It's been very quiet at Plant NW-Grow what you Love. I have been embarking in a new adventure. I've decided to start a flower farm!!!  I have a small plot of land I'm leasing 40 minutes SE of Seattle. I'm growing over 30 variety of flower on a 1/4 plot. Check out my new website at
Here is my new contacts info:

"The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size". 
~Gertrude S. Wister
Witchhazel (hamamelis spp.)
Today I am sharing with you the special place that late winter blooms have in my heart. If you don't have anything in your gardening blooming right now consider going to the nursery for some plant therapy. Treat yourself for Valentine ’s Day and buy a winter flowering plant. Believe me, it's necessary for your soul.

Hardy Winter Cyclamen (Cyclamen coum)
I'm hoping to plant Hardy Winter Cyclamen this Valentine ’s Day. Then indulge myself with dark chocolate and red wine!

"Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas."    
Elizabeth Murray
Top Row: Mountain Hemlock, Norway Spruce, Spanish Fir
Middle Row: Colorado Blue Spruce, Grand Fir, North Japanese Spruce
Bottom Row: Oriental Spruce, White Fir, Korean Fir
As the garden quiets down in the winter months take the time to appreciate the texture that conifers bring to the table. With a variety of sizes, shapes and colors these beautiful evergreens can bring a new sense of life to the stillness of cold days.
The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination.
~Terri Guillemets
Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta ‘Chief Joseph’)
In the months of winter the color overtone comes across as a bit drape. I don't know if this is my perception due to the short days or the lack of warm sun rays. I try my best to love the winter. I frequently visit the beautiful snow covered mountains, I continue to garden throughout the cold season and I enjoy working in the brisk air.  Still I can't stop dreaming about the summer sun....So today I share with you a garden find that brings a smile to my face, a conifer with golden colored pines that evokes memories of warm long days. Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine, may you continue to bring rays of sunshine to our winter gardens.

“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today for me, is a day to be grateful.
To reflect on the beauty of the world and all that it gives us.
To sit and learn from the lessons of 2012.
To remember all the beautiful smiles it had to deliver.
This New Years Eve I share with you the photo's that bring smiles to a year of remembrance.
"When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not. "
Georgia O'Keffe
I harvested the remaining vegetables from my garden last week, preparing the beds for overwintering. I'm working on building the soil for my garden.  The soil mix I purchased is too sandy. It dries out faster than my liking.   In hopes to build the soil by spring time I covered the garden beds with a thick layer of homemade compost (3"-4') and topped it off with additional inches of dried leaves.....I'll let you know how it goes.

As I harvested the last of the veggie produce my thoughts wondered to my garden goals of 2013. I have a fascination and love for the pollinators of the garden. Many bees and butterflies visit the veggie beds, but not compared to the different variety of pollinators I see flying around the flowers in the front yard.

My garden goals for next year:
  • Build 3 more raised vegetable beds
  • Build 2 cold frames  PLUS
  • Incorporate a large in-ground flower garden to attract additional pollinators.

I hope to create a fun feeding ground for our flying garden friends.

Happy Holidays!....and cheers, to winter planning, outdoor fun and the await for spring.

It's that time of the year where the leaves are ferociously falling and you feel like the cleanup will never end. STOP racking up those leaves and use them to your advantage! Mulch, Mulch, Mulch and your soil will love, love, love you for it!!! I take advantage of my lawn mower this time of year and quickly mow over the fallen leaves in my yard. I leave the mower bag on and dump all the leaf remains in my garden beds. This is when the "microherd" moves in and does MAGIC for my garden, no joke, garden magic.
    The Microherd is the millions or maybe billions of beneficial microbes living harmoniously under your soil. They will rock your plants world, turning your common leaf into soil haven.  This beneficial herd is comprised of fungi, bacteria, mycelium, isopods, beetles, centipedes, spiders, ants, worms and more. These soil organisms are munching away at the new found food of the leaves, excreting it out and turning your soil into a nutrient rich food for plants. Not only are the living organisms having a party under your soil, they're creating a happy home for your garden.
    So, the main lesson of this story is, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR LEAVES!! The Microherd will fertilize your plants for you.

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Agapanthus seed pods
The connection the garden has to nature is unique in every season.  In the fall many plants go to seed, this is a great time to start your seed saving adventures.
SEED: a reproductive structure formed from the maturation of an ovule and containing an embryo and stored food (definition from Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon)
Familiarize yourself with dried seed heads, pods or capsules on your plants. Above you see a seed pod from Lily-of-the-Nile (Agapanthus). Once you understand how your flowers are turning to seed, start collecting them.  I usually start by cutting off the stalk and storing the seed pods upside down in a jar or envelope for drying. Don't forget to label to avoid confusion later.
Rudbeckia hirta seed heads
After the seeds are fully dry (approximately 1-2 week) I start to sort and clean. Above you can see Blacked-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) after I dried the seed heads. For these I removed all the dried petals and then slowly started to remove the seeds from the heads. I was careful not to mix too much chaff with the seeds. This can be tedious to remove without a proper sieve. After the seeds are removed and cleaned up I store them in number 1 coin envelopes clearly labeled with the plant name, date and where I harvested them.

Cosmo flower seed heads
The next question is when to sow your seeds, if you’re not familiar with the plant I would recommend doing some research, many perennial seeds can be sown directly in the fall to germinate early spring. A number of the perennials that flower early to mid-summer can be sown right now.  Gardening with seeds, I feel is an experiment with in itself. The more you practice the more intuitive it becomes.  It’s incredibly rewarding to plant a tiny seed and watch it mature into a beautiful flower.   

    Butterflies bring smiles to everyone's face whether young or small. I have a wonderful memory of my oldest son roaming around the vegetable garden in the summer. He was carefully watching the Cabbage White butterflies which are attracted to our cosmo and nasturtium flowers. At first he was chasing them, then he would slow down a little to observe. To my surprise he started to catch them.  He told me he was making friends.
    This year I'm experimenting with fall seeds to encourage more of our butterfly friends to visit the garden. I will seed the front yard beds with nectar plants to supply a varied food palate for the butterflies and sow host plants to provide a nice landing pad for eggs. Here is a seed list for fall.  I will add more as spring arrives.

Nectar Plants:
  • Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
  • Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Aster (Aster ssp)
Host Plants:
  • Hollyhock (Alcea rosea)
  • Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
  • Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
- John Muir
Last week I went on a beautiful hike to Mason Lake via the Ira Spring Memorial Trail.  If you haven't heard of Ira Spring you should read up about him here.  He was an outdoorsman who followed his love for Washington's wilderness all throughout his life. He helped convince the Forest Service that this trail needed to be reconstructed to become more hiker friendly. His vision came true and in 2004 the trail was dedicated to him.
The views along the hike were stunning and Mason Lake was a picturesque final destination.  The fall colors are now vivid and beautiful   As I was hiking along the trail I wondered what native tree's and plant's might be most appropriate to bring out the autumn colors to the garden. 

The Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) is the first that comes to mind.  This under-story tree often has a rainbow of fall color.  Check out a more extensive list of fall color plants below. 

Enjoy the change of the season, plant some color in the garden and find inspiration within the mountains on a fall color hike.