Leafy Sea Dragon….When Plants and Animals Collide

Rainyleaf is about plants.  Ornamental plants, native plants, beautiful plants, ugly plants and my favorite plants.  There is information on new plants and old plants, trees, shrubs, perennials, veggies and more.  Also an occasional fun garden craft for kids and perfect places to watch plants in the Pacific Northwest.  For anyone who enjoys being out in the garden– looking  at the familiar and the unusual, learning and testing new ideas and sharing all this green information– this blog might be for you!

My name is Elaine Sawyer and I am the primary author of rainyleaf, this plant blog.  I live in Duvall, Washington, but have also resided in New York (birthplace), North Carolina, Colorado, Utah and California (my long lost land of sun!) Born May 16th, my favorite season is the spring.  I love the new growth, the colors, the change, and the excitement.  I’m jealous of photosynthesis.  In summer I adore the sunshine and let it fill me up with light, holding in as much as possible until it is all drained out by January.  I try and carry it a little longer, but in Washington, only a memory remains.  In fall I enjoy the harvest and want to make an overabundance of jam and pickles.  Winter is dark and moves too slowly.  It’s sticky, but the scent of witchhazel makes it worthwhile, and it’s a great time to read a good book.

In 2011 I passed the Certified Professional Horticulturist exam for Washington State and became a CPH.  Most of the world doesn’t know about this certification, but it has given me skills and knowledge that I use everyday, such as putting the right plant in the right place.  To learn more about the CPH program, visit wsnla.org.    I graduated with a zoology degree from Brigham Young University and studied Marine Biology as well.  I am married and the mother of four children, the youngest 15 now, who keep life interesting.  I have a small gardening business, helping clients with design, planting and and fine pruning.  I worked at the Gray Barn Nursery in Redmond, Washington for almost seven years and thoroughly enjoyed the nursery industry, especially being around plants and people that love plants.  I am currently an Instructional Support Technician for the Horticultural Program at Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland, Washington.  Working with amazing people, greenhouse growing and helping students makes this a perfect job for me. I learn something new every day.

Pine View Disc Golf Course, St. George, Utah

Playing desert disc golf

( PP  You Won!   Was it too easy?  I’ll try and make it more challenging in the future!   But to get your name on the Awesome Award List, send me your name, and the name of the mystery plant below, genus and species please!  Congratulations 🙂


Mystery Plant!


23 thoughts on “About

  1. Michele

    Hi Elaine,
    I just met you today at the bookstore. Reading some of your posts reveals that we share similar ideas about plants- and butter. I totally love deciduous plants and change in the garden-and butter. I’ll look forward to reading more from you. It was a pleasure to meet you.

  2. Pat Gillett

    Elaine I loved your ideas for making your entryway a welcoming with plants and flowers. My problem is i live on a hill in which I have frequent deer visitors both winter and summer. what plants will deer avoid? From my experience they eat anything green or if color. I can’t do hanging baskets because the wind is always blowing hard near the front of the house. any ideas?

    1. rainyleaf Post author

      Here are a few plants that deer are less likely to eat:
      Artemisias, Mexican Oregano (Lippia), Mints, Rosemary, Lemon thyme, Wormwood, Autumn clematis (Clematis maximowicziana), Wisteria, Blackberries, Butterfly weed (asclepias), Foxgloves, Chinese holly (Ilex cornuta), Lamb’s Ear (Stachys), Vinca, Euphorbia More later…..

    1. rainyleaf Post author

      I just joined Blotanical…thanks for the recommendation, I don’t know why it took me so long. Looking forward to reading your blog too, the world needs more dirt!

  3. igardendaily

    Hi Elaine, I recently discovered your blog and as I read about you I see we have some things in common. I too have lived in several places and built several different gardens from the ground up. Some in the east (PA), some in the gardener’s promise land (the PNW) and now in Boise, ID. I too lived in CA a couple of times and love the “sunshine state” for it’s glorious weather, at least northern CA. ( I never lived in southern.) I also have young children and am planning to star the Master Gardener’s program next fall (if I get a spot). Anyway, I don’t want to ramble too much…I just thought it was fun we share some similarities.

    1. rainyleaf Post author

      I applied for the Master Gardener Program and was not accepted last year! Seriously!! I was rather taken aback. Then I went on to get my CPH and feel better now! Good luck to you!

  4. Barry

    I see that Hydrangea angustisepetala ‘Mon-Long Shou’ is on your Plant List. Do you know its history? Wher did it come from? When? who introduced it?

  5. elyn

    Could you tell me if wolf eyes dogwood is problematic in the PNW? Is all of our rain a problem that may hasten fungus or anthracnose?

    Also is full sun ok for this dogwood?

  6. rainyleaf Post author

    I have found that dogwoods seem to do better in partial shade, although I have seen many specimens in full sun. Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’ has variegated green and white leaves and often this type of leaf will scorch in the hot full sun. A trustworthy source, Michael Dirr, says that Wolf Eyes is less susceptible to burning than other variegated dogwoods. He also says that Cornus kousa is resistant to anthracnose, as opposed other dogwood species. So, Cornus kousa is probably your best option for the Pacific Northwest! It’s time to plant!

  7. Ann Gilpin

    I spent two days with Elaine and her crew at Gray Barn for a work experience through Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWIT), a year long, excellent horticultural program. What a lovely nursery and getting to know Elaine and learning from her was terrific. We had a great time getting plants ready for sale and keeping the plants happy… which meant lots of watering. Elaine and the staff at Gray Barn are so knowledgeable and their love of anything related to plants is apparent. I also am preparing for taking the CPH exam in October so I know how much Elaine has put into gaining her certificate. I hope you had a lot of fun with making the leaf print stepping stones with the kids yesterday at the Nursery!

    1. rainyleaf Post author

      Ann, It was great meeting and working with you, thanks for all your help! The kids class went really well and we had a lot of fun making concrete stepping stones. We played the pollination tag game and I tried to teach them Rhu-bar-bar-um to the tune of Barbara-Ann, but they didn’t get it! Good luck in your horticultural program and hope to see you again.


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