Thursday, June 28, 2012

Garden Quinoa Salad

A hearty salad to eat in the garden!

A few weeks ago I stopped by the home of my friend Kittee (of Cake Maker to the Stars), where my hungry tummy was generously fed a delightful bowl of quinoa salad.  Quinoa salads are so easy and healthful.  I asked myself, "Why don't I make these more often?"  So later that day I did just that.

Here's what my quinoa salad contained:
quinoa, cooked
walnuts, chopped
canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
an apple, chopped
dried and sweetened cranberries
the zest and juice of a lime (or two)
fresh-from-the-garden mint, chopped
onion stems, chopped (also from the garden)
cilantro, chopped
chipotle olive oil
salt and pepper

I topped it with garden collards, chopped and sauteed with tamari, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and red pepper flakes.

It was really good! What are you waiting for?  Go make a quinoa salad!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A growing garden= lots of changes

It's true.  It seems each time I step outside, something is noticeably different, whether it's plums, apples, or pears growing larger, something new blooming, or, as is often the case in our garden, a completely new plant (or two or twelve)!

Matt and I took advantage of a "20% off native plants" coupon this past weekend and purchased an oval-leaved viburnum, six checkermallows, one Washington lily, and a gooseberry.

I love the dense shrubby habit of viburnums. Viburnum ellipticum is deciduous with leaves that turn red in the fall.  Its white flowers appear in the late spring.  You can bet I'll be keeping my eye out for them.
Viburnum ellipticum

These Sidalcea hendersonii will likely end up in the front rain garden this weekend.  Their happy pink flowers are really something great.  I would love it if they spread throughout the rain garden and created a sea of pink.
The lily is hidden among the soon-to-bloom checkermallows.

A native with edible berries, Ribes divaricatum will grow six feet tall, and is sure to be a hit with birds.  We planted it along with the other, nonnative gooseberries, around the back rain garden.
Andy inspects the new gooseberry.

Other recent additions to our garden include a Brown Turkey fig tree (a gift from my dad and his girlfriend) and a Meyer lemon tree.
Emerson will be so excited when he gets to eat more figs.

Concerned our Meyer lemon might be lonely, we brought home a friend for him.  My plan is to buy two nice ceramic pots and flank the steps on the deck with the two trees in warm weather.  During the winter, we'll need to bring the citrus indoors.

The vegetable garden continues to grow really well, despite Andy trying to sneak tastes of everything.  The greens have been loving this cool, wet spring.

While the garden changes everyday, there are some things that never change: the doggles still enjoy their sun bathing on the deck.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

DIY birdbath (and gnome habitat)

It gets hot and very dry in the Pacific Northwest during the summer.   Wanting to help out the local wildlife, I decided setting up a birdbath would be a good thing.   I saw one at a local nursery that I liked, but the $80 price tag motivated me to put something together with materials I had on hand.

The glass "bowl" was a former light fixture from the guest room.  I plugged the hole with a cork I bought from the hardware store, stacked some stone discards from our retaining wall project, and voila!  A birdbath.

Around the birdbath I installed native Maianthemum dilatatum (flase lily of the valley) and a log left over from when we had the invasive laurel removed, on which I plan to install a few little ferns.
Wildlife has already taken up residence in this shady spot.
 Now that's gardening on the cheap!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

An afternoon of touring gardens

Matt and I participated in the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) "Naturscaping for Backyard Habitats Yard Tour" yesterday.  As stated by EMSWCD, this tour " a wonderful opportunity for you to talk with gardeners who have created landscapes that attract wildlife, are low-maintenance, use minimal water, and have helped them eliminate their use of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides."

Mostly, I just loove being nosy and taking a look at others' outdoor spaces!

Our first stop was located in southeast Portland.  My favorite of the tour, this garden reflects the natural retreat Matt and I aspire to create in our outdoor space.  This garden had about 20% native vegetation and a whole lotta edibles.  Most impressively, it offers a tranquil space to enjoy being outside.

The creative use of glass bottles as garden edging throughout the garden is both beautiful and functional.

We were told one of the homeowners is a carpenter.  Handiwork abounds throughout this garden including this trellis around the firepit, created from rebar.

The homeowners provided notebooks filled with "before and after" and seasonal photos of their garden, as well as a gardening journal, filled with plant tags and notes.  A great idea!

I love the unique sculptural components of this garden like the ceramic bird atop the berry trellis.

My favorite feature of this garden?  The collection of tree stumps-turned planters residing under the rhododendron.  Now I'm on the lookout for stumps!

Garden Number Two is also located in southeast Portland.  A newly constructed house, this garden is under two years old!
Note the newly-planted Douglas Meadowfoam above!
The homeowners carefully planned their sustainable garden, utilizing reclaimed materials, 85% native vegetation, and even leaving a strip of their driveway permeable.

Perhaps the sweetest part of this garden is the whimsy.  The homeowners have placed elements, like the crane in the lavender below, throughout the garden.

Stop Three on the tour also had quite a bit of creative flair, starting with this vibrant garden shed!

I'm a sucker for ferns growing in walls.  This garden hosts about 20% native vegetation.

Garden Number Four didn't disappoint our love for creative outdoor spaces.  Located in northeast Portland, this garden welcomes you with a lovely river rock mosaic under a grape vine trellis.

I just love this stacked rock planter!

The homeowners enjoy watching the wildlife in their back yard, especially birds, and have created a 50% native habitat.

Someday, it would be lovely to have one of these beauties in our outdoor space.

Matt and I didn't have time to stop at all eight gardens.  Our final tour took us through a garden in northeast Portland.  Walking around the side of the house and into the back yard, I immediately traveled from "busy city street" into "woodland habitat."  The homeowner's transformation of the space impressed me even more when  I looked at the provided "before" photos.

Perhaps the most impressive and time-involved feature of the garden is the man-made stream created by the homeowner, of which I haven't provided any photos!

Having created a diverse ecosystem ranging from mature cedars to native groundcovers in this small space, it's no wonder this homeowner has witnessed over 42 species of birds in his back yard.

This garden is composed of 80% native vegetation.

Again, I'm a sucker for ferns growing from rocks.

Well, I'm inspired to "keep at it"!  One day, maybe we'll even make it on the list of stops for the garden tour!