|We wrap up the great year of 2015.|
Thank you for the support at the seed shed
and best wishes for happy growing in the year
ahead. I look forward to stuffing Shaw Island
seeds into packets for you next spring.
31 December 2015
10 December 2015
|SALAL (Gaultheria shallon)|
Pressed on the scanner bed,
Shaw Island, this day of ten December twenty fifteen.
For Margaret Cameron (1906-1994)
This ubiquitous shrub (Gaultheria shallon) of the western forest, including Shaw Island, common name of salal, with a name given by the native Indians, according to Scott Atkinson. It is distinguished by thick, leathery, oval leaves that are noticeably waxy and end in a point. The spring flowers spread a sweet scent throughout the forest understory, looking like little white bells, sticky and slightly hairy. The common shrub bears fruit between August and October, depending on elevation and weather conditions. The berries, resembling huckleberries, form in dense groups to weigh down the branches, blue-black when ripe, ranging from delicious to bland and boring, depending on their soil, and amount of sun exposure.
Salal berries were much prized by Indians, who dried them in cakes for winter use. Ethnologist Erna Gunther reported that the Quilcene would pick an entire branch of the berries, dip it in whale oil, then pull it through their teeth to eat the fruit. The Klallam and Quileute chewed the leaves as medicine, and the Makah mixed it with kinnikinnik to smoke.
Salal seeds aren't featured on the Gatehouse inventory but there will be young plant starts potted up for next spring.
City of Dreams. A Guide to Port Townsend. Simpson, Peter. Bay Press (1986)
Wild Plants of the San Juan Islands. Atkinson, Scott. The Mountaineers. (1985)
Wild Roses and Western Red Cedar by Krohn, Elise.(2007)
23 November 2015
|Happy Turkey Day|
Vintage postcard dated 1914.
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 cook stove;|
former Lutz farm, Shaw Island.
Suspected to be Marian Lutz's
turkey cooker of many years ago.
by Debbie Maxie, Coastal Mission©
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'd 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."
News clipping of unknown publisher and date; suspected to be the Friday Harbor Journal. From FHJ subscriber, historian, gardener, Shaw Island booster, Gwendolyn Yansen to this writer/1998.
31 October 2015
"We had pumpkins in the morning and had pumpkins at noon.
If it were not for pumpkins, we'd be undone soon."
Written by an American colonist in a 1693 diary.
|Pumpkin grown by Diana|
Shaw Island, 2015.
Shaw Island, 2015.
|Peter's cedar basket full of|
Pumpkin Stars carved by Elsa.
Shaw Island, 2015.
17 October 2015
|Quince (Cydonia oblonga)|
Grown on the farm of a Shaw Island friend.
Commonly enjoyed in colonial days,
quince were a symbol of love and happiness;
please see this great article in the
New York Times.
Quince & a hand thrown Mideke pot
Anno seventeen October two thousand and fifteen.
08 October 2015
01 October 2015
21 September 2015
|Sweet Mirabelle plums, this gardener's favorite,|
A speciality in Lorraine, France.
Harvested from a Shaw Island orchard.
A thank you for the Gatehouse note to the
quartet here from Sisters, OR, Soap Lake & Edmonds, WA.
Anno Twenty-One September Two Thousand and Fifteen.
01 September 2015
26 August 2015
| Mary Lou's Lunaria annua grown on Shaw Island;|
willow basket, handwoven in England.
Anno 26 August 2015
Shaw Island, WA.
Seeds for sale at Gatehouse Seeds,
Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.
|Photo courtesy of Scott Weber|
Rhone Street Garden Blog
23 August 2015
A resident of Shaw Island roadsides.
Common Name: Blue Sailors
Life Style: Hardy, perennial herb.
Native Growing Region: Europe and the Near East. Common on roadsides in the San Juan Islands.
Flower: fine sky blue, July to October. "This may be the only plant of our area that can be instantly recognized by color alone." (Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest from Alaska to Northern California by Lewis J. Clark.)
Tolerates: Drought. Deer.
Description: Can reach 3' to 5' if growing in an area not mowed by roadside work crews.
Soil: Light, preferably alkaline. Sunny and open.
Uses: Can be grown for culinary purposes and for a nutritious pasture and fodder for animals. Dried petals are useful for potpourri. Buds can be pickled. This European immigrant has been cultivated for many years, both for its leaves and roots. The roots are sliced, roasted, and ground as an additive to coffee. Europeans familiar from an early age with chicory-flavored coffee consider as improvements the added color, bitterness and body.
Chicory is often grown in floral clocks for the regular opening of its flowers and their closing five hours later. These opening times relate to latitude, but the leaves always align with north. Gardeners interested in metaphysics credit this plant with life-giving forces.
This plant is mentioned by Scott Atkinson and drawn by Fred Sharpe in their wonderful Wild Plants of the San Juan Islands.
Notes: great data listed here
|Available at the Gatehouse, |
Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.
22 August 2015
|Herb Borage |
Scientific name of Borage officinalis
Common Name: Borage
Life Cycle: Hardy Annual
Native Growing Region: Mediterranean region.
Degree of Difficulty: EASY
Tolerates: DEER and DROUGHT.
Flowers: Small, wispy five-pointed stars of clear, silky azure blue with a sharp black point sticking out the middle."The flowers are a beautiful pure blue often chosen for embroidery on fine medieval tapestries and on scarves for tournament jousters. They were included in the page borders of herbals and Book of Hours. For courage, they were floated in the stirrup-cups given to Crusaders at their departure. The noble qualities of borage may derive from its high content of calcium, potassium and mineral salts; research suggests borage works on the adrenal gland, where courage begins." (The Complete Book of Herbs. Bremness, Lesley. Viking Studio Books. 1988.)
The common thread running through historical descriptions of borage is its ability to make men and women glad and merry, to comfort the heart, dispel melancholy and give courage.
Dies back very soon after flowering but loves to self sow, so we can enjoy several crops in one season, according to Jerry Traunfeld, The Herb Farm Cookbook. Scribner. 2000.
Light, dry, well-drained soil. Will self-sow freely on light soils. Prune to keep tidy. Maintenance is LOW. No serious disease or insect problems.
Uses: The splendid color and form of the flowers make them an invaluable garnish. Can be sprinkled in salads and crystallized for cake decoration.Many cosmetic and medicinal uses.
Plant near strawberries as they stimulate each other's growth.
Traditionally used as a garnish in a Pimm's Cup cocktail.
Attracts honey bees to the garden.
When burned, the nitrate of potash content will emit sparks and slight explosive sounds, like fireworks.
Borage as a cure for a swoon click here
|These seeds are available at|
Gatehouse Seeds on Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.
21 August 2015
|Chilean Glory Flower|
Eccremocarpus scaber "Tresco Gold"
Loving the heat in a "wall pot" on Shaw Island, WA.
Common Names: Chilean Glory Flower; Chupa-Chupa; Lorita & Voqui.
Life Cycle: Perennial vine.
Native: Chile and Peru.
Flowers: July to October. Will flower the first year if sown early.
Vines: If supported, vines can reach 12'. They are NOT an aggressive thug.
Award: The prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sowing: Indoors in late winter to early spring or sow directly outdoors from May onward.
Soil: loves neutral to slightly acidic, rich soil in full sun.
Propagation: usually by seed.
Degree of difficulty: EASY.
Notes: An excellent greenhouse specimen; will grow happily in a container where they will last a long time. Wonderful weaving through roses, clematis, on fences, etc. Often grown as an annual.
15 August 2015
|Plated Umbels of Lovage seed|
this day 15 August '15.
Common Name: Lovage; "Love Parsley"; "Mountain Celery", in Italy.
Life Cycle: Hardy, Herbaceous Perennial.
Native: Most say the Mediterranean, but others dispute that.
Height: 8'-10' at maturity in 3 years.
Bloom: Tall umbels of white/yellow flowers, in the 2nd year.
Site: Full sun or partial shade.
Sowing: September to October or February to June.
Cultivation since the time of Pliny (23-79AD), long grown in Europe.
by Louise M. Smith©
One of 16 watercolors in
The Herb Farm Cookbook.
|Reference for this post:|
The HerbFarm Cook Book
Scribner, N.Y. 2000.
This will tower over your herb garden with its architectural beauty. One plant is enough but try to replant with a new plant every few years. Give it good soil, some water and deadhead the flower stalks if you don't wish new seedlings around the base of the plant. Traunfeld writes that this plant will tolerate more shade than most herbs; in hot climates it dislikes baking in the sun.
Good for use in S. European cuisine, where leaves are used as an herb, roots as a vegetable and the seeds as a spice. For the essence of celery without the trial of growing that vegetable, this is for you. Lovage has a distinct flavor and is greatly appreciated by food aficionados.
It is considered a prize on the list of good companion plants that improve the health of all garden vegetables. Tender growth has the best flavor, so in summer, around June, consider pruning back to encourage new leaves. Will die down in winter but will re-emerge in spring.
Lovage has been used in alcoholic cordials for centuries––mixed with tansy and yarrow then mixed with brandy. The original cordials were used on long voyages. First cordial containing lovage was recorded in 14 C; it is used in some liqueurs with Borage, as one of the Pimms mixes in production today.Medieval travelers tucked the leaves into their shoes because of the antiseptic and deodorizing properties.
Lovage flowers are adored by honey bees and Swallowtail butterflies. That is enough reason to grow this herb.
|Seed packets are for sale at the|
Shaw Island Gatehouse, Squaw Bay Road,
14 August 2015
11 August 2015
Common name: Columbine
Type: Herbaceous Perennial
Growing region: Zones 3 to 8
Days to sprout: 14-28.
Days to sprout: 14-28.
Height: 1.5 to 3-ft.
Bloom time: April to May
Bloom Description: Blue or violet-blue.
Sun: full sun to part shade.
Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil. Surface sow.
Remove flowering stems after bloom to encourage additional flowers. When foliage depreciates, plants may be cut to the ground. Aquilegia may be easily grown from seed, will naturalize in the garden over time; self-sowing easily. Seed collected from garden plants, may not come true because different varieties of columbine may cross-pollinate in the garden producing seed that is at variance with either or both parents. This seed is harvested from a plot of blues. They can also be easily grown in large pots.
Genus name comes from the Latin word for eagle (aquila) in reference to the talon-like spurs on most flowers.
Columbine comes from the Latin word columba meaning dove-like. The number and varieties of Columbines are staggering.
These seeds should be 90% blue tones as I still rogue out a few pink and magenta in the same garden.
Borders, rock gardens, cottage gardens, woodland gardens or naturalized areas. A good choice for a hummingbird garden. Continue to water plants after bloom to enjoy the ground cover effect of the foliage.
Long lasting for flower bouquets.
Long lasting for flower bouquets.
Research notes: Missouri Botanical Garden.
05 August 2015
28 July 2015
11 July 2015
|Rhododendron 'Polar Bear'|
Purchased from Meerkerk Gardens, Whidbey Island, WA.
Blooming on Shaw Island this day of Eleven July 2015.
"Gardening is not some game by which one proves his superiority over others, not is it a marketplace for the display of elegant things that others cannot afford. It is, on the contrary, a growing work of creation, endless in its changing elements. It is not a monument or an achievement, but a sort of travelling, a kind of pilgrimage you might say, often a bit grubby or sweaty, though true pilgrims do not mind that. A garden is not a picture, but a language, which is of course, the major art of life."
The late, great Henry Mitchell, in the Essential Earthman.
Slate published a beautiful tribute to one of my favorite garden writers in 1998. See Deborah Needleman
21 June 2015
09 June 2015
|California poppies surviving in the rock along|
Blind Bay Road, Shaw Island.
Planted by island gardener Elsie Fowler long ago.
Photo June 2015.
|Elsie's California poppies, |
not exactly wild and not native,
but self-sowing gently each year to brighten the roadside.
Botanical Name: Eschscholtzia californica
Native: USA and Mexico. The official state flower for California where it covers the hills of Napa Valley.
Zone Range: 4-10
Life cycle: Annual and perennial.
Preferred climate: warm and sunny.
Bloom: An almost continuous summer display of bright orange flowers on mat-forming foliage 12" high. Flower petals close at night and on cloudy days.
Culture: requires poor, well-drained soil in full sun. Drought tolerant, self-seeding. Resents being transplanted.
Degree of difficulty: EASY.
Seed viability: one source claims 3 years.
Notes: Widely planted as an ornamental. Survives mild winters.
Gwen Yansen told me that her friend, Elsie Fowler (1900-2003), scattered the poppy seeds many years ago; they still survive in the hot, dry, rock bank across from the Community Building on Blind Bay Road.
Elsie, who came to the island in 1938, moved away to Anacortes in 1996. She was an early member of the Garden Club, later called Women's Club, that kicked off the fundraising for the Shaw Islanders, Inc building project.
The seed packets carry Elsie's name to honor her love of Shaw Island and garden flowers, she bloomed where she was planted.
These seeds are not harvested from her plants in order that the small colony of poppies will self perpetuate.
If you broadcast California poppy seeds along the road, as Elsie did, choose the sunny side.
"Johann Friedrich Eschscholtz (1793 - 1831) was a Livonian physician, botanist, zoologist and entomologist. He was one of the first and most important scientists in the exploration of the Pacific, Alaska, and California.
Born in Dorpat (now Tartu) in the Russian Empire. He studied medicine at the local University of Dorpat, and spending the main part of his career there: extraordinary professor of anatomy (1819), director of the zoological cabinet (1822), and professor of anatomy (1828).
From 1815 to 1818 Eschscholtz was a physician and naturalist on the Russian circumnavigational expeditionary ship Rurik. He collected specimens in Brazil, Chile, California, the Pacific Islands, and on either side of the Bering Strait, Kamchatka, and the Aleutian Islands.
One of the other naturalists was the botanist Adelbert von Chamisso, who took over Eschscholtz's specimens on completion of the voyage. The two were close friends and, after his early death Chamisso named the California poppy Eschscholzia californica in his honour. The results of the trip were published in the Berlin journal Entomographien in 1822."
Source of nomenclature data: Seedaholic.
|These seeds are in stock at the |
Gatehouse, Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.
05 June 2015
|Peonies are royal garden visitors for early summer.|
No seed packets of this plant are planned for the Gatehouse but the plant has had a long life on Shaw Island and may show up for a fund-raising auction some year.
17 May 2015
|Red Russian Kale|
Stamppot is a traditional Dutch recipe, a substantial combination of well-mashed potatoes, lots of kale and hearty smoked sausage. When kale is served in Dutch homes, a small bowl or pitcher of vinegar is passed to dribble on the top.
After enhancing the plot with aged compost, plant seeds 1/4" to 1/2" deep in well-drained, light soil. After 2 weeks, thin to 8"-12" apart. Cool weather crop that can tolerate temperature as low as 20 degrees F; actually the flavor is enhanced by fall frost.
In hot area regions this can be planted in late summer for harvest in fall/winter. Side dress with aged compost every month or so, as kale is a strong grower.
Botanical Name: Brassica napus.
Native: Siberia. Brought to Canada by Russian traders around 1885. Grown on Shaw for several years.
It takes 2 years if you'd like to save your own seed.
|These seeds will be available this Spring 2017,|
at the Gatehouse, Squaw Bay Road.