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Originally published July 3, 2014 at 6:20 AM | Page modified July 3, 2014 at 2:58 PM

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Add color to the shade garden, explore farmers markets

Garden writer Ciscoe Morris on the new showy, shade-loving perennial Saxifrage fortunei ‘Pink Elf,’ and the joys of farmers markets.


Special to The Seattle Times

Gardening Events

Ciscoe’s Picks

Heronswood Garden Open, Plant Sale and Tour: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 12. Free lectures by Dan Hinkley and Richie Steffen. 7530 N.E. 288th St., Kingston; $10 donation to tour garden (www.heronswood.com).

Seattle Tilth Chicken Coop and Urban Farm Tour: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 12. Self-guided tour of chicken coops and to learn what accommodations are needed for keeping miniature goats, ducks, mason bees, honey bees and rabbits. Tickets are $12, with discounts for youth, groups, families and bicyclists (206-633-0451 or www.seattletilth.org).

Georgetown Garden Walk: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. July 13. Free self-guided tour, maps available day of walk in the parking lot of the Georgetown branch of Bank of America, 1112 South Bailey St., Seattle (www.georgetowngardenwalk.com).

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In the Garden

Brand new on nursery shelves this year, Saxifrage fortunei ‘Pink Elf’ is a showy, shade-loving perennial that will add interest and color in any woodland setting.

This little charmer sports highly attractive bronzy-red foliage that forms a neat clump of 6 to 10 inches tall and 8 to 12 inches wide. The colorful foliage would be reason enough to grow this beauty, but an added attraction occurs in fall through early winter when the plant disappears under a massive display of pink flowers that will light up a shady nook.

Hardy to minus 10 degrees, this is not a plant for the sunny border. Pink Elf does best in bright shade, planted where it can be appreciated up close. It also makes a great addition to a container designed for shade where it contrasts beautifully with plants featuring cut leaves or fine foliage. If you plant it in the garden, ‘Pink Elf’ does best in rich evenly moist soil, as is true with all members of the Saxifrage fortunei clan.

I’ve seen these little cuties for sale at a number of quality nurseries, but don’t wait too long to pick one up. A plant this good is likely to sell out, and there’s nothing worse than seeing it looking spectacular in a friend’s garden while knowing you won’t be able to buy one until it comes for sale again next spring.

Produce and more at farmers markets

If you haven’t visited your local farmers market, you’re missing out on more than just great shopping.

It’s true that farmers markets are a great place to find a wide variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables, but that’s not all. Most neighborhood farmers markets also offer an incredible selection of locally handcrafted edibles such as meats, cheeses, breads, jams, jellies and wine.

There’s usually a good selection of plants and cut flowers to choose from as well. A big advantage of shopping at a farmers market is that the farmers and vendors are right there selling their wares, so you can talk to them about their products and usually get a taste before you buy.

Most farmers markets also hold special events, featuring live music and other entertainment such as garden speakers. I will be at the Renton Farmers Market at 3 p.m., Tuesday, July 8.

To find a list of farmers markets and a link to the website of a farmers market in your neighborhood visit www.pugetsoundfresh.org.

Ciscoe Morris: ciscoe@ciscoe.com “Gardening With Ciscoe” airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING 5.



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