Saturday, March 27, 2010

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Last Wednesday I accompanied a group of folks with the Spontaneous Seattle Trekkers Meetup on a trip to Skagit Valley and La Conner to check out the Tulip Festival. The festival officially starts April 1 but nearly everything was already in bloom and the crowds were light. We visited Rosengard gardens and Christianson's Nursery, and had lunch in downtown La Conner. Needless to say, the show gardens and fields are quite breathtaking in the diversity of flowers.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Veggies Planted

The plot is starting to shape up for this growing season. The peas I planted weeks ago have germinated, although not all of them. On Saturday I replanted some more for the bare spots. I'll have to thin the plants before they get too far along in order to have them spaced far enough apart to grow. Also, I planted celery starts (Fred Meyer seems to be the only place that carries them) and Walla Walla sweet onions. On the down side, the broccoli transplants are not doing very well. Some creature (probably snails or slugs) keeps trimming them and I doubt any of the transplants will reach maturity. The Swanson's-bought broccoli transplants from my neighbor are doing quite well. All in all, the plot is quickly running out of planting space. I still need a spot for green beans in another couple of months.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ramping up for Spring

It looks like temperatures are steadily climbing (regardless of the brief appearance of snowflakes reported a couple days ago). I've started work in my plot, mostly digging out grape hyacinth and the bastard offspring of older hyacinth bulbs. These bulbs/bulblings multiple like crazy and I never seem to remove them completely in specific spots each year. Also, I find it challenging to carefully dig out deep-seated bulbs that sit on top of or near to established, permanent plants (cyclamen, fuchsia, campanula).

I planted Alderman Peas a couple weeks ago that are about to break ground. I try to get them in as early as possible since they take 120 days to mature. For the last few years I have been harvesting them in early July. But, I've happy with the results as Alderman will climb upwards of eight feet and produce excellent shelling peas.

Finally, I invested in a small hellebore (Ivory Prince) for diagonal placement to my fuchsia. One perennial will be in bloom in Summer while the other in winter. Several--rapidly multiplying-crocuses and irises will be removed in a few weeks to make room for the hellebore. I'm hoping this plant will bloom for the first time this coming December.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Cyclamen is one of my favorite winter-time plants (Mediterranean region native). Other than poinsettias, C. persicum are probably the most common seasonal holiday plant sold at nurseries and plant stands. Don't mistake these plants with their hardy varieties as the nursery bred plants will not survive freezing temperatures (I've lost several in planters on my covered deck). The adjacent picture is a specimen of C. coum I discovered at Swanson's Nursery last November and was in full bloom by the end of January (it was a mild winter and the plant typically blooms in February). For $9.00 it was a steal considering how developed the plant was.

In addition, I am growing C. hederifolium (the most common/hardy species) in the p-patch plot, and have a bunch of assorted pots on my deck where I'm attempting to cultivate some of the more difficult and exotic species (four of the five pots show signs of growth). Hansen Nursery in North Bend, OR, sells an impressive selection of cyclamen bare root plants.

What really impresses me about this plant is that it looks great year-round and is non-invasive. The striking ivy-like leaves dominate the plant most of the year, and the plant flowers (depending upon species) in fall and winter. So, it isn't uncommon that hardy cyclamen will be blooming in snowy conditions when everything around it is dormant. Cyclamen thrive best under forest trees where there is partial shade and plenty of decomposing leaf matter.

If you are looking to check out hardy cyclamen -- outside of nurseries -- in the Seattle area you are certainly up for a challenge. I know of two places that have the plant. The Seattle Arboretum has a winter garden with many years of cyclamen growth (C. hederifolium and C. coum). Also, the Krukenberg Botanical Garden has C. hederifolium growing in bunches throughout the property and alongside the adjacent roadway.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Very First Post

Hello, world! I figure I would give this blogging a shot now that I have a digital camera and plan on keeping a visual record of my gardening endeavors. A bit about me name is Mark and I moved into Seattle in the late 90's. I got involved with volunteer work in creating a couple of parks on Queen Anne off of Taylor Avenue as well as the Queen Pea P-Patch. After gardening for five years in Queen Pea I was offered a -- larger -- 200sf plot in one of the city's most renowned p-patches: Interbay. I have been gardening at Interbay just over five years and am loving it.