Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Vinca minor 'compacta'

Fallen leaves of Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' (Coral Bark Maple)

Viburnum davidii

We were delighted to have a white Christmas here in the Northwest. It snowed for a few hours yesterday just enough to cover the ground and make it pretty. From what I hear it's one in twenty years that it snows on Christmas in my area. We don't get snow to often but one thing we do get a lot of is frosts, especially from Nov. 1st to March 15th. Usually they happen between rainstorms. I'll have to say I do like them. There is something very beautiful to me about having everything sugar coated. I do have to be cognisant about putting out annuals to early, but generally I'm very good about being patient and waiting. The textural photos above are a few examples from the other day. The center pictures is of some fall leaves. Some may ask why I haven't raked them up. Well, as long as they are not on the lawn or covering evergreen perennials and shrubs I let Mama Nature do her thing and use it as a mulch. In addition to protecting any deciduous plants it helps keep the weeds down.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Tonight Winter officially starts and for many it translates to cold weather and snow. Here in the Seattle Sound area we are blessed to have a milder Winter than most. I am always thankful for that, and when I forget, all I have to do is turn on the television and watch the evening news when broadcasting what the weather is like in other parts of the world. Attached is a picture from my garden during a recent snow fall. We only get a few a year and generally they are always under 6 inches and melt in a few days. With the picture is a wonderful poem about Winter from one of my favourite writers.

Enjoy and Happy Winter.

For those that hate Winter remember that the days are getting longer now and before you know it Spring green well be surrounding you in your garden :)

We give thanks for the blessing of Winter:
Season to cherish the heart.
To make warmth and quiet for the heart.
To make soups and broths for the heart.
To cook for the heart and read for the heart.
To curl up softly and nestle with the heart.
To sleep deeply at one with the heart.
To dream with the heart.
To spend time with the heart.
A long, long time of peace with the heart.
We give thanks for the blessings of Winter:
Season to cherish the heart.
- Michael Leunig

Monday, December 10, 2007


Well, all the leaves are brown and the sky is gray, to quote a song. Life has been busy with all the holidays, visiting family and a exciting new job. The garden is sitting silent in its winter slumber and there is a lot of barren dirt showing where perennials and annuals once flourished.
During this time of year in scanning the local foliage and fauna I find my eyes gravitating to the bark on trees. Often they go unnoticed because they are covered with summer foliage or we focus on their amazing canopies of these beautiful plants instead of their incredible trunks. Winter is a perfect time to enjoy the wrapping of some of our favourite trees, and with the background of snow or the gray of a cloudy December sky it only enhances their viewing. I have selected several photos to illustrate the wonderful texture and colour of a few trees in the neighborhood.
It is always a gentle reminder that even in a flowerless garden, or one filled with many deciduous plants, that there is always something interesting to study and enjoy.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


It's seems that when one looks forward to life slowing down a bit that it actually gets busier. That is definitely the case for me. This weekend I will try to finish the end of season clean up in the garden and the 2008 edition of the BOBSGARDEN.COM calendar. That being said, I thought that it would be nice to share the pictures of last years calendar. The photos were selected to coincide with their bloom time or the celebration of a holiday during that month (i.e. red in February for Valentines Day, green in March for St. Patty's day, etc). All pictures are of the garden during different times of the year.














Even though putting together the calendar is a lot of work, it is something I do really enjoy. And for friends and family it is something that is look forward to, certainly making all the effort worth while.

Monday, November 12, 2007


In a final installment of the series "When Autumn leaves Fall" I've selected several photographs of trees in the neighborhood. These shots were taken 2 weeks ago at the peek of their colour. Since then, they have succumb to our Northwest rain and wind storms. Now, after serving their purpose, they litter the ground, fill gutters and storm drains, and hopefully compost piles returning to the dirt to nurture the trees they came from.
I feel very lucky to have captured them in their prime and truly enjoy sharing them with you.
All the best of Autumn to you all, Bob

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


The final days of our Indian Summer were this last weekend, so I figured I'd take a stroll in the Yao Japanese Garden located in the Bellevue Botanical Garden and enjoy the end of Autumn. I have always been a big fan of Japanese gardens. It always seems that when I frequent them, that they completely ground me. Most Japanese gardens are not filled with riots of blooming colour, but with carefully placed plant material and layer upon layer of foliage colour and texture. Maybe that's what touches me is all the greenery, but in any case, they are tranquil and special, and I really enjoy them.

I find that Japanese gardens are incredible all year long. In Winter, the beautiful structure of the deciduous trees and shrubs are shown and accented with evergreens and bamboos. In Spring, all the rhody's and azaleas are in bloom in mounds of colourful displays. In Summer, the Maples and other trees are fully leafed out sheltering drifts of ferns and other complements. And in Fall, the trees have changed the coats in a serene Autumnal display and mosses carpets the ground in emerald splendor.
The Yao Japanese Gardens and others like it always bring me back to reflect, to contemplate, to dream. They create a beautiful place where the natural process of life seems to slow down. Certainly something more of we all can use in our hurried busy lives.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


In the craziness of Spring and Summer our thoughts when visiting the local nurseries are focused on the beautiful colour. We walk in, being greeted with drifts of bountiful floral displays, rows of new starts promising immediate flowers in weeks and impulse treasures waiting for purchase. It's hard not to be mesmerized by all the perennials and annuals in full bloom ready to be added to our gardens for instant gratification. I love going to nurseries at this time of year and relish in all the excitement, really enjoying all the sights and sounds. In all this hustle and bustle though, it easy to forget about what's going to be of interest when all the flowers are gone. What's going to add that little something special towards the Autumn months. Sure there are some fall bloomers like Japanese Anemones, reblooming Bearded Iris, Phygelius, and others. But what is going to add that punch to our often tired retiring borders?

This is where Autumn shrubs come in to play. Few of us would even consider a Euonymus alatus (Burning bush) in Spring unless we saw what it colours up to in Fall. And what about Fothergillia? It's a attractive shrubs that has pretty little honey scented flowers. A very nice plant, but when Fall comes around. Wow! The leaves come on fire. This list of the Autumn treasures can go on and on.

I often feel that Fall shrubs come in more colour combination then trees. I look around in my own yard and that of the neighborhood and see so much variety. Maybe it's because the shrubs are more at eye level. But in any case, you can really find a leaf colour in every shade of an Autumn sunset.

The colour variations can be incredible. Even on one plant. Take the Rose Glow Barberry pictures above. At it's peak in natures transformation it has leaves in lemon yellows and pumpkin oranges, peaches and apricots, melons and apples reds. Nature deliciously paints in the most amazing colours.

So next time you are at your local nurseries or garden centers in Spring and Summer, after you have selected some annuals and perennials. Remember that some of those basic, plain Jane, green foliage shrubs, looking rather drab and ordinary, often turn into brilliant stars in Autumn.

Friday, October 26, 2007


With Fall in full glory I often keep my perspective looking out or up enjoying all the colour on the trees and shrubs. But the other day while looking down I discover a nice surprise right before my feet. The above photo is of fallen leaves on my deck. The leaves randomly found their way to this outdoor living space and created a beautiful collage of texture and form. The leaves belong to several large potted maples that are on the deck and natures placement was perfect. In studying it I really felt this would make a great photo for hanging or maybe a pattern for a textile like wallpaper or fabric.
The leaves belong to Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum ' ( the brown leaves), Acerpalmatum 'Sango Kaku' (the yellow leaves), and Acer palmatum 'unknown hybridus' ( the red leaves).

This picture really made me think and realize how nature influences so many things we surround ourselves with. From furniture to textiles, paint colours to interiors, the list is endless.

Nature is the best designer I know.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


The next few posts will feature the beautiful fall colour in the area. In the Northwest (especially in the Sound area) we don't have the Autumn colour like that of the Northeast. But we do get some beautiful Fall foliage, and it's generously accented with our abundant evergreens and conifers.

For many, Fall is a time trepidation. Some people hate to see the lengthening shadows of Autumn, knowing that the sun is slowly retreating to the South, bathing gardeners below the equator with longer days. Others know that Winters grip will soon be upon us. We all can recall recent cold Winters were the garden lies dormant, and we wait anxiously for the Springs warming sunshine. For me, I love Fall. I love sweaters and warm layers of clothing. I love the crisp chilly air and my nose being cold. I love sitting by a fire with loved ones drinking coffee ( the main liquid refreshment of this Seattle area) or cocoa and sharing the days goings on. I love to be able to make pot roasts, soups, stews and other meals that warm the body and heart. I love to bake and enjoy sweet goodies and not worry about heating up the house with the oven. I love flannel and corduroy and leather jackets and all fall clothing. I love all the new plant catalogs that are arriving daily, seeing whats new in plants and seeds. I love Fall bulbs, and know for me they can be a real addiction. I love Autumn leaves on the road and with a gentle breeze watch them dance across the it. And I especially love Fall leaves. It is truly amazing to see a leaf start out green and transform into a myriad of the most incredible colours.

Autumn is a wonderful time of year. Lets all enjoy the beauty of the season and savor all it has to offer.

The above photos are of some of the views from my backyard. Through out the year, and especially in Autumn, the clouds condense and squeeze against the mountains to the East while to the West it is clear. Giving me many evening where rays of the setting sun high light the Cottonwoods, Alders, and Conifers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


In a second installment of "pairings" I wanted to focus more on foliage combinations. Flowers are an integral part of a garden but I really do love foliage combinations because they look good for the greater part of the year.
Unfortunately it is getting late in the season and much of the garden is starting to head towards it's Winter slumber. I don't have many shots and these were actually taken several weeks ago, but their are still some that I thought were of value.
I apologize about the length between posts. I have been busy with company and with tucking the garden in for the season. Here's wishing you all the best of Autumn.

Helictotrichon sempervirens, Iris foetidissima varigata, and Sedum spectabile 'Brilliant'

Spirea japonica 'Magic Carpet' and Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow'

Stachys byzantina and Lamium galeaobdolon 'Hermann's Pride'

Monday, October 08, 2007


Autumn has arrived in Northwest with the typical cool rain and wind. Between storms we Northwest gardeners work feverously to clean up what we can. There is cutting down the perennials, weeding, putting down mulch, all the the traditional chores of seasonal climate gardening.
While working today I spotted the Hardy Cyclamens in bloom. I've had these for a number of years and they always delight me when I see them in colour. They are nestled beside several of the hydrangeas in the yard, actually somewhat hidden unless one was looking, and are very sweet and delicate in colour and form. Furnished with a soft fragrance somewhat reminiscent of old fashion violets, they bloom in late Fall till early Winter. There are many species, several that bloom other times of the year, but mine I believe is Cyclamen hederifolium a late season bloomer.
The blossoms make their appearance first followed by beautiful foliage. The leaves are uniquely marbled with silver and different shades of green and they alone make this bulb worthy of a place in any garden. Being one of the most reliable Hardy Cyclamen, it has been even known to show great vigor and reseed.
C. hederifolium is considered one of the most cold tolerant of Cyclamens easily handling temperatures to Zone 3 (-40c).

Like Crocus in Spring or the Hardy Cyclamen in Fall it is often these small charming bulbs that enamour us so when the weathers chilly.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


As many of the Summer annuals begin to decline and Springs colour is long gone its nice to count on a few garden troopers who energetically bloom until the first frost. One plant I count on is a newer plant to gardens these days --- Calibrachoa (Million Bells). Gaining popularity in the last 5 years and not really showing up at the nurseries until the mid 90's, Calibrachoa is fast becoming a trend plant.

It comes in a myriad of colours and has the look of a diminutive petunia. In fact many botanist don't see enough difference in it to give it it's own separate genus. Because of it's small stature it has become the darling of mixed hanging baskets as well as window boxes and has the added benefit of the long blooming period, crescendoing in Autumn.
Calibrachoa is not only for container gardening. It works well in between other fall bloomers like Asters, Mums, Ornamental Cabbage and Kale, and Autumnal foliage in the mixed borders. Personally I prefer it where it can cascade out of urn or hanging basket. This way you can really see how it got it's common name 'Million Bells'. Even garden designers have taken note of this plant. Using it in Autumn colours and incorporating it with branches, fall foliage, pumpkins, gourds in large urns making a festive and spectacular presentation greeting guests at the front door. You can see that it really has many uses.

Calibrachoe is self cleaning, meaning you don't have to dead head, likes full sun and responds well to bi-monthy applications of a mild all purpose fertilizer. It is actually considered a perennial in very warm climates but is generally grown as an annual in most gardens.

I have created a new look for BOBSGARDEN.COM. In addition to having larger print to make it easier to read I have acquired some new software for my photography. I'm resizing them to where they will boot up quicker for you all. I hope you enjoy the new changes, BOB