20 March 2017


Heritage Hellebore from Elsie Crawford Wood,
Shaw Islander who cultivated a garden now under the
WSF traffic lanes at the landing.
Anno twenty March two thousand and seventeen.
Celadon porcelain vase by Mideke.

For K.A.L.
"Never expose your Oranges, Lemons, and the like tender. Trees whatever seasons flatter, 'til the Mulberry puts forth its leafe, then bring them boldly out of the Green House." 
John Evelyn's spring advice to his gardener at Sayes Court in 1687.

Presumably the mulberry waits to put forth its leaf until all danger of frost is over, so the advice should hold good for one's geraniums and other tender bedding plants."
From A Countrywoman's Year. Verey, Rosemary. Little, Brown and Co., 1989. 

12 March 2017

🌿 JOAN IRVING BRANDT on her birthday 🌿

Remembering the flowers 
& friendship of
Joan Irving Brandt, artist &
helpful summer resident 

of Shaw Island.
and poppies 
belong to each other.
The flower's petals
are as translucent as wings.
I really feel that they would fly away too, 
if they were not tethered by their stems."
Joan Irving Brandt

Joan's career in watercolor got off to an early start with the purchase of one of her works by the prestigious Metropolitan Museum. At that time she was the youngest American painter to be so honored. Over the subsequent years she lectured, taught and juried from Hawaii to Italy. But she is best known for her observant genre subjects found in the United States and especially the American West Coast. 
      The American Watercolor Society voted Joan an Honorary Life Member. She is cited as an important force in the mid-century revival of watercolor as a major American art form.
Excerpts from a commemorative talk by friend and art collector Gene Crain on the Patio at Blue Sky, 2 December 1995.
      "Happiness is too often confused with acquiring things. Awareness is self-rewarding in that it leads on to appreciate without desiring." Joan.1949.
      The watercolor in this post is the cover of a 16 page booklet archived in the Gatehouse collection of Shaw Island history, courtesy of long time islander, Marlyn Hoffman. Her artist husband, Rex Brandt, inscribed: "Joan thought an extra lot of Shaw Island people."
      Hanging at the Shaw Island Community Building there is a Joan Irving Brandt watercolor of the islanders on South Beach, celebrating the launching of the John Alden cutter, JOHANNA, 27 May 1987. 

01 March 2017


Gwendolyn Yansen (1915-2012)
Shaw Island gardener
enjoying the annual spring rite releasing her
 pots of cherished Begonias from winter storage,
under the house, as she did for c. fifty island years.
She wouldn't mind if Rosemary Verey called
her a dirt gardener, but Gwen always changed into
clean clothes to go to the landing for mail.

A hard act to follow.
Photo 2000.

"Americans speak English but often their expressions are far removed from ours. On one occasion I was introduced as a 'dirt gardener'. I felt mildly surprised and even embarrassed––did my fingernails so easily betray my daily occupation? Later I learnt it was intended as a compliment, to convey that I actually dig in the garden myself. A shared appreciation of a subject or a mutual way of life is the best way to seal a friendship."
A Countrywoman's Year. Verey, Rosemary, OBE; Victoria Medal of Honour, from the Royal Horticulture Society, the highest accolade the Society can award.
Shaw Island Hamamelis flowers in February and
stretching to Gwen's birthday on March 4
Shaw Island March 2017.

23 February 2017


Iris reticulata and friends.
Anno twenty-three February two thousand and seventeen
Shaw Island

"This little bulb (named after the net-like coat of fibers that protects the bulb itself) is one of the best-loved of all irises, giving pleasure out of all proportion to its size––it is only a few inches tall. Its velvety blue flowers flecked with gold arrive in very early spring, and are heavily scented. It is quite hardy and increases fast in well-drained preferably alkaline soil––a few bulbs planted 3 inches deep and 4 inches apart in autumn will form an established colony in a year of two.
      Being so small, do not let the irises get swamped in a large border. They are ideal for the rock garden, or for raised troughs, where they can be seen and sniffed near eye-level. 
      After flowering the leaves present a problem, for they grow very tall and grassy and are something of an eyesore, and must not, of course, be cut down. A light, non-strangulating ground-cover might be planted nearby.*
      In her epic poem The Land, Via Sackville-West honored Iris reticulata as one of the earliest flowers of the year."
 For no new flowers shall be born
Save hellebore on Christmas morn,
And bare gold jasmine on the wall,
And violets, and soon the small 
Blue netted iris, like a cry
Startling the sloth of February.
Quote from: Perfect Plant, Perfect Garden by Ann Scott-James (1913-2009.) Journalist, author of several classic gardening titles.
Published by Summit Books. N.Y. 1988.
* A suggestion for a colorful plant to hide some of those late-stage iris leaves is this spot of summer color, Golden Feverfew, an herb easy to start from broadcasted seeds available at Gatehouse Seeds this spring and summer.
Golden Feverfew
Tanacetum parthenium aurea
Shaw Island, WA.

14 February 2017

03 February 2017



Hal Borlan (1900-1978)

For birthday girl A.B.
Anno three February two thousand and seventeen.

Carved Viking Dragon by Nicklas Nielsen, 2014.