Sustainable NE Seattle

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Permaculture Design: 50+ Plants for Seattle Gardens

Last month Jesse Bloom and David Boehnlein made a presentation to Sustainable NE Seattle in support of their new book: PRACTICAL PERMACULTURE for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth.  It is an awesome book and I highly recommend it to everyone who wants to improve their home, community and the whole earth.  So many good ideas, it forms a solid foundation from which you can begin to expand your understanding of permaculture and how to best apply permaculture design theory to your project.  Best of all it provides an excellent explanation of the design process for how you get from ideas to a Master Plan and subsequent Phasing Plans and Budgets.

I am hoping that we can organize a study group to help assist our members in designing and implementing their own permaculture based designs.  One chapter of the book lists 50 great plants for permaculture gardens, but the problem is many won't grow in the unique climate conditions found in Seattle.  Our long growing season with mild winters and very cool summers makes growing a lot of useful plants difficult.  So at our meeting we did a thought exercise, drawing upon the collective gardening wisdom of our SusNES members, and came up with the following list.  It's not perfect but it includes a lot of great plants that are worth testing in everyones' garden.

Botanical Species Varieties Common Name
Asparagus officinalis   ASPARAGUS
Achillea millefolilum   YARROW
Actinidia arguta   KIWI
Alnus rubra   RED ALDER
Amelanchier alnifolia   SERVICEBERRY
Aronia melanocarpa   BLACK CHOKEBERRIES
Brassica oleracea   KALE
Borago officinalis   BORAGE
Calendula arvensis   FIELD MARIGOLD
Camassia quamash   CAMAS
Cornus sericea   RED OSIER DOGWOOD
Diospyros kaki   PERSIMMON
Echinacea purpurea   PURPLE CONEFLOWER
Elaeagnus multiflora   GOUMI
Eruca sativa   ARUGULA
Fallopia japonica   JAPANESE KNOTWEED
Fargesia nitida   CLUMPING BAMBOO
Ficus carica Desert King FIGS
Fragaria vesca   WILD STRAWBERRIES
Fragaria var. Shuksan, Tri Star STRAWBERRKES
Hippophae rhamnoides   SEA BUCKTHORN
Lavandula angustafolia   LAVENDER
Medicago sativa   ALFALFA
Morus alba x rubra Illinois Everbearing MULBERRY
Myrica californica   CALIFORNIA WAX MYRTLE
Oplopanax horridum   DEVIL'S CLUB
Phyllostachys aurea   GOLDEN BAMBOO
Picea sitchensis   SIKTA SPRUCE
Pinus koraiensis   KOREAN PINE
Populus tremuloides   POPLAR
Prunus communis   EUROPEAN PEARS
Prunus domestica Gage; Mirabelle; Prune EUROPEAN PLUMS
Prunus salicina Methley JAPANESE PLUMS
Pyrus serotina   ASIAN PEARS
Rheum rhubarbum   RHUBARB
Ribes sanguineum   RED FLOWERING CURRANT
Robinia pseudoacacia   BLACK LOCUST
Rosmarinus officinale   ROSEMARY
Rubus fruticosus   BLACKBERRIES
Rubus idaeaus   RASPBERRIES
Rumex acetosa   SORREL
Salix spp.   WILLOW
Stellaria media   CHICKWEED
Symphytum x uplandicum   COMFREY
Taraxacum officinale   DANDELION
Thuja plicata   WESTERN RED CEDAR
Thymus vulgaris   THYME
Tilia cordata   LINDEN
Toona sinensis   CHINESE CEDAR
Trifolium pratense   RED CLOVER
Urtica dioica   NETTLES
Vaccinium corymbosum   BLUEBERRIES
Vitis labrusca Interlaken GRAPES

The list includes edibles, medicinals, fuel, forage + fodder, dynamic accumulators, nitrogen fixers; altogether a broad spectrum of useful plants.  Some may seem questionable, but there are good reasons for all the plants listed; some are just part of the larger landscape that we live in and can be foraged, maybe should be foraged and not spread any further.  But anyone who has benefited from the nectar flow of Japanese Knotweed knows what I am talking about, even though it is considered a noxious weed, it has value.  Happy Gardening!

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Comment by Keith Mastenbrook on May 28, 2015 at 7:22am

I started to do some work on that before posting the list and it led me down a rabbit hole of complexity which resulted in it taking a month to get the list posted.  It would be nice to list more details because some of the plants called out are of varying usefulness, not to mention questionable appropriateness to cultivation in suburban Northeast Seattle.  It all became just too complicated, but is fertile ground for further study by all.

Comment by Katherine Ransel on May 16, 2015 at 1:36pm

This is great, Keith.  Any chance of saying what function each performs in addition to the obvious (e.g., yarrow is lovely, drought tolerant, and, most important from a permaculture point of view, perhaps, is that it is a beneficial insect attractor).  Perhaps we can do that for each plant, thus helping people get a good balance among dynamic accumulators, nitrogen fixers, and beneficial insect attractors.

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