Born in San Francisco, she operated a gardening and landscaping business in Seattle with her first husband. They purchased Jedediah Island in 1949. NOw a marine park, it's between Lasqueti and Texada Islands in the Gulf of Georgia. She is the author of:
Jedediah Days: One Woman's Island Paradise (Harbour, 1998)
ABC’s of West Coast Gardening (Harbour 2002)
[BCBW 2004] "Gardens"
Former owner of Jedediah Island, from which she retired in 1992, Mary Palmer has penned a primer called ABC’s of West Coast Gardening (Harbour $24.95), after six decades of gardening, running a garden shop and serving as gardening editor for both the Seattle Post Intelligencer and the Seattle Times. She now lives in Nanoose.
Poultry manure is highest in fertility but can burn or injure plants; sheep manure is a quick source of nitrogen; horse manure generates a great deal of heat during composition and is rich in ammonia; cow manure is low in plant elements but dry or pelleted forms can be applied directly to the garden.
You knew that already. Asparagus plantings benefit greatly from seaweed. The heavy rainfall on the coast causes most soils to be acidic. For a head-start start your seeds in a greenhouse or on a windowsill. Palmer’s is a practical, wide spectrum book with only one personal aside.
Living on their 640-acre Jedediah Island, Palmer and her husband Al had acres of orchards, flowers and vegetables to feed themselves and also to maintain their farm tax status.
One year they were inundated with crows. A famous coastal logger named Sam Lamont dropped by and told Mary Palmer the solution was simple. Lamont suggested pouring a bowl of Al’s best Scotch and leaving it in the garden for the crows. “After they fill up on Scotch they will be in a drunken stupor and you and Al can do them in.”
The next day Mary stealthily delivered some of her husband’s best Scotch to the crows—and it worked. “Soon the crows were toasting each other, calling and coaxing in a frenzy,” she recalls. “A wild erotic party was in play. Some had already passed out under the trees.”
What to do? Zonked out crows and a single raven lay at their mercy. Al hoisted a tree limb over his head to deliver the death blows, but stopped himself. “I can’t kill the damn things,” he said. Neither could she. They passed the rest of the day waiting for the crows to sleep it off. 1-55017-253-0 –[BCBW AUTUMN 2002]