Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Decorated for the Holidays

On Sunday, the day after the snow and the day before the torrential rain, I slogged through the dreary rain on my usual round of Sunday errands: the library, the QFC on Broadway (for their fabulous bacon and croissants), the dog food store (Mud Bay), Rite-Aid (for bubble bath). Alas, the Farmer's Market is over for the year so that's no longer part of my round. The last stop is always the garden and I was surprised to see that someone had twined a garland of cedar branches along the metal fence. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. I like it that the garden has that festive touch but putting a garland on a garden fence seems a bit like bringing coals to Newcastle. In the picture, those yellow spots on the plant to the left are roses, still on the rose bush.
Contributed by Waverly Fitzgerald

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Evil Trumpet Vine

by Waverly Fitzgerald

Some of the gardeners in the Thomas Street p-patch have been there since the beginning and some are even gardening in the same plot. I've moved three times within this garden, starting out in the plot in the back corner (it doesn't get a lot of sun), then down a few plots to the middle of the upper bed (under the overhanging lilac shrub) but that plot still didn't get a lot of sun, and finally up to the front, inheriting a plot with lovely raised beds from a gardener who was known for the beauty of her garden display.

She did a lot of work to create rich gorgeous soil in her garden for which I am very grateful but she may also be responsible for planting the plant that is the bane of my existence. It goes by the name of Red Trumpet Vine, a name way too nice for this plant, which is also called Cow-Itch Vine because it sometimes causes an allergic reaction in people, and, apparently, cows. It's often planted to attract hummingbirds with its long red trumpet-like flowers, but I've never seen a humming bird near it. I do see lots of trumpet vine. It's scientific name is Campsis radicans, campsis meaning curved and radicans for the way it spreads through its roots.

And that's the real problem with it. Like mint or crabgrass, it spreads underground and then pops up in a new place. Yank on a new shoot and you'll rip out a root that can go back for several feet, but you can never eradicate the plant at its roots. My predecessor went to great lengths to try to control the plant. I can see the remains of her efforts: a metal barrier hammered into the ground, plastic lining the raised beds. Nothing has been effective.

I went to Dave's Garden website to learn more about it and the general consensus is that the plant is a terribly invasive nuisance. People complain about it choking trees, bringing down roofs, popping up in the most inconvenient places. And no one has found a way to restrain it (except planting it in a container). I may try the advice of one fellow who suggested pouring straight alcohol on the roots, but I'm not sure if he meant rubbing alcohol, grain alcohol or something like vodka (which does seem a waste).

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Putting the Garden to Bed

It's Winter in the Garden on November 1st (just like in the Celtic calendar). And we're expected to have our plots ready for Winter.

Some gardeners clear their plots and bag the yard waste for removal.

One gardener lays down burlap sacks to prevent weeds from taking hold during the Winter.

In this plot, the elegant design of the bricks becomes more obvious (though a bit obscured by the fallen leaves).

Monday, October 29, 2007

Down the Garden Path

A view of the garden gate, taken in August of 2007.

The sign on the left welcomes visitors to the garden but also mentions our requests for visitors:

no dogs
no smoking
in the garden.

The low path curves gently to the left. To the right you can see the rock retaining wall. On the left, the two raised beds.

In the background, you can see the front of the toolshed, which is covered with notices for the gardeners. In this view you can see the raised beds more clearly plus a magnificent rosemary in bloom that trails over the retaining wall.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

History of Thomas Street

This information is straight from the Department of Neighborhoods website:

The Thomas Street Gardens received site control of the property at 1010 Thomas Street in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle in April, 1997. Lyle Grant, an architect, landscape architect and a Master Gardener drew up the plans for the Gardens which included thirty two plots and two ADA beds. To incorporate the concept of the hills of Seattle, he included a three foot high curved aggregate wall, adding the dimensions of height and depth and creating an illusion of the site being larger, since one does not see the entire Gardens at one time. This unique feature also gives the Gardens a feeling of being a neighborhood "pocket park" that just happens to have vegetables growing in it! The main path made of stone insures that the Gardens are accessible to all, and also hides the "dry wells" that are needed to provide drainage.

Other special features are the herbaceous borders and perennial beds in front of and throughout the Gardens and the rockery planted into the aggregate wall. The tool shed was built from a design by Param Bedi and adds a modern look to what is usually a plain utilitarian structure in many gardens. The front gate was also designed by Mr. Grant and the trellis ties in with the architectural details of the neighboring houses. A wrought iron bench designed and made by Lambda House youth working with artists from Pratt Institute provides a lovely spot under the wisteria from which to view the Gardens.