Saturday, April 28, 2012

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival...

During Spring, one of my all time favorite day trips in the state of Washington, is visiting the tulip festival up in beautiful Mt Vernon and Skagit Valley. The never ending sea of tulips and daffodils really is a sight to see! Only second largest to the tulip fields in Holland, the Skagit Valley offers one of those picturesque displays of endless rows of color that stretch as far as the eye can see.

Tulip fields in Skagit Valley WA

Reds, purples, yellows, pinks striping the landscape like a painting, really a sight that Monet would be inspired by.

...nature at its most colorful!

This was my first year back in quite sometime. In the past it has been too wet and rainy, gosh in Seattle...really? or the blooms came early and we missed them all together. OK really it was because it's no fun with two little kids who insist that the tulips are for picking!

This year however I was a little more on the ball, plus the kids are older so I can sigh with relief that I don't have to worry about them picking mommy a lovely bouquet. Or having them run out into the fields "prohibited" row areas while in chase like prison escapees, or some Benny Hill skit!

Mud was the real treat for the boys. Again lady with the white coach bag, I am sorry my son accidentally splattered mud on you while he was trying innocently to jump across the mud. But really a white "expensive" huge handbag in a muddy tulip field, what were you thinking?

My two crazies running through the daffodil fields, Skagit Valley WA
Between the crowds (OK we did go on a weekend, the same weekend as the Mt Vernon Street Festival which I think has to be one of the best street fairs in WA) And yes it was a beautiful, gorgeous, summery 70degrees of sunshiny goodness. I think the rest of WA decided to show-up the day we went too. We captured glimpses of fields void of humans and gosh what an awesome site! The RoozenGarde Fields, my fave! The one with the windmill, they by far put on their best display of tulips yet.
The varieties and the planting formations were just breathtaking, the gardens alone were worth the admission and then you get to the fields, just sublime!

My tips on how to do the Tulip festival...

  • If you can, go on a week day to avoid crowds and traffic! This is one of WA biggest tourist attractions for the year.
  • If you go on the weekend plan to get there early or late to miss the main crowds, plus these times make for the best lighting for photography...bonus! Go expecting crowds, especially if it is a rare perfect sunny PNW day!
  • Don't be afraid to go when its rainy, galoshes and umbrellas make for great props in pics, you can capture great reflection pics of the tulips reflecting in the rows of water, the crowds are at their lowest, plus mud is fun!!
  • Go towards the end of the grow season, they are usually at their fullest bloom for optimum color impact out in the field. Also they start discounting potted bulbs that are past their bloom in the store, great to plant for next year in your own garden, what better souvenir!
  • Drive around and take advantage of the fields that are accessible from the side of the road. They don't mind and they block of the ones that do. There is a wonderful Daffodil field which are happy to let you run out into, there's street parking and no crowds, its on the far north outskirts of the tulip fields...and its free! The big gardens which are totally worth the visit, charge anywhere from $4 - $5 an adult.
  • Tulip fields are not the place for designer handbags, high heels and your Sunday best, unless you don't mind a little mud!
  • If you can, don't take boys who complain that flowers are for girls the entire time you are there!  

These red tulips were beyond stunning up close and in person, the perfect blooms didn't look real, so vibrant and full of energy! They screamed "come run through me!" very mischievous they were.


I love the captured reflection in the rain ditch.

If you ever get out to Washington state in April, this really is a must do. However if you can't make it, here are some more bloggers who posted their spectacular tulip festival blooms.... 

North West Photos: April is the month for Tulip Festivals  Great pics!
My Secret Garden: Stunning Tulips of Skagit Valley WA  4 part series...beautiful!

Also check out these helpful links: 
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Bloom Map and website for more details..
Some great reviews on yelp: Yelp reviews on Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
Washington State Tulip Festival Location and Directions

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday...Coveted springtime blooms

I'm sure we all have one, our favorite springtime bloom that we look forward to all year. Without a doubt mine is the Magnolia bloom....I can not get enough! (I'm sure you can tell from my latest post obsession hehe)
What's your most coveted springtime bloom?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April Garden Bloggers Bloom Day...

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is a Meme I have always enjoyed, well reading others that is. I never seem to have any pics to post or anything in bloom, maybe the abundance of rain or just busy, I never seem to have my ducks in a row for a post. But as the weather has been nothing but divine this week in the Sunny Pacific Northwest, (YES Sunny!!) I have been trigger happy with my camera and I actually have things in bloom. The GBBD stars have aligned for me at last!!

So what is in bloom? Oh it was a fun hunt! Out front, the first round of tulips are in full bloom, these stunners are always the first and will fade out just as the next lot come in, they really are timed beautifully. My favorite ground cover "Periwinkle" is also starting to bud with its delicious little purple flower, this grows rather like a weed here, its everywhere, hardy and a fast grower! 

Another one of my faves out front is the miniature plumb tree, purely ornamental as it bears no fruit, the blooms are so tinny and delicate, a real treat after the blooms of the standard plumb have faded.

This gorgeous evergreen laurel has just sneaked into bloom day, I love the white spray of flowers. This year with the frost I was worried I lost this one, but its hardy and shows no signs of a rough winter frost...few!

Outback, my tulips under the plum are in full bloom, although I swear last year these ones were pink so I am curious if tulips change color? Only half made it this year as my slugs had a field day feasting on the shoots.

Grape Hyacinths are taking over in the most delightful way this year. I am hoping come next year it will have spread enough to come back as a wonderful garden edge, love these through out my rock wall too.

And of cause there is my Magnolia, I couldn't leave this out of bloom day. Especially when it has been the star of my garden this last week and has enjoyed performing for the camera on a regular basis. My fave spot to sit is under its branches, being snowed on by falling petals or intoxicated by its scent...ahhhh love it so much!! 

My "Bleeding Heart" which is now over 4ft tall is huge!! Last year I lost a Rhododendron shrub under it and it's only getting bigger, time to divide. Its just coming into bloom now and is looking particularly happy this year. This one grows on my East fence and is mainly in shade with well drained feet as its on top of a rock wall. It loves these conditions!!

I am sure there are more things coming into bloom as I type, the Lilacs are not to far off as well as the Cherry tree, Peonies, Roses, more tulips, daisies, Azaleas and so much more. I can't wait to post my May GBBD. I sure do love this time of year!!!

What's blooming in your garden? Be sure to link or leave a comment if you are doing this Meme too as I'd love to stop by for a visit and poke around your blooms.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday...Magnolia tree love

For a fleeting moment every Springtime I enjoy its scent-full blushing blooms....


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Help Polka Dot Galoshes raise money for Autism!

I know, a garden blog what's that got to do with Autism? April is the month for Autism Awareness and this is my way of shining some light and raising some funds for a disorder that hits close to home. Its amazing how many families it really does effect, if not personally you may know someone who's life has been turned upside down by it.
For me its my little gardening buddy, nature lover and bird sweet son Harry!

Some might say our life was turned up side down on 17th July 2009 when my then 7yr old son was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. But really our life with Harry had always been upside down, we had know since he was 18mths old that something was going on with our little guy, I think the headbutting of walls and the non-verbal till he was 5 was a huge red flag, things no parent wants to see their child go through. After years of frustrations and many dead-ends as to how to help our son we were honestly re-leaved to finally have an answer.

I now want to do my part, by helping give back, so I thought I'll try using my blog. Its my first time doing anything like this, so its a see what happens and hope for the best type of thing! By raising funds and awareness I am hoping more families can be helped with accessible services and early interventions...therapies help and my son is real proof of that.

Please help me raise money for Autism Speaks by...

  • posting a link to my blog
  • copying my badge to your blog 
  • following my blog, facebook or twitter 
and I'll donate $1 for each one...thank you so much for any support!!
Cheers Harry & Julia xx

Harry my little artist! - The amazing therapy center that is changing our little guys life!

Some facts about Autism you may find interesting...
  • It now effects 1 in 88
  • In the state of Washington (where we live) Autism is not a recognized medical condition with insurance companies and is highly capped under Mental Health...we pay over $1000 a month on therapies, out of pocket...ouch! But worth every cent =)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Success....I have my first sprouts!!

So I've crawled out of my sick bed for this post...But I was just to excited to wait!
I am now the proud parent to broccoli and brussel sprout shoots! Oh my I am so relieved and completely shocked that I did it. My new little babes seem to be thriving in their re-purposed egg containers...woo hoo success! 

....Although I am knocking on wood while saying this. They still need a few more weeks of babying before I can transplant them to the bed. That reminds me, I better get working on that bed so they have somewhere to grow, if only this weather would cooperate a little better. Well I guess, I'm not a galoshes wearing gardener for nothing, thank you Seattle Spring rain!

My Sprouts are now about 2 days old. I was actually sick in bed with stomach flu when they sprouted so I missed the actual day. They're measuring around 1-2in tall and are looking great, I just hope they are not leggy? Not sure when you know or what you can do about it, so I'll be keeping an eye out for that.


  • I'll be sowing more broccoli this week so that I will have a staggered harvest season and my celery will be due to shoot any day now. Tomatoes should be next week...Happy seeding everyone!!

What has started sprouting with your seeds this week? Are you just starting or are yours already for transplanting? Would love to hear what stage you are at with seeding and any tips on legginess would be great....thanks!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Free and repurposed...seeding containers

Who doesn't love free! I am loving this seeding journey and I am loving it all the more for being so cheap!
After researching different styles of seeding trays, pods, puck's, mixes, fancy do-dads and everything in between.  
I decided to raid my own recycling bin for my solutions. Here's what I found...


Single piece, doubled over and folded down, wrap around a can from the pantry, fold the bottoms over, take can out and voila...a paper seeding pot. tip-I liked the tomato paste size tin for small results.

Egg containers 

These organic egg containers from Costco are brilliant! They hold 32 eggs = 32 starts...yay! These are particularly good as they act like a mini greenhouse, you should see the condensation these create. Tip - poke holes in the bottom with a skewer, very thin plastic but durable!

Apple slice containers

These were another Costco re-use, love the big bulk sizes! This container is awesome for the longer grow time seeds, like tomatoes. I have 4 growing in each little green house and they should be happy in there until its time transplant to the garden. Tip - I poked this with a number of holes but cracked the base, so I lined it with paper towel.

Yogurt containers

Oh I LOVE these yogurt containers! These are the new Greek yoplait yogurts with granola mix and look, look at that wonderful lid, its like they specifically designed these for use as little green houses afterwards...thanks yoplait! I love these also for tomatoes and have started some herbs in them too. Tip - the base is con-caved so make sure you poke holes in the lowest points for best drainage.

I washed all the plastic in a hot water/vinegar solution and let air dry
I then poked holes in the bottom of all compartments for drainage
And then filled 2/3 with sterile seeding mix...Done!

Seeding Trays

I placed all these containers on old cookie trays and in cake tins, that really had seen better days...presto, new Free drip trays. Tip - Hit the thrift-store for cheap bake-ware, I picked up some extras for 50c..bargain! The perfect size for two egg it!

What are some of your favorite re-purposed seeding containers or ways of keeping the cost down?
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