Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Eight Years Old

My blog is 8 years old today. I wrote my first blog post on September 5, 2009. I actually started blogging a few weeks before we moved into the house. My original purpose was to record the development and changes in my new garden, and that hasn't changed, although I do post about other gardens and nursery visits and outings. This garden has undergone big changes, and in looking over these photos, my inner critic is not always convinced they've been for the better.

We had already been living here in the Pacific Northwest for about a year, having moved from Massachusetts in 2008, where I had lived for my entire life, where Nigel and I had lived in the same small ranch house for 25+ years, and had raised our son. We rented a small house in North Seattle for a year while we looked around and decided where we wanted to live.

Here's a series of photos that I took of the yard on the day we came for our home inspection, juxtaposed next to a shot from more or less the same spot taken recently.

The front yard in 2009

The front garden, looking in the same direction now -- less grass, more perennials, and one greenhouse

Lots of grass in the front yard in 2009

That little area with the clear plastic over it is being solarized in preparation for a new herb garden -- the old one had been taken over by oregano

The house from the road

Here's a series of photos of the back garden taken from the back porch from right to left. The back garden is basically a big square, enclosed by a fence.

That area full of weeds along the fence became the site of our raised vegetable beds

Our stream replaced the swingset
That roof is what Nigel calls a Wendy House, a child's play house, which we gave away on craigslist soon after moving in, along with the doghouse

The winter after we moved in, the garden was reduced to a blank slate and we started over.

Here is that same series of views now. Sorry about the difference in lighting, the originals were taken on a cloudy day, and these were taken on a recent hot sunny day.

You can see a small portion of my pot ghetto in the foreground -- yes, more changes are in the offing. That bed under the Douglas firs is in the process of getting a makeover.

Beyond that overgrown weedy bed (also in line for a makeover this fall) are the raised veggie beds, soon to become a cutting garden

Here's another old shot from 2009, taken from a spot in the center of the back yard, showing the Wendy House and the old fence and gate
And now:

Here's that bed that replaced the Wendy House, a little closer:

No more Wendy House, it's now a mix of dry shade-tolerant perennials, with an enormous oakleaf Hydrangea and a Mahonia x media 'Charity'

Here's that oakleaf Hydrangea, when first planted in March 2010.

The area beside the shed was overgrown with blackberries; a neighbor has since told us that our house was the last one built in this neighborhood, and that for years the entire lot was nothing but blackberries.

Here's a shot of that area now. There are no more blackberries there, but it has become a bit of a catch-all space for junk. I also need to finish the bottle border.

This bed gets terribly neglected, being one of the farthest from the faucet and awkward to reach and water, so I've tried to plant it with drought-tolerant plants. I'm pretty sure the Grevillea in this bed has met its maker.

Here are the raised beds when they were brand new.

Those flagstones are proof there really is a path there.
Here are the raised beds now, from a different angle. I've used them the last few years for growing mostly garlic, onions, green beans, and zucchini, so the last few days I've been working on clearing out weeds and any leftover garlic bulbs, so that I can transplant my Dahlias into them, and sow seeds for a cutting garden next year.

One of the beds has become infested with Canada thistle. That's going to have to come out before I can plant anything else into it.

One good thing about repurposing the raised beds for a cutting garden -- I can get rid of the wooden skewers that I've used for several years as a cat deterrent. Since I won't be using them to grow food I don't really need to worry about cat poop.

What plants still exist from that old yard? The Douglas firs, of course. One very large English laurel. An oak tree. A filbert along the back fence. A Ceanothus. That's it. Everything else is new, even the grass has been replaced.

I sometimes think about my blog and wonder what possessed me to name it "Bonney Lassie" when it  was going to focus on gardening. I wish I had named it something else. But it seemed like all the clever names had either been taken or were just too kitschy. It seemed to make a sort of sense at the time. I was a bonnie lassie, right? (Not really, I'm an old, grumpy, dumpy, white-haired lady). My mom was Scottish, so the name kind of worked, and I chose the strange spelling because of the town I live in.

When my son Iain was about eight, he hated his name. He told us he wished we'd named him Mike. It's probably too late for me to rebrand my blog, but if I could, I'd call it "The Green Fuse," after a Dylan Thomas poem that Nigel likes. It's wonderfully morbid and has a lot of layers of meaning, but one basic idea is that the force that propels us through life is at the same time forcing us toward our deaths. Birth, death and rebirth, which is the life cycle of a garden. And I like the image of the green stem of a flower as a fuse, fueling an explosion.

The Force That Through The Green Fuse
Dylan Thomas

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman's line.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.


  1. Happy Blogaversary my friend! Here's to many more. I like your blog's name although Green Fuse would have been fun too. (Lawn With the Wind? Alisin Wonderland? Leaf Me Alone; Chronicles of an Introvert Gardener? Of course, since you traveled across the country - A Pilgrim's Progress? Nah, Bonney Lassie suits you!

  2. The best think about taking pictures of your garden is being able to see how far you've come. Sharing them with the world is a bonus for the rest of us. I can already see your cutting garden in full bloom, in my mind's eyes. Happy Anniversary.

  3. Happy Blogaversary! 2009 was a very good year for blogging, so many of us started then. Fewer of us are still going. Love the before and after shots. You took a regular old suburban yard and made a garden, bravo!

    I always thought your blog name was rather clever, seeing where you live. And out of curiosity does Ian still wish he were Mike?

  4. Happy blog anniversary, Alison! It was wonderful to see the transformation you've wrought in your garden, which is a thousand times more interesting than the template you started with. While The Green Fuse would have been an interesting blog name, I think Bonney Lassie is a lot more friendly. I look forward to seeing your new cutting garden next year - best wishes with the thistle removal!

  5. Happy blog anniversary, Alison! Great series showing the transformation of your garden. I like your blog name. Would you rather have saddled yourself with some cheesy alliteration like The Practice Plant Geek?

  6. Happy number 8 Alison ! How interesting to see the pre-Alison blah-ness of your garden.Such an empty palette !

  7. You have mad e a lot of changes to your garden over a short time, and I do realize that changes are ongoing.
    I never remember what year I started my blog, only that it came as I was about to embark on a trip to Europe and it was to keep family informed. Since then it has evolved into an outlet for my photography, much of which features gardens.

  8. Congratulations with your blog anniversary. Always so interesting to look back at our garden history. Your garden has changed a lot over the years, I think it´s now a real garden, not just a yard. A happy place to keep you busy with your plants and where is a lot to see and enjoy.

  9. Happy birthday to your blog! Your garden has certainly come a long way!

  10. Happy Anniversary Alison.....what an amazing transformation of your garden.


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.