Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Bishop's Garden at the National Cathedral

National Cathedral Today your intrepid Washington correspondent was on assignment at the National Cathedral. This incredibly gorgeous gothic cathedral is surrounded by the incredibly gorgeous Bishop's Garden.

According to an interpretive sign, "The overall inspiration for the Bishop's Garden is a 14th century monastic garden." It features many common plants, but the layout and design make it special. The garden is divided into rooms, each of which provides a sense of seclusion that encourages reflection and prayer. According to the aforementioned sign, one of the rooms, called the Hortulus ("little garden")
"is anchored firmly in the 9th century by the medieval baptismal font at its center. The raised geometric beds encircling the font are planted with the same herbs and flowers that would have been found in monastic kitchen and infirmary gardens during the 9th century."
Here are some pictures of the Hortulus:

Baptismal font and surrounding beds
Baptismal font and surrounding beds

Fennel in Hortulus

Apothecary's Rose
Apothecary's Rose in Hortulus

Southernwood in Hortulus

And some pics of the rest of the Bishop's Garden:

Entrance to Bishop's Garden at the National Cathedral

Bishop's Garden, National Cathedral

Bishop's Garden to right of entrance

Statuary and spring blooms
Statuary and spring blooms in Bishop's Garden

Sundial in Bishop's Garden

One of the garden rooms
Bishop's Garden

A couple of lessons I learned from my visit:

  1. Common (and inexpensive) plants can create impressive landscapes.
  2. Like architecture, gardens can evoke moods and provide spiritual experiences.

I suppose I knew both of those things at some level, but I came away from my visit newly convinced and inspired.

Pretty pictures from Washington, DC

I haven't had much time to post lately, because I've been in Washington, DC, since Wednesday. I'm here for a library conference, because the ad revenue from this blog isn't enough to allow me to quit my day job (so start clicking on those ads! I want more time to garden). When I left Portland, it was cold and miserable, with January weather persisting into April. Here it actually looks and feels like spring. I haven't had a lot of time to explore garden-related sites, but I did take a lovely walk Sunday evening through a beautiful neighborhood that is either a) occupied by gardeners, or (more likely) b) occupied by people wealthy enough to hire gardeners. Here are a few pictures:

Lovely front garden
Lovely front garden

Does anyone know what these are? They’re really pretty, and I think I’ve seen them before, but I can’t identify them.
Flower I cannot identify

And here’s a closeup of the mystery flower:
Closeup of flower I cannnot identify

That's about it for garden-related activities on this trip. When I was here last June, I visited the National Botanical Garden, so I'll share a few pics from there to round out my Dateline Washington post (or as we call it in the Northwest, The Other Washington).

Bananas at US Botanic Garden

Pineapple at US Botanic Garden

Papaya at US Botanic Garden

(hmm... I must've been hungry)

And something that would be difficult to grow in rainy Portland:

Blooming cactus at US Botanic Garden

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Strawberry rhubarb cobbler - yum

We had snow and hail here in Portland today! Ugh. Last night I moved 8 flats of tomato and pepper seedlings from my unheated greenhouse to my dining room to protect them from the hard freeze forecast for this weekend. On my way back from the greenhouse, I noticed the rhubarb, along with a few spears of asparagus. Desperate for something to harvest, I quickly returned with my kitchen shears. The asparagus I gave to my mother, because I can't stand the stuff. The rhubarb, on the other hand, went into the strawberry rhubarb cobbler I made using the excellent recipe posted at Simply Recipes. Try it with some vanilla ice cream -- it's enough to brighten even the coldest winter spring day.

Friday, April 18, 2008


This weekend's photo essay is subtitled, "Why I Prefer the Phrase 'Climate Change' Over 'Global Warming.'"

And then it's sub-subtitled, "AW, COME ON!!!!"

Last week's lovely rhodie:

The plant formerly known as primrose:

Annnnnnd, the dogwood and front yard (by the way, the snow is STILL FALLING -- you can still see a bit of grass peeking out in the photo below, but that's been buried under at least half an inch by now):

How do you spell ridiculous?

P-A-C-I-F-I-C N-O-R-T-H-W-E-S-T.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Creative way to get your garden tilled

I just ran across this little goody while cleaning out some old e-mail messages. Enjoy!

The inmate was aware that all prison mail passes through censors. When he got a letter from his wife asking about the family garden --- "Honey, when do I plant potatoes?" --- he wrote back, "Do not, under any circumstances, dig up our old garden spot. That's where I buried all my guns." Within days his wife wrote back, "Six investigators came to the house. They dug up every square inch of the back yard." By return mail she got his answer: "Now is the time to plant potatoes."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Things I Love About Spring -- A Photo Essay

This weekend, we finally had a sunny, warm day up here in Seattle, and all of a sudden, THINGS ARE HAPPENING! Buds are budding! Blooms are blooming! Rhododendrons are rhododendroning! I filled four buckets up with dandelions and only used the f-word three times while I was pulling them all out! You see, folks? Miracles CAN happen!

Also, in my first official "Growing Challenge" update, I finally got my mesclun salad mix into the ground this weekend as well. I'm not sure if the spot I chose for it will be too sunny or not sunny enough, but I guess I'll find out!

The main reason for this post, however, is that I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite things about spring in the Pacific Northwest. After you check out my list -- with photos taken using our fancy new camera, yay! -- be sure to share your OWN list of favorite spring things in the comments! (As you can probably tell from these photos, by the way, the clouds have rolled back in here in Seattle today. Darn!)

Daffodils in the front yard

Flowering quince beginning to flower!

Blueberry buds -- so exciting! (We just planted blueberries last year, so I was really excited to see them looking really good already!)

The red rhododendron just bloomed yesterday -- so pretty!

Ooh, and one of my all-time favorite things to see in my yard: the ferns before they've unfurled! So alien looking and so totally cool!

Pink dogwood buds -- hoping we get lots of blooms this year, as we've had a couple of years now where it hasn't really bloomed normally (dogwood post coming soon!).

And, of course, the most entertaining thing in the yard every spring: Spouses With Power Tools!