03 March 2018


(L-R) Shaw Island brothers J. "Lee" and Eber Bruns
Picking their wildflower Easter bouquets of
Erythronium oregonum (aka "White Fawn Lily.")
The bulbs love the rocky, coastal bluffs,
thickets, and woods of Shaw Island.
No seeds offered at the Gatehouse for this plant; please
leave the flowers untouched for others to enjoy.
Photo c. 1920.

It was long ago that well-known women, Elizabeth V. Dodd and Harriet G. Tusler completed their monograph Wild Flowering Plants on Coon, McConnell, Reef, and Yellow Islands. It was released in the spring of 1959.
      The compilers of the list of 177 flowering plants said that seven of the plants listed under 33 families are found only on Coon Island, ten on Reef and forty on Yellow Island.
      Tib Dodd has identified the plants on Yellow Island, Mrs. Tusler has identified the flowering plants on Coon Island, where she lives, McConnell and Reef Islands.
      Included in the published work is a description of the Islands covered as follows:
"Coon, McConnell, Reef and Yellow Islands belong to the Wasp Island group of the San Juan Archipelago. They lie within a few hundred yards of each other about ten miles from the Canadian border in the northwest corner of Washington State. 
The three acres of Coon Island are
mostly wooded with considerable underbrush. There is open grassy point facing N.E., N.W. and S.W. and some small grassy slopes on the south side of the Island.
 The thirty-one acres of McConnell Island are heavily wooded with some open fields, several grassy points and a small open, swamp area near the hightide line on the north side. The seventeen acres of Reef Island are heavily wooded with much underbrush with a few small areas of open fields.
      The eleven acres of Yellow Island are mostly arid and open, there is a wooded section on the top of the island a few small groups of trees on other parts of the island. the rest is mostly open fields and grassy points. This island is exposed to all winds while the other three islands are more sheltered, especially Coon."     

      Included in the bibliography are eight books used in identifying the plants and in conclusion there are two pages of line drawings picturing Hawkweed, Willow Herb, Cudweed, Wood Rose, Deerhead Orchid, Giant Adder's Tongue, English Plantain, Dog Fennel, Indian Pipe, Everlasting, One Flowered Cancer Root and Nipple-Wort.
      The Orcas Island Historical Society contemplates the compilation of a Herbarium of Orcas Island flora. A start on this work may begin this spring and will be continued over a period of years.

Above text from the Orcas Islander. April 1959.
When you boat over to Yellow Island this spring to see the wildflowers, remember it was on that gem of an island that Tib lived and did some of her botanizing. Tib and her husband Lewis were friends of Shaw Island.   

22 January 2018


Chinese Witch Hazel
(Hamamelis japonica arborea)
blooming on Shaw Island
anno twenty January 2018.

Anyone who thinks gardening
begins in the spring and ends in the fall
 is missing the best part of the whole year;
for gardening begins in January 
with the dream!

Josephine Nuese

07 January 2018

🌿 WINTER SOWING TRICK for Summer 2018 🌿

Fresh seeds wrapped in handmade packets for the new year.
For an early seed sowing trick listed below, there are some
packets of seeds kept dry inside two large jars
at the Gatehouse Seed Shed, Squaw Bay Road,
Shaw Island, USDA Zone 8b. Stop by.

Listed here is a great winter-seed-sowing trick for your upcoming summer garden. With some recycled milk or water jugs to act as mini greenhouses, cozy beds can be made for seeds to germinate and harden-off at their leisure, outside! Of course, Shaw Island seeds are healthy, happy, and most agreeable. 
Here's a link here

25 December 2017


Camellia sasanqua 'Showa-No-Sakae'
A gift from island gardener Gwendolyn Yansen.

🎄 Blooming Anno Twenty-five December 2017 🎄

13 December 2017


"From December to March, there are for many of us,
three gardens––the garden outdoors, the garden of pots 
and bowls in the house, and the garden of the mind's eye."
Kathryn S. White 

Outside temperature today in zone 8-b of Shaw Island is a
wonderful 50°F but some garden pots are sneaking inside
to live on the 11-ft Douglas fir shelf in the sun, reserved for
 their winter quarters. Glassybaby "Elf" snuggles with pots of
"Christmas Cactus" (Schlumbergera) on left, a small genus
of 6 species native to Brazil. This gal is a gift from longtime
islander Mary Lou Clark who grew it many decades in
her island farmhouse after receiving it from Mrs. Holbrook;
Mrs. Holbrook left the island in the 1950s.
The plant on the right is the common "Asparagus Fern"
(Asparagus aethiopicus) native to S. Africa. She prefers to
live potbound while helping to clean the indoor winter air.

Easy going, but likes humidity of wet gravel under her pot
to enhance her complexion. 
Propagation of the latter is by
division with a handsaw or by planting the seeds in spring.

Anno thirteen December 2017.