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May 2007 Archives

May 1, 2007

May Flowers

April showers bring May Flowers

How true. The cherries have finished blooming and the trees are leafing out. It is now on to the next wave of blooming plants. The neighborhoods are a riot of color; filled with hybrids of our state flowers, the Rhododendron.

It is interesting living in the suburb. Many of the yards still have some of the original plants used for landscaping. Another example of a bulk purchase - similar plants. Unique is no long a unique Rhododendron in the neighborhood. Everyone seems to have one. If it isn't Unique, then it is either 'Mrs Furnival' or 'Hino Crimson' evergreen azalea.

Lilacs are also in bloom. Their scent is perfuming the neighborhood. White, lilac and dark magenta in color. Lilacs are bittersweet for me. They herald the height of spring but also bring memories of a good friend who died of breast cancer in 2002, Surain. She was the same age as I am when she died in spring of 2002. I never knew the origin of her name until her memorial service. There was a lovely wreath of lilac and roses. Before she was born, her father had walked around the garden with a relative from Sweden identifying the names of the plants in Swedish. They came to a lilac bush and he said "Syren". He thought this would be a wonderful name for a girl and from the phonetic spelling came Surain. She was such a vibrant person. I miss her.

The peonies are also coming in bloom. The early
Paeonia mlokosewitschii is in full bloom. The other peonies are budded and should be in bloom in a couple more weeks.

May 4, 2007

Dunn Gardens

Dunn Gardens

Sometimes you will find the most amazing surprises right in your backyard. Today we found the Dunn Gardens.

I had heard of the garden but never really knew much about it. We stopped by their booth at the Seattle Flower Show this year and picked up a brochure. We realized the garden was located in Broadview neighborhood of Northwest Seattle.

The Dunn Gardens was the summer estate of Arthur G Dunn Sr. Dunn Sr had made his fortune in the early 1900's in the Northwest fishing cannery industry. His friend, John Agen, owned 20 acres just north of the city limit. The land had been recently logged with expansive views over the Puget Sound. Agen convinced Dunn to build a summer home on half of the property. It would provide a nice retreat from his home in the city on First Hill.

Dunn Gardens
The Olmsted Brother landscape architecture firm was very active in Seattle region in the early 1900's. They designed the majority of Seattle Parks, created a master plan of parks and boulevards that run along Lake Washington and designed the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909. They also designed The Highlands, an exclusive gated community just north of the city limits. Agen and Dunn hired the firm to landscape their summer estate in 1916.

The plan took advantage of the natural features of the property. Paths and drives curve through the property opening to vistas and small garden rooms. It included a croquet court and a tennis court although the tennis court was never build. Dunn requested that the plantings included several Eastern deciduous trees to remind him of New York state. There were also groupings of bulbs, shrubs and other flowering trees. Arthur Dunn supervised and did much of the original plantings enjoying his garden and summer estate until his death in 1945.

Over the years several houses were built on the property. A separate house was built for his daughter Dorothy. The main house was replaced in 1949. It was moved a bit east in the property and a large meadow lawn area replaced the original summer home.

After Dunn's death, the property was split among his children. The eastern parcel was sold to developers but the remaining 8 acres are still intact. His second son, Edward, was also an avid gardener and spent much of his time turning his portion of the property into a wonderland of rhododendrons and woodland plants. Dorothy renovated the croquet garden and hired Fujitaro Kubota designer of Kubota garden to design in install a series of ponds.

Today, the gardens are maintained by the E.B. Dunn History Garden Trust and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

You can only visit the garden on a tour. The weekends were booked but they also have tours on Thursday and Friday. These are a great way to take advantage of a more quiet tour. We met our docent in a lovely garden room off the garage. After a brief overview of the history of the garden, we headed out along the path to the west. Most of the views of the Puget Sound are long gone. But there is no need for a vista since most of what you want to see is right there along the paths.

The Rhododendrons were is full bloom. There are several large 'loderi' hybrid Rhododendrons lining the first meadow after leaving the patio. We had just missed the Erythronium revolutum. They must have been spectacular since lined many of the woodland paths. But there were many triliums still in bloom. The Podophyllum pleianthum was also spectacular. The croquet court is now bordered with heathers and a summer perennial bed. New landscaping is going in around the house that was formerly Dorthy's home.

I really enjoyed the pond garden. The water cascaded down the ravine with benches placed on small shelves for relaxing and reflection. We will return again to see the different seasons.

Dunn Garden Website
History of Dunn Gardens from HistoryLink
Olmsted Park Plans Cybertour from HistoryLink

May 9, 2007


Edmonds Ferry
I've been trying to motivate myself to exercise. I need it so bad. I have no energy, my back and legs hurt if I stand for a long period. I was so sore and stiff from my flight back from Arkansas. Then there is the ever expanding waistline. I find it so difficult to get out and move after work. I work a 10 hour day. Add on an hour and half for the commute in and back and there went 12 hours.

My I-pod has been helping. I download a few new tunes and create new a songlist. New tunes always gets me out. And the weather is improving. The temperatures are starting to get above 60 and I don't seem to mind getting out if I don't have to bundle up.

But the best motivator so far has been a new route. I like to walk or jog and my neighborhood route has gotten really boring. We don't have sidewalks in my neighborhood so I walk on the street or the gravel roadsides. The streets are not real busy but you do have to be aware. I have been enjoying the progression of spring blooms in the yards but I live in the suburbs and there is just so much you can get excited about suburban yards.

Puget Sound Vista

A couple of weeks ago, I tried a new route. It is about a 5 minute drive from my house to the ferry dock and the shoreline of the Puget Sound. One street north of the ferry runs about a 1/4 mile with a gorgeous view out over to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Whidbey Island and even Mount Baker. I love the expansive horizon. The seagulls drift overhead. The gardens are a bit more adventurous also.

I've enjoyed this walk for years but what I did differently was to head south and past the ferry dock. It turns out that I can walk along the sound for a good mile to Marina Park. It starts at Brackett's Landing and if I'm lucky and the tide is out, I can walk in the sand for a bit. At the fishing pier, it becomes a wooden walkway along the marina and then over a small bridge and into the park. There is such diversity and activity - it keeps me interested. I love it.

May 11, 2007

Lakewold Garden

Lakewold Garden Vista

We finally had a chance to visit Lakewold Garden, a well known Puget Sound garden just outside of Tacoma. I don't know why it took so long.

The garden consists of 10 acres bordering Lake Gravelly near Fort Lewis. It was originally purchased by Emma Alexander in 1908. Her son created gardens to enhance the view of the lake and Mt. Rainier. The original backbones of the gardens were created at this time. There is a rumor that the Olmsteds had a hand in the design but there is no evidence. The property changed owners but it wasn't until it was passed to Corydon and Eulalie Wagner in 1938 that it took on today's design.

Lakewold Gardens
In 1958, Eulalie hired Thomas Church, a noted California landscape designer. He embraced principles of abstract modernism taking elements of cubism and Bauhaus into the garden. He took the basic lines and expanded them with the wonderful quatrefoil pool, cleverly placed statuary and small garden rooms. Eulalie, an avid plantswoman, filled the garden and rooms with wonderful plants.

The entrance to the garden is along the curving driveway. It passes through large groves of rhododendrons and specimen trees. The large loderi hybrids were in full bloom along with many species rhododendrons. Interspersed through the trees, we caught glimpses of the spacious lawn, house and lake. From the house entryway, there is a wonderful view of the front lawn bordered by beautiful trees such as a Princess Tree Paulownia tomentosa, copper beech Fagus sylvatica 'Atropunicea' . On each wide of the wide entry are statues which give the garden a classic English feel. They are a nice counterpoint to the lushness of the NW garden.

From the house, a lovely brick walkway exits towards a pavillon. On one side is a small shade garden filled with ferns and native woodland plants such as Vancouveria and mouse plant Arisarum proboscoideum . On oneside of the walkway is a boxwood framed parterre border filled with bulbs. Framing the brick walkway are two lovely Mount Fuji flowering cherries. Their blossoms were just finishing and the gentle winds blew the flowers around us like snow.

Off to the side was the quatrefoil pool. Thomas Church designed the four left clover style pool providing reflections from each angle. At the end of the brick walkway was a covered shelter providing another interesting vista of the garden.

From here we took a winding path down to the shade garden. A lovely pool and stream is shaded by several different specimen Japanese maples and Parrotias. We glimpsed the bright orange red blossoms of a Chilean flame tree up above. Also along the path to Picnic point were several Stewartia pseudocamelias with their beautiful bark. From the point, you had a nice vista across the lake.

Lakewold Gardens
Under the 'Wolf Tree', a large douglas fir, is another shade garden. Here we found many varieties of trilliums and other interesting bulbs and woodland plants. We even found a woodland orchid Cypripedium parviflorum in bloom along with several alba white forms of Camas.

Continuing along the path we came to the rock garden. From here, there was a wonderful view up the lawn to the house. Along the side were interesting and unexpected gardens. The patio at the house was covered by ancient white and purple wisteria in full bloom. The scent tickled our noses. Off to the side was a lovely herb knot garden bordered with brick creating a lovely belvedere back across the lawn to the lake. The peonies were just starting to bloom. In a month, it would be filled with roses.

A lovely garden combining the natural beauty of the Northwest with beautiful plants.

Lakewold Gardens

May 14, 2007


I've started to research the Côte D'Azur and region around Nice and VilleFranche sur Mer. I've been to Nice twice. Our first trip was back in 1996. We used it as a 'jump-off point' to other places in the region. We rented a car and drove up into the Alpes Maritime and Barcelonnette. We drove up over the Col de la Bonette. It was sunny in Nice but by time we reached the Col, it was a torrential downpour with hail. G was really worried since we could barely see where we were going. But we made it and had a relaxing stay at the Azteca Hotel in Barcelonnette. We toured back to Nice and then took the ferry to Corsica.

My next trip was solo. I took a hiking trip and met the group in Vence. I flew into Nice and spent the afternoon in Vieux Nice before taking the bus to Vence.

But it is hard to research Nice in forums and on the web. I've been trying other tags such as French Riviera, Côte D'Azur, and Villefranche sur Mer. But I did find a great video on YouTube that I thought I'd share. I love the presentation and the music in this video - Enjoy!

May 15, 2007


I left my cats out this afternoon when I got home from work. We only let them go outside when we are home. They are pretty well behaved and stay in the area. We do have a greenbelt area behind our house. It is a wetland area which borders on a small pond. It is also the street storm drain runoff area. The cats enjoy slipping under the fence and exploring.

Shortly after I left them out, one of them dashed back from the yard and up onto the deck. She sat on the corner looking intently out towards the back of the yard. She was slightly cowering so something had spooked her. I thought it might be the noisy crows.

I grabbed the water pot and walked out to water the peas. I went around by the greenhouses to check the tomatoes and I saw a coyote just on the other side of the fence. No wonder the cat was spooked. She must have also seen the coyote and ran back to the protection of the house.

I've never seen one in the neighborhood. I shouldn't be surprised. I know there are coyotes in the Puget Sound region and there are stories of seeing them in Seattle. And we had a bear last year about a mile away. But this is the first coyote for us.

I'm not certain how to handle it. The cats love to go outside. I'll probably need to make certain that I make my presence known and I don't leave them out late at night.

May 18, 2007

Viola trinervata - Sagebrush violet

I have been testing how to link from Flickr to my blog. I set it up a while ago but I couldn't remember exactly what I did. It turns out that there is a separate web services password in Movable Type to access your blog from another external blogging application such as Flickr. It makes sense but it is not obvious or well documented in Flickr.

May 19, 2007

How does my garden grow?

This is a planting weekend. The sugar snap peas are coming along nicely. They are just about 2 feet high. We have the tomatoes in the greenhouse but they are growing slowly.

We took advantage of the nursery sales and bought a bunch of annuals. This is the first year that G has actually encouraged me and suggested that I plant some annuals. I got two 6-packs of rudbeckias; Indian Summer and Prairie Sun. We put each type in a large pot. We combined the orange rudbeckias with light blue salvias. It should look great. I also got a few other traditional annuals; yellow snapdragons and Lilliput zinnias. I made small display bed and it should be nice for cutting. Zinnias are so cheerful.

Today we picked up a few rose colored calibrachoa. They look like little miniature petunias and will be much better in our rainy weather than the large petunias which can look terrible after a rain storm. G put the in a small metal tub with a miniature purple fountain grass and some sedums.

And it was warm enough to plant green beans. This year's varieties are Blue Lake pole and Romano pole. We set up a teepee out of rebar for them to climb on. It will be 6-8 days before they germinate. I'll put some sluggo out tomorrow to keep the slugs at bay

May 20, 2007

Bellevue Botanical Garden

Whenever we want a perennial fix, we make a trip to the Bellevue Botanical Garden . This is a relatively new garden which opened 1992. The Northwest Perennial Alliance worked with the Bellevue Parks Department to create the garden.

The highlight of the garden is the 17,000 square feet perennial border. It is broken out in to sections by color; gold, pink, variegated, hot, blue, black lavender and more. Along the top of the border, a filbert-shell covered path winds through old apple trees and climber roses. Everywhere you turn there is a delight for the plants person. South of the main border, under several large conifers, is a shade border.

There are several other areas for exploring. Near the entrance is the alpine garden. We loved the Centaurea fischeri related to bachelor buttons. The bees loved it also. Next is a waterwise garden showing how to use evergreen ground covers. This leads into a small herb garden lined with interesting mediterranean plants.

One of the new areas is a tumbling stream area focusing on ground cover plants. Next to it is the Yao garden, a Japanese inspired garden which has potential but always seemed lacking to us. And the newest garden is a northwest native plant garden with a lovely pond-bog. It has recently been planted and it should be nice in a year or so.

Here is a slide show of some photos from our recent visit.

May 24, 2007

So how are the tomatoes coming?

This season's tomatoes

G moved the tomatoes up today. They are now in their 20 gallon tubs and located in the sunny corner of the greenhouse. A few of them are already flowering but it will probably still be a while before they set fruit. We're still on track for August.

May 26, 2007

Blooms of the week

Here is what is in bloom this week in the garden .

This page contains all entries posted to Postcards from the Trail in May 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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