11 December 2019


The bird population across N. America has dropped ca. 30% since 1970, according to Ken Rosenberg whose research is quoted in an article for the Scientific American, Sept. 2019.

Here are some favorite plants for bumble bees, other pollinators, and Hummingbirds that we could easily grow in the natural gardens gracing this rock.

Ruthie's Rosy Snapdragon
Here is an Antirrhinum grown by Ruthie;
no digital manipulating required for this stunning color.
Ruthie shared a generous start of this plant
for a trial at the Gatehouse garden;
we hope for future seeds to share.
Can you believe this specimen is, easy,
DEER RESISTANT, long-blooming,
perennial, self-seeding, hardy to Zone 8 winters,
AND a good nectaring plant with a color
that attracts Hummingbirds to our gardens!
Thanks Ruthie.

A new listing of the special, self-seeding perennial,
thanks to Ruthie D. who has had this plant
overwinter for ca. ten years in Zone 8,
San Juan Archipelago.
Also new to our listing this year: seeds of the native Douglas Aster, an important one for pollinators. It is reported to be easy to germinate.

Wild Douglas Aster
Native to the San Juan Islands.
A favorite of the much-needed pollinators and
avian friends.
Seed packets available for this easy perennial.
Ahhh, a plant that can grow mixed in with
the native wild grasses and be very happy.

01 November 2019


"Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron, and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under harvest skies."
 S.K. Penman.
A glass of red?
The Crocosmia x 'Lucifer' seeds

complete the seed harvest for 2019.
There will be a few packets protected 

from the high humidity within labeled jars
at the Gatehouse shed this winter.

Stop by Squaw Bay Road 
and pick up a favorite to send 
in a greeting card to a friend.

Crocosmia x 'Lucifer'
First the seeds,
then in a year or two come these
beautiful flowers.
Angel's donor for the seeds packed
for the Gatehouse garden and seed shed.
Photo at Angel's island garden,
with thanks for the many stems of
ripe seeds over these past five years.

28 September 2019


Douglas Aster
(Symphyotrichum subspicatum)
Anno 25 August 2019
A native flower growing on Shaw Island,
San Juan Archipelago, WA.
Author photograph.

Wild Douglas Aster
One of the best native flowers to grow for a food source for a large number of pollinators. Can be cast out in the fall.

Life Cycle: Perennial
Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Habit: c. 3'-4' x 2', other places. (Only about 2' height on Shaw Island, partly hidden in thick grass.) Laden with lilac-purple daisy-like flowers from July to October.

Soil: Prefers moist but also quite drought tolerant.

Germination: Seeds germinate easily and can be direct sown in fall or spring or started in flats in the spring and then transplanted.

TOLERATES: Shaw Island Deer!
For light conditions, this Aster will take full sun or partial shade areas subjected to salt or saline soils, areas that receive occasional floods and gardens that are blasted with cold winters.

Native: from the Aleutian Islands to northern California.

Notes: This is a late-season bloomer providing essential nectar to insects at a time when many other flowering plants are shutting down for winter. 
      Food source for a large number of butterfly and moth species, including the northern crescent, the field crescent, the painted lady, and the Isabella tiger moth (a.k.a. 'Wooly Bears'). The nectar-rich flowers attract hefty numbers of late-season bees, including bumblebees, leafcutter bees, and skippers. Also good for a rain garden.*

*Rain Garden: is a depressed area in the landscape that collects rainwater from a roof, driveway, or street, and also a place to let it sink into the ground. Planted with grasses and flowering perennials, rain gardens can be a cost-effective and beautiful way to reduce runoff from your property. Rain gardens can also provide food and shelter for butterflies and songbirds. 
Douglas Aster seeds
(Symphyotrichum subspicatum)
Before being cleaned for packets.
Native to Shaw Island,
Center of the San Juan Archipelago, Washington.
Photographed 12 September 2019.
Photograph by author.

For instructions on building a rain garden CLICK HERE.

People interested in food for pollinators visiting their orchard and garden, there are a few packets of these native seeds now included at the Gatehouse, Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island, WA.

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,
were featured at the
October Market Camp
Shaw Island, WA.

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
young starts are often available free
for visitors on open days of Market Camp,
Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.
The island deer do not touch this.
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.

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'.