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Archive for September, 2007

Before I get into our trip to the market, let me warn my faithful few readers that I am having a terrible time publishing to iweb.  Much woe is me, as I love the interface which enables me to so easily add photos and links despite my state of html ignorance. There is a work-around, to “publish all”, that is, the entire blog from the very first post, every time I add a new one, but it does take hours.  I hope Apple gets this problem sorted soon; forum posts show that I am not the only one.  Meanwhile, if my blog goes for weeks without updating here, that is why.  I have set up an alternate blog spot on blogspot, where you may someday be able to find me at [2012 note: blogspot did not appeal to me and so my blog was idle in 2008 and 2009 till I discovered WordPress and later moved 2007 to here.]

Today we went to the Astoria Sunday Market for some holiday shopping.  Our busy work schedule…yes, and assorted garden tours…have kept us away from there for all of this year (as far as I can remember), and we have less than a month left to enjoy it before it ends for the year.

We can always count on finding some good plants at the plant booths, but today our quest was more for presents…some of which were for a faithful reader or two of this blog, so the results are very hush hush.  My eyes were filled by flower vendors’ gorgeous bouquests and as always by the interesting plantings outside the Alley Cat coffee shop.  We used to go in there almost weekly so I could visit their sweet dog, George, but the last three times George has snubbed me by refusing to come down the stairs for petting.  I didn’t feel like getting my feelings hurt today.

the flower booth and the Alley Cat plantings

gleaming array of vegetables and a damp view of the Liberty Theatre

There had been talk of meeting our friend J9 and her out-of-town guest for coffee but that mission was cancelled because of rain. The crowds were but plucky, though, and kept on shopping despite the occasional and unpredictable sudden waterfalls off of overloaded booth tops.

rainy market day

Too damp to even go out to coffee at Astoria Coffee Shop (it was busy and the only spot with seating was a little too outdoorsy for my chilled and drippy condition), we went on to Fred Meyer where I bought more bulbs.  Oh dear, I may now have exceeded my projected budget (slightly over $2000) for clients, as I simply had to have all of the Sparaxis that the bins had to offer.

This is what a garden of two hundred and fifty hydrangeas looks like:

bayside house with hydrangeas

No postscript with cries of woe here means these last two entries uploaded smoothly.

POSTSCRIPT!!  And cry of woe: AGAIN with the crashing while publishing.  Now must “publish all”.  Must I really move this whole venture to blogspot?

[2012 note: I decided to leave in most of the struggles I was having with uploading to iWeb because I know I was not alone.  And because it is why I got discouraged with blogging, after being on such a roll in 2007. My good friend Mary who now writes Yummy Montana had similar trouble with her Yummy Northwest blog on iWeb (mobile me) as did the writers of many sad help forum posts.  Apple did not really fix it, apparently, and in June they are shutting down the old iWeb blogs.]

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After last Saturday’s tour of Cannon Beach cottages, I spent most of Sunday feeling melancholic.  Could it be that I would prefer if Ilwaco were more like Cannon Beach? Or that I realized that my fantasy of living in CB would never, ever come true because of its high prices? (Or was I melancholic because I was having a terrible time uploading my latest entries to this blog?!)  When I first moved to Ilwaco, I used to attend more civic meetings and often heard the cry of citizens: “We don’t want another Cannon Beach!”  While I am sure they were referring to high property taxes and unaffordable housing, I couldn’t help but wish that we had more of the charms of that Oregon town.  Every bit of progress made here: the village-esque upgrades to the Port, and the Saturday market, for example, make us a little more charming, and that makes me happy.  And Sheila reminded me that CB has strict CC&Rs and that our idiosyncratic house, with its multicoloured trim, might cause a fuss there.  Also, would I really want to stand in line behind twenty tourists just to buy my groceries? There, now I feel better.

When we arrived at the tour’s ticket sales table, I was thrilled to see that one of my favourite cottages was featured on the tour this year.  However, the tower, which has exerted a great pull on me every time I go to CB, was locked, and I did not see any way to storm it.  I learned that the cottage is called “Bears” (built in 1924) and that the tower is a studio and laundry room.

The “Bears” unstormable tower flanked by two of the cottage’s windows

cottage kitchens

I’m a bit concerned that I have the order of our tour and thus the names of the cottage photos mixed up, but I believe the above interiors are from the McRae cottage (built in 1937) and the McLaughlin House (1926).  I find the cupboards and shelves and windows speak strongly to me of home,  history, and the pleasures of daily life in a cozy space.

cottage tables

Tablescapes also thrill me.  Mine tends to be just drifts of paper…bills, seed packets, paper scraps with ideas, lists of books and movies to order from the library and Netflix, but every now and then it gets cleaned and polished and decorated with a vase of flowers and it can look like the ones above.  Left, the Hutchins House, built in 1924, and right, in the Mason House, built in 1925.

roof top deck

The Hutchins House had the charming surprise (above) of a rooftop deck that was entered through a small window from each of two upstairs bedrooms.

cottage windows

Cottage windows (above, in the Mason House), with and without fabulous beach views, often have the small panes and warped glass of old times, reminding me of my grandmother’s house (and later, mine) in Seattle where the electrical lines and trees outside seemed to waver.  I wish that when one had to replace a window with modern energy efficiency, the glass could be made with that old watery look.

A full view of the mantel in the Mason House and one of its beds, where I suddenly craved an enclosed and peaceful pale pink nap.

The large Ave Maria Retreat House (interior, below), now belonging to the Sisters of Saint Mary but built in 1928 with a widow’s walk and porthole windows, could make a girl want to join the convent.  Its enormity was not the sort of space that usually appeals to me, but the rooms were magnificent. I loved the clever touch of old porthole windows echoed by portholes in the dining room cupboards. The widow’s walk was not on top of the house as I would have expected but was a narrow walkway outside a second story bedroom and afforded a great view of the beach.

portholes in the Ave Maria Retreat House

Below, the view from the Ave Marie Retreat House looked down into the yard of the Goodman House, which surprised me by being one of my favourite cottages.  While I would have tried to grow more plants inside the windwall (closer view, right), it’s a great concept for providing some comfort on the west side of a beach house.

windy garden

The Goodman house, built in 1928, entranced me despite its vast paces.  Usually large houses fail to impress me but this one abounded with glorious spaces and colour and comfort.

(Above) The great west facing window, inside and out..and note the pop- out lower corner, which housed one of the world’s most charming sun rooms which ran about half the length of the north wall.

(Above) One end of the long sunroom, which is about all I could want out of life if it had a small kitchenette and bathroom attached.

(Above) A fireplace by Paul Bartels who is famous for his stonework in many of these old cottages, and a table where it would be a joy to dine.

Gardens did not abound around any of the cottages, although there were a few good landscaping  touches:

A rustic bench by the backyard guesthouse of the Bears, and a cat bench at the Goodman Beach House

cottage paths

The Goodman house had an inviting gravel path to the beach through a northside garden (above left) and (right, from a deck of the  most modernized of the cottages) this pretty amazing garden wound down a hill between two houses. We walked through there on our way back to downtown. The sign said it was private that that the public could pass through at their own risk.

We had parked well south of downtown (ah, another disadvantage to living there: the streets even off to the sides are crammed with overflow tourist cars like ours), but ate at Cranky Sue’s at the north end and walked back.  The sun blasted all day and made it hard to take photos of CB’s good downtown gardens.  There’s a rule that every business has to have one, so the town overflows with flowers.  Two examples:

All Cannon Beach business are required to have landscaping.

When the next day I was bemoaning to a friend via email about the glories of CB, she  wrote to me that when she and a friend had recently visited there, they drove around looking for just one run-down house and could not find one.  She compared it to Disneyland where the streets are washed at night.  Looking back, the only flaw I can remember seeing (other than the surprising lack of cottage gardens in the tour neighbourhood) are a few clumps of undeadheaded daisies and one, that’s ONE, dandelion in a the garden of a bar and grill.  Oh dear, I am getting melancholic again.  Would such perfection get tiresome?

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a perfect evening in Seaview

Our friend Patti has a dreamy garden in Seaview.  Every time we visit her two dogs are joined by other dogs in what seems to be an endless round of Patti dog-sitting for friends.  There were four on the day in early August when we visited to deliver a pot of Cotinus ‘Golden Spirit’: Bosco, who eluded the camera, Webster, the Portuguese water dog, and two small dogs, one rather bossy.

Was the charcoal furniture painted to match the adorable Webster?

The charcoal grey furniture throughout the garden provides plentiful sit spots.  Back in the days when Patti first bought and redesigned this garden, it didn’t have as much open space.  My former partner, Robert, lived there for a year some time after we parted and he, being an expert hardscaper and garden visionary, helped turn one area into a soothing gravel entertainment mecca.  Negative space is a positive thing.

Patti’s wonderful patio space

more water: a driftwood waterfall (another robert creation) and one of the cutest birdbaths i’ve ever seen

places to sit on and near the back porch deck

East of the back decks a richly tropical-themed garden with cannas and eucalyptus….(below left) on the morning August 2nd and (below right) again in the evening  of August 29th, when we were invited to dine al fresco with friends  on the gravel patio.  Patti’s one amazing cook so we got salmon with sauce, and prime rib, golden potatoes, a delectable dessert creamy sort of pastry tart, and scones made by Ocean Park guests.  It was an unusual evening at the beach: warm, helped along by a propane heater, and we lingered till almost dark in the magical paradise.

at Patti’s: the tropics in Seaview

There were four dogs in attendance, and later five, when the neighbour and owner of the Skookum Surf School brought his, so around and round the garden they ran and played and snuffled and romped, making it a perfect evening for a dog lover like me.

[2012 note:  We had a good time working in Patti’s garden on and off in 2011.  Be sure to click on that Skookum link just above; there’s a great little movie on the home page.]

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Here are a few more photos of gardens I admire at the Port of Ilwaco.

The Azure Salon garden, simple but very attractive.  It was a knockout earlier in the season when pink balls of sea thrift were in full bloom.

The columnar pear trees we (a group of volunteers) planted last spring are doing well in streetside plantings along with ornamental grasses and lavender, and here’s another shot (above right) of that boat we planted  at Time Enough Books.

Almost to the west end of the Port, Nautical Brass has a good display of hostas (below left) in pots, to lure folks to go up to owners Dirk and Jane’s other wonderful business, Seaview’s English Nursery.  Their parking lot garden  is anchored by a show-offy huge Arundo donax (below right).  I must admit when we weeded that garden for them five seasons ago I snicked a piece of Arundo for myself!  I still want to acquire the variegated one.

Nautical Brass plants and garden

Further west along the chainlink fence of the drydock boatyard are the remnants of my once fabulous boatyard garden.  Ah, in the glory days about ten years ago it was truly an amazing explosion of colour and interest and collectible plants, if I do say so myself.  Because I had begun it as a self-inspired volunteer project, and then had gotten terribly busy with work, it had become sort of an albatross.  I wasn’t too sorry when it had to be dug up to lay new power lines.  The Port replaced it, kind of, but mostly by adding pampas grass.  Some of the perennials have fought back through holes in the landscape fabric and round rock they laid down, but bindweed  and horsetail has found it even easier to sneak through and cover the plants.  All the good topsoil was scraped away, and the weeding of the garden (which the Port hired me to do a few times since) has become a horrible proposition of rolling rocks around.  So here are some photos from the days of yore when it was a happy sight (top right is during Rod Run back when that event actually had a parade of cars around the whole Peninsula):

boatyard garden back in the day

The Port is humming with the Rod Run slow drag tonight.  Allan is there; I’m not.  My usual habit of holing up at home (with good snacks) till Rod Run is over is complicated by the fact that this year the annual Cannon Beach Cottage tour falls on Rod Run Saturday: tomorrow.

[2012 note:  Azure Salon has moved downtown and Marie Powell Gallery now has that garden at the port.  We are reviving the boatyard garden back to something like  its former glory.  Nautical Brass closed in 2011 and soon a fun new art gallery space, Queen La De Da’s, will open there (this weekend, in fact, 18 Feb 2012). You can still buy Dirk and Jane’s plants at the English Nursery in Seaview. All The Tea and China moved to Astoria a couple of years back, but now we have the wonderful Olde Towne Trading Post Café which is my perfect idea of a coffee shop.

Since I started administrating the Discover Ilwaco page in 2010, I always go to the slow drag.  Also, I am going to rework these last two blog entries for the Our Ilwaco blog.]

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I experienced such joy while pruning, weeding, and wheelbarrowing mulch last Wednesday at our new job on the bay.  The feeling went well beyond job satisfaction and into the realm of a spiritual experience.  I remember another time when I was walking down to the big planter box by the highway at Andersen’s RV Park and suddenly felt an overwhelming joy and thought “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”  As we add more jobs that we enjoy and eliminate the less creative ones, and perhaps as we work a bit less so we can spend some time in our own garden, the exuberant glee of gardening might happen more often.

Earlier in August, we started another new and pleasurable regular job right here in Ilwaco.  Every other week we’ll sweep through Cheri’s garden doing whatever we feel needs doing.  I love that sort of job, and her garden is charming, with three excellent sit spots.

sit spots: a well done paver semicircle, and a fireplace gathering spot

Meanwhile, in public Ilwaco, I am well chuffed about the planter and street tree flowers.

Ilwaco street trees gardens and planters

Watering them with 22 5 gallon buckets of water three times a week has been a chore, but the results are pleasing.  I have learned that they need watering even if there is a pouring rain.  Passersby might think we are crazy, but the rainwater truly does not penetrate into such thickly planted containers.

I’m also happy about the boat o’ cosmos at Time Enough Books.

Time Enough Books garden boat

Ilwaco Harbour Village

And many of the Port businesses are making a good effort to beautify with plants.  (left, Pacific Realty; right, Time Enough Books). Azure Salon has a lovely little garden, so I must get a photo of that to share next time we water at the bookstore.

[2012 note: Pacific Realty no longer has an office at the Port.  Azure salon has moved to downtown Ilwaco and now the Marie Powell Gallery is in that space.]

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goodbye to a beloved botanical friend

For some unknown reason, my Rhaphithamnus spinosus…both of them…are dying, and after I had raved about them earlier this year and said every gardener should have one.  One day I saw a haze of brown in the background out the kitchen window and realized that one of two of these glorious Chilean trees, acquired about 7 years ago from the Heronswood of old and now about ten feet tall, had turned all crispy.  At least, I thought one survived, and it looked fine as I took photos of its stupendous berries.  But yesterday, when I went down into Allan’s garden, I saw that the second one is showing curling and drying of the small evergreen leaves.  I have no idea why, and it is so rare that Googling brings me few results…and only one place to buy a new one, a nursery back east.  Deb of Rainyside told me that Cistus had it a few years back, so perhaps they will carry it again.  Meanwhile I am sad.

Today I spent much time fighting with the overgrown Akebia in the back corner of the garden where no one goes because it is such a jungle.  This gave me a chance to enjoy that area, and it is now so much more accessible that maybe guests will dare to venture there.  Soon I may actually have enough progress to have an after photo of the overgrown path. I’m always impressed in the late summer with the Strobilanthus atropurpurea which is growing well back in that shady area and also in sun against the house wall.  It seeds around freely. This fall I intend to dig some out of the path to distribute among our clients (who so must have this plant, but every year I forget to share it), so until then the “after” path photo will have to wait.

Both the above plants gave me a hard time remembering their names.  I had to write “Rhaphithamnus spinosus” on a index card and put it in my kitchen window where I saw it whenever I looked out at the back garden.  I finally learned to remember “Strobilanthes” by associating it in my mind with “strobe light”.

Late summer bloomer Strobilanthes atropurpurea in shade and in sun

Yesterday I planted more of my new plants.  My “pot ghetto” is down to six plants on a small table and one gallon pot on the ground.  Yes!  We have been toying with the idea of going to the HPSO plant sale, but I think that I want a rest from new plants, a sensible plan which involves getting new areas prepared before more plants take over the entry patio.  A radical and unusual plan for a collector, but it might be worth a try.

(above left) TINY pot ghetto (Right) Allan reclaims space

Meanwhile, Allan has been working to reclaim the fireplace patio and the secret upper deck. The path was under so much leaf litter you would not even know it is there. The words “cobbler”, “children”, and “shoes” come to mind.

more garden vignettes: (left) My wonderful Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’ in Allan’s garden; (right) a thriving pot of annuals on the stone steps

Having opened this entry with strikingly blue or purple  berries, I’ll close with some more.

I was amazed to find that Lonicera ‘Red Tips’ (left) has the same colour of berries as Lonicera pileata (right). I had no idea.

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