Garden Blog

In the Weeds

by Dawn W. Todd

Weeds in mulchI learn more about God

From weeds than from roses;

Resilience springing

Through the smallest chink of hope

In the absolute of concrete….

~Phillip Pulfrey, “Weeds,” Perspectives


I am reading a book called My Weeds; A Gardener’s Botany, by Sara Stein. She doesn’t live around here, so it doesn’t have total application to our northwest gardens. Still, it’s a great book. She has done her research, and she writes with humor and poetry. She says that, “A weed is a plant that is not only in the wrong place, but intends to stay.”

Read more: In the Weeds

The Ancient Art of Japanese Flower Arrangements

witchhazel in bloom

by Dawn W Todd

The heady, hollied rush toward Christmas is over. One by one you took down the ornaments, and packed them away. Why is it so much more fun to put them on the tree than to take them off? The tree is in the compost bin, the leaves of the poinsettia fall like a gentle rain upon the dining room table; sans buche noel, sans pie, sans tablecloth,which was sent cranberry-stained to the laundry. You hate to do it, but that Euphorbia pulcherrima is going in the bin right next to the tree.

The cheery blink of the alternating lights is a memory tucked back in a dusty box in the basement. The living room is restored to its former—why not admit it?—dull and shabby existence. You pluck dried needles out of your carpets and gaze out your windows at the gray expanse of your frozen yard; sighing, and tossing the dog-eared seed catalogues onto the coffee table. It’s a month and a half before the NW Flower and Garden Show. Is there any point in getting up in the morning?

Yes. It’s called Ikebana.

Read more: The Ancient Art of Japanese Flower Arrangements

The Solstice, the Seasons, the Symbols

by Dawn W Todd

The Kruckeberg Botanic Garden is gearing up for its yearly Solstice Stroll. For members, it will be December 18th from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and for the general public it will be December 19th through the 21st, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.

You all know what solstice means. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, it is either of the two times during the year when the sun is farthest from the equator, There is the longest day (summer solstice) or the shortest day (winter solstice). This year the winter solstice is on December 21st at 3:03 p.m., PST.

Read more: The Solstice, the Seasons, the Symbols

My Favorite Lasagna Recipe

lasagna with red wine bottle and glass

by Dawn W. Todd, Nursery Volunteer

I am shocked and appalled at the number of people who don’t know how to make lasagna. It’s simple, it’s easy—far easier than the alternatives—and it’s so good for you! I don’t mean the kind of lasagna you eat, of course. I mean the kind of lasagna that saves the true lazy gardener from the back-breaking toil of weeding, yet keeps the soil rich and makes your beds look cared for. It is an ancient technique, sometimes called sheet composting, sheet mulching, or cold composting. It works because weeds need love, too. At least, weeds need light and air just like other plants.

Read more: My Favorite Lasagna Recipe

A Tree Poem

Solitary conifer growing out of lava at Lava Butte, Oregon

by Dawn W Todd


There is a poem on a sign under a tree in the gardens of Castelo de São Jorge. I haven’t been there, armchair traveler that I am, but I read about it on line.

Before I tell you the poem I want to ask you a question. Why plant trees?


That’s what got me tooling around on-line. I wanted to give you an impressive list of reasons. You know all the usual ones already. In science class we learned that trees are a part of the ecosystem that keeps life going. Trees take carbon dioxide and make oxygen. The carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the oxygen cycle, and the water cycle—we need trees to make it all happen.

Read more: A Tree Poem

More Travels Abroad

Path at Sunriver, Oregon

by Dawn W Todd

I'm in Oregon this week with my family. The day begins and ends with a walk on the path next to a tiny branch of the Deschutes River. My favorite part is where it reaches a little bridge and then takes a sharp right; at that point looking straight across the fields or looking left out to the mountains or looking right over to that bridge I feel I am in the most beautiful place on earth. You don’t know how beautiful that is, until I confess that I am really an ocean person. (My husband is a mountain person, and that is why we are in Sunriver, Oregon, instead of Hawaii.)

Read more: More Travels Abroad