13 September 2017

🌿 ASIAN TIGERS–––HIDDEN DRAGON 🌿

Lilium lancifolium 'Splendens'
These Asian Lilies (aka 'Tiger Lilies')
first reached U.S. gardens in 1804.
The ones reaching up to taunt the Dragon

are the first 'Tiger Lilies' at the Gatehouse,
Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.
Anno thirteen September two thousand and seventeen.

No seeds for sale but bulbs when the
new bulbils are more mature.


06 September 2017

🌿 Summer Rose from Shaw Island 🌿

Rosa 'Abraham Darby'
Crow Valley handthrown clay pot
For Raymond & Claudia.
Thanks for the visit from Portland, OR.
Summer 2017

31 August 2017

🌿 NEW SEEDS FOR AUTUMN PLANTING 🌿 FOXGLOVE GATEHOUSE 'ALBA' 🌿

Gatehouse Garden Foxglove 
Digitalis purpurea 'Alba'
At least 7 feet.
This happy mother plant has produced

lots of fresh seeds that are now
processed for the seed rack.
Anno thirty-one August 2017
Growing on Shaw Island, WA.
The seeds of this offering were collected from the robust, large leaved plant growing unstaked on the north side of the Gatehouse after ripening in the long dry summer of 2017. For this gardener, it is a cherished white bloom without spots that climbed at least seven feet towards the sky. No other foxglove was blooming in the garden for the bees to cross-pollinate so I'm hoping the majority of seeds will yield white flowers. In any case, the color of the future bloom can be determined by the color on the lower leaf-stalk in the first year of this biennial and rogued out if it is not to your liking.
The culture for the 'alba' seeds will be the same as for Carol's Digitalis purpurea also listed for viewing  here.
Ideal for: cottage gardens, cut flower garden, woodland garden.
Ease of Sowing: EASY for all.
Keep soil damp until germination takes place. Thin to 6". Transplant to 24" apart into flowering site in autumn for flowering the following year. They grow in most soils and prefer part shade. 
Harvesting flowers: Pick the top king flower out and you will promote the production of more side flowers, which is how it is with this one lush, "tall drink of water" at the Gatehouse. 
Gatehouse Garden Foxglove 'Alba' 
Seeds for sale while they last, 
at the Gatehouse shed,
Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island, WA.
2017

12 August 2017

🌿 Great White Heads 🌿

"...in the midst of which Leaves, sometimes in the middle
of autumn, and sometimes sooner, there rises up a
great white Head of white hard Flowers closely thrust together,
sometimes they are of a Milk, or Cream, or yellowish
White color." 

The English Herbal by William Salmon, M.D., 1710

And Shaw Island cauliflower this day of 12 August 2017.


28 July 2017

🌿 New Flower Seed Variety for Summer 2017 🌿 Love-in-a-Mist

Nigella damascena
Botanical Name: Nigella damascena
Common Name: Love-in-a-mist
Life cycle: Hardy annual.
Native Growing Region: Southern Europe and northern Africa.
Zone: 4-8.
Height: 12"-24"
Bloom time: mid-summer. 
Maintenance: Low.
Water: when dry and fertilize monthly.
Flower: Showy flowers open pale but mature to an intense pure shade of sky-blue such as we all find irresistible. Self-sowing but not a thug. Deadheading spent flowers will extend the bloom period, but will also prevent the development of the attractive post-bloom seed pods.
Cut flowers in the morning to minimize water loss. 
Culture: Should be sown directly by broadcasting seed in the autumn or spring. Resents transplanting.
Days to Sprouting: 10-15.
Uses: Mixed borders, cottage gardens, cut flowers, dried fruits, bedding and containers. Stems with dried capsules make excellent additions to dried flower arrangements.

Notes: A popular cool weather annual. Flowers are followed by pine green, globular seed pods that have reddish brown markings.
They like full sun to part shade and ordinary garden soil with excellent drainage. The drying seed capsules can be viewed here

Van Dusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver, B.C:
"A favorite of Victorian gardeners, adds a delicate touch to almost any planting scheme. Seeds of Nigella damascena are NOT edible. The edible Nigella seeds are Nigella sativa."

      Here's a passage from An Island Garden by American author and poet Celia Thaxter (1835-1894), who wrote primarily about the Isles of Shoals, a group of nine small islands located ten miles off the coast of Portsmouth, N.H. Her family operated a large resort hotel on Appledore Island and Celia's presence helped to attract many of the leading artists, musicians, and authors of the day. Celia devoted uncounted hours to her spectacular flower garden. 


"I hold a flower of the pretty Love-in-a-Mist, the quaint Nigella, and scan its charming face. It blossoms late and long, and is a flower of most distinguished beauty. It is star-shaped, in tints of white, blue, and purple, with full rich stamens and anthers of warmer red-purple, the petals on the back delicately veined in each variety with fine lines of faint green. The rich luster of stamens is surrounded at the base by eight smaller inner petals in different tints, so wonderful in detail, so ornate in decoration as to be simply indescribable. Each large outer petal is curved and cup-shaped, yet each has its finishing point that makes the blossom starry, and these eight inner petals radiate from the centre within, above the larger ones. The foliage, whence it gets its old-time name, Love-in-a-mist, is like a soft green vapor, and in the double varieties, runs up and mixes itself with the petals. The single varieties are much the finest. They have a faint perfume of anise, and they are among the quaintest and most interesting flowers I know."
Nigella damascena
Seed packets now for sale at the
Shaw Island Gatehouse,
Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island, WA.
2017



25 July 2017

🌿 CAPTURING SHAW ISLAND SUMMER, 2017 🌿

"Love-in-a-Mist "
Summer harvest for Gatehouse Seeds.
Ripening seeds releasing from Nigella damascena capsules.

Shaw Island July 2017.
"Summer is a promissory note signed in June, its long days spent and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January." 
American writer Hal Borland

♦︎ Seeds from an island garden soon to be packaged for the seed-shed racks, at the Gatehouse, Squaw Bay Road, Shaw Island.

07 July 2017

🌿 Thank you Roses 🌿

Shaw Island Summer Roses
For honeymooners, Paul and Sandra.
Best wishes & thanks for the Gatehouse visit.
Shaw Island, July 2017.

01 July 2017

🌿 ONE JULY 2017 🌿

"We might think we are nurturing our garden, 
but it's our garden nurturing us."
Jenny Uglow, OBE.
Mexican Bell Vine (Rhodochiton astrosanguineus)
Shaw Island, WA.


21 June 2017

🌿 ANYONE CAN BE A GARDENER 🌿

These examples and many more new packets
of locally grown and harvested herb and
flower seeds are now installed for 2017.
Stop by the Gatehouse, Squaw Bay Road,
Shaw Island, WA.,
for an easy to pack-home-souvenir or gifts
for your gardening friends who would like an
 organic treat from the San Juan Archipelago.

"Anyone can be a gardener. It's simply a matter of choice. On the day you find yourself fretting about the first frost or ruminating about Rhododendron color, the day you say to yourself, 'I'm a gardener'––you are one. You need no degrees or doctorates, no accumulations of blue ribbons at a prestigious Iris Society Competition, no title bestowed by an intimidating gardening society, no personnel official to declare, 'you're in,' nor any special knowledge of pH factors or compost heaps. What is essential is training your vision to see beyond what's already there; having enough strength to haul around a garden cart filled with fifty pound bags; and money, because you can't start planting without any plants...Benson, Dianne. Dirt. The Lowdown on Growing a Garden with Style.

📖  Here is a customer review of the above listed O/P book by Benson, one review of 16 on Amazon, each rating the book with 5 stars.
"I don't even remember how I found out about this book. I bought a used copy on Amazon about a year ago and am today ordering another copy as mine is falling apart and dirty from being used outside. I couldn't garden without it in my Zone 7 shady garden with horrible clay soil. Along with the basics on gardening it is a personal, opinionated account of creating a garden. I may not ever grow the exotic tropicals Ms. Benson loves (I am too lazy to dig them up for the winter) but there is so much information in this book on what to grow, how to do it and what to combine it with you are sure to find something you love. Be aware that there are no lush color photographs, just some black and whites and line drawings. Love it, Love it, Love it!"

01 June 2017

🌿 ISLAND SUMMER ROSE 🌿 2017

"Then I will raise aloft the milk-white rose
For whose sweet smell the air shall be perfumed."
William Shakespeare
Henry VI, Part 2, 1.1


ROSA banksiae 'alba'
LADY BANKS rose.
Mideke hand-thrown porcelain pot
and Oyster drills from an island beach.
Shaw Island, WA.
Anno One June Two Thousand and Seventeen.

23 May 2017

🌿 A Deer and Drought Resistant Garden 🌿

Herb 'Golden Feverfew'
Deer resistant Shaw Island plant.
"A vegetable garden almost anywhere in the San Juans requires a fence to keep out the deer. However, there are a lot of beautiful plants you can use in an ornamental border that the deer won't touch––and many of them are drought-resistant as well. Doug Bayley, landscape gardener who worked at the Farm Nursery on Orcas Island had an experimental deer-resistant and drought resistant garden there and he learned a lot.
      Some plants were more inviting to the deer than he expected, and got nipped in the late summer after the lush growth in the fields tapered off. Those included Shasta Daisies, gaillardia, tulips, pansies, and almost all the annuals except zinnias. Deer also eat yew shrubs (although they're supposed to be poisonous) and cypress, and in the fall they rub small trees and shrubs with their horns and strip the bark off. 
      But there's a long list of plants that came through a full year untouched by the deer, and he recommends them for unfenced areas. All the herbs did well, including rosemary and lavender. Rosemary is considered good luck next to the front door, he added, and rosemary cuttings make a traditional house-warming present. Successful shrubs included potentilla, especially Ellen Willmott; choisya and skimmia, both plants with fragrant white flowers; ceanothus, rock rose, broom, juniper, rhododendron, cotoneaster, heather, hypericum, buddleia, boxwood, ilex, pieris, and barberry.
Rhomneya coulteri
Deer resistant.
Photograph by Far Reaches Farm Nursery, Pt. Townsend, WA.

      Among the perennials, Rhomneya is both deer and drought resistant but difficult to propagate. Doug tried a couple hundred cuttings at the nursery and was successful with five. 

      Peonies, daylilies, and delphinium lasted as long as they bloomed, but then "the deer munched them down,"Doug said. Iris, "are pretty cast iron." Other successful perennials included santolina, dianthus, bergenia, crocosmia, pulmonaria, hardy geraniums, Ajuga, Campanula, Lychnis, poppies, evening primrose, hellebores, and catnip.
      Most of the drought-resistant plants are California natives. Some of the more successful plants, were ceanothus, California wild lilac and rock rose. Doug pointed out that many plants will take a lot of drought in August if they get plenty of water in May. In fact, a dry August helps them harden off for winter. 
      We have some limitations in the San Juans, including the deer and the lack of water––but Doug pointed out that the climate here is ideal for almost all kinds of gardening.
Text by San Juan Island writer, Louise Dustrude. San Juan Islands Almanac. Friday Harbor, WA. Volume 11. 1984.

01 May 2017

🌿 BLUE-EYED MARY for MAY 🌿

Blue-eyed Mary
(Collinsia grandiflora)
Mideke porcelain pot.
In early April on coastal bluffs, on through June,
whole ledges and slopes reflect the sky color as
myriad Collinsia open their buds.
It can be a rather tedious gleaning of seed from the
small capsules, so we might not find it for sale at
Gatehouse Seeds.
Enjoy her in the wild.

Anno One May Two Thousand and Seventeen.

27 April 2017

🌷 TULIPS 🌷 NOW AND THEN

There are only a few more days to catch the riot of color in the tulip fields of the Skagit Valley for spring of 2017.
      The Tulip Festival folks have a helpful site--here is a link to Bloom Status, the source for this beautiful photo. RoozenGaarde lists they will have tulips blooming until 7 May 2017.

Skagit Valley tulips
RoozenGaarde Farm,
as of 27 April 2017.
Photo from the Bloom Status site.


If you'd rather I stay within the bounds of our garden isle of Shaw, I can do that with one of my favorite tulip photos from the garden of Gwen Yansen, from fifteen years ago. These are Menton Tulips, an attractive blend of three colors.
Menton Tulips ©
A late blooming, single tulip bred in 1971.
As pretty as the grower, Gwen Yansen, Shaw Island, WA.

2002.

01 April 2017

🌿 Swamp Beauty 🌿 "YELLOW ARUM" One April 2017



YELLOW ARUM
(Lysichitum americanum)
Most often known in the PNW as "Skunk Cabbage,"
They are more stunning up close and personal; if you are
on the island, it is worth a stop to view this native happy
along a small stream on Ben Nevis Loop Road,
where lives a lot of the March rain.
Shaw Island, San Juan Archipelago, WA.
Anno One April Two Thousand and Seventeen.
"The large tropical-looking swamp plant whose brilliant yellow spathes illuminate the dark swamps as early as February or March [is still out to greet us this day on Shaw Island.] The spathe unfolds to reveal the spadix, a thick stalk bearing hundreds of small greenish flowers. Shortly the fleshy oval leaves emerge from the mud, ultimately to form huge fans. These are the largest of any plant occurring in our area. Some have measured 56" long by 29" wide!
      The whole plant has a smell of spring, of surging growth, that would be objectionable in a closed room but is not unpleasant in its own habitat. For the record, it does not smell at all like the mephitic spray of the skunk. Bears consume the whole plant, including the short thick rootstock, while deer occasionally browse the leaves.
      This huge plant is related to the taro, staple food of the Polynesians. Both plants produce a stinging sensation in the mouth, due to calcium oxalate. Ages ago, the natives of our area discovered, as did those of the South Seas, that roasting and drying the root drove off the substance responsible for the stinging, burning taste, after which it could be ground to an edible flour.
      Look for the yellow torches of the Yellow Arum (Lysichitum americanum) in mucky ground and swampy areas along the coast from Alaska south, and in the interior of BC south from about the latitude of Prince George to central California."
Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest from Alaska to Northern California. Clark, Lewis. Sidney, BC; Gray's Publishing Limited. 1976.

20 March 2017

🌿 HAPPY SPRING 🌿

Heritage Hellebore from Elsie Crawford Wood,
Shaw Islander who cultivated a garden now under the
WSF traffic lanes at the landing.
Anno twenty March two thousand and seventeen.
Celadon porcelain vase by Mideke.

For K.A.L.
"Never expose your Oranges, Lemons, and the like tender. Trees whatever seasons flatter, 'til the Mulberry puts forth its leafe, then bring them boldly out of the Green House." 
John Evelyn's spring advice to his gardener at Sayes Court in 1687.

"Presumably the mulberry waits to put forth its leaf until all danger of frost is over, so the advice should hold good for one's geraniums and other tender bedding plants."
From: A Countrywoman's Year. Verey, Rosemary. Little, Brown and Co., 1989. 

12 March 2017

🌿 JOAN IRVING BRANDT on her birthday 🌿


Remembering the flowers 
& friendship of
Joan Irving Brandt, artist &
helpful summer resident 

of Shaw Island.
"Butterflies 
and poppies 
belong to each other.
The flower's petals
are as translucent as wings.
I really feel that they would fly away too, 
if they were not tethered by their stems."
Joan Irving Brandt

Joan's career in watercolor got off to an early start with the purchase of one of her works by the prestigious Metropolitan Museum. At that time she was the youngest American painter to be so honored. Over the subsequent years she lectured, taught and juried from Hawaii to Italy. But she is best known for her observant genre subjects found in the United States and especially the American West Coast. 
      The American Watercolor Society voted Joan an Honorary Life Member. She is cited as an important force in the mid-century revival of watercolor as a major American art form.
Excerpts from a commemorative talk by friend and art collector Gene Crain on the Patio at Blue Sky, 2 December 1995.
      "Happiness is too often confused with acquiring things. Awareness is self-rewarding in that it leads on to appreciate without desiring." Joan.1949.
      The watercolor in this post is the cover of a 16 page booklet archived in the Gatehouse collection of Shaw Island history, courtesy of long time islander, Marlyn Hoffman. Joan's artist husband, Rex Brandt, inscribed: "Joan thought an extra lot of Shaw Island people."
      Hanging at the Shaw Island Community Building there is a Joan Irving Brandt watercolor of the islanders on South Beach, celebrating the launching of the John Alden cutter, JOHANNA, 27 May 1987. 

01 March 2017

🌿 GARDENING IN THE DIRT for MARCH ONE🌿

Gwendolyn Yansen (1915-2012)
Shaw Island gardener
enjoying the annual spring rite releasing her
 pots of cherished Begonias from winter storage,
under the house, as she did for c. fifty island years.
She wouldn't mind if Rosemary Verey called
her a dirt gardener, but Gwen always changed into
clean clothes to go to the landing for mail.

A hard act to follow.
Photo 2000.

"Americans speak English but often their expressions are far removed from ours. On one occasion I was introduced as a 'dirt gardener'. I felt mildly surprised and even embarrassed––did my fingernails so easily betray my daily occupation? Later I learnt it was intended as a compliment, to convey that I actually dig in the garden myself. A shared appreciation of a subject or a mutual way of life is the best way to seal a friendship."
A Countrywoman's Year. Verey, Rosemary, OBE; Victoria Medal of Honour, from the Royal Horticulture Society, the highest accolade the Society can award.
Shaw Island Hamamelis flowers in February and
stretching to Gwen's birthday on March 4
Shaw Island March 2017.

23 February 2017

🌿 PLEASURE OUT OF PROPORTION 🌿

Iris reticulata and friends.
Anno twenty-three February two thousand and seventeen
Shaw Island

"This little bulb (named after the net-like coat of fibers that protects the bulb itself) is one of the best-loved of all irises, giving pleasure out of all proportion to its size––it is only a few inches tall. Its velvety blue flowers flecked with gold arrive in very early spring, and are heavily scented. It is quite hardy and increases fast in well-drained preferably alkaline soil––a few bulbs planted 3 inches deep and 4 inches apart in autumn will form an established colony in a year of two.
      Being so small, do not let the irises get swamped in a large border. They are ideal for the rock garden, or for raised troughs, where they can be seen and sniffed near eye-level. 
      After flowering the leaves present a problem, for they grow very tall and grassy and are something of an eyesore, and must not, of course, be cut down. A light, non-strangulating ground-cover might be planted nearby.*
      In her epic poem The Land, Via Sackville-West honored Iris reticulata as one of the earliest flowers of the year."
 For no new flowers shall be born
Save hellebore on Christmas morn,
And bare gold jasmine on the wall,
And violets, and soon the small 
Blue netted iris, like a cry
Startling the sloth of February.
      
Quote from: Perfect Plant, Perfect Garden by Ann Scott-James (1913-2009.) Journalist, author of several classic gardening titles.
Published by Summit Books. N.Y. 1988.
* A suggestion for a colorful plant to hide some of those late-stage iris leaves is this spot of summer color, Golden Feverfew, an herb easy to start from broadcasted seeds available at Gatehouse Seeds this spring and summer.
Golden Feverfew
Tanacetum parthenium aurea
Shaw Island, WA.

14 February 2017

03 February 2017

🌿 FEBRUARY ON SHAW ISLAND 🌿

"NO WINTER LASTS FOREVER;
NO SPRING SKIPS ITS TURN."

Hal Borlan (1900-1978)

For birthday girl A.B.
Anno three February two thousand and seventeen.

Carved Viking Dragon by Nicklas Nielsen, 2014.



04 January 2017

🌿 WINTER FUEL 🌿

One full Shaw Island woodshed,
wrapped with overflow under her ample eaves.
Builders, Ed Hopkins and Buzz Melville.
c. 1980
"The world is much the poorer for the lost technologies of earlier times, where it was common knowledge, for example, exactly which wood was good for what.
      I came across this translation of a Latin poem on the properties of firewood. It appeared as a letter to The Times on 1 March, 1929."
   
"Beechwood fires are bright and clear, if the logs are kept a year.
Chestnut's only good, they say, if for long its laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree, death within your house shall be.
But Ash new or Ash old is fit for a queen with a crown of gold.
Birch and Fir logs burn too fast; blaze up bright and do not last.
It is by the Irish said, Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould; e'en the very flames are cold.
But Ash green or Ash brown is fit for a queen with a golden crown.
Poplar gives a bitter smoke, fills your eyes and makes you choke.
Apple wood will scent your room with an incense-like perfume,
Oaken logs, if dry and old, keep away the winter's cold.
But Ash wet or Ash dry a king shall warm his slippers by."

Hugh Johnson on Gardening; The Best of Tradescant's Diary. Johnson, Hugh.
The Royal Horticulture Society. London. 1993.