U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Whimsical Rustic Garden

I invite you to treat yourself with a visit to a delightful, playful garden in beautiful Homer, Alaska.


Artist Suzanne Alvarez created a place where you can feel yourself as a child in a fairyland.


Garden decorations, stepping stones, leaves and plaques welcome you and make it difficult to go home without at least one of them.


Two impressive rock gardens and a little pond are just a beginning.



There are treasures on every step. A propeller, driftwood, old garden and fishing tools and even musical instruments…



You know the water is close when you see a life saving ring. But, what is that ball made from?


Pieces of driftwood! I’ve never seen anything like that.


Here it is!


There are nooks and crannies everywhere, and they attract us like magnets.


Rustic garden chairs are awesome! Think next time when you want to get rid of your old boots!




Do you have a stump in your garden? Is it ‘bold’? Look at this charmer!


An Alaskan garden wouldn’t be finished without moose antlers:


The ‘kitchen girl’, with fork-eyelashes and spoon-earrings, charmed everyone.


Suzanne’s cast leaves are resting among grasses, lush ferns and perennials.


The variety of ferns growing in Alaska is surprising. Among them, there are Oak Fern, Deer Fern, Northern Beech Fern, Lady Fern, Maidenhair Fern, Licorice Fern, Green Spleenwort and Maidenhair Spleenwort Fern.


Kids love this place!





Ah! What a view!


Are we allowed to go to the beach? Yes, we are! It’s an additional treat!


Walking down the steep stairway lined with apple trees:


Who is peeking between the stairs? Is it baneberry?



Clean fresh air. No noise, just gentle lapping of waves. A lot of driftwood to sit on.



This grass looks like Beach Rye. Correct me if I am wrong. It is tall, about 6 feet, pretty coarse and grows on gravel.


Time to go back.



Do you like an old wood, so warm and pleasant to touch? And that view… It’s a long walk, because you want to stop and look back again and again.


One more look at the magic ball:


I want to come back one day…


If you find yourself in Homer during the summer, check if the local garden club has its garden tour. You won’t regret it!


Thank you Suzanne and Rene for allowing us to tour your fantastic woodland paradise!


***Copyright 2011 TatyanaS

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sprucing Up a Vegetable Garden -3

Layout of a vegetable garden, type, shape and size of raised beds, type of mulch around them, support for climbing plants, containers for growing vegetables, ways to make vegetable gardens not only practical but also attractive and other aspects of vegetable gardening - this is what "Sprucing Up a Vegetable Garden" is about.
These three pictures prove that wooden boxes for growing vegetables can be attractive elements not only in a garden itself but on a deck too.


Wooden half-barrels, as in the next picture, make good vegetable planters. Miniature (compact, midget, dwarf) varieties of many types of vegetables are available nowdays (see a list of them here). Good information about growing veggies in containers can be found here .

Thick bamboo stakes are used to make a TeePee in this garden. Sprucing Up a Vegetable Garden-2 has more pictures with different types of supports for climbing plants .

Below, there are vegetable gardens in Alaska belonging to the members of the Homer Garden Club. My hat is off to you, the northenmost gardeners in the U.S.!
I've never seen potatoes growing on a terraced slope:

I noticed Nasturtiums as companion plants interplanted with vegetables in many gardens in Homer. I use nasturtiums in my vegetable garden too. Mine spread wildly, and need to be pinched to prevent them from taking over the whole garden. I might switch to more compact varieties of nasturtiums.

I use yellow, orange and red nasturtium flowers in salads and for decorating plates.

I always watch what is used as mulch in a garden especially around raised beds. Gravel? Wood (bark nuggets, chips)? Any mulch will help to prevent soil erosion and moisture loss, supress weeds, cool or warm the soil and encourage the worm population. What is your favorite material? Do you always put it 3 inches (7 1/2 cm) deep as they recommend?

In one of the gardens shown here, they use small river rocks and crushed rock. I like such a look. Gravel and rock seem to be more practical on slopes since they are not washed away as easily as wood mulch. I also like hay/straw as mulch, although they decompost fast and need to be replenished often. Saying that, I should admit that I stopped using it after one of my neighbors expressed a concern about straw attracting mice. It's true, rodents love this material as well as slugs which we have here, in the Pacific Northwest, in abundance. But, it was not them who turned me away from straw mulch but garden snakes. I have them in my garden anyway, but I don't like to step on them after they have found a refuge under hay or straw.

Some pros and cons of different types of mulches can be found here.
In the next picture - supporting raised beds with boards which are not made into frames. It should be convenient for changing the size and configurations of the beds.

Wooden boards for practicality, plates for decoration - nice, nice, nice:

If in Homer, Alaska, a moose is often a garden visitor, in Washington state, a deer should be kept from the gardens. A fence is the most reliable way to do it:


It is expected for a vegetable garden belonging to a designer to be ... well, artistic!

Jody's husband made these raised beds based on her own design.


Below is the most decorative peas' support which I've ever seen:

The following two pictures are from Peggy's garden. She, by the way, also has an exquisite flower garden deserving to be featured in a separate post.

I love the mosaic urn in the middle of the bed. It can be seen in the picture in the very first "Sprucing Up a Vegetable Garden". "

I hope these pictures from the gardens generously opened to the public by their owners can help you make some decisions regarding your own gardens. There are numerous articles on the Internet about vegetable gardening. But sometimes seeing real gardens of ordinary people help us a great deal, don't you think so?

***Copyright 2011 TatyanaS

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