Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hey Seattle Times Readers!

If you're interested in checking out the Galicic Garden this coming Sunday, July 31st, along with five other great private gardens in the Seattle area, you can sign up for a Northwest Horticultural Society membership and join us on the Meet the Board tour from 12-5pm!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The 5th Annual Normandy Park Garden Festival

It's happening! The 5th annual Normandy Park Garden Festival will be held on Saturday, July 9th from 11-3 in the Galicic garden. Stop by and tour the gardens & plant sale all while nibbling on a crowd-sourced lunch way better than what you would probably be eating otherwise. We scaled things down a bit this year with no garden talk, but everything else is firing on all cylindars! Free as always. Hope to see you there!

Note: If you're going to be driving here, please park on the WEST side of the street (our friendly neighborhood officer loves to ticket law-breaking savages who park on the sidewalk). You can also park at Marvista Park and follow the ample signage to the festival from there.

For questions, please contact Justin Galicic at  See you there!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Life in the Amazon

Walking down to Pike Place Market a few weeks ago, I noticed they finally took the fencing down from the first building in the new Amazon mega campus.  So I took a little stroll through.  Their selection of plants had me salivating.

My first thought was someone who really likes Dan Hinkley designed the landscaping.  I later found out that he was hired as a consultant for the project.

Looks like Holboellia coriacea, Beesia deltophylla, and Adiantum venustum
This Holboellia vine, located directly in front of a heat exhaust vent, was already strutting its fragrant flowers.
There were lots of nooks and crannies filled with interesting plants.  Because of the towering canopy of the skycrapers, all of the plants here are adapted for shade.

This looks like Disporopsis, Disporum, and Beesia.  
Evergreen hydrangea relative Dichroa febrifuga
Close up of Dichroa febrifuga's metallic-purple berries
Can't wait to see how these plants naturalize together
Not a doggie toilet!
I can't say it's all good.  I want to like this plant's blackness but seeing it here finally made me realize it's just not black enough to qualify as a black plant.  I guess it's still slightly better than an azalea.

Coprosma 'Black Cloud'
Just across the street, construction is well underway for the greenhouse that will house more tropical plants.  I have been told that some plants that are outgrowing the conservatory at the Rhododendron Species Garden in Federal Way will move here.  At the rate it's going I'd say they should be done with it by summer.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Apparently we can grow watermelons!

If you live in Miami, Los Angeles, or Phoenix, you probably don't care that us Seattle folk just celebrated our 13,232nd minute of 80° (26.6°C) temps or higher this summer.  Well it's a big deal to us and this being our hottest summer ever in the Pacific Northwest, I can finally say that I have successfully grown watermelons:

Watermelon 'Sunshine'
The watermelon vines love basking up the heat stored in the rocks I made for them.
And cantaloupes and eggplants too:

Cantaloupe 'Sarah's Choice' & Eggplant "Little Fingers'
This is a practically instant castor bean forest.  There will be plenty of seeds to share!

Ricinus communis 'Carmencita'

I was floored to see Gloriosa rothschildiana come back to life.  It didn't pop up out of the ground until mid-June but it has been making up for lost time, completely devouring this magnolia tree.

Gloriosa rothschildiana
Another unlikely survivor is this Alocasia.  It was planted in the ground last summer and left for dead when winter came.  It obviously thought differently.

Alocasia (unknown species)
Our peach tree has produced about 80 pounds of peaches - the most ever.  This one is a cultivar named 'Frost' which doesn't have the most spectacular taste but makes up for it by being resistant to peach leaf curl.

Peach 'Frost'
We're lucky to see crape myrtles bloom in September around here in a normal year but this year they're a month ahead of schedule.

Unknown crape myrtle & Rose 'Just Joey'
As are the grapes.

'Lakemont' seedless grape

I guess it's a good sign if the fish are always begging for food.

Thanks for reading!  I'll do my best to not go more than three months before the next post.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Rock On!

Real is pretty much always better than fake, but when it comes to rocks, there's just something about an artificial rock that I find fascinating.  Armed with some mortar mix and a few how-to videos off YouTube, I set out to create a few of my own.

Here is the before shot:

Step 1: I planned to create five rocks total, and wanted a nice balance of tall and short.  So I bent 3/8" thick rebar with my foot into the shape I wanted and wrapped some 1/4" hardware cloth around the rebar skeleton.  I secured the hardware cloth to the rebar with wire in as many places as I could to help rigidify the hardware cloth.

Step 2: There are a few keys to getting a fake rock to look like the real thing.  The first is the shape.  Rocks are usually very angular.  Maybe it broke off from a bigger piece of rock and has slowly eroded over time to round off its corners.  Whatever its story might be, it has to look like it has been sitting around for at least a few thousand years.

Step 3: I experimented with different mortar mixes.  This mixture in the photo below is a 3:2 mix of Portland cement to Lane Mountain sand.  It hardened into a very dense material that was completely smooth and rock-like.

Step 4: I wanted the rocks to be orange, brown, and grey in order to match the brick pathway surrounding them.  I knew it was important to vary the color of each rock while maintaining a cohesive palate.  In each batch of mortar mix I made, I put in different amounts of color so that no two batches would be exactly the same.  This is still the first coat (aka "scratch coat") but some of it is going to show through.

Step 5: Most of the rocks I made are hollow, but I found a great way to hide the scraps of paver stones left over from making the pathway.  No one will ever know!

Step 6: After allowing the scratch coat to dry, I applied the second and final coat.  Then I took some crumpled up aluminum foil and pressed it against the surface of the rock to texturize it.  I let it dry for a few hours until the cement had the consistency of packed sand, and then took a paintbrush and brushed over the entire rock.  At this point the cement is at the perfect stage for making cracks, dents, and crevices and then eroding it away with the paintbrush.  Basically it's just a matter of messing with it until it looks like a real rock.

Here is the final picture before I started getting carried away adding plants:

And now these heat-loving plants have a new little slice of paradise to call home.

So now you want to create your own rock, right?  Let me know how it goes!  The total cost was around $200, or about $40 per rock.  Definitely cheaper than buying a real rock - which would also include renting a backhoe to move it into position.  The time it took was around 15 hours total or 3 hours per rock.  I am sure if I were to do this again I could do it in 10 hours now that I know what I am doing.

Here are the materials I used:

- Wheelbarrow for mixing
- Rubber gloves (wet cement is caustic)
- Shovel for mixing
- Small bucket to hold mortar mix when applying it
- Triangular trowel to apply the mortar mix to the hardware fabric
- Aluminum foil
- Paint brushes with different sizes and thicknesses

- 4'x3/8" rebar poles
- 1/4" hardware fabric
- Mortar mix
- Water
- Cement color