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43 posts categorized "Greenfingers"

21 February 2013

Five Great Things to Grow in Your Pacific Northwest Garden



I asked my great friend Nazila Merati to write a guest blog post for you while I was away sunning myself in Palm Springs.

Nazila is a very good friend to have.  Throughout the summer months she delivers an endless supply of beautiful fresh produce grown on one of her two allotments (p-patches) and in winter she delivers cookies and homemade rocky road chocolates made with her own homemade marshmallows. See what I mean?

Since she is one of the most green-fingered (green-thumbed, I believe you crazy Americans say) people I know, I asked her to share her thoughts on easy vegetable crops to grow here in the Pacific Northwest. Since the climate here is very similar to that of the UK, these tips would work there as well, and can be easily adjusted for other parts of the US and Europe.  You can find Nazila at Flora and Flying or on her food blog BanamakPlease show her some love.

 Over to Nazila…





Spring is popping up all over Seattle and through much of the Northern hemisphere based on the images I am seeing in my social photo streams. I’m a big fan of rejoicing the return of spring through sappy tweets about daylight, romancing the first fat pussy willow, snapping a picture of the first snowdrop, but honestly, my biggest thrill is digging into that cold soil and getting things started.

What, you say it is too cold to go outside? Pshaw, I say. Go put on your big girl wellies you bought to match your hipster beret, double glove up and head outside and survey your back forty. If that is not an option, go look at your meager raised bed in front of your house with the shriveled remains of last year’s bean plants and dead basil stalks. (I believe she is referring to me here:- Paola)

Now that you have gone and looked, it isn’t all that bad is it? Sure there is stuff to clean up and a few weeds to pull out, but the moist soil makes this task so much easier. Look carefully, do you see your tiny chive patch reemerging? Your mint for mojitos? Rosemary to make chicken skewers survive? Fabulous. The bones of your perennial herb garden made it through. Now go inside, make a nice cup of tea and devise a plan about how you are going to succeed growing a small manageable garden of things you actually like to eat and do well here in our temperate Northwest. Here is my list of five things that are easy to grow, give a lot of bang for your gardening dollar, and increase your smug factor when entertaining.

Snap Peas - I suggest growing bush snap peas instead of pole peas because everyone promises to put up netting for a trellis and very few people actually get around to it. Bush varieties seem to yield better and are easier to pick in my opinion. Seeds or seedlings can go in the ground as soon as the ground can be worked which in Seattle is now. The shoots can be consumed along with the young pods. They are great for salads, stir frying, and eating out of hand. Two varieties to look for include Ed Hume’s Oregon Sugar Pod Pea and Territorial Seeds Avalanche Peas .

Swiss Chard – Swiss chard has replaced the ornamental cabbage in many landscape applications. The bright lights variety with its orange, yellow, red and vivid pink stalks and veins makes it a great addition to a small garden as it produces like crazy and through a few frosts and can be used at many stages of maturity. You can start it from seeds, but my recommendation is to go to any local nursery and pick up a 4” pot of seedlings. Plant a few colors in your vegetable patch and then throw a few into ornamental pots for a splash of unexpected color. Use young leaves in salads, mature leaves with kale etc. in braising mixes and throw some in a lemony lentil chard soup. My pick would be Territorial Seeds Bright Lights (you will find many growers will have this available as seedlings) or if you like a monochromatic look and a more traditional chard, try Hume’s Silverado.




Lettuce – As I look at the four dollar heads of Buttercrunch lettuce I am buying this time of year, I secretly wish I had a hydroponic set up just to grow lettuce. The price for something that is so easy to grow starting in April and if you are careful about the type you grow, through November here in Seattle. I am a big believer in growing your own lettuce from seed or from seedlings, just remember that it will mature around the same time, so planting in succession is important. If you like variety in your greens, I recommend growing a patch of mesclun mix with a bit of bite from mizuna and arugula. A patch, if well-tended and harvested regularly, should last you a month or two. Plan to do another sowing of seeds two weeks after the first planting to prolong the growing season. If you are a head lettuce person and are not sure what you like – try putting in seedlings. Some nurseries will have seedlings in different varieties – try out a few through the growing season. My mesclun pick is Hume’s Mesclun Mix. My favorite lettuce varieties are Territorial’s Tom Thumb for its petite adorableness and taste and the beautiful heirloom variety Speckles.

Tomatoes – Who doesn’t like a fresh tomato picked right off the vine? In a small garden with at least six hours of sunlight, try for something with great appeal that is easy to harvest, does not require staking and promises a big return on investment not based on the poundage of tomatoes harvested and canned, but on the number of ways you can use that fruit. A cherry, pear, grape or currant tomato will fill this requirement quite well. If you are a dedicated gardener, then you have already started your seed trays full of the tomatoes you will tend all summer. If you are a practical gardener, you might have taken notes on what didn’t work last year and avoid that variety entirely this year. If you are me, you will read the tags on the seedlings at the first big plant sale and pick something with the best name and the fewest number of days to maturity. This is probably not the best way to proceed, but look for varieties that say they do not require staking, are compact, yield lots of bite sized tomatoes with sweet fruit. I am a fan of growing at least two of these types – a yellow and a red variety. Some varieties to look for include Sun Gold and Juliet and Yellow Canary. Sun Gold and Juliet will require cages and staking. You can’t go wrong with the Juliet, it will produce until the first frost.



Leeks – The Leek is misunderstood by Americans and is revered as highly as Jerry Lewis is by the French. They are simple to grow, take up so little room, make a great onion substitute for those who want a little onion flavor but can’t handle sulfur and side effects of the rest of the allium family. They also look pretty – the blue green leaves that can look grey in certain light are gorgeous in the fall. You can plant a row in the spring to harvest in the summer for use in sofritos, soups, grilled alongside lamb. Plant a row later for fall and winter harvest. I believe that the novice gardener should start with leek sets,sold either in bunches like onion sets or in 4” pots if you are looking for specialty leeks. My picks for leek varieties to last you through your first vichyssoise until your last chicken pot pie is Cook’s Garden’s Blue Solaise Leek.

Gosh, there are so many other things I would recommend you grow, but these five things are good places to start. The peas and lettuce will start you off right, the chard and lettuce will keep you green and strong, until the tomatoes and leeks start coming in.

Happy gardening.


Thanks Nazila!  Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more gardening on the blog. I’m into year two of my little raised beds and need all the tips I can get.


17 April 2012

Washington Tulip Fest 2012


Yes my dears it’s that time of year again, when we go and visit the spectacular Washington tulip fields and then I get to bore you all my photos. And yes I do realise you’ve seen very similar photos before.  Long time readers may want to grab a cup of tea at this point.


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You will have noticed that a certain not-so-little-anymore Minx was also avidly photographing. That’s one of her pics below.  I’m such a proud mama!


<KENOX S760  / Samsung S760>


We’re still quite early in the season.  If you live in the Pacific Northwest I reckon you’ve got at least two more weeks to see the splendour.


13 April 2012

That Was The Week That Was: Spring in Seattle Edition


Oh goodness, it’s been ages since I’ve done one of these.  It’s been a pastel-coloured, blossom-filled, playing in the sunshine, baking goodies couple of weeks.


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On the 1st January I started posting daily photos to Instagram. I’m @mirrormirroxx. Come and be my friend.

04 April 2012

Portland’s Japanese Garden


Just before spring.

It’s been a day of soft April showers here in Seattle and I thought I’d share pictures of another such day we spent a couple of weekends back in Portland’s Japanese Garden


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Of all the Japanese gardens here on the West Coast, Portland’s is by far my favourite. Not as flashy and gaudy as San Francisco’s, but bigger and more peaceful than Seattle’s, Spring had not yet fully sprung when we went, though everywhere soft young leaves were starting to peek through, as the hailstones fell and the sunshine glinted through the raindrops like so many crystals on a chandelier.

Some places are good for the soul.


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21 March 2012

The Story of Bloom by Anna Schuleit


I was so incredibly moved by this art installation that I came across recently.

There’s something about the beauty of the flowers in such a bleak space, and the hope they represent in a place that must have seemed devoid of hope for so many people.  Art can sometimes be so incredibly powerful.




In 2003 Anna Schuleit was asked to create a commemorative art installation to mark the closure of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center.  She noted that psychiatric patients are rarely brought flowers, so she used old hospital records to calculate how many people had passed through the facility and decided to commemorate each one with flowers.




The 28,000 potted plants and green turf were spread throughout the building which was opened up to the public, including former patients and staff, for four days.  Then the plants were distributed to patients in care homes throughout the region (which is why Schuleit insisted on using potted plants instead of cut flowers).






























Read more about it here. {Images by Anna Schuleit}


14 March 2012

That Was The Week That Was: Back In Seattle Edition


This has been an Instagram week of raincoats and snuggles, marmalade and bundt cake, polka dots and salted caramels, with a hint of spring green peeking through.


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On the 1st January I started posting daily photos to Instagram. I’m @mirrormirroxx. Come and be my friend.


04 December 2011

Picture the Holidays – Reframing the Season


Our next prompt was to ‘Reframe the Season’. 


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The hint talked about using a literal frame and focusing about what we put it in, but I couldn’t think of what to do with it.

Then I glanced out of my window and saw the December garden in all its mellow wistfulness.  It seems to me that this season is one that we very much experience through the window frame, rather than being out and in the thick of it.

27 April 2011

Blossom Watch



Cherry pie, cherry jam, cherry clafoutis, cherry cheesecake


I’m back! Did you miss me? Sorry, I disappeared so abruptly.  I got all caught up in preparations for our trip to Del Mar and Dana Point in Southern California, then we went on the trip, which was very lovely indeed thankyouverymuch and now I’m back in rainy Seattle.

Blossom watch was a complete bust.  I thought the tree would be fully out before we left, but the incredibly cold and rainy spring we’re having here meant that it didn’t bloom properly until we were away.

Here’s a pic from today though. Here’s hoping that this spring warms up soon so that these get a chance to turn into cherries. 

12 April 2011

Blossom Watch 2011


It’s that time of year again, albeit about a month later than last year on account of the cold, wet and generally crappy spring we’ve been having here, but it seems that our enormous cherry tree is about to burst into flower again.

This is dedicated to all of you who don’t have 100 year old cherry trees in your back gardens.



29 July 2010

Come Into My Garden - July


I haven’t done a ‘Come Into My Garden’ post for so long but since I spent all weekend macheteing my way through the jungle that had grown up while we were away I thought I might as well get a blog post out of it. 




The oak-leaf hydrangeas, nandinas, lilies and lavender have all gone a little crazy as you can see, but there’s still plenty of pretty to be had. I think I’ve got some lemonade in the fridge.





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                               Rose ‘Christopher Marlow’                                                             Some lily or other


                                                                   Rose ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ in the shade


                         Echinacea Big Sky ‘Sundown’ and some straggly thing I bought at the garden centre last year.


                                                                                   Geum ‘Fire Lake’


                                                 Echinacea Big Sky ‘Summer Sky’ and ‘Sundown’




                        Mixed echinaceas                                                     The most ginormous lily in the world (around 7 feet)



                                                                                   A glorious tangle


                                    The world’s most ginormous lily with nandinas and oak-leaf hydrangeas


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                                                       Oak-leaf hydrangea with and without lavender

It’s REALLY tricky to photograph the garden in summer I’ve decided. Either the sun is casting dark shadows over everything, making it look even messier than it is. Or else the it’s grey and overcast and looks like November. Seattle doesn’t do soft diffused sunlight at all.

07 June 2010





I’m back, sort of.

I wanted to see if I missed blogging, and I did, a lot, so I’m glad to be back in the saddle. The bad news is that my computer sounds like a jet fighter just before take off and this is my last week of freedom before the Minx finishes school for the summer vacation (can you believe it?) AND we’re off to Europe in two weeks, so I probably still won’t be able to blog as frequently as I would like, but let’s see how it goes. 

In addition I have been having THOUGHTS about refocusing the blog a bit.  Which, I hear you say, won’t be difficult, since it currently has no real focus at all.

Firstly I’d like this to be more of a ‘salon’ type blog about the design-world with lots of vigorous discussion in the comments, and a bit of an antidote to the ‘bunnies and unicorns’ type of approach taken by some other blogs. So I’ll be casting around for more ‘Go Fug Your Room’ type stuff and other things for us to discuss.

Secondly, I’m getting more and more into my photography and feel that it’s taking me somewhere. I have no idea exactly where it’s going, but I’ll be using this blog to experiment more and see what happens. 

Thirdly, I’m going to introduce some more regular features so that I have a bit of a framework for my blogging week and you can come here with a bit more of an idea whether to expect tulips or chairs or knitting. I’ll be introducing some of these over the coming week.

Thanks so much for all your lovely messages and comments, I missed you!  Mwah!

In other news Seattle is ‘enjoying’ one its interminable rainy springs. I know I shouldn’t expect the fabulous Seattle summer to start until early July but all this rain in June is somewhat depressing, particularly as it seems you’re even having summer in ENGLAND this year. But the lavender is peeking out, so I’m hoping this portends of better things.

23 April 2010

Yet More Tulips

Last weekend we made out annual pilgrimage to the tulip fields north of Seattle.  To be honest this year was a bit of bunfight – the weather was glorious and as most of the fields had already been topped due to the early spring, it seemed like the whole of Seattle was standing round the edges of the few remaining uncut fields (note carefully cropped photos below).

But there’s still something incredibly joyous about the patchwork fields of colour and if you live in the Pacific Northwest I do highly recommend a trip out there (though not this weekend, the fields are already empty).











Photos from 2009 here

Photos from 2007 here 


Is anyone working on an ‘April’ photo? I’m going to get the gallery up next week, though I still need to figure out my contribution. 

19 March 2010

Blossom Watch – Day 3

It’s been the most GLORIOUS Spring day here in Seattle and although at first glance it doesn’t look like much has changed.



If you look closely you’ll everything is now tinged with white




And in some corners of the tree things are getting VERY exciting indeed.




In more breathtakingly thrilling news from my garden, the first tulips are out.




17 March 2010

Blossom Watch – Day 1


The immense cherry tree in our tiny backyard is one of the very last cherry trees to flower in Seattle and is currently absolutely PREGNANT with blossom buds (about three weeks earlier than normal), so I thought it might be fun to follow its progress in the days ahead.





I know I owe you guys lots and lots of updates – painting the living room, my weight loss (ha ha!), and the office tidy up. They’re on the way, but I need to take pictures and its very grey here as you can see.

23 February 2010

A Walk Up My Street

This comes with huge apologies for all those of you struggling with yet more snow in the UK and on the East Coast.


This is what has been happening in that crazy parallel universe we call Seattle, where we’ve been having an unseasonably mild and rainfree winter. This is all happening within a block of my house – you can smell the heady perfume in the streets. Have you ever seen so much insane loveliness in February?  More on Flickr.

01 February 2010

Today I Am Mostly…

…watching things unfurl


It is ridiculous how excited I am that last year’s orchid has taken it upon itself to bloom again.  My orchids never ever ever rebloom despite a lot of cajoling. It has been overwintering in our bathroom and of course I have no idea what triggered it off this time.

If you’re not a green fingered orchid growing genius such as myself (ha ha!) then you may want to take a look at this comment thread on Shelterrific, which has loads of wonderful orchid advice.

For advice as to whether orchids have any place in interior decorating at all, I refer you to Decorno here.

And I can’t work out whether I like these Boskke sky planters available from Velocity – (I think I’m coming down on the side of ‘like’).

The images, from Sunset magazine, sure are pretty though.



26 January 2010

Today I Am Mostly…

…picking a posy…


I’m so excited! The hellebores are coming out, also the the beautiful sarcococca with its shiny, shiny black berries as you can see to better effect here.


Please note that this is the first time in forever that I’ve not been embarrassed by a picture that shows a bit of the background paint colour in our house.  Speaking of which, and not to be comment whore or anything, but I’d REALLY appreciate your thoughts on the below. Particularly as to whether I should paint the sitting area the same colour or just go with white…

26 October 2009


In which I rescue my poor bedraggled little saffron crocuses from a weekend of heavy rain and pick out the saffron stamens.  Take that $25 bottle of saffron from the supermarket!

I think I’ll make risotto.




I’ve not yet actually cooked with my home-grown saffron, so if we are all poisoned I’ll make sure someone lets you know…

14 October 2009


Or fences that grow apples.


Look what we’ve been picking recently!  Small, perfectly formed, and just the right size for the Minx’s lunchbox.

090I first got the idea to use espaliered apple trees as fences when we visited the tulip festival back in 2007 and they’d used them to fence in the car park.















Here are our two just planted espaliers to the left of the picture below back when the garden was new in August 2007.


That first year they sure did look pretty but the one apple they produced was eaten by our garden squirrel.



This year, however, look what we got.



The extremely cool thing about these espaliers – as you can just about see from the picture above -  is that each of the four branches has a different variety of apple on it.  The Gala and Granny Smith apples in the top picture both came off the same tree.

18 September 2009

Getting Old

It’s my birthday today and Seattle is rewarding me with the most glorious sunny day imaginable.

The long hot summer of 2009 continues its magic, I’ve picked myself some flowers from the garden, and I’m feeling very lazy, very grateful and very content.

Real birthday celebrations are happening tomorrow, so I can spend the day with Minx, and then on Monday both the Husband and I are taking a day off to go on a very exciting hot date, of which more anon.

See you on Tuesday!

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Cute antique milk bottle vase is from Casapinka’s fabulous new Etsy store.

05 August 2009



Our lavender bushes at home have been pretty spectacular too (though I forgot to take photos when they were at their peak, so you’ll just have to imagine them).  In the recent dry weather (no meaningful rain in Seattle since mid-May!) the flowers have been drying on the bushes and I’ve been collecting the dried flowers, because it seemed like the right thing to do.

But I don’t really have any idea what to do with it all.  I’m not really the sort of person who makes lavender bags (though maybe I’ll knit some).  According to all these links, I’m supposed to be making lavender sugar, lavender lemonade and lavender oil; using it in cooking; making lavender teabags to put in the bath; using the oil to heal burns and wounds and making eyebags from lavender, flaxseed and rice.  As a linguist, I am intrigued to note that the name lavender comes from the Latin verb lavare  ‘to wash’, so it’s obviously well worth putting in the bath.

Has anyone else got any good ideas?  I particularly want to try using it in cooking, so any good recipes would be much appreciated.

29 June 2009

Life is a bowl of...


This is probably around a quarter of the cherries we've pulled off the tree in the last few days and there's still more to come.  We're eating till we're fit to burst, giving them away and made an immense clafoutis at the weekend (which I didn't get a chance to take pictures of before it was gobbled up). We'll also be making jam before long.

But, I think we're still in need of cherry recipes. Any good ones?

17 June 2009


The good news. THIS is what you get when record-breaking rainfall in the early part of May is followed by a month of continuous unbroken sunshine and temps in mid to high 70s.




The bad news. These pics were taken from an upstairs window and the tree is so big we will hardly be able to get any of these.  Any ideas on how to get these little beauties down and into our gaping mouths?

13 May 2009

Abigail Percy's Hyacinth Watch

One of our very favourite suppliers is Scottish jeweller Abigail Percy, who makes, among other things, our very popular Sweet Horse Chestnut Earrings.

She has a wonderful blog detailing her inspirations and the creative process in her tiny studio and has recently been taking us through a project she calls  'Hyacinth Watch'.

Together we've watched her hyacinths grow, seen her sketches, marvelled at the limited edition jewellery she created from the sketches of hyacinth blooms, and you can now buy her photo postcards, wrapped in a brown paper band printed from one of her hyacinth sketches.

Do yourselves a favour, wander over to her blog and see the process for yourself.  Or, even better treat yourselves to a necklace or a set of postcards.





  All photographs copyright Abigail Percy.  Find her Flickr here.

12 May 2009

What A Difference Some Stain Makes

When the landscapers were doing the hardscaping for our back garden we asked them to build a fence in order to corral the Minx.

They left us with an large orange structure which we naively believed would soon fade to an attractive weathered grey.



I don't know what the wood was treated with, but we waited and waited. And the other new wood such as the trellis faded. But still the fence glowed orangely in the corner. (And as you can see it didn't even do a very good job of corraling the Minx).

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So about a month ago we bit the bullet, dodged the Spring rain showers and attacked it with the dark brown stain we'd used on the deck. It took forever - it needed two coats and it was a pain in the behind getting under the chicken wire. But in the end it looked like this. I can't tell you what a difference it makes to the whole garden.




Here is a somewhat random picture of a raccoon in the garden at the weekend admiring the fence.  (You should have seen us all marvelling when we saw two raccoons - we are SO British).


22 April 2009

The Garden in April

Well I couldn't be bothered to do a post for March. Due to the incredibly cold spring temperatures, the garden really looked hardly different from February - mostly hellebores and some rather sorry looking daffodils.

But then sometime last week Spring came along and this happened. I can't begin to tell you how much pleasure this tiny plot of land gives me sometimes.

Lulu's 4th Birthday Party

19 March 2009

It's About Time


FINALLY I get to pick some daffs out of the garden.  It's been a long, cold winter here in Seattle.

09 March 2009

Adventures in Crochet

Holly at Decor8 has been writing a fabulous series about unleashing your creativity, which has made me decide that this is the year I learn to crochet.

I have a couple of super scary projects I'm contemplating (to be discussed when they've percolated a bit more) but have told myself that I can't buy the yarn for anything big until I've finished the incredibly tedious blanket of doom. In the meantime I'm attempting a few simple projects, so I can see what this crocheting lark is all about and whether it really is for me.


My first project was a cover for the orchid the Minx gave me for Valentines Day.  I adapted Erika Knight's bottle covers from Simple Crochet and used some string I found in our useful drawer and a length of fine chartreuse ribbon I found at the bottom of my knitting bag which I must have bought for some project I can no longer remember.


It wasn't difficult, though string and ribbon are not the most forgiving of media, and has encouraged me to persevere, though the Husband did take one look at the finished article and said, "Isn't that all a bit macrame'?" and I couldn't really disagree. 

Here's some crochet that actually looks good. Found via the Style Files and available here if you can read Dutch, these are all crocheted in polyester so are good for outdoors.  I'd love some for the deck.



More details in my Ravelry notebook.  Come and find me there.


02 March 2009

Come Into My Garden - February

I'm going to do this series of monthly blog posts again as I do like looking back on them when the weather is gloomy and it's lovely to see the garden developing year by year. I've also found them enormously helpful for thinking about what else needs to be done. So these posts are mainly for me.

If you're still reading, here for comparison, is what the garden looked like last February (about six months after it had been installed) and here is what it looks like now.


Everything's filled out a lot more, and even in the depths of winter it has more structure to it than last year. And I'm pleased with how the chairs brighten up even the gloomiest of days.

We've had a lot of snow by Seattle standards this winter and spring seems much further away than it did this time last year, so thank goodness for the hellebores which are romping through the shade garden at the back under the tree and looking truly amazing. I think they may be my favourite plants in the world (they certainly are at the moment).


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The garden designer paired them with sarcococca ruscifolia or sweet box, which this year has beautiful glossy evergreen leaves and shiny black berries - a truly inspired plant pairing. The flowers of the sarcococca are small, white and insignificant, but also give off a most beautiful scent.

I'm also liking the way the hellebores work with the pink-edged heucheras and tiny pink cyclamens I planted last year. Unfortunately the heucheras to the other side of the tree don't appear to have made it through the winter - a shame as they also work hugely well with geranium Anne Folkard in the summer and only one little snowdrop of all the ones I planted last year has so far appeared.  A flurry of snowdrops below would be perfect, so I will buy some more in the green now and try and get them established next year.

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The nandinas have also been in berry and really quite pretty, though I was intrigued to note that this time last year they appeared to be in flower.  The vegetable patch is looking a bit sorry for itself with only the rocket and a few tiny carrots showing through, whereas this time last year we had broccoli and lettuces. Last year we already had tiny narcissus in flower, and this year they're hardly poking up above the ground.

And, finally, in really sad news, I think the snow has done for the beautiful mature orange tree which had been put in by the previous owners. (There appear to be two trees - I'm assuming a male and a female - the one that seems to have died is the female fruiting one).

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             Last February                                                              This February

But really this February, it's been all about the hellebores.


Notes to self: Buy couple of extra hellebores. Plant more snowdrops and tiny cyclamens in pink and white.  Replace dead heucheras next to daphne. Replace orange tree?

22 October 2008

The Sincerest Form of Flattery - Part II

Well, we are already well aware that Pottery Barn is not averse to a bit of plagiarism, but this time they've really gone too far and plagiarised ME.  And believe me, it hurts.

Remember the three chairs we painted back in April?


Well here are the Pottery Barn versions.


Any lawyers out there who fancy assisting me in my multi-billion dollar lawsuit?

04 August 2008

Come Into My Garden - July

This month has been all about the flowerbed at the front of the garden, which is the only place that gets any sun when the cherry tree is in leaf. 

It started off looking like this at the beginning of the month, with nary a flower in sight after one of the coldest and wettest Junes anyone could remember.


And ended up looking somewhat parched and bedraggled after five weeks of soaring temps and hardly any rain.


In between it's been all about the lilies, the oak-leaf hydrangeas and the lavender, with the echinaceas coming through in the last week or so.  

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I've been so pleased with the lilies in particular.  I've been nervous about adding stuff to the designer's original base scheme, but these have been fabulous, have fit perfectly into the colour scheme and have provided loads of colour and interest when there wasn't much else going on.



I paired the orange rose in the raised bed we made with a hot pink salvia.  




This lily Chambertin is named after one of my favourite wines.


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Being the organised person I am, I can't find the bit of paper with the name of these chocolate-throated lilies, nor for the hot pink ones at the back of the bed.


Somewhat amazing to remember that this time last year the garden looked like THIS.

23 July 2008


Look what showed up on my kitchen windowsill the other day.




If you plant seeds in the Spring, they turn into flowers!  Who knew?  (I really love these short stubby apple juice bottles from Martinellis).

07 July 2008

Chocolate lily



Isn't this just the most gorgeous creature?

This is apparently an Asatic Hybrid Lily 'Dimensions' that I planted in my garden this spring and promptly forgot about.

Part of me feels like I need to rein in my predilection for very dark flowers soon before the garden looks like something out of the Addams Family.  The other part of me wants to gather up great bunches of these and put them in every room in the house.  (I should have bought more than three bulbs).

Those of you in the US who share my delight in dark flowers should visit the Chocolate Flower Farm which is based on one of the local islands and specialises, amazingly enough, in chocolate-coloured flowers and vegetables.

While you're here, here's a completely gratuitous picture of a bee on the lavender.


03 July 2008

I am a hydrangea


From This Garden Is Illegal.

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

24 June 2008

Come Into My Garden - June


The garden was looking all shiny and pretty just before we left for Mexico, but by the time we got back, after a week of rain and then record-breaking temps, it was looking like a branch of the Amazon rainforest.

I've spent every weekend since then attacking the lawn, pulling up thousands of weeds, planting new stuff and mulching everything, while the garden sort of went into suspended animation because it was so incredibly cold.

My efforts have finally been rewarded over the last couple of weeks as temperatures have risen (not that it's exactly summer yet, mind you) and things are finally starting to happen.



It's still looking a bit messy as all the bulbs die down (and I'm not too keen on the woodchip mulch either - who would have thought that one day I would have opinions about mulch?) However, the beds have finally filled out with perennials and the lilies I planted earlier in the year (very excited to see the lilies as I can't for the life of me remember what colours I planted).

The big news is that we finally got round to constructing and planting a raised bed to the side of the garden and also planting a climbing rose to go over the arch.


Here's a before picture from when we first moved into the house.


I've put in some roses - being English it doesn't seem right to have a garden without them somehow. I'm wondering a bit about their garishness though.

To the side of the arch is rosa ' Zephirine Drouhin'  a hot pink which is looking lovely with the lavender at the front of the beds. At the moment it's perfect, but I'm worrying whether she'll be a bit OTT when/if she scrambles right over the arch.


In the raised bed is rosa Livin' Easy which is the most beautiful orange (hate the name though)


IMG_5961and also rosa 'Christopher Marlowe' which looked good in the garden centre, but which might prove to have been a bit of a mistake as I think it's too pink and sugary even for me. I may have to move him to the front garden somewhere.

Behind them is a soft pink jasmine to go with the white jasmine to the side of the trellis.  I've also planted a clematis, but it doesn't seem to be doing too well at present, mostly I suspect, because we broke the growing tip in transit.


The most glorious iris has just finished blooming. It was so dark as to be almost black when in bud. The garden is so shaded now that I think I'm going to have to rein in my predilection for black flowers because you just can't see them.  Also pretty and very unusual were the little bell-like flowers of the enkianthus by the side of the patio

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The helianthemums at the front overlapping the stone walls have been flowering well, but I think they are a bit of a mistake.  I should have listened when the designer specified orange helianthemum 'Ben Nevis', instead I asked if we could have Ben Ledi  instead and although they look very pretty when the sun shines through them, from the front the just look too RED and don't go so well with the lavender. 




The bright pink geranium Anne Folkard is also doing her thing and bringing a bit of colour to the shade garden at the back, where nothing much is happening at present, and the first oakleaf hydrangea caps are starting to come through.  I think they're going to be beautiful next month.


IMG_5996 The herb garden at the side of the house has also filled in nicely - all ready for the grilling season.  If it ever gets here.

07 June 2008

The Two Pots

I've been trying to do an update on the garden for ages, but have been somewhat hampered by it a) having turned into an Amazonian rainforest while we were in Mexico and b) having been cloudy and rainy and thoroughly miserable for the last two weeks. 

We'd actually made a lot of progress tidying everything, planting some new plants and hacking down the mountain of weeds which had sprung up while we were away but I just haven't been able to photograph it as I don't much enjoy standing outside in MONSOON-like conditions. (The recent horrendous weather is all our fault for pressure-washing the deck obviously).


Anyway, here's a small garden tidbit.  I planted up a pair of Bill and Ben flowerpots a couple of weeks ago which have been relishing the thorough watering they've been receiving.

I tried to keep both of the them to a similar 'theme' but using different plants.

The central plant in the pot above is a heuchera 'Obsidian' which I think is one of the nicest plants out there.  It's a perennial, so I'll try and keep it alive in the middle of the pot and plant different seasonal plants around. 

Round the edges are several hot pink trailing verbenas (verbena magalena ultra Strawberries 'n Cream) and nestling in between the leaves are a dark purple leaved begonia 'Harmony Pink' , a sutera Copia Dark Pink (confusingly the pale pink plant to the left) and a diascia 'Flying Colors' Red. The orange you can glimpse behind is a California poppy which has sprung up in the herb garden.


The central plant in this pot is a daphne Carol Mackie which I again hope not to kill and she is surrounded by some more begonias, diascias and suteras with a very beautiful dark-leaved clover Dark Dancer mixed in.

Here are the two pots at home with the three chairs


I'm sort of wondering whether these flowers are too 'pretty, pretty' and old-fashioned. I always think I'm going to get things which are a bit more edgy and structural, but then I end up being seduced by all that is pink and girly. Maybe next year...

29 April 2008

Come Into My Garden - April


This month the garden is all about blossom and tulips and the colour scheme has become more subdued again as the bright yellow early daffs and lipstick pink tulips fade away.



The cherry tree was in her full splendour earlier on in the month but now a confetti of tiny white blossoms cascades down over the garden every time there is a slight breeze, leaving a dusting of 'snow' all over the flower beds.  It is all very lovely.


The espaliered apples are also looking stunning.  I had forgotten how beautiful pink-tinged apple blossom can be.


This is the view looking across to our neighbours' house and over towards Lake Union.


I have been talking sternly to the squirrel to make sure he doesn't get all our apples this year.

Some gorgeous new tulips have arrived which I like much better than the rather gaudy lipstick red ones we had last month.  I wish I could remember their names though.

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Somewhat foolishly though I planted these in the bed on the side of the garden where they can't be admired easily from the patio.

Close to the patio I appear to have inadvertently created a 'black' garden where the black violas I planted last autumn are still going strong, mixed with the dark new leaves of the berberis and the velvety black of 'Queen of the Night', one of my favourite tulips. I love how it's completely not 'springlike', though I wish I'd planted a few pink or orange tulips here to liven it up a bit, and it is really difficult to photograph.




The back of the garden in contrast is now a white garden full of white daffodils, counterpointed by the lime green of the fading hellebores and the sprinkling of tiny white flowers on the daphne.  I'm loving the way that bluebells are growing up naturally through the woodland garden at the back.


We've been working to spruce up the patio a bit as well.  The pansy which I planted last autumn is now enormous, so I moved it to the pot where the gaudy tulips were, awaiting further instructions.
















I've also given up on my dream of growing dwarf chamomile in between the flagstones (I couldn't find the 'lawn' variety anywhere) and have been putting in this pretty little thyme.

All the sprucing is in honour of the newly painted Adirondack chairs, now complete with little table from Target.



14 April 2008

The Three Chairs


We finished painting them over the weekend and I think they're OK.  They're pretty dazzling when the sun's out, but brighten up a dull grey day like today no end.  We just need a little round cedar coffee table, which will stay resolutely natural in colour.

It's going to be interesting to see how they go with the garden colour scheme as it develops over the year. The yellow of the daffs will fade away and be replaced by lots of purple and chocolate plants enlivened with splashes of hot pink, red and orange. Though next year I may avoid such very pink tulips.

01 April 2008

Come Into My Garden - March

Quick! *Rushes to get the March update in before April*

Spring has indeed sprung and the garden is looking fab at the moment.  All the back-breaking effort in the autumn (oh my goodness, I nearly said 'Fall'), planting daffodil and tulip bulbs is really paying off.


The star of the show is the shade garden at the back under the tree, which is bursting with daffodils and hellebores.  Hellebores, how much do I love you.  





The first tulips also bloomed this weekend - a sweet lipstick pink called (I think, I forgot to make a note) Elizabeth Arden.  You'll notice that I've put in a wigwam to grow peas though nothing much is happening a present.  There's parsley, rocket, red oak leaf lettuce and broccoli for harvesting in the little vegetable patch though, and the Minx and I recently sowed carrots, radishes, spring onions and more lettuces.

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The tulips in my pots are looking beautiful already, I just love them next to the watercolour-splashed pansies, which have been going strong all winter.


Next month I foresee painting in my stars.  I ordered these Adirondack chairs off Ebay hoping that the colours wouldn't be quite as sickly as they looked on screen and lo and behold they look exactly like the Easter Bunny has just barfed all over the patio.

25 February 2008

Come Into My Garden - February

We've had a week of glorious spring sunshine here in Seattle (which of course didn't coincide with our friends' visit) and the little garden (I'm sorry, I still can't bring myself to say yard) we had built last year is springing into life.

I spent the weekend tidying it up and planting lilies and other bits and pieces acquired at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, where I spent absolutely too much money. 

There's rather a lot of bare earth on show now that the perennials have died back and the deciduous shrubs are just bare twigs, but if you look closely there are definite signs of life.


680 You will notice that we abandoned the idea of getting a swing seat in the end because I couldn't source anything I liked and instead bought a wood and rope swing from a carpenter on Ebay.  If the Minx ever dares complain about her childhood I will counter with the fact that she spent her formative years swinging under a hundred-year old cherry tree.

The stars of the garden this month are the hellebores in the shade garden under the tree.




The pansies I  planted last autumn have been flowering all winter and are still going strong and adding a splash of much needed colour.

I just wish I'd planted a few more.
































The flowers of the nandinas are not so showy, but I love how the shadows of the branches dance on the old wooden fence.


We're also anxiously waiting to be able to harvest broccoli and red oak leaf lettuce, which has somehow made it through the winter snow, from the tiny vegetable patch.

And here is the very best secret surprise.  A nondescript bush at the sheltered south side of the house planted by the previous owners, turned out to be an orange tree!  The fruit itself is nothing to write home about tastewise, but it looks so exciting and makes me feel like I'm gardening in Sicily.


10 August 2007

Just Hanging About

I need your help again.

One of the first things I specced into the garden design was a wicker or rattan hanging egg chair, and I was delighted when other people picked up on the idea. But I had no idea it would be so difficult to source one here in the US.

Habitat in the UK had a great one of course (oh how I miss that shop), at a very reasonable price (£55 about $110) but it's now sold out and there's no way I could have transported it over here anyway.







Unicahome, of course, imports the original and very beautiful ones from Europe but they are fiendishly expensive and far too good to keep outdoors.







I found another one which I love and which would be perfect, but is located in New Zealand

and another one in the US which looks very similar to me but is still far too expensive.

So does anyone have any other ideas?

The whole design for the garden depends upon you. 

Up very early tomorrow to get the Clipper to Victoria to visit my friend there for a long weekend.  Since we're in a gardening frame of mind, a visit to the very amazing-looking Butchart Gardens is on the agenda.

07 August 2007

Garden is Go!

The landscapers have begun. 

Most of the structural work should be completed this week.  Then, next week, the topsoil will be added and the plants laid out in their correct positions.  And then the Husband and I are going to do all the planting ourselves, something we agreed to in an effort to cut costs. We must have been stark, staring mad. 

Here are some befores and a picture of where we are after day one. 

Garden before

I've been really enjoying the process of working with the designer.  After getting the brief he drew up some ideas and a preliminary list of plants and we've been batting ideas back and forth ever since. 

I doubt I've been the easiest client they've ever had. I've discovered that I've got very definite plant likes and dislikes, and I keep requesting obscure cultivars I've found on UK websites but Bryan has been patience personified and I'm really pleased with what we've ended up with. 





Garden at end of day 1

For those of you who might be interested here are the final plans. Bear in mind that the rendering of the patio area has a fence in front for entrapment of the Minx.  The original brief I gave the designer is here.

05 May 2007

Garden Design

So on Wednesday I had my first chat with a garden designer.

The previous owners had plans drawn up last year to redo the front and back yards and we're piggybacking off the plans they had done to get the back garden sorted out (the front garden will have to wait until next year or until we win the lottery).

I'm a bit nervous about the process as we didn't do as much research as we should have done into Seattle-based designers, nor did we get any competitive quotes - the completed plans lying on the kitchen countertops were just too tempting, as the was the fact that the company specialises in organic gardening. But Brian seemed lovely and very amenable to my ideas (which he called 'fun'. This could of course be a euphemism.)

I've never worked with an interior or garden designer before and I'm really looking forward to the experience. I sort of know what I like when it comes to gardens, but don't know much at all about what goes where, what grows where and how to group plants together. Fortunately the climate in the Pacific North West is so similar to that of the UK that many of the plants I love the most should grow well here.

At the moment the garden is decidedly oddly configured, with a down-at- heel patio that seems to be expressly designed to draw you away from the lawn and towards the very un-picturesque driveway, and with a wall round the lawn which acts as a barricade. Even the Minx seems confused when she goes outside as to whether she's 'allowed' to climb the steps and run about on the lawn.

We're going to rejig the previous plans somewhat so that there is a definite progression from a pretty seating area to a small area of lawn; some sort of fence and gate to the left to trap in the Minx, and lots of underplanting round the tree (which is currently a mass of weeds).  As for planting - I didn't even look at what the previous owners had requested, as I've got a pretty good idea that their taste will not exactly coincide with mine.