Master gardener’s corner — Ode to a shed

April 28, 2015

This spring’s weather is beautiful, one of the best we’ve had.

Either that or I’m just in a good mood right now. But it does remind me of past springs with nice memories of my childhood yard and in particular, our tool shed. It wasn’t a real shed; it was part of our big, old garage that was built for carriages in 1908. It had a hayloft upstairs and little paned windows for light, rather like an Andrew Wyeth painting.

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Prune it right

February 24, 2015

It looks like we are having a very early spring this year. Many of us will not be gardening and pruning early enough to keep up with the “El Niño” conditions.

Usually, February is a good time to dig and move plants, prune fruit trees and roses, cut back ornamental grasses, and just get ready for the growing season. This year, most plants are way ahead of schedule.

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It’s not my yard

January 27, 2015

I have a question. Are the deer living in our yards, or are we living in theirs? About a year and a half ago I asked this question in a column about deer. I just reread that column, and my thoughts have changed. I used to complain, because they seemed to go for my most prized plants. Now, I see them more as part of the landscape rather than a challenge to it. Low maintenance, sustainability and an environmentally sensitive garden are important. I’m growing lots of natives and feel good when I share those plants with the deer.

If you are trying to grow roses, perennials and amazing flowers in suburbia without a fence, your plants are in harm’s way. You might detest the deer and if so, you are looking for plants they don’t like. We can’t remember everything they like and don’t like, so it’s best to know just the generalities. Here are a few: Read more

Flowers in December?

December 16, 2014

It’s December. I was sitting by the window looking at my deck this morning. I had set a pot of mums from the supermarket out there, because it was warm and I thought they would like it.

The shocking color of the red and yellow mums against the weathered browns, mossy greens and gray twigs was startling. The flowers didn’t fit with the otherwise perfect Northwest scene that I am used to.

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Are there good slugs?

November 26, 2014

Did you ever think the ickiest, slimiest creature in your yard might be beneficial? I have to admit I thought the slug’s negative points far outweighed anything positive. But I found out that the brown, slimy critter that eats your best plants, hides on the handles of your recycle bin and even climbs up your windows just might deserve some latitude.

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Master gardener’s corner — Bugged or elated?

September 23, 2014

I was down at Boehm’s the other day. The weather was gray but warm, and I was feeling a little flat.

When I got out of my car I sniffed the air to see if I could find the wonderful scent of chocolate. I couldn’t. I couldn’t because the smell of a fantastic rose overcame everything. It flooded the parking lot, the air and me. It was terrific. I was uplifted just by that smell.

The sense of smell is very strong and capable of bringing back images and memories that we think are lost, including childhood experiences or maybe a fantastic meal. A nice memory can lift your mood and change a cloudy day into a sunny one. I’m not sure if you can overload your senses or not, but it would be fun to try.

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Savor the summer in your garden

September 2, 2014

In going through my Issaquah Press files, I found an article from August 2009 that expressed my exact, same feelings this year. This summer must be a repeat of the one in 2009.

Spring in Issaquah is always cool and wet, right? In summer, we have high temperatures in the 70s, right? And we see cloud cover day after day after day, right? Not this year. This year, the sun, the temperatures and the days without rain have just blown us all away.

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Embrace the artistic you in your garden

July 29, 2014

A few years ago, a friend of mine from the East Coast visited her son in Seattle. She is a professional floral designer with an eye for the artistic, as opposed to the scientific.

We decided it would be fun to visit a nursery together and check out the plants. We each grabbed a cart and started out across the colorful, lush, potted landscape. She started filling her cart with everything colorful and beautiful. I was interested in odd specimens and natives that fit the peculiar conditions in my yard. We went our separate ways for a while, searching and looking at each and every morsel.

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The birds and the bees revisited

June 24, 2014

Most of us think flowers are pretty just in order to decorate the world. Wrong! Flowers are pretty so that they can procreate, so they can have babies and make more flowers.

Beauty creates sexual attraction in flowers as well as in human beings. We think we are alone in the ability to appreciate beauty. Wrong again! The birds and even the lowly insects, the targets of fly swatters, have an eye for color, pattern, shapes, movement, smells and all things that we attribute to the term “beautiful.”

Plants reproduce in two ways: by wind and by pollinators. Wind-pollinated flowers are plain, like grains of grass. They start out pale green and turn to a very bland hay color when ripe. We don’t pick them and put them in vases, and bugs don’t like them either. What these flowers like is wind, wind that blows their pollen around and doesn’t care what they look or smell like. These plain flowers don’t waste any effort trying to be beautiful.

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Oh, to be an English gardener

May 27, 2014

MasterGardenLogo 2013 copyEnglish gardeners are really something. They know intricate little secrets that we wouldn’t even dream of.

Years and years of trial and error have taught them what works, and it seems to work on all levels, not just aesthetics. English gardens seem to make plants, animals, good insects and Mother Nature all smile in appreciation.

For example, they might plant early daffodils under a Corylopsis bush. Why? There are many reasons, and these are a few: First, the Corylopsis will keep frost off the ground when the daffodils are trying to bloom. Second, the shrub allows plenty of sun on the daffodils with its sparse branching and bare limbs in winter. And finally, the shrub leafs out and spares us the indignity of looking at the old, dead and dying leaves of the daffodils.

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