Sunday, 18 March 2018

I was thrilled to wake up to rain and a reading day.  Nina Bawden is a favourite writer of mine and, while doing my recent 35-years-of-reading-blogs, discovered she had written an autobiography.

My Nina collection (and I have read others from the library):

Some of my favourite parts from In My Own Time:

When she was a WWII teenage evacuee to Wales (which inspired the novel Carrie’s War):

I felt that way when I would clean houses in Seattle and occasionally find one so sterile that it had no books or even magazines.

Later, at Oxford, still during the war, when American soldiers came:

She was a classmate of Margaret Thatcher’s:


During the summer breaks from Oxford, she worked on a farm.  When she helped the farmer one night by holding a lantern while he delivered a calf, he responded to her amazement with, “I never get tired of it; it always gets me in the throat.”

Her description of country farm and village life reminds me so much of our annual round of festivals here on the Long Beach Peninsula:

After the war, and a feeling I share about owing it to suffering people to know what is going on in the news:

In a chapter about her son slipping into schizophrenia, a lighter passage reminded me of the silly fashion controversy of the 60s:

What I fear in an assisted living home, and it did happen to the mother of a friend of mine:

Nina’s mother:

The guilt, after her mother died, so like mine:

My mother once told me lay awake at night feeling guilt about what she had not done for HER elderly mother.

Regarding a libel threat (which came to nothing) about a character’s name in her first novel, which she allowed to go out of print (by not taking a paperback option):

That is a good reminder to be careful what you write in a novel about life in a small town.  I remember reading a mystery set in Nahcotta and recognizing all the local characters.

Herne Bay, an English version of our Washaway Beach:

After loving every line of her autobiography, I want to read all of Nina’s books in order, because….

About halfway through In My Own Time, the sun came out and I was so annoyed at the disruption of my perfect rainy reading day.


From the kitchen window, the red rain gauge showed how very much rain we had had overnight.

I simply refused to give up on my dream of a two book day, and I ignored the good (but chilly) weather and went on to read a young adult novel that I had liked back in the 80s and had completely forgotten till I did my book blogs.

A boy verging on delinquency meets an ancient man who has spent years in prison for a terrible crime, and learns from him how to mindfully and patiently observe nature.  I recommend it.

Meanwhile, Allan did his project of cutting and adding a piece of metal to strengthen the front of the work trailer:

AND in the early evening, he did the first clean up of the year at the Ilwaco Community Building garden.

Narcissus ‘Professor Einstein’

I finally went outside myself with one hour of daylight left thinking that I could soothe my guilt by turning some compost.

By then, the chilly breeze was so cold that I went right back in…and decided that I had needed this restful reading day very much.  I am hoping for another with rain predicted on Wednesday. Between now and then looms some spring clean up of the dreaded beach approach garden.

Allan brought out a birthday cake.  It had been in the van when he got home yesterday, under a cloth, and I had put a bucket of libertia starts right on it, fortunately before Allan decorated it with a lovely fern.

Allan’s photo




Saturday, 17 March 2018

Just walking around the quilt show in the late morning made my legs hurt (not my knee) to the point where I wondered if I would get any at home gardening done today.  But I must try!  I do not know why I was so sore at the show….maybe too much standing in one place while gazing admiringly at the quilts.

When we got home, Skooter was on my go bag again….

Calvin and Skooter

Allan had agreed to help me with two difficult digging tasks, part of making room for two of my four new roses.

First was to move a Miscanthus ‘Variegatus’ that was blocking a view into one of the garden beds in summer.  Moving it further back will also give room for a new rose.

chopping into sections with an axe before digging

after with smaller piece of the grass further back

Meanwhile, I dug out a tatty columnar evergreen (some sort of Juniper, which eventually was given another chance near the fence in Allan’s garden.  He said it looked like a “Grandma tree”, as in a boring arborvitae.  I said it had been a special tree, once.  I think it might green up again.  Or not.


a pitiful specimen

In the same large bed, both of my apple trees and a Calycanthus are leaning dramatically because of wind.

Calycanthus ‘Hartlage Wine’; I later put some more soil on there.

Two apple trees leaning at the same angle, from the winter wind off the port.

Allan also got a side runner piece pried off of my Lonicera fragrantissima.  I would like the whole thing out of the spot it’s in but that is just sooooo difficult.  (If someone wants it enough to dig it out, please…it is yours!)  I love it, just not in that spot, and I have been starting others in better places.  I want that garden bed opened up.

fragrant winter Lonicera (honeysuckle) in bloom in the winter…The hummingbirds were feasting from this.

It is this big now and I want it gone.

I admired a late winter bloomer:


and another pulmonaria

We had a visitor, Judy of Ocean Park, with a birthday gift! (And Larry, who stayed in their vehicle because he had the sniffles and knows I am a hypochondriac.)

I just had to finish planting a second start of silver santolina in my cat memoiral garden to be.

Judy made me a beautiful birthday corsage, as she had done for Allan on his birthday.

and cute socks from my favourite shop, NIVA green!

Allan remembered one other plant I had asked him to remove, a big tatty libertia in the front garden.  It was starting to put out all sorts of side plants, including on the other side of the entry sidewalk, so I decided it must all go.  It did not look right in this spot:

Allan’s photo, before


after I dug out all the small pieces and transplanted a Pacific coast iris there.

Some of the small pieces will be planted in the port curbside gardens.  It is beautiful in bloom.

Libertia grandiflora in my garden, 5-14-13, back when it was well behaved

It had been given me by someone who likes to plant salal in gardens, so perhaps I should not have been surprised when it turned out to be a runner.

I cannot put a rose there because deer tend to work their way into the front garden over the low fence and through my bamboo and wire barrier.

As we were finishing up that project, we had a visit from our new neighbour….

and Yarrow

Allan went away to buy a piece of iron to mend the work trailer.  Before dinner, I opened some birthday presents.

3-D kitty card from Allan

yummies and a promising looking book from Montana Mary

a garden fairy from Shaz

Birthday dinner had started out as a tiny plan when it looked like Melissa was going to be out of town for family reasons.  I had made a small reservation for four at the Depot (not a place I would think of trying to have a big DO on a Saturday St Patrick’s Day).  Then Melissa and Dave were available so we upped it to six and then to seven with Ed.  The Depot was patient and accommodating with all the changes.  I brought some libertia starts and was able to give some away to Ed.

The Depot Restaurant

Corsage going back on for dinnertime.

J9’s artichoke fritos

wilted spinach salad

surveying the first course

Southern Comfort Pork for Our Kathleen

Chef Michael’s delicious shepherd’s pie

flourless chocolate torte

apple cobbler dessert (Allan’s photo)

Nancy presented me with a birthday candle in my vanilla bean flan, and I got my wish that no one sang happy birthday.

I look forward to reading this book from Melissa and Dave (and to planting the Sanguisorba ‘Lilac Squirrel that Mel found for me at Plant Nerd Night in Portland!):

….And to trying out this mason bee home from Our Kathleen.

As part of a birthday celebration, and because rain is expected, we will take tomorrow off, as well.







Saturday, 17 March 2018

The Annual Peninsula Quilt Guild Show

Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum

I hope that on some rainy day, I will make the usual post of ALL the quilts that we liked over on our other blog (Our Ilwaco).  Here, I will share quilts with the pertinent subjects of flowers and birds (and a couple of other subjects of interest to a certain blog reader).

Show attendees get to vote on quilts of four sizes.  The scary thing is that it seems like yesterday, and yet was a year ago, when I was walking through the show trying to make my 2017 decisions.  Time goes faster every year, which is an especially ominous thought when the quilt show falls right on my birthday.

gardens and flowers:

This was my favourite large quilt of 2018; I always go for the jewel tones:

I hope it would cheer her up for all the hard work to know it was my favourite in its category!

Below is a quilt with the garden-y name “Flower Stalls”.

“Flower Stalls” quilt

Below: This geometric quilt had lovely botanical side panels with garden bridges.

Below, a quilt with botanical fabric star shapes on a vine spoke to me of flowers:

B.O.M. means “block of the month’ in quilt club lingo.

detail, centre

detail, corner

Below, a big quilt includes baskets and strawberries.  I believe the blue toned one to the right was the “Sea Glass” quilt that was raffled off.

Below: a hummingbird garden:

Below: This one qualifies as flowers because of the border:

detail; I like the jewel in the center of each flower.

Below, my favourite medium quilt:

Below, botanical fabric in a traditional pattern:



Below, different interpretations of a flower “block of the month”; one was my favourite “mini” quilt and one was my favourite “small” quilt:

my pick for best medium quilt


detail (the lace got my vote, and the shadow box theme)

…and the raised salmon berries…

my pick for best mini quilt

detail; I love the use of the lace so voted for this one.






detail (California poppies are not Washington natives but they have naturalized)

nature scenes:

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon


detail from a Texas-themed quilt by Kathy M. Dean

Below, a quilt with birds and critters:




A special bird quilt was on display, with panels created by school children:


I especially love this one little bird.

For Montana Mary:



In case we never get around to posting our more extensive quilt show post, you can see them all here.

Friday, 16 March 2018

On the way out of Ilwaco, we dropped off and picked up books at the library.  Now I have an even bigger pile of books to read, which is problematical at this time of year.

Ilwaco Community Building

Community building garden with Ocean Beach Hospital and a salal I want to get rid of this year.

Supposing we do manage to dig out that tatty salal, what should we put in that triangular corner instead?  I am thinking.  The sidewalk is narrow and peculiarly designed there.

We began with a quick visit to the Basket Case Greenhouse, to give Roxanne some seeds to try growing for me.  If she succeeds, she will have some Eryngium giganteum ‘Miss Wilmott’s Ghost’ for sale eventually!

Two seedy characters (Roxanne and me)

Right now, the Basket Case has the excellent Eryngium ‘Jade Frost’.

The leaves of Eryngium ‘Jade Frost’ eventually revert to green. So it’s worth refreshing with a new plant every couple of years.

Peninsula Landscape Supply

Our first work destination was the acquisition of some Soil Energy mulch.

When we drove in, I had a brief wave of anxiety because the bins looked empty and I had not called to confirm that Soil Energy was in stock.

When we pulled up closer, I was relieved to see enough for us.

The fish of Peninsula Landscape Supply

The Depot Restaurant…

…was our mulching destination.

Before: I wanted to improve this tight and rooty bed and to plant a start of Tetrapanax.  Chef Michael wants tall things in here.  I tried to transplant a start of Tetrapanax last year to no avail.

Allan’s photo, south side of dining deck


We used the remainder of the mulch on the north side of the dining deck.

filling in along the edge

Allan’s photo

We were making good time, so we went to the city works yard in…

Long Beach

….and filled all our buckets from the city pile of Soil Energy, enough to mulch the arc garden at the Veterans Field flag pavilion.

Driving to city works, I had seen two sets of narcissi that needed deadheading, the first by the Coastal Inn and Suites.  We took care of that and noticed that the inn now has a tulip bed.

Very nice; we hope the deer don’t eat them.

Allan’s photo

Next, we deadheaded the tree garden in front of Abbracci Coffee Bar.

Allan’s photo

Feeling weary after the usual night of semi-insomnia (and dreams when asleep about the film Ethel and Ernest, now one of my favourite films of all time), I had a craving for coffee and a Pink Poppy Bakery treat.  Just as we finished deadheading, the closed sign went up in the door of the coffee bar.  Dang it! It was already three thirty.

I guess it was just as well, because it gave us time to get more done; we went through the Great Escape Coffee Drive Through instead.

The Shelburne Hotel

Our visit to the Shelburne garden was a quick one, just long enough to plant some Eryngium and Dierama seedlings and a bit of variegated saxifrage.

The epimedium whose leaves (some of them) I cut back in the rain a couple of weeks ago is blooming.  The flowers would not show if the leaves were all still there.

Remember the hellebore whose flower got broken off to many cries of woe (and blame)?  It made a new flower.

Allan’s vindicating photo

I made a fun photo of the Shelburne with the Popsicolor app last night:

Popsicolor: Double Mint, Natural Focus, Top to Bottom Gradient, Inked: India Ink, Enhanced

Ilwaco boatyard garden

We tackled the last of the targeted (by us) clumps of the Pennisetum macrourum, where we had run out of time yesterday.

Allan’s photo, before…the horror

I went over the last area he had dug and picked over yesterday, and had not had time to finish.  There were so many deep roots, I despaired of winning.  But humans WILL WIN this battle.

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo: But what lurks beneath?


looking north (the steam is from a boat engine that just got put in the water)


We had a look in the boatyard:

Right above the High Hope, to the left of the Starwest, is the spruce tree in the lower part of our old garden.

At home, Allan decided he had time to mow our lawn, and I unloaded and piled roots of the pennisetum for future wheelie bin disposal (it’s full now) until I ran out of steam, and then erased “mulch Depot” from the work board.

Skooter was sleeping on my go bag again.

Tomorrow, Saturday the 17th, is my birthday—not a big important one, just age 63, but worth a day off and (I hope) some garden accomplishments at home.





Thursday, 15 March 2018

When woken up for work from a deep sleep, I was not happy to find wind and rain.  It had been nice enough when Allan decided work was a go; soon after I awoke from not enough sleep, the rain began.  All the weather apps told us that now it would rain until three…after Allan had the trailer all hooked up and ready to go.

I decided to accomplish one thing, I hoped, from the indoor task list: find my passport!  I went through two baskets and a box of papers and in the third place, I succeeded.  We can’t skip the country till we get our passports renewed, so I cannot erase “Passports” from the work board yet.  I need to follow through with renewing it in case someone gives us tickets to the UK.

I found in one of the baskets of paper an old article (1997 or so) from the Chinook Observer about when I first created the boatyard garden.  (I did not save the photo, which was taken by a kneeling photographer from below, not a flattering angle.)  Well behaved ornamental grasses were the ones I planted back then, including my favourite, Stipa gigantea.

After the passport triumph, I read the first chapter in an interlibrary loan book, an autobiography of Nina Bawden, an author I love.

I found a passage that spoke to me, about Nina’s mother at the village fair and a boy who had a bad case of unrequited desire:

Back then, a thousand pounds was a great deal of money.

The story speaks to me because I had an almost identical experience at age 18, although it did not include a marriage proposal.  I had broken up with one boyfriend for another (a regrettable one, but that is another story).  Former boyfriend  was supposedly teaching me to drive when he pulled a handgun and said he was going to kill himself and the new boyfriend.  (I don’t remember myself being on the list.)  I said he had the deaths in the wrong order and asked where he had gotten the gun. When he replied that it was his father’s, I said he had better put it in the trunk of the car because if the cops came to check on our parked car, he would be in big trouble and his dad would be furious.  He got out and put it in the trunk.  (And the driving lesson ended.)  A therapist later believed that this was why I never learned to drive.  I do not think so; I was truly a naturally terrible driver.

Calvin was not best pleased when Skooter decided to join us in the reading chair.

Finally, at three o clock, the sun came out.

I had three nicely rooted starts of santolina to plant at the post office, ones I had found at the boatyard from sideways stems that had gotten buried when we mulched there last fall.  When I went to plant them, I found to my delight that little santolina cuttings I stuck in are doing well, so I will save my three santolinas for the silver-grey garden that I want to make at home, my grey and tabby cat memorial garden.  The post office garden was again not going to get weeded before the quilt show, unless we got done with the boatyard garden in time.

Ilwaco boatyard garden

looking north when we arrived

and looking south (the steam is from a boat engine that just got put in the water)

We returned to where we had left off at the south end.  The tatty old lavender from yesterday had come out…

old lavender where pennisetum had been trimmed

Allan dug  out the equally old and woody green santolina….

and started in on the patch of Pennisetum macrourum which has decided to become a delinquent instead of the well behaved plant that it was for years.

Below: We got to meet a sweet and shy dog named Hershey, who wagged and wagged and would not quite let herself be petted even though she wanted to.

shy Hershey

I was not very successful when I tried digging the pennisetum, and quite unsuccessful at shearing them (because sometimes my right hand feels arthritis-y, and it is a tough grass to cut).  Fortunately for me, there was plenty of weeding and santolina clipping in between my grass digging.  Allan did the brunt of the digging and shearing.  Two enormous clumps got removed, and the roots came home with us to go in the garbage.  (Some are waiting in a tarp because the garbage is full.  They are yours if you want them.)

Local fisherman John came by toward the end of our day.  I should have asked him how often he has worked in rain and wind in the Bering Sea.

John and Ernie

Good dog Ernie (Allan’s photo)

We got the weeding done, all the grasses sheared, and will dig up one more really big clump some other time.  Doing so is not part of the official spring clean up.

That big messy clump is next to go.

Allan’s photo

end of workday, looking south

At home:

Spring clean up is done and off the board!

I am thrilled that we have this to watch tonight, after Rachel Maddow.

Later: It is perfection. Thanks to Lynn of CinefilesComic for telling me about it.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

After a rainy Tuesday of working on my blog posts about reading, I had woken up today thinking about the Shelburne garden and how much better recent photos of it would look if it had spring flowering bulbs, especially my favourite kinds of narcissi.  Next year!  I thought about digging some up from my own garden to put there.  But I am too selfish with my own flowers for that.  I can barely pick bouquets sometimes.

I hope that next spring, the Shelburne garden will look more like mine (and the gardens of our other clients) does right now (by which I mean my flowers, not my weeds):

When we got our mail, I briefly pondered weeding the wild garlic out of the post office garden so that it would look better for people attending this weekend’s quilt show at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum across the street. No, not yet; I decided that we might finish the boatyard garden and return to the post office at the end of the day.  Allan was rightly skeptical.

Ilwaco boatyard garden

looking south from the north end

We still do not know if some of this garden is going to be dug up for a water project.  It needed cleaning up either way.  We carefully did not disturb the orange and red spray paint marks, already almost washed away by rain.

Allan’s photo, Pennisetum macrourum, before

and after removing it

Pennisetum macrourum is described on some garden sites as being slowly spreading, and that is the impression I had for years, until suddenly a couple of years ago it decided to run.  I no longer wanted any of it at the north end of the boatyard garden, where I had transplanted a clump before it showed its true nature.  I used to think it might be a grass I had brought down with me from my Seattle friend Pat’s garden.  If that were true, I would have had it in all my other gardens over the years, because it is quite beautiful.  Now I think it was introduced to the boatyard during the years between when I started it as a volunteer and then it got torn up for an electrical project, and when I came back to work on it as a paid job.  During that time, a nice old man provided the port with some pampas grass, which they planted along the narrow strip and which eventually covered half the sidewalk.  The pennisetum may have also been donated at that time.  It is misbehaving now.

Here is what it looks like in bloom:

Pennisetum macrourum, (which as you can see is going a bit too strong), Geranium ‘Rozanne’, Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’

Pennisetum macrourum at the boatyard

We were not very far along today before this happened.


With the rain pelting down and a 20 mile an hour wind kicking up, we drove home to put the pennisetum roots in our garbage can and, I assumed, to give up on work for the day.  Even Allan’s mentioning The Deadliest Catch TV show…

…did not inspire me to want to work in the rain and wind.

In the rain, we (well, Allan) did one more thing on the way home, deadheading these narcissi in front of Azure Salon.

Allan’s photo

Ten minutes later, we had this:

looking west from our driveway

…so we went back to work.

trimming well behaved grasses (Allan’s photos)

We also sheared many santolinas (Allan’s photos)

Sheared santolinas will stay rounded instead of falling open.

We crossed over the boatyard gate, meaning we were more than halfway done in distance.  Allan trimmed another pennisetum that can stay because we don’t want to be digging around the light pole:

He trimmed another….and I decided the tatty old lavender had to go.


later, before he hoiked the lavender out

I then decided that whole darn pennisetum had to go, a job for tomorrow.  I do not want this many of them!

Pennisetum nightmare


This was more than we would be able to deal with today.

It did not rain again until 4 PM:

And even then it did not last and we were able to keep weeding, trimming, and digging until the temperature dropped to discomfort in the early evening.

Allan’s photo

At home, I was thrilled to finally finish my last blog post about thirty five years of reading, from 1982 to 2016!

Even though I was not able to erase any gardening tasks from the work board, I did erase from the at home rainy day tasks “Goodreads”, which was the reading blog project.

All the indoor jobs were supposed to be done in winter, till shingles put an end to my staycation energy.


Monday, 12 March 2018

The first gardening event of the day was checking on a garden (which I will not name and shame) and being told by the maintenance guy that he had sprayed “some weeds” that turned out to be poppies in the gravel.  I was not happy.  I only blew a very small gasket as I tenderly held the still damp poppy seedlings in a gloved hand.  I said that dead little plants from Round Up look worse than little green plants, even if they had been little weeds.

After that sad event, we checked on the Shelburne Hotel garden because I feared I had left a small tool in the garden.  (I had not; turned out Allan had picked it up.)  Because of the hot weather, we found two new plants all droopy and gave them emergency bucket watering.

All but two of the photos today are by Allan.

sad hellebore

sadder primula

Long Beach

We went on to finish the parking lot berms.

weeding with the ho-mi

Stipa gigantea before

and after

lightweight summer clothes and a hat to keep off the sun

north berm, after

rugosa roses in the south berm

I must admit that there were just a couple of areas of quack grass in rugosa roses that we did not successfully weed.  We usually do a good weeding of this garden later, around the end of April.  I was pleased to get as much done as we did.  We left the quaking grass (Briza medea) standing because, even though it looks like a weed to most passersby, it has charming seedheads later which we will leave for awhile before pulling.  It pulls easily.

part of the south berm, after

While on the way to dump our big load of debris in the late afteroon, I looked at my phone.  I had had the strangest feeling earlier this week that, because of my book blogging obsession of late, I could have missed something terribly important in someone’s life on my Facebook newsfeed.  As we entered the city works yard, I saw the post that a local gardener I had known had just died, an assisted death because of aggressive brain cancer, which I soon learned had been just one month from diagnosis to unsuccessful surgery and then to her passing.  I was in shock but couldn’t feel much because we still had one more job to do at

The Shelburne Hotel

I had bucketed some mulch out of the garbage can of Soil Energy that I keep at home for garden emergencies, because I had decided yesterday that an end piece of little shade bed at the Shelburne desperately needed fluffing up.


Allan, with a couple of flat rocks that I had found, made the path a little wider.  I had brought some little lavender double primroses to put in.

A not quite the same angle before from a couple of days ago:

The flowers that had been sad this morning had perked up.  They all got another bucket of water.

at home

I finally had some time to think.  The gardener who had died must have been so scared.  We had been just becoming closer friends when the election of November 2016 revealed a world-view schism that gently ended our communication by mutual and melancholy agreement.  I had sort of thought that eventually we would drift back into an pleasant gardening acquaintanceship or friendship.  A different person than me would have tried harder. Now I could only hope in an afterlife where she could be reunited with her beloved and wonderful dog, who had died a year and a half before and was deeply mourned and missed.  The same kind of aggressive brain cancer took another dear gardening friend of mine after blindness and a harsh three year battle.

At my desk, I opened my Facebook messaging and found this from Nancy, co-owner of the Depot Restaurant:

“A [elderly] diner and her hubby left and went outside while their kids finished their wine. Pretty soon she comes back with a bouquet of daffodils…..saying look what she found outside growing wild…..[She was told] they are not wild, we pay good money to have our garden…. People never cease to amaze me.” I wrote back asking if the old woman had climbed OVER the tall horizontal log barrier to get to the garden (which I find hard to climb over) and Nancy said yes, she had climbed right over it.  Now that’s spry!  (I was given permission to say where this happened!)

The work board shows that only the Ilwaco boatyard garden remains on the spring clean up list.

I found it harder than usual to sleep and finally did while picturing my late gardening friend and her beautiful big golden brown smiling dog in a misty field of grass and flowers.  Please let it be so.