Garden Blog

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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How I Spend My Summer Vacation

by Dawn W Todd

Girls in a sprinklerIt tends to be dry around here in August. I nurture a few carefully chosen potted plants (just to give a bit of color to the graying, neglected wood of the deck) and without an irrigation system, I become a slave to watering during a normal Pacific Northwest summer. During my summer vacation, I try to keep my “hardy” jasmine alive. I am descended from a long line of mid-west women who feel strongly that a woman must produce tomatoes, so I try to do that, too, whatever the challenges in this climate. And I prune. That’s really what I want to talk to you about.

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Going Native

New England aster

by Dawn W Todd, Nursery Volunteer

On the first leg of my journey to Connecticut to see my  son graduate from his medical residency (I had to put  that in), the fellow sitting next to me was from Walla Walla. As so often happens to me, we got to talking about plants. He showed me pictures of his backyard, and I was impressed by his artistry. He takes old wood—torn down structures—and turns them into landscape elements. He created a patio retreat that blocked the neighbor’s view of him, and also blocked his view of their house; it made an oasis of beauty for his family. (I’m sure it didn’t hurt that his wife has studied interior design.)

Read more: Going Native