Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May Flowers

Well, my friends, the month of May certainly has been another roller coaster of storms and sun, wind and warmth, and so on....with the good stretches of sunny weather making us all hungry for much, much more!

I'm looking forward to June for a variety of reasons,
no matter what the weather brings: the tree and shrub buds that stayed closed up tight extra long this spring are finally exploding with color and fragrance everywhere I go, my own boggy backyard is finally drying out enough to at least get started on a long-overdue island bed renovation, and my summer camps at Magnuson Park will be underway soon (visit for the details). All of these things lift my spirits .... along with an upcoming visit to Indiana to plant a grove of trees in memory of my father, who first taught me how to plant.

Despite spring's beauty unfolding like my little garden shed scene above, it's now also abundantly apparent just what winter's wrath hath wrought (say that 3 times fast) in my garden, and some of it ain't pretty: the mature and normally very hardy Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum) that sprawls across 20ft. of my front fence looks like a pile of dry sticks all along one side. It's no coincidence that this was the side most exposed to the NE late last November when we had that dramatic temperature drop and strong NE winds. I've noticed this same pattern of NE-exposure winter damage in gardens and parks across the region, and you may be seeing it in your own garden too. A harsh but valuable lesson in chosing plant locations, and in the value of installing wind-break plants or structures. Some of my plants are damaged beyond reviving and have now been removed, but thankfully some parts of my Star Jasmine are now showing just the tiniest bit of new growth. So I just have to wait patiently to see how much of it recovers, though I admit to also speaking encouraging words to it each time I walk past...

If you have empty spaces in your garden too, here's an idea:

Plant a Bat-friendly Garden!
Bats are one of the most helpful creatures on earth, literally consuming tons of mosquitoes each night all over the world, as well as pollinating the flowers of some of our favorite tropical food and drink such as mangos, cashews, bananas, guavas, figs, and agave (used for tequila). By attracting night-flying insects to your garden, you can help our Western Washington native bats who are out looking for a snack on a warm summer night! Here is a list of plants that attract night-flying moths and other insects that are a tasty treat for bats:
  • Sweet William (Dianthus)
  • Fireweed (a native wildflower)
  • Honeysuckle
  • Bee balm (Monarda)
  • Mock Orange (Philadelphus)
  • Salvia (Sage)
  • Silene
  • Phlox
  • Stock
  • Mints
  • Cornflower or Bachelor's Button
  • Four o’Clocks
Visit for other tips on protecting our native bat species, who are some of the most interesting animals you might see if you come out to your garden during the "night shift".

Speaking of bats.... you may want to attend the Nighttime Nature Walk I am hosting at Magnuson Park on Friday June 17th from 8:30-9:30pm. We'll be on the lookout for all the "night shift" residents of the park, including bats and dragonflies, as well as the Barn Owls and perhaps one of the shy coyotes, both of which are helping greatly to control the rodent population in the park. To register for this event, contact Magnuson Community Center at 206-684-7026.

Other upcoming Events You May Want to Attend:Both of these are on Saturday, June 4th

  • "A Bird's Eye View", a FREE family-friendly garden talk featuring yours truly. From 12:30-1:30pm at Molbak's in Woodinville.

  • "NW Lawn & Garden Pesticide Summit" for all who are interested in a pesticide-free future for our children and pets. From 9:00am-2:30pm at University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave. NE Seattle, WA 98115. Presented by the Coalition of Organic Landscape Professionals. Details and tickets via

We're in 4th place but only by a whisker... it only takes a minute to vote
Your free vote can help Magnuson Community Garden win a $3000-4000 grant to build disabled-access garden beds in the P-Patch and install educational signage throughout the site. Look for the icon second from the left in the top row, that looks like the photo below. Please take a minute to vote now, and if you are really inspired, you can vote once each day from now until July 31st!

Thanks for your support!

Member of the Washington Chapter of Association of Professional Landscape Designers
and the Environmental Education Association of Washington (EEAW)