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Big Time Fig time!

Love ’em or hate ’em…that’s how people seem to feel about fresh figs.  There’s a limited window of time that figs are ripe in Seattle, and if you are fig lover you should plant ‘Desert King’ Fig to add to your edible landscape .  This is a semi-cold tolerant  green skinned fig that has pink flesh and ripens in late July/ early August. No need to peel….just pick warm straight off the tree into your mouth.  Mmmm!  IMG_1456

We’ve been growing our Desert King in our garden for about 20 years and it produces more figs than we can use. You can buy this tree at speciality nurseries including Raintree Nursery, which has mail order.

Its a great additional to your edible landscape and easy to grow.  I keep ours pruned at about 15′ ht x 15′ wide, so you’ll need enough room to fit this in.

There are some tricks to pruning this correctly, since it fruits off last years growth.  City Fruit and other organizations offer pruning classes.  Its also important to plant Desert King in a sheltered but full sun location, since it can get nipped by cold winters.  Ours is on the south side of the house, where it can get reflected heat to help with ripening.  Only downside to consider is that the over ripe fruit can make a mess below, so learn from our mistake of planting over our deck which get fig bombed every year.

You can’t buy Desert King fruit in the store since it has a short shelf life. Only the home grower can enjoy these. So plant, gloat, and share!  13876291_10207013251185195_1472315864994283433_n
I’ve got a few friends who line up every year waiting for the Big Fig moment. Try it grilled with stuffed feta and balsamic vinegar drizzle. Happy Figgy Summer!

Can you add that new garage or nice covered kitchen?


BOEHME HIP RENDERHere in Seattle, I’ve been spending some time downtown reviewing Land Use and Permit code questions for our clients at the newly renamed Department of Construction and Inspections (formally known as DPD).Question: What’s the code on adding that new outdoor covered kitchen area, or new garages?  Here’s a quick cheat sheet to help you thinking about these smaller structures, so you build it correctly and don’t have a problem later.

There are two main areas to review: Land Use and Building Permit. You’ll need to review the Land Use to consider feasibility.  ( i.e….Is this even possible with city code or just forget the whole thing)  Lot coverage is an aspect of this, which is the % of your property you are allowed to build on, based on the size of your property.    You’ll need to calculate all the square footage of existing buildings and see if your proposed new structure will be allowed. Link to Seattle Lot Coverage document here:

You also need to consider setbacks from alley and property lines. Land use also dictates the allowable height of the structure, which may be 12′ plus another 3′ for pitched roof. Here’s an example of this with a project we were exploring feasibility of adding a covered outdoor room:% lot coverageLanduse structure-site plan mod
Once you determine if your structure is allowable from a Land Use perspective, you’ll then need to consider Building Permit.  If its a structure under 750 SF you may get to use the
over the counter approach of Subject to Field Inspection (STFI) which still requires drawings at submittal, but is less expensive and simple timeline.  You’ll need to schedule inspections of the key elements of the building, such as footings.  Link here:

Hope this helps getting you started on thinking about that new project! Joanna

Boehmer structure

U of Washington Cherry Bloom–Showtime!

Its time! Take the annual pilgrimage to U of Washington Quad to see the 80 year old Yoshino Cherries/ Prunus Yeodensis in bloom. They are in max bloom now…’snow’ should be starting!  The campus Landscape Architect & horticulturists keep this loved tree tradition going by growing replacement trees in a Skagit nursery, so as the old ones die, new larger trees can be put in and keep some continuity.

Its always busy and fun to see the happenings at the Quad. Last year I was treated to a mini concert by music students playing a duet on the lawn.  Spring!

Music in the quad 2015





Feel the heat! Outdoor fire pits 101


Custom Concrete Natural Gas Firepit & Seating wall


We love the idea of year round outdoor living, but lets face it, its damn chilly here in Seattle at nights until July 5th or later.  My sister just moved here from Philly, and I advised her recently not to put away winter clothes…ever.   In the last couple years, I’ve gotten more calls and  interest in outdoor fire pits, which I think is a great trend for getting people outdoors and using their gardens and patios more.  (Firepits are the gathering ’round and marshmallow stick type, as compared to a fireplace, which is vertical & usually stone.)   Here’s an overview: There are three main types of firepit heating you can add in the backyard: wood, propane, or natural gas.  Wood is classico and the options for containment are plentiful and inexpensive. But the wood fuel comes the negatives of  burn bans, close-by neighbors who might think your house is on fire, and going to bed smelling like a boy scout jamboree survivor. With this bias

Real Flame Baltic Concrete Natural gas with lid

Real Flame Baltic Concrete Natural gas with lid

in mind,  I frequently recommend homeowners consider either propane or natural gas fire pits.   With propane, there’s been a nice increase in availability of  hidden tank propane fire pits. These fire pits use the same propane tanks as your BBQ and have the advantage of portability. Hidden tank propane fire pits start at $1,000 and but they have to be refilled at inconvenient times.  This is why more folks I talk to are leaning towards natural gas fire pits, which are super easy, clean burning, and low maintenance. We’ve been recommending RealFlame Natural Gas Concrete Table, which comes with a lid as well. But this convenience comes with a steep price tag starting at $2,500,  with the fixture min of $1,000(and up) and gas line extension by plumber of at least $1,500.


But, compared to an addition to your house, a fire pit is pretty cheap and gives you a whole another room to use, along with good fresh air!  What ever type of fire pit you choose,  grab the s’more’s, the kids, and your sweetie to enjoy some warm outdoor living, even before July 5th!

RealFlame Baltic Natural Gas fire pit with lid

RealFlame Baltic Natural Gas fire pit with lid


Woodland Direct Hidden Propane Fire Pit