Latest Entries

We’re More Urban Than Ever

In the year 2000, the urban population of the world was 46.7%.
In 2010, the urban population jumped to 51.3%.

What does this mean for those of us that live in these urban areas? More crowding, but also more opportunities to create green spaces that are used and appreciated by even more people.

Happy New Year!
2000 vs 2010 at a glance

Gifts for the nature lover

Leaf It is available from DesignBoom.

Cute “Forest Floor” ornament available from Flora Grubb Gardens.

Bud vases available at Ravenna Gardens.

Gas Works Park: Gears and Grass

Starting new is sometimes frightening.

I’m starting this website with my thoughts on the battle between motivation and experience. I’ve been writing about gardens for a few years now, on various blogs, and I decided to compile all my writing and photographs into one place.

In my time living in Brooklyn, I walked past this garden many times.

Kirstin Tobiasson's garden near Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn

You can read more about the woman that tends this garden here. She’s not a professional. She’s someone with passion. Can passion make up for lack of experience? Sometimes I think it can. Other times it takes years of training to get to a point where elegance and efficiency are just part of the way someone works.

Trees known and unknown

This past weekend I sat under some lovely trees in the Washington Arboretum.

Known: Linden Tree. This is one of my favorite trees, for two reasons. The first is that the perfume from these flowers is amazing, and I know of only one perfume—L’Occitane Linden Flower, is it even made any more?—that highlights its delicious fragrance. Secondly, it’s a great shade tree for a hot day. On average it has to be 5 or 10 degrees cooler under its leafy branches.

Unknown! This cute little light green papery cone was one of many hanging from the tree I was laying underneath for a few hours. I may have to go to the local nursery to find out what it is for sure.

Do you know what this is from?

Lavender Harvest

Here in Seattle we’re going on just about a month without any rain. It’s kind of unusual for this time of year. Usually the drier weather starts in July. My garden is suffering a bit, even with nightly waterings that Mike administers with great concern (will the beets make it? should the swiss chard look like that?). But two things are flourishing: our grapevines, and our lavender.

I did a little research on how to harvest lavender. The most important element of harvesting the little purple spears appears to be the following: cut just before the blooms open. You’re too late if you see the bees doing their own share of harvesting.

Megan at Not Martha had an even more useful guide to harvesting lavender, a little experiment. She actually harvested the blooms at one week intervals and then did a sniff test to see which bunches held the best scent.

Above: the line of lavender plants along the southern border of my house.

Too keep myself from going nuts and just clipping all the lavender, I came up with a limit: 5 bunches that can I can hold in one hand.

My office is in a room of the house that faces north, so it’s a cool and dark room to dry the bunches. The smell in here right now is incredible—clean, slightly floral—and the other bonus is that the color is so pretty.

Cute and extremely well-behaved wall decor

I found a link to a neat indoor planting design accessory called flowerbox. This is a somewhat unique take on various living wall examples that have been becoming more popular. There are definitely some striking colors and shapes available.

One thing I don’t get: the photos on Flowerbox’s website have the all the plants sticking out perfectly perpendicular to the walls they are mounted on. Surely most of those guys will use their phototropism to start curving all directions within days? Perhaps they should use a bit of ivy or other trailers for a flowing effect..

Shock of Place

The feeling that I first had when I started gardening in Florida was “how alien!”. I think that any gardener that has moved to a completely different climate has a similar thought go through their head. Once the original shock subsides, there are two main options: embrace the new plant palette, or desperately cling to the flowers and foods you’re already familiar with.

I hate to admit it, but despite my appreciation of native plants, vigor at removing invasive plants, and admiration for the tropical varieties flourishing outside my windows, I resisted. I tried to make some of my favorites work in an area that is known for its intense sun and humidity. The sunlight was cruel, and shriveled up delicate seedlings that were deeply watered each morning. Some seeds didn’t germinate at all, for unknown reasons. I had to learn those things myself.

Another change for me was container gardening in the deep south, since I had mostly worked in the ground before. The gated community where we had our rented house had been planned by landscape architects, and a garden plot in the backyard required a permit. Still, those architects did pick out some flowering trees that were gorgeous.

I’m about to leave Florida, and I think that the changes and challenges I faced on my first major move are making me curious about what is in store for me in the Pacific NW!

American Orchid Society

Yesterday I took a visit to the headquarters for the American Orchid Society, which is located in Delray Beach, FL. The greenhouse and garden grounds aren’t very big, but there were definitely some orchids there that I don’t see every day.

I read The Orchid Thief a few weeks before moving to Florida, and it made me excited to move to a place where people are crazy about raising these rare, vivacious living gems. Of course that story involved a very ambitious Susan Orlean tromping around the Everglades, but it’s still a joy to walk down the street and find people that putting orchids in their trees or on the front porch. I don’t have any luck with raising these fickle flowers on my own, but it’s enough to look at the success of others.

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