Garden Blog

Natalie's Paintbrushes

Natalie Footen with native golden paintbrush hosts

by Dawn W Todd, Nursery Intern

Recently I had the pleasure of talking with Natalie Footen, a PhD student at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. Her work focuses on our native golden paintbrush, or golden Indian paintbrush, Castilleja levisecta, in the broomrape family (Orobanchaceae).  

Did you know that Washington State has prairies? Did you know they are endangered? Western Washington used to have about a quarter-million acres of native prairie; now we have only several thousand acres.

COM_CONTENT_READ_MORENatalie's Paintbrushes

Interview With Ciscoe--Part II

green lacewing Chrysopidae from Wikipedia

by Dawn W Todd, Intern

As promised, Part 2 of my interview with Ciscoe Morris. This half of the interview focused on sustainability.

Ciscoe told me how at the age of ten he was hired as a lawn boy at his church, and worked under gardener Joe. Joe taught Ciscoe how to avoid poisons in the garden. He learned to work with nature and not against it. He had to learn about pests in order to make it easier to garden without poisons, and that had an affect on him in later years.

When he went to work for Seattle University nobody was using organic, or IPM [Integrated Pest Management] gardening. Ciscoe talked the university administration into letting him handle the pest control, and he didn’t want to go the pesticide-spraying route. He had just become a Master Gardener and had learned IPM.

COM_CONTENT_READ_MOREInterview With Ciscoe--Part II

Plant Geeks Listen Up. There Is Hope!

Art of Zen exhibit by Natasha Schwartz, Dakara Landscape Design

by Dawn W Todd, Intern

First, let me thank you for stopping by the KBGF booth at the NW Flower and Garden Show. I had the pleasure of meeting many of you who share my delight in this wonderful garden. I look forward to seeing you again; volunteering, or just wandering our paths. I know I promised the rest of my interview with Ciscoe Morris, but I just have to say a word about the Garden Show. My focus this year was on design, and that’s what I want to tell you about.

COM_CONTENT_READ_MOREPlant Geeks Listen Up. There Is Hope!

Interview With Ciscoe--Part I

by Dawn W Todd, Intern

Brianne and Ciscoe

This week I had the pleasure and good fortune to interview Ciscoe Morris, the effervescent and energetic gardener, television and radio host, teacher and lecturer, writer of blogs, newspaper articles and books, leader of garden tours to exotic locations…did I leave anything out?  The fact that my Horticultural Careers instructor made me do it is entirely beside the point.

I was supposed to find someone who was already doing what I want to do, and I had heard from classmates that Ciscoe is a great guy; friendly and funny and easy to talk to, and generous with his time. So, I screwed up my courage and sent an email through his web page. He wrote back! And he is a great guy, exactly as described.

I won’t go into the details of how Ciscoe came to be (among so many other things) a garden writer. Instead I will pass along some of the information he gave me that bears on the purchase and care of plants. Next week, we’ll talk about sustainability.

COM_CONTENT_READ_MOREInterview With Ciscoe--Part I

It’s Flu Season—have you had your Vaccinium?

by Dawn W Todd, Intern

evergreen huckleberry

Sorry, sorry, I couldn’t help myself! I wanted to tell you a Christmas story, but I got carried away by plant lore (as usual).  I’ll tell you the story and then carry you along with me.  

My husband Howard wanted seeds for Christmas. He had come across a website that promised Vaccinium alaskaense, (Alaska blueberry) but he hadn’t had time to figure out how to order them. Well, that seemed pretty do-able. I went to the website and you should go there, too: .

Only I couldn’t figure out how to order the seeds, either, so I sent them an email. I got a reply very quickly; “Hi Dawn, send me your mailing address and I'll do all I can to get them to you. We haven't had a mail plane in for over a week, but if it shows up your seeds will be on it.”

COM_CONTENT_READ_MOREIt’s Flu Season—have you had your Vaccinium?

The Trumpet of a Prophesy!

by Dawn W Todd, Intern

witchhazel bloomsThe trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

From: Ode to the West Wind, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

You know what else is the trumpet of a prophecy of spring?  Hamamelis. You see it above, a picture of three different kinds of witchhazel from that marvelous website—Oregon State University Landscape Plants.

Here at Kruckeberg Botanic Garden our very own Hamamelis mollis is in bloom by the path near the parking lot. The Van Gogh-ish flowers in starry clusters are hard to miss. You may catch a scent of spring when you walk past; the flowers are delicately fragrant. We have Hamamelis x intermedia further in. Ask if you don’t see it when you walk through.

COM_CONTENT_READ_MOREThe Trumpet of a Prophesy!