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This witch hazel tree blooms near our front door. This particular photo was taken last year… when snow rested on the pedals. I planted it a dozen years ago… true to form it grows very slow… come February it blooms scrawny long-pedal flowers. They smell sweet like jasmine. I wonder why some plants bloom in winter… what’s the design sense in that? Most flowers bloom in spring largely because they need to set fruit or seed and have it mature before winter.

In a nutshell… flowers first appeared on earth around 100 million years ago, Read the rest of this entry »

dahlia_song1

I’ve been lamenting the end of summer. Well actually it’s more like building to a panic. Dahlias to the rescue! “It’s obviously not all over yet” they trumpet loud and clear… their pedals soft, lush and wild, shameless… with no fear. So many zany patterns and dahlia-dances in their specimen divisions. For near-sighted retiring bees they must look like the size of football fields. Read the rest of this entry »

Red, juicy, lusty… well actually not all of them are red as you can see… there’s the Green Zebra and the Lemon Box, and the Chocolate Cherokee. An old pink variety, meaty with few seeds, is called the Mortgage Lifter. Folklore says M.C. Byles who created this variety used it to literally pay off his mortgage during the great depression and save his house from foreclosure.

heirloom

Not a vegetable, but a fruit. Forget the fig as a metaphor for passion… it’s the tomato. Chemically they’re truly aphrodisiacs. I think tomatoes are the sirens of the garden. Cooking a tomato sauce is the epitome of slow food. See what a friend does with a few heirlooms and a great pastry crust. Brandi in San Fransicco has a great foodie blog. Read the rest of this entry »

It doesn’t take much to impress with a summer dessert if you add a little story, plus something fresh off the vine or branch, and include enough elements so every mouthful has a different flavor. One more thing, somewhere in the mix include the all-American favorite, ice cream. I did this the other night.

It all started with spotting some prepackaged wafers in the grocery… a thin layer of caramel sandwiched tight between thin waffles. The disks were about 2 inches round and only an eighth-inch thick. I thought maybe this would make a good ice cream sandwich scenario. I made space in our freezer (the hardest part of this recipe) and arranged a dozen disks flat on a plate. With a small scooper I put a ball of vanilla ice cream on each wafer. I had already grated some crystallized ginger and sprinkled that on each ice cream ball. Then I squished a cookie wafer lid on each and put them back into the freezer.

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Out in the front of my house we have a small serviceberry tree. The other day a friend reminded me how good the berries were; how he sweetens his yogurt with them. Read the rest of this entry »

hylebos

Next time you’re strolling through a concrete and brick air-conditioned mall in a booming community near a major metropolitan city, imagine a stream—older than anything above the ground—flowing under your feet. That’s the story of Hylebos Creek and the West Hylebos Wetlands Park. And the Commons Mall in Federal Way, Washington is only one of several locations where the creek travels underground beneath communities south of Seattle. Ultimately, it empties out into Puget Sound’s Commencement Bay.

It may sound trite and overused, but there is nothing more well-designed, to my mind, than a diverse ecosystem and the West Hylebos Wetlands provides a perfect example of this natural design in action. Read the rest of this entry »

Interested in a garden photography swap? Email me (stephen at pidseattle dot com) your best jpeg photo and I’ll post them in our special garden Picasa album. I promise to water and weed. At the end of the summer, they’ll be a prize for the best in show… your choice of a selection of Territorial Seeds or a spiffy watering can.

Feel free to attach comments and locations. To get started, here’s my contribution of a Oriental poppy… fading like a rumpled party dress at the end of a whirlwind evening. Visit the album... it’s just starting.

poppy_fade

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