Tag Archives: Prunus

In Growth

27 Nov

Oh dear, I can’t believe I didn’t write anything for a whole growing season! I’m here to say that I am alive and the blog lives on, but I am hesitant to promise a more regular posting since I’ve made that promise a few times before without the best follow through.

One of my favorite little woodland plants, Maianthemum stellatum, looking fresh before the drought took its toll.

One of my favorite little woodland plants, Maianthemum stellatum, looking fresh before the drought took its toll.

Between the budding projects and responsibilities at work and the longest, hottest, and driest summer in Seattle history, there wasn’t much time left to write. (I really don’t know how other bloggers do it.)

Spring came incredibly early this year, so the Long Bed erupted into growth with amazing vigor.

Spring came incredibly early this year, so the Long Bed erupted into growth with amazing vigor.

My own garden suffered quite a bit, but this was the perfect year to leave the garden to edit itself. Anything what wasn’t well established or sited well would wither away allowing space for the more suited plantings to spread. Of course being a bit soft hearted I saved and doted upon a few select plants, but over all everyone had to make it through by their own devices.

Spring

Even before the normally reliable rains petered out the alternation of warm sunny days and mild rainy ones kept everyone looking quite good. Nearly everything bloomed all at once, so it was very difficult to photograph everything.

One of my favorite sights this spring was seeing the icy teal blue spruce and soft pink plumes of cherry blossoms against the wonderfully blue sky.

One of my favorite sights this spring was seeing the icy teal blue spruce and soft pink plumes of cherry blossoms against the wonderfully blue sky.

The (late) potted tulips sailed through the mild winter and began blooming a month early with a riot of color.

The (late) potted tulips sailed through the mild winter and began blooming a month early with a riot of color.

As usual the Bletilla orchids put on a great show though this year the chartreuse blooms of Euphorbia characias and ruddy flowers of Rosa 'Mutabilis' added to the effect.

As usual the Bletilla orchids put on a great show though this year the chartreuse blooms of Euphorbia characias and ruddy flowers of Rosa ‘Mutabilis’ added to the effect.

I received this Ranunculus ficaria 'Flore Pleno' from a friend in early spring...hopefully it doesn't have plants of garden domination.

I received this Ranunculus ficaria ‘Flore Pleno’ from a friend in early spring…hopefully it doesn’t have plants of garden domination.

I love the sweet smelling double flowers of Primula veris 'Katy Mcsparron' and despite the heavy blossoms the heads look up.

I love the sweet smelling double flowers of Primula veris ‘Katy Mcsparron’ and despite the heavy blossoms the heads look up.

The Long Bed always looks so verdant in spring, but if the lady ferns aren't well watered in the summer they crisp and brown terribly. I dig them out in late summer and planted other perennials in their place.

The Long Bed always looks so verdant in spring, but if the lady ferns aren’t well watered in the summer they crisp and brown terribly. I dig them out in late summer and planted other perennials in their place.

I find that the brooding blossoms on Geranium phaeum 'Variegatum' helps ground the splashy nature of its cream variegation.

I find that the brooding blossoms on Geranium phaeum ‘Variegatum’ helps ground the splashy nature of its cream variegation.

I love the long dangling pedicels of Mertensia bella - a lovely Pacific Northwest native.

I love the long dangling pedicels of Mertensia bella – a lovely Pacific Northwest native.

The only well-drained area in my garden is this long narrow bed about a foot wide. Everything Mediterranean lives here along with this lovely Iris 'Cloud Ballet'.

The only well-drained area in my garden is this long narrow bed about a foot wide. Everything Mediterranean lives here along with this lovely Iris ‘Cloud Ballet’.

After removing the Siberian irises back in February, I was happy to see that the fragrant Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus would bloom along side sweet Tellima grandiflora.

After removing the Siberian irises back in February, I was happy to see that the fragrant Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus would bloom along side sweet Tellima grandiflora.

Summer

This summer was quite the blur. I seemed like everything needed my attention, so I didn’t get many chances to photograph what was blooming. Plus most of the plants were stressed and ragged from the drought, so I spared them from the camera’s unflinching view.

I've been impressed with how hardy Osteospermum jucundum has been in my garden. I has survived at least four winters now, but unfortunately hasn't produced any viable seed while I've grown it.

I’ve been impressed with how hardy Osteospermum jucundum has been in my garden. I has survived at least four winters now, but unfortunately hasn’t produced any viable seed while I’ve grown it.

This is Taraxacum pseudoroseum, a pink flowered species of dandelion that I grew from seed and of course I was delighted by its first bloom this year. (Yes, I know I am a bit of a nut.)

This is Taraxacum pseudoroseum, a pink flowered species of dandelion that I grew from seed and of course I was delighted by its first bloom this year. (Yes, I know I am a bit of a nut.)

This is one of the flowers from an heirloom seed strain of carnations I started earlier in the year. Dianthus 'Enfant de Nice' is an old French variety with spicy clove scented flowers of mixed shades of red, pink, white, and purple.

This is one of the flowers from an heirloom seed strain of carnations I started earlier in the year. Dianthus ‘Enfant de Nice’ is an old French strain with spicy clove scented flowers of mixed shades of red, pink, white, and purple.

I started a bunch of dahilas from seed this year, but this seedling had the richest ox-blood red flowers which I can't capture on camera very well.

I started a bunch of dahilas from seed this year, but this seedling had the richest ox-blood red flowers which I can’t capture on camera very well.

Without a hard freeze over the winter Fuchsia magellanica 'Aurea' was quick to bloom this year.

Without a hard freeze over the winter Fuchsia magellanica ‘Aurea’ was quick to bloom this year.

It was my first year growing this black tomato (Indigo Rose), but the marauding deer didn't leave a single ripe one for me to try.

It was my first year growing this black tomato (Indigo Rose), but the marauding deer didn’t leave a single ripe one for me to try.

Rosa 'Julia Child' really need a rejuvenating prune this year, so after a hard hack and feeding in early summer it grow back and bloomed all the way through frost.

Rosa ‘Julia Child’ really need a rejuvenating prune this year, so after a hard hack and feeding in early summer it grew back and bloomed all the way through frost.

Pelargonium 'Attar of Roses' grew magnificently in the summer heat. It was a joy pruning back the rich rose scented sprawling stems.

Pelargonium ‘Attar of Roses’ grew magnificently in the summer heat. It was a joy pruning back the rich rose-scented sprawling stems.

Autumn

Autumn came late this year, but when it did arrive it was a drastic and noticeable switch. It was still quite mild and the sunny days were beautiful, but the cooler and damper weather gave many plants much needed relief from the straining summer.

Oddly the Rhododendron occidentale decided to blossom again in September. Maybe it was rejoicing the autumn rains

Oddly the Rhododendron occidentale decided to blossom again in September. Maybe it was rejoicing the autumn rains.

Another rebloomer was Veronica gentianoides 'Pallida'. I love the china blue veins on its porcelain white petals.

Another rebloomer was Veronica gentianoides ‘Pallida’. I love the china blue veins on its porcelain white petals.

As soon as Tricyrtis formosana 'Blu-shing Toad' started to bloom I knew it was the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

As soon as Tricyrtis formosana ‘Blu-shing Toad’ started to bloom I knew it was the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

Thanks to the late mild autumn, Chrysanthemum 'Apricot' had a beautiful display. The shimmering peach color brighten grey days.

Thanks to the late mild autumn, Chrysanthemum ‘Apricot’ had a beautiful long display. The shimmering peach color brighten grey days.

Here is Chrysanthemum 'Matchsticks' - a new acquisition - in a blaze of scarlet and gold.

Here is Chrysanthemum ‘Matchsticks’ – a new acquisition – in a blaze of scarlet and gold.

Apparently a few of my pollination attempts took on my Helwingia chinensis. How odd seeing little berries growing on a leaf.

Apparently a few of my pollination attempts took on my Helwingia chinensis. How odd seeing little berries growing on a leaf.

The over growth of the Long Bed wasn't looking too rough despite the drought this summer.

The over growth of the Long Bed wasn’t looking too rough despite the drought this summer.

I could never grow tired of smelling the sweet, yet fresh apricot scent of Osmanthus fragrans. It lives in a pot by the doorway where its wafting fragrance can be enjoyed.

I could never grow tired of smelling the sweet, yet fresh apricot scent of Osmanthus fragrans. It lives in a pot by the doorway where its wafting fragrance can be enjoyed.

In early November I took a weeklong trip to LA to visit a friend. While I was there we stopped by the Huntington Botanical Gardens for a look around.

In early November I took a weeklong trip to LA to visit a friend. While I was there we stopped by the Huntington Botanical Gardens for a look around.

The gardens were amazing, but I wish they were open longer. Four and a half hours was not enough to see the entire place!

The gardens were amazing, but I wish they were open longer. Four and a half hours was not enough to see the entire place!

The Pollination Garden

One of the many exciting projects I got to take on this summer was creating “The Pollination Garden” out in front of the University of Washington Botany Greenhouse. The container garden was designed to be a fun display for visitors where they are invited to enjoyed the flowers as they learn how to infer what pollinators each species of flower was trying to attract by looking at form, color, and scent. The garden doubled as a urban oasis for pollinators passing through both animal and human.

The garden was mostly a mixture of tropical plants and the majority of them were of straight species.

The garden was mostly a mixture of tropical plants and the majority of them were of straight species.

Here is a view of the main border.

Here is a view of the main border.

A close-up of a portion of the main border.

A close-up of a portion of the main border.

Here is the main border but looking towards the gate on a warm afternoon.

Here is the main border but looking towards the gate on a warm afternoon.

That’s all for today. Hopefully I be back around soon, but until then wishing you well and if you are in Puget Sound stay warm out there!

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Emerging

23 Feb

Oh my god, my last update was in August! Sorry I haven’t written anything for a few months, but I hadn’t quite settled in at home until recently. I returned from my year abroad in November and now I have a new job at the University of Washington Botany Greenhouse. (During my undergrad I regularly volunteered at the greenhouse, but I wouldn’t have thought I would return as an employee in the future!) I’ve been caring for the research and collection plants, and since the the greenhouse will be demolished by the next year, I have been also helping with fundraising and preparing the collection plants for their big move. Dr. John Grimshaw has written a wonderful post about the greenhouse and the collection on his blog: johngrimshawsgardendiary.blogspot.com. Besides the greenhouse post, the blog is full of plant musings and wonderful pictures – it deserves a follow!

This will be the final year this plum tree blooms, and it will be removed the next few weeks. I will miss it.

This will be the final year this plum tree blooms, and it will be removed the next few weeks. I will miss it.

Now that I’m settled, of course I took a busman’s holiday and spent my entire weekend in the garden doing damage control. Nothing has been done to it for over a year and it’s been interesting seeing what has survived and what has bit the dust. Most of the garden has survived, but there were a few plants that had disappeared while some had begun to take over the beds.

Magnolia ashei is still alive, which I am excited about.

Magnolia ashei is still alive, which I am excited about.

I’ve decided that anything that hasn’t been preforming well in the garden will be lifted and given away to a new home or tossed if it is beyond saving. The first on my list were the Siberian Irises. Though beautiful in spring, the flowers and shoots are a favorite among slugs, and without full sun the leaves flop onto neighboring plants and look quite messy. Yesterday morning they all came out. (But not without a fight!) Once they were all dug up it was a wonderful feeling knowing that I will not have to fight them next year. Now that the irises are gone, I shuffled in some plants that would appreciate the room and extra sunlight.

These are all going to a new home where they will be able to spread and bask in full sun.

These are all going to a new home where they will be able to spread and bask in full sun.

Aside from two cold snaps, this year El Niño has graced Seattle with a mild winter and as a result many plants are blooming ahead of schedule. Almost everything is a month ahead, but since my garden is about 600 feet above sea level the effect is slightly less dramatic. (I am high up enough that when there is a threat of frost in Seattle my garden will freeze, so compared to sea level my flowers have been kept back.) While the snowdrops and hellebores have been blooming for a couple of weeks now, the daffodils and ranunculus have just started to bloom this week.

The snowdrops have bulked up a little, but I just wish the sweet flowers weren't so appealing to slugs.

The snowdrops have bulked up a little, but I just wish the sweet flowers weren’t so appealing to slugs.

Looking towards the hellebore bed, the ever cheerful tête-à-tête daffodils have started to bloom.

Looking towards the hellebore bed, the ever cheerful tête-à-tête daffodils have started to bloom.

Here the ranunculus have started to bloom and even the Primula veris.

Here the ranunculus have started to bloom and even the Primula veris.

When the hellebores first started to bloom a couple of weeks ago, I noticed there were many white ones blooming. I found it strange since I only had one white flowered plant. It turns out all the extra white ones were self-sown seedlings that have finally reached blooming size! (Without feeding they took a while to reach flowering maturity.)

The hellebores are looking  presentable after their leaves were clipped and the their bed raked of excessive pine needles.

The hellebores are looking presentable after their leaves were clipped and the their bed raked of excessive pine needles.

Here's a bowl of the hellebore varieties I have in the garden. The white flower in the 3 o'clock position is the original plant, and other two at 10 and 2 o'clock are its children.

Here’s a bowl of the hellebore varieties I have in the garden. The white flower in the 3 o’clock position is the original plant, and other two at 10 and 2 o’clock are its children.

After some more clearing the other beds around the garden are starting to look better as well. The Long Plot is beginning to look a bit more defined than its early stages and it is exciting to see most of the plants are taking well to the clay soil.

Here's the Long Plot now after a thorough clearing.

Here’s the Long Plot now after a thorough clearing.

Though the front garden is starting to come to life, the Rosa ‘Mutabilis’ practically hasn’t stopped growing all winter (it didn’t even drop a single leaf).  Even though I just pruned it, it is still twice the size of when I left it and there isn’t any signs of slowing. I can’t complain since a bigger plant means many more flowers this summer!

I love the burgundy tint of the new foliage of Rosa 'Mutabilis' against the acid green flowers of Euphorbia wulfenii.

I love the burgundy tint of the new foliage of Rosa ‘Mutabilis’ against the acid green flowers of Euphorbia wulfenii.

By the front door the potted plant collection is starting to grow as well. Many of the them will be planted in the grown once they are done or given away, but the plan is to eventually have just annuals in pots. That way I can easily moved them into the garden when color is needed and when the growing season is over I can compost them without any guilt. Knowing me, it probably won’t go to according to plan, especially if I attend any plant sales…

I love potted plants, but I am trying to keep them to a minimum this year, or it will be a busy summer of watering.

I love potted plants, but I am trying to keep them to a minimum this year, or it will be a busy summer of watering.

Just a short update for now, but now that I am home and settled I will be writing more often. See you later!

 

 

Neighborhood (Plant) Watch

8 Jan

Like Seattle, people in the UK can talk about the weather for hours, which is a handy thing if you are trying to make small talk and don’t know what to talk about. People have been telling me this year’s winter has been milder than it has been in a couple of years, which I really appreciate. Though since we just started winter last month we still have January and February to see if Mother Nature decides to change her mind. It’s been quite windy lately and sheets of rain whipping through Edinburgh, but between all of that we’ve had a few calm sunny days.

The Viburnum x bodnantense across the road can be smelt throwing out its soft perfume on (relatively) warm days.

The Viburnum x bodnantense across the road can be smelt throwing out its soft perfume on (relatively) warm days.

I love that Edinburgh is a walkable city. On my way to the grocery store, museums, and parks, I like to take different streets to see the more intimate parts of town. Plus I like to see what people have growing in front of their apartments. Some homes were very fortunate to have little garden spaces in the front (and some in the back), but most places were paved over. So potted plants and containers of all sizes are a common sight.

Most apartment gardeners have myriad of pots.

Most apartment gardeners have myriad of pots.

The neighbors in the basement level to the left have a wonderful collection of plants. All the potted plants are lovingly arranged and organized. I can imagine it filled with annual flowers and riots of color in the warmer months.

The neighbor's plants down below.

The neighbor’s plants down below.

The neighbors in the basement level to the right are a little bit more eclectic. On the staircase going down, you are immediately greeted by a terrarium. I wonder what secret plantiness is hiding in there.

An outdoor terrarium? It almost looks like there is a Lycopodium living in it!

An outdoor terrarium? It almost looks like there is a Lycopodium living in it!

On the other side of their patio you see this:

Putting a (hopefully) decommissioned toilet to good use!

Putting a (hopefully) decommissioned toilet to good use!

The apartment down from the one above has a nice collection of containers in front. The plant choices of Fremontodendron and olive hint at the types of plants laying down below in the basement level.

I love the cobalt blue containers plus extra points for the Fremontodendron (behind the olive, against the wall on the left).

I love the cobalt blue containers plus extra points for the Fremontodendron (behind the olive, against the wall on the left).

Unfortunately, my camera died the way back home, so I could only get a shot of one side of the patio. The patio is dotted with tropical plants including passion flowers and an Abutilon (which is looking quite alive and good for January).

I bet it's a nice grotto of tropical flowers in the summer.

I bet it’s a nice grotto of tropical flowers in the summer.

It seemed that anywhere I looked pelargoniums (aka zonal geraniums) were still growing and blooming, which really shows how mild it’s been. For the longest time I didn’t like zonal geraniums. I think it was the association with cheesy bedding schemes and their weird smelling leaves, but since then I have learned that pelargoniums are quite tough and deserve a second chance with jaded gardeners/plant snobs – you know who you are!

Still blooming and a nice bright pink, I might add.

Still blooming and a nice bright pink, I might add.

This apartment really took on the idea of container gardening. It looks like a full on garden. The mature potted trees give lovely height and structure and the seasonal annuals really create a cohesiveness between the containers and bring in much needed color to combat the dreary winter weather. I like the addition of the palm and Phormium, a nice strong evergreen contrast to the deciduous trees and soft leafy bedding annuals.

Look at the range of plants!

Look at the range of plants!

As I walked past I was taken away by the weeping cherry tree in the back. I think young weeping cherry trees are a little awkward in a garden – unless trained up to appropriate height – since the branches tend to drape much to early when young resulting with flowers buried in the dirt. Cleverly here, the tree can weep as freely as it likes without the earth below to spoil its graceful posture.

I bet it looks so lovely in spring with a cascade of pink/white.

I bet it looks so lovely in spring with a cascade of pink/white.

Further down the block I saw this entrance and thought it was cute, but then the trough on the right made me do a double take.

Oh I love the pansies - wait...what's that on the right?

Oh I love the pansies – wait…what’s that on the right?

I leaned in for a closer look and I thought it was a Haworthia! (Haworthia is a genus of succulent plants originating from Africa and are not cold hardy.) It’s growing in a container in an exposed site and what puzzled me most was that very evidently it has been growing undisturbed here for a few years. I took to Facebook that night and it turns out it is Haworthia look-alike Aloe aristata. This Aloe is from the winter rainy high elevations of South Africa and lends itself to growing well outside in the UK.

Are my eyes deceiving me? Is that a hardy Haworthia?!

Are my eyes deceiving me? Is that a hardy Haworthia?!

As I looked back (and below) I realized whoever lives here has a taste for tropical/succulenty plants.

Looking back up the street. (The lady on the left jokingly asked if she could be in one of my photos.)

Looking back up the street. (The lady on the left jokingly asked if she could be in one of my photos.)

In addition to tall beautiful specimens of Trachycarpus fortunei and Cordyline australis  emerging from the depths, there is a yucca at the foot of the palm and potted plants including an Agave, an Aloe vera and some Sempervivum.

A statuesque Trachycarpus fortunei with lovely frayed older leaves - much like a botanical illustration.

A statuesque Trachycarpus fortunei with lovely frayed older leaves – much like a botanical illustration.

A mature Cordyline australis with faded inflorescences.

A mature Cordyline australis with faded inflorescences.

Oh I bet that Aloe vera is feeling a bit chilly...

Oh I bet that Aloe vera is feeling a bit chilly…

The next apartment, which I think is actually an office for a business, had a nice healthy Fastia in bloom.

Nothing like a healthy Fatsia for a softening touch of the tropics.

Nothing like a healthy Fatsia for a softening touch of the tropics.

Another block down another planty person must live here. There was a range of plants with wonderfully different shapes, textures, and colors. Though it seems like the focus was on evergreen foliage, some of them, such as the ChoisyaOsmanthus and Sarcococca, would also provide some flowers and sweet fragrance.

Very foliaceous and a nice touch with the Eucalyptus.

Very foliaceous and a nice touch with the Eucalyptus.

More foliage...

More foliage…

and more foliage!

and more foliage!

Around another block there is this wonderful secluded basement patio (except for the fact that nosey people like me enjoy peeking in).

I love the bench for relaxing - a walled garden in the city.

I love the bench for relaxing – a walled garden in the city.

This it on a quiet street next to a church. I know some may find it bleak, but I like it. I love seeing an effort to green up a space and there is nothing more encouraging to see. Plus it’s fun seeing the Pyracantha and bulbs busting out of the pot (literally).

I like the shiny leaves and golden berries against the slate-grey walls.

I like the shiny leaves and golden berries against the slate-grey walls.

Across the street there is a small tree hole erupting with growth! If the birch tree wasn’t enough, there is a giant rose climbing up and arching over into the sidewalk, and a large Brachyglottis greyi ballooning out through the “cage”.

This tree hole(?) is stuffed!

This tree hole(?) is stuffed!

It’s nice to see green and life thriving in a place surrounded by stone and concrete. Again, very encouraging! (Plus there is something poetic about seeing plants escaping and busting out of their confines.)

Evidence of someone trying to keep the overflowing planting in check.

Evidence of someone trying to keep the overflowing planting in check.

On the same street there is this apartment with more evergreen goodness. The Pieris and camellias must be lovely in the spring.

I love seeing people's personal collection of pots and plants.

I love seeing people’s personal collection of pots and plants.

Back at the apartment, the landlady has a wonderful collection of houseplants. In my last post I mentioned that the houseplants in the entrance really excited me, but little did I know what treasures the living room would hold. The night I arrived, I was invited to have some drinks with the landlady, her daughter, and friends (it was the daughter’s birthday) in the living room and to my delight I saw more thriving houseplants!

The plants growing and blooming in the living room are a wonderful sight!

The plants growing and blooming in the living room are a wonderful sight!

I loved the range of plants in there, but what I was most impressed with was the not just growing, but a thriving and blooming florist azalea! Normally these azaleas are doomed to die when they enter any home, but this one was doing very well. (The landlady said she is just as surprised as I am, but I think she is just being modest.)

Seriously this is beyond words - an amazing feat!

Seriously this is beyond words – an amazing feat!

It might be the combination of large, bright windows and cool temperatures in the living room that is allowing this florist azalea to flourish. Either way, I’m entranced!

Those flowers just glow with the promise of spring.

Those flowers just glow with the promise of spring.

Sitting next to the florist azalea is her collection of blooming clivias. Clivias are as tough as nails: they can take dim, dry, and drafty situations and plus they grace us with flowers during the winter when color is most appreciated.

One of the toughest houseplants around.

One of the toughest houseplants around.

I love the much needed fiery flowers of Clivia during the winter.

I love the much needed fiery flowers of Clivia during the winter.

Such a welcoming sight. Almost all of the landlady’s houseplants are Victorian classics, but the one, and only one, in the TV room is the poster child for Victorian houseplants.

This perfect specimen of Aspidistra rightly deserves center stage in the window.

This perfect specimen of Aspidistra rightly deserves center stage in the window.

Yes, it is an Aspidistra! Also known as “cast iron plant”. They were very popular then, because, like their common name suggests, they could survive Victorian parlor rooms. These rooms were drafty, dry, dim, and smokey – a death sentence for most houseplants. Despite all of these things aspidistras would stay alive and look quite good (though,  understandably, they didn’t grow much). There are many Aspidistra species and they are naturally found growing in the dim and often dry-ish forest floors throughout east Asia. The species Aspidistra elatior is most commonly grown as a houseplant (which is the species of this one), it is hardy enough to grow outside in USDA zone 6. If you have dry shade and nothing seems to grow there, an Aspidistra is a good candidate.

I love the deep green and glossiness.

I love the deep green and glossiness.

Every morning and evening I am greeted by her pelargoniums in the kitchen window. She also keeps those live herbs that you can buy at the grocery store there too. I love that she has plants that are well suited to the conditions of the apartment and they carry on with their planty lives without taking over her’s.

The landlady just picked the basil leaves (two pots on the left) the night before.

The landlady just picked the basil leaves (two pots on the left) the night before.

Here’s my temporary “houseplant” while I am staying here. Yup, another Primula! Though this one doesn’t really have a scent, it’s quite cheerful and it reminds me of home and when I have to sadly leave Edinburgh I can guerrilla plant it somewhere in the city. Anyway, I gotta run again, but I will write to you soon!

So sweet and cheerful.

So sweet and cheerful.

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