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September 11, 2011


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Chris Fleck

Hi Val - that does help answer a question I did not know I had! I will follow that suggestion. However, what do I do with the rather tall stalks? Cut them to the ground, dig them up, leave them alone? An enquiring mind wants to know.


valerie Easton

Hi Chris,
The trickiest thing about saving sunflower seeds is keeping the birds from eating them all. You may need to put a paper bag over some of the flowers, or wrap them in cheesecloth to protect the seeds from birds.

When the back of the sunflowers turn from green to yellow, the petals start to fall off and the seeds show a black stripe, it's time to cut the heads off. One way to get the seeds off is to rub them off with a towel; some gardeners use a clean paint roller. Or you can hang the cut flower head in a garage or shed, and let the seeds dry in place. Store in a paper bag with holes poked in it to dry the seeds and prevent them from getting moldy - the plant the seeds out next spring when the soil warms...
Hope this helps -

Chris Fleck

Hi - I have some volunteer sunflowers this year for the 1st time. About 7 of them each about 8 ft tall. Do I let them die off, cut them back or what? I would like them to return next year. They look like they are going away, leaning over quite a bit.


valerie Easton

Hello Mary,
I don't believe the Swanson's have a website, and their garden is a private one. They do open it once a year for the Whidbey Island Vegetable Garden Tour, which is a benefit for WIN (Whidbey Island Nourishes), which is run by Mary Fisher at Cultus Bay Nursery. You could contact Mary to see when the Swansons might be opening their garden...Mary's email is maryfisher@cultusbaynursery.com

Mary Dolan

hi, I tried to find a e-mail address but no luck. I am interested in your piece in the times on the Swanson's. I amm interested in their root cellar and green house. Do they have a website where they have more pictures. Do they allow for visitors?

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Bayview Farm and Garden

Far Reaches Farm

Swansons Nursery

B&D Lilies

Renee's Garden

Dig Nursery

New Book: Petal & Twig

  • Petal & Twig Made The New York Times!
    From Anne Raver's review: "Valerie Easton, a Seattle-based garden writer, discusses the art of growing and arranging cut flowers in “Petal and Twig: Seasonal Bouquets With Blossoms, Branches and Grasses From Your Garden” (Sasquatch Books; $16.95). Written as an informal diary, with photographs of arrangements from her own garden, and tips on cutting and keeping flowers fresh, the book inspires ideas not only on what to grow but on how to combine (or not) those beauties inside. See review here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/garden/new-books-on-growing-and-arranging-flowers.html?scp=1&sq=petal%20&%20twig%20anne%20raver&st=cse
  • The first reviews on the new book are in! From Publisher's Weekly:
  • "Open your eyes and keep it simple: those are two lessons Easton passes on from her own 40 years in the garden. When selecting and arranging flowers for bouquets, you needn’t spend a bundle buying a bundle of imported flowers.....The result will be unique, local, imaginative, and inexpensive. Color photos throughout illustrate and inspire."

In the News

  • Montreal Blogger Reviews "A Pattern Garden"
    I was so pleased to find that "A Pattern Garden" is still being reviewed...check out Allan Becker's generous review on his Garden Guru blog.. I felt like Allan really understood what I was working towards in that book....he writes...."There is a delightful abstract quality to this publication. In it, the author takes good garden design to a higher, more spiritual level. Instead of discussing the aesthetic and scientific elements of design, as so many traditional garden design books do, she focuses on the role played in garden design by archetypal ideas - a.k.a. patterns - that reference the longings of human beings. These pleasure and comfort-rooted ideas are those that inspire designers to create gardens that are satisfying beyond their beauty." see more at http://allanbecker-gardenguru.squarespace.com/journal/valerie-easton
  • Planting art
    Check out this interview with Val in the Chicago Tribune on using art in the garden...

The New Low Maintenance Garden

  • Reviews Are In....
    "Over the years, countless books have espoused a low-maintenance approach to gardening. None have been as engaging, practical, or inspiring as this latest of Easton's contributions to the gardener's bookshelf,"
    - Pacific Horticulture magazine, Jan/Feb/Mar 2010

    "A handy guide to a garden you can raise without a corresponding increase in your blood pressure..handsome and informative...."
    - Metropolitan Home, Dec. 2009

    "This book is an invaluable addition to the garden library – destined to be a classic for many years to come."
    - Garden Design Online

Photo Credits

  • The banner and portrait photos were taken by Jacqueline Koch; all other photos by Val Easton unless otherwise credited.


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