Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Our vaccine appointment was not until 1:20. Between 11:30 and 1 o’clock, Allan helped me implement a new garden design idea. For years, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the dark SE corner of the garden. Recently, I realized that moving this sit spot is the answer. Below: The sit spot as it is now against the south fence (the idea had me so excited my hand shook).

To the right

The round “table” is an old lawn and gravel roller that lost its handle.

The difficult SE garden corner was obscured with salmonberries when we first started gardening here. I had thought of just using it as a dump site, but I can’t leave an area alone. Then I thought of making a willow dome (willow branches tied together at the top), but the willow cuttings have grown so slowly that I got impatient.

The difficult spot, before.

A couple of days ago, I realized a had the perfect backdrop for the corner sit spot. Work had got in the way of setting it up. Now, we just had enough time. On the west fence, Allan had installed a panel with doors that we’d found in by a garbage dumpster at the port and four louvered panels that we’d found…somewhere. They make a nice backdrop to a Bogsy Wood path but not as nice as they will be in their new spot.

I have some bamboo to use to fill in that vertical gap.

I dug up a small evergreen shrub (Lonicera nitida) from the SE corner and replanted it where the panels used to be while Allan installed the panels in their new home. Spaces between the panels allow glimpses of the view. Or you can open the doors in the middle panel to look out. If I decide I want more privacy, a vertical board could be added to the outside of the fence in each space.

Allan went indoors to sort out masks for our Covid jab excursion while I moved some stepping stones roughly into place. I felt that the round roller table was in the wrong place so moved it to the corner, where I think it looks better.

It will all be refined when I have time. Right now there aren’t enough leaves on the alder trees to give me the shade I need to safely be outdoors (because of medication photosensitivity).

I was pleased that even from Rozanne Loop, you can see the panels and know that a destination awaits.

Upper left, panel silhouettes.

In the middle of the Bogsy Wood, the metal path goes to the left…

….past what was a sit spot but will now be a shade garden….

And then you come upon the new sit spot.

The old sit spot had this view…

view looking north of woodsy path.. starts by the piece of concrete junk, a path that doesn’t get used except for weeding

…and the new one has this view, not quite as good.

And I might have to angle the bench and the round table somehow to make it look more inviting. Cleanup and positioning and planting will be a fun project. I must redo the metal path so that the one big “leaf stone” in the middle is moved to where it naturally leads one to walk from the alder wood path to the new sit spot.

It will look better when some rearranging is done and when it’s not so muddy. This is a swale of water during winter rains.

The cattens had very much wanted to come to the Bogsy Wood with us.

Allan and I then went to the community building for our second Covid vaccine jabs (Pfizer). While we waited outside, Allan got the long clippers and finally got a piece of plastic that has been hanging from one of the community building trees all winter. I had stopped noticing it.

I still did not like waiting indoors after the completely painless jab. It made no sense to me. I wanted windows and doors open. This time, I didn’t feel any panic because I knew the first jab gave me some immunity. A nice semi-retired nurse chatted with me, which distracted me during our fifteen minute wait after the jab. She reminded me that the community building used to be the hospital (which is now next door to the north of it). I’d forgotten that.

It was good to be home even though I couldn’t go outside in the sun. I did the monthly billing, wrote this blog post, and Allan mowed our lawn for the first time this year. Oh, and I watched an episode of Real Gardens, an old Monty Don show, on HDClumo, with a younger and red-haired Carol Klein helping out in a garden.

Podophyllum plieanthum and crocus in Allan’s garden (Allan’s photo)

A half an hour before dusk, it felt safe to go out into the waning sun and play around with the metal and stone path for a short while. The temperature dropped uncomfortably (in fact, to almost freezing that night), so I didn’t last long.

Nicely mown lawn
More leveling and arranging will ensue.

Allan jumped on three small round water meter covers to insert them into the mud.

the inspector

I have good books lined up for taking tomorrow off, and Thursday too, if we feel poorly or the sun is bright. And I have a new (to me) gardening show to watch online that I’m quite excited about. More on this later!

Monday, 1 March 2021

Ilwaco Community Building

I wanted to just do one thing at the community building: cut back a medium sized ornamental grass that maybe we should just dig out. I have no idea why right on the corner is where I decided to plant it. Maybe I wanted to keep people from cutting across the corner of the garden? Maybe I thought it was a small grass? Anyway, it got trimmed because we had other priorities today. We also trimmed some salal (which I do not like in gardens) by the sidewalk.

I checked out the rest of the garden to see how it is faring. My note to self is that we must return soon (on a closed library day) to trim ferns in the courtyard garden.

The courtyard is behind the low wall, behind the heathers and witch hazel.

I seem to be backing up with the photos instead of moving in….

Another witch hazel (Hamamelis ‘Jelena’ perhaps?) grows in the tiered garden.

I resisted any urge to do more. We moved on to our real goal of the day.

Howerton Avenue curbside gardens

Our mission was to get the ornamental grasses cut all along the street. We started at the David Jensen, architect, building. (His office; he didn’t design the building.)

I got the santolinas trimmed by the Ilwaco Bakery, too.

We went home to offload the debris into our compost bins and found Skooter lounging by the water boxes.

Back along Howerton, we trimmed grasses and santolinas in the curbside bed by the Marie Powell Gallery.

I was having an intensely uncomfortable day. Because of medication I’m taking for a week, I am supposed to avoid the sun. So even though this was the first warm sunny day, I had to look upon the weather with dread and wear layers of thick hot clothing and a hat and slathers of sunscreen. I was worried it would not be enough….but I think it was.

We moved on to the three westernmost beds by Salt Hotel, Skywater Gallery, and Freedom Market (cannabis shop). Allan trimmed grasses and we both trimmed santolinas.

By Skywater Gallery
Looking toward Salt
An early achillea

The Toy makes trimming the santolinas much faster than it used to be.

Round about this time, the thought crossed my mind that since only my lower face was exposed, wouldn’t it be helpful to have something that covered it from the sun? I thought it was pretty funny when I remembered that, of course, we have masks! We can keep apart from people on this job so only keep one handy just in case. This great and so obvious idea just made the last hour at this job extra miserable. When I try to garden in a mask, I sniffle and gasp and am so uncomfortable. It’s from bending over to weed. I could wear a mask in an office setting for considerably longer without a problem. I decided I had better get out of the sun till it went behind some promising clouds.

While I took refuge at home, Allan mowed Alicia’s lawn.

At 4:30, with the sun slightly obscured, we returned to the port. I’d been thinking only of finishing the Time Enough Books garden but as we drove along, I remembered that gardens by At the Helm Hotel and the Pavilion (restrooms) have many santolinas and some Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ to trim.

The untrimmed ball is Hebe ‘Boughton Dome’. While the santolinas don’t look beautiful when trimmed, it’s what keeps the structural ball shape going year after year.
My favorite bed, below, has more lavender than santolina.

I had despaired of getting the gardens by Time Enough and the Port office trimmed, but we did.

As I left the port office garden, I encountered a kindly fellow whose boat is moored at the port. We’ve talked before and he is always complimentary about the gardens. He told me that at age 75, it was a bit much to lift the heavy beams or something that he’d been working on in the boatyard today. (My day suddenly seemed easy.) He told me again how much he loves the flowers and that he can even see some from his boat (the port office garden and wild asters on the grassy bank). Then he told me a story.

When he was 13, he and his dad were fishing in Alaska. They were “blown in” to port so stayed on land for a couple of days. He took a walk and passed a garden with roses by the sidewalk and stopped to smell them. The garden owner appeared and asked him if he would like a bouquet and he said yes, as these were the first roses he’d smelled all summer because he had been fishing. She picked him a beautiful bouquet which he took back to the boat and put in a jar with some water and a bit of sugar. His dad said, Where did you steal those? And he replied, I didn’t steal them, a nice lady gave them to me. So his dad made a gift of some canned fish and they walked back to the garden to give something back to the gardener. She invited them both inside and cooked them a magnificent dinner and told them to please come back any time because they were such interesting and wonderful company. That is the sort of thing my grandma used to do during WWII. The story made a wonderful end to a rather difficult day.

The work board tonight
Accidentally clipped and now on the kitchen windowsill

Sunday, 28 February 2021

I saw a wee bird carrying nest-makings into a birdhouse outside the kitchen window.

Because of the drizzle and wind in the morning, I frittered time away reading the news and watching a new episode of Monty Don’s Real Gardens that had been uploaded to HDClump. Allan went outside and got all of the clean debris from yesterday’s work mashed into our compost bins by walking and jumping in them while loading it in.

But then the weather seemed to become workable. Maybe. My doubts came from seeing from my south window the single red storm flag whipping about on the top of the port office flagpole. We could but try, as I want to get tall grasses at the port cut back before we get our second Covid jabs on Tuesday.

Port of Ilwaco boatyard

We have several tall grasses to cut here. As on another windy day recently, we almost got back in the van and went home (a tempting few blocks away) when we felt the cold wind. But we persevered in hope of cutting back the tall grasses in the long and narrow boatyard garden even if not on the port curbside gardens. At the boatyard, we can park close to where we are working instead of carrying debris across the street, which always leads to a mess on a windy day.

On the street by where we parked, a grate has a sword fern growing under it, just clinging to the wall. I wish I could rescue it.

Before, looking south from the north end, with untrimmed Panicum ‘Northwind’, and after:

In the boatyard

We also trimmed santolinas. When the santolinas are cut back to new growth, they don’t look at their best. Later, the trimming will result in them maintaining a good architectural round shape which is great to have repeated through the gardens.

Green santolina partway trimmed. The green ones don’t seem to have as much inner growth as the silver ones.
Montbretia, which I loathe and which was here back when this strip was mostly weedy lawn, is all up in this trimmed santolina, which may have to be dug out.

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ got cut back, too, especially this old and woody one. Allan had to go inside the fence to get the back of it.

There are crocuses and a patch of calendula and (not shown) a few early narcissi.

Parts of the garden, especially the north end, are a mat of weeds, and parts are not bad at all (until the horsetail and bindweed appear).

I had intended to mulch just the area above because it’s a bit low. However, mulching is now a question mark because of weather and now feeling under the weather.

Due to the bullying wind, or what Monty Don calls a lazy wind (goes through you instead of around you), I did not think we would get to the trimming south of the gate. But we did.

A local dog, and probably the same dog, has been depositing poop right on top of the santolinas all along the garden. They must be handy to back up to. The poops are unpleasant to run into while trimming. I watch out for them now because there are so many.

We drove along Howerton Way to go home. I counted seven big grasses that need trimming. There used to be many more huge ones from before we took on the job, but we have removed some (especially pampas grass!) for blocking traffic sight lines. And there are many and many santolinas to trim and much weeding both at the boatyard and the curbside gardens. I’d like to at least get the grasses trimmed tomorrow before Jab Day.

The compost bins after adding today’s debris.

The work board tonight:

Cats before we went off to our work session:

Cats when we got home:

Saturday, 27 February 2021

A house three doors down from us has been for sale. In the current market where few houses are for sale, most houses here have a sale pending within a day, but not this older, quite small house on a very small lot. I’ve been in the house. It’s adorable inside but not as big as the real estate listing photos make it look. Often real estate interiors are taken with a wide angle lens in order to get a whole room into the photo, with the side effect of making rooms look bigger than they are. Our Kathleen alerted me to the fact that drone photos had been added to the listing and that the Boat Shapes show in the overviews. The drone photos give a good feeling of how close we are to the water (and I think the boat shapes look great).

For sale is the little house with two shed dormers.
Upper right corner is my red fish tote kitchen garden.
Arrow points to Boat Shapes, the design highlight of the neighborhood. 😉
Cape Disappointment in the background

The wee house sits on a lot less than 3000 square feet. My garden in Seattle was on a 3000 square foot lot. I wish I had had the book The Jewel Box Garden to inspire me then to not feel that it was much too small. It would be fun to have an avid gardener buy this house, someone perhaps retired who wanted to make a Jewel Box Garden of her own. My friend Montana Mary thought of buying it once upon a time. That would have been delightful for me.

My dog friends Cotah and Bentley were next door, and got their biscuits, but did not get a good photo because they were so excited. (So was I; I miss them!)

Another pretty and very friendly dog was there.

Jay Crew Cottage

We finished the weeding and rose pruning, removed a clump of elephant garlic again because it had come back as strong as ever (Jodie doesn’t want her dog to eat it) and did the first lawn mowing of the year (of the tiniest lawn).

Climbing roses

…and this time.

Front garden last time…

Mike’s garden

Also close to home is Mike’s garden. On this first visit, I clipped the big pampas grass and pulled a half trailer load of dead grass and stalks out of the middle of it, and also pruned a hydrangea, a tall hardy fuchsia, and a variegated buddleia. Before and after:

If the pampas grass were mine, I’d cut it way down to rejuvenate it. Or remove it to set a good example, since they are on the noxious weed list now. Because it provides privacy from the street and a sense of enclosure in the back garden, I left it tall but combed. I could have kept pulling out debris were we not running out of daylight and had some cold rain not begun.

It made the most extraordinarily large quantity of debris, destined for my soon to be overflowing compost bins (all but the inflorescences, which will go in the wheelie bin because of possible reseeding).

Buddleia and Fuchsia before and after:

Allan did the weeding throughout the garden.

One of the signs of mystery that appeared in gardens last year.

We ran out of steam because of the rain and will have to unload the debris tomorrow.

The work board tonight:

Friday, 26 February 2021

I wanted to stay home and read the rest of Fearless Gardening. The wind was so fierce that the power had gone off for five hours last night on the north end of the peninsula. Ours had flickered after midnight but stayed on.

However, we’ve skived off work for too long. If it weren’t for our appointments for the second Covid vaccine jab on Tuesday, I might have continued skiving. But just in case we have to take time off to recover, I thought we had better find a couple of jobs that might be a bit out of the wind. So we headed a few miles north.

The Depot Restaurant

When we got out of the van, we got right back in and almost went home because of a fierce blast of wind. I’m glad we didn’t wimp out. The wind settled down just a bit and, while mildly unpleasant, it was not unworkable.

The garden north of the dining deck is flat now but will be taller than me by summertime.

Our mission was to cut back ornamental grasses that border the deck on the east and south. The giant Miscanthus is thick like bamboo and I have to cut it with secateurs; the more delicate grasses can be trimmed with The Toy.

The debris will go to our compost bins.

One more grass grows in front of the house next door that serves as the restaurant’s office.

It has been over a year since we dined at The Depot, or favorite local restaurant. The pandemic has not been as emotionally hard for me as for friends who miss grandchildren and hugging, but I do miss restaurant meals.

We decided to try to do one more job.

Yett House

Omce or twice a year we attend to a tiny garden at a vacation rental just south of the Boreas Inn. Today we cut back the sword ferns and weeded. The wind was much worse than it had been at the Depot.

I went next door to get a couple of photo of the Boreas Inn entry courtyard, since we had forgotten that sort of overview yesterday.

On the way home, we drove along the port gardens. I hadn’t want to even look at them till I knew we were approved for the job. It was gusting even harder than before.

I remembered one more little job we could do.

Ilwaco Fire Department volunteer garden

We cut back some perennials and grasses. Now it looks like we care.

At home

By far the most miserable part of the day was unloading the trailer load of debris.

We were in a wind tunnel with a view of the gale warning flags at the port.

The compost bins are heaped high with lots more grasses to come from the port soon. I treasure every bit of compostable stuff. I’ll have less of it this year without Long Beach.

I only got to erase one item from the work board. I’d forgotten about Yett House till last night and neither it nor the fire station had made it onto the board. Too bad, because I do enjoy a three job erasure.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

I had another phone conversation with the Powers that Be, filled out another online form, and finally was authorized to work for the port. What an ordeal. Five days of phone calls and online struggles, to which I am ill suited. I don’t mind paperwork if the fate of a beloved job doesn’t appear to hang in the balance. (The particular powers that I had to deal with are higher powers than the port itself, and must be appeased with forms and fees.)

But even though I was eager to start that job, it was much too windy to start cutting ornamental grasses. They’d have blown on up to Ocean Park or maybe even Surfside. For awhile, rain made any kind of work seem unappealing. I found a new episode of Monty Don’s Real Gardens on my favorite new online channel, HDClump, and then discovered a travel show and watched two enjoyable walks through Cornwall.

Would you be able to walk this stretch of path? Julia said it made her heart race. I’d be doing a worm crawl between the huge hole to the sea and the cliff drop off.

The host survived that particular stroll and walked all way to Land’s End. I’ve been there in real life…forty five long years ago. And per Ancestry DNA testing, I am 34% Cornish from Kerrier Cornall, and 54% Scottish. (The rest is just a bit of Ireland, despite being born on Saint Patrick’s Day, and some Norway.) I would love to live in Cornwall where the gunneras are giants.

The sun came out before Julia and I could start another walk. I couldn’t keep up with her now but, other than fear of heights, I could have back in the day when I’d walk twenty miles without a problem. Youth! Even in middle age, walking was my joy. I know just what it would feel like to walk up this road.

With the weather improvement, we nipped across the street to the J Crew Cottage to see if we could get the sword ferns cut back before dusk or rain. Before:

A sweet tail-wagging dog came to visit. With some vaccine immunity in my system, I felt free to offer the requested pets.

We both thought that was lovely.

I’m not sure if the Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’ came through being transplanted in autumn in the little curved bed…

…but if it didn’t, I have more. We didn’t quite get the weeding done, so I couldn’t erase the job from the work board. After:

We got home just as the rain returned on a big gust of wind. The ferns went onto compost bin one. I was hoping to have at least one bin empty for incoming debris but the weather has not cooperated.

I began reading Loree Bohl’s impressive and inspiring new book. More on this when I finish it; I’m halfway through, but work is interfering with reading these days.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

My day began with two more phone calls about my bureaucratic quagmire. I then said I have to go to work because it is a nice day and left it in the hands of the Powers that Be. I spent some time thinking what it would be like to just do comparatively little jobs with no more big showy public jobs. It wouldn’t be so bad. I’d lose my identity but have more time to read.

Skooter hanging out next door.

Boreas Inn

Now here’s a place that at least some members of the public see: guests of the inn. The main garden is in the back yard to the west of the inn and before the path to the ocean. It felt strange for the first big work day to not be doing Long Beach. For years now, my first work blog post of the year was called “And so it begins…” (a little shoutout to Babylon 5) and always took place in Fifth Street Park. We saw the new city gardener doing Fifth Street Park when we drove home today! I was glad to see that and hope she gets as much joy and satisfaction out of that job as we did.

I had warned our Boreas friend and client, innkeeper Susie, that this year I was determined to remove the huge lupines, a semi wild and rangy blue one, from the front and center of two of the garden beds where they stopped flowering in early summer and then had horridly tatty foliage that had to be cut back, leaving a visual hole from July through autumn. We moved two big clumps to a funny little square bed beside the lawn island beds. The bed with the most lupines had an ugly little conifer that I had always despised for being unbalanced with the other beds. I was overjoyed to see that it was dying so I could finally get rid of it.

I would like to make that funny little square bed a little curvier on the ends so it fits in with the other beds better.

The funny little square bed has never done well. When Allan dug down deep to plant the lupines, he found plastic underneath, which might explain the poor performance of the plants there.

He also dug out clumps of lady’s mantle that had spread into the center of one of the lawn beds and then planted them along the outer edge of the funny little square bed. They are ridiculous as a center plant. I don’t much like them at all because their bloom time is so short. Susie loves them for bouquets, and they are very good at bouquet filler, I must admit, which is why I just might let one or two grow in my garden.

The bed formerly heavy with lady’s mantle will look much better with the tall phlomis, Solidago ‘Fireworks’, and cosmos in the middle, unencroached.

During a couple of years when I didn’t work at the Boreas (I let it go to focus on public gardens), one of the Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’ had gotten way too woody. I gave up on it today and Allan dug it out.

It needs to be trimmed back every year to stay lush and silvery grey.

I moved a few lupines myself. There were a lot of them dominating the garden. Some might grow over in the wild dune grasses, if they are feeling cooperative.

It might seem all I wanted to do today was take plants out. But soon I’ll be bringing some good deer-resistant plants that I have propagated with this garden in mind.

While Allan moved the rest of the targeted lady’s mantle, I trimmed back ornamental grasses in the property line bed…

…and then trimmed the Garden Suite bed and cut back the sword ferns. They look sad when trimmed, but it’s a lot quicker than waiting till the croziers unfurl.

View from Garden Suite deck

The lawn beds, shown after, below, also lost their orange day lilies whose foliage the deer chomped even before they could put out a flower. I think the garden will be much better now.

Full of possibilities…

We both moved to the entry garden in the east side of the house. Allan raked leaves while I cut back the sword ferns. He tidied some montbretia by the work shed…

….but unfortunately, neither of us took photos of the quite charming entry garden either before or after except for these:

We are out of practice on work blogging.

We took home the trimmed grasses and perennials and ferns to add to my compost bins.

The work board tonight:

I did not accomplish one thing on my indoor at home tasks this last winter. My home garden list, now upper right, is just about as long as it was in January because I worked on the willow grove and new Bogsy path instead of completely finishing the weeding.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

I made a work list last week.

Norwood garden

The weather was chilly but clear. I went two doors down to the Norwood garden to prune the hydrangeas.

Narcissi blooming in a hardy fuchsia

I had just finished the hydrangeas and was about to take the leaves off of the epimedium so that its flowers show when they emerge when Allan came over to tell me I had gotten an email from The Powers that Be, relating to a huge bureaucratic hassle that I just spend two days making phone calls, filling out online forms, waiting on hold, etc, to sort out. I had to abandon the job to go home and wait for a phone call so that I could get online right away if need be (to the site of the Powers that Be). The phone call did not come, so the epimedium did not get cut back yet.

Only one of our jobs is stalled by this problem, but it is one that is very important to me emotionally, so I’ve been feeling frustrated and distraught and very much like just retiring. My client wants it to work out (almost) as badly as I do, and it is the only job I have left where I can do a “hellstrip” garden style for pedestrians to walk by and enjoy. It is my baby. I am reassured it will all work out eventually but I do not like waiting; usually, I would have the first spring clean up done by now. All I want to do is cut back ornamental grasses and weed! From the highest Power I’ve talked to on down, everyone agrees that the bureaucratic problem shouldn’t be there; it’s the impersonal mind of a computer that is causing the glitch, as far as I can tell.


While sitting around with nerves on edge waiting for the PtB call that never came, I read a big gardening books with lots of photos and lots of history of the Dumbarton Oaks garden. None of it especially thrilled me. I was irate to be sitting indoors on a good weather day.

Still no phone call so I started ….and finished…another big beautiful picture book with text by Julie Moir Messervy. It soothed my shattered nerves a bit.

Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love

This book was much better than the two other big picture books that I just read by her. Her writing was more in her own words, full of her ideas and not weighted down by the homes and gardens of the very rich. Lots of the photos were of owner-created gardens and some of the design ideas were suggested with the knowledge that poorer people have to use found objects to make their garden design. It is predicated, though, on the idea that you own your house, which is a luxury that is getting more and more out of reach for people. I am fortunate that houses in Seattle were affordable when I was 25 and that I got to buy my grandmother’s house from my uncle and mother (at full price but with a low down payment). I knew then that the most important thing in the world to me was to own my garden space so that no landlord could take it away from me.

Last night, I finished a short book that’s a sequel to Homer’s Odyssey.

I knew I’d cry because in the first and longer volume about Homer, he is still alive at the end. Of course, I cried a bucket but I also found something of great value that I wish I had read back when Smoky died.

Homer was exceptionally terrified of going to the vet. When Gwen consulted her friend Jackson Galaxy about whether she should put Homer through rigorous medical treatment, his wise words were (in part), “Homer is sending you a very clear message. I do not want this! It’s not fair to ignore a cat when he’s talking to you that loudly and clearly. …Treating Homer with respect and dignity isn’t [doing] nothing. Seeing him through this last phase of his life with mindfulness and love isn’t nothing. …Let him leave knowing love, not fear and pain, the flip side of love. Do you want to rob him of all the love and confidence he’s had his whole life?” (by putting an elderly cat through the horror of much feared and hated visits to the veterinarian). In response to Gwen saying that Homer didn’t have the knowledge (of imminent death) that she had, Jackson replied, “He knows what he knows and maybe that’s enough.” She made the same decision for Homer that I made for Smoky, and even years later it is comforting to read about her experience (despite the bucket of tears). Both were exceptional cats.

Monday, 22 February 2021

At home after 2+ inches of rain

Out the front door to Allan’s garden…

Striped crocus buds and hebe

Walking toward the back yard…

East Rozanne Loop, looking south

Only the heaviest of rain makes the little ponds overflow.

Aconitum and shotweed

Let’s go south to the Bogsy Wood to check out the new path!

You can just glimpse the edge of the fire circle to the left..
Pulmonarias about to bloom by the fire circle
The new path is not yet a stream all the way through.
The water and wind washed twigs from the new path into one area.
It would be fun to rake them out, but not when the deep water would be over my boots.

Below: The east Bogsy Wood mounds…and that darn hose that I haven’t waded in to move. (It is slippery along there.)

Looking west on the swale path…

Back around to the west end of the new path, where I happen to have left a shovel.

I dug the end out, not for better drainage but just for the fun of seeing it look like a stream.

Walking to the front of the hydrangea bed, where I need to put more soil because I expanded it.

Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’
Above: A glance to the right, where I forgot to fill in new soil along the new edge.
Willows Path West, looking north
To my left, a white hellebore, and I took a reminder photo to move this golden barberry from where it is languishing in shade created by over planting.

Swinging east to the fire circle. It does not look at all like a bright clearing today.

Walking up the Willows Path East. Maybe I’ll call it Willows Way, that sounds better. I still have lots of clipping to do, which is a concern because I also must go to work soon. Narcissi are hinting and then shouting about springtime.

I fear that the red of the fish totes look too bright from the south garden. But then I remember that tall plants (blueberries, sanguisorbas, asters) will mostly hide the south side of them in summer.

Now I’ll go out the west double gate…

….past the garage veg enclosure battered again by wind….

…and around the front of the house via the new gravel path.

Soggy Tommy crocuses
Hamamelis too wet to smell like apricots

Now for some reading. Last night I perused Landscaping Ideas that Work, just because it is by Julie Moir Messervy. It features houses that are way too rich and huge to be appealing to me, with a lot of hard surfaces in the gardens, along with some photos that are beautiful. The information is pretty basic and I must admit I skimmed most of the text, which was not evocative like her more personal books. Today I am reading another of her design books, Outside the Not So Big House. While it wisely suggests “creating a house about one-third smaller than you thought you needed”, the author’s idea of not so big is a house that was “expanded from a tiny 950 sq. ft. to a still modest 1,048 sq. ft..” It is ridiculous to call 950 square feet tiny. However, the houses are much better to look at than the monsters that dominated the other book, and it does have some wonderful ones to dream over like a San Francisco house on a shrubby and floriferous hill, reached only by a public footpath, that reminds me of the setting of Tales of the City. (Later: I ended up only liking four of them and feeling exasperated by the rich, as usual. I would like to see a book about owner-created gardens that don’t rely on money and expensive hardscaping.)

Skooter feels quite strongly that these coffee table picture books are much too big to allow proper lap sharing.

The biggest cat laugh of the day is when a Grey got its head stuck through a paper shopping bag handle and walked through the house like a turtle with its house on its back.

Friday, 20 February 2021

At home

Yesterday’s inspiration from Gardener’s World and the book Adventures in Eden translated into action. I got a very late start because of one of those maddening nights where I am in bed trying to sleep for nine hours but only manage to get five hours of sleep. (I’ve tried pretty much everything: melatonin, Calms Forte, valerian, benadryl, and Ambien, which is great but ill-advised for regular use).

Overnight rain

My mission was to make a new path through the straggly edge of the salmonberries that grow behind hydrangeas and my big gunnera. I got rained on, muddy, and was supremely happy working on this project.

Yesterday, I had cut back some holly and had created this pile of dead salmonberry and alder twigs, excellent kindling for future campfires. I had piled it at the south side of the salmonberry tunnel, which is a path cut through a grove of salmonberries.

The Bogsy Wood used to be all alders and salmonberries till in one drought summer, the salmonberries on the east side of the wood all died and became a cultivated area of shrubs. The salmonberry tunnel on the west side is also slowly dying away, perhaps because I mess with the plants too much by breaking off dead branches and by cutting back unsightly powdery mildew that it gets in the summer. I’m not sure what I will do about it. It’s a fun feature but having more area to plant up with variety is also appealing. I sort of doubt I’ll plant salmonberry starts in there to thicken it up.

I did not want the pile to sit there till campfire season and so I came up with an idea that I quite like and made a kindling stash between two alders.

Allan arrived to give me some help by transplanting a piece of gunnera at the edge of the Willow Grove’s seasonal pond. Trying out such a tropical looking plant out there goes against my feeling that it should be more natural looking. But I can’t help myself, and it might end up looking like Cornwall.

I was thrilled to look out and see Allan pulling ivy on the slippery southwest bank.

Deer tracks in the willow grove

I added to the kindling stash as I worked my way through my new path, where the salmonberries were spindly from growing in a boggy area. It’s a rainwater swale at one end during winter but will be a dry path from late spring through autumn. Allan took a photo and then helped me by chainsawing some thick, dead salmonberry trunks.

Here are the before and afters of the new path. To get there, you walk south on West Willows Path.

Just as you reach the alder grove (aka the Bogsy Wood), the new path is to your left. Looking east:


Looking southwest from the fire circle:


A few days ago in The Magic Land: Creating Your Enchanted Garden by Julie Moir Messervy, I had been struck by this passage.

Today, it inspired me to carve down the new path a little deeper. I would like all of it, not just one end, to fill with water in winter. I hope we get enough rain this spring to see if that happens.

When I walked back out to the fire circle, I felt like I had emerged from darkness into light even though it was a sunless day. Maybe it was from lack of sleep, but the experience was as strong as if I were a new visitor to the garden and is just the effect I am trying to achieve.

I had also done some refining of the erstwhile salmonberry tunnel, which may become something else because the salmonberry grove is getting weaker.

Looking west
After, looking east

And we had removed salmonberry to widen the tilted path by the west swale because it is hard to walk on a tilt.

We had transplanted some clumps of acorus (Japanese sweet flag) into the west swale. I’m experimenting with making it more than negative space.

Looking west

Finally, to cut down some more holly, I went up onto the mound on the east side of the Bogsy Wood, formerly a salmonberry grove that had died out in a drought summer a few years ago.

The mound

A huge clump like this of lesser celandine, a rampant weed, at the base of a fuchsia, is going to be a place where nature wins over human.

Some lovely narcissi comforted me.

Yesterday, in the book Adventures in Eden, I had admired huge photos of an amazing garden where the gardener had elevated parts of his level ground to twenty five feet. I can’t tell you which garden, because the book went back to the library today.

But just being up on that low mound gave me such a different view of the Bogsy Wood garden.

The southeast corner is still a problem. I’ve been piling compost in there as I try to decide what to do. I’m stumped.

It’s a very dark area and invaded by montbretia from next door.

Maybe I need something like this.

From Gardeners’ World, the Malvern Garden Show, 2012.

Looking southwest toward the willow grove:

Admiring today’s project to the west of the mound:

In veg news, Allan made a delicious potato leek soup with almost the last of our leeks.

A good day’s work. I wish all days could be this satisfying at home, but we must return to work on the next good weather day. I don’t think either of us want to. Allan recently looked at an actuarial table and was informed that his life expectancy is 75. He is 68 and would rather be boating than working and I’d rather not leave my property. However, the port curbside gardens continue to inspire me so I’m sure I will be happy to be working once it has begun. (Allan’s parents lived into their 80s so I think he has more than seven more years.) Allan repainted the trailer in preparation for work to begin.

This trailer says it all about how tiny our operation is.