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.

                                                                      Before

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                                                                 Mid Project

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                                                    lingren mid3

                                                                     Finished!

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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… “

 

 

Our New Edible Plant Nursery!

IMG_1111It has not always been easy to find a good selection of edible plants to buy in the Seattle area –  they have either only been available through catalog sales or during a small window of time throughout the year.  So… we are excited to announce that we now have an edible plant nursery with an emphasis on permaculture/useful plants!

The nursery will be Open BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.

To get an idea of what will be in stock, see below.

Most of the plants we will carry are multifunctional having one or some of these attributes:

  • Edibles – mostly perennial plants that you only have to plant once and can enjoy the bounty year after year!  We will carry a variety of plants, from fruits, berries, nuts and roots.
  • Medicinals –  herbs used for healing purposes
  • Dynamic accumulators – These plants mine nutrients from the soil and store them in their leaves and roots which can be used to build your soils and increase your soil fertility!
  • Insectary Plants – These are great for attracting insects, whether it be forage plants for honey bees and other pollinators or by providing shelter for other beneficial insects that help keep pest populations in check.
  • Nitrogen fixers – these plants can help build your soil by adding nitrogen naturally
  • Rainwise -these plants are great for raingardens, bioswales or bioretention projects!
  • Other plants on hand will be plenty of natives, deer “resistant”,  for wildlife and chicken forage, shelter as well as beautiful chicken “resistant” plants.

To make an appointment and to get directions give us a call at 425-486-6902 or email info@nwbloom.com

 

Growing Chicken Treats = Red Elderberry

This is one plant that I absolutely love to have around just for my chickens. Sambucus racemosa is a Pacific Northwest native shrub and is super easy to grow, thriving in all kinds of growing conditions (sun or shade, dry or moist soil, etc).  Every bird within a mile radius knows when the elderberry fruit is ripe and comes for it.  Most farmers will tell you that it will grow in pastures because livestock won’t eat it…because the stems and leaves are toxic and most animals know better than to eat it. It can actually become weedy, but it is easy to control and I don’t hesitate to cut it down entirely and let it regrow if it gets too big for the space it volunteered  to grow in.  The Sambucus genus’ edibililty factor varies from species to species.  The red berries are edible if cooked but not nearly as sweet as other species and varieties- see these for sale: purple, blue golden etc..  Another benefit for this plant: the large white clusters of flowers are frequented by hummingbirds and butterflies!

Chickens find shelter and food under the elderberry shrub

I let several red elderberry shrubs grow in the larger animal’s sacrifice area behind the barn where the chickens have been hanging out when the fruit is ripe.  This is a treat they can’t always reach so I give them a hand.

and our little call duck needs some too!

Do you have a plant that you love to grow just for your chickens?

Mountain Hemlock

Tsuga mertensiana

Easily one of my top 5 trees for the Pacific Northwest garden, this graceful conifer can work in *almost* any landscape adding structure and interest through out the entire year. It is native to sub alpine and high elevations in the mountain ranges from Alaska down to through Oregon.  In its native habitat, it can grow over 100′ tall but stays relatively narrow for a conifer of that size.

In their glory at Steven's Pass WA

In a garden setting you can expect a Mountain Hemlock to grow 6-12″ per year in good conditions becoming 10-12′ in ten years but only 4-6′ wide. They can add an alpine flair to the garden and look great growing in small groups.  They grow well in full sun to partial shade (not as shade tolerant as other Hemlocks) and thrive in sheltered locations with well drained soils.  Compared to its buddy the Subalpine Fir Abies lasiocarpa, it is more adaptable to lowland regions and relatively disease and pest free.
This high altitude species is usually harvested directly from the mountains and brought into the nursery trade through harvesters around May-June as the snow pack starts to melt.   As they are getting established in your garden it is extremely important to monitor moisture levels in the soil and make sure it stays moist, especially during the first summer.  NOTE: “Moist” should not be confused with “saturated”. It is not uncommon for these trees to die in the first year from the shock of being transplanted and from not being cared for correctly.  After the first couple of summers Mountain Hemlocks are virtually maintenance free and drought tolerant.

This trio resides in my own garden

There are more and more nursery grown Tsuga mertensianas becoming available to gardeners, even new cultivars being grown for their blueish foliage called ‘Blue Star’ and ‘Glauca’.  When shopping for these trees be sure to ask when they were brought in and if they were harvested or nursery grown.

Wordless Wednesday? Not Exactly – Lopez Island

Vacation always ends too soon – our end of summer trip to Lopez Island

Ferry Landing & Mt. Baker

The dogs on the dock in Mud Bay

Arbutus menziesii, the Pacific Madrone tree on a small island off of the Paul Allen Estate

South end of Lopez Island

Mt Baker from Mud Bay

My 13 year old puppy dog Malakhi loving the San Juans

A pod of Orcas appeared while we were fishing off of Eagle Point- San Juan Island

Castle Rock (easily 70′ tall) – SE of Lopez

Dungeness Crab – Before

Dungeness Crab - After

Another Madrone Tree on Cypress Island

Check out that Madrona's compartmentalization!

Last, but certainly not least: Sedum spathulifolium a native stonecrop