Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Love is in the air, chocolate fills every store shelf and lovers put on public displays of affection at every opportunity. But, although we like romance as much as anybody and we take love seriously here on the Rock, talking about such things can make us squirm.
There’s a shrub I think we ought to see more of around here, especially in the wintertime when a spot of cheerful color in the garden is just what some of us need to lift our spirits. It’s called beautyberry, or Callicarpa.
January’s a good month to be thankful and wishful. After all, there’s not much else to do; it gets dark too early, the tides are too high for beach walking, and it’s too cold outside.
Despite swaths of Washington recently getting pummeled by heavy snow, I’m convinced either Mother Nature has hopped on a freighter heading to parts unknown or is holed up somewhere gorging on brownies spiked with wacky weed and way too much sugar.
I don’t know about you, but when I was a child the one thing I could always count on finding on Christmas morning was an orange or tangerine in the toe of my Christmas stocking. I suppose this was a holdover from the days over a century ago when citrus fruits were considered exotic treasures during the cold depths of winter in these parts.
Long, long ago – about 15 years, to be exact, BFB (before Facebook), BTW (before Twitter) and BSP (before smart phones) – a few passionate people on Whidbey Island were very upset that the Rock had no local public radio station to call its own.
If you like the look of holly but want something fragrant and non-invasive, consider giving Osmanthus heterophyllus a try. This member of the olive family has holly-like leaves with one to four spiny points on each side and small, white, four petalled flowers that bloom in the fall. You can easily distinguish between holly and O. heterophyllus by the arrangement of the leaves on the stems. Holly leaves occur alternately, while Osmanthus are opposite.
I guess it’s time for “The Talk.” No, not that talk. Not unless you’re an adolescent who stumbled upon this gardening column by accident while searching your grandma’s kitchen counter for the missing jar of Nutella and you need the lowdown on the birds and the bees. No, this talk is about not planting invasive species in your garden or giving amnesty to noxious weeds and other big, bad plant bullies.
I was happy to see that enrollment in Coupeville’s public schools is on the rise after steadily declining for the past decade. The town’s been feeling a bit arthritic and it needs a burst of youthful energy. We can use more kick-ball screaming and jump-rope rhyming; hopefully that will help drown out the clatter of so many canes and walkers.
This is a great time of year for at least one type of Euonymus: the burning bush. Don’t confuse it with the smoke tree, or smoke bush. They’re different plants from entirely different plant families. Smoke tree is a Cotinus and related instead to the sumac. This is one instance where if there’s smoke there isn’t necessarily fire.
Georgia Gardner and Nancy Fey want to continue serving on the board of elected officials that sets policy for the hospital. They are being challenged by two very different candidates. Rob Born is a firebrand, an outspoken critic of the hospital. Erika Carnahan is a calm person who believes in a collaborative approach. Both challengers will provide second opinions — and fresh ideas — needed on the board.
It doesn’t appear there’s going to be anything graceful about the Greenbank Farm Management Group’s split with the Port of Coupeville. Despite claims by the nonprofit group that it is doing everything in its power to not fan the flames of community discord, the group’s actions say otherwise.
A friend of mine recently revealed her husband was worried about their western red cedar trees. You see, he’d noticed areas of orange foliage dotted throughout the canopy and thought they were dying. I told her to tell him to relax. When sections of old cedar foliage lose their green color in the late summer through fall, it’s just a normal part of their growth cycle called flagging.
This is a tale of two empty stores on Main Street in Coupeville. One used to be the town liquor store until we put it out of business by voting to end the state’s monopoly on hard liquor sales. The other used to be Linds’ Pharmacy, which closed this summer – done in by cost pressures from health insurers and big chains and our growing fondness for prescriptions-by-mail.
Viburnums have often confused me. This is where I should say I’m not easily confused, but that would be a lie. On the other hand, I’ll bet there’s at least one other person out there who thought for the longest time that a snowball bush was some kind of hydrangea.
The Scottish writer and philosopher Thomas Carlyle wrote, “Man is a tool -using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.” There are a number of things I would disagree with Carlyle on, but this isn’t one of them, especially when it comes to gardening.
There are many qualities to admire about us Whidbey folk. One that I notice frequently is how fiercely we battle to keep things just the way they are. We fight tooth-and-nail against big development, environmental travesties or any sign of America creeping toward our pristine shores. We’d sooner jump off the Deception Pass Bridge than permit a billboard or neon sign, for instance.
What pops into your mind’s eye when you think of honeysuckle? Is it a fragrant vine or is it an arching shrub that makes good hedges and borders?
Plants are not as dumb as they look. At least to me, plants have never seemed like the brightest bulb in the box.