seen from Useless Bay on
Whidbey Island. I never get tired of the views of mountains and water.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Zantedeschia Schwarzwalder

Just couldn't resist these at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. They're from Oregan Coastal Flowers. They didn't have any rhizomes of the "schwarzwalder" but we did pick up a few of the "hot chocolate" which we were told to plant in early May.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Great night for astronomers, werewolves, and other lunatics

Wing Nut has a tendency to get a little restless and wild around full moon. Tonight with the full moon AND the lunar eclipse, she's really crazy! So she and Diva Dog drove around the neighborhood for over an hour, trying to find the best views of the moon and taking pictures.

Wing Nut and Diva Dog are headed back outside now to bark at the moon.
Ar Ar Arroooooooooo!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A hoe, a claw and a rake : Part I

This is the "before" shot of our potager. Last fall we thought the golden grassy stuff looked very cool. As you can see from these shots taken last fall, the grassy stuff was taller and fuzzier.

Whatever were we thinking? Hopefully it will pull up easily, but just in case, we are ready with our favorite weed whackin' implements. Curmudgeon has a predilection for the claw, while Wing Nut prefers the hoe. While working to clear the bed, we discovered that the Camellia around the corner of the house is blooming. Camellia fanatics out on the east coast are just in time to catch the American Camellia Society's annual conference Feb. 22-24 at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA!

Growing along the edge of the garden bed we found vines with bright red berries and violet stems. Wing Nut remembers the vines having pretty little purple flowers. No clue what these are! Any ideas?

Galanthus nivalis

Snowdrop or perce-neige in French.
Flower Chorus
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Such a commotion under the ground,
When March called, "Ho there! ho!"
Such spreading of rootlets far and wide,
Such whisperings to and fro!
"Are you ready?" the Snowdrop asked,
" 'Tis time to start, you know."
"Almost, my dear!" the Scilla replied,
"I'll follow as soon as you go."
Then "Ha! ha! ha!" a chorus came
Of laughter sweet and low,
From millions of flowers under the ground,
Yes, millions beginning to grow.
Le Perce-Neige
Robert Desnos

Violette de la Chandeleur,
Perce, perce, perce-neige,
Annonces-tu la Chandeleur,
Le soleil et son cortège
De chansons, de fruits, de fleurs ?
Perce, perce, perce-neige
A la Chandeleur.
The Snowdrop
Alfred Lord tennyson
Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid,
Ever as of old time,
Solitary firstling,
Coming in the cold time,
Prophet of the gay time,
Prophet of the May time,
Prophet of the roses,
Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sowing the Seeds of Democracy

Last Saturday our state held its political caucuses. We almost missed out on a political adventure! Since we had received our ballots for the primary, we had been tuning out all the chatter about the caucuses. It turns out that both parties here have caucuses and primaries.
Walking to the local school where we were assigned to caucus was like going to a huge block party. We greeted our neighbors and chatted with the other doggy parents that we meet on our early morning walks with Diva Dog.
Complete chaos comes to mind in describing the check-in process once we arrived at the school. First we had to fight the crowds to get close enough to view the precinct map in order to figure out our precinct number. Once we had accomplished that feat, we had to fight the crowds to get to our precinct table in order to sign in. When we signed in we were asked to declare our candidate preference or write "uncommitted". No I.D. was required at any point during this entire caucus process. Before leaving the house we had gone on a mad search to find our voter registration cards so we could prove, when asked, that yes, we were indeed party members.
After signing in, we milled around while the crowds got thicker and the temperature in the crowded-beyond-legal-capacity gym got hotter. Eventually, a speaker came to the mike. He welcomed us, led us in the Pledge of Allegiance and then gave a supporter for each candidate one minute to speak. Next, we left the gym and went with our precinct to an assigned room where a tally counter and a secretary were selected from amongst those of us present. While the tally counter counted the sign-in sheets to see how many people had declared themselves for each candidate, the rest of us were asked to speak for each candidate--again one minute. After two minutes, we were asked to bring forth any resolutions we wished carried forward to the next level of the process. There were quite a few resolutions put forth on a wide range of topics from income tax to gay marriage to the environment.
The tallying and counting in our group was a painfully long and slow process due, perhaps, to our tally counter having a PhD in mathematics. Once the numbers were in, we were separated into groups for each candidate. Our precinct had 7 delagates to distribute among the candidate groups. The delegates would be selected by each group. These people would be moving on to the county level of the party process. The undecideds at this point had had two whole minutes of reasons why they should declare themselves for one candidate or the other. There was a chance for people to change their preference on their sign-in sheets. This in turn required the math PhD tally counter to recount.
All in all the experience of attending our first political caucus was chaotic, hot, inefficient, overcrowded, energizing, entertaining, exhilerating, fun.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Pic Flamboyant

A Northern Flicker having her "déjeuner sur l'herbe" out in our backyard. What's for lunch? Ants. Not quite certain if it is a "red shafted" or a "gilded". While this is one species of woodpecker that is strongly migratory, they are common in our area year round. Listen.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Will you be my Valentine???

Mi amor es un loco girasol que olvida
pedazos de sol en el silencio.
"Mi amor descubre objetos"
Isabel Fraire
My love is a mad sunflower that forgets
fragments of the sun in the silence.

Glitter Graphics