Archive for Oct, 2007

Bulbing goes on, and between the exhaustion of it all and the problems I was having uploading to this site, the blog fell by the wayside.  [2012 note: The problems were in uploading to web.mac.com, the iWeb blog hosting site which will be discontinued in June 2012, thus inspiring me to move all of 2007 into Feb. 2012…if that makes any sense at all.]

Yes, you may think you are reading what was written as life plodded on, but this is actually written some time later.  Bulbing takes all one’s energy,…the repetitiveness of the same muscle use day after day, and being out in the colder weather, means that evening calls for complete relaxation.

One of the first places where we planted a large selection of Narcissi ( some of each cultivar) was Kathleen’s new sweep of garden (below) along the bay.  She added this bed about a year ago with the soil piled on newspaper method..or in this case, on cardboard..and the underlay has now rotted enough to add bulbs.  Even old pieces of sheetrock had disintegrated into useful bits of gypsum, adding “Calcium plus magnesium carbonates, and sulfates”….(Thanks, Kathleen, for the scientific breakdown.)

garden on Willapa Bay

That was a glorious day of work.  After a dreary and ominous beginning,  the rain remained mostly light and intermittent and we were rewarded with a glorious rainbow over Willapa Bay.

Another recipient of many bulbs is the Shelburne Inn.  Unlike Kathleen’s, which must have mostly the deer-proof narcissi, the protected Shelburne garden gets lots of exotic tulips.

autumn at the Shelburne

Although the hydrangea had faded to its autumnal shades of beigey pink, the containers on the back deck still look vibrant. Euphorbia ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ brightens up a pot of annuals.

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a house full of bulbs

We hear the UPS truck arriving with our bulb boxes…7021 bulbs in the first order and another few hundred bulbs to follow in a later order.  The sheer weight was impressive, but unfortunately I have forgotten it…somewhere around 400 pounds, I think it was.  A fortuitous four days of rain ensued so I was able to sort all of them into a box for each client, labeled and organized, without losing any outdoor work time.  [2012 note:  I think the yearly experience of having a 450 or so square foot house full of bulb boxes with hardly any room to move until they were planted was one of the main reasons that…after making the 2010 bulb order in August…I suddenly decided it was time to move to a bigger house!]

Now the seemingly endless bulbing job begins of going from client to client putting in $30 worth here….$200 worth there…depending on their budget and garden space.  The race is on to get them in the ground before they get soft.

Here’s some of what we planted from the first order (from Van Engelen), not including a wider assortment of Oriental and Asiatic lilies;  this is the assortment that went to Long Beach:

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An aside: the new horse at Laurie’s is in its own corral because one of the other horses took a dislike to it.  We have three cats, one of whom hates the other two, but it is a lot easier to manage three incompatible cats than three incompatible horses!  The cats find their own private nooks, amid some hissing and potential scratching, but that’s so much less complicated than separate stalls and flying hooves.

As we continue our rounds, we’re pleased that so many gardens still look delightful.

Laurie’s late blooming Hebe is matched in pinkness by the Cosmos at Sea Nest.

(left) Discovery Heights; (right) our own garden

The cotoneasters draping the rocks at Discovery Heights are highlighted with orange and red berries…and inside our own overgrown and rather neglected garden, viewed from the street, a fall blooming Clematis romps over the contorted filbert.

All the little clean up and tidying projects that we do now are time fillers while we wait for the arrival of the fall bulbs.  But in cleanups great and small, there are two different philosophies: Mine is to leave a lot of seedheads for the birds and a lot of structure of billowy tawny grasses and stems, but some clients like to have the garden totally tidied and GONE until next spring.

The two fall clean-up philosophies, illustrated above.

Jo likes her garden to be completely cut down, whereas Annie’s is left in more my style of hazy wispy mist-catching stems.

Or there is the philosophy of Annie’s dog, Kira, who naps through the day in a warm patch on the lawn and doesn’t bother with the garden clean up at all.

For gardeners who might be as lazy as Kira, garden writer Ann Lovejoy recommends leaving the garden alone till early spring when the old growth breaks off so easily, thus saving lots of clipping.  On the other hand, she recommends mulching in winter with washed dairy manure…and that’s not a job for anyone lazy.

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Why is Klipsan Beach Cottages my favourite place to work?  We love other  clients and gardens, but KBC offers the perfect combination of wild garden areas and a more formal deer-fenced area, clients who appreciate unusual plants and who are willing to buy the good topsoil and amendments that it needs, a budget to buy interesting plants,  guests who appreciate the garden, and often the offer, from owner Mary, of delicious drinks and snacks.

Inside the deer-proof garden, the wilder blue bench corner and the formal center. Next year I hope Tetrapanax papyrifer will make a striking tall statement behind the bench.

The deer are faced with a daunting fence and can only nibble rose shoots from the outside.  The Billardia longiflora has gorgeous purple-blue berries and grows alongside one of the four gates.

You may recall that we cut back all the fern fronds around the ponds; now all have filled out lushly.  One of the bright sun coleus is still going strong in the blue pot. We often sit on that bench to eat our lunch.

Ever since I have worked there Mary and Denny have always had cats and good dogs that like to join us in the garden.  We fondly remember the two big white Great Pyrenees, Misty and Debby, and black labrador Raven who used to help on cottage cleaning days by carrying the big set of keys.  Now handsome Doberman Riley likes to come out and keep us company, and if we are very lucky, Mary can get some time off from managing the place and come out to visit while gardening with us.  On days when rain surprises us, we often end up sitting at the round dining room table with cookies and hot chocolate. We have every intention of working at KBC until Mary and Denny themselves retire…

[2012 note:  In 2010 I made a Facebook page on which I regularly update photos of their gardens.]

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Here in the Pacific Northwest the gardens usually stay beautiful and lush till well into November, but the look changes to bronzy and yellow leaves, billowy beige grasses, and bright fruits on Cotoneaster, crabapple, beautyberry, and more. We try to get a little bit of fall clean up done before the bulbs arrive.

At Evelyn’s garden, two Cotoneasters, one with dazzling effect and one more subtle. The subtle prostrate one is my favourite.

At KlipsaN Beach Cottages, lavish display of berries on Billardia longiflora, and spectacular rosehips at Solstice house.

In our own garden, the powdery blue edible beans of the Chinese blue bean tree, Deicasnea fargessii…also known, I recently learned, as Dead Man’s Fingers! And a truly astonishing colour combinaton from a Euonymous shrub.

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  Rebuilding Together on the Long Beach Peninsula

Rebuilding Together‘s fairly new Pacific County group had its second 2007 volunteer day in Saturday’s rain.  Allan and I went to a project where nine excellently warm windows were to be installed in a double wide manufactured home.  The owner had once had a pretty garden which several of us brought back to its original shape, while Allan helped tear out the old windows.  Because of the rain and a predicted blustery wind, the window crew started out with the goal of getting one window done but succeeded in getting all but one…and the last one only because a new one of the right size had not arrived.

The garden (left, before) had herbs, dahlias, daisies, annuals… (right) Three of the five or more garden workers, all in colourful rain gear.

(above) The garden, after; happily, a pile of mulch was on the site so we were able to fluff it up, and a pile of driftwood provided edging material.

(Above) the front porch window, before and after (Allan in yellow rain pants)

(above) Window installers swarmed almost every window at once. Eventually, we could only laugh at how drenched we all were..

Allan took a load of debris to the dump whole the last of the windows were installed; it turned out we were the only ones with a hauling trailer, so we will be sure to bring it on future such occasions.

(Above) Installing the last screw, by which time the rest of the crew could only stand and watch (and drip, drip, drip).

(Above) Now the family will be cozy with new rather than old, leaky windows….(one of which was actually stuck open, so you can imagine the wonderful difference the new windows will make). Due to the ghastly weather, the exterior trim will be installed on a future dry day.

One of the crew told me an impressive statistic of how much energy the nation would save if everyone just could have good windows installed.

[2012 note: Rebuilding Together Pacific County now has a Facebook page and its own website.]

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We have a new ongoing project of fixing up Jena’s garden.  What a wonderful secret place to live, up a private road, surrounded by bogs (yes, there are mosquitos in summer) and willows…with a driveway circle, one of my favourite design features in a garden.  I forgot to take before pictures, unfortunately.  Originally designed by a now-gone landscaper called Beachscapes and Beyond, the garden has some good plants which needed some shifting around and an overgrowth of the dreaded orange montbretia which had been a gift to Jena and which she has taken against as much as I have.  So out it came, leaving room for the enjoyable task of adding some new plants and some species narcissi bulbs.

not before, but during………………………..and after.

The goal: turn the Wiegela into an arched shrub instead of a rangy partly dead tree. Two variegated boxwoods were shifted from being irksomely clumped together into a more elegant spacing.

(above left) a side view, quite overgrown…note deer fence of crabbing rope; I like it. (above right) cleared of too much white yarrow, and mulched with “Soil Energy” mix from Sandridge Topsoil.

On the day when we did the mulching, we had the Soil Energy loaded into our trailer in the rain, with blue sky just to the north  from whence a light wind blew.  Sure that the blue would reach us, we drove on to Jena’s, where the blue sat agonizingly out of reach and the skies opened with torrential rain.  Her spouse arrived as we were shoveling and inquired of our sanity.  The blue finally arrived overhead when we got to our next job.

(above, left) entrance view, before, with Allan weeding (above right) after, with the pretty weeping Japanese maple more clearly defined. No one seem to realize how big New Zealand Flax will get; the Phormiums look so charming in one gallon pots.

Happily, this will become an ongoing job, not one of those clean ups where one revives a  secret garden but then never sees it again.

[2012 note:  We did keep this job on a monthly basis through 2010, but in 2011 Jena hired someone else because we had never succeeded in making the garden low maintenance.  As usual, my plant lust got in the way.  The deer were a constant trial and chowed down on pretty much everything; the rope fence was nothing to them.  This, and maybe the bayside garden, were the only jobs we’ve ever been laid off from because the client was not happy.  And at the bayside garden, the wife was happy, but not the husband, and he was very much in charge..and even though he did not want to spend the money to have regular gardeners, he asked us back every February to prune the 300 hydrangeas.]

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Having had so much trouble recently uploading entries [due to troubles with functionality of iWeb blogs] has given me a feeling of incipient trouble when I think of updating this journal, putting a big dent in my enthusiasm.  I’m hoping that whatever bug in the system was causing the delay has been fixed.  Can I dare to dream this?

The first enormous rain is here.  Maybe not the first, as the weekend was rather nasty….but the first day if being totally rained out of work and of getting drenched just going from car to bank or store to run errands.

Earlier this month, we waited till our beloved clients and managers of Klipsan Beach Cottages went off to the Puyallup Fair and then created a new garden bed as a surprise birthday present for Mary.  Denny has since installed a fountain halfway down the length, and the bed will hold the plants which need to be dividing out from the overcrowded fenced garden.

Mary’s birthday garden before, and after digging and amending

I spent considerable time and effort on a mid-September weekend digging out almost all the dreaded orange montbretia which i had foolishly tossed into the roadside garden years ago, before I got brutal enough to discard unwanted plants.  ‘Twas such a hard job that the first weekend I tried it, I gave up, being too sore from the work week.

Meanwhile, Allan has put gutters on the house, something which has been sorely needed for years as the base of the stone foundation is wider than the roof, perhaps not the wisest design.

Last midweek I was filled with terrible melancholy upon hearing from the property manager of the blue roofed house on the bay, the one with all the hydrangeas, that the owners did not want us to go on with the job of mulching the hydrangeas.  Our work was complimented but no longer required. Our friend the manager was very upset; he has seen the owners lay off pretty much every gardener on the Peninsula before this.  [2012 note: I can add this now that the owners are both gone and the house for sale: We think it was because there was confict between the bossy husband and his wife; it was after she had asked us to mulch some of her favourite beds, and we of course complied,  that HE decided to not have us come back.]  Oh, how I hate leaving a job undone.  For three days those hydrangeas called out to me and haunted my every waking hour as I brooded over how one more workday would have finished the project.  Letting go of my own vision of what the garden could be was so difficult, and is always the risk of getting emotionally involved in someone else’s garden.  I can’t seem to enjoy work without that emotional involvement, so it was hard to move on.  (Our friend and liaison there was equally upset because he knew we could make the property as wonderful as it had been in its heyday.) They want us to come back and prune the hydrangeas, but I am hesitant. Without a real connection to the garden, my desire to be there wanes. Happily, we have an interesting new job where we worked all day yesterday restoring one of my favourite design things, a driveway circle garden.  (Much removal of orange montbretia is involved!)  Before and afters will be upcoming soon.

Autumn itself causes me no melancholy as it is one of my favourite seasons. It has always been so but is now increased by my happy anticipation of fall clean up of all the gardens (except the hydrangea one, darn it).  I am sort of tired of all the gardens as they are now…(You gardeners know exactly what I mean) and cannot wait to cut many things down!  Then I am going to do a page on each garden throughout the year…a delightful prospect.

Autumnal sights: (left) Goldenrod at Andersen’s Rv Park (right) Hippophae Rhamnoides berries at Andersen’s.

(left) The heavily flowered hydrangeas (with the last of the picket fence sweet peas at Andersen’s and (right) Colchicum at the entry ramp garden of Long Beach City Hall

No cry of woe here means the uploading of this entry worked this time.  If it doesn’t, I really do not want to spend one and a quarter hours uploading just one entry (with “publish all”) so will wait till I have our new project photographed to show off and then add two entries at once.  (We were rained out of the “after” day today.)

Later: Cry of woe: Still not working as it should so will wait for another day to upload more.

[2012 note: We did go back and prune those hydrangeas in February of 2008-2011, and were called back to do the occasional summer weeding, but in February 2012 the job has ended as both of the elderly owners have died and the house is for sale.]

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