To appreciate gardening here requires an understanding of the conditions on the site:
■ Beginning around 18,000 years ago, these islands were sculpted by the Cordilleran ice sheet. The soil left behind is called Vashon till: sand, rocks and clay. It is similar to the glacial moraines seen in mountains.
■ The site exposure is southeast, with a slope to the beach. This is directly facing into the prevailing salt-laden windstorms.
■ The effect of the Olympic Rain Shadow has been discussed. Negligible rainfall from mid-May to mid-September can be expected.
■ Snails, slugs, deer and rabbits are cohabitants. An ancient deer trail crosses the property. The deer still follow the route to the beach munching and snacking as they go.
■ Mature Douglas and Grand Firs on the site send out networks of shallow rootlets which efficiently consume moisture and nutrients from the soil.
Poor soil, salt air, low summer rainfall, pests and competition from the firs are special considerations. These require looking to nature for strategies. Plant selection follows a Northwest woodland theme and includes many of our natives plus their ornamental counterparts.
I have also attempted to add an Asian flavor to my garden. I have always been inspired by the gardens of Japan.
Plants Indigenous to Site
|Bitter Cherry||Prunus emarginata|
|California Honeysuckle||Lonicera hispidula|
|Deer Fern||Blechnum spicant|
|Douglas Fir||Pseudotsuga menziesii|
|Early Blue Violet||Viola adunca|
|Grand Fir||Abies grandis|
|Indian Plum||Oemleria cerastiformis|
|Lady Fern||Athyrium filix-femina|
|Longleaf Mahonia||Mahonia nervosa|
|Nootka Rose||Rosa nutkana|
|Ocean Spray||Holodiscus discolor|
|Orange Honeysuckle||Lonicera ciliosa|
|Oregon Grape||Mahonia aquifolium|
|Pacific Madrona||Arbutus menziesii|
|Perennial Sweet Pea||Lathyrus latifolius|
|Red Flowering Currant||Ribes sanguineum|
|Western Hemlock||Tsuga heterophylla|
|Western Red Cedar||Thuja plicata|
|Western Star Flower||Trientalis latifolia|
|Western Sword Fern||Polystichum munitum|
Selected Northwest Natives
|Bigleaf Lupine||Lupinus polyphyllus|
|Creeping Dogwood||Cornus canadensis|
|Douglas Iris||Iris douglasiana|
|Evergreen Huckleberry||Vaccinium ovatum|
|Oregon Iris||Iris tenax|
|Pacific Dogwood||Cornus nuttallii|
|Pacific Rhododendron||R. macrophyllum|
|Red Osier Dogwood||Cornus stolonifera|
|Sedum 'Cape Blanco'||Sedum spathulifolium|
|Shore Pine||Pinus contorta contorta|
|Vine Maple||Acer circinatum|
|Wild Ginger||Asarum caudatum|
|Wild Mock Orange||Philadelphus lewisii|
Alien Life Forms
The inspiration for Ridley Scott's "Alien" could well have been the Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus discolor). Luther Burbank thought we needed a dry, tasteless berry with big hairy seeds and introduced them. They have no diseases, parasites or predators to keep them in check. The vines may grow two feet a day. Cleared land will become an impenetrable thicket in two years. The canes are designed to inflict pain and injury and their wrath cannot be avoided. They grow to an inch thick and bear 3/4 inch thorns. Every encounter means bleeding and pain. Birds spread their seeds and seedlings cling tenaciously to the ground. If a vine touches the ground, a new plant will spring up. The roots will also produce new plants. It likes full sun, full shade, wet, dry, whatever you have. Herbicides such as Roundup™ won't kill it. It is the perfect life form, the plant version of the creature in Ridley Scott's film.
Fidalgo Weather Plant List »
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