Saturday, July 26, 2008


Well, well, well, who knew that a bunny could be a gardener's favorite weed control device? It's true! This little one just arrived in the yard recently and is the champion of weed controllers, eating every broadleaf weed in sight. I should never say 'out you pesky wabbit' again.

Observe the last of the leaf in it's tiny mouth...

Eagle update...the juvenile has been flying up to higher branches, then down to lower ones recently. My guess was that it would fly sometime within the coming week. I hope to get pictures when it happens if I'm not away. In the meantime, here's a picture of the juvenile sitting on one of the first branches s/he 'flew' to and from. Nice perch.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


With all the eagle activity lately I have been remiss in addressing gardening interests, so today is the day I hope to at least partially make up for that.

Recently I assisted a friend with choosing plants for a local shopping center’s green areas. That was both fun and interesting, knowing that whichever plants we selected needed to be tough in order to survive shoppers sometimes even stepping on the poor, defenseless plants. In addition to tough, they needed to be attractive. Fortunately, there are plenty of plants to choose from that will do well west of the Cascades, in our temperate USDA Zone 7-9/Sunset Zone 4-5.

(USDA Zone map:
Sunset Garden Climate Zones :,20633,845218,00.html)

When selecting plants, it can’t be said enough…choose the right plant for the right place. There is even an excellent book published with that name (Right Plant, Right Place, by Nicola Ferguson:

So what are some of the factors you should consider before you ever even BUY that plant?

Climate Zone. Know the climate zone in which you live and buy plants on ‘worst case’ scenarios. Get plants that are at least hardy enough for the coldest and warmest your plants will grow in.

Direction, i.e., sun or shade. Where will the new addition to your yard live? North side of a building will be cooler, not as much sun throughout the year; south side can bake so be sure the plants can take the heat. East side gets that morning sun, which is cooler than the west side’s hot afternoon sun.

Drainage. Clay and hardpan are the norm around here. Though you may have these conditions, you can improve them by adding compost. You don’t need to turn it into the soil, just apply a nice thick layer on top of the garden beds each year if you can. How thick? At the minimum add 1 inch, 3 inches is better, and 6 inches is even better if you have clay or hardpan.

Extent, i.e., how much will the plant grow? What will its mature height and width be? Just like people, the DNA in plants directs them to grow to a certain size in suitable cultural conditions. If you have a spot where the mature plant needs to be less than 6 feet tall, then you will lose the battle with a plant that is ‘coded’ to be 8 feet. Go smaller rather than bigger in these cases, as many times I’ve found that the plants surpass the ‘maximum’ height/width listed on the plant tag.

Go native. Choose plants that are indigenous to the local area since they are well-suited for the climate conditions. More and more nurseries are carrying native plants in their inventory now. If you live in the ‘south end’ of King County, one of the places you can find a good selection of native plants is the Lake Wilderness Arboretum nursery in Maple Valley. Their knowledgeable folks can answer all of your questions every Saturday thru the summer, and help you make the best plant choices.

And now, the current (so hard to narrow it down, plus it changes) list…here are some of my favorite plants for this area. (Disclaimer: pictures are from my yard so some of the plants have recently been planted and don't represent full-sized plants!)


Ceanothus (various) (above)

Mahonia (various)
Pieris japonica
Potentilla fruticosa

Ajuga ‘chocolate chip’ (slow-growing and well-behaved)
Gaultheria ovatifolia
Rubus calycinoides
(now pentalobus)


Acer griseum

Ginkho biloba (above)
Stewartia pseudocamellia

Chamaecyparis (various, but really like C. obtuse ‘Lemon Twist’ and ‘Nana Gracilus’)
Viburnum rhytidophyllum (leather-leaf viburnum; catagorized as shrub as well) (below)

I have lots of other favorites…perennials, annuals, etc, so that will be another posting at another time!

If you’re looking for what to choose for plants, check out the information on plants rigorously, meticulously, carefully, selected by horticultural and design experts in at:

Now it's 'share time'...what are your favorite plants?


Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Those two items are not normally seen in the same sentence or even in the same vicinity; however July 4th brought the two unlikely companions together. It is interesting to note that because bald eagles are no longer listed on the endangered and threatened species list, many of the protections that had been in place, no longer are. So knowing this, as much as I love fireworks for the 4th of July, I actually dreaded what would surely be another explosive performance on our little lake in our unincorporated county because of what might happen, all legally, with our resident eagle family.

Although (legal/safe and sane) fireworks are okay to use for a certain number of hours (someone said it was 3…or maybe it was from 3 in the afternoon until 3 in the morning for a couple days?) in our part of the county, you know there are surely many fireworks that are not ‘legal’ that are expended in celebration for the 4th of July holiday. Legal or not, the fireworks exploded and there was a haze over the lake by sunset. From our vantage point, many of the fireworks looked like they could be landing on top of the eagle’s nest, but that could have been due to the angle we saw them. Our concern grew as did the fireworks displays, and we hoped that the ‘family’ hunkered down for the duration.

The haze lifted the next morning, and we were quite ecstatic to see one adult and the juvenile bald eagle. We felt as though they had gone thru a battle and survived triumphant…how paradoxical that was what the holiday signified and people had celebrated.

I’ll get off my soapbox now, and leave you to view some photos and a wee bit more info. Enjoy!

I love this picture that I took as the eagle headed directly at me, or maybe it caught sight of my indoor-only cat sitting just inside the screen door of the deck?

With the nest, the tree, and what the zoom lens captures, there is no real sense of size in some of these pictures. So below are 2 which might give you a better comparison of the sizes of the adult and juvenile eagle on the nest… (from what I’ve found in my research, eagle wingspan is in the range of 7-9 feet across, eagle height is approx 36 inches for females and 30+ for males…males are smaller than females.)

Below is a series of shots of the juvenile testing out its flight ability. Yet another test run before actually leaving the nest.

Fish dinner, anyone?

And I’ll leave you with a shot of a lightning bolt that I caught when we had plenty of thunderstorms…

‘Til next time…


Thursday, July 3, 2008


Oh my, it's July already. Having spent 2 weeks on hot, humid Cape Cod, Massachusetts, it was a pleasure to return to 'normal' temperatures. But, wait--I didn't return to 'normal', it was HOT. I guess there are advantages to these above-average temps we've had this past week...

For one, the tomatoes have grown so much, and have lovely little blossoms on them. Most of the rest of my plantings have at least tripled in size, many not just in height but also in girth. Guess that means I'll need to do some thinning out this year. As I thinned out the radishes I planted, there were some that were ready to eat--yay! Wow, they were spicy hot, good and crunchy. The lettuce gets filtered light, so they are doing well and should be ready for cutting in a week or so. I guess that means I need to plant another row of each to keep the crops producing at different rates?!

Speaking of extremes in temps...don't know if many of you experienced many casualties of the winter cold, but I can tell you that I lost a few lavender plants that I pruned back in the fall. That just means there is more opportunity to plant other things in their places! And we all know how much gardeners hate trying out new plants--haha. I kid. I'm a kidder.

I won't kid you on how the eaglet is progressing though. Upon my return, we rowed out to see the nest up close. To our delight, the eaglet entertained us by standing on the edge of the nest and unfurling his/her wings to their full width and flapping wildly, insistently, but only lifting up on the 'toes'. This full-sized juvenile seemed to be trying out the new equipment, and will surely make its first-flight soon!


I'll check back in after the 4th of July weekend to post an update on the progress of the 'first flight'. Let's all keep our fingers and toes crossed that this baby flies without trouble.