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.

10 June 2018

🌿 June Blooms from Shaw Island 🌿

Paeonia 'Eve Shaw'
Once growing on Broken Point, Shaw Island, WA,

by the late great gardener, Eve.
This bouquet for seedster-cyclist Rachel, 10 June '18.

01 June 2018

🌿 ONE JUNE 🌿 Foxgloves Owning the Garden 🌿

Digitalis purpurea
Making seeds for next year,
Shaw Island Gatehouse
Squaw Bay Road.
Anno One June two thousand and eighteen

"I wonder what it would be like to live in a world 
where it was always June."
L.M. Montgomery.

Digitalis purpurea and Rhododendron 'Blue Frost'
Shaw Island Gatehouse Garden
Foxglove seeds are the easiest to germinate,
a true 'throw and grow" enjoying a touch of shade
and some damp soil. Watch out for slugs.
1 June 2018

01 May 2018

🌿 MAY ONE 🌿 2018

Clematis montana 'rubens'
over the deer-gate entry into Angel's garden.
Anno 10 May 2018
Shaw Island, WA.

In 1987, the well-known Seattle-based gardening columnist, Ann Lovejoy, came to Shaw Island for those keen to hear about her new book The Year in Bloom; Sasquatch Books, spring 1987. A book of instruction for gardeners of all abilities to celebrate one of the most ideal growing climates on earth (zone 8b for most of this wonderful rock.)
      One reviewer stated, "This is the book that inspired me to create a real garden. This is the best book that Lovejoy has written [out of c. 18] to actually communicate the fun of gardening and to help with plant selections if you live in the northwest."
      One gardener in the Shaw Island community just told me it was the words of Ann that inspired her to plant Clematis montana––the essay from the month of March pages 41-44, with thanks to Ann, is included below:

"The Clematis (KLEM-a-tis is preferred) family album is a fat one with over 200 species and many hybrids represented in dazzling array, dominated by the florid summer-blooming beauties with enormous blossoms and a relatively short but spectacular season. They are all lovely, if perhaps a bit obvious, but I have a preference for some of the less insistent members of the clan. One of the really rewarding ones is Clematis montana, a strong and splendid deciduous vine that deserves a place of prominence. Nursery people tell me that it is not a good seller because gardeners want the larger-flowered kinds. I feel sure that once seen, this early bloomer would be in demand. It is perfectly true that the flowers are not showboats, but C. montana and several other seldom-seen species Clematis have charms and strengths which make them as good or better choices for most gardens than the big, flashy hybrids that hog the limelight.
      My vine is now in full bloom, a great glory of pale blossoms. It has built up to this performance over the past month and will continue well into May with a light spangling of flowers all summer [?] Just now one can hardly see the leaves for the closely packed flowers. These look a bit like dogwood with their four rounded petals. This is a flower to savor and appreciate at close hand, a few floating in a flat bowl or tucked with a sprig of leaves into a bud vase for inspiration.  
Clematis montana
May Day on the boatshop,

Shaw Island, San Juan Archipelago, WA.
      The leaves are a definite point in its favor, a good strong green with a matte finish rippled and veined giving an interesting light-catching texture, faintly hairy, which gives a silvery glimmer to the edges and undersides as they move in the wind.
      A beauty of this vine is that of the seedheads left by the passing flowers. As petals fall, long strands of silky floss emerge, furry beards which function like dandelion fuzz, parachutes to transport the tiny seeds. These persist a long time and can make a striking winter feature on vines grown in a sheltered corner out of the wind. 
      If potted up, these Chineses natives are very strong growers and will throw their arms in happy flowering trails over an arbor, a fence or a trellis. Since they bloom on old wood, any pruning or shaping should be done just after the spring show is past. They will stand being cut back quite heavily but like to have a full summer to recover. All Clematis like to have a cool root-run but want to grow into the sun.
      Give new Clematis a deeply dug bed, adding compost, lots of peat moss, and some sand or gravel to the soil to make a rich but fast-draining medium for the roots. Where the soil is acid, as it generally is throughout the maritime Northwest, add a good handful of lime, incorporating it well so it can be taken up by the roots. Plant deeply so the roots are several inches below the surface, but not so deeply that you bury the crown. Water well, and keep it adequately supplied with water for its first season, and you will probably not have to think much about this plant again, except to admire its billowing blossoms next spring.
      Above all, this species Clematis is healthy, sturdy, and easy to please. They seem resistant to the dreaded Clematis wilt that loves to cut the lusher beauties down overnight. A Clematis for practically every season, for sheer ease, abundance, and beauty, nothing can top the spring beauty of the Clematis montana."
Lovejoy, Ann. The Year in Bloom, Gardening for all Seasons in the PNW. Seattle. Sasquatch. 1987. Author signed copy from the Gatehouse collection.

According to Christopher Lloyd who wrote a monograph on the genus, titled Clematis, "the montana group is easily recognized. It stands apart from the rest in appearances, and its members are all so vigorous that they may be set the popular task of climbing into and draping quite large trees.

      Clematis montana is white. You don't have to call it montana alba or anything of that sort: it is white by definition. the gardening public is often unaware of this and think that, if they order a C. montana, it will be pink..." 

All this to say that there are Clematis montana, Clematis durandii, Clematis macropetala, and Clematis 'Helsingborg' seed packets installed at the Gatehouse, Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.