Friday, July 8, 2011

Early Summer in the Garden

The last few weeks have finally brought some real warmth to our garden soils, and plants are responding. The 'Snowfire' Rose in my back garden finally opened its first blossom this week, and it was well worth the wait.

This is a wonderful time of year to spend an evening in your garden having dinner, visiting with friends, or (my favorite) just swinging in the hammock at twilight. Whether or not your garden chores or plans are complete, I suggest taking some time to enjoy all the things about it that do please you. My own garden chores are still a work in progress this summer, and I just have to remember to look beyond the bare spots to see a 15-year old clump of Day Lillies loaded with gorgeous flowers, as well as the occasional Hummingbird having a snack.

Still in the Running
If you are also spending time at your computer this month, please take a few moments to put in a free vote for Magnuson Community Garden as part of your routine. Your vote can help win the garden a $3000-4000 grant to build disabled-access garden beds in the P-Patch and install educational signage throughout the site. Only the top 5 vote-getters will receive a grant, and the MCG is currently less than 100 votes from #5. To cast a free vote, click on this icon then click on the photo that matches this one (top row, second from left). You can vote once each day from now until August 1st, and any amount of votes you can take time to make will give the garden a better chance to be among the top 5. Thanks much!

Tales from Magnuson Park
Are you still hearing and seeing baby birds this month? I have been amazed at how late some of our native songbirds are nesting. The cool spring caused insect populations to remain low, and many birds responded by waiting until their favorite food was plentiful. The cool temperatures also caused many of Magnuson Park's resident Pacific Chorus Frogs to delay their egg-laying, and there are tadpoles still swimming in the marsh ponds that in most years would be adult frogs by now. (Frog photo courtesy of

The adults are tiny creatures, but still croaking up a storm in the evening hours and making the twilight hour in the park a pretty special experience. On Friday July 15th and Friday August 19th, I will be hosting the monthly Nighttime Nature Walk in the wetlands from 8:30-9:30pm. Chances are good that we will see 2-4 different Swallow species finishing up their last meal of the day, many waterfowl, several of the 19 Dragonfly species that spend summers there including this Cardinal Meadowhawk I photographed recently, Little Brown and Big Brown bats, and perhaps a couple of Barn Owls or other raptors. The fee is only $2/person or $5/family, and binoculars and other supplies are provided. Contact Magnuson Community Center at 206-684-7026 to register and get directions to the starting point.

Another unusual opportunity offered by Magnuson Community Center is to bring your family to the park for an "urban campout" on August 5th-6th. The evening will feature marshmallow toasting and songs around the campfire at the swimming beach plus a nighttime bat walk, and if you're an early bird you can go on my early morning bird walk too!

Fun with Fruit
For those of you who are growing Apple or Pear trees, there is still time to protect your fruit from Apple Maggot Fly with "foot socks", but it's best to do it asap. You can order these effective and inexpensive barriers from the Seattle Tree Fruit Society or MacPherson's Leather, or visit a local nursery for pheromone traps that will attract Apple Maggot Fly and Codling Moth away from your fruit.

If your trees are fruiting like mad, you may want to attend one of these classes: Master Food Preserver Nancy Gohring will teach a class for City Fruit on basic water bath canning techniques on Saturday July 16 in north Seattle. If you're interested in learning how to make your fruit last through the winter, this is a good place to start. The class covers equipment, safety, ingredients, water-bath canning techniques, and canning recipes. (FYI: new and renewing City Fruit members receive a free class)

Nancy Gohring is also going to teach this class for free at City People's Garden Store on Saturday August 13th. The details are on on their summer class list.

For info on other fruit-related classes and events, check out the Seattle Tree Fruit Society calendar.

Hope you have a joy-full summer,

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