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 of 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 for sale at the
Gatehouse, Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.

05 June 2015


Peonies are royal garden visitors for early summer.
This luscious Peony shared by former islander, Eve E. Nygren Shaw, came without a cultivar tag, so I call this the "Eve Shaw Peony." Eve was a great gardener who married retired Captain Clayton Shaw and settled very happily on Broken Point, in 1971. Clayton was the last member of the pioneer Shaw family on the island. Clayton and Eve moved away to Alabama in the mid 1980s after donating several family antiques to the local museum. The island wasn't named for this Shaw family but the myth persisted for awhile, helped a little by Eve.
      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.