Archive for Jun, 2007

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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Through an enormous push to get the weekend off (Well, Sunday: Saturday is needed for plant shopping), we worked hard at almost every job to bring them to a moment of completion.  Sometimes its hard to appreciate the beauty when focused so much on accomplishing tasks, but these are the garden scenes that caught my eye:

Long Beach: The Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’ (blue potato vine) growing on the south wall of Funland…and a moment when, while weeding the terribly weeding and distressing beach approach, I looked up and sideways and saw a lovely view.

The beach approach is a constant worry to me: keeping it watered and weeded would be a full time job in itself.  But even when weedy, it does have beauty to offer: a rugosa rose and a Dianthus in full bloom. We so appreciate the passersby who compliment the garden with enthusiasm even when we feel it is not looking its best.

At Andersen’s RV Park, I’m pleased when the white siberian iris is in bloom in front of the Miscanthus variegata with its complementary white stripes. And I love the peachy tones of an iris (that I got from the Planter Box nursery) growing by the pond at Joanne’s.

It makes me happy to see the reseeding of daisies, columbines and more in the parking area at Wiegardt Gallery.  Eric has, I think, come around to liking it also. The magenta Knautia macedonica, in front of the gallery, is one of favourite perennials, but for some reason is not widely sold.

Near the gallery’s front door these stunning yellow and white Dutch iris have returned more thickly this year and one of my all time favourites, the Allium albopilosum or christophii, mixes charmingly with dog daisies.

At KBC, the golden comfrey is blooming,,,the only comfrey I would allow into a garden after an unfortunate experience of planting both comfrey and horseradish (both SO invasive) in my Seattle garden.  The climber ‘Polka’, Mary C’s favourite rose (tied with ‘Jude the Obscure’?),  flowers profusely.

At Raymond Federal, two garden beds illustrate the adage regarding perennials: “The first year they sleep, the second year they creep, the third year they leap.”  The bed to the left is in its second year, and the one to the right, its third.

By working till late Friday evening, we achieved the moment of great triumph of getting all the cosmos in at Discovery Heights and annuals in the Ilwaco planters….but rejoicing in completion was brief as more cosmos and other annuals were acquired on our Saturday shopping trip!

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