Castilleja or Indian paintbrush, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, July 2020

I think the word for what I’m about to say is, cliche’, but honestly, how is it August? This year continues to dole out one unexpected revelation after the other. I woke up going about my day thinking it was Wednesday until I looked at my calendar. How is it Thursday? Garden life is defined by more concrete moments of seasonality, plant sales, concerts, classes, and camps. We achieved one of those so far this year.

Rolling into August shifts much of our focus onto watering. Weds…Thursday’s rain showers were a welcome respite, but I felt bad for the Girls Rock Math campers starting their morning in the drizzle and dripping canopy. Turns out they didn’t miss a beat and actually had fun. Rumor has it they’ve been running through sprinklers too. Life is undeterred, no matter the condition.

Our other focus is our upcoming fundraiser for the foundation, Garden Party. While we are typically seated with delicious food and libation with friends on the Edmonds waterfront watching the sunset, we’re providing you a unique opportunity to join us virtually this year. Sunsets in 2020 are also cliche’. Garden Party 2020 is shaping up to be fun and filled with some delightful unexpected treats or as they say in the biz’, swag bags. Who doesn’t want something unexpected? Shut up 2020! This is my moment, take a break.

We ARE looking forward to our event this year despite the challenges. We ARE excited to show you what we’re up to and how we are looking towards the future of the garden. Plants have been adapting for millennia and continue to do so despite our interference. Lessons to live by.

I would like to express real gratitude to those of you who responded to the Director’s Wish List last month. What an outpouring of support. It was so satisfying to toss out overly mended watering hoses. The fall bulb fund idea really resonated with some of you.  I have made a pass at the fall bulb order and it was a much-needed distraction. Take my advice and pick up a bulb catalog or five and dream about the spring show. No better medicine for distracting from the present. Fingers crossed that we can make it into a volunteer project to plant that crocus lawn. Planting 1,000 tiny individual marble-sized bulbs by myself just don’t have the same level of enticement. I’m kidding, there are only 500 crocus bulbs unless someone wants to make it 1,000. Get your dibblers ready.

Rhododendron auriculatum, Kruckeberg Botanic Garden

All snark and sarcasm aside, the garden continues to provide a much-needed balm. This month is marked by the fragrant blooming Rhododendron auriculatum. Our 40-year-old plants/trees are blooming up high, but the fragrance drifts down across the entry path by the house. Eucryphia is finishing, but the drift of white petals is so peaceful. Summer watering regimens have coaxed some early blooms of Cyclamen hederifolium here and there. The garden is open Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm but will resume regular hours of Friday thru Sunday, on August 21st.

Columbia River, Wishram Heights, WA, – July 2020

White Salmon River, Klickitat County, WA – July 2020






In closing, I would like to share the new trend in solar observation, sunrise. I recently took time off to return to my birthplace. I made intentional efforts to reconnect, recharge, even heal.






I highly recommend disconnecting from the vortex of news and politics and park yourself on a sunbleached log somewhere along a river, stream, or ocean shore. There is no better white-noise to dampen the overly stimulated brain. The air is cleansing and perfect for deep breathing.

Joey Abken, age 2-ish, Grandma’s garden – 1969/1970





And lastly, time was spent rifling through an old suitcase filled with photos that belonged to my grandmother. I was transported back in time 50 years. There can be no doubt about my early influence on ornamental horticulture.