The Sustainable Landscape: Green Practices are Easy and Eco-friendly

Calendar note from “February Happenings” at Molbak’s in Woodinville

The Sustainable Landscape: Green Practices are Easy and Eco-friendly
Featuring Debra Prinzing, author and garden designer
Sunday, February 17th, 1 – 2 PM

There are many reasons to “go green” in the landscape. You may wish to provide a healthy backyard environment for children and pets or limit your use of pesticides and herbicides to preserve your habitat. Adopt a few simple practices and try Debra’s suggestions for creating a beautiful, eco-friendly backyard. Many of these tips are features in her book, Washington & Oregon Gardener’s Guide , which will be available for purchase and signing.

An open letter to Marty Wingate

The coolest thing ever for a gardenless gardener…

I am now and then inspired to correspond with writers who get paid to write (as opposed to being a free-world blogger!). Marty Wingate, one of our great Pacific Northwest gardeners and writers, had a great article in the PI today, called The Grounded Gardener: It’s seed time, even in a small space.

The first book of Marty’s that I bought was Big Ideas for Northwest Small Gardens (2003). Even though I had a huge yard, small garden spaces are easier to manage and you can create small vignettes for different spaces and feelings when you have an overwhelmingly large space. My last piece of property was the last 1/4 acre remnant of a West Seattle chicken farm near 18th and SW Myrtle. If you have been reading my blog regularly, you will know that this year we have given that up and moved into a townhome in High Point nearby.

So I have been meaning to write about the coolest Xmas gift ever. I started campaigning for this shortly after seeing at BB&B; in November. Shortly after tearing an ad out of a magazine and leaving it on my husband’s work bag, he asked me if I wanted boxes for Xmas or mojitos. He had it shipped to his work and thought it would be fun to get going with it right away rather than him wrapping the box and saving it for Xmas day. So we planted it on November 17th.

And the beauty of instant email is that I have already had a response from her, which I will include below. Altho she still hasn’t told me what to do with all this mint!

*** *** *** ***

Hi Marty!

I met you at a book signing at ArtsWest a few years ago. I served three years on the Board of Directors for P-Patch Trust and am a Native Plant Steward with the Washington Native Plant Society.

A few months ago my husband and I sold our ¼ acre pesticide-free certified backyard wildlife habitat and 1929 farm house here in West Seattle to move up the hill to High Point, formerly one of SHA’s scary ghettos and now a beautiful mixed income community. We bought a townhome with a huge deck. I developed rheumatoid arthritis about 4 years ago and finally realized I could not keep up with my property or gardens. And my husband had no interest – in that or in trying to maintain an almost 80 year old house.

So here we are, in a Built Green efficient home. I moved my garden “from plots to pots” (going to be writing something about that someday), including edibles in some pots, and my favorite native plants and shrubs in others. Well, my husband Steve along with Steve Richmond of Garden Cycles moved it. It took an entire day to dig up everything, move it, and pot everything.

And then a few months later I discovered AeroGarden.

If you use one of the ProSeries AeroGardens, it is more customizable for lighting and water circulation. And you can buy a Master Gardener Kit , which gives you everything you need to plant your own seeds instead of the seed kits they make. They just came out with a much smaller bowl version, too, for people who are seriously space challenged. I bought the wall shelf so I didn’t have to give up any counter space.

My current herb garden is so prolific I am forced to try to cook to use the stuff that’s growing – or I give stuff to my boss or neighbors. The AeroGarden is a truly unique and I think perfect solution to the ever-more prevalent condo and townhome with-no-yard lifestyle. I am perfectly happy with it and my pots on my 200 sq ft deck!

Wendy Hughes-Jelen
West Seattle

P.S. Have any ideas what I should do with all this MINT? I can only drink so many mojitos!!

*** *** *** ***

From: Marty Wingate
Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2008 11:15 AM
To: Wendy Hughes-Jelen
Subject: Re: Thank you for today’s article

Hi Wendy,

I’m delighted to hear from someone who uses the AeroGarden. I saw it at a trade show, and was amazed at how many shops advertised the little ones for Christmas, but wasn’t sure how they would translate to the home. Now I know, and I can pass along your recommendation!

Marty Wingate
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, NW Gardens,
The Bellevue Botanical Garden: Celebrating the First 15 Years (2007)
The Big Book of Northwest Perennials
(Sasquatch Books, 2005)
Big Ideas for Northwest Small Gardens
(Sasquatch Books, 2003)

FOR SALE: Teardrop trailer for two

Fully loaded 2004 teardrop trailer (#23 of over 35 built by Ed Ester, Master Cabinetmaker of Burien, WA). Stainless steel top, anodized aluminum siding, solid oak construction. Braking rear axle, tongue box for all the extra gear. Hitch it up and go – comes with most everything you need for camping. Locking rear hatch lifts up to reveal a fully stocked galley (cook stove, dishes, silverware, etc), Ralph Lauren bedding (“full size”, four foot wide bed) with matching curtains. Locking doors on either side, with custom screens for those hot summer nights. AC/DC, battery and solar charger. Countertop, bedding, and other accessories are dark green. Includes outdoor rugs, privacy tent, collapsible table and benches, chairs, chocks, etc. We are including everything and every trick we know that we have put together after four years of teadropping. Asking $9,000.00

Great for camping families and parents with back problems. Memory foam topper on bed high quality RV cushions make it almost as good as home. Mom and dad sleep inside, the kids are in the tent “next door”. Mom and dad get some comfortable sleep…For those wanting to travel cross-country, locking doors make it safe to sleep at truck stops and rest areas. We have some stories to tell!

Less than 10,000 miles and in excellent condition. Currently garaged in West Seattle. Current license TR STRK (tear streak) tabs good thru June 08. Inexpensive to insure and license, can be towed by most anything. Current tow vehicle is a MINI Cooper which we are considering trading in for a new “smart fortwo” which is too small to tow. Custom hitch and brake controller can be made available if another MINI owner purchases.

Be welcomed to the fantastic teardropping community, strong in the Northwest with many group campouts and cookoffs all summer long and with meets all across the country. Some really nice folks, really cool classic cars and trucks as tow vehicles, restored teardrops and new models, too, are all welcome. Visit the Teardroppers of Oregon and Washington web site for an introduction.

Will consider parting with “matching MINI” if the timing can be arranged right.

smart center Seattle opens its doors – might even have cars to drive by tomorrow

OK, I know, I love my MINI. There is even a song titled that made for MINI enthusiast owners (email me if you want me to send it to you, fellow MINI fans). But I have to say, I am being beckoned by the new smart passion fortwo.

I think I am going to refer to it as the smart foroneandadog. Since my biggest consideration when considering this vehicle is the comfort and safety of Sophia, my Italian greyhound, my work assistant, mischief sidekick, and exercise partner.

The current configuration in my MINI is that back seat has been folded down for nearly two years, with a dog bed on the flat folded down area. She can lay, she can stand and walk around, and she uses an after-market arm rest – which I call a “paws rest” – to get to the front seat from the back. Because sadly the MINI, since it is a two door car, does not have rear windows that open to allow for that oh-so-vital whiff of outside air that tells Sophia where she is and which direction she is headed.

My husband and I have been talking about it, and in the process of even contemplating trading in my beloved MINI Cooper for a more environmentally-friendly set of wheels, I wondered if I should be considering an EV (electric vehicle) or hybrid. I don’t think there are any pure EVs out there yet that can do 100 miles on one charge, and I regularly log 100 miles in a day for my work. And the hybrids that are out there just take me right back to why I got the MINI – they either are too big or too ugly. Or both. (The Honda InSight the exception, and it is too LOW.)

So that brings me back around to the smart car. I first saw one when visiting Paris, France in 2000. We were walking down the street and went wha….ha… whattheheckisTHAT?!? In fact, I know we have a picture of it, somewhere on a computer around here. When in Rome, Italy two years ago we actually went into a showroom and sat in one. A friend of ours in Germany actually bought one about a year ago – and then hit the road to drive around Europe for about 6 months and loves it. But I have yet to drive one.

So here’s how our IM conversation went this morning:
Wendy HJ says:
Should I be thinking about an electric car as opposed to the Smart car?
StephenHJ says:
Lets wait and see… I’d like to do a bit more research on the real plusses of the electric/hybrids… Not sure of the real carbon footprint (CF) yet, but the Smart has a known CF that we can research.
StephenHJ says:
Depends on what your goals of ownership are.
Wendy HJ says:
What do you mean goals?
StephenHJ says:
Do you want to have a “cool” car, or is it purely a choice based on CF?
Wendy HJ says:
Neither – I am drawn to the Smart car because it is all the space I need really, gets super mileage so I will MAKE money in my job as opposed to just keeping up, and I can freakin park it anywhere, I bet even sideways
Wendy HJ says:
I don’t think it’s “cool”, I think most ppl think it’s freaky looking and dangerous to drive
Wendy HJ says:
Oh and I like that I can change out the color panels
Wendy HJ says:
no other car does that that I know of
The only reason why we are even having this conversation is because we have decided to sell our teardrop trailer. It is fully loaded with all of the camping gear you need, and a well-appointed galley. Steve’s decided that with a dog who likes to sleep under the covers and has VERY long legs there just is not enough room in a four foot wide space for all three of us. And since camping is supposed to be a FAMILY outing, I don’t want to leave the dog behind…so I guess we are done camping in the teardrop. And the darn mosquitoes – we had a very bad experience 4th of July weekend in 2006 and the dog has been freaking out over buzzing sounds and floating dust motes ever since.

So, without needing to tow a trailer, I COULD drive a different vehicle.

And so the process continues. We’ll let you know how it turns out! I still haven’t driven one. I need to be sure the dog will be happy, I can still carry a file box around in the back with papers in it, and that the paddle shifters and automated manual transmission is going to work for me.

And if YOU are interested in a smart fortwo, be sure to visit the smart center Seattle web site and make an appointment for a test drive.

And if you are interested in purchasing a 2004 teardrop trailer that was locally built in Burien, send me an email.

One of the coolest features, in my opinion, is that the color panels on the smart car can be removed and swapped to a different color. My plan is to get a black one, that my husband will feel comfortable driving, then get panels customized in green with my Green Spaces Real Estate business information, and another set in pink for when I just want to just be me and go have fun without working. Steve was a graphic designer so he created an image of what Wendy’s Pink smart foroneandadog looks like. Awesome!!

New price on 2 bd 2 ba top-floor one-level condo suite with garage in Federal Way

A $5k price reduction on my condo listing in Federal Way. Nice area, close to walking trails, etc., convenient to everything but not too close.

We’re hitting all the hot buttons with this one…
~ 2 bedroom/2 bathroom top-level condominium home all on one level (NOT a townhouse!)
~ Great contemporary floor plan (built 1999)
~ 1,241 sq ft*
~ One car garage
~ Large deck accessed from both living room and master suite
~ Master suite with double vanity, private bath, and a walk-in closet!
~ Second bedroom also has a walk-in closet
~ Open-concept floor plan with vaulted ceilings
~ Cozy gas fireplace
~ Separate laundry with washer, gas dryer, and lots of cabinets
~ Five hallway closets—tons of storage!
~ Wired for in-house vacuum and security systems

This home has it all, plus these other highlights:
* Private one car garage!
* All appliances stay!
** Just across the street from the new Casey Treat CFC South and just down the street from Weyerhaeuser International HQ
* Small, quiet neighborhood with easy access to shopping, parks, trails, and freeways.

Current listing price is $224,500

2218 South 336th Street, #605
Federal Way, WA 98003
NWMLS #27196623

Presented by Wendy Hughes-Jelen, Licensed Real Estate Professional and Built Green Certified Agent AND Linda L. Lane, Licensed Real Estate Broker

Contact your agent or call 206.686.HOME (4663) for a personal tour

*Source: King County Records
All information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. Buyer to verify to own satisfaction.

EMAIL ME for a LINK to the online listing information and FULL PHOTO GALLERY

Green Streak turns 80, earns a new badge

My fabulous little GRNSTRK rolls 80,000 miles this week. I’ll have had the car for 5 years come this April – hard to believe. I have never driven the same car this long. Until I hit my 30s all my cars were older and I couldn’t maintain them without a live-in mechanic so I wouldn’t be able to keep them that long (they were all 70s era vehicles anyway). The car before this one was a leased Mazda 626 – a very nice car I chose for business. But in 2003 when it came time to replace the leased car with a purchase I didn’t need to take business considerations into account since touring clients around wasn’t a consideration (I was working in property management at the time).

So I went hunting for an environmentally friendly car – before we had all the options we do today. The Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight were all that was out there. The Insight was too small, even for me, and I just couldn’t stomach the design of the Prius. I hated the nose of that car. Still do.

My husband, known to be a car enthusiast (read: nut) said, what about a MINI?

I said, what’s a MINI?

One test drive was all it took. We built our MINI online and then got to watch its progress from across the pond (it was built in Oxford, England). It took 6 months from when we ordered it (Nov 2002) to when it arrived (April 2003). And I still went and picked it up a month before the lease was up on my Mazda because I just couldn’t stand leaving it down there all alone. It begged to be drove.

The name came quickly, GRNSTRK (green streak). It means many things:
1) It is one, as it flies past you at just a little over the speed limit
2) You have a green streak because you are envious you are not the one driving it
3) I have a green streak as an environmentalist

I get comments about my MINI all the time. It is all green, green body, green roof (not a contrasting roof like most) and a green leather interior (very rare). One fellow motorist, on a nice day with the windows rolled down, said “That is the most conservative MINI Cooper I have ever seen, you need to get some flames or something on that,” (I would like lightning playing across the hood but haven’t found the right artist yet); “Can I sit in it?” (The answer was always yes); “Is the glass tinted green, too?” (it was). And the comments after taking someone for a spin, or letting a 6’7″ man sit in it always was “Wow, it’s way bigger than it looks!”. Who would need more? Not I.

Not even more horsepower. Standard hp of 115 is just fine for me. I took a car control course and the only limitation on this car is me. It handles like a dream and will do anything I ask it to. Well, except drive thru two feet of water. I am on my second engine, having drowned the original engine in the flash flood before the big windstorm of Dec 06. It allows me to get 32 miles to the gallon when I am running flat out on the freeway. I don’t do as well with daily driving since it is mostly in town touring property.

In the early years we were in a MINI motoring club, I organized drives around the Puget Sound area. We took almost 25 MINIs around Alki to Endolyne Joe’s shortly after it opened and was hosting its first festival, ROUte 66 (very appropo); we would drive in a line to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, or even cover three mountain passes in one day, up and down and all around. It was a great time.

Sadly, those days are over. Now there are MINIs everywhere, it’s not such a “special” thing (except to those of us who drive one). But I have moved on to organizing canine clubs and homeowner associations instead. A lot more people benefit from my volunteer work, and a lot of dogs have playmates or find new homes because of the social network created thru those efforts.

And we do new things with our MINI. Like teardrop camping. We tow a little silver teardrop aptly named TR STRK (tear streak). It should have been named RD HZRD since people behind us see the trailer, wonder what the heck is pulling it, and move over a lane then drive in our blind spot and won’t move, they are busy ogling the vision of a MINI pulling something behind it. It cost a lot of money to rig the car for towing and adding a brake controller since the weight of the car is easily pushed by the weight of the trailer. Our first year we took a 16 states, 16 day, 6,000 mile tour from Seattle to Chicago, down Route 66 to New Mexico, then back north thru Colorado (and a trip up Pikes Peak), Utah, and home. It’s the first car trip I had ever been one more than overnight. It was a blast. We met some great people, saw some weird bugs, experienced 100 degrees in the Texas desert, and even got to say “We’re not in Kansas anymore”.
We’ve been in car shows – and trailer shows. We’re little ambassadors.

I digress. GRNSTRK just got a bath and annointed with her new magnet badge, my URL on the back in chrome (see first picture). It is very cool looking. And my car is just fine for business purposes – now people WANT to tour property with me so they get a ride in my cool little car.

I can even tow a chipper!

If you see me around town, give me the MINI wave!

It’s not too late to sign up for a walking tour of High Point this Saturday

We still have space for people to attend Saturday’s tour of High Point. You must RSVP for this event by visiting the Green Spaces Real Estate meetup online. This is so we can prepare enough information packets – and not too many. We don’t want to waste any trees!

You might want to bring an umbrella since the forecast keeps changing. The tour will last about an hour. We will meet in the foyer of the High Point Library at 11 AM, which is easy to find on 35th Avenue SW. You can also look for the Green Spaces signs! The library has a large parking lot.

If you are interested there will be a couple of model homes to tour.

What a porous sidewalk looks like.

In case you missed it…

Steve and our sign made it onto the Today show on Monday, New Year’s Eve. Our sign reads “Married 10 Yrs Today! Steve & Wendy, Seattle, WA”. I am standing on the left and behind him, so not visible. We DVR’d it while we were gone and only discovered we did make it on camera when watching it last night.

You can read about our trip and see our loads of photographs, in chronological order, as we blogged it from New York City the five days we were traveling, December 28th through January 1st.

Remember, clicking on photographs takes you to a larger image of the picture.

OBTW – FYI – we’ll be in NYC for NYE for our 10YA

The nuts were warm, the towels were hot, the glasses went “clink”, and the cars just sat

The Holiday Windows of Lord & Taylor ~ NYC

Live from New York City…It’s Saturday Night!

Ok, here’s the rule: When you feel like you are still moving when you are standing still, you are done for the day.

Happy New Year’s Eve from New York City

Now That’s a Wrap from New York City

See Spot Go Green

Great article in the Seattle Times today, See Spot Go Green. They’ve left out a couple of important local resources – always preferable to something shipped to a local store from elsewhere, using fuel and packaging.

Yes, Sophia has two Big Shrimpy beds (mentioned in the article), but she has FOUR SnuggleSax. The one pictured here was custom made to match my new home office. There is also one on the couch in the family room, one on the loveseat in the living room, and one at my office in Renton. She would be happy with just one, but it is I who does not want to haul one bag hither and yon since she absolutely has to be burrowed into it to be warm and happy. Snugglesax are made by fellow IG owner, Kari, of SeaTac. Quite a little cottage industry it is, too. (All of Sophia’s collars also come from a local fellow IG owner, Cynthia, owner of Piluzo.)

And when it comes to food, one of the best local pet food makers is Natural Pet Pantry in Burien. Although they are well known for their raw dog and cat foods, Sophia couldn’t stomache raw, but she loves the cooked dog stew they also make. In chicken, turkey, beef, or buffalo, it is made with lots of vegetables and has added bonemeal. I also add Brewer’s yeast (for more protein), a comprehensive vitamin powder, and cod liver oil to help with skin and coat condition. It would be difficult to afford this quality of food for a larger dog – I am fortunate that my Italian greyhound weighs only 16 pounds and not 160 or else I would go broke.

If you know of some great local natural pet resources missed in this article, leave a comment! We all would love to know about it.