February Mid-Winter Photo Contest


Hey Snap Happy Garden Photographers!

Every season, we provide a photo contest for gardeners to submit pictures of their garden. As a year-round garden store, winter is an exciting time for us. Soil beds are being prepped, seeds are being planted, hellebores and primroses are popping color into planters and garden beds.

There’s no theme, just have fun! Photos can include outdoor garden beds, planters and other wintertime wonders.

Submission deadline is Monday, Feb. 16th. First-prize winner will receive a $20 gift certificate to our store! (Perhaps a new pair of gloves, another row of primroses, etc.)

The Low Down (or the Rules):

  • No experience or skill necessary
  • One photo per submitter (only one submission please)
  • Make sure the photo is in .jpeg or .png format
  • Send to Audra at audra@garden-spot.com
  • Include your name, number, and email with your submission

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Audra with the email provided.

Good luck and happy snapping!


Garden Spots: Sandy’s Dream Garden



We were awed by this glorious Fatsia japonica. Have you ever seen one this big?


The glossy leaves of this Hart’s tongue fern really stand out in the winter garden.


Gorgeous foliage pervades this garden. We particularly enjoyed this Arum italicum.


Signs of spring!


Sandy also has an impressive collection of heuchera. We were drawn to the flame-colored leaves of this little beauty.


Sandy Gunderson’s garden is a labor of love. An avid gardener for many years, in her current home she has found the space to fully express her plant appreciation and has built a design piece by piece that reflects her passion. Recently, we got to view Sandy’s garden, and for those of you who are hellebore-lovers, boy oh boy do we have a treat for you. Sandy has about 35-40 hellebores in her collection, many of which were blooming when we came by.


The aptly named Helleborus “Party Dress”.


Helleborus “Spring Promise”

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Helleborus “Sally” shyly opens her petals.

Sandy, her husband Ken and Ziggy the Abyssinian kitty have lived in their home for five years. Sandy has accumulated a remarkable collection of perennials, through her short stint at Bear Creek Nursery, frequent trips to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, and more than a few stops at the Garden Spot among other sources.


There’s no shortage of art in this art-lover’s garden.


Nothing makes a statement in the garden quite like a swath of glossy black mondo grass.


One of our favorite things about Sandy’s garden, is how she uses seed heads to enhance the winter landscape. Here some hypericum lend color to a chilly February day.


Witch hazel ‘Diane’

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Sandy has planted everything in the yard herself, except the larger foundation plants and trees. When they first moved in, she dug some particularly stubborn shrubs out, to create space for her horticultural treasures.

Looking at her garden now…we have to agree with her that it was worth the effort!

The Monrovia Holiday Collection

Nothing gets us more excited about the holidays than the beautiful plants that arrive at our nursery each week. Recently we received a shipment from Monrovia that’s set our staff aglow with the holiday spirit. We’re humming carols and dreaming of colorful foliage, bright blooms and show-stopping stems. Scroll down for a winter wonderland of swoon-worthy shrubs.


{Photos courtesy of Monrovia}

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’

Light some fireworks in your garden this winter with ‘Arnold Promise’ witch hazel. Sparkling yellow petals frame small red cups at the center of these dazzling blooms. If that’s not enough, this workhorse of a plant puts on a marvelous display of colorful foliage come autumn.



Taxus x media ‘Brownii’

The rounded form of Brown’s Yew makes it an excellent choice for foundation planting or in a hedge. Slow-growing to eventually 8-10 feet tall, this is an easy care plant that can handle sea breezes.



Forsythia x intermedia ‘Kolgold’

Also known as ‘Magical Gold’ forsythia, you could easily fall under the spell of these extra-large yellow golden blooms followed by verdant green foliage. Plant it in your garden for early spring color.



Cryptomeria japonica ‘Black Dragon’

There is no question, that ‘Black Dragon’ is a superlative choice for conifer-lovers. Deep green foliage with chartreuse tips, and attractive bark make it a lovely specimen plant for your garden.



Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Pink Dawn’

From showy blooms in early spring, to scarlet foliage and sparkling sapphire berries in the autumn, this deciduous shrub truly earns its place in the garden. Deer-resistant and hardy to zone 8, ‘Pink Dawn’ is an excellent plant pick for Whatcom county gardens.



Our thanks to Monrovia for the use of their beautiful photos. If you’re curious about any of these plants, please stop by and ask any questions you may have. We would love to talk about the Monrovia Holiday Collection with you!

Out in the Cold: Bill Thorness talks Winter Gardening and his New Book

By: Erin Meier

I first met Bill several years ago at the Ballard P-Patch in Seattle where we were both gardening. (P-Patches are community gardens named for the Picardo family, see story here) Bill is a lot of fun to talk with about gardening and beyond. Get to know him a little better and you’ll find out he’s not just a passionate gardener: he’s an author, an avid bicyclist, a teacher, Master Gardener and even a Master Composter/Soil-Builder.

When I started as Workshop Coordinator at City People’s Garden Store in Madison Park, I invited Bill to come by and speak about his favorite topic: edibles. A self-described farm boy from North Dakota, Bill quickly won over his audience with his impressive knowledge of heirloom vegetables and down-to-earth gardening advice.

Last week I spoke with Bill about his latest book, Cool Season Gardener.


Cool Season Gardener Cover

First of all, congratulations on your new book.

Thank you.

This is your third book. How does it feel to be an author three times?

Publishing is different for everybody. I enjoy sharing the information I’ve learned over the years. It’s rewarding to have a dialogue with people you wouldn’t meet normally. You can garden with friends, or in a P-Patch, but with a book you can reach a lot more people.

We actually met at the Ballard P-Patch, which was a great time for me in my gardening life and I wanted to ask you: how has having a P-Patch influenced you as a gardener?

Actually, my first garden in Seattle back in 1986 was a P-Patch. In fact I’ve gardened in a P-Patch almost continually until a couple years ago.

Recently, I was giving a talk for the Master Gardeners at the Ballard P-Patch. Of course, I’d brought some seeds with me, heirloom black radish seeds. One of the gardeners spoke up, “I have those seeds as well.” She’d gone to somebody’s house on a garden tour  and they’d given her some.

Well she didn’t realize it, but the gardener she was talking about was me. She had them growing in her garden. That kind of connection is really fun. And that’s what I love about the P-Patches. You can’t get that kind of collective wisdom anywhere else.

Bill proudly displays his purple-sprouting broccoli seedlings

Bill proudly displays his purple-sprouting broccoli seedlings

A lot of gardening books touch on winter gardening. Why did you feel ‘Cool Season Gardening’ needed its own book?

That’s a really good question. All of this knowledge you get through working with the P-Patch, Seattle Tilth, Master Gardeners and trying to grow food year-round….You learn a lot and you find resources. Two books that were very valuable to me were Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest by Binda Colebrook and Gardening Under Cover by William Head. Both of these books went out of print. (Though recently Binda’s book has been re-published.)

I was talking to my publisher about how there is a whole new crop of gardeners in their twenties, who could benefit from this kind of knowledge as I did in my twenties. I wanted to create a resource that combined all the gardening knowledge I’d amassed over the years. Most vegetable gardening books have three or four pages on how to build a cloche, a few pages on winter gardening and succession planting. My book goes into those things in-depth.

As I was reading your book, this passage in particular stuck with me.

I think failure in the garden is not paying attention to those messages from nature. It is refusing to learn from them. It is acting as though you are in complete control. Everything that happens in the garden is a lesson, and learning is a successful endeavor in itself. (Thorness 22)

How does this reflect your gardening philosopy?

Purple sprouting broccoli: ready to harvest!

Purple sprouting broccoli: ready to harvest!

If the cabbage doesn’t put on a head, eat the leaves. If the kale goes to seed prematurely,eat the flowers. It’s not always gonna work out the way you planned. There are so many factors, summer vacations, changes in weather, you just have to roll with it. Vegetable gardening is very forgiving because every season you get to start over, giving you a chance to redeem yourself from past mistakes. (he chuckles) And I’ve made a lot of them!

One of my favorite sayings that I’ve never been able to attribute to anyone is: ‘The gardener’s shadow is the best fertilizer.’ If you’re out there every day you’ll be able to see what’s going on. Even if it’s just a little garden walk on your way somewhere else. You can see what’s happened, and make a change because of it.

I’ve never been able to attribute that quote. But garden wisdom gets passed over the back fence. And that’s the way it should be, as long somebody gets something out of it, that’s the reward.

I know our readers will want me to ask, do you have any tips for gardeners starting a vegetable patch right now?

The spate of cool, moist weather we’re having is perfect for starting fall greens — get some rows of lettuce started now, and continue planting short rows every 10 days or so through September, and you’ll have lettuce continually into December. The later plantings might need to be covered with floating row cover or a cloche after October, but with a little protection, you could put your own salad on the table at Thanksgiving!

Sounds delicious! Thank you Bill.

Thank you!


A Note to Readers: You can find Bill’s book locally at Village Books in Fairhaven!

Want more ‘cool season’ gardening tips? Check out Bill’s website!