Monday, March 15, 2010

Tulip Tree Blossoms on the University of Washington Campus

Originally uploaded by MarthaHughes

Ah...Spring is here. A little early, but who's to complain. Now the work in the garden will start in earnest - or as soon as I can get myself out there. I'm a fair weather gardner - I like to be warm but not too warm. I'm quite miserable when there's a chill in the air and in the ground. This is the year that I will string my "fairy lights" along the eaves of the house and hang my hand-made candle lanterns in my cherry tree. I plan to live outdoors as much as I can. Right now I'm dreaming of those hot and glorious few days of Summer we get in the Northwest.

But reality has set in and I must get back to work - doing what I do to support my gardening habit.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Plant Sales Galore!

Spring has gotten a jump start here in the Pacific Northwest.  The other day I saw the cherry trees in the Quad on the UW Campus are getting ready to burst forth in bloom and there's plenty of work to do in my garden. Which is where you'll find me this weekend - hopefully the weather will cooperate and give me some sunshine and warmth to work in.  

This morning I received a timely an email from Plant Amnesty this morning listing all the plant sales that will be happening in the Puget Sound Region.  There are few I plan to make it to and thought you might like to know about them also.

Sunday March 7 11 am - 3 pm

The Northwest Perennial Alliance is experiencing March Mania at Bellevue Botanical Gardens! Hellebores and ephemerals are the focus of this plant sale. Details at

Friday, March 12, 9 am - 4 pm

The Northwest Horticultural Society's Spring Ephemerals & Companion Plant Sale is in the NHS Hall at the UW Botanical Gardens. Over a dozen specialty nurseries offer plants for winter and spring interest. Details at 206.527.1794

Saturday, March 20, 9 am - 2 pm

Get a jump on the growing season at Seattle Tilth's first-ever Early Spring Edible Plant Sale! Choose from the best selection of edible fruits, veggies and herbs in the region! Get details at

Saturday April 3, 10 am - 3 pm and  Sunday April 4, 10 am - 2 pm

The Rhododendron Species Foundation Plant Sale.  Get details a

Saturday April 10, 10 am - 2 pm

The Arboretum Foundation's Early Bloomers sale offers a great start on spring planting with hundreds of favorite and unusual plants. Trees shrubs, perennials and more! Details at

Sunday April 18, 10 am - 3 pm

The Northwest Perennial Alliance holds its spring sale at North Seattle Community College. You'll be able to choose among thousands of plants from over 20 specialty nurseries, as well as the famous NPA borders and members' gardens. Check out the garden art, too! Details at

Saturday April 24, 10 am - 5 pm and Sunday April 25, 10 am - 3 pm

It's FlorAbundance at Magnuson Park! The Arboretum Foundation's annual plant sale is the largest in the Puget Sound region, and the one that Anne Lovejoy called "The plant sale of the year". Dozens of specialty nurseries offer favorite and rare perennials, annuals, trees, shrubs, grasses, vegetable starts, and more. Details at

Saturday May 1, 8 am - 5 pm and  Sunday May 2, 10 am - 3 pm

King County Master Gardeners Plant Sale and Learning Fair at CUH has everything you need for your Spring garden! You'll find edibles and ornamentals from Master Gardeners and local specialty growers, personal shoppers, and advice from over 100 Master Gardeners. Special programs include quick, practical tips and fresh ideas for your best garden yet, and Bring-A-Plant problem diagnosis for ailing plants (bring a sample in a baggie). You'll find garden art, children's activities, and the ever-popular Zoo Doo, too! Details at

Saturday May 1, 9 am - 3 pm  and Sunday May 2, 11 am - 3 pm

Seattle Tilth's popular Edible Plant Sale takes place on the Good Shepherd Center grounds, featuring the area's largest selection of organically grown heirloom and rare vegetable starts. Get details at

Saturday May 8, 10 am - 4pm

The Northwest Native Plant Society's All-Natives Spring Plant Sale takes place at the beautiful Bellevue Botanical Gardens. Come shop for your favorite native wildflowers, ferns, grasses, sedges, shrubs & trees. The great selection of rare plants goes fast, so come early! Details at

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pacific Northwest Gardening Resources...

As I build this blog I will be adding links to great nurseries and informational resources for the gardeners in my part of the world (Pacific Northwest) or any gardener in a Maritime climate.  Here are some of my favorites to start with:


University of Washington Botanic Gardens - Elizabeth C. Miller Library - Specifically the calendar for upcoming garden tours and plant sales in the Puget Sound Region (Portland and British Columbia also!)

Plant Amnesty - The source on how to prune a tree.

What's New in the Garden of Paghat the Rat-Girl - An entertaining and informative blog about gardening.

Colvos Creek Nursery - A great nursery on Vashon Island specializing in native plants and trees.  Thoug this is a business, I've included them as they're a great resource for those of you who want to garden with native species.

Ketzel Levine's Talking Plants on NPR - She's local (Portland) and she know's a lot about this zone.

Master Gardners of King County - A great resource for those of us who garden in Puget Sound.

Binetti Garden - "Ms. Binetti is a northwest horticultural expert, dispensing gardening tips and answers on HGTV and the Discovery Channel. Plus, her weekly gardening column appears in the Tacoma News Tribune (Wednesdays) and numerous other newspapers. She lives with her family in Enumclaw, near Seattle, Washington." -- from Marie Binetti's web site

Hortsense - Presented by WSU Extension - Home gardener fact sheets for managing plant problems with IPM or Integrated Pest Management


A gardener’s year at a glance: Grab a calendar, make a plan - Marie Binetti

February brings time to plant - Marie Binetti


Molbaks - Woodinville, Washington

Flower World - Maltby, Washington

Swanson's Nursery - Seattle, Washington

Peninsula Gardens - Gig Harbor, Washington

I hope that you find the links to these resources, articles and nurseries useful and informative.  Also, if you have a great resource, please share by leaving a comment.

Happy gardening.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms
Originally uploaded by MarthaHughes

This is a photograph of the cherry tree in my yard. I have to thank my neighbor for saving it when our house was in the throes of a major renovation. Our house had stood abadoned for 8 or so years when the contractor bought it to rehab and flip it. He had plans to re-landscape the property as it was overgrown with weeds, plants and lots of trees that were overgrown or sick that needed to be cut down.  Thank god, my neighbor was able to persuade him to save some of the trees. I just can't imagine my yard without my cherry and locust trees.  The beauty they add to my garden is priceless and the shade they give me on our more frequently occurring hot summers days is beyond measure.

Spring is my favorite time of the year and I think the Pacific Northwest is in for an early one. My cherry tree is starting to show buds and there's lots of new growth appearing in my garden.  In a few short months my locust trees will be covered in blossoms, sending the intoxicating scent all over the neighborhood.  I can't wait.

As thrilled as I am at the prospect of an early spring I have to say to anyone who's reading this blog on the East Coast is: I'm sorry - I don't' mean to rub this in.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Wish List for My Garden...

Amar and I have plans for the garden this year - big plans.  Last year we removed a holly tree to open of the space between the garage and the house.  It's a shady spot and grass doesn't grow there very well so we've decided to put in a deck complete with a fire pit and nice long banquets to lounge on. 

Then there's the breakefast patio Amar want's to put in that's right off the back porch.  Right now a mallow and a rosemary bush occupy the spot - they've sort of taken over the space and will need to dug up and moved somewhere else.  Once we get that done we'll have a nice sunny spot to enjoy coffee during the summer. 

Our last big project is the secret garden - which will run along the northside of the house.  I'm envisioning a grove of bamboo on one side to give provide us a  little privacy from our neighbors and on the side against the house I'll plant fushias and other shade loving plants and maybe a water feature.  It will be a sweet, serene little spot for me to escape to after a hard days work.

Then there's the rest of the garden - it's divided into 4 sections:  the inferno strip (the west side of the yard, and a south facing bed along the fence line and the parking strip), the woodland garden section that's under the big locust trees, the dappled shade garden on the other side of fence from the inferno strip and the shade/part shade garden under the cherry tree and the full sun section that faces the south that's inside the fence and along side the house.  I've got my wish list for the plants that I want to put in my garden:
For those of you living in the Pacifice Northwest you might want to check out this great resource for choosing plants "Great Plant Picks" presented by Elisabeth Carey Miller Botantical Gardens.  It list over 800 plants well suited for those gardens in the maritime Pacific Northwest.  To save money I'm going to try and grow as many of my flowers from seeds and/or bulbs as possible.  So I will be using this guide to help make my selections.  Bulbs are no problem - but seeds are another story - so far I haven't been able to grow anything from seeds. 

I love my garden.  It's a lot of hard work and there are times where I'd rather do something other than to go out and dead-head blossoms, weed or even water.  But let me tell you - it's such a joy to sit back and be able to see the fruits of your labor.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Getting Back to Work

Yesterday was one of those glorious spring-like winter days that we get every now and then.  The garden hummingbird was out and about and running the garden.  He (or she) ran another hummingbird off and I think I irritated him because he dive bombed me a couple of times when I was in his favorite part of the garden.  Nothing excites me more than having butterflies and hummingbirds in my garden - it makes me feel like I'm doing something right. 

Not wanting such a beautiful day to go to waste, I decided that I would take this opportunity to work in my garden.  I was expecting that it was going to be tough going as I didn't spend anytime looking after my garden last year and it shows.  Happily, I found that pulling weeds and chopping back the over-growth wasn't that hard and I got a lot done.  It felt good to get out there and work.  I saw lots of signs that spring is on it's way.  I saw lots of new growth pushing it's way through the dirt. A new addition to my garden are these little white flowers - Snowdrops.  They're "volunteers" as I didn't plant them.  Each year I get these little suprises in the garden - lillies, scilla, forget-me-knots, foxgloves and those cute little orange poppies.  Most of the gardeners I know will pull out these plants but not me  - I like the idea of a natural garden and treat them as wildflowers.  Pretty soon I'll have tulips and daffodils galore - and I'll be able to see them!  Of course, this morning I'm feeling a little achey and I have been reaquainted with muscles I forget I had. 

One of the things I like about working in the garden is that it gives me time to contemplate my life, to think, to make plans, to daydream while I'm pulling weeds and dead-heading plants.  I'm the happiest when I'm working at a task - even if it takes me forever to get to starting the task (I'm a procrastinator extraordinaire).  Amar and I have lots of plans for the garden this summer and I'm sure I'll have lots opportunity to think/contemplate/daydream while in the garden.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Welcome to the newest incarnation of Bella Faire!

I wanted to start a blog dedicated to cooking.  Then I re-thought that idea and have decided that it really isn't feasible to do so right now.  After all, that I have enough challenges maintaining the three blogs I already have.  My latest ideal is to modify one of my existing blogs and this is the blog that is under consideration.  First of all, my readership is very small as it gets the least amount of attention of all my blogs.  

This blog started out as a way to promote an art fair that I was helping to organize a couple of summers ago.  However, it doesn't appear that "Bella Faire - Art in the Garden" will ever happen again.  So, I renamed my blog "Bella Faire - The Art of Gardening" and I had grand plans of writing all sorts posts about gardening, resplendid with photos of  the neighborhood and local gardens and, most importanly,  my garden.  Nothing really happened after that.  For one thing I didn't spend much time in my garden last summer (too hot!  lost interest - didn't have money to spend in the garden.)  and I haven't been gardening that much lately (it is winter after all!).  All in all, a dismal failure.

That brings me to cooking.  I do a lot of it - it's my most practical creative outlet.  And I like to eat, love to eat in fact.  I'm a good cook and I have all these aspirations of starting a "cooks garden" this summer - growing mostly herbs and lettuces with a few tomatoes plants thrown in to create the beginnings of the perfect salad.  So, you can see where I'm going with this - I'm combining my interests in gardening, cooking and photography into one under utilized blog.  How perfect is that I ask you???!!!

In the future you will see this blog filled with photos from my garden, planting tips, recipes for my favorite things go cook and maybe a few "favorite blog features".  I see all sorts of possibilities for this blog and all of them are great! 

Stay tuned for more.