Topics That Get My Attention

Author: Tom Sparks (Page 1 of 2)

Garry Oaks

These are 4  of the 5 Garry Oaks I have planted in the last 3 years. They are all on a hillside facing west. I ground is mostly sand so they have excellent drainage. The largest tree was purchased from a tree nursery about 2 and a half years ago it is now about 12 feet tall. 

Fruit Trees

Planted five different fruit on our property. The location seems excellent, full sun for a majority of the day. The soil has good drainage mostly sand with some organic content, I added a half bag of compost to each tree.

Akane Apple, Cosmic Crisp Apple, Frost Peach, Rainier Cherry,  Angela Cherry

Trees are caged with metal fencing and heavy steel poles, each cage is approximately 48 inches in diameter.

Night in Lisbon

Night = Magic

The poetry of light is dramatic in the night, especially in the gloaming hour. These photos were taken around Lisbon, I will be adding more as they appear to me . My camera often has a mind of it’s own, I help to facilitate the drama.

Trip to Praia Portinho da Arrabida

[foogallery id=”347″]

Today we drove 90 minutes south of Lisbon across the Vasco da Gama Bridge (the longest bridge in Europe) to the Arrabida coast, high mountains line the water making for dramatic views. We went to a beach side restaurant for lunch and relaxed on the beach collecting rocks. Something we do a lot on Whidbey Island… It is such a different experience here.

Link to map location

Lisbon Transit

Waiting at the bus stop Boa Hora, Ajuda, Lisbon PT…. Through a rainy window.

It rained on my first day here, I was riding the 18E Tram home. Our house is far up a very large hill, I prefer to take the tram up as opposed to walking.

People waiting for a bus or tram to Belem, Lisbon PT

The weather had changed and so had the type of people waiting for the bus. This was near the Cais Sodre transportation hub and across from the Time Out Market. Cais Sodre services many bus routes, tram lines train lines and ferry crossings. It is a very busy place.

Gentrification Lisboa

Having come to Lisbon every few years, I have been able to track the modernization and gentrification taking place. BElow is a set of photos the older one is 2017 the new 2019. The building was a wreck and ready to be replaced. In the heart of the Boa Hora Neighborhood.

Photo by tsparks 2017

This is the replacement.


photo by tsparks 2019

The problem here is the same as in Columbia City, Seattle, Vancouver B.C. and most thriving cities where demand is strong for new housing. Underclass people loose cheap rental property to the wrecking ball, no way can they complete with the new capital looking for a place to invest. Housing as a chip in the real estate game. Housing is a safe place to invest. Many houses are either built by speculators or investors looking to rent to the new young tech worker or entrepreneur. Out with the old in with the new. This story is not new, Lisbon is in heat of it now.

Whitebird Idaho

The Battle of White Bird Canyon was fought on June 17, 1877 in Idaho Territory. White Bird Canyon was the opening battle of the Nez Perce War between the Nez Perce Indians and the United States. The battle was a significant defeat of the U.S. Army. It took place in the western part of present-day Idaho County, southwest of the city of Grangeville.


My grandmother was born near here in 1904, she told me stories of when she was a little girl. Native american families would travel through their land on horse back and setup camp near the Salmon River. The Indians always offered grandma’s family gifts such as deer skin gloves, to show their gratitude for allowing them to camp near grandma’s home.


The Nez Perce territory at the time of Lewis and Clark (1804–1806) was approximately 17,000,000 acres (69,000 km2) and covered parts of present-day Washington,Oregon, Montana, and Idaho, in an area surrounding the Snake, Salmon and the Clearwater rivers. The tribal area extended from the Bitterroots in the east to the Blue Mountains in the west between latitudes 45°N and 47°N.

Nez Perce encampment, Lapwai, Idaho, July 4, ca. 1899


The Nez Perce or Niimíipu, had lost their homelands after the 1877 war with the US. Thirty years later they were thoughtful and kind to my grandmothers family. My great grand father was given a homestead on that land by the US government.

Planning a garden in the country

Living in the country on an island requires a different approach to gardening. When you are surrounded by native trees, shrubs, weeds and grasses the choices you make for your landscaping should take the local plants into consideration. What follows is a list or assemblage of native plant resources. 

Individual plants

Grass Window

GRASS window – Olsynium douglasii

Black Huckleberry   

Nootka Rose 

Rosa rugosa 

Rosa woodsii (Wood’s Rose) 

Achillea ‘Paprika’   ⊗  ♦

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)  

Prairie Onion – Allium stellatum


Beach Strawberry  Fragaria chiloensis


Yamhill Hazelnut

Helianthus nuttallii



10 Best-Performing Native Plants in my Garden

Garry Oak Habitat & Fire

Hawks, Quail, Spotted Towhee and Many More

Living on the edge of a 500 acre lagoon and wetland puts me in the middle of a massive wildlife refuge. I am trying to identify all the birds I see, in the course of a week, but it is tough. I see many of them at  a distance and it may not show itself completely. Many of these little guys such as junco, warblers or American dipper have a similar look. I would like to invest in a large telephoto lense so I can get good closeups, that may happen, good ones are expensive.

Living on a wetland also makes me want to understand the native plant life and how to restore it. The himalayan blackberry and the canary grass have invaded the area in a big way and getting rid of them is not trivial. Eventually I will start posting photos of the birds and landscape.

Till then here is a teaser  –

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