Saturday, 7 September 2019

Cowlitz River Dahlias and Succulents

We drove down a long woodsy road, one lane with turn outs for oncoming cars…

…till we arrived at a field full of dahlias.

You could wander the field with a clipboard, writing down which dahlias you wanted to mail order.  I could have but did not because I already have so many assorted ladies in waiting at home.

Allan’s photo

My photos:

The fluffy ones are amazing and have great colors, especially when they have speckles or are two toned…

…and picotee.

This one almost looks fasciated.

I love the spider dahlias.

The huge dinner plate style, though astonishing, are not my cup of tea.

My favourites are the ones with tidy spoon shaped leaves, especially the smaller pom pom ones (didn’t see many of those here).

Allan’s dahlia photos:

Apart from dahlias, we saw chickens…

and succulents and a few perennials (including Salvia ‘Amistad’, of which I bought two). I got me one of these:

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ (Allan’s photo)

I had to get me one of the Albuca ‘Frizzle Sizzle’—new to me.

Albuca spiralis ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ (Allan’s photo)

Also had to try one of these (sorry, no photo was taken of the plant, yet).

For next year’s Bloomin’ Tour, I intend to be mentally prepared to order some dahlias, speckled, picotee, and spidery.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Castle Rock Nursery

331 Buland Dr
Castle Rock, Washington
(360) 274-8388

Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

I did not want to be greedy when offered free annuals.  I would take them all for compost!  So I only took a few geraniums and begonias that I might be able to winter over.

Allan bought a fern.

Allan’s photo

The Book of Lists is an excellent book of plants that thrive in various conditions, and other such things.  It, and another book called Plants for Problem Places, were invaluable to me before the World Wide Web. I was pleased to see a book like that still in use.

Allan’s photo

Again I wished I still had my grandma’s old sewing machine (at least the stand).  I actually did used to sew on the old treadle machine, back when I sort of knew how to sew simple things, and it was the only one I had.

I saw a gorgeous tall Panicum and asked what it was.  Our garden host did not know.  When I saw three pots of Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’ and its base, I was astonished.  Could the little knee high Heavy Metal Panicums under a tree in Long Beach get that tall if they had good water?

the three pots of Heavy Metal and the big specimen

But then the daughter and plant expert returned from lunch and said the tall one was Panicum ‘Dallas Blues’.  There were two gallon pots of it left and I snagged them both.

Panicum ‘Dallas Blues’

Any other admirers would be out of luck because of my buying the last ones.

I did later google ‘Heavy Metal’ and learned that it could get to four to five feet in better conditions.

I also bought some small gauras because I want them at the Ilwaco Fire Station. Someone at the nursery told me, and I later confirmed, that gaura is the official flower of Castle Rock.  Could be true of Long Beach and Ilwaco, also, as I sure do use a lot of them.

Here is where you pay.
Allan’s photo

That was such a pleasant shopping experience.  I hope to visit again next year, when perhaps the Bloomin’ Tour will be in early August rather than early September.  May would be even better…if it were less than a two hour drive from home.  I imagine that it is the shopping hub for gardeners of the Castle Rock area.

Next: a deliriously delightful display of dahlias.



Saturday, 7 September 2019

Castle Rock, Washington

Partridge’s Garden

The Partridge’s garden had been fairly recently installed by Backyard Blitz Landscaping, with one area toward the back still under construction.  The whole yard was beautifully laid out and of interest even though it was so new, and the house itself, also new, had an appealing and pleasing design.

from the street

inside the gate to the left
and to the right
and to the left again

I so appreciated that the bark mulch is brown and not red.  It makes all the difference, avoids that raw look and is restful to the eyes.

Allan’s photo

The garage doors were also soothing in appearance.

We admired the tilted posts on the house….

And, of course, we were most impressed with the pots.  The garden owner told us that they were planted by Nancy, whose garden we’d see later in the tour and who is big in the public gardening of Castle Rock.

On the east side of the house, a tall privacy screen blocked part of the house next door, and the new shrubs were given room to grow.

Allan’s photo

We had wondered why not all the fencing between the two houses was tall for privacy, until we found out that the owner’s son lives next door.

 Behind the house, we found a covered patio and more gorgeous Nancy pots.

Allan’s photo

…and lemonade and cookies on offer.

 We were invited to go next door, through an open room and onto a pool patio, to see more stunning pots.

I do wish I could get the chartreuse ornamental sweet potato vine to thrive at the beach.  We just do not seem to have the heat.

Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo

I had made a new friend.

Allan’s photo

We returned to the big garden next door.

To the back, this area is soon to be completed.

On the other side of the large outbuilding, we found a productive kitchen garden.

Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo

We continued our walk around the new ornamental garden.

Allan’s photo
at the front again
a last look

We saw the owner of this garden again later, at Nancy’s garden, and she agreed that her garden could be on the tour again to show its progress.  We would be interested to see that.  One thing that I appreciate about this tour is that the landscaping company is given credit where credit is due.  In fact, they were hosting this garden, but we did not get to meet them because they had gone to lunch.

Next: Castle Rock Nursery.


Saturday, 7 September 2019

When we had discovered the Castle Rock public gardens two years ago on a drive to Evan Bean’s garden, we had just missed the annual tour by a month.  Last year, the tour didn’t happen, so I’d been looking forward to it for two years!

We left Ilwaco at 8 AM and arrived at the first garden, east of Castle Rock, just before 11 AM.

The Gardens at Stillmeadows

The garden name had made me eager to ask if the garden owners were fans of Gladys Taber, a favourite author of mine who wrote memoirs about her home called Stillmeadow. No, Still Meadows Lane is the name of the road along which you will find this large garden and overnight retreat.  You can read here about how the owners transformed “a mess of brush and blackberries” into a rambling garden acreage.

As planned in advance, we met Debbie, Dana, and Dawn from up north as we arrived and as they were leaving for the next garden.

me, Bailey, Debbie, Dawn, Dana

This was the only time we saw them all day because they were running an hour ahead of us on the tour.  We had a good but short visit (and they gave me flower pots and some garden decor, thank you!).  Allan and I then walked up the hill toward the garden, guided by our new friend, Bailey.

The gift shop, to the right on the way up the road, was closed for the season.

Now I so wish I had my grandma’s old treadle sewing machine.  (I sold it before leaving Seattle 26 years ago; it was so heavy) Something like this idea is genius for making a window box without attaching hardware to the window frame area….or just the idea of using something other than a standard window box.

To our left, we followed the sound to a waterfall.

Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
a bit further uphill

The first of two houses is a manufactured home similar to ours. (Of course, I loved that.)

It has an intricate front porch arbour.

Between the first and second house is the entrance to a secret garden.

Allan’s photo

We continued to explore the entrance garden on the way to the retreat office, located in the second house.

one of four elusive kitties

Take a drippy paint can and turn it into a vase with same colour flowers.
Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

A large seating area near the office would be perfect for dining al fresco while staying in one of the retreat rooms.

We met the friendly garden owners and then wended our separate ways down the hill into the lower gardens.

path to the sauna

A path gravel worked its way gently downhill.

looking back

Allan’s photo

The tour was perhaps not as well attended as it should have been.  I saw only two other people in the garden, a couple who delightedly commented about the imagination required to create such a space.

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
lower right, above, seed heads of a favourite of mine, eryngiums
Coreopsis ‘Flower Tower’, one of my favourite late summer bloomers

At the bottom of the hill awaited an impressive stand of sunflowers, cosmos, and zinnias.  I love zinnias but don’t seem to have enough heat to grow them at the beach.


A dahlia garden came next as one turns to another path back into the lower garden.

Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo

Looking back at the dahlias…

Past the dahlias, a bridge over a river of blue fescue leads to a reflective pond.

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo


Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

That must be the back of the sauna.

Past the picket fence, a path wound sinuously through the woods….

Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo

The woodsy path emerged at the base of steps leading up next to a waterfall.

Allan’s photo of a clever break in the railing as it crosses a stream.

Even though the stairs were easy enough, with a sturdy railing, let’s go back around the long way, retracing some of our steps to see more, including a closer look at a grove of Acer griseum (paperbark maple).

Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
returning to the upper level (Allan’s photo)

As we were leaving, we met Rosemary from St Helens (a lower Columbia River town in Oregon), who had sent me a beautiful greeting card after happening upon my plant sale last May.  What a lucky encounter today.

Rosemary and me

I do hope we meet again.

And I hope to visit The Gardens at Stillmeadows again in late spring or early summer.





Friday, 6 September 2019

Port of Ilwaco

Rule one is driver must be 18 or older.


Allan’s photos:


Next year more beds will be roped off like this.
Port Office south side

This is a good place for a chair.

We like this chair placement.


Thursday, 5 September 2019

Before work, we had a visit from Jodie and Doug from the J’s cottage—and a gift of some home canned pears and peaches from Jodie, her first venture into canning.

Doug, me, and Jodie

We had a short workday.

First, deadheading and spot watering at The Depot Restaurant.

entry window boxes and barrels by Roxanne of The Basket Case Greenhouse

dining deck (Allan’s photo)

We then drove north through downtown Long Beach, where folks had already put out chairs to watch the hot rods coming to town for this weekend’s Rod Run to the End of the World.

I would much rather see chairs than planter sitters!

Shiny trucks and cars already lined the street.

Boreas Inn

We did about an hour of weeding and deadheading.

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ and eryngium (Allan’s photo)

fungus in a shady spot (Allan’s photo); for the record, I did not plant the vinca! (or the mushroom)

Although the weather was uncomfortably hot, this temperature gauge lied.

I had a quick visit with Susie when I went into the inn’s kitchen to get some water for one of her porch plants.  There, she and two friends/weekend guests were sorting out some dahlia and rose bouquets for the rooms.

Boreas western garden beds (Allan’s photo)

When we no longer have to water Ilwaco planters two nights a week, we could take a walk on the path to the beach some evening.

The Red Barn

On the way to the Red Barn Arena, our van confirmed my displeasure about the day’s heat.

77 F

We watered, weeded, and deadheaded our little garden at the barn.

Diane’s garden

Life is easier when we can park in the horse pasture right next to Diane’s place.  Today was one of those days.  Some guests in an RV, also parked there, had a darling little fluffball of a dog to greet us with gentle wiggles and no barking.

Allan’s photo

Holly, in Diane’s large dog run area, bounced in pleasure because she knows I will give her pets and a biscuit.

I stayed inside the fence of the roadside garden.  Sandridge Road was bustling with fast traffic, much more than usual, some rods showing off and some the locals trying to avoid traffic on Pacific, the main highway.  I deadheaded with the long handled clippers.

Allan began by deadheading the septic vault garden…

Allan’s photo

and then went out to the roadside outside the fence, which made me so nervous (because of all the traffic) that I cut the job a bit short.  This is the last week for the sweet peas, so they do not have to have every seed pod clipped off.  I am just so pleased that they made it to Rod Run weekend.

As we drove off, I was pleased to say we would not be working again till Tuesday.

Port of Ilwaco

After watering at home and unloading our tools from the van to prepare for our Saturday trip to the Castle Rock Bloomin’ Tour, we went to help Jenna set up for tomorrow night’s Slow Drag.

She had us walk along Waterfront Way finding places to tape some black and white chequered flags.  One rod was already on display.

We saw some tuna caught today.

Allan’s photo

While gathering flags, I had suddenly remembered how last year’s Slow Drag featured the DJ putting a great big speaker tripod right in the little curbside garden behind the Nisbett Gallery, wreaking some havoc that I was too polite to rant about at the time.  I was determined it not happen this year, so Allan went home to acquire some stakes to hammer in around the wee bed.

I put up more checkered flags, glad no one was closely observing my solitary incompetence with sticky packing tape.

After Allan had the stakes driven (with difficulty, because concrete had spilled into the corners of the beds)…

….three of Jenna’s helpers helped me untangle a length of checkered flags and staple them to protect my garden bed of cosmos, Coreopsis tinctoria, and more.

More help arrived to push one of two bleachers into place.

Allan had gone to Don and Jenna’s house to get a stack of tires to make the photo frame for the event.  He saw her gorgeous cat.

The tire stack came up so short that folks would have to kneel to get in the frame.  Allan went on a quest for a couple more tires.  I may or may not have been with him and we may or may not have found a couple of bald tires in a certain blackberry patch in an area where lots of stuff gets piled around.  By the time you read this, any missing bald tires will have been returned to their nest.

Here is how the tire frames a photo:

Jenna and Don

In the evening my night blooming cereus, whose proper name I am too tired to look up, bloomed, filling the room with its subtle fragrance.

I pay a fee every year for the extra storage required to have this photo-heavy blog and to keep advertisements off of it (I hope).  But today, I am closing with a new ad that features the Port of Ilwaco as its location.  It was filmed earlier this summer.

Friday, 6 September 2019

at home

The best thing of the day was that I got nine hours of sleep, practically unheard of, which means I have banked some sleep for getting up early tomorrow for our trip to the Castle Rock Bloomin’ Tour.

I did not get the hours by going to bed early.

My one mission for the day was to scoop water out of the garden boat and replace it with fresh rain water, and so I did.  The water had gotten so murky that I feared for the fish.

It was exhausting.  I had the idea of watering a lot of pots with green water, but ended up just pouring buckets full on the garden around the boat.  When I got down to about an inch of water, I found the fish.  It seemed perfectly happy and vigorous despite having lived in murk for a few weeks.  Now if only I can find its friend in the bigger pond.  Some weekend soon dipping that one out till I find the fish will be my mission.

Allan helped me pour some rain water jugs into the canoe and I carried some small white buckets full and then got the rain barrel hose water running. Got this full before the barrel ran out.

I wanted to stay home and sift compost but had the social obligation of going to the Slow Drag to take photos for Discover Ilwaco.  It is an event that I have enjoyed very much since 2009, although not as much as I enjoy sifting compost.

Just as I was going out the gate, a woman was looking in and said she loves the garden.  I gave her a garden tour.

She’s from Rockaway Beach, Oregon.  (Rock rock Rockaway Beach.) As people always are, she was amazed at how big the garden is.  Her husband parked his cool car right in front.

I was about to leave for Slow Drag when I got a message from the business owner adjacent to what is my best port garden this year. “So I just pissed a guy off sitting in the flower bed in front of the store.  He just spit in the garden.  Now he is kicking the plants.  People can be jerks.  Next year we will tape it off.”  She soon added “I’m going home.”  This from someone who had always loved the event.

Next year we most certainly will tape off more garden beds, which has not been necessary in the past (except for that one speaker tripod).  Allan had already departed to take photos. I hustled down there right away with some marking tape and ran a line through the garden, getting two people to move their chairs in order to do so.  One said they had not hurt any plants.  Yet one of their chairs had ground a special eryngium into  one flattened leaf of mush.  I said “That’s a five dollar plant”, actually $15.  Another guy sarcastically was going to offer me money.  I walked away rather than say, “Are you gonna drive to Joy Creek Nursery and get me another one, because I can’t get it here!”

I have never seen so many people in the garden beds before.  In past event, the gardens have pretty much been treated with consideration.  These are, of course, the same beds we spent a day earlier this week fluffing up to near perfection for the big night.

My heart was not into enjoying the race.  It took me half an hour to calm down enough to take any photos.  Usually, I take a few hundred photos and winnow out to about 300 good ones for the Discover Ilwaco page.  This year, I took under 100 and winnowed them down to just 33, not all of the event itself.  Sometimes my hands were shaking. I wanted to be home sifting compost instead.  My feel turned toward home several times but I persevered because of my fondness for the organizer of the race, who was counting on us taking photos.  Allan did much better than I did, giving us enough to make an album on Discover Ilwaco.

I did not enjoy the weekend hours we spent processing and uploading those photos.

Next: I’ll let our annual “Slow Drag and the Gardens” post (link goes to an older post) speak for itself about the event.  It was all good fun for everyone but the gardeners.

I shouldn’t let myself care about some smashed plants.  The gardens will recover.  Yet I wish gardens got more respect.  I can only imagine what would happen if I were wearing jeans with studded pockets and sat on a shiny vintage car.  I would never dream of treating someone’s precious vehicle with such disrespect.  I wish the same were true for the gardens into which I put my all.


Tuesday, 3 September 2019

An autumn work board list has appeared.

The annual “Rod Run to the End of the World” and its sister event, the Ilwaco Slow Drag, will be this weekend.  And then the tourist season officially ends.

J’s Garden

We weeded, deadheaded, mowed the pocket lawn.

I am pleased to see how well the new Zepherine Drouhin rose is doing (right, below). Allan says he tucked the canes into the trellis after this photo was taken.

Port of Ilwaco

We tidied the Howerton Avenue curbside beds from the east to the west.

Allan tackled some of the annoying Euphorbia ‘Fen’s Ruby’…


But before he got going on this patch of it…

…I cried out NOOO in dismay.  I do want it gone (into the garbage).  However, Friday night is Slow Drag at the Port and my theory is the more ground cover in the gardens, the less likely people will stand or sit in them.  Last year, this bed was by the place where the vehicles lined up for the starting line.

I was sorry that the Ilwaco Bakery was closed today.  No special treat for us.

The woodsy end of the At the Helm Hotel curbside garden:

Allan’s photo

Last year, we roped off my favourite bed by the Ilwaco Pavilion because it had some fragile new plants.  This year, I think it is tough enough to stand on its own.

I am more worried about the Time Enough Books garden, which was excellent this year and is too big to rope off.  I have no concerns about the end of it that is almost all ceanothus.

with Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’

We watered half the beds; the tougher, more droughty ones at east and west end can do without because of last weekend’s bit of rain.  I continue to consider them an experiment in drought tolerance, mostly because they are the hardest by far to water, requiring double-hose-dragging.

Rather to my surprise, we got done in time to weed the entire boatyard garden as well.

Among the usual litter (not a huge amount), Allan found a can that had held an interesting looking drink.

I wish we had some photos of how good the boatyard it still looking.  But neither of us took any.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

The sidewalk and patio chairs were damp and water dripped into the rain barrels…

…but despite a fine mist on our windshield…

…the local weather apps all said that we had had no recordable rain at all.  The wind forecast of 25 mph concerned me.  Fortunately, the wind did not arrive till late in our work day.

In my view from the driveway, the fremontodendron is still blooming, and has bloomed non stop since May.

Long Beach

We deadheaded the welcome sign.

Allan’s photo

We watered the downtown street trees and planters, which we had dared leave unwatered since last Thursday.  Just a few cosmos and one chrysanthemum were slightly stressed.

My photos while watering:

Fifth Street Park

Town was quiet because kids have returned to school.

Fifth Street Park

I have a couple of wild spots where I drop off snails.  They always try for the Great Escape first.

I told a tourist wearing a shirt that said something like “Don’t talk to me, I’m a grumpy old man” that I had to admire the cat accompanying him and his partner.

Allan’s photos while watering:

June bug

We weeded the Veterans Field gardens.  I find the corner garden so frustrating because of its horsetail and the weird sprinkler pattern that has some of it wet and some bone dry.

Fifth Street Park got a good weeding and trimming in the NW quadrant.

I was pleased to see that our friends Cathy and Captain Bob have taken a long vacation from their café before rather than after Rod Run.

The colours are becoming more autumnal with Solidago ‘Fireworks’ and Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ in golden bloom.

I like the silver santolinas in front, new this year.  They don’t go all the way to the end because other plants fill up the space there.


We mulched the curbside garden by David Jensen’s architecture office with bagged soil amendment Gardner and Bloome Harvest Supreme.  That bed has been lagging and refusing to grow any seeds I’ve sown.  I hope some enrichment will help.

Allan’s photos

We got to erase that little job from the work board, and it is not even autumn yet!

Allan bucket watered the Ilwaco street trees and planters while I hose watered the boatyard garden.

Allan’s photo, filling buckets and jugs
sunflowers of mystery (Allan’s photo)

I had time to do some weeding along the back of the fence.

My end of summer burnout is reflected by still not having a good photo of the boatyard garden looking pretty fine.

We finished our watering day by watering our volunteer gardens at the post office and fire station.

Cosmos ‘Cupcake and Saucers’ (Allan’s photo)

At home, after watering, I looked to see if my night blooming cereus will open tonight.

It sure looks ready but hasn’t opened yet.

In the evening, I wrote to the city and the Ilwaco merchants our letter of resignation from the Ilwaco planters job .  I will be glad when Allan is done with the last bucket watering…maybe three more times.  We have both injured ourselves with pulled muscles and backs “out” from that job over the past decade, nothing bad enough to seek medical attention, but it’s been one heck of a tough job for two aging people.  I don’t feel poignant about it…yet.  Mr. Tootlepedal had a particularly insightful comment about our decision to resign: “That sounds like an excellent decision to me even if it will be hard to see someone else doing things all wrong (and perhaps even harder if they do things perfectly).”

I do have all sorts of thoughts about what I hope the next person should and shouldn’t do.  I hope to never see anything like a phormium in each planter! But I will keep my own counsel on what I think if I don’t like what comes next.  And if it someone attains the perfection that eluded us, I might feel a little jealous.

You can see a reprise of the planters, way back in 2010, here.