About

For many years, I wrote gardening and cooking columns for Seattle newspapers and national magazines, many of which are sadly gone. My life has also changed and I no longer travel or lecture widely but stay close to home to care for family members with health issues. My garden has altered as well, yet it remains a comfort, inspiration and great pleasure to me. Though change is inevitable, I am delighted to be sharing my experiences, ideas, and recipes once again through the Log House Plants gardening community. As always, I welcome readers’ thoughts and questions, which may be directed to me at gardeningwithannlovejoy@gmail.com or through the Log House website.

Ann Lovejoy
Bainbridge Island, Washington

29 Responses to About

  1. Irene Vale says:

    Thank you Ann for your wonderful books and advice!
    I am wanting to make raised beds on an acre of land we have built on. I am dreadfully afraid to import soil/sandy loam onto our site to build beds after bringing in horsetail earlier (that has gone wild for 15 years). I have been fighting this pest that is now composted with yard waste in local suppliers and I understand (through extensive research) that it will not heat compost out. What should I bring in and where would I get it? We live in basically downtown Auburn. Most large suppliers use Cedar Grove compost in their mixes (this is where I got the infestation from to begin with). What do I do for established horsetail in my lawn and previous 70 foot berm? Please help!

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Irene,

      Horsetail is ancient and not easy to get rid of, but it can be done, especially if it was imported and not already in place. However, fifteen years is a long time and I am afraid it has probably made itself quiet at home. The key things to remember with horsetail are that it thrives in anaerobic soil, that it prefers low humus situations, and that growth is stimulated when it is pulled up (the scarring triggers new shoots from the root). Thus, the way to get rid of horsetail is fourfold. First, always cut, never pull, the tops. Second, improve soil oxygen levels by creating a positive soil profile in all beds; in other words, mound up all beds so they are higher than surrounding pathways/lawns etc. A few inches is enough to get more oxygen into the soil. Third, carpet all beds generously with compost each season, increasing the humus content of the soil, bringing in more air, and neutralizing acidic, anaerobic soils (which horsetail prefers). Finally, trench out pathways to a depth of 12-18 inches and refill with crushed gravel to pull away excess moisture and again allow in more oxygen. Actually, there is a fifth step, which is to learn to appreciate the amazing beauty of horsetail, which is wondrously made and intricately detailed. If there are places where it persists, toss in seed of forget-me-nots and Verbena bonariensis and enjoy seeing the webby, delicate (looking) lace embroidered with blossom. Good luck!

      Ann

  2. Sarah Aubry says:

    I once lived in Seattle, where I worked at the Weekly, beginning my publishing career which now continues here in Boston. The first book I had a hand in creating was “The Year in Bloom” (for Sasquatch, back in 198o-something), which I still refer to. As a matter of fact, I was digging through this lovely book again last night hoping to find some information about how to prune a lilac. I planted mine about 17 years ago, and have let it be who it wants to be all this time. It is very tall (reaching to the second story), and bows down into the yard. I’m wondering if I can prune it this weekend without destroying it?

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Wow, that was my first book, what fun to know you still use it! Yes, even in Boston, early winter is a fine time to prune lilac, which you can cut to the ground if need be. To keep lilac under control, the rule of thumb is to remove 3-5 of the oldest, most gnarly trunks to the ground every 3-5 years. A lot of older lilac varieties are really small trees, naturally reaching 15-20 feet, which puts the bloom out of sight/reach in small yards. Korean lilacs like Miss Kim remain small and are usually disease-free as well. Good luck, and thanks for the flash back!

      Ann

      • Sarah says:

        Hi Ms. Lovejoy!
        Thanks so much for the information! I never did prune my lilac, but now I’m feeling empowered to get going on this project. I’m spending time in my garden this afternoon, hoping to tuck everything in safely prior to tomorrow’s major meteorological event (nor’easter/blizzard/hurricane). I think I’ll tackle the larger trunks after we all make it through the storm.
        Regards!

        • Ann Lovejoy says:

          Hi Sara,

          Hope all goes well in terms of weather, and know that it’s pretty hard to kill off an established lilac. It will undoubtedly come back from pruning just fine. Just remember not to take too much in a given year and the root system will generate new growth come spring.

          Ann

  3. KathyG says:

    I have enjoyed your books through the years, though with the proverbial grain of salt necessary to translate to my own high desert climate. I have just found your blog and am enjoying reading through older posts — beguiling me at the computer, instead of where I should be: out in the garden getting it ready for my imminent 2 week absence to Scotland (where I will see more Pacific Northwest-like weather and landscapes). I just have to say, as both a gardener and pianist, that I am slightly taken aback by the photo at the top of your blog. I hope you got it right back inside after the photo shoot!?
    Kathy in Bend

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Kathy,

      Ah, yes, that is the Log House Plants floral piano, bedecked with summery abundance. Don’t worry, no harm was done; it was an old piano, salvaged from a daycare, that was on its way to oblivion. Alice bought it, gutted it and it spent a couple of proud final years as a planter in the Log House Nursery gardens. When it finally fell apart, it became part of the woodpile, endlessly recycled. I do think a garden piano would be delightful, however; as a singer, I think making music out of doors ranks among the most pleasurable of summer activities as well (my group, Time & Tide, plays lots of farmers’ markets, boat festivals, and so forth). I hope you enjoy good weather during your trip to Scotland, which really does have a similar climate to mine (which as you may know is quite changeable and often less than delightful). Bon voyage!

      Ann

  4. Sean says:

    Hi, I believe I remember you from my dad Nelson’s poetry workshop at the UW back in the early ’70s. You may remember me as Mr. Beast … or not! Anyway, just thought I’d say howdy.
    – Sean Bentley

  5. Pingback: prequel: our Spring Street garden, ’99-’00 | Tangly Cottage Journal

  6. Sharon Jackson says:

    Caramelized Savory Cherries. Yum. I did not have lime so I used lemon, but it was not tart enough for me, so I tossed in a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Wow. It was wonderful, thank you!!

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Oh, sounds wonderful! I’ve been finding so many lovely things to do with them that I’m really sad to see the cherry crop come to an end!

  7. Mara Galvez says:

    Ms. Lovejoy,

    I have just finished reading your Handbook of Northwest Gardening, and have also recently been reading a variety of permaculture and native plant gardening books. I am new to gardening; it is something I have been doing only for the last three years as a resident of northern coastal Humboldt County.

    I have a question about a discrepancy in your book. On page 170, you share a mnemonic device (regarding “Staying Alive”) for the function of the three NPK elements. Per your example, potassium is associated with rooting and phosphorus with more general nutrient uptake/dispersal. However, on page 172, you state the opposite: you say potassium aids nutrient circulation while phosphorus aids rooting &bloom. Could you clarify which is the correct function for the two elements? It seems important to distinguish since, as you and others have noted, potassium is usually high in PNW soils while phosphorus is not.

    Any clarification will be appreciated! Thanks, too, for your comprehensive book’s attention to our region’s unique gardening needs.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi there, and welcome to the wonderful world of gardening. You will find that gardening is as much an art as a science, though a grounding in science will be very helpful. As for your question, potassium serves a multitude of functions in plants, including building root systems and helping roots function more efficiently, as well as a bunch of other related functions. Here’s a little chart (see more at http://www.ipni.net/ppiweb/bcrops.nsf/$webindex/84CBB51751971AB3852568F000673A10/$file/98-3p04.pdf):

      how potassium works to increase crop yields:

      Increases root growth and improves drought resistance
      Activates many enzyme systems
      Maintains turgor; reduces water loss and wilting
      Aids in photosynthesis and food formation
      Reduces respiration, preventing energy losses
      Enhances translocation of sugars and starch
      Produces grain rich in starch
      Increases protein content of plants
      Builds cellulose and reduces lodging
      Helps retard crop diseases

      and this goes for phosphorus; Phosphorus is vital to plant growth and is found in every living plant cell. It is involved in several key plant functions, including energy transfer, photosynthesis, transformation of sugars and starches, nutrient movement within the plant and transfer of genetic characteristics from one generation to the next. (see http://www.ipni.net/ppiweb/bcrops.nsf/$webindex/ECBABED567ABDCDD852568EF0063C9F4/$file/99-1p06.pdf for more on that). So you see, it isn’t just cut and dry, but their functions are inter-related, like so much else!

  8. Adrian Lartz says:

    Kitsap Sun oct.5, 2014 Such an interesting, informative article and what are neonics?!!
    And why haven’t we heard about this from other sources, I wonder!! All these years I probably have been buying plants treated with this “whatever nasty stuff” and I thought I was helping our butterflys and bees and ladybugs buying the food plants they love.
    I will be spreading the word! Are seeds treated with neonics??
    Glad I went had a cup of copy and reading your article some had left!
    Adrian
    Now I found you, I will check out your website!j
    Adrian (from lovely downtown Belfair)

  9. I have read almost all your gardening books and they have inspired me over the past 25 years. Our climate in Sydney, Australia,is very different to yours but the ideas and enthusiasm in the books are universal. You inspired me to become a gardening writer, which ultimately led to the creation of my gardening website. Thank you! Deirdre

  10. Deborah Berg says:

    Thank you so much for your wonderful books and column in the Bainbridge Islander – I have only recently discovered them. Your revised Handbook of Northwest Gardening is the best gardening book I have ever read and used! I have been looking for a copy of it to give as a first-house gift for a young friend eager to start gardening, but cannot find one, even on Amazon. Eagle Harbor Books says it is back ordered indefinitely, which usually means a new version will be out shortly. Is that the case, and if so, can you give me an idea when it will be out? I need to decide whether to wait for it or get him one of the original versions, which are still available. Alternatively, if you can tell me where to find a revised version, I would greatly appreciate it!

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Deborah, I think you’ll have the best luck looking for a second hand copy locally; you might even try asking on Free On The Rock or Buy Nothing Bainbridge…hope that helps.

  11. Deborah Berg says:

    Thank you! I tried looking for a used copy on Amazon and just on the web, but was not aware of Free On the Rock or Buy Nothing Bainbridge. Thanks for letting me know – it is helpful to know about those sites, even if I can’t get it there. I will certainly try them and also Nextdoor.

  12. Diane Hooper says:

    Hi Ann,
    Really special to run into you at T and C the other day, a personal encounter.
    Ann, I also want to say, your letter to the editor in the 2/19 Bainbridge Review was smack on! Thank you for spelling it out so concisely.
    I don’t have an email address for you so hope this will get to you.
    Yours truly,
    Diane

  13. Judy bernard says:

    Dear Ann,

    I have been led to you through the introduction you wrote in Beverley Nichols book ‘Merry Hall’. Just like you, I stumbled upon Down the Garden Path in the used section of Third Place Books in Seattle and became instantly smitten! My friends and I now are starting on the lovely journey one takes upon discovering a ‘new’ author who turns out to be a prolific writer. How could we have not heard of him before?! His writing style and the glorious ways he describes the joy to be found in the garden have us wanting to read all of his books. I was so pleased to see that someone local had written the Foreward to Merry Hall. Do you have a personal favorite Beverley Nichols book? I look forward to now reading your blog…you have led readers to Beverley Nichols and he is leading readers back to you!

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Judy,

      I think Down The Garden Path holds its own after so many years. Nichols can be a bit snarky, of course (that slightly malicious tone was quite popular in his day) but his wit is as sharp as ever, and he sure did love his plants. And his cats, of course! So glad you’ve found a new writer, that is such a joy.

  14. Louise Grant says:

    I recall that last summer 2016 you wrote an article about the mystery disease that is killing our native maples. One on our property ca 40 years old, suffered & dropped leaves the summer of 2015 and only put out a few leaves last summer of 2016. We are finally having it taken down. We would like to use the logs in a berm & and the chipped branches in the garden. How do we determine if it is a disease, and not worth worth gambling by recycling the wood, or simply rot or drought that caused the tree to die?
    Thanks so much for answering. (We’re on BI).
    Louise

  15. Steve Stolee says:

    Hi, Ann – I have you in a lovely cameo in my new documentary film about the Rotary Auction, “Another Man’s Treasure.” I’d like to send you an invite to a private screening (invites only) on February 18, 9:30 AM (morning) at the Historic Lynwood Theater. Can you send me a proper email to contact you?

    THANKS!

    Steve

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