As the Day Winds Down

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Black Cottonwood

This time of year I’m often out in the garden, either working or photographing, until nearly sunset. Then we’ll prepare dinner and sit at our kitchen table enjoying the view of our garden as we eat. I’ve taken to keeping one of my cameras in the house, rather than the studio, so I’ll be ready when I see nice light happening in the garden.

Last night I left the table to head out when the last rays of evening sun illuminated the branches and new foliage of this large black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) that stands in our woods not far from the border with our lawn. Continue reading

Stinky Bob

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Herb Robert

One of our common garden and woodland weeds here in the Pacific Northwest is a cute little geranium known variously as stinky Bob, herb Robert, red robin, death come quickly, storksbill, fox geranium, or Geranium robertianum. I usually call it herb Robert, but I hear a lot of people around here calling it stinky Bob because of the strong fragrance of the foliage. Whatever you call it, this is an introduced invasive thug — an unwelcome weed in my garden and woods. Continue reading

Bird’s Eye View

Serviceberries blooming w/ Golden Currant, Great Camas

Are there times when you wish you were a bird or a butterfly, able to fly above your garden and look down on the view?

Most of the time we go through life contentedly looking at the world from whatever height our eyes are, in my case about five feet above the ground. But the world looks different from above. The photo at the top was made from my office deck, looking down on the native shrub and perennial bed out front. Continue reading

Serviceberry Time


One of the great things about being confined to our home is to watch the near-daily changes in our garden since we can’t go far afield to catch the blossoms somewhere else. The flowers that were in full bloom just a week ago are fading and new ones are taking their place. Right now, it’s the serviceberries (Amelanchier alnifolia) that are putting on their spring show.

The serviceberries are the white flowers in the photo. Behind them are the brilliant yellow flowers of golden currant (Ribes aureum). Both shrubs are native to Washington state, although the currant is an east of the mountains species. Also starting to bloom is great camas (Camassia leichtlinii), another Pacific Northwest native.
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The Chicken Channel

Garden bed with chickens on the lawn

Every afternoon about 5 o’clock we let our chickens out into the yard and garden to forage until their bedtime. Since we have predators around — hawks, eagles, and coyotes — we make sure there’s a human nearby in the yard to keep an eye on our girls.

We joke that we’re tuning in to the chicken channel. It’s relaxing live entertainment. We’ll even pop open a beer or pour a glass of wine to enjoy while watching the hens forage for grass, bugs, grubs, and slugs. Continue reading

Fire on the Mountain

'Mountain Fire' Japanese Andromeda

‘Mountain Fire’ Japanese Andromeda, a cultivar of Pieris japonica, is a standout shrub in our garden. It’s a broadleaved evergreen so we can enjoy it year around but it’s especially nice right now as the new foliage emerges. It’s those bright red new leaves that give the cultivar its name. It’s the small shrub in the foreground of the photo above. Continue reading

Coming Attractions

Native shrubs in spring garden

One of the things I love about gardens is that they’re always changing. You might notice the difference from one day to the next, but over the course of a few days or weeks growth can be dramatic. Three years ago we planted this front yard native shrub and wildflower garden. It’s not 100% native, as you can see from the Grape Hyacinths and Geranium foliage at the bottom of the photo, but going native is our intent here.

This garden bed looks open and not all that exciting right now. However, there are going to be a lot of flowers soon. Continue reading

Plug In to the Currant Bush

Coast Black Gooseberry blossoms

Remember that camping trip with your college friends when someone asked where they could plug in their hair drier and the smart aleck in the group said, “Go plug it into the current bush.”? Then your hapless friend wandered around looking for a bush to plug into. Whether they found one is open to question.

If our friend happened to be visiting our garden this month I could point them to four different species of native currants or gooseberries. They’re all members of the genus Ribes, and there are 18 species (not counting varieties and subspecies) in Washington state. There’s some difference of opinion about the common names for these. Some we call currants and some are gooseberries, generally (but not always) based on the size of the fruit.

In the photo above we’re looking at the flowers of Coast Black Gooseberry, Ribes divaricatum. It’s also sometimes called Straggly Goosebery or Spreading Gooseberry or Wild Black Gooseberry. Continue reading