Find inspiration for a glorious garden on tours

July 12, 2011

Many years ago when I began practicing landscape architecture, a friend convinced me that the only way to design or create a really wonderful garden is to visit a lot of gardens.

I was guilty of staying in my comfort zone, protecting myself from the bombardment of too much information. We toured fantastic, unforgettable places in Seattle and beyond. Some of it blew my mind.

I remember an older man with a red house, inside and out, with plants and animals living in every nook and cranny. Maybe that’s not your style, but it certainly made me see that there are other ways to think about design. Getting out and seeing what others are doing is vital. It really opened my eyes years ago, so now I recommend it highly.

If you would like to tour gardens, including orchards, vegetable, native, large, small, contemplative or artful, now is the time. There are many garden tours available in our area in July and August. I checked out some and picked a few that I thought would be helpful and maybe thought provoking.

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20 reasons to ♥ Issaquah

July 2, 2011

The spectacular landscape is a reason to love Issaquah. By Connor Lee

Discover 20 reasons to love Issaquah, from the highest Tiger Mountain peak to the Lake Sammamish shoreline, and much more in between. The community includes icons and traits not found anywhere else, all in a postcard-perfect setting. The unique qualities — Issa-qualities? — start at the city’s name and extend into every nook and neighborhood. (The lineup is not arranged in a particular order, because ranking the city’s pre-eminent qualities seems so unfair.)

Salmon Days

The annual salmon-centric celebration is stitched into the city’s fabric. Salmon Days serves as a last hurrah before autumn, a touchstone for old-timers and a magnet for tourists. The street fair consistently ranks among the top destinations in the Evergreen State and, for a time last year, as the best festival on earth — in the $250,000-to-$749,000 budget category, anyway.

Issaquah Alps

The majestic title for the forested peaks surrounding the city, the Issaquah Alps, is a catchall term for Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains. (Credit the late mountaineer and conservationist Harvey Manning for the sobriquet.) The setting is a playground for outdoors enthusiasts. Trails — some official and others less so — for hikers, bikers and equestrians crisscross the mountains, like haphazard tic-tac-toe patterns.

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Learn to tackle noxious weeds at local farmers markets

June 7, 2011

King County’s least-wanted offenders can be found in open spaces, and along roads and creeks. The invasive and noxious weeds can damage natural habitats and economic resources.

The county is offering a class and workshops throughout the spring and summer to help property owners find and control the rogue invaders, including displays at the Issaquah Farmers Market at 9 a.m. June 11 and the Sammamish Farmers Market at 4 p.m. June 15. Both local workshops continue during normal market hours.

The county program is part of a statewide effort to detect and respond to noxious weeds. In order to help protect the state’s resources, the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board adopts a statewide noxious weed list each year. Then, each county’s weed board then adopts a list of noxious weeds in need of control by property owners and public agencies.

Photographer makes the familiar new again

May 31, 2011

If you asked LeRoy LaCelle four years ago whether his photographs would provide soothing images to patients at a clinic or a new hospital, he’d probably ask: “What photographs?”

LeRoy CaCelle

Now LaCelle, a retired industrial designer, has made a name for himself as one of the premier nature photographers on the Eastside. He has four photos on display at Swedish’s clinic in Redmond. He has made an Issaquah restaurant into his own gallery. And five images have been chosen for the new Swedish hospital, which opens in the Issaquah Highlands in July.

And it’s all because he got bored one day and started playing with a camera.

“I showed some pictures to some people and they said, ‘You should do something with this,’” said LaCelle, who retired in 2003. “My first venture was the Issaquah Farmers Market.”

When LaCelle opened his booth at the market he was an immediate hit. His work caught the eye of clients like Sean Quinn, owner of The Flat Iron Grill in Issaquah.

“I only have so many walls,” Quinn said. “He keeps going out there and he knows what I want. Eventually, I’m going to run out of wall space for him.”

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Spring is a time for markets, parks and theater

May 24, 2011

Apples abound at the Issaquah Farmers Market.

The fun never sets at the farmers market

Nothing says summer like the sweet aroma of deep-fried delicacies wafting through the streets of Issaquah.

Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., people from all over flock to Pickering Farm to get a taste of the Issaquah Farmers Market. The market offers activities for people of all ages and is reminiscent of Salmon Days.

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Issaquah residents can learn to tackle noxious weeds

May 9, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. May 9, 2011

King County’s least-wanted offenders can be found in open spaces, and along roads and creeks. The invasive and noxious weeds can damage natural habitats and economic resources.

The county is offering a class and workshops throughout the spring and summer to help property owners find and control the rogue invaders.

The least-wanted list includes plants, such as garlic mustard.

Discoveries of large garlic mustard infestations in the Coal Creek Natural Area in Bellevue and along the Cedar River last year raised concerns. Before, garlic mustard had been primarily limited to a few Seattle parks.

The weed, a fast-spreading biennial introduced to North America from Europe, moves quickly into forests and out-competes native understory species.

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Find a niche at Issaquah Hobby & Volunteer Expo

May 3, 2011

Looking for a quilting club? How about a hiking group or a nonprofit that helps veterans?

Hobby hunters and volunteer enthusiasts need look no further than the 12th annual Hobby & Volunteer Expo, held at the same time as the Issaquah Farmers Market May 7 at Pickering Barn.

“It has just been a fantastic tradition, an annual event, in which community programs and hobby groups can get together and, one, network with each other, and two, put the word out that they exist and they are looking for members,” Issaquah Recreation Coordinator Cathy Jones said.

The expo targets a number of people: youths looking for volunteer opportunities; Issaquah newcomers looking for groups to join; empty nesters or recent retirees searching for new outlets; and just about anybody in need of a new venture.

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Feel like dissing the weather?

April 19, 2011

Disgusted? Disgruntled? Dismayed? When it comes to the weather, all of the above work for me.

The cold, the rain and, as of this writing in April, the snow make gardening seem like a remote consideration. I know the blackberries, shotweed and dirty Robert don’t even care; they are out there going at it no matter what. C’mon, gardeners. We have to rally the troops.

Before I can be optimistic I have to convince myself, so I looked in my trusty garden diary to see if there is any hope for decent weather in our future. Some years are just plain bad, but thinking that is not an option. So, I looked for a hopeful weather pattern, and I found a recent one.

In 2009, my forsythia by the garage was in full bloom the first week in April. In 2010, that same forsythia peaked at the end of February, nearly six weeks earlier. This year, it was full during the first week in April again, the same as 2009. It took six weeks from first blossom to peak bloom this year due to cold weather. I was astounded by the difference in bloom times from year to year and the impact of the weather, not the season, on the blossoms.

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What’s fresh at the market?

April 12, 2011

Issaquah market returns April 16, features updated lineup

Evangeline Flickinger, 2, of Snoqualmie, meets Maximus/Minimus, the pig-shaped sandwich truck, at last year's opening day for the Issaquah Farmers Market. By Greg Farrar

Expect a thoroughly modern market boasting artisan products and street snacks, plus the usual organic produce, as the Issaquah Farmers Market returns April 16.

Sellers and patrons descend on the bucolic Pickering Barn site from all directions. The bustling Costco across the street also attracts customers to the market.

The market is a boon. The historic barn can attract up to 4,500 people on a busy Saturday. Crowds build throughout the season as rain turns to sunshine, temperatures inch upward and sellers proliferate.

The historic Pickering Barn site nods to Issaquah’s agricultural roots. The local market predates other Eastside farmers markets by several years. The market opened in downtown Issaquah early on, and then settled at the barn more than a dozen years ago.

The market includes farmers from East King County and Eastern Washington, artists and craftspeople from throughout the Evergreen State, and a Seattle food truck sporting ears and a pig snout. Entertainers plan to roam the grounds throughout the season.

Longtime sellers include beekeepers, carpenters, farmers and jewelers, though the market changes from season to season. The eclectic lineup includes fresh offerings as the bazaar returns for a 21st season.

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Celtic band The Fire Inside makes simply complex tunes

April 5, 2011

Irish music lithely springs from its instruments during reels, jigs and pub songs.

The Fire Inside, a local Celtic band, entertains diners at Vino Bella in Issaquah on St. Patrick’s Day. Contributed

“I like it because it’s actually quite simplistic, but you can make it complex,” Issaquah violinist Tami Curtis said. “It’s just plain fun. It puts a smile on your face.”

Curtis and six other local musicians, living in an area stretching from Issaquah to the Snoqualmie Valley and up to Redmond, have formed a Celtic band named The Fire Inside.

The band is the brainchild of Carol Whitaker, of Fall City. Whitaker played for an informal group, and she knew several other people who played in bands about town. She wanted to play more challenging Celtic music, so she took her flute and penny whistle and formed a group of her own this past winter.

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