01 September 2019

🌿 WIld Douglas Aster 🌿

Wild Douglas Asters
(Symphyotrichum subspicatum)
are happily growing along the roads
of Shaw Island
where this bouquet was harvested
1 September 2019.
Clay hearts by Jodi Cable,
possibly featured at the
October Market Camp
Shaw Island, WA.
12 October 2019

06 August 2019


An antique stand from a pioneer
Shaw Island farm.
Carex comans 'Frosted Curls"
or New Zealand Hair Sedge.
A little shimmery this day at the
Shaw Island Gatehouse.
There are no seeds for sale but
there will be a few free potted young starts
for visitors at Market Camp on
10 August 2019 opening at 11:00 on
Squaw Bay Road.
The island deer do not touch this.
See below for a tip just uncovered
which might help those of us
growing outside a deer fence.
Carex 'Frosted Curls' is hardy to -10° (USDA Z 6b). It will take full sun or part shade. Effective when planted on a slope, in containers, or in rock gardens, where its foliage can cascade. Evergreen with winter interest.

Click image to enlarge.

26 July 2019

🌿 Climbing around on the island 🌿

"Just living is not enough, said the butterfly, 
one must have sunshine, freedom, and 
a little flower."
Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)
Danish author declared a 'National Treasure" in
his home country.

Clematis durandii
A climbing vine
blooming on Shaw Island this day of 
twenty-six July 2019
Seeds available soon at the
Shaw Island Gatehouse,
Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.

21 June 2019


A bouquet of fragrant Western Azalea
(Rhododendron occidentale)
happy in an old Chinese teapot
with a Mideke porcelain dish.
The is one of only two species of
Rhododendrons native to the west coast of N. America,
ranging from N. California up to S. Washington.
Picked anno twenty-one June 2019.
Shaw Island, WA. USDA zone 8b. 
One report claims this Rhododendron is tricky to propagate by cuttings but there will be lots of seeds to harvest in late summer for Gatehouse packets. There is no pre-treatment necessary, an unheated greenhouse and humusy soil would be handy. 

21 May 2019

🌿 Little Sparks from Bowles' Golden Grass

Bowles' Golden Grass
(Milium effusum 'Aureum')
A colorful grass worth knowing.
Click on image to enlarge and view
the thin spray of dainty seeds
bringing magic to the fern border,
below the seed shed, Zone USDA 8b.
Photo was taken in the evening rain of 20 May 2019.
Save the seeds to sprinkle around
in the shadier places in your woodland
garden or snip the stems into a bag, if you wish to
control the population, for some strange reason.
Deer resistant and pathetically easy.
Seeds are back on the rack at the
Shaw Island Gatehouse, Squaw Bay Road.

Botanical name: Milium effusum ‘Aureum’
Native Region: Garden origin. Prefers open woodland.
Zone Range: 6-9
Type: Perennial grass.
Bloom Description: As the season progresses tiny golden, bead-like flowers on thin stems gracefully create a delicate sparkle of gold.
Maintenance: Easy.
Tolerates: Deer.

Most grasses and grass-like plants require full sun, but this semi-evergreen grass is the exception to the rule. The bonus is that the delicate chartreuse leaves will brighten a shady corner in any garden. Sow seed in fall or spring, by just broadcasting out where you would like to see them germinate in situ. Best grown in partial but will take full shade. Self-seeds freely, but very easy to control.
If it gets messy looking in the heat of high summer, just use scissors to snip back the delicate foliage.

This grass comes true from seed propagation.

RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM.)

The common name "Bowles Golden Grass" is to honor E. A. Bowles, a British horticulturist, plantsman, and garden writer who introduced this variety into cultivation. It was considered one of his best finds when he introduced this yellow form of wood millet.

"E. A. Bowles, (1865-1954) 
Edward Augustus (Gus or Gussie) Bowles, known professionally as E. A. Bowles, was a British horticulturalist, plantsman, and garden writer. He developed an important garden at Myddelton House, his lifelong home in Enfield, Middlesex and his name has been preserved in many varieties of plants.
 E. A. Bowles was born at his family's home, Myddelton House. He was of Huguenot descent through his maternal great-grandmother and his father, Henry Carrington Bowles was Chairman of the New River Company, which until 1904 controlled the artificial waterway that flowed past Myddelton, bringing water to London from the River Lea. 

      Through his elder brother Henry, Bowles was the great uncle of Andrew Parker Bowles (born 1939), whose first wife, Camilla Shand, became Duchess of Cornwall on her marriage to Charles, Prince of Wales in 2005.

      Bowles gave his name to upwards of forty varieties of plants, and there are others that originated with him. For example, he named a Hellebore 'Gerrard Parker' after a local art master, Crocus tommasinianus 'Bobbo' after the boy who first spotted it and Rosmarinus officinalis 'Miss Jessopp's Upright' after a gardening neighbor.

 Erysimum 'Bowles' Mauve' was among "200 plants for 200 years" chosen by the RHS to mark its bicentenary in 2004 and, to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of the Chelsea Flower Show in 2013, was shortlisted (from among introductions between 1973-83) as one of ten "plants of the centenary".
 Other significant introductions included Viola 'Bowles' Black', cotton lavender 'Edward Bowles' (Santolina pinnata subsp. neopolitana). Vita Sackville-West cites the yellow and brown Crocus chrysanthus 'E.A. Bowles' as among the first bulbs to flower in her garden at Sissinghurst, while another spring plant, the slow-growing Muscari 'Bowles's Peacock', is commended by Richard Hobbs, holder of the British National Plant Collection of Muscari. 

      E. A. Bowles brought into cultivation several other yellow-leaved grasses and sedges. He also introduced a golden form of the wood sedge, Luzula sylvatica 'Aurea' and found Carex elata 'Aurea' on Wicken Fen, one of his favourite hunting grounds. 
      It has been described by another doyen of plantsmen, Christopher Lloyd, as "a plant to treasure, its colour changing in unexpected ways". 

      In 1908 Bowles was elected to the Council of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), whose grounds at Wisley, Surrey, now contain a memorial garden to him. Bowles received the society's highest award, the Victoria Medal of Honour, in 1916 and was a Vice-President from 1926 until his death almost thirty years later. RHS colleagues knew him as 'Bowley'.

15 May 2019


Neil's Shaw Island Rudbeckia
growing for Sweeney in Ellensburg
JULY 2019
Photo courtesy of K. Hopkins.

Neil's Black-Eyed Susans
(Rudbeckia mix)
Growing on Shaw Island USDA Zone 8b,
and now available at Gatehouse Seeds,
Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island, WA.

Type: deciduous perennial
Common names: Black-eyed Susans, Coneflower, Gloriosa Daisy, Brown Betty, English Bull's Eye, Poor-land daisy. 
Native: Eastern North America.
Height: 2'-3'
Bloom time: summer to frost. 
Flower description: yellow rays with a black/brown center disk.
Sun: full sun.
Water: dry to medium.
Maintenance: Low.
Use: Naturalize in bold groups.
Flower: excellent for long-lasting cut flowers.
Attracts: butterflies.
Tolerates: deer, clay soil.
Degree of difficulty: easy.

Genus name honors Olaf Rudbeck (1630-1702) and his son Olof (1660-1740) both botanists at Uppsala Botanical Garden in Sweden where Carl Linnaeus was a professor of botany.
Notes: Rudbeckia grows at Monet's Giverny.
      This is a sturdy and hardy plant with rough, narrow leaves and tall stems of flowers, it looks best in bold groups. Tolerates most garden conditions, and does exceptionally well on heavy soils but needs water during summer. Propagation is by sowing seed or by division.
Sowing: Needs light to germinate; surface sow. Germination takes 5-21 days. Can be started 2 weeks before the last frost. Thin to 12 inches. Top dress with composted manure annually.
      Neil has grown two different Rudbeckia for several years in his island garden; these seeds are a mix of both. The plant name tags are lost for the moment. 
      This is a new listing on the racks at the Gatehouse on Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island. Stop by.

15 April 2019


Calypso bulbosa
Native to Shaw Island, San Juan Archipelago, WA.
This photo was captured at c. 200' elevation by Thea Lengyel,
hiking friend, one island to the east of Shaw,
on Point Colville, Lopez Island, this day of 14 April 2019.
The area is part of the San Juan Island National Monument,
administered by the Department of the Interior's
Bureau of Land Management. The proclamation to
protect this land as a natural area
was signed by President Obama
in March of 2013.
Dogs must be on a leash.

"The goddess daughter of Atlas was Calypso, whose name means concealment, with reference to this lovely flower's habit of hiding among the mosses of the forest floor, in the shade––essential to its existence––of high forest trees. 'Bulbosa,' of course, refers to the oval white pseudo-bulb (corm) from which grow the single, strikingly parallel-veined, ovate leaf, and the 6-inch delicate scape carrying its solitary nodding and lovely blossom. The blossom, in the windless air of the forest, delights the wanderer with its heavenly fragrance––fresh, spicy, and utterly distinctive. It is a perfume to be mentioned in the same breath with that of the Twinflower, a perfume more subtle and refined even than that of the Rein-orchid.
      The tiny 'bulb' is most tenuously fixed to the forest duff by a few thread-like fibers, which are broken with fatal effects, by the most careful attempts to pinch off the enchanting flower-stem. Further, the bulb grows only in association with certain species of fungi, so that it is virtually impossible to transplant it successfully––as many thousands of admirers can ruefully report. One must need come reverently to its native haunts, there to admire it, and go blithely away––happy in the knowledge that others may come to enjoy it. 
      An unusual feature of this sole member of its genus in North America, is the appearance in late summer of the distinctive leaf, which persists through the rough weather of fall and winter, until the plump flower bud appears and is pushed upward by the lengthening scape, from March to June according to latitude and elevation. After the flower has withered the leaf slowly shrivels, and during the early summer months, the plant is almost undetectable.
      Especially on southern Vancouver Island [B.C.,] one occasionally finds the form ALBA, ethereally lovely and glistening white. When shape and proportion, colour and perfume are all considered, this must rank as one of the most enchantingly lovely of all our native plants. 
      On May 4 1792, Archibald Menzies, naturalist with Captain George Vancouver, was anchored near the present site of Port Discovery, WA, and making a landing and excursion into the forest'... met with vast abundance of that rare plant the Cypropedium bulbosom/ which was now in full bloom & grew about the roots of the Pine trees in very spongy soil & dry situations.' Menzies' Journal of Vancouver's Voyage. 1792."

Professor Lewis J. Clark.
Wild Flowers of the Pacific Northwest
from Alaska to Northern California. pp. 53-54.

Never will seeds or bulbs of this native be for sale at the Gatehouse but we can enjoy them on treks through the woods. 

13 April 2019

🌿 Summer Snowflakes for a Happy Spring 🌿

"A garden is not a picture,
but a language, 
which is of course, 
the major art of life."

American writer, Henry Mitchell

Summer Snowflake
Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant'
Descendants of bulbs shared by
island gardener, Gwendolyn Yansen.
BOTH resistant to deer and listed on the
Great Plant Pick list from the
Miller Library, Seattle.
Anno 12 April 2019,
standing up to
the rain in the Gatehouse woods.