Alaska Trip

I didn’t intend to write about the plants I encountered on our recent trip to Alaska, since this trip was primarily to see and visit with one of our indexing clients and to hike and kayak.

Nevertheless I stumbled on the Pratt Museum in Homer, which had a sweet native plant garden

I was pleased to see this native geranium still blooming in mid September, and snapped this shot.  More proof that natives can be just as stunning, nuanced and lovely as any “new” hybrid or cultivar peddled in the garden trade.


Wild Alaskan Geranium (Geranium erianthum)

That said, here’s a post on some of those hardy geranium cultivars I grow. Compare it to Geranium erianthum!

Resurrection Bay Seward, AK

Resurrection Bay Seward, AK

Spencer Glacier Chugach National Forest

Spencer Glacier Chugach National Forest

A Drought of Posts (and water too)

I haven’t posted anything since early June and have been cataloging my excuses, foremost is that the garden is full of plants (potted and otherwise) all screaming for attention.


Two decorative rain barrels each holding 65 gallons

The small kitchen/vegetable garden needs weeding, tending, watering etc.; three quarters of an acre of property (even if just brown lawn and bone dry meadow) demand a modicum of upkeep; and keeping all the potted plants limping along in the face of record drought calls for hand watering using collected water from ten rain barrels supplemented with post-shower gray water left in the bottom of the bathtub.

All of which leave me less time for reflection then I planned.


Eight more rain barrels (hold about 417 gallons)

Paradoxically, I suppose I could cite our incredibly warm and dry weather as motivation for sitting at a computer and writing rather than toiling in the garden, but since garden chores are a proven antidote to a sedentary lifestyle, I force myself to work outside no matter how hot.  [See my post on why gardeners live better and longer lives]

Add to that mix the example of five cats (now sadly four) who perfectly model indolent behavior in the face of really hot weather, and you can see why I long to curl up in the shade and nap too.


Emma, snoozing

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Despite its reputation as a rain and cloud magnet, our region typically has very little rainfall in the months of July and August, and many of our native plants are adapted to our dry summers. This year rainfall fell off precipitously in early spring and was accompanied by hotter than usual temperatures.

Unlike the greater Seattle area, which depends heavily on runoff from the snow pack in the Cascade mountains, Vashon Island (about 37 square miles) must rely on our sole source aquifer, which is reportedly still in good shape.

Many folks on Vashon have their own wells, while others belong to small water districts. Our water district, Heights Water, reports that while use is up this summer (after two years of summer declines) the aquifer is holding up nicely. Nevertheless, we are keeping the perennial plant beds, the trees, the shrubs and the potted plants from suffering severe damage by using rain water and hand carrying gray water as much as possible.

Here’s a look at some more scenes from the garden.

Morning sun from grape arbor

Woody enjoying morning sun as seen through the grape arbor

Sword fern, Japanese fountain grass, hosta

Sword fern, Japanese fountain grass, Hosta


Agaves, Cerinthe, Campanula

grape arbor1

Pots at entrance to grape arbor

From left, variegated sedge in pot, dwarf cyprus (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Ellwoodi'), lilac and hydrangea

From right , variegated sedge in pot, dwarf cyprus (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Ellwoodi’), lilac and hydrangea

Our old apple tree is laden with fruit this year

Our old apple tree is laden with fruit this year


Mason bee house might be why


“Shot on iPhone 6”

You’ve probably seen the adds on billboards, in magazines or in other media. Apple is promoting the iPhone 6 camera’s leap in quality.  In my case I was heading across the elevated highway that connects West Seattle to Seattle proper when I first saw this photo on a huge billboard.


“Shot on iPhone 6”

I’m pretty sure this is the photo on the billboard — I lifted it from Apple’s own website. You can sample more of the photos from the add campaign’s website here.

As for me, for all the picture on this blog I’ve been shooting with my used (and slightly beat up) Cannon G10 camera.


Note the crack in the upper left of the LCD viewfinder

It’s a great little point and shoot camera with lots of flexibility and options. But just this past week I decided to give the iPhone 5 in my pocket a shot at photographing my garden. That billboard on Seattle’s Spokane Street viaduct had the desired effect, percolating in my consciousness every time I drove into the city.

So while it’s not a “6,” my iPhone 5C produced all the following shots taken in the last few days of glorious May weather.

Iris tenax

Iris tenax “Oregon Iris”

melianthus leaf after a brief shower

Melianthus leaf after a brief shower

hardy geranium

Variegated Hardy Geranium ‘white cultivar with pale blue striation’

Why I love hardy geraniums? Find out more in this post.

Tight shot of Saxifrage flowers

Tight shot of Saxifrage flowers

Shady spot under our old apple tree

Shady spot under our old apple tree