it begins again…

Happy Spring, everyone —

We still haven’t passed the Valentine’s Day marker, but unseasonable warmth has spurred  on plant growth faster than usual. Daffodils, witch hazel, Daphne, snow drops, plum trees, Indian plum, red maples, sweet box, and Crocus are all blooming and creating clouds of fragrance that waft around the neighborhoods. Ahh.

And to sweeten an already sweet season, we have a spring chicken in our family, a baby girl, who is just beginning to look around and enjoy the outside world. Such fun.

With Spring comes clean-up and planning time in the garden. Contact us with any design or site planning questions, or to get set up with a design consultation package. Look under our Services and Our Work tabs to see some of our past projects.

Remember, plant your peas on President’s Day! Potatoes go in on St. Patrick’s Day.

Happy gardening,

Annika & the crew at HAZEL

wishing tree

Here is a new kind of tree in bloom that we found in Carkeek Park: a Wishing Tree! Full of red ribbons with people’s wishes written and tied on.

Gardening in urban soils

I’ve been doing more research into edible gardens and soil contamination lately, and I thought I would share my findings here. As my family prepares to move onto a new city lot with old homes and unknown previous uses (e.g. there was rumor of the property having been rented to a fellow with a roofing company once), we’ve been thinking more carefully about where to place raised planter beds, play areas and fruit trees.

It seems that most plants don’t take up contaminants, but the greatest risk is direct contact with the soil. To find out what’s in your soil, do a soil test with the U. Mass Soil Testing Laboratory ( which offers a standard soil test for home gardeners including pH, nutrients, and extractable metals for only $10. They will send your results with recommended actions for various crops.

If needed, import new soil to your garden (from a reputable source like Cedar Grove) and cover pathways with wood chips, new soil/gravel or pavers. Then grow your garden and simply wash your hands and homegrown produce before eating.

Here are some more basic guidelines adapted from the US EPA (2011):

-Build your garden away from existing roads and railways, or build a hedge or fence to reduce windblown contamination from mobile sources and busy streets.

-Cover existing soil and walkways with mulch, landscape fabric, stones, or bricks.

-Use mulch in your garden beds to reduce dust and soil splash, reduce weed establishment, regulate soil temperature and moisture, and add organic matter.

-Use soil amendments to maintain neutral pH, add organic matter, and improve soil structure.

-Add topsoil or clean fill from certified soil sources. **Cedar Grove is certified organic, and tests regularly for heavy metals.

-Build raised beds or container gardens. Raised beds can be made by simply mounding soil into windrows or by building containers. Sided beds can be made from hemlock/fir wood, synthetic wood, stone, concrete block, brick, or naturally rot-resistant woods such as cedar and juniper.

-Your state or local city agency may recommend using a water-permeable fabric cover or geotextile as the bottom layer of your raised beds to further reduce exposure to soils of concern.

-Practice good habits:
Wear gloves, and wash hands after gardening and before eating.
Take care not to track dirt from the garden into the house.
Wash produce before storing or eating, and teach kids to do so, too.
Peel root crops, and remove outer leaves of leafy vegetables.

Love your garden — with a Spring design consultation!

Wondering where to start on this year’s big garden project? Take the first step by scheduling a HAZEL Design consultation session. This ‘package deal’ gets the ball rolling with fresh ideas for layout options, materials and planting schemes.

Starting with an on-site walk-through and a sit-down with source images, we will listen to your vision and build on your ideas to help generate a range of design options. If you are interested in some DIY, we can discuss feasibility and help organize your options into bite-size phases. Either way, a design consultation leaves you with options to consider and clear next steps to take. process sketches

Contact us for an introductory design consultation package:

(206) 351.9407 /

($250 for basic consultations, Contact us for more customized design packages.)


photo-5This is a Pedasites bloom pushing up through the winter ground in one of my gardens.

It may seem early, but these last few sunny days seem to have gotten things stirring: Sarcoccoca, the sweet-smelling, nearly invisible flower that is currently wafting its fragrance around town; those lovely, winter-blooming Viburnums in shades of pink; and -my favorite- witch hazels with wild blooms in orange, yellow or red and their distinct astringent, ultra-fresh fragrance. A walk in Seward Park this weekend revealed many fat tree buds, Hazel trees with opening catkins, and both flowering currant and Indian plum just about to bloom.

Planning edible gardens or containers: time for a Spring consultation!

How do we get here, to this beautiful summer bounty? Spring blooms are starting to pop everywhere now, so it’s a little easier to imagine that we will once again be out in the garden, hands in the warm soil, tending a productive bed or box and plucking an assortment of veggies for a quick summer stir fry or salad…


But for now we are HERE: tiny sprouts of early greens and seed packets waiting in the wings for even warmer days.  No need to be impatient though– this just means there is still plenty of time to get a new planting area prepped, start a container garden on your deck, or install a raised bed or planter box somewhere in a sunny spot.

photo 2

Are you working with a difficult site? Have children you’d like to introduce to gardening? Just finish a remodel and finally have time to focus on the outside realm? This is the perfect time to assess, envision, and plan. We are equipped to handle a range of site demands, and look forward to helping you create a beautiful, functional, productive outdoor space for your unique home.

Please call us at 206.351.9407 to set up a Spring garden consultation and walk-through.



it begins: early spring beauties

We really do have it easy here. Fall sun and colorful foliage stretches into the winter holidays and the grey-est days of winter extend only into February, before days lengthen, bulbs start to shoot up and shrubs start budding out. For a while in those early winter months, we have to look closely to find color and signs of life that will string us along.   yellow lichen



Well, it’s getting easier now to get my head into spring garden planning and prepping.

Look! Shoots, dangles & blooms, hurrah.

Stormwater and Rain Gardens: Read up, ’tis the season!

Find out more about rain gardens here (  Just in time for the rainy season… learn what all the hubbub is about!

Seattle Public Utilities has opened up new stormwater districts, to encourage the installation of rain gardens and cisterns through the RainWise incentive. Please contact us if you would like us to take a look at your property and talk over options for collecting or retaining rainwater.

(image from Seattle RainWise