New Book Release: Practical Permaculture for the Home Landscapes, Your Community and the Whole Earth

Practical Permaculture by Jessi Bloom and Dave Boehnlein

Practical Permaculture by Jessi Bloom and Dave Boehnlein

Early in 2012, Jessi started collaborating and working on this book Practical Permaculture for Home Landscapes, Your Community and the Whole Earth (Feb 4th 2015) with co-author Dave Boehnlien, Education Director at the Bullock Permaculture Homestead and founder of Terra Phoenix Design as well as the incredibly talented illustrator Paul Kearsley of Homestead Habitats!   We can’t wait to share this with the world and have many speaking/teaching engagements planned this year all over the country.  Check out the Event Page for a schedule.



Gardening for the Bees

When our hives got opened the other week we sadly found no signs of life.bees  The jury is still out on whether or not this was the result of a normal winter die off or if there were other things at play.  Since 2006 it’s estimated  that more than three billion honey bees have died in the United States, and billions more world wide.  These deaths are somewhat mysterious and have been termed, colony collapse disorder.  While there is no definite known cause research points to the heavy use of pesticides and the loss of biodiversity as some of the major players.  Why does this matter?

  • Honeybees account for 80% of all insect pollination
  • About 1/3 of the foods we depend on  require pollination (apples, almonds, tomatoes, blueberries, coffee and many many more)
  • USDA says this die off is threatening 100 different commercial crops that depend on pollination
  • This threat to crops could result in a ten-fold increase in food prices

This is not a doomsday notice though.  There are plenty of things that you can do to help from planting a bee friendly garden, to having your own hives,  and of course, taking care of your yard in an organic, pesticide free manner.  Creating a garden that will attract and feed honeybees is a fun and simple thing to do, whether it’s in your backyard or in containers, here are a few things to consider:

  • Plan so you have things blooming all season
  • Plant native plants and flowers, at least mixed in
  • Avoid overly hybridized plants as they don’t provide much pollen to feed the bees
  • Have a clean water source available
  • Plant flowers around your fruit and nut trees to bring in bees and other pollinators

Adding to the biodiversity in your landscape and gardening in an sustainable manner will help the honeybees, as well as help your yard be bountiful and toxin free.  Of course, keeping some of these small fuzzy friends is a great contribution as well.  You can learn more, get products and take classes at some of our local shops: Keep it Simple Farm and The Bees Neez.


Building a Wildlife Garden

We just finished a really fun wildlife garden for some clients that adore their wild pets, especially the squirrels.  This is a great example of how even a small space can be turned into a natural oasis to share with the critters around you.


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                                                                 Mid Project

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Some of the main elements we created for this sanctuary include:

  • Replacing restrictive (small) deck and concrete slab with a sandset (permeable) flagstone patio
  • Two arbors to breakup sightlines of the massive walls of neighboring homes
  • Removal of back fence to open to green belt
  • “Dry” stream bed to allow for drainage of site runoff from neighbors property and slope
  • Stone outcroppings / stairs
  • Gravel Paths
  • Bubbling stone water feature for the sound of water and a place for wildlife to drink and bath in
  • Plantings are a mix of native, edible and ornamentals

“Hi Zac, I just wanted to reiterate how thrilled we are with the way that the back garden (we can’t really call it a yard anymore!) turned out. Everyone on the team was so amazing, from our initial meeting with Jessi, to working with you on the proposal estimate, and finally watching your wonderful team take such care in turn our unappealing hill of dirt into a nature paradise. We were extremely impressed with the skill, dedication and commitment to excellence that everyone had; to say you are meticulous and perfection driven is an understatement. It was a little sad this morning when I returned from my rehearsal and there were no hardworking and smiling faces to be seen! We cannot wait to watch everything grow and mature over the seasons… “



An exciting year ahead!

It’s only February but it is already shaping up to be a busy and very exciting year.  N.W. Bloom and Jessi have been making their way into the media all over the place.  A few of our gardens are going to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens this spring, so keep your eyes open!

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We are thrilled to have our spring filling up with some fun installations that include native plantings, restoration, rain gardens and of course, edible gardens.

Fine Gard interview

Recently, Jessi got to sit down with Fine Gardening magazine’s Chief Editor Steve to talk about the importance of permaculture and sustainability.












One of Jessi’s designs is in new book by Niki Jabbour, “Ground Breaking Food Gardens, 73 plans that will change how you grow your garden“.












While Jessi is going to be teaching all over the place this spring some upcoming highlights include:

A complete list of speaking events can be found on our speaking events page.  We hope that you are as excited as we are for this upcoming season.  Whether it’s in the field or in a classroom we hope to see you soon!

The Plant Orphanage

Here at the NW Bloom nursery we have always had an “Orphanage”.  This is where all of the unwanted plants come to live and get the chance at a new beginning, in a new garden.

In the majority of our projects there are usually plants that the client wants to get rid of — for various reasons; maybe it was growing too big for the spot it was originally planted in… maybe it was the wrong color of flower.. maybe it was in a spot slated for a more desirable plant.  Regardless, we don’t believe good plants should go to waste!  Many of the plants we end up transplanting are the same – rhodies, boxwoods, roses, lilac, ornamental grasses, etc because they take to transplanting well.  Even though these are common in many landscapes, there are many projects that have no plants to start with or have a low budget, and getting more mature plants can save a lot of money!

Using her best, cheesy Vanna White impression, Jessi shows off a large orphan camellia. This large plant was being installed into a new landscape project which will provide the client instant privacy from their neighbors deck!

Hundreds, if not thousands of salvaged plants have found new homes in our garden projects.  It has been always been a common practice at NW Bloom since the business first started out!  Now, even the internationally recognized green building program LEED even gives projects points for reusing plants!


Grand Awards: For Community Service & Unique Project!

With our wonderful clients L-R: Kelly, Cyle, Award, Me, & Greg

Last weekend I was very honored and proud to accept two Environmental Landscape ‘Grand Awards’ on behalf of my design/build company N.W. Bloom EcoLogical Landscapes at the annual WA  State nursery/landscape industry conference.  It is kind of a big deal for us to be judged by peers and get the highest honor!! There was a huge ballroom packed full of all the big names in the industry, which ended the conference with a fancy dinner and a photo presentation of many awards, from scholarships to quality work in several different categories.

Here is their colorful front yard!

One of the projects that won was the Eldred Residence which fell into the Unique Project category.  Nearly the entire project was put together with salvaged hardscape materials collected by us and the client, much of it having unique stories.  It was also one of the only projects where the client joined in with our crew to install the hardscape.  To make it even more special, the clients have a special connection to our business and its success over the years.  They have become like family and to work with them was a designer’s dream come true.  Check out this album of their garden’s growth over the past couple of years.

Mill Creek’s Veteran’s Monument



We were also extremely proud to have had the opportunity to design the Mill Creek Veteran’s Monument. That project fell into the Community Service category and also got the highest honors of a Grand Award.  I wrote about the emotional experience of working on this project in an older post here where you can see news links and even a cool video the city made. Go here to see pictures from start to finish.


Picardo P-Patch Children’s Garden

Currently I am mid-design on a project that is a great honor to be working on.  Picardo is Seattle’s first and largest P-Patch community garden and is actually where the term P-Patch (P for Picardo) came from.  You can read all about Picardo’s rich history and rich soil here.

In a couple of weeks there will be a public meeting  which will include presentation of a Master Plan (done by Nicolas Marin of Barker LA) and the design of the Children’s Garden — that is my job.

Site meeting in November 2011 with (L-R) me, Sara Egbert, Picardo's CG coordinator, Nick Marin, LA of Barker LA

The kids had a long list of fun requests and I think I got most of them included in the small SE corner of the site.  It will have many fun elements and one multifunctional shed.  Here are some rough sketches I’ve drawn that are going into a CAD program.

I will be updating photos and drawings for this project here, so that people can check it out during the process.  Another neat tool I have to show ideas is this Pinterest pin board.

Feel free to ask questions or shoot me an email!


December Bloom Day: Winter interest in texture and color

Even though it is cold, wet and sometimes downright miserable outside I find myself drawn to wander around the garden at this time of year to see what is happening.  Surprisingly there is a lot of bird activity (wild and my domestic yard birds) and some plants really shine. Here is a sampling of what caught my eye on this freezing morning:

Black mondo grass shines in the frostThe moss and lichen on the walnut tree

This Acer ‘Pacific Fire’ is a cross between a Vine maple and a Coralbark maple and lights up one end of the raingarden.

The black eyed Susan (Rudbekia) seed heads are one of my favorites for fall and winter interest.  I don’t understand why so many people cut them down right after they are done blooming..they look like little floating black polkadots!

The sword fern -easily one of my year round favorites and looks fabulous covered in frost.

One of my strawberry trees that flank the barn in large pots – they were hit really hard in a winter 3 years ago and almost completely defoliated. I thought I lost them at first, and they looked awful for that following spring but started to bounce back slowly.  Now they have a good flower set started and I’m crossing my fingers that they don’t get damaged by another harsh winter.  I want to see some fruit darn it!

I refuse to cut back my Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ until spring.  I love their winter structure & color

My little barberry plants are holding on and offering a splash of bright red.

The leaves of my weedy foxglove are everywhere – bold, crinkly and could be easily confused with Lamb’s Ear covered in frost.

Gardening with Deer – a seminar & book giveaway!

I spend a lot of time thinking about animals and gardening – together!  Not just chickens, ducks, dogs ..but deer too!  Many of my design clients have issues with deer in their area and it is my job to help them design, build and maintain their landscapes in spite of that.

So! I am excited to tell everyone that I will be teaching a seminar at Molbaks in Woodinville WA on Sept 24th and giving away my secrets about gardening with deer -come join me!

AND-I will be giving away a copy of this new Timber Press book written by Ruth Clausen the day of the seminar on Sept 24th – just comment here and random winner will win!

Comments will close at 6pm on Sept 23rd and a random name will be picked~~good luck!


and the winner is: BETH ANN DAYE!!

Many thanks to everyone who entered!


Virtual Homestead & Garden Tour

Recently I went on a garden tour extravaganza and was totally inspired! Stay tuned for several blog posts on that event…  But one thing that I kept thinking is that I could never have my home on an actual tour- think of all the stress of making things just right so complete strangers can take pictures of it!  I mean, really..would you not judge me for leaving weeds that stand taller than you? or letting my greens bolt (hey its for the bees and seeds), would you step in chicken shit? Probably! So, when I saw that NW Edible Life was doing a Nosy Neighbor Virtual Homestead & Garden Tour – I thought how brilliant! We can share pictures and be inspired by what everyone else is doing, without the stress of making everything perfect! So why not include my little homestead?
For some background and for specific details on my place check out the article written by Valerie Easton earlier this spring in the Seattle Times A sustainable Northwest garden of Eatin’ and Eden. Older photos are here & you can meet the animals here.  I’ve incorporated edibles (mostly perennial) into all of the landscaping but grow specific annual edibles in a rabbit-proof area.  We harvest rain water, use solar power for hot water, and just recently I started driving an electric car all in an effort to live more sustainably.  My dream would be that someday we live self sufficiently, but for now we are a lo0nng way off and have a lot of work ahead.
One advantage about our location is that we have a lot of space, but on the other hand it takes time to develop and manage.  In ten years we’ve barely cultivated half of the space that we want to.  One disadvantage is that we work in the green industry which means during the growing season our work week can be 60+hours and our garden can get a bit neglected.
Goals for the future: build a root cellar, a PV solar system, get dairy goats and have time to milk them,  then move to a farm in the San Juans and live completely off the grid.  Ha! I can dream right?
Now for some photos: