Grrr! add rocks to pots for drainage? – No, no, no

Just don't!

I was reading about the proper way to plant pots in the March 2012 issue of Gardener’s World, a British magazine, and was dumbfounded to read:

“Ensure water can drain freely away from the roots by adding a good layer of drainage material to the base of the pot. Pieces of broken terracotta…”  and on a different page, “add a generous layer of crocks, stones or polystyrene to help water drain away.”

No, no, no.  This just leads to a perched water table and less rooting room for the plants. Make sure there are holes in the bottom, put in the dirt, add plants. This isn’t just me talking, this is what the science has shown, and it’s not exactly a new discovery.


April – Camellia japonica – the good, the bad and the ugly

camellia japonica with fern

The Good

Camellias must be the second most common shrub in Seattle after rhodies. Well, maybe third given all those Tam junipers (Juniperus tamariscifolia) growing into sidewalks. Camellias come in several different species and a bunch of cultivars. At the moment Camellia japonica is at its peak. I confess that I’m not all that fond of C. japonica. They’re blobular (a technical gardening term). They get too big for most city lots, and they hang onto their flowers for waaaay too long.


April – Spring must be here – plant sale season is upon us


The many shades of Berberis*

Ah, spring plant sales. Many a gardener is light of heart and happily skipping around (as much as creaky knees allow) because all these sales surely mean spring is here, even if it is still entails down coats and rain pants.

If you want to get out and buy a little springtime cheer, check out the Elisabeth C Miller library website and you’ll find a calendar with plant sale listed – about 20 or so on April Saturdays with plenty on Sundays as well.


April – how to fence a small lot – privacy without claustrophobia

good fence for a small lot

For small city lots the best place to sit may be the front yard, which can be a problem because really, who wants to sit out by the sidewalk having their morning coffee? So what’s the big deal? Privacy is easy just throw up a fence.  The problem is that on a small city lot if you put up a fence tall enough to give you privacy you may soon be so claustrophobic you’ll want scaling ladders to go over those walls.


April – gold plants to brighten the Seattle gloom

Seattle is renowned for its gloom. Gold and chartreuse shine on those days when the clouds seem to hang in the treetops and glower. Here’s a nice planting I ran across on the east side of Phinney Ridge. I didn’t even get out of the car (blame those glowering clouds) so the plants are my best guess from across the street.