22 December 2018


At Christmas I no more
desire a rose than wish a
snow in May's newfangled
mirth. But like of each thing
that in season grows.

William Shakespeare

Growing on Shaw Island this day of 22 December 2018
Thank you, everyone, for the seed shed support,
the clay art in this photo and all
the friendly notes this past year.

01 December 2018


Camellia sasanqua
Growing on Shaw Island
this day of One December 2018.

'Happiness held is the seed;
Happiness shared is the flower.'
John Harrigan

22 November 2018

🌿 Shaw Island Grower of Fruit, Vegetables, and TURKEYS 🌿 Marian Lutz

Happy Turkey Day
Vintage postcard dated 1914.

This piece was originally posted for Thanksgiving 2015 but our island has some new residents in the last three years so let us view Marion and Angel's antique oven stuffed with one fat turkey over again for 2018.

"Marian (1897-1981) and Herman Lutz were pretty much dependent on agriculture like everyone else. They raised almost everything they needed on their 250 acres and sold the excess to buy staples. They canned fruit and vegetables and meat for year-round sustenance.
      Thanksgiving was a neighborhood affair. Marian called it a waste of time to have a holiday by yourself. Each family would bring a specialty to whichever house was large enough to accommodate them all.
Angel's restored wood cookstove;
former Lutz farm, Shaw Island.
Suspected to be Marian Lutz's
turkey cooker of many years ago.

Photo 2015,
 by Debbie Maxie, Coastal Mission©
      When Marian was raising turkeys, a turkey was her specialty. That meant getting up at 5:30 AM to start the big bird in the wood cookstove because dinner was at midday. There were no electric lights to brighten an evening feast or light the way home.
      After some years of farming on Shaw, Marian's husband left one day. She said that he had a lot of curiosity about other places, and she never saw him again. But she loved the island farm and stayed on and ran it with the help of her daughter and her neighbors. She said she would never have made it without good neighbors within a half a mile or so whom she could call on when she got into a jam."
      Text from news clipping of unknown publisher and date; suspected to be the Friday Harbor Journal. From long-time FHJ subscriber, historian, gardener, Shaw Island booster, Gwendolyn Yansen to this writer/1998.

25 October 2018

OCTOBER on Shaw Island

Japanese Maple "Polly"
(Acer palmatum)
A grown-up maple tree from Polly Robertson,
a part-time resident who mailed up a box of
her seedlings to contribute to the first
fundraising plant sale on Shaw Island.
A talented gardener with a generous heart.
Over $1,000 was raised to landscape
the garden of the Community Building
in the mid-1980s.
Photo anno twenty-five October 2018

Shaw Island, San Juan County, WA.

In October, a maple tree before your window lights up your room like a great lamp.
Even on cloudy days, its presence helps to dispel the gloom.
           John Burroughs.

And yes, in the roadside shed one can find a selection of mylar-wrapped packets of island-grown seeds, at rest inside screw-topped jars for protection from the high humidity upon us this season. One packet is 3.75" x 5.25" so will easily fit within a Christmas card envelope. Hey, that is an idea.

26 September 2018


"Nasturtiums, who colored you,
you wonderful, glowing thing?
You must have been fashioned 
out of summer sunsets."
Lucy Maud Montgomery

Offspring of Mary Lou's Nasturtiums
enjoying a visit with Angel's Asters
this day 26 September 2018.
Photo courtesy of Shaw Island grower, Angel.

Tropaeolum majus
There are many varieties. The trailing one Mary Lou shared
from her hothouse liked to climb & stretch to let us know she
was keen to grow and self-seed. But never invasively.
Mary Lou's parent flowers from four years ago can be seen

New seeds are for sale in handmade packets
at the Gatehouse, Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.

from themicrogardener.com

05 September 2018


Nicotiana sylvestris 'Only the Lonely.
Blooming in mid-August at the Gatehouse shed,
Shaw Island, San Juan Archipelago, WA.
At this writing, at least 5' tall, fragrant,
and winning the trial for DEER RESISTANCE
in this fall season when faithful Foxgloves
have finished with their bloom cycle.
Don't tell me white flowers are boring.
There is a debut of small packets of these tiny
Shaw Island grown seeds coming out
at the Gatehouse shed on Squaw Bay Road,
Shaw Island.
Save in the fridge for early spring broadcasting.

Photo from the Gatehouse garden.

Botanical name: Nicotiana sylvestris 'Only the Lonely'

Life Cycle: Tender perennial.

Native Growing Region: Northwestern Argentina

Zone: Winter hardy USDA 7 to 10

Bloom Time: Depending on the weather, sometimes from June until frost.

Flower: Showy clusters of pendant white flowers that look like a burst of fireworks. Most fragrant in the evening.

Spread: 1-2'

Foliage: Dramatic. Huge chartreuse to green leaves. Larger in the shade.

Maintenance: Low. Easy, "throw and grow."

Description: Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM.) The stems and root systems are strong enough that the plants can lean at severe angles without requiring a stake, some say, but this 5 footer has a slender stake to 
support her lifestyle.

Tolerates: Shaw Island deer! We have hundreds who do actually leave this plant unmolested.

Garden uses: Good for fresh flower arrangements. Use in masses at the back of the annual or mixed border as a stunning backdrop for smaller plants, as a tall accent plant, or in a large mixed container. It is right at home in a cottage garden and is a natural for a moon garden.

Notes: This species self-seeds readily but the seedlings are easy to identify and pull if unwanted. Volunteer plants not a problem in cold climates. Thrives in all types of soils with moderate moisture but prefers rich soils.

The genus name honors Jean Nicot (1530-1600) the French ambassador to
Lisbon who introduced tobacco to France. The specific epithet means forest-loving.

Uses: Cultivated as an ornamental plant. All parts of Nicotiana sylvestris can cause discomfort or irritation if consumed, according to Wikipedia.

Sowing: It is easily grown from seed, either sown indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost or sown directly in the garden after the last frost. Surface sow the seeds and barely cover, as they need light to germinate. Germination should take place between 1.5-3 weeks.
Nicotiana sylvestris
Her first year of harvest winding down;
the miniscule seeds are dried, sifted & packed
in glassine paper for sale at the
Gatehouse shed, Squaw Bay Road,
Shaw Island, WA.

17 July 2018


Species Rose
Rosa glauca
Shaw Island garden
June 2012.
Botanical and common name: Rosa glauca

Type: Deciduous shrub.

Active Range: South & Central Europe to Caucasus.

Zone: 6-9

Height: 6-8ft.

Bloom time: May to June.

Bloom Description: Soft pink.

Water: medium.

Maintenance: Easy.

Attracts: birds, butterflies.

Fruit: Showy

Disease resistance: excellent against black spot and mildew.

This rose self-seeds, but not as a pest. Best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-draining loam. Best foliage color may be in part shade. At least this is one rose that will tolerate part shade. Water deeply and regularly (avoid overhead.)

Noteworthy characteristics—Rosa glauca is a species rose that is grown in gardens today for its attractive glaucous purple foliage and tiny, soft pink flowers. Many gardeners consider the foliage to be the best ornamental feature. Flowers are followed by abundant orange-red hips that ripen in the fall & usually persist well into winter. Reddish-violet canes have very few thorns.

Garden uses–– Excellent as a specimen or in small groups. Place at the rear of a perennial border. Naturalize in open woodland or shade gardens, shrub borders, hedges.

Introduced in 1789.

The Elizabeth C. Miller Library at the University of Washington includes Rosa glauca on their Great Plant Picks list and recommends Rosa glauca for every garden. 

Rosa glauca with her vibrant autumn hips,
fresh cuttings in the vase above.
Shaw Island Gatehouse 24 September 2018

Seed packets of Rosa glauca
are now for sale at the Gatehouse shed,
Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.
These self-seed under a parent plant
so that means this species is
very easy to sow and grow.

04 July 2018

☆ HAPPY 4th 2018 ☆

1946 and going strong.
Thanks Bill
for the nice view from the Gatehouse Seed Shed!
4th July Parade 2018.