31 December 2015


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.

10 December 2015

🌿 Green for the Holidays 🌿

SALAL (Gaultheria shallon)
Pressed on the scanner bed,
Shaw Island, this day of ten December twenty fifteen.
For Margaret Cameron (1906-1994)
Resident sculptor, Margaret Cameron, gardened in pots on her terrace; pots whose summer flowers were protected from salt spray by a masonry wall along with chicken wire to discourage the deer. If she was home for the holidays, it was to the forest she went to cut fresh, evergreen sprigs of salal. These she used to dress the artistically crafted wood and stone home she designed with her husband, Malcolm. She knew the lush specimen growing outside her studio door was just perfect for celebrating the season. 
       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)