Archive for Jun, 2007

My day off started with determination to make the roadside (the verge of city property on the gravel road leading up the hill to our house) look beautiful.  Always I have dreamed of a beautiful garden there…by necessity deer resistant, as a doe often browses it.  Why, why, in years past did I toss all the extra orange montbretia there, unwanted and removed from assorted jobs?  My advice: Never succumb to sentimentality about thuggish plants.  Oh, it won’t do any harm along here, thought I in days of yore, and now I have a roadside of boring rampant clumps of orange montbretia.

But before weeding along the verge, a walk through the garden was in order, and resulted in almost an entire day doing everything BUT the verge.  “Something shiny syndrome” is the name for that condition of distraction.  First, I had to remove a couple of wheelbarrows of debris left from last week, and that drew my eye to the streambed which carries overflow from the pond.  What could be more fun than mucking about weeding a streambed, however small and muddy? As a child I played for hours making wee dry creek beds with small round rocks under the roof gutters.

(left) To me, this little streambed is pure magic. (Right) lower down on the stream, Rose ‘Climbing Phyllis Bide’

Much more debris resulted, and on the way to the gate my new raised garden bed caught my eye.  If I were to weed the back edge along the lower pond/catchment basin, my Leycesteria ‘Golden Lanterns’ and a variegated hosta would be revealed…and where to plant the Callistemon pallidus which I should not have bought, but did, from Cistus? With no sunny spot to site it, I moved Cotinus ‘Golden Spirit’, put Melianthus ‘Purple Haze’ in its place, and put the Callistemon where the Melianthus was, even though it is in partial shade.  Allan chainsawed a limb off the tatty small old apple tree which I hope will give the Callistemon enough light.  Wrong plant, wrong place, I should know better. But full sun is scarce in my garden, and I found I did not want to part with the blue foliaged Callistemon to a client. [2012 note: I later learned in a lecture by Dan Hinkley that Callistemon does not like any fertilizer at all.]

in our lower garden

(left) the new raised bed…wall not finished yet…with small plants and a weeded backdrop (right) a wonderfully shaped hebe that I pass with each load of debris from the upper garden…backed with the tall Thalictrum ‘Elin’ with an ornamental rhubarb on the side

The Paul’s Himalayan Musk rose in its once-yearly bloom completely covers an old trailer halfway up the long garden. And at the gate, a white rambling rose (the kind…multiflora? no time to research names but I think on the noxious weed list back east!) is rampant with small fragrant flowers and the buzzing of bees.  The Eucalyptus neglecta has the most beautiful magenta purple flush on its new leaves.

Eucapyptus neglecta by the gate; the colour flush on its leaves; the view from Sunday paper reading to the stone steps that Allan so brilliantly weeded last day off.

Working in my own garden, I’m allowed breaks for tea and cookies and for admiring the view from the windows while I read a section of Sunday paper.

Finally, I got back to weeding along the road, by then realizing that the control of buttercup and thick grasses in the gravel edge was surely a job for modern technology.  A bit of definition within the beds, followed by a call for Allan and the gas weedeater that we got for free and the job looked rough but satisfactory.

*2012 note, that free gas weedeater did not last long…easy come, easy go.

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We rushed about from job to job all week, spending as much time as possible (not enough) weeding the Long Beach beach approach garden because of an event (The Beach to Chowder Run) that would draw many pedestrians. I think perhaps the most tiring time of gardening is done. We have almost all of the cosmos planted. And as far as plants for jobs, we have only one small table (including some cosmos) waiting to go in at the Shelburne when the fence is painted. There were a couple of days of such busy-ness that I couldn’t see the flowers for the work…and took no photos to record those gardens.

Wiegardt Gallery garden

What I did notice: Again, I love the reseeded plants in the parking area at the Wiegardt Gallery and the Knautia macedonica in the front corner.

Stipa gigantea at Andersen’s RV Park

We worked for the second time this year at the always fun Anthony’s Home Court*.  I’d show you how cute the cottages are but am waiting for a day when the colourful rainbow banners are out, so instead here’s a leaky birdbath that I filled with sedums. (below left)

(Above right) The golden marjoram at the back of the pond by Pacific Realty in Long Beach gives the garden a lot of zip.  The Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’ was covered with stalks of purple flowers but I trimmed them back as they were almost spent, and got well stung by a bee that I accidentally grabbed.  Allan had his head next to the waterfall so missed out on my cries of woe at first, then got the bee sting gel which proved to be very effective.

On Saturday after a garden grooming session at the Shelburne, we spent the rest of the day working on all three gardens at Discovery Heights.

Top garden all nicely weeded along the road and middle garden with dianthus and sea thrift along the front edge

(above) Dianthus in middle garden, and lower garden with its waterfalls of Ceanothus ‘Point Reyes’ and Cotoneaster.  Much as I love their flowing effect, they are consuming some rather precious Helianthemums.  Some moving of the latter will be required in the fall.

And Sunday will be a day off.  I am hoping this will have been the last of the very hard weeks until fall clean up time so that we can enjoy gardening more and perhaps have more time at home.  I don’t particular relish working seven days a week, and yet am emotionally attached to all “my” gardens and cannot bear to let any of them go.

*2012 note: Anthony’s Home Court has new owners, does not seem to be open, but it looks like there is work being done on the rental cottages.

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From Ilwaco to Oysterville:

We can say that now because we had a new job in Oysterville…not regularly, but occasionally.  I haven’t worked in Oysterville since a half day weeding job in 1993.  It’s a magical town which used to be “The San Francisco of the North” and is now a peaceful enclave of houses, all beautiful, all protected by a strict building preservation code.

As soon as we arrived and saw the bumper sticker (today’s top photo) I was happy to be working for someone simpatico, and I already knew the garden owners were plant nuts, so what could be better? A pretty, small house, on the site of a former hotel, and well designed beds full of interesting plants:

The house and a lovely garden bed to the west with hostas, cranesbill geranium and daylilies.

(above) Other garden beds featuring one of my favourite Miscanthus and a freshly weeded entry bed with again that amazing view across open fields toward Oysterville Sea Farms

We only had half a day for the Oysterville job; I could gladly have worked there long enough to bring the whole garden to perfection.

Another highlight of the week was helping out one of the original Seaview houses, The Sea Chest, owned by Kay who I met soon after moving to the Peninsula in 1992 (when I lived in Seaview for just over a year).  I’d be hard pressed to choose which is my favourite town, Seaview or Oysterville, but Seaview would win because I do love restaurants and it has two of my favourites, the Heron and Beaver Pub* and the Depot.

the Sea Chest from the back….and the adorable tree house in the garden

The Sea Chest was formerly the art gallery for Kay’s late husband, watercolor artist Charles Mulvey.  I do wish circumstances had allowed me to stay in Seaview to enjoy the company of so many of the fascinating residents who have now passed on and whom I miss with a sense of poignancy whenever I am working there: John and Val Campiche, Bob and Boots Johnson, Helen Dunn, Terence O’Donnell….and those who have moved away, Donna, Tootie…I miss them all. [2012 note: I add to that list Glennie Woodcock….]

After I had completely forgotten to take a photo of the bumper sticker at the Oysterville garden,  later that day saw the same bumpersticker on a guest’s car at Klipsan Beach Cottages!

*2012 notes: Heron and Beaver/Shoalwater Restaurant later moved to Astoria as the Bridgewater Bistro.

Oysterville Sea Farms was in our local news a lot this year because of this; we fervently support their desire to sell chowder and a delicious glass of wine on their deck.

The old Sea Chest is no longer that lovely pink…


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Last night I realized ,after working quite late again planting the unadopted street planters in Long Beach and trying, but failing, to get the Boreas done before its owner returned from vacation (Sorry. Susie! We almost made it!), that I must have today off.  Areas of our garden were disappearing into weeds and every work day seems to stretch out too long to get much done in the evening.  Unlike Allan, my energy fails after work!

In the lower garden, two sort of circular beds with the seasonal creek and arbour between them called to me, especially the north one which had been barely touched all spring. Each bed is anchored by an enormous contorted filbert (‘Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick’).   These look  far better in winter than in summer when their large leaves, also contorted. hide the fascinating twisty stems.

before) overgrown (after) the path and the individual plants emerge

The problem with letting a bed go for so long is that once the weeding is accomplished, it looks beaten up.  Thus one must not do a major weeding the day before a garden tour. A newly weeded garden needs time to settle down before viewing. I have the triumvirate of annoying weeds: horsetail, creeping buttercup, and bindweed.  The weeding itself is deeply satisfying, especially when I exercise enough patience to not snap off delicate features with a twist of bindweed…but how tedious it is to then move the debris on out of the garden.

one of two overflowing wheelbarrows from that one bed….and a path completely lost between a waiting pile of weeds. This path has been lost to weeds all spring, and now to this pile of weeds! Will it ever see daylight again?

Only a few moments were spent sitting by the pond.  I see no fish at all….

Allan had his own project in mind: clearing the stairs that go from pond level past the big rock to the house.  A before photo would have been most impressive, as the stone stairs were barely to be seen under thick long grass and buttercup. The view back to the house looked charming with my special flag which I bought last year to commemorate getting completely out of debt!

And speaking of houses, I recently read a book called “A Tiny Home to Call Your Own: Living Well in Just Right Houses” by Patricia Foreman and Andy Lee….yet another ode to the pleasures and benefits of small house living.   Certain quotations from the book spoke strongly to me:

‘This is the perfect book for a society living under the pall of half-million dollar homes. Compact houses are cozy, affordable, energy-frugal, and easy to keep…a perfect choice…for those who favour beauty over pretense.” (Richard Freudenberger)

“Tiny homes are magical.  They have the warm, fuzzy feeling of home at their primal core.  They can offer personal safety and deep contentment….There is a totally different ambience in and around a tiny home than there is in a McMansion….You get a feeling of being closer to nature….the wind blowing and rustling the leaves, and rain on the roof.  The elements are more intimate to your personal environment.  Sometimes it is like being in a small boat on the ocean.”

“I live in my tiny house because it’s magic.  It’s a different magical world. You are playing a different game living in a tiny house. In ordinary houses you are playing monopoly.  In a tiny house you are playing Hobbit.” (Barbara Lane)

Yes!  That is one of the best things about this small house: the feeling of being part of the garden, the wind, the leaves, the fresh air. Allan might disagree with the wind and fresh air aspect as he shivered quite a bit when he moved here in a cold January from an overheated big house in the city, but I like to feel a bit of breeze in the living room.

Reminder: Small House Society has lots of info re small house living.

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A new plan for writing:

If one wrote a brief bit every night, one might still just have vignettes but at least not a week’s worth piled into one day.  When the days are light till after nine, the dedicated gardener is lured into working until dusk, leaving piles of The Oregonian and The Astorian newspaper still unread and many insights unrecorded. [2012 note: A-ha-ha-ha-ha.  I was saying that then? I am still saying that now and still waiting till I have a loooong entry planned out.]

Friday was a sweep around the north end, from the watering of Sea Nest halfway up the Peninsula, on to planting a few things at Klipsan Beach Cottages: a striking WHITE Phygelius, as this is the Year of the Phygelius in the KBC garden, and one of those BLUE diascias.

At KBC: Mary has a blowsy pink rose by the greenhouse, a pinky peachy foxglove by the basement door, and Siberian iris of blue and white and purple.

The swale, recently mulched with dairy manure, is lovely with more Siberian iris and the yellow flag iris  (a noxious weed in wetlands), and the overview from the deck shows a glimpse of a Mediterranean deep blue ocean….a colour soon to be blown away by today’s rain and wind. (You’ll have to trust me that the sea was a deep deep blue.)  You, dear reader, would enjoy a night in one of these cottages, and you could see the sea for yourself.

Onward we went to Marilyn’s to plant a few special plants: The Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’, a Dianthus ‘Neon’ for her growing collection of pinks.  No worries about watering there because sprinklers have been set up and used regularly.  On to Oysterville to look at a new weeding job: the garden is charming, the owners are plant nuts, and there is a bay view, so we will add it to the busy roster.  Back down to water the refurbished bay garden; while the sprinkler turned, we weeded beds on the north side of the house. Further on down to Laurie’s, on the bay side about equal to the ocean side location of Sea Nest, where we weeded and admired, and where I fretted about one area which should have a very tall plant, but somehow something died and the fill-ins have attained no height as yet.

Vignettes of Laurie’s garden: Verbascum and Euphorbia, and the  stunning bay view

Finally, back down through Long Beach and Willows Road to Discovery Heights to check on the watering….hoping we’d be saved from worries by rain the next day (and we were).

Discovery Heights middle garden

The evening sun was amazing through the Stipa gigantea (my favourite ornamental grass) in Middle Garden and the Dianthus, Armeria, and other tiny gems rewarded a walking tour of the edge of the garden.

Discovery Heights middle garden

From Ilwaco to Oysterville and back again, just ahead of the storm, and ready for today’s plant buying excursion.  We are about to take over, with drought tolerant and tough but striking plants, six of the orphaned “Adopt-a-Planters” in Long Beach….but the weather is too cold and wet to plant them this evening and thus we have caught up on a week’s worth of journal.

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After refurbishing the garden beds at the bay house in Nahcotta, we spent the rest of the week watering…planting cosmos….planting the blue plants at Linda’s garden, watering again, planting a few things at Marilyn’s and Klipsan Beach Cottages and Andersen’s, waiting for the fence painting to be done at the Shelburne so we can finish replanting there.

Every second or third day the 18 planters and ten street trees need watering in Ilwaco, which involves setting 20 or so buckets upright in the trailer, filling them with water from a hose, and dumping one half on each planter and one on each tree….and at least three on our garden at Time Enough Books.  The math is approximate.  It would be better to water the planters every day for ultimate lushness of which I dream, but time and our backs don’t allow.  Allan is amazing…at the end of a day when I am plodding and struggling, he is still RUNNING with the buckets of water.  How does he do it?  Then he will come home and putter around a bit.  Could he bottle and sell this source of energy?  We could retire on the proceeds.

a beautiful wild empty lot

(above) In an empty Ilwaco lot, former site of Red’s Antiques, a new shopping/townhouse building is soon due to be built.  Beach sand must have been brought in to fill the lot, and last year it blew irksomely into the tree beds.  But since then, the beach wildflowers have filled in and it is a joy to have a field of the beautiful cobalt blue beach pea right downtown!

(below) Meanwhile, at Andersen’s RV Park, the Payson Hall clubhouse planters are filling in with satisfactorily kapow!ish hot colours.

Payson Hall planters at Andersen’s RV Park

In the wonderful 1894 gardening memoir “An Island Garden” by Celia Thaxter, she wrote of California poppies…and thus forever changed my former lack of appreciation for orange flowers:

One blossom I take in a loving hand the more closely to examine it, and it breathes a glory of color into sense and spirit which is enough to kindle the dullest imagination. The stems and fine thread-like leaves are smooth and cool gray-green, as if to temper the fire of the blossoms, which are smooth also, unlike almost all other Poppies, that are crumpled past endurance in their close green buds, and make one feel as if they could not wait to break out of the calyx and loosen their petals to the sun, to be soothed into even tranquillity of beauty by the touches of the air. Every cool gray-green leaf is tipped with a tiny line of red, every flower-bud wears a little pale-green pointed cap like an elf, and in the early morning, when the bud is ready to blow, it pushes off the pretty cap and unfolds all its loveliness to the sun. Nothing could be more picturesque than this fairy cap, and nothing more charming than to watch the blossom push it off and spread its yellow petals, slowly rounding to the perfect cup. As I hold the flower in my hand and think of trying to describe it, I realize how poor a creature I am, how impotent are words in the presence of such perfection. It is held upright upon a straight and polished stem, its petals curving upward and outward into the cup of light, pure gold with a lustrous satin sheen; a rich orange is painted on the gold, drawn in infinitely fine lines to a point in the centre of the edge of each petal, so that the effect is that of a diamond of flame in a cup of gold. It is not enough that the powdery anthers are orange bordered with gold; they are whirled about the very heart of the flower like a revolving Catherine-wheel of fire. In the centre of the anthers is a shining point of warm sea-green, a last, consummate touch which makes the beauty of the blossom supreme. Another has the orange suffused through the gold evenly, almost to the outer edges of the petals, which are left in bright, light yellow with a dazzling effect. Turning the flower and looking at it from the outside, it has no calyx, but the petals spring from a simple pale-green disk, which must needs be edged with sea-shell pink for the glory of God! The fresh splendor of this flower no tongue nor pen nor brush of mortal man can fitly represent.

California poppies

In the Payson Hall planters at Andersen’s RV Park: Celia Thaxter’s beloved California poppy                (with  blue cerinthe, right)

It seems that her entire exquisite book is now available online here….well worth reading every word.

[2012 notes:  People suggested over and over that we get a water pump truck to make watering the Ilwaco planters easier.  So eventually, with the help of the Ilwaco merchants, we did.  But waiting for the water to come out the house, and snaking the hoses around the streets, made the job take twice as long, which is really not in the city budget or our time budget, so we went back to buckets.

The building in the empty lot has so far not been built because boom times ended soon after this was written.  It was of a beautiful architectural design. The lot got cleared and partly paved and is no longer a wildflower meadow, I’m sorry to say.]

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A week of planting and watering and the refurbishing of a small entry garden….and two plant buying excursions, including today’s blessedly rainy day….How we rejoice to think of rain falling on the beach approach, the new plantings at Linda’s, the new garden we planted in Nahcotta, and all the tree and planter gardens in Long Beach and Ilwaco.

Last Sunday during a rare and wonderful DAY OFF, I gave Allan all my shade plants from my plant ghetto (the unplanted languishing pots of purchased plants): some choice black and double hellebores, a stunning dark purple heuchera, and a golden threadleaf Sambucus.  I can see his garden from the kitchen window, and simply did not have time to weed shady areas in my garden to plant anew, whereas his garden is still mostly a blank slate (but no longer).  Meanwhile, due to plant expedition number one, which was mostly for Linda (blue things to commemorate her late beloved husband, whose favourite colour that was), and the new Nahcotta garden, the patio had refilled with plants.

(left) again the patio fills with plants waiting new homes (right) Wow! Diascia ‘Piccadilly Denim Blue’’ from Raintree…. exciting.

I got some wonderful plants at Raintree, where the displays are always seductive, but I’d like to compliment the Warrenton Fred Meyer whose garden manager has done some beautiful displays with simple but effective patterns of plants and cottage stone.

(above) Kudos to the manager of Warrenton’s FM for creating pleasing displays

As usual, mixed in with the standard fare the Warrenton FM had a few choice surprises: Black Taro for $4.00, and Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’, which I had fruitlessly sought elsewhere.

A note re local shopping: Our Peninsula nurseries have wonderful choices and a wide selection, but plant nuts such as myself have to hit every nursery within many miles to make sure we have not missed out on one rare find.

Monday and Tuesday we descended with a carload of plants upon the entryway garden of a Nahcotta house about to be sold.  I had warned the potential client about my plant-nuttiness, and that I would follow my own plant design (lust?) rather than the tidy plans someone had skillfully drawn up, so away we went with an extensive weeding and soil improvement and  rearrangement of paths.   We diverged from the plan in plant choice, but I think it will be quite lovely.

Nahcotta project, before and after (above and below)

And (below) the million dollar view from the large property…. mostly pastures calling for trees, shrubs, adornment…and far more money and youth than we possess, but oh, what an opportunity for someone.

I gave up mowing after breaking one too many lawn mowers by asking of them feats that a push mower was never made to do.

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