It’s not raining

Ok, I wrote that title in a moment of irrational exuberance. It wasn’t raining at the time, in fact it was sunny outside. What a refreshing change. Well, never fear, it’s raining again now. Raining hard and all day. Last month was the rainiest on record in Seattle. We normally get about three and a half inches of rain in October, but this year we got slightly over ten inches. Though the rain and wind have knocked down many of the leaves, the fall colors were, and those that are left still are, brilliant this year (not by New England standards but exceptional for Seattle).

Slowly turning red…and staying red for a long time. That's my kind of fall shrub, except that they have a tendency to send up root suckers everywhere.

Slowly turning red…and staying red for a long time. Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) is a fine fall shrub, except that it has a tendency to send up root suckers everywhere.

Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) north of Cascara Circle. I noticed flower clusters for the first time and I immediately thought of sumac lemonade.

A couple of weeks later it’s all red. This one is north of Cascara Circle. I noticed flower clusters for the first time and I immediately thought of sumac lemonade. Maybe this would be the year.

Upon closer inspection, I realized this is a cluster of dry male flowers. Time to get a female staghorn sumac to plant nearby for its fleshy, sour clusters of drupes. Mmm.

Unfortunately, this appears to be an unpollinated female flower cluster. It’s quite dry. There are no juicy, sour drupes from which to make ‘lemonade’, though it fooled me from a distance. Time to look for a male plant. Staghorn sumac is dioecious. There are male plants and female plants, so without a nearby male plant’s pollen, the flowers on this plant will remain unpollinated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The woods north of Cascara Circle are worth a visit any time but fall is best…

Woods and pathway north of Cascara Circle. That is an incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) in the center background, with a spice bush (Lindera benzoin) fading to yellow on the left, and a Canadian serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) turning from green to yellow to red on the right. The red in the far background is a sourwood (Oxydendrum aroreum) tree.

… because it’s beautiful, peaceful, colorful and off the beaten track there. It probably needs a bench, maybe a round bench, encircling the birch tree. Pictured is part of the woods and pathway north of Cascara Circle. That is an incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) in the center background, with a spice bush (Lindera benzoin) fading to yellow on the left, and a Canadian serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) turning from green to yellow to red on the right. The red in the far background is a sourwood tree (Oxydendrum aroreum).

It's a small tree from eastern North America and it's young leaves are edible and both leaves and bark have been used medicinally. Something traumatic happened to this tree and it hasn't grown straight since.

Sourwood is a small tree from eastern North America and it’s young leaves are edible. Both leaves and bark have been used medicinally. Something traumatic happened to this tree, maybe a heavy snow early in the season or a branch falling from the nearby Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica); I really can’t remember. But it hasn’t grown straight since.

The nearby California wild grapes (Vitis californica) finally produced some fruit, high off the ground where it had climbed up nearby shrubs and trees to get more sun. Thats what wild grapes do in their native habitat and it's a good strategy. I plan to let them go feral. There were two respectable bunches of small grapes . I absentmindedly gobbled them up before it occurred to me to save the seeds for the Index Seminum program. Next year.

The nearby California wild grape plant (Vitis californica) finally produced some fruit, high off the ground where it had climbed up nearby shrubs and trees to get more sun. That’s what wild grapes do in their native habitat and it’s a good strategy, so I plan to let them go feral. There were two respectable bunches of small grapes. Someone  absentmindedly gobbled them up before realizing it would be nice to save the seeds for the Index Seminum program. Next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once they were in my hand there was no hope. I ate them all.

Once they were in my hand there was no hope. I ate them all.

 

Not surprisingly, the heavy rains of October brought a flush of mushrooms around campus. Some white king boletes (Boletus barrowsii) popped up across campus, along with many other edible, not-so-edible and some mind-altering specimens. A few feet from the grapes, near the white birch tree (Betula papyrifera), some birch boletes (Leccinum scabrum) appeared. They are edible, though the smaller, firmer ones are best.

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A slightly tattered birch bolete. They turn grayish black when you cook them, but many people around the world enjoy eating them and other species of Leccinum. A few species can cause  gastric disturbance in some people. Always be one hundred percent sure of the mushroom species you’re about to consume, and eat just a little the first time (after thorough cooking) to see how your body reacts. Better safe than sorry.

I’d rather eat these. I took a day off and drove out to the mountains to look for matsutakes (Tricholoma magnivelare) and I’m including them in this blog post because they are medicinal (though this study was done on the similar Eurasian species Tricholoma matsutake).   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3732428/

I'd rather eat these. I took a Friday off and snuck out to the mountains to look for matsutakes (Tricholoma magnivelare).

Sometimes you find a bunch of them together. Oh, happy days.

Some of the haul.

Some of the haul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matsutakes can be hard to find before they break through the forest duff. These pictured below were just bumps in the soil until I moved the duff aside.

Surprise!

It’s often true that where there is a matsutake in plain sight, there are others hidden nearby. Mushroom picking in the mountains is time well spent. If the University of Washington ever decides to establish a rustic research station/ natural history bed and breakfast in the nearby mountains and they need an able caretaker, let it be known that I’m volunteering for that position.

But back to the Medicinal Herb Garden foods. The leccino olive (Olea europaea) produced just enough fruit…for a tapas plate. But it’s better than nothing.

They're brining in a jar in my kitchen at this moment.

They’re brining in a jar in my kitchen at this moment.

The medlars (Mespilus germanica) are reliable producers. Having tasted bland, pasty medlars from another tree and I came to appreciate what a good cultivar we have. The medlar tree is ten feet from the grapes.

The medlars (Mespilus germanica) are always reliable producers. Having tasted bland, pasty medlars from another tree, I’ve come to appreciate what a good  (though unknown) cultivar we have. The medlar tree is ten feet from the grapes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, people are harvesting fruit husks (pericarps) from the Szechuan pepper trees in the Medicinal Herb Garden borders. Finally. Every autumn, these trees/shrubs produce thousands of little “peppercorns”. As the ripe, brown husks split open, the shiny black seeds often fall out on their own, but those that don’t can easily be cleaned off the husks. They won’t do any harm but are gritty and add no flavor.

The red fruit are nearly ripe, but are usually harvested when brown. That's when they split open and sometimes drop their seeds.

You can see ripe brown husks and nearly-ripe red husks as well as a few seeds in this picture. The fruit start out green in the summer.

This pomegranate shrub (Punica granatum) produced many small fruit this year. It lives near the olives on the border of section A.

This pomegranate shrub (Punica granatum) produced no large fruit but many small fruit this year. It lives near the olives on the border of section A.

False Solomon's seal (Smilacina racemosa) leaf colors fading away as they approach dormancy.

False Solomon’s seal (Smilacina racemosa) leaf colors fading away as they approach dormancy. The fruit have mostly dropped but they are a sweet trail nibble when they turn red and get soft. They grow around Cascara Circle and nearby woods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving east in the garden to the built environment. Behold.

Garden shed is ship shape for winter. I needed to clean it up in order to operate the seed exchange out of there for the next two winters.

Garden shed is ship shape for winter. I needed to clean it up in order to operate the seed exchange out of there for the next two winters.

Refer to a previous post to see what a feng shui disaster this space had become. I breathe a sigh of relief every time I walk in there now.

It took a year and a half of procrastinating to finally set aside an afternoon to clean and organize the place but I now breathe a sigh of relief every time I walk in.

Photos of the Life Sciences Building and Biology Greenhouse construction site become dated almost daily. Those guys work fast. But here’s a shot from over the fence a week ago.

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It’s a long way down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experiencing winter in the garden is like stepping into another world. The space, the light and the plants all change. Wait, it’s not winter for another month and a half. For my purposes as a gardener, winter in Seattle begins in November.

Can you guess what this is? In winter, it's often hard to recognize plants we know in summer.This is balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus).

Can you guess what this is?
In their winter dormancy, it’s often hard to recognize plants we know when we see them in summer. This is balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus).

And what is this wraith in section E? The last faded leaves outline the schisandra vine (Schisandra chinensis) which finally made its way up into the hawthorn (Crataegus sp.) canopy.

And what is this wraith in section E? The last faded leaves outline the schisandra vine (Schisandra chinensis) which finally made its way up into the hawthorn (Crataegus sp.) canopy.

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Note the change in leaf morphology from ovate at bottom to lanceolate at top. It’s a twiner, growing up wires suspended from a bamboo tripod.

 

 

 

Ji shi teng (Paederia foetida) in section B is a new addition to the garden.  Hopefully it will survive the winter outside. From temperate to tropical east Asia, this plant has many, many names and uses in a variety of healing traditions. Here are a couple of links:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3793514/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4557762/

 

The Steller's jays (Cyanocitta stelleri) are very vocal right now. I'm not sure why. This one perched for a while on Bill Talley's bench. Bill was the campus landscape architect for many years and he really loved the Medicinal Herb Garden.

The Steller’s jays (Cyanocitta stelleri) are very vocal right now (even more than usual). I’m not sure why. This one perched for a while on Bill Talley’s bench.  Bill was the campus landscape architect for many years and he really loved the Medicinal Herb Garden. Near the end of his life, at his request, the bench was installed in section C. It has seen a lot of use since. Good work, Bill.

 

 

 

first winter rain drops

soaking in and passing through

then falling again

 

 

 

See you in the garden.

 

 

 

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This cool air feels good

It was another hot summer, but thankfully, not as hot as last year. I have a freezer full of tomato sauce from a bumper crop of tomatoes, and not cherry tomatoes or paste tomatoes or mid-size tomatoes, but Black Krim and Brandywine, two of the best big slicers in the world. It’s a shame to turn slicers into sauce, but one can only eat so many fresh tomatoes so it’s the dryer or the saucepan for the rest. My clay soil retains water so well that I watered my tomato plants exactly once, on the day I planted them in late May. After years of planting into sandy soil, it’s nice to have clay.  But I digress…as usual. These days the air is crisp and it’s time to pull the annuals and tender perennials to get cover crops planted in their place. The garden needs its winter rest and we growers need to harvest the fruit of our labors.

I finally bought two traps to catch the rabbit(s). Hmm, if only it were that simple. Rabbits are smarter than I thought and I have a new respect for them. I’ve caught and released two squirrels but the rabbits are tougher customers. They’re steering clear of the traps. Maybe I’ll stop growing the grain bed for a few years, since that was a rabbit magnet and a disaster this year. It looked like it had been mowed in places. It’s always something in a garden. Ask any gardener and they’ll tell you a variation of my tale, “Something is eating my plants”. It might be a tiny insect or a huge ungulate, but unsolicited herbivory is part of the bargain when you grow a garden. And so it goes.

The snow is starting to fall higher up in the mountains and the rain is slowly returning to the lowlands. We need more rain for the fall mushroom season but I’m happy to say I’ve crossed paths with a few porcini (Boletus edulis) on backpacking trips in September. Matsutakes (Tricholoma magnivelare), if they’re going to appear, should be popping with this colder weather, but who knows? Last year’s summer drought and intense heat must have been hard on the mycelium. I didn’t bother foraging last fall and maybe this will be another fungal recovery year.

The oak tree (Quercus rober) that languished on the border of section C last year was finally declared dead and cut down. One of the evergreen huckleberries (Vaccinium ovatum), on the border of sections D and E, has lost some limbs and I won’t be surprised if it gives up the ghost. In a drought, all of the plants put more of their resources into finding water. Unfortunately, they’re all competing for the same limited resource. The nearby Sierra redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) has stretched its roots into adjacent beds, sucking up much of the water that the smaller plants need. It’s difficult to keep the plants on the east side of section D sufficiently irrigated. The soil surface might look damp but just below it’s bone dry and full of tree roots. The same is true on the east sides of sections E and F.  There are too many big trees much too close to the garden beds and they will be an increasing problem for a long, long time, especially as we live through the transition to warmer summers.

But it’s October now, harvest time, and the rain is here and heat is behind us as we brace for winter. Delicious ground cherries (Physalis spp.) are ripening. They’re an excellent fruit but they ripen late. Give them a very sunny and protected spot and start them at least as early as you start your tomatoes.

Ground cherry (Physalis pruinosa) fruit in its papery husk. This species is native to eastern North America. Another species, Physalis peruviana, is native to South America and looks quite similar. The fruit flavors are different but they're both delicious. At the nearby Beacon Food Forest, someone made a ground cherry pie as a dessert for a community dinner. It was a hit. This is an easy plant to grow. Grow some and make a ground cherry pie if you know what's good for you.

Ground cherry (Physalis pruinosa) fruit in its papery husk. This species is native to eastern North America. Another species, Physalis peruviana, is native to South America and looks quite similar. The fruit flavors are different but they’re both delicious. At the nearby Beacon Food Forest, someone made a ground cherry pie as a dessert for a community dinner. It was a hit. This is an easy plant to grow. Grow some and be the first one on your block to make a ground cherry pie.

Ground cherry fruit, ripe and ready to eat.

Ground cherry fruit, ripe and ready to eat.

Before retiring one of the tropical/subtropical beds for the winter,  I photographed the striped cucumber plants (Diplocyclos palmatus). The fruit have been used medicinally in India. They are toxic and not for eating, but they made a beautiful display on the trellis.

Too bad the striped cucumber fruit are toxic because they sure would look good in a salad.

Too bad striped cucumber fruit are toxic because they sure would look good in a salad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe try these Chilean guava (Ugni molinae) fruit instead, for a sweet, spicy addition to a savory salad. There was a small crop last year, but this year both bushes near section C were covered in fruit. The fruit forest from across the street is being reborn on the north border of section C and the lawn east of Benson Hall. The first prune plums (Prunus domestica), Nanking cherries (Prunus tomentosa) and Chilean myrtle berries (Luma apiculata) should be ready for harvest by 2018 and the paw paws (Asimina triloba) by 2019.

Chilean guava shrub (Ugni molinae) with mature fruit. They're sweet and spicy. These are situated near the top of a south facing slope and they're protected from winter winds. In short, they're in the right spot. In the wrong spot they can freeze in winter. A bad winter might trump a good spot but plants of borderline hardiness need to be planted in just the right spot which might not be exist where you live. Still, it's worth a try.

Chilean guava shrubs absolutely loaded
with mature fruit. They’re sweet and spicy. These are situated near the top of a south facing slope and they’re protected from winter winds. In short, they’re in the right spot. In the wrong spot they can freeze in winter. A bad winter might trump a good spot but plants of borderline hardiness need to be planted in just the right spot, even in a mild year. Alas, such a spot might not exist where you live. Still, it’s worth a try. They’re evergreen so they would make an excellent edible border hedge.

Some fruiting vines, shrubs and trees bear fruit pretty dependably, and others have productive years followed by nearly barren years. It takes a lot of energy to produce fruit and environmental stress, like too much heat or cold (that might damage the plant’s tissue or shut down its pollinators), not enough water, robust competition from neighboring plants, excessive herbivory, disease etc., can all play a part in irregular fruit output. I’d love to have the time to study the vagaries of fruit production but other duties call. The best I can do is try to be observant. So I do (when I remember) note on the seed collection envelopes, very high or low volume seed production years. If I lived a thousand years and kept very good records, maybe I’d gain some insights worth passing on, but there are so many variables…I’m not sure a thousand years would be enough.

Last year the maypop (Passiflora incarnata) was covered in fruit. This year there is only one.

Just a single passion fruit on the maypop (Passiflora incarnata) this year. The plant was covered in flowers but produced only one fruit. Hopefully it will ripen and be really, really, really good.

Just a single passion fruit on the maypop this year. The plant was covered in flowers but produced only one fruit. Hopefully it will ripen and be really, really, really good.

There were more trifoliate orange fruit last year, but they were all small, a very late second crop after the first crop dropped off, presumably due to the intense heat and lack of water. This year they’re fully ripening for the first time in about a decade. I know not why. If you want a life full of unending mystery, become a gardener.

Mature fruit of trifoliate orange or zhi shi (Poncirus trifoliata) in section D. This is the first time they've ripened in many years. They have been used in traditional Chinese medicine, but even when ripe, the small fruit are full of seeds and sour/bitter pulp with very little juice. It might be worth making candied rinds or marmalade from them.

Mature fruit of trifoliate orange or zhi shi (Poncirus trifoliata) in section D.  They have been used in traditional Chinese medicine, but even when ripe, the small fruit are full of seeds and sour/bitter pulp with very little juice. It might be worth making candied rinds, marmalade or zhi shi kosho from them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flowers of pigeon pea (Cajanas cajan), a popular and important food crop in subtropics and tropics

Flowers of pigeon pea (Cajanas cajan), a popular and important food crop in the subtropics and tropics. There are now some small pods developing but it’s getting colder and darker every day. I wouldn’t consider growing them as a food crop in the Pacific Northwest  but maybe as a colorful conversation piece. Look at those flowers!

Canary balm (Cedronella canariensis) flowers in section B. The foliage makes an excellent tea and the plant, though marginally hardy around here, will drop enough seeds to keep reappearing in your garden.

Canary balm (Cedronella canariensis) flowers in section B. The foliage makes an excellent tea and the plant, though marginally hardy around here, will drop enough seeds to keep reappearing in your garden. It’s called Canary balm because it originates in the Canary Islands.

Flowers of this unknown variety of grannyvine (Ipomoea tricolor) start out dark blue and white, then fade to pale blue, rose and white

Flowers of grannyvine (Ipomoea tricolor) start out dark blue and white, then fade to pale blue, rose and white.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since no charismatic predatory birds or adorable (Grrr!) bunnies would pose for the camera, this little spider had to step in for the obligatory fauna shot. What a handsome spider.

Unless you're afflicted with an extreme case of arachniphobia, it's hard not to like these little jumping spiders. They're amazing acrobats who can jump up to 25 times their length. I believe this is the bold jumping spider (Phiddipus audax), but I know little about spiders. It was hopping around on a bench in the greenhouse where I start seeds and grow seedlings.

Unless you’re afflicted with an extreme case of arachniphobia, it’s hard not to like these little jumping spiders. They’re amazing acrobats who can jump up to 25 times their length and their herky-jerky, robotic movements are so strange that they seem more like visitors from the land of misfit toys than real spiders.  I believe this is the bold jumping spider (Phiddipus audax), but I could be wrong. It was hopping around on a bench in the greenhouse where I start seeds and grow seedlings.

 

 

 

snowy mountaintop

view from an orchard ladder

harvest time again

 

 

 

See you in the garden.

 

 

 

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Cute as a bunny…or not.

A few mornings ago, as I set off to water on the east end of the garden, I passed through section C. That’s the section where the grains have been mysteriously disappearing into the stomach of the phantom herbivore. Make that formerly phantom herbivore:

What the…? Are you eating the ragleaf bahia (Bahia dissecta)?

What the…? Are you eating the ragleaf bahia (Bahia dissecta)?

Yes.

Yes, the bunny is finally busted.

Rabbits are fast and able to turn on a dime. Off s/he went to the protection of the thicket on the west edge of section C.

Rabbits (this is a young eastern cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus) are fast and able to turn on a dime. Off it went to the protection of the thicket on the west edge of section C. Grrr!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not sure what to do. Eventually, I might get a live trap and relocate any rabbit(s) I catch to somewhere far enough away that returning will not be a viable option. The barred owl (Strix varia) seems to have moved on but maybe it will be back. Barred owls eat rabbits. For now, I’ll wait to see how bad the damage gets and how dense the rabbit population becomes. The good news is that that so far, with the exception of the grain bed, damage hasn’t been too bad. A lot of nibbled areas here and there, but nothing has been decimated. Peace for now, bunny.

While weeding recently, I came across these two:

Junco chicks (junco hyemalis) whose nest was hidden beneath leaves and understory plants on the garden's edge. I encountered them while weeding and the alarm calls of their parents tipped me off. The parents were getting pretty agitated so I had to quickly snap this shot and move on.

Junco chicks (Junco hyemalis) whose nest was hidden beneath leaves and understory plants on the garden’s edge. The alarm calls of their parents tipped me off. The parents were getting pretty agitated so I had to quickly snap this shot and move on.

It might be my misperception, but it seems like there is an increasing number of juncos and a decreasing number of white-crowned sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys) in the garden over the last decade or so.

They're less than an inch long, but Pacific crab apples (Malus fusca) have a bright, tangy apple taste. They were traditionally eaten by Pacific Northwest natives, from Alaska to California. Bark from the trees was used to treat long, heart, skin and eye conditions among other things.

They’re less than an inch long, but Pacific crabapples (Malus fusca) have a bright, tangy apple taste. They were traditionally eaten by Pacific Northwest natives, from Alaska to California. Bark from the trees was used to treat lung, heart, skin and eye conditions among other things. I’ve seen Pacific crabapple trees growing in an estuary in BC, near Bella Coola. They were sometimes flooded with brackish water and appeared none the worse for it.

Wild plums (Prunus americana) ripening near Cascara Circle. The skin is a bit thicker than most domesticated plums and the flesh resembles apricot (Prunus armeniaca).

Wild plums (Prunus americana) ripening near Cascara Circle. They have thicker skin than most domesticated plums and the flesh resembles the consistency and flavor of apricot (Prunus armeniaca).

Leafy goosefoot (Chenopodium foliosum) has edible, nutritious leaves. Its attractive red fruit are also edible but insipid. Leafy goosefoot used to be in the Chenopodiaceae, a plant family that included spinach (Spinacia oleracea), lamb's quarters (Cheopodium album), and quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa). All of the above are now in the Amaranthaceae. In an act of generic cleansing, the Chenopodiaceae has disappeared into the Amaranthaceae. It's hard to keep up with all of the changes happening in the world of plant systematics. Some labels in the garden are woefully out of date.

Leafy goosefoot (Chenopodium foliosum) has edible, nutritious leaves. Its attractive red fruit are also edible but dull. Leafy goosefoot used to be in the Chenopodiaceae, a plant family that included spinach (Spinacia oleracea),
lamb’s quarters (Cheopodium album), and quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa). All of the above are now in the Amaranthaceae. Recently, the family formerly known as Chenopodiaceae has disappeared, subsumed into the Amaranthaceae. I get dizzy, trying to keep up with all of the changes happening in the world of plant systematics.

Fruit on the Ephedra plants in the xeriscape bed. I'm growing two New World species, Ephedra chilensis and Ephedra nevadensis. Neither species is known to contain significant amounts of ephedrine, pseudoephedrine or norpseudoephedrine. Some of the Old World species, like Ephedra sinica (ma huang), contain significant amounts of ephedrine alkaloids.

Fruit on the Ephedra plants in the xeriscape bed are edible. Though several sources describe them as sweet and insipid, I get a hint of sweet and a hint of bitter, and yes, they are insipid. I’m growing two New World species, Ephedra chilensis and Ephedra nevadensis. Neither species is known to contain significant amounts of ephedrine, pseudoephedrine or norpseudoephedrine. Some of the Old World species, like Ephedra sinica (usually the species used in the ma huang of commerce), are high in ephedrine alkaloids. I would grow ma huang here but it has been stolen (repeatedly) in the past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's been a long time since I drank grape Kool-Aid or ate a grape Jolly Rancher, but those are what I think of when I smell the scent of this tarwi (Lupinus mutabilis).

The fruit of this plant in section B, near the fig tree, are lupine seeds but the flowers smell like grape Kool-Aid or  maybe grape Jolly Ranchers. It’s tarwi (Lupinus mutabilis), a food crop grown in the Andes. They get powdery mildew around this time every summer, but they’re covered in flowers right now, so smell them if you get the chance.

There's nothing about the indigo plants (Indigofera tinctoria) in section C that points to their importance as a dye plant of the bluest of blues. I expected them to at least have big blue flowers but they're small and pink.

There’s nothing about the indigo plants (Indigofera tinctoria) in section C that points to their importance as a dye plant of the bluest blues. I expected them to at least have blue flowers but they’re small and pink. Indigo is supposedly a zone 9 plant, so it might make it through the winter outside with protection around here.

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Flowers of the chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), north of section A are similar though a bit larger than the flowers on the Chinese chaste tree (Vitex negundo) near section B. The seeds of chaste tree are sometimes referred to as monk’s pepper because they are considered to be an anaphrodisiac. They are currently used to help regulate the female reproductive system, especially to treat symptoms of PMS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of you might have heard of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I think I caught it on film. Either that or qu mai (Dianthus superbus).

You might have heard of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I think I caught it on film. Either that or qu mai (Dianthus superbus).

You can spend a lot of money buying summer purslane (Portulaca oleracea) as a fancypants vegetable at your local farmers market. Or you can come to the Medicinal Herb Garden and get an official authorization from me that will allow you, for a very limited time, to harvest as much summer purslane from the garden beds and pathways as you and you mule can carry home. Really.

Spend a lot of money buying summer purslane (Portulaca oleracea) as a fancypants vegetable at your local farmers market. Or you can come to the Medicinal Herb Garden and get an official authorization from me that will allow you, for a very limited time, to harvest as much summer purslane from the garden beds and pathways as you and your mule can carry home. Really.

What is it about certain shades of yellow and white that confounds my cheap little camera. I couldn't focus, but finally decided the dreamy, haunting haze around the flowers was, no kidding, just the effect I was looking for. The plant is sweet yellow bells (Hermannia incana) from South Africa. It was used traditionally to treat diarrhea, stomach ache, nausea and vomiting. It's effectiveness in treating diarrhea has been confirmed by recent tests on rats. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20383343

What is it about certain shades of yellow and white that confounds my cheap little camera? I couldn’t focus, but finally decided the dreamy, haunting haze around the flowers was, no kidding, just the effect I was looking for.
The plant is sweet yellow bells (Hermannia incana) from South Africa. It has been used traditionally to treat diarrhoea, stomach ache, nausea and vomiting. Its effectiveness in treating diarrhoea seems to be confirmed by recent tests on rats. Living in a wealthy, industrialized nation, it is hard to believe, but the World Health Organization reports that diarrhoeal diseases are the second leading cause of death  worldwide, for children under the age of five.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flowers of thyme-leaved savory (Satureja thymbra) in section B. I recently bought a big jar of Lebanese olives that was packed with thyme-leaved savory. It added a bitterness that was addictive. Olives, who can eat just one.

Flowers of thyme-leaved savory (Satureja thymbra) in section B. I recently bought a big jar of Lebanese olives that was packed with thyme-leaved savory. It added a bitterness that was addictive. Olives, who can eat just one?

The manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) that I planted a couple of years ago has grown quickly. I wonder if it isn't a different variety than I've grown in the past. We have had some hot summers and warm winters, so that probably is a factor, but the newer manuka is as tall as I am and the much older plants are less than a foot tall

The manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) that I planted a couple of years ago has grown quickly. I wonder if it isn’t a different variety than I’ve grown in the past. We have had some hot summers and warm winters, so the weather could be a factor, but the newer manuka is as tall as I am and the much older plants are less than a foot tall. Hmmm.

It's easy to walk past wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa). Its pale pink flowers aren't as showy as scarlet beebalm (Monarda didyma), but it's worth inspecting more closely the things we take for granted. The flowers have a subtle beauty up close.

It’s easy to walk past wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa). Its pale pink flowers aren’t as showy as scarlet beebalm (Monarda didyma), but it’s sometimes worth inspecting more closely the things we take for granted. The flowers have a subtle beauty up close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild senna (Senna marilandica) flowers profusely every year and the plants are vigorous. Unfortunately, the plants rarely produce seeds. I'm not sure why.

Wild senna (Senna marilandica) flowers profusely every year and the plants are vigorous. Unfortunately, they rarely produce seeds. I’m not sure why.

Leaves on one of the chokeberry bushes have started to turn bright red, as they normally do in autumn.

Leaves on one of the chokeberry bushes have started to turn bright red, as they would normally do later on in autumn. It might be caused by drought stress.

Sometimes the flowers compose themselves in such a way that I can't help taking a picture. The pink flowers are showy tick-trefoil (Desmodium canadense), the yellow are safflowers (Carthamus tinctorius) and the blue are gentian sage (Salvia patens).

Floral display in the border between sections A and B. The pink flowers are showy tick-trefoil (Desmodium canadense), the yellow are safflowers (Carthamus tinctorius) and the blue are gentian sage (Salvia patens).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you make it to the Medicinal Herb Garden, be sure to walk across the street and view the site of the future Life Sciences Building and Biology Greenhouse. It changes from day to day.

If you have a special attachment to the southwest corner of the Plant Lab basement, this is the last shot you will ever see of it. It's amazing how quickly this is going from a demolition site to a building site.

That is the southwest corner of the Plant Lab basement and this is the last shot you will ever see of it. It’s amazing how quickly this lot is going from a demolition site to a building site.

 

 

 

 

surprised once again

as always by late summer

we savor these days

 

 

See you in the garden.

 

 

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The phantom herbivore, new open space and other wonders

Somewhere in or near the Medicinal Herb Garden lives an herbivore whose ways are quite mysterious. It has eaten all the oats (Avena sativa) and has moved on to the spelt (Triticum spelta) and the einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum). Last year I thought it might be birds, but now I don’t think so.

Nibbled stalks in the grain bed in section C. Who is eating the grain? Mountain beaver, rat, rabbit? I wish I knew. There's no scat or prints left behind. A recent rabbit sighting (first ever, to my knowledge) has me worried. Rabbits are not a gardener's best friend. Oh well, life in a public garden..what can you do?

Nibbled stalks in the grain bed in section C. Who is eating the grain? Mountain beaver (Aplodontia rufa), rat (Rattus sp.), rabbit (until proven otherwise, I will assume ours are the introduced eastern cottontails, (Sylvilagus floridanus)? I wish I knew. There’s no scat or prints left behind. A recent rabbit sighting (first ever in the garden, to my knowledge) has me worried. Rabbits are not a gardener’s best friend. Oh well, life in a public garden..what can you do?

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The stalks provide a nice thatch for the soil and probably help retain moisture but…small consolation for losing all the grain. And the song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) and juncos (Junco hyemalis) are eating the smaller grains. It’s always something.

Well, after much preparation, the clearing of the space for the new Life Sciences Building and Biology Greenhouse has begun. The contractors work really fast.

The former fruit forest area being cleared.

The former fruit forest area being cleared.

Don't blink. It happened quickly.

Don’t blink. It happened quickly.

The greenhouse was next.

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First the south side.

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Then the north.  The pile in the center looks a little like a piece of John Chamberlain sculpture.

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Then the Plant Lab. They should paint that demolition excavator to look like Tyrranosaurus rex.

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Now they’re sorting out recyclable metal, leveling the ground and doing what needs to be done to build a new building.

Meanwhile, back in the garden, I have a followup report from the last blog post. No, the other yi ye qiu (Flueggea suffruticosa) is not female so I need to get more plants started and yes, the Leccino olive (Olea europaea) has a few olives forming, so it must be marginally self-fertile.

Exhibit A, Leccino olives.

Exhibit A: a few Leccino olives forming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a good time to visit the Medicinal Herb Garden if you want to see flowers on display, or insects sipping nectar and gathering pollen, birds and maybe rabbits eating the grains from the grain bed and even a raccoon taking a nap in a tree. Listen for the crows who see all and report on it to those who listen.

Crows alerted me but they quickly lost interest when they realized s/he was taking a nap and not out foraging for eggs.

Crows alerted me to you-know-who, but they quickly lost interest when they realized s/he was taking a nap and not out foraging for their eggs.

Tufted evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa) in section C. Though it is a perennial, it rots in our wet winters. Next year I'll try growing it in the xeriscape bed to see if it will overwinter.

Tufted evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa) in section C. Though it is a perennial, it rots in our wet winters. Next year I’ll try growing it in the xeriscape bed to see if it will overwinter.

Blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis)…is an iris…but who's counting?

Blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis)…is an iris…but who’s counting?

Farewell to spring (Clarkia amoena) has several varieties and subspecies, some 'showier' than others but I prefer the subtle coloration these display. They're in the border between sections A and B. The Miwok people of what is now northern California, traditionally ground the seeds for food.

Farewell to spring (Clarkia amoena) has several varieties and subspecies, some ‘showier’ than others but I prefer the subtle coloration these display. They’re in the border between sections A and B. The Miwok people of what is now northern California, traditionally ground the seeds for food.

Great golden digger wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus). They feed exclusively on flower nectar and plant sap which they're apparently finding on the goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), a plant that draws in a lot of insects. If I weren't being paid to do other things, I could stand there for hours watching the insect visitors to the goldenrod and hundreds of other plant species in the garden. What's your excuse?

Great golden digger wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus) foraging in section D. They feed exclusively on flower nectar and plant sap which they’re apparently finding on the goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), a plant that draws in a lot of insects. If I weren’t being paid to do other things, I could stand there for hours watching the insect visitors to the goldenrod and hundreds of other plant species in the garden. What’s your excuse?

By the way, great golden digger wasps are very gentle and won't sting you if you don't try to handle them. They are solitary, make their nests in the ground, catch and paralyze katydids, grasshoppers and cicadas which they fly or drag back to their nest. There they deposit one egg on each insect they collect. When the eggs hatch in a few days, the larvae begin eating the insect beneath them.

By the way, great golden digger wasps are very gentle and won’t sting you if you don’t try to handle them. They are solitary and make their nests in the ground. Their claim to fame: they catch and paralyze katydids, grasshoppers and cicadas(and who knows what else) which they fly or drag back to their nest. There they deposit one egg on each insect they collect. When the eggs hatch in a few days, the larvae begin eating the insects beneath them. Be glad you’re not a katydid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The downy sunflower (Helianthus mollis) is an altogether joyful plant to behold. It is pretty drought tolerant and will fill in wasteland to crowd out invasive colonizers of disturbed soils. I love this plant…but something about this picture of a developing flower gives me the creeps.

The downy sunflower (Helianthus mollis) is an altogether joyful plant to behold. It is pretty drought tolerant and will fill in wasteland to crowd out invasive colonizers of disturbed soils. I love this plant…but something about this picture of a developing flower gives me the creeps. It’s in section D.

Dayflower (Commelina tuberosa) has starchy, edible roots which like to spread, so, beautiful though it is, you might want to plant it in a wild border. Wild borders are all I have in the garden. Borders, in my opinion, are a good place to let plants establish their own order

Dayflower (Commelina tuberosa) has starchy, edible roots which like to spread, so, beautiful though it is, you might want to plant it in a wild border. Wild borders are all I have in the garden. Borders, in my opinion, are a good place to let plants establish their own order.

Section B 'just-so' composition.

Section B ‘just-so’ composition.

Common mallow (Malva alcea) in section A.

Common mallow (Malva alcea) in section A.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You saw the flowers of mountain avens (Dryas octopetala) in a previous post. Their seed heads resemble those of prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) another member of the Rosaceae.

You saw the flowers of mountain avens (Dryas octopetala) in a previous post. Their seed heads, shown here, resemble those of prairie smoke (Geum triflorum), another member of the Rosaceae.

 

If you have wandered through section C and wondered what is going on with the mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum), fear not. This has been a big year for aphids on a lot of plants, but the predators finally arrived. I smushed many aphids at first, but once the ladybugs showed up, I passed the duty to them.

Larval stage of the ladybug (Coccinella sp.) on its way to cleaning up the aphid explosion.

Larval stage of the ladybug (Coccinella sp.) on its way to cleaning up the aphid explosion.

Chinese chaste tree (Vitex negundo) branch whose flowers refused to be photographed in the light breeze. They're small enough to go unnoticed but they're worth close inspection.

Chinese chaste tree (Vitex negundo) branch whose flowers refused to be photographed in the light breeze. They’re small enough to go unnoticed but they’re worth close inspection.

The whole Chinese chaste tree in its full glory. I'm planting at least one of these in my yard as a neighbor screen.

The whole Chinese chaste tree in its full glory near the garden shed. I’m planting at least one of these in my yard as a neighbor screen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update:  Most of the herons have flown the coop. To the best of my knowledge, all of the fledglings made it. Maybe the eagles were busy with the larger rookery in Ballard.

The flower show doesn’t last forever, so hurry if you want to see the garden at its peak. Life is short and it’s good to get outside. Really good.

 

 

 

 

glare of hot gravel

cool shade of Chinese chaste tree

a day in July

 

 

See you in the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Warm spring, cool summer and some close encounters

At the risk of jinxing the string of recent good gardening weather, I have to say it’s been nice to get some rain and cooler temperatures after the extreme heat of spring. It rained last night and the night before. It’s cool and breezy today and the air has the freshness of April, but not this April, which felt more like August. After an explosion of flowers on the Leccino olive tree, I had high hopes that we might get another good crop, two years after the first. But I noticed yesterday that neither the Arbequinas nor the Manzanillos flowered at all. Dang! It so happens that, of the three cultivars, only the Arbequinas are supposed to be self-fertile. So the Leccino, unless another olive cultivar was flowering synchronously nearby while I had my back turned, will likely be barren again this year.  Ouch.

Luckily, the fig in section B is finally recovering from the radical reconstructive surgery I performed on it over the last five years. It’s more like a fig bush than a fig tree now, but it’s bearing fruit again. The fruit used to go almost entirely to the birds, but humans are now sharing the bounty.

It is July and, of course, many flowers and fruit are still in the process of developing, but others are in full display. The native roses have already flowered, but their fruit persist on the plants for a long time, food for an array of herbivores, including some humans.

Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii)

Wood’s rose (Rosa woodsii) in Cascara Circle.

Cluster rose or pea rose (Rosa pisocarpa) in Cascacara Circle.

Cluster rose or pea rose (Rosa pisocarpa) in Cascara Circle. They haven’t turned red yet, but they will.

Baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa) in Cascara Circle.

Baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa) in Cascara Circle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana) in Cascara Circle.

Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana) in Cascara Circle. They have the largest fruit and I would imagine that they would provide a nice, tart paste if run through a food processor.  By the way, Cascara Circle is a little grassy glade at the west end of the garden and it has almost exclusively Pacific Northwest native plants, although some of our natives are circumboreal, so they also occur in other parts of the boreal (northern temperate) regions of the world.

Fifty feet to the west, the American plum has produced fruit. Last year’s heat (or something) caused it to abort all of its fruit. I think they will ripen this summer.

American plum (Prunus americana) on the outer northwestern edge of the woods, north of Cascara Circle.

American plum (Prunus americana) on the outer northwestern edge of the woods, north of Cascara Circle.

According to the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens (KRBG) website, Alexander the Great, while out conquering and adventuring, lost men who made the mistake of skewering their meat for grilling on the toxic branches of oleander. Yes, it is quite toxic, but, as KRBG also points out, oleander can be used by some heart patients as an alternative to digitalis. The same is true of lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis). The oleander in the garden made it through the last (mild) winter with no damage. How it will do if temperatures get below 20F for a week or two, I don’t know. I’ll have to wait and see.

Oleander (Nereum oleander) in section B.

Oleander (Nerium oleander) in section B.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most species of milkweed in the Medicinal Herb Garden have no discernible scent (nothing that I’ve noticed anyway), but the showy milkweed has beautiful, star-shaped flowers with a delicious aroma that draws people in as if by gravitational pull, as they try to figure out where the scent originates. Perhaps they’re human-nose pollinated. Once before, I grew showy milkweed in section C and it performed dismally. It seems to like its new spot and is thriving as one of the garden’s more charismatic specimens. If it spreads out of its bed like the nearby Chinese licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) and American licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota), well, so be it. Garden borders are an unnatural encumbrance (as are gardens…) and I support all plants that will not be neatly domesticated. Amen. Anyway, it’s a small price to pay for being able to grow wild plants.

Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) in section B.

Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) in section B.

And then there’s yi ye qiu; the flowers are tiny and unremarkable, but who cares? It just happens to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. It doesn’t need to look good. Unfortunately, I neglected to look closely at the flowers on the other plant. Yi ye qiu is dioecious, meaning there are both plants with only male flowers, and plants with only female flowers. These pictured below are male (or staminate) flowers, so, first duty on Monday is to investigate the flowers on the other plant to see if they’re female (or pistillate). If not, I need to start more plants to hopefully grow a female to plant near the male and get some fruit (small, unremarkable seed capsules…).

Yi ye qiu (Flueggea suffruticosa) in the northern border of section A.

Yi ye qiu (Flueggea suffruticosa) in the northern border of section A.

This has been a banner year for the eastern prickly pears in the xeriscape bed, but this is the only species of Opuntia that is flowering. Don’t ask why. What you see is what you get.

Eastern prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa) flowering in the xeriscape bed.

Eastern prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa) flowering in the xeriscape bed.

Look at those flowers!

They just keep flowering.

Nearby the Opuntias, showy evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) in xeriscape bed foreground with butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) in the background.

Nearby the Opuntias, showy evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa) in xeriscape bed foreground with butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) directly behind it.

Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) a few feet away in the xeriscape bed. It's putting out new growth from the base of the stem, just when I thought it might be on its last legs.

Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) a few feet away in the xeriscape bed. It’s putting out new growth from the base of the stem, just when I thought it might be on its last legs.

Loquats (Eriobotrya japonica) growing next to Benson Hall. These loquat trees were planted by Dr. Art Kruckeberg while he was a professor of Botany at the UW. Loquats are delicious, relatively free of pests and diseases, its flowers are scented and it's foliage is evergreen. If you can't find one at a local garden store, you can order them by mail from the excellent Burnt Ridge Nursery.

Loquats (Eriobotrya japonica) growing next to Benson Hall. These loquat trees were planted by the late Dr. Art Kruckeberg while he was a professor of Botany at the UW. Loquats are delicious, relatively free of pests and diseases, with scented flowers and attractive, evergreen foliage. Most of the leaves in the picture are inverted. The tops of the leaves are glossy, dark green. If you can’t find one at a local garden store, you can order them by mail from the excellent Burnt Ridge Nursery in Onalaska, WA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White marsh marigolds (Caltha leptosepala) that I photographed recently near Bald Mountain in the Cascades. There were some in the Cascara Circle stream but they mysteriously disappeared last year. They look better in the mountains.

White marsh marigolds (Caltha leptosepala) that I photographed recently near Bald Mountain in the Cascades. There were some in the Cascara Circle stream but they mysteriously disappeared last year. They look better in the mountains.

 

That’s the flora report. Now for the fauna report. Raccoons, herons and coyotes…and now deer. The edge of the University of Washington campus has a lot of green space connected to other green spaces around the city. These green spaces are excellent corridors that allow animals to pass through the city without being seen. Sometimes it feels more like a park than a college campus.

My new friend. This raccoon (Procyon lotor) keeps popping up in the herb garden. S/he doesn't mess with the plants so we are peacefully coexisting.

My new friend. This raccoon (Procyon lotor) keeps popping up in the herb garden, often in this Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis). S/he doesn’t mess with the plants so we are peacefully coexisting.

Across Stevens Way, these fledgling herons (Ardea herodias), if you can spot them in the blur of my weak zoom lens, are testing their wings, ready for their first attempt at flight. Maybe they will have taken flight by Monday. Good luck, big birds!

Across Stevens Way, these fledgling herons (Ardea herodias), if you can spot them in the blur of my weak zoom lens, are testing their wings, ready for their first attempt at flight. Maybe they will have taken flight by Monday. Good luck, big birds!

I wanted to get pictures of the coyote (Canis latrans) pups by the Union Bay Natural Area (near where I’m starting my plants for the next two years, until the new Biology Greenhouse is built), but I was too late. Apparently a few of the  neighbors felt they could not live near coyotes that had a den nearby, so they called in the USDA to shoot the mother and two pups last week. I suspect there will be more coyotes. They’ve been seen in that area for years, so the habitat must be good for them. They haven’t acquired the title of Trickster for nothing. My guess is that shooting a few coyotes, assuming at least one escaped, is the first step in selecting for stealthier, wilier coyotes. If they learn to stay out of sight, only those of us who look for their signs will know they’re here.

Last week, on the same day I heard about the coyote extermination, my source told me that a deer (Odocoileus virginianus) had been seen walking through the same area. There aren’t many off-leash dogs running around the north end of the city and there are a lot of  gardens with tasty plants to browse, so it’s probably a pretty nice place for a deer to bed down for a while. It’s exciting to know that a walk at first light or evening twilight might lead any of us to a close encounter with a wilderness visitor, creeping in at the edges, outside our control. Here’s a YouTube link to a favorite song by Exene Cervenka, written from the perspective of that irreverent  outlaw, the coyote.

 

 

 

 

eyes catching firelight

nearby but beyond our reach

watching us depart

 

 

 

See you in the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Busy, busy spring

I took some photos a while ago, hoping to write an April blog post but that didn’t happen. It has been very busy around here. Spring is the busiest season at the Medicinal Herb Garden and in most gardens. It always feels like a juggling act with hundreds of seedlings to be planted, unpredictable weather, the challenges of slugs and snails and weeds.  The extra stresses of the move out of the greenhouse and having to maintain my plants in multiple locations have sapped my energy a bit, and writing blog posts has been low on the list of things to do. But here’s a slim update.

It was the hottest April on record here in Seattle,  and May started out hot, but it is cool and overcast and we’ve had some good rains recently. What a blessing spring rain is in a Mediterranean climate. If we can get another couple of inches before summer hits, I will be very happy. Plus, this rain is good for the morel and spring porcini forecast. Porcini!

Here are some recent(ish) photos from around the garden.

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Eriogonum umbellatum (sulphur-flower buckwheat) in full floral display, section C.

Dictamnus albus var. purpureus (gas plant, dittany) in section C.

Dictamnus albus var. purpureus (gas plant, dittany) in section C.

Chionanthus virginicus (fringe tree) from southeastern USA flowers in May and June and is quite a spectacle. It's west of Cascara Circle.

Chionanthus virginicus (fringe tree) from southeastern USA flowers in May and June and is quite a spectacle. It’s west of Cascara Circle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanicula europea (wood sanicle) in section E is one of the few plants to thrive in the dense shade beneath the giant oak.

Sanicula europea (wood sanicle) in section E is   one of the few plants to thrive in the dense shade beneath the giant oak.

Dryas octopetala (mountain avens) is a circumpolar species from the tundras of the world. It creeps inconspicuously along until it flowers.

Dryas octopetala (mountain avens) is a circumpolar/boreal species from the tundras and  mountains. It creeps inconspicuously along until it flowers.

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Prunus americana (American plum) west of the woods to the north of Cascara Circle. The drought (or something) last year caused it to abort its fruit. The April flower display this year was a good sign.

Procyon lotor (raccoon) in the woods north of section D.

You again! Procyon lotor (raccoon) in the woods north of section D. I have nothing against raccoons, but it would be nice to get some more coyotes (Canis latrans) on campus to keep them on their toes.

Valeriana sitchensis (Sitka valerian) in section A. On a backpacking trip in the Cascades, on Pilot Ridge, I collected the seeds to grow these plants. The sour smell of valerian is well known to anyone who hikes the western mountains in late summer.

Valeriana sitchensis (Sitka valerian) in section A. On a backpacking trip in the Cascades, on Pilot Ridge, I collected the seeds to grow these plants. The sour smell of valerian is well known to anyone who hikes the western mountains in late summer.

Malus fusca (Pacific crabapple) with buds getting ready to open (...on April 6).

Malus fusca (Pacific crabapple) with buds getting ready to open (…on April 6).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rheum palmatum (Chinese rhubarb) in section C, unfurling its leaves after a winter of rest.

Rheum palmatum (Chinese rhubarb) in section C, unfurling its leaves after a winter of rest.

 

There’s so much more to see but this will have to do for now. I’m exhausted and very soon I will need some blissful time in the mountains to recover.

 

 

 

 

May soil slowly warms

under intermittent rain

flowers appearing

 

 

 

See you in the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March winds

A couple of weeks ago we met with a windstorm that took a toll on some of the big trees of Seattle. In the Medicinal Herb Garden, a large, upright branch of a deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara) came down on the southwest edge of Cascara Circle.

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The monkey saw it happen.

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Mooseberry/highbush cranberry (Viburnum edule…barely visible in the center of the picture) on the edge of the bog was crushed…but it survived. Plants are tough.

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Those branches each weigh hundreds of pounds. Ouch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The jack pine (Pinus banksiana) that I started from seed a decade ago was flattened under this tree debris.

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But it popped right back once I cut away everything on top of it.

 

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Raccoons (Procyon lotor) on the move.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe this pair lost their nest tree in the storm and were out searching for a new home, when out of nowhere popped the paparazzi. I tried to be discreet but they wanted none of it. Usually people move away from raccoons. They seemed uncomfortable with my breech of protocol as I moved closer to snap their picture.

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Why can’t we be friends?

I once tried to shoo a raccoon off my enclosed front porch. It was eating the garbage from a garbage bag I’d put there…to keep it away from the raccoons. The intrepid, wily omnivore got on the porch by pulling open the screen door. So I opened the kitchen window a crack and thrust a broomstick out to jab it and scare it off. It grabbed the broomstick with its teeth and tried to pull it out of my hands, then charged me when I wouldn’t relent. That was enough for me and I retreated. Raccoons are tenacious.

And so are some seeds, clinging to dormancy when they should be germinating. Starting seeds seems like a pretty simple proposition. If you’re starting broccoli seeds, it is. Your wait will be short and your rate of germination will be high. But wild plants can be a bit trickier. They exist beyond the pale of human selection, so they have evolved in environments with very specific natural conditions. What months does the rain fall, and how much rain? How cold are the winters and how long? In what sort of soil do they grow? How hot are the summers, what is the elevation and latitude, which herbivores (if any) consume and spread the plants’ seeds, etc., etc.  There are many pieces to the puzzle of how to propagate wild plants from seeds, trying to replicate the conditions of their natural habitat. Some are so easy and some are so hard. Cracking the code of how best to germinate seeds (and keep them alive) is the mission of plant propagators everywhere. Patience can pay off sometimes.

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Eleutherococcus henryi…finally!

I received and quickly planted these Eleutherococcus henryi seeds in March of 2014. They got ninety days of cold (in the refrigerator) then proceeded to do nothing all summer in the hoop house behind the greenhouse. The next winter they got five months of cold and still there was no action that spring and summer. This winter, they got another five months in the refrigerator. When I pulled them out in late February, I had low expectations. Then they all started to sprout. So it took three winters and two summers, plus scarification with some rough sand paper (Eleutherococcus seed coats are hard) before sowing to get these plants started. You can see all the moss that has grown on the flat. I broke it up each spring to make it easier for the seedlings to grow through.

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More or less the same story with this Sanicula marilandica, though three seedlings came up last spring. The balance seem to have sprouted this spring. Good things come to those who wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Even the Eleutherococcus sessiliflorus got into the act. Don’t, repeat, don’t throw out your ‘failed’ seed flats in frustration. Hang in there, have hope, be patient. It’s worth it.

 

More perennials are emerging from their underground dormancy. This week we’re supposed to have temperatures pushing 70 F.

Codonopsis tangshen/spring growth

Codonopsis tangshen/spring growth. Of the three species of Codonopsis I grow, C. tangshen is always up first.

March is a transition month here. Most of it is technically winter but gardeners in the Pacific Northwest know that spring begins long before March 20.

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Owl clover (Aralia californica) making its first appearance after winter dormancy on March 24. It is the only member of the ginseng family (Araliaceae) native to California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus).

Speaking of the Araliaceae, in a nearby bed is one of its more charismatic members, the Siberian ginseng, a tough, spiny shrub. Common names are often confusing. Though it is called ginseng, E. senticosus is in a different genus than the plants we normally call ginseng. Those plants, both the Old World Panax ginseng and related species, and the New World Panax quinquefolius, are herbaceous perennials, not shrubs.

The other skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) from eastern North America, smaller than our western skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus). Both fall into the category of marginal survival foods of last resort. As we mushroomers say, better kicked than picked.

Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)

The other skunk cabbage, from eastern North America, is smaller and less striking (though these are just two years old) than our western skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus). Both fall into the category of marginal survival foods (after cooking) of last resort. As we mushroomers say, better kicked than picked.

Camphor bush (Cinnamomum camphora) is a native of eastern Asia, from warm temperate zones to the tropics.

Camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camphor tree is a native of eastern Asia, from warm temperate zones to the tropics. An essential oil with a wide range of medicinal uses is extracted from the leaves and twigs. A really cold spell here in winter can kill off much of the top growth. We’re not quite zone 9 yet. But we’re getting there…

Oxlip (Primula elatior) at the east end of the garden. Its young leaves are edible and its roots are both diuretic and expectorant.

Oxlip (Primula elatior) at the east end of the garden. Its young leaves are edible and its roots are both diuretic and expectorant.

Caraway (Carum carvi) is biennial, meaning it goes to seed and dies in its second year. It's a great plant to let naturalize in your garden. All parts are edible.

Caraway (Carum carvi) is biennial, meaning it goes to seed and dies in its second year. It’s a great plant to let naturalize in your garden. All parts are edible.

Chinese angelica (Angelica sinensis)

Chinese angelica/dang gui (Angelica sinensis) waking up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peony/bai shao (Paeonia lactiflora)

Peony/bai shao (Paeonia lactiflora)

Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa) that I moved to the outer edge of Cascara Circle. It flowers so early that I worry about it not getting pollinated. Fingers, crossed I look forward to eating cherries this summer.

Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa) that I moved from the former fruit forest to the outer edge of Cascara Circle. It flowers so early that I worry about it not getting pollinated. Fingers crossed, I look forward to eating cherries this summer.

 

 

 

 

 

rain and hail today

tomorrow sunny and warm

 fickle days of March

 

 

 

See you in the garden.

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Springing out of winter

This glorious week feels like springtime, with warmth, sunshine, a few plants starting to flower and singing birds in the garden and nearby woods. Get outside if you can. Step away from your desk and eat your lunch in the fresh air. Break the work spell. You owe it to yourself and you’ll have a better afternoon if you do. Maybe you’ll see the blue herons circling the woods north of Anderson Hall as they prepare their rookery for another breeding season. There’s so much to see…right outside your door.

For the first time in years, this winter I didn’t have to cover the olive trees (Olea europaea) with tarps to protect them from cold…at least not yet. We dipped below freezing a few times, but we didn’t get into the very low 20s F, the point at which olives, at least young  trees as I have observed them here, begin to sustain noticeable damage. When we dip into the mid teens, they can die back to the ground. I’m hoping they will be able to withstand more severe cold as they get bigger. The Australian tea trees (Melaleuca alternifolia) and New Zealand tea trees or manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) also made it through uncovered. It’s been sunny this week with warm days and a touch of frost at night (at least in Rainier Valley, where I live), but most of the winter has been marked by heavy rains. In fact, this is already Seattle’s rainiest winter on record. And winter isn’t over yet, not by a long shot. The winter rain, which translates to snow in the mountains, is a good thing. That snow, when it melts, provides the water we depend on in Seattle. I think I’m in good company when I wish for a slow melting of the mountain snow and less heat this spring and summer than we lived through last year. Good luck to everyone on the east side of the state this fire season, especially the firefighters.

Soon we will be losing the Botany Greenhouse across the street from the Medicinal Herb Garden. That’s where I start all of my plants and share a small office with colleagues who run one of the best greenhouses in the country. The good news is that in two years, we will have a larger, fancy new greenhouse in more or less the same spot, attached to the new Life Sciences Building. I’ll be starting my plants on the other side of campus for a couple years, but there will otherwise be no interruption to business as usual at the garden. Stop by the greenhouse soon (before April) to see the amazing collection of plants. The next time you will see them will be in 2018 at the new greenhouse.

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Last days of the Botany Greenhouse in all its glory. I have too many happy memories to count from this magical space and I will miss it dearly…but we will quickly learn to love and adapt to the new greenhouse (once I convince the planners to put in a soft serve ice cream machine…).

Sweet violets (Viola odorata) in section E are flowering. Usually they flower early, get hit by aphids, then flower a second time in early spring.

Sweet violets (Viola odorata) in section E are flowering. Usually they flower early, get hit by aphids, then flower a second time in early spring.

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Sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata) in section E.

In a nearby bed, the sweet cicely is emerging from winter dormancy. Their green seeds, leaves and roots are sweet and anise flavored. It is the sole species in the genus Myrrhis and it requires little care and does well in shade or dappled light but can also handle sun. That’s my kind of plant.

Yesterday, while doing my morning garden inspection, I came across a strange contraption. It’s a little strange but not not too strange considering…I work at a university and thousands of people are running experiments at all times. Here’s what I saw.

This and...

This and…

this.

this.

A message on the little metal box in the lower picture says the researcher is measuring ‘floral volatiles’.  The plant is Indian plum (Oemleria cerasiformis) and I have to admit I haven’t sniffed their flowers…yet, but I’m curious. Anyone and everyone conducting research is welcome in the Medicinal Herb Garden. Hooray for strange contraptions.

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Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) in section B is a member of the dogwood family, the Cornaceae.

The very ripe fruit  of cornelian cherry are delicious, but too astringent until they are almost mushy soft. Here’s an interesting article about their potential for treating liver conditions:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006099/

It will be many months before the fruit are ripe and ready to eat, but the flowers are out, as always, before the leaves and that makes for a striking sight in February…

The winter hazel (Corylopsis spicata) between sections E and F, also flowers before its leaves emerge. Winter hazel is a good looking plant the whole year if you keep it thinned out.

…as does the winter hazel (Corylopsis spicata) between sections E and F, which also flowers before its leaves emerge. Winter hazel is a good looking plant the whole year if you keep it thinned out.

 

Nearby, in Cascara Circle, the Utah honeysuckle/red twinberry is flowering.

Nearby, in Cascara Circle, the Utah honeysuckle/red twinberry (Lonicera utahensis) is flowering.

According Daniel Moerman’s book, Native American Ethnobotany, the Okanagan-Colville people used Utah honeysuckle as a blood medicine, dermatological aid and laxative, all from infusions of branches. They also ate the fruit, though probably as a last resort.

 

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Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) in section E.

Mandrake, a native of the Mediterranean region, is well adapted to hot and dry summers. It emerges from its underground dormancy early, flowers and produces fruit the size of  a golf ball or larger, then senesces and disappears until the following winter. If you spot a sign in the garden for a plant that is nowhere to be seen, it could be taking a nap under the soil surface.

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Italian arum or cuckoo pint (Arum italicum)…grrrrr!!!

I wish this plant would take an eternal nap on another planet in a galaxy far, far away. It’s also from the Mediterranean but it is rarely dormant. If you have this in your garden (poor you), please, at the very least, cut off the spadix (while wearing gloves and safety goggles) before the seeds turn red and fall off. This is Italian arum or cuckoo pint and is quite invasive and extremely difficult to eradicate. It has taken over much of the understory in many areas of campus. I got a tiny drop of its sap in my eye a few years ago and wound up in the emergency room to have my eye flushed. The calcium oxalate crystals in the sap cause excruciating pain for a long, long, long (much too long in my opinion) time. Don’t ever get the sap in your eye or any mucous membrane, if you know what’s good for you. You have been warned…

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Manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.) along Okanogan Lane.

On a happier note, check out the delightful flowers of this large manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.)  west of section C. What a display right now, from Stevens Way almost to the Chemistry building.

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Goji (Lycium chinense) in section C.

At the bottom of section C, the goji has leafed out. Unfortunately, it will get powdery mildew in March and April. By May I will have to cut it way back. It takes a while to regrow but it’s very vigorous and produces flowers by late summer, then fruit throughout the fall and into winter. Imagine eating dried goji fruit from your own garden. Better yet, eat goji fruit from your garden. But first you have to plant one.

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Yellow pheasant’s eye (Adonis vernalis) in section C.

Can you spot the slug on this yellow pheasant’s eye? Neither can I, but it’s probably in the picture frame, judging by the recent herbivory of the flower petals. Yellow pheasant’s eye is used in homeopathy to treat heart disease.

Inconspicuous flowers of the wild ginger (Asarum caudatum) in section D. I had to move a leaf out of the way and flip the flower over for this photo. They're well hidden.

Wild ginger (Asarum caudatum) section D.

Inconspicuous flowers of the wild ginger are rarely seen by the casual hiker in the northwest forests. I had to move a leaf out of the way and flip the flower over for this photo. They’re well hidden. Wild ginger is in the same family as…

California dutchman's pipe (Aristolochia californica) section E.

…California Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia californica) section E.

They’re both in the Aristolochiaceae, but the California Dutchman’s pipe flowers come out before the leaves. They’re not brightly colored but they’re hard to miss if you’re paying attention. Hopefully you will pay attention when you visit and stroll through the Medicinal Herb Garden.

 

 

fluid robin song

 junco and towhee trilling

springtime symphony

 

 

 

 

See you in the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Midst of winter

It hasn’t been terribly cold this winter, but cold enough to keep the snow falling in the mountains. What a good feeling to look east at the Cascades or west at the Olympics and see whole mountain ranges deep in snow, as they should be. The last straggling leaves have finally fallen from the deciduous trees and shrubs, and the stalks of herbaceous perennials and annuals are fading to brown, ready to return to the soil and recycle their nutrients for the next round. Wander through the misty pathways and catch a fleeting glimpse of a raptor or the last migrating Townsend’s warbler on its way to the tropics, look up at the sound of crows and you might see a family of raccoons asleep in a nearby tree, or follow the scent of truffle or some other mysterious fungus hidden beneath one of our oak trees; midwinter visitors to the Medicinal Herb Garden have much to experience if they pay close attention.

Speaking of mysterious fungus. This is growing on a wattle fence post north of Cascara Circle.

Speaking of mysterious fungus. This is growing on a wattle fence post north of Cascara Circle.

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Pipevine’s (Aristolochia macrophylla) twining mass of vines are leafless but mostly still green.

I've said it before but I'll say it again, wild hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) is a better looking plant in winter than in summer.

Wild hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) spent inflorescence, now full of tiny seeds.

Snow berries (Symphoricarpus albus) could not be more aptly named. A native shrub yet no animals seem to eat their fruit.

Aptly named snow berry (Symphoricarpus albus) is a native shrub, yet no animals seem to eat the fruit. Supposedly, some of our native birds, such as resident towhees (Pipilo maculatus), robins (Turdus migratorius) and other thrushes, including the hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus) and varied thrush (Ixoreus naevius), and the waxwings (Bombycilla spp.) that pass through the garden in winter, will eat the fruit of snowberry, but you couldn’t prove it by me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dried vines of wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) . The deciduous tree at left in the background is the black cherry (Prunus serotina).

Dried vines of wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) . The deciduous tree at left in the background is the black cherry (Prunus serotina), a North American native whose bark is used to treat coughs. Three cheers for deciduous plants that add so much to the winter landscape.

Chuan dang (Codonopsis tangshen) still has fruit with some pigment though most have dried and turned brown. The mild weather is responsible for this irregular ripening.

Chuan dang (Codonopsis tangshen) still has fruit with some pigment though most have dried and turned brown. I believe the mild weather is responsible for this irregular ripening.

Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) frit interwoven with Japanese wild yam vines (Dioscorea deltoidea).

Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) fruit interwoven with Japanese wild yam vines (Dioscorea deltoidea). Unlike true bamboo which is in the grass family (Poaceae) and includes many genera and many, many species within those genera, heavenly bamboo is in the same family as Oregon grape, the Berberidaceae. Its red fruit, in large quantities, are toxic and even fatal to birds, but they go uneaten around here so I keep this plant in the garden. I’ll pull it if I hear compelling evidence that it is a serious threat to birds in this area. There’s so much else for them to eat in Seattle, even in winter, that an upset stomach or two after sampling these fruit probably leads them to steer clear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's already time for the mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) to wake up.

It’s already time for the mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) to wake up.

And the dwarf daylilies (Hemerocallis minor).

And the dwarf daylilies (Hemerocallis minor).

And something else in the family formerly known as Liliaceae.

And something else in the Liliaceae or one of the many families that have spun off from the Liliaceaea. Those taxonomists…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The camellias (Camellia japonica) on the northern border of section D have started flowering.

The camellias (Camellia japonica) on the northern border of section D have started flowering.  I’m not a huge fan of camellias (except tea, Camellia sinensis!) but they do brighten the winter days.

Camas (camassia leichtlinii) shoots already pushing up on January 25.

Camas (Camassia leichtlinii) shoots already pushing up on January 25.

Yesterday I heard cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) in the Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis). As usual, they wouldn't let me get close, hence the fuzzy zoom shots.

Yesterday I heard cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) in the Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis). As usual, they wouldn’t let me get close, hence the fuzzy zoom shots. This was their reconnaissance tree and…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was their destination, the cotoneaster (Cotoneaster racemiflorus). The fruit are quite bitter and I don't see the birds eating them until the middle of winter. Cotoneaster is a bit of a weed. The seeds pass through the birds and seedlings pop up wherever the birds' droppings land and there is bare soil. I wish someone would breed cotoneasters with ediblefruit. There's a lot of potential food biomass on a tree.

this was their destination, the cotoneaster (Cotoneaster racemiflorus). The fruit are quite bitter and I don’t see the birds eating them until the middle of winter. Cotoneaster is a bit of a weed around here. The seeds pass through the birds and seedlings pop up wherever the birds’ droppings land and there is bare soil. I wish someone would breed cotoneasters with edible fruit. There’s a lot of potential food biomass on a tree.

 

This is the time of year for filling seed orders and ordering seeds from botanic gardens all over the world. The middle of winter is a good time to plan for the future. Looking over a map of the garden and juggling where the new plants will go (if the seeds come up!) is a good challenge. There’s only so much space in a garden but…there’s always room for more plants.

The shipping and receiving area for seeds. Outgoing envelopes on the right await customs labels and then they're off to the far reaches of the world for a new life in some other garden.

The shipping and receiving area for seeds. Outgoing envelopes on the right are full of seeds and awaiting customs labels. Then they’re off to the far reaches of the world for a new life in some other garden.

Recently received seeds from France, Japan and Hungary.

Recently received seeds from France, Japan and Hungary.

Seed heads and seeds I collected in autumn.

Seed heads and seeds collected from the Medicinal Herb Garden in autumn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s the news for a quiet January. I hope everyone has some time and a safe, warm place to rest and reflect, sip tea and watch the rain (or snow) come down.

 

 

 

 

mandrake awakens

beneath the feeding waxwings

this midwinter day

 

 

 

 

 

See you in the garden.

 

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Into a new year

After a few hard frosts, we’re back to classic Seattle fall and winter weather. It’s been very rainy in the lowlands with daytime temperatures in the 40s and nights in the 30s, heavy snow is accumulating in the mountains and short days seem even shorter because the sun is nowhere to be seen. But today the days start getting longer. It’s winter solstice and a new year has begun.

Cascara (Rhamnus purshiana) leaves are still clinging to their branches, but most deciduous trees and shrubs are bare now.

Cascara tree in Cascara Circle.

Cascara tree in Cascara Circle.

Something likes to eat cascara leaves.

Something likes to eat cascara leaves. I wonder if the leaves are laxative like the bark.

 

The chestnut (Castanea sativa) stump next to the bus stop held its leaves until last week. I’m going to stop cutting it back and let it grow into a tree now that the fig tree (Ficus indica) has been ‘shortened’ and is out of the way.

The glorious chestnut stump.

The glorious chestnut stump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roots, bark and leaves of bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) were widely used by northeastern Native Americans for a variety of conditions, including liver, urinary and lung complaints. Branches with fruit attached are sometimes woven into holiday wreaths back east.

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Bittersweet fruit in section E.

Hope for festive fruit on the tian men dong (Asparagus cochinchinensis) proved delusional. I had assumed they would look like the bright red fruit of garden asparagus (Asparagus officinalis). They’re about the same size and shape but not red.

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The ho hum fruit are barely visible. They look more like…

...look at the cool frog egg fruit!

…frog eggs than Christmas tree ornaments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the woods north of Cascara Circle, the male cones of the sugi or Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) are getting ready to drop their pollen some time this winter. Sugi, which can grow up to 200 feet or more (though usually less), is often planted around temples and shrines in Japan where it is native. Ours at the Medicinal Herb Garden has stayed small and bushy. I suspect it is a dwarf cultivar. There are much larger ones in Seattle, but I remember seeing a very impressive specimen at the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America, a Shinto shrine in Granite Falls, WA.

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Male cones on our sugi tree/bush.

A few yards away, a hedge of wild hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) is looking better in winter dormancy than in summer growth. There’s something magical about the dried foliage of herbaceous perennials and the skeletal, sculptural branches of deciduous woody plants. I think it’s the negative space that opens up around these plants in winter. Wild hydrangea root is a diuretic that has been used to treat kidney stones and irritation of the bladder, urethra and prostate.

Wild hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) in the woods north of Cascara Circle. Some plants look better in winter

Wild hydrangea in the woods north of Cascara Circle. Reading Daniel Moerman’s wonderful book, Native American Ethnobotany, I discovered that the bark of wild hydrangea was used as both an emetic and an antiemetc by the Cherokees. I wonder if something wasn’t lost in translation by the recording ethnographer.

Even after its leaves have dropped, the eastern North American paper birch (Betula papyrifera) is the centerpiece north of Cascara Circle. Love that tree.

Even after its leaves have dropped, the eastern North American paper birch (Betula papyrifera) is the centerpiece north of Cascara Circle. Love that tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But not everything is dormant. Neither our native blackberry (Rubus ursinus) nor our two introduced blackberries (Rubus armeniacus and Rubus laciniatus) that grow in Medicinal Herb Garden borders do much resting in winter. They’re essentially evergreen here and they stand out when plants around them drop their leaves.

Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) showing why it's such an unstoppable weed. It's virtually evergreen around here.

Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) grows in all border areas.

Cutleaf or evergreen blackberry (Rubus laciniatus).

Cutleaf or evergreen blackberry (Rubus laciniatus) only grows on the west border of section C.

Trailing Pacific blackberry (Rubus ursinus) is native but quite invasive in the garden border areas.

Trailing Pacific blackberry (Rubus ursinus) is native but quite invasive in most garden border areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily, all blackberries have edible fruit and medicinal leaves that are astringent, anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. I’m sure they have many more health benefits, and they’re free and almost everywhere. There’s no excuse not to have some of their dried leaves in your tea supplies, along with locally harvested dandelion roots (Taraxicum officinale) and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica).

 

 

 

 

dim light of solstice

reflected on rainy glint

of blackberry leaves

 

 

 

See you in the garden.

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