Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Garden makeover...rain gardens and woodlands

 I've been gardening most of my life...
and never do I tire of the endless creative possibilities.

  Gardens happen and develop over time. For me, it's a process and takes me from a concept, to actualized, as I do the work. There's a foundation of trust between myself and the client. We have to trust each other to work together.

  This time I'm invoved in a garden makeover with not just one, but two Rain gardens.
From the flat unexciting woodchipped "lawn" to luxurious backyard retreat.
    I just love it when the client has an idea and a vision-be it a huge 'pie in the sky' idea, or just a small 'please help me plant my flower garden' idea we can literally grow with.

This time the client and friend wanted an outdoor room, and a woodland garden.
Her contractor is a creative genious-and designed a spectacular secluded outdoor room with plenty of room for all sorts of artful adaptations, be it paintings, garden art or sculpture.

We had some basic ideas on paper, then with the help of an intern who is doing landscape design, we were able to build a design on sketchup and present the ideas to the client.
With a new building that will certainly be handling huge amounts of rainwater in the rainy seasons here in Seattle, I knew we needed to creat a rain garden or 2.
  The client likes fun and funky, so I suggested using rain chains  made from Recycled glass bottles from Bedrock industries that feed into a water way that would then feed into raingardens. We also discussed putting uplighting under the rain chains to accentuate the entrance since the rainchains flank the entrance to the outdoor room, as well as lighting the Magnolia and the maples to show off some of the garden at night.
More photos coming soon!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

my children-our journey

Homeschooling is a journey-and a very personal one at that.
I think my favorite quote is "necessity is the mother of invention"
that quote best describes me and the way I move through life...some may not agree with this way of living and may think it downright absurd to actually live this way...but for me-it's the only way...

When I became a mother, I made some radical lifestyle changes-some need not be written in this blog post, but let's just say that I decided it was time for some changes-being that I had a child (2) to care for.

Somewhere along the line I started reading all sorts of books about learning styles and education...Waldorf and Montessori to name the top 2.
I became increasingly interested in all types of philosophies about nurturing healthy development, individual learning styles and whatever I could get my hands on. I read every book I could, I wanted to know all about Maria Montessori, Rudolph Steiner and bio dynamics.
    At the time I also became increasingly interested in herbal healing-it all tied in together. I just dove into as much of it as I really could.  I was on a mission to be a conscientious parent. I'm not sure if I was fully aware of that mission, but looking back at how I went about it, it was some serious dedication and stemmed from necessity I wanted to raise a healthy, well rounded children -and be the kind of parent I never had. 
 I wanted a close relationship with my kids. I can't say when I knew for sure, but somewhere around year 3 with my first child I knew that homeschooling was in our future. It came about a few ways..
first, she just wanted to be with me and I was not comfortable pushing my child away when I'm the safety net at such a young age....and I read the Continuum concept. That book solidified all my intuitive parenting ideas and was like a permission slip to be the parent I felt inclined to be, free from societal 'norms' and standard parenting 'tips' and childhood benchmarks/pressures.
 I am not a fan of all the rules and regulations...I don't think the schools or government knows better than me what my individual child needs-and honestly, I don't believe the government has my best interest and health in mind when they are busy making rules/laws that don't include health care and food additives, so WHY should I trust them with my kids?  Have you seen the junk foods they serve at schools?       YUCK...case in point...
off my soap box now....
so-the truth is there are so many ways to home school it's dizzying. However, I personally do what feels right. I have had to really search into myself to define my values and to follow them as well as pass them along to my children.  I make mistakes and own them when I do.

We do not do a traditional curriculum as many other families do-we just don't feel it necessary, we do more child led interests. The kids choose from a pool of classes of their interest.
As one of the founding members of the Family Learning Center at Southwest community center  It's really easy to provide them with opportunities-we live in a city full of it! The SHG (Seattle Home school group) is an invaluable pool of resources with over 450 families from all over Seattle and outlying areas. There's NEVER lack of activities and classes offered.
 I want to mention another book Under Pressure ...a book that also gave me permission to allow my kids to be kids, not managed-and I gotta just say-I've heard it from hundreds of people-all ages and stages-my kids are kind, well adjusted and well socialized. They know how to communicate with adults and how to express their thoughts and feelings, clearly.
 I have not been the wonder parent and don't feel like i know any better than anyone else how to do it any better, I only know our  way has worked and it's still working, so I'm in no hurry to make any big changes.
 The Desire to home school led me to the information I needed to follow the path I have chosen and trust that things will work out just fine. And so far-it's been a wonderful rewarding journey. I wish that for everyone who decides to take the road less traveled. I have learned so much about myself and that is probably the best reward. I trust myself more now than ever. My kids and I are very close.  Teaching was not my goal. We have a mutual respect for each other. We have trust. That was my goal.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

White Center Garden tour 2012

   I have never organized a community wide event before....and now I can say that I have.

I was asked to do so this year- 4 weeks ago, with no prior knowledge of how it works-literally no formula whatsoever...nothing indicating how this event takes place- I was asked to 'wing-it'
   I had an idea or two of my own...however I was so very grateful when the original coordinator and founder of the White Center Garden tour -Peggy Weiss- answered my email and request for assistance. I asked her to please share her ideas with me as to how she organized the event fot the first 14 years.  She was so excited to see it in my hands and was more than pleased to offer her suggestions-take it or leave it, and just share her knowledge with me. WHEW! Thank you Peggy!
  Who will participate, who wants to know about it, how do we get the advetising together...pay for posters, postcards, media press release and so on-how do these things work?
 I asked a team of extremely resourceful people to help me-and we pulled together a very fun event-according to all the wonderful feedback from the gardeners, tourees and the community.
That is what makes it all worth it.
White Center Garden tour photos by Ellen Cedergreen

  This years garden's-with the exception of one, were given 2 days to decide they would be on the tour, and 2 weeks to prepare. In typical garden tours-folks have about 3-6 months to prepare and aticipate the excitement...
 I feel extremely grateful to have a connection to so many gardeners and the pool of vast knowledge about so many different kinds of gardening techiniques-so we were able to offer the garden tour as an educational tool to tour goers as well as inspiration.  My goal with the garden tour is to offer people the opportunity to see the many styles and different systems that there are-none being better than the other.
 I like to gently remind folks that gardens are for all levels and all styles. Kids gardens all the way to manicured. Gardening is an experience to appeal to all the senses and every style should be recognized for it's own personal adaptations.
 I live in the most culturally diverse community...why not show off as many garden styles?
I hope you enjoyed the tour, and I hope it has inspired you to read about some new techniques and implement some in your own yards and gardens.
My hope here in White Center is to see more yards and lawns converted to gardens-so we can all enjoy the benefits and community aspect that happens naturally when you spend time out-of-doors connecting with the neighbors and friends made by sharing information and working together.
   That is what makes a community a neighborhood, or a neighborhood a community.

thank you for coming out to the Garden tour-and if you missed it this year-there's always next year.