GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2005 show27
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Show #27

Seattle Washington is known for its diversity of people, wildlife and landscape. The gardens that adorn this city are great examples, the mild climate allows a wide variety of plants to grow. Today in Seattle we visit a traditional English cottage garden located at a locks that has a hearty fuchsia collection and a formal Japanese garden at an arboretum where we learn how to appreciate the beauty of Japanese gardens.

Tracy Wickersham welcomes Garden Smart and its' audience to Seattle. The gardens we'll visit today are different styles, yet indicative of the northwest style because here they think of themselves as all-encompassing and diverse. There are a lot of different influences that have shaped the city from the pioneer days to the Asian rim influence and many factors in between. Seattle is a city with lots to offer. You will find fantastic food, their restaurants are becoming world renowned for food ranging from seafood to pan Asian. There is also the coffee culture, Starbuck's started in Seattle. The space needle, built in 1962 for the Seattle World's Fair, anchors the Seattle Center and is in the middle of the city where one will find many of the museums and performing arts venues as well as many community festivals. Seattle is surprisingly a compact city, it has a walkable downtown, has mountain ranges in the near distance and water all around. Seattle is one of those cities where you can go kayaking during the day and attend their world famous opera at night. It is a casual, laid back city and Tracy invites all Garden Smart viewers to come and visit.

Brian Carter is the head gardener at the Carl S. English Botanic Garden in downtown Seattle. The garden is situated on a lock. A lock is a navigational waterway. You could think of it as an elevator that lifts the boats from a low level to a higher level. In this case it allows boats to go from the salt water of Puget Sound up into Lake Washington. It has been operational since July 4, 1912. Originally its' traffic was primarily boats with logs and gravel, etc. used in constructing the city and for use in supporting its' mills. Now it's mainly used by recreational boaters. The Pacific northwest is known for salmon and they have a fish or salmon ladder here as well. The ladder allows salmon to enter Lake Washington after they've matured as adults in the salt water. Here you can watch the salmon jumping from ladder to ladder on their way up to spawn in Lake Washington and its' tributaries. You can also watch the boats come through the locks which they do throughout the day and night. The grounds are open from 6 AM until 9 PM but the lock passage is open 24/7, they're not even closed for Christmas. Originally the garden here was comprised of a few evergreen shrubs and trees planted by the Seattle Garden Club. Carl S. English, Jr., a botanist at Washington State University, was hired to oversee the gardens and he slowly changed the gardens to what they are today. Carl would negotiate with ships captains heading into the Mediterranean and other areas of the world to bring back seeds from the region they were visiting, something that couldn't be done today. Thus they have collections of trees and shrubs from all around the world. He germinated them on site, planted them and most of what he planted is still alive and healthy today. There are formal gardens here as well. The formal gardens were developed by a gentleman named Gould and are in the shape of an anchor leaning against another anchor. The center is where the rope goes through and the corners are the flutes of the anchor. There is also a small rose garden which visitors can walk through and there is a collection of hardy Fuchsia's. This garden is probably best known for its' Fuchsia's. This site is a Corps of Engineering site and is unique. Even more unique because it is open to the public.

This traditional English garden has traditional English plants like Baptizia and Zinnias but also has unusual plants specially adapted to Seattle. For example, one they call a UFO plant because it looks like a flying saucer, the common name is Tall Lion's Ear (Leonotus leonorus). It's semi-hardy in the Seattle area, will not tolerate heavy frost, it grows to about 6-7 feet, and has unusual flowers stacked on top of each other. It's a little like Bee Balm (Monarda) but starts out low and continues upright until frost. It starts blooming about mid July, Brian calls it a soft perennial. It is marginal in Seattle and if it were to get much colder would need to be treated as an annual. In the rest of the country you might grow it to add intrigue and it is a great hummingbird attractor, they love the tube-shaped flowers.

We next look at some plants that look like they are in the Fuchsia family, but aren't. It is a Cape Fuchsia (Phygelius capensis) and is in a totally different family. It is a big plant, gets very bushy, maybe better for containers because it spreads, can become invasive and has rhizomes. It begins flowering in June and flowers till frost. In mild winters it will stay green year round, in cold climates it will die back and may not be hardy. We next look at a Himalayan Honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa), it looks a little like a lilac, has a lilac leaf, but has unusual flowers and berries, which are red now but will turn a purple black. It is a relatively new plant in this garden, will grow to 5-6 feet tall and about 5-6 feet wide and is spreading from a clump. Last year was a mild winter and it didn't die back.

We next look at their Fuchsia collection. This whole collection is provided by the Greater Seattle Fuchsia Society. They've donated and are maintaining about 32 varieties. All are different shapes and sizes in this garden. The Fuchsia 'Lenora' is 8-10 inches tall but they range all the way up to the big shrub forms. Everybody likes the Fuchsia 'Thalia', it has wonderful trumpets, the hummingbirds love it, the leaves are a different color, more unique, not the typical fuchsia blossom. In Seattle these are treated as a soft perennial, they dig it up in the fall, put it in a cold room, then put it back in the spring as soon as frost is gone. The Fuchsia magellanica 'Aurea' is yellow, very unique, variegated, almost a lime green but it has a soft blossom and striking foliage, which is almost a weeping shape. It would look good in a hanging basket. Fuchsia 'Snowcap' has red and white flowers. Another that is similar that kids like, is called Fuchsia 'Santa Claus'. Fuchsia 'Cardinal' is low maintenance and has big flowers that are purple and red. Brian lets it go until frost then prunes it down to about 12 inches. All the Fuchsias, with the exception of the Thalia, are hardy in Seattle. Fuchsias aren't hardy in most parts of the country but there are ways to over winter them in a cold climate. They can be taken indoors and placed in a sunny sun room or in a greenhouse. They might get leggy by late winter or spring but can be cut back and will bush back out. Watch for insects. You can also take a cutting, root it, that way you can over winter it as a smaller plant which is easier to maintain.

Thank you Brian for showing us this unusual but beautiful garden. The Carl English Gardens is striking, even more so because of its' location next to he locks. You've done a masterful job maintaining this garden. We hope our visitors will get the chance to visit.

A beautiful way to use gifts from the garden is to put them together in an aromatic dream pillow. It's easy to craft a pillow using a simple, soft fabric like flannel on one side and a colorful fabric on the other side. In this pillow we'll add lavender, roses, calendula, lemon verbena and a little rose geranium. When complete you can tuck this pillow inside your pillow case or set it on your dresser beside your bed. To begin, the herbs are dried. To do this take the plant material, strip the leaves, it's a term called garbling in herbalism, add a little lavender, which is a nice herb for enhancing restful sleep, add a little calendula for color, add some roses and then some rose geranium for a long lasting scent. You will have a very colorful blend tucked inside the fabric which at that point is stitched on 3 sides. Stitch the final side and it can then be tucked inside your pillowcase. This is a nice gift for children, they like the aroma when sleeping, it makes them feel comfortable. It's a simple process, a great way to capture the gifts of the garden, particularly late in the winter allowing you to remember the garden in your dreams.

We next visit the Japanese Garden at the Washington Arboretum. Kathy Blanchard is the senior gardener here and welcomes us to the garden. And this is a beautiful Japanese garden. There are different styles of Japanese gardens, this is a Momoyama style garden. The Mamoyama period is 1550 A.D. and is the period of time when the Japanese celebrated ostentatious type plantings, lots of garish flowers, etc. Momoyama gardens are popular in the U.S. because they're big and showy. Japanese gardens have a lot of symbolism. There is always an element of water, earth, sky. With ponds and trees and moss and hills there is a lot of symbolism. This garden represents a land, a small country. It represents the mountains, a lake, an orchard, a village and a harbor for boats to rest in. It's a miniature landscape. To fully enjoy a Japanese garden always review the brochure at the beginning, look at the pruning of the trees, the textures of the plant material compared to each other, the mosses on the grounds, the ponds, the fish and the lanterns. Generally look around, take it all in, enjoy the garden. A Japanese garden is meant to be more of a meditative garden, a quiet garden, therefore there are often a lot of benches scattered throughout. Take some time, sit and enjoy the view. It is different than the garish gardens we have with everyone taking pictures, this is more subtle. Kathy says that contrary to popular belief pruning requires only about 10% of the gardeners time. The majority of her time is spent cleaning up-sweeping, raking, pulling weeds-the same as with a normal garden. Pruning is done Japanese style. There are several techniques and you study them over years, you never stop learning them. We view a pine tree pruned in a very traditional Japanese style. They prune this twice a year. They candle them in the spring. Growth comes out which looks like candles, they stick up like a little finger, you go along and break them off. The goal is to give the plant the illusion of age. You can take a relatively young pine and over a short number of years you can make it look aged, like it has been living on the side of a cliff. When pruning make sure the structure is apparent so you can see the major branches, keep it airy and open. Also keep things growing horizontally, so it doesn't grow upright. This is a great representation of the sky element, the openness within the structure of the tree. They do the same with willows and maples. With some shapes they keep more geometric shapes intact. There is a balance of heavier items with the lighter looking airier items. For example, a lot of times plants like azaleas or others may be trimmed to look like rocks or upside down tea bowls. This gives the illusion of continuation of the landscape, if it's azaleas near rocks for example. These are representative of the sky element.

We now look at representation of water. Japanese gardens often have water - ponds or streams flowing through. Water is one of the most significant features of a Japanese garden. One will notice that the lakes or ponds in a Japanese garden are cloudy. That is because cloudy reflects better, by having it cloudy it is subdued, making it less prominent. It also lends a little mystery to the garden, you don't know how deep it is, it provides a more mythical look, but it is mainly for the reflection. The fish help with that and play several roles. Koi are nice to look at but importantly are bottom feeders, they kick up the silt and keep it cloudy. Streams and waterfalls should be clear with sparkling water. Here they try to tune the sound of the water by finding just the right setting for the valves so you get the gurgling just right. The sound is attractive as is the visual impact. The last element is land. We go to the tea garden for that.

Snails and slugs are a big problem for gardeners across the country, whether it be a hosta patch or your lettuce, they love to eat a wide variety of plants. If you have containers, raised beds, even if you have benches slugs will climb up and over and into your plants. To get rid of these pests you could use baits, traps or a preventative barrier. Copper tape is a protective barrier that works. Copper conducts enough electricity so that when that slimy slug touches the copper strip it gets a little bit of a a shock. Take the tape string it along the base of your raised bed or bench and every time the slug or snail comes in contact with it it will get a shock and go elsewhere. That way you keep them away from your plants and away from you and you don't have to worry about them.

We've seen the symbolism for sky and water, we now look at the symbolism for earth in the tea garden. Most Japanese gardens in the U.S. have a tea garden. These gardens were and are a place to enter into, it's like another world. You come in, leave your social status and cares behind. When entering the garden you cleanse yourself in the succubae, a little pool of water which normally includes a ladle. Here you can cleanse your hands and mouth. You then enter the tea house for the tea ceremony. These gardens are very simple and utilize a lot of moss which grows well in the pacific northwest. Kathy takes care of the moss with a broom, it's the best thing for moss because it is gentle on the moss and it's good for sweeping rocks. It's important to keep rocks clean in a Japanese garden, it shows respect for the rocks and the spirits inside them.

Thank you Kathy for showing us around this beautiful Japanese garden. Hopefully we'll all have a greater appreciation for Japanese gardens in the future, now knowing what goes into these gardens, their symbolism and design philosophy.


The Willows Lodge

Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau

Washington Park Japanese Garden

Carl S. English Botanical Garden


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