21 June 2017


These examples and many more new packets
of locally grown and harvested herb and
flower seeds are now installed for 2017.
Stop by the Gatehouse, Squaw Bay Road,
Shaw Island, WA.,
for an easy to pack-home-souvenir or gifts
for your gardening friends who would like an
 organic treat from the San Juan Archipelago.

"Anyone can be a gardener. It's simply a matter of choice. On the day you find yourself fretting about the first frost or ruminating about Rhododendron color, the day you say to yourself, 'I'm a gardener'––you are one. You need no degrees or doctorates, no accumulations of blue ribbons at a prestigious Iris Society Competition, no title bestowed by an intimidating gardening society, no personnel official to declare, 'you're in,' nor any special knowledge of pH factors or compost heaps. What is essential is training your vision to see beyond what's already there; having enough strength to haul around a garden cart filled with fifty pound bags; and money, because you can't start planting without any plants...Benson, Dianne. Dirt. The Lowdown on Growing a Garden with Style.

📖  Here is a customer review of the above listed O/P book by Benson, one review of 16 on Amazon, each rating the book with 5 stars.
"I don't even remember how I found out about this book. I bought a used copy on Amazon about a year ago and am today ordering another copy as mine is falling apart and dirty from being used outside. I couldn't garden without it in my Zone 7 shady garden with horrible clay soil. Along with the basics on gardening it is a personal, opinionated account of creating a garden. I may not ever grow the exotic tropicals Ms. Benson loves (I am too lazy to dig them up for the winter) but there is so much information in this book on what to grow, how to do it and what to combine it with you are sure to find something you love. Be aware that there are no lush color photographs, just some black and whites and line drawings. Love it, Love it, Love it!"

01 June 2017


"Then I will raise aloft the milk-white rose
For whose sweet smell the air shall be perfumed."
William Shakespeare
Henry VI, Part 2, 1.1

ROSA banksiae 'alba'
Mideke hand-thrown porcelain pot
and Oyster drills from an island beach.
Shaw Island, WA.
Anno One June Two Thousand and Seventeen.

23 May 2017

🌿 A Deer and Drought Resistant Garden 🌿

Herb 'Golden Feverfew'
Deer resistant Shaw Island plant.
"A vegetable garden almost anywhere in the San Juans requires a fence to keep out the deer. However, there are a lot of beautiful plants you can use in an ornamental border that the deer won't touch––and many of them are drought-resistant as well. Doug Bayley, landscape gardener who worked at the Farm Nursery on Orcas Island had an experimental deer-resistant and drought resistant garden there and he learned a lot.
      Some plants were more inviting to the deer than he expected, and got nipped in the late summer after the lush growth in the fields tapered off. Those included Shasta Daisies, gaillardia, tulips, pansies, and almost all the annuals except zinnias. Deer also eat yew shrubs (although they're supposed to be poisonous) and cypress, and in the fall they rub small trees and shrubs with their horns and strip the bark off. 
      But there's a long list of plants that came through a full year untouched by the deer, and he recommends them for unfenced areas. All the herbs did well, including rosemary and lavender. Rosemary is considered good luck next to the front door, he added, and rosemary cuttings make a traditional house-warming present. Successful shrubs included potentilla, especially Ellen Willmott; choisya and skimmia, both plants with fragrant white flowers; ceanothus, rock rose, broom, juniper, rhododendron, cotoneaster, heather, hypericum, buddleia, boxwood, ilex, pieris, and barberry.
Rhomneya coulteri
Deer resistant.
Seeds from Louise will be available 

soon at the Gatehouse, Shaw Island.
Summer 2017

Photograph by Far Reaches Farm Nursery, Pt. Townsend, WA.

      Among the perennials, Rhomneya is both deer and drought resistant but difficult to propagate. Doug tried a couple hundred cuttings at the nursery and was successful with five. 
      Peonies, daylilies, and delphinium lasted as long as they bloomed, but then "the deer munched them down,"Doug said. Iris, "are pretty cast iron." Other successful perennials included santolina, dianthus, bergenia, crocosmia, pulmonaria, hardy geraniums, Ajuga, Campanula, Lychnis, poppies, evening primrose, hellebores, and catnip.
      Most of the drought-resistant plants are California natives. Some of the more successful plants, were ceanothus, California wild lilac and rock rose. Doug pointed out that many plants will take a lot of drought in August if they get plenty of water in May. In fact, a dry August helps them harden off for winter. 
      We have some limitations in the San Juans, including the deer and the lack of water––but Doug pointed out that the climate here is ideal for almost all kinds of gardening.
Text by San Juan Island writer, Louise Dustrude. San Juan Islands Almanac. Friday Harbor, WA. Volume 11. 1984.

01 May 2017


Blue-eyed Mary
(Collinsia grandiflora)
Mideke porcelain pot.
In early April on coastal bluffs, on through June,
whole ledges and slopes reflect the sky color as
myriad Collinsia open their buds.
It can be a rather tedious gleaning of seed from the
small capsules, so we might not find it for sale at
Gatehouse Seeds.
Enjoy her in the wild.

Anno One May Two Thousand and Seventeen.

27 April 2017


There are only a few more days to catch the riot of color in the tulip fields of the Skagit Valley for spring of 2017.
      The Tulip Festival folks have a helpful site--here is a link to Bloom Status, the source for this beautiful photo. RoozenGaarde lists they will have tulips blooming until 7 May 2017.

Skagit Valley tulips
RoozenGaarde Farm,
as of 27 April 2017.
Photo from the Bloom Status site.

If you'd rather I stay within the bounds of our garden isle of Shaw, I can do that with one of my favorite tulip photos from the garden of Gwen Yansen, from fifteen years ago. These are Menton Tulips, an attractive blend of three colors.
Menton Tulips ©
A late blooming, single tulip bred in 1971.
As pretty as the grower, Gwen Yansen, Shaw Island, WA.