Archive for Oct, 2009

A couple of cool dogs of Long Beach.

doggie in the window, 27 July, 2009

This dog was hanging out the window of the kite shop north of the Bolstadt stoplight in Long Beach. Two other passersby were taking photos, which is what drew my attention to the dog…At first, I thought they were just photographing the bright cheery yellow paint job.

Allan was watering the beach approach and had the camera, so I called and delegated him to go back and take the photos while I took over the watering hose.  Despite that delay, the dog was still hanging out watching passersby, a number of whom noticed and watched back.

over the kite shop, 27 July

watching the world go by, 27 July

He was hanging like this out the window on and off for the whole time we worked on planters near the Bolstadt intersection.  Such a good dog, he didn’t even bark when other dogs went by, just observed with calm interest!  (We heard later from a friend that he may have worn himself out barking earlier in the day.)

We then saw him every time we watered the planters, but on a later day the window was not open as wide:

a tight squeeze, 8 August

J.D., 8 August, 2009

We found out from the owners of the kite shop below the apartment that his name was J.D.

We didn’t see J.D. for awhile, and then on August 16th, 2010, there he was.  Good dog!

16 August, 2010

My dog Bertie Woofter, also a black lab (may he romp in the afterlife), would have jumped two stories down to go after another dog or chase a car.

[2012 note:  The Kite Shop building, no longer bright yellow, is now the home of an excellent and artful gift shop, NIVA green.  You’ll love it.]

Another excellent Long Beach Dog was Tank, who I am sorry to say passed on in winter of 2010-2011 (after, we were told by his person, a good romp in the snow.)  Tank was an old boy who had his own office in the back of Wind World Kites.

Wind World Kites, in blue

(Note how cleverly I worked some tulips into this dog post?)

Tank was a huge boy; this photo of him at the back of the shop just does not show his enormous size.

Tank in his office

He was happy to greet his fans, some of whom brought him leftover steak from their dinners out.  His human (who always greets me with “How’s the hardest working girl in Long Beach?) gave him a nice long walk every day after work, and if I timed it right I’d get in a little visit with Tank as they emerged from the shop.  His tail would wag slowly as befits a very dignified, very large old chap.

When I see his human now, walking to his vehicle after work, I swear I can see the ghost of a big old dog walking with him.

Another big dog we no longer see is the Akita Tomo, who used to drag her person down the street in order to greet us.  I am sure Tomo has passed on to where giant dogs go, all too soon.

Read Full Post »

Just outside the lower gate…golden hops has escaped the hedgerow and twines around my newspaper boxes.

golden hops

To the right of the lower gate, and orange lily seeks some room next to the tall wild impatiens (jewel weed, touch-me-not).  The jewel weed’s sap is good for nettle rash and insect bites.  Its flowers look like orchids. Its seeds leap out in a startling way when the seed pods are touched. It threatens to be on the noxious weed list, yet even though it seeds prolifically it is easy to pull.  I would not plant it next to a wild marsh, though.

jewelweed and lily

view from the gate

Ghilsane de Feligonde and Rosa palustris

Rose ‘Ghislaine de Feligonde‘ blooms profusely on the left side of the path.  I happened upon this rose quite accidentally when the owner of an old rose nursery north of Seattle suggested it to me.  He said I would be very happy with it.  It moved with me to the beach, twice before settling in our Ilwaco garden.  (And in 2010 it moved with us to our new Ilwaco garden.)

Behind it, up higher, blooms the pink Rosa palustris.  Palustris means ‘swampy or marshy’ so when I ran across this rose I knew it might grow well in the damp ground of the stream arbour gardens.  It is a once-blooming rose and puts on a good but not a very long show.

peachy daylily and rose

A peachy daylily accidentally echoes the colours of Ghislane.  A lot of perfect effects in my garden are unplanned.  I’d like to think I subconsciously knew what I was doing…but probably not.

The right fork of the path takes you past a stand of white aconitum (Monkshood) said to be deadly poisonous to the degree that you should take care to wash your hands after deadheading it.  They are usually known for coming in dark delphinium blue.  The coolest one I ever had was a metallic pale blue called ‘Stainless Steel’ but unfortunately I neglected it in a pot and lost it.  I must put it on my wish list.


To the left of the gate, both the Allium abopilosum and the Anchusa have toppled…I haven’t had much time to weed, and might have reached in too hastily to untwine some pernicious bindweed.

Allium and Anchusa

In the upper garden across from the pond, a richly red lily blooms among tall perennials…


…And that’s about all the time I had for my garden in July of 2009.

Read Full Post »

I did say that is was the summer of my mother’s garden.  Over the month of July it got better and better as more lilies, annuals, and roses came into full bloom.  Gardens are ephemeral  and  bound up with the fate of the gardener.  This summer of beauty was the peak of this garden’s existence.

mom in her garden, July 15th

It was easiest for mom to get out and enjoy her garden when we stopped by during the day.  She had had a couple of scary experiences of falling in the garden; the previous summer, she’d taken a tumble toward the end of the day and had to crawl to a chair to pull herself up.  After that day I initiated a daily phone call on the way home from work to make sure she was safe inside the house, so in the last year we had more conversations than we’d had in perhaps the previous ten years put together….although the conversation often went quickly with her saying “Okay, bye” and getting back to her book or the news.

lilies and a golden hyssop


lilies and cosmos

everywhere, sweeps of lilies

The beds closest to the house continued to be the most spectacular, but lilies bloomed throughout the garden beds.  Every year she’d bought mixed lily collections from assorted catalogs.

Allan helps mom deadhead in the gardens by the sunporch

Asiatic lilies, cosmos, Allium albopilosum

Cosmos, lilies, Allium albo and just the beginning of dahlias

Of course,  attention must always be paid to the shady fairy chair, here draped with calla lilies.

fairy chair

Allan checks on the garden, July 25th

the lilies of late July (7-25)

lilies backed with Cotinus (smokebush)

lilies and allium albopilosum (Star of Persia)

a rose like red velvet

mom’s favourite rose

In some ways my mother was a great record keeper.  Financially she had the mind of an accountant and kept meticulous records.  Woe betide a mail order catalog that sent her a plant in less than excellent condition.  She always had the receipt to hand and would write, longhand, to request a replacement….and always got one.  For years she had worked for the boiler  and elevator inspections departments for the city of Seattle and handled mountains of paperwork.

But oddly, once a plant was in the ground, the receipt listing its name (because most nurseries include a list of names) did not get filed and saved, and so she could not tell me the names of the velvety red rose or of the especially stunning coppery-sheened one (right) that was both of our favourites.

My only hint is that they probably came from Wayside or Jackson and Perkins, so I should peruse their catalogs.

birdhouses with apples red…

….and apples green….July 25th

gardens by the sunporch steps

cats on the sunporch path


Mom had adopted and cared for a black feral cat (Ebony) and her offspring (Tiger).  She had amazed me by going to the South Pacific Humane Society, getting a trap, catching the cats and taking them in to be spayed and neutered.  This would be quite an undertaking for a woman who was so shy that, in her reclusive older years,  she felt anxious just going to the grocery store.  Her favourite cat was Ebony, nicknamed Bonnie.  Neither cat would allow petting but they would sit close to mom when she took some sun on the sunporch steps.

Since the garden tour days of June and early July, mom had been talking just a bit about wanted to go check out Golden Sands, the local assisted living place.  She told us she thought she might want to move there in a year or two because she figured that a structured social environment would help her get over her shyness.  She’d tried once going to the Senior Center ice cream social but just couldn’t break through that barrier that made it hard for her to start a conversation.  We said we’d take her up to just have a tour of Golden Sands some time in the fall.  The time had not yet come; there was still too much enjoyment to be had in the garden.

the lawn before mowing, July 25th

Allan and Mom on July 25th

Sitting on the stairs of the sunporch was her favourite spot to be now that she could no longer putter for hours among the flowers and vegetables.  She looked forward to the next phase of flowers:  the dahlias; we’d planted many of them in the spring, and now at the end of July they were almost ready for their season.

Read Full Post »

The little townhouse gardens of the Millpond Village, east of downtown Astoria, were also on the tour…One could have browsed around them on any day, but the tour gave the opportunity to get up close without feeling nosy and to walk around the private sidewalks of a couple of the houses.

tiny townhouse garden

narrow curbside and sidewalk gardens

sidewalk garden

corner garden

escallonia, lavender, lavatera, artemisia….

I would have wanted a corner house so I had just that bit more room to plant.

We got to walk the private path around one of the townhouses where the owner had tucked in a potting bench and a driftwood birdhouse.

a semi-private oasis


The views might make it worth giving up a big garden space.

Columbia River view

the River Walk and the famed Big Red old cannery, now art studio

the Astoria-Megler bridge

The old mill pond itself, once contaminated and abandoned and now reclaimed and restored

and best of all, the adorable old Astoria trolley with a conductor who will wave and smile…

The gardens, while small, are lovely.  A larger garden between the pond and the main highway, with a vine covered gazebo for gatherings, and some of the sidewalk plantings were originally designed by Ann Lovejoy and Cannon Beach’s Beth Holland.

I could imagine living here and peacefully contemplating the pond and the river…

Millpond Village

Perhaps I could find satisfaction in a tiny garden of my own, and express larger ideas in other people’s gardens.  But then I remember the conclusion I’ve reached time and again:  I would rather have a view of my own little pond in my own private garden, or even a whiskey barrel full of water and bog plants in my secret sanctuary, than any vasty view of river or ocean.

Read Full Post »

On the west slope of Astoria’s long tall hill (I just realized Astoria seems to be a town of one big hill rather than Seattle’s several hills), a private garden took a different  approach to dealing with a steep slope than had the formally terraced Warrenton garden.

dry creek

The lower slope’s dry creek bed culminated in a pool with a view across Young’s Bay.

dry creek

view to Young’s Bay

On the side of the house away from the water view, a deck provided a level spot to observe the steep slope and garden beds.

looking uphill in sun and shadow

The drop in elevation was dramatic, viewed here from only halfway up the back garden.

looking down at the house

Different materials were used to edge the beds.  (Some design books say to carry the same material throughout the garden, but I find a change to be refreshing.)


Grass paths segued into fine gravel paths until in the very top corner we came to a soothing grove of trees.


The huge lot went all the way through from one block to the next and I’d love to see how it looks now that all the beds have likely filled out, three years later.

Read Full Post »

In July, Allan and I went on the Astoria garden tour.  Most of the gardens were public ones, two or three being rather small community veg patches.   Give me secret gardens, please!

Yet even the long drives to little veg patches provided some interest, because one was in a low income housing neighbourhood…and there I liked best the tiny gardens a few residents had planted and designed around their small semi-detached homes.  I would love to have photographed one with a driftwood fence and lots of flowers but I felt it would have been too intrusive to do so because the residents were right there.

Other than that, two private gardens and one semi-public one made the trip well worthwhile.  The first,  in Warrenton (west of Astoria), scared me at first with red bark in the curbside bed, but the rest of of the garden proved entirely satisfactory.

Warrenton garden terraces


We walked around the right side of the house where a path led down through old fashioned cottagey beds.

entering the old fashioned garden

We can see the path meandering down the slope.

Down we stroll through exuberant plantings.


a tasteful combination

At the lower side of the house, we find a greenhouse and birdhouse patterned fence.

birdhouse fence

and a deer-fenced blueberry and strawberry patch.

deer proof berry patch

Back up the left side of the house geometry returns with cottage stone and cement block terraced vegetable beds.  In the background, you can see the impressive terracing as the gardens slope down a rather steep hill.

terraced vegetables

We walked around the house twice.

By the way, the garden tour in 2009 took place on Sunday, and somehow that felt very odd…

Now, back to a garden on Astoria’s west slope….

Read Full Post »

On July 8th, the Vancouver (Washington) garden club returned in the morning to tour mom’s garden.  Early rain had us worried but had almost stopped by the time the group arrived, and overcast weather does make for better garden photos.  Mom made brownies and iced tea and decorated the table with some of her African violets (heirlooms passed down from my grandma).  Of course, we had the garden open signs up at the entrance.

garden open today


We kept the garden open till mid-afternoon and a few friends stopped by.  I think had it been 2011 instead of 2009 we would have had far more people because my Facebook connections are much vaster now that they were then…


Mary Caldwell from Klipsan Beach Cottages came (center, above) with her mom (left) and her friend Carol Schisler (right).  Mom was pleased to meet Mary’s mother as they were the same age.   Having garden tour visitors to chat with had made my mother more aware of the usual solitude of her day to day life.

Lola visited from the Anchorage Cottages and a few other friends and neighbours.  The guests  wandered the grassy paths all around the garden and followed the paver path around the west and south sides of the house to admire the clematis, raspberries, and veg garden.

east-west path in front of house; you can see the concrete strip that used to be for parking a trailer.

looking east on the east-west path in front of house (with soil filling in a low spot)

And at the south edge of the garden is the Escallonia hedge in full bloom.

east end of grid

Here the long east-west grass path emerges onto the wide path that swings by the curving south borders.  You can just see over the tops of the lilies where the path widens into a patch of lawn with chairs and tables.

One of the feral outdoor cats mom cared for sat on a dirt path in the veg. garden.

On this open day, the garden looked lovely in all of its details….

plant table

old planted chair

My mom’s limited budget always went for plants and soil rather than fancy garden furniture, but Allan and I had brought very old chairs from our garden to add to the ambience.  This one had been given to us a year before by the owner of Sea Garden.

Our planted tables and chairs are inspired by George Schenk’s wonderful book, Gardening on Tables, Pavement and Hard Surfaces.

The garden was in better form than it had been on the day of the Music in the Gardens tour.  (I think it’s a grand idea that in 2012 the Peninsula tour will be in mid-July….time for lilies to bloom.)


Asiatic lilies

& lilies…

lilies and echeverias

echeverias and fishing floats

Clematis and rose on northwest house corner

Volunteer hypericum in a crack of the paver path

roses along the pea trellis

one of mom’s favourite roses by the veg garden

veg garden

southwest house garden

Climbing roses, blue potato vine, lilies and clematis under mom’s bedroom window. Her beloved cat Tabby was buried here in 2008..

birdhouse in apple tree

bamboo birdhouse

teacup mirror

In a bed nearby, one of mom’s typical hot colour combinations sizzled.

The row of marigolds across the path echoed the orange lilies.

Mom had wanted the proverbial riot of colour in the beds near the sunporch so she could see lots of colour from the house, and that is what she got.  That reminds me of a story Dan Hinkley told during a garden seminar:  A visitor looked at a bed of hot colours in his garden and said “If that was sex, it wouldn’t be safe sex!”

bed of colour

Allium schubertii….

…and Allium albopilosum with Cosmos and lilies in the bed of bright colours

In the curving south garden bed, cooler heads had prevailed.

Mom loved every part of this garden and enjoyed having guests.  We wished there had been more on this perfect afternoon in the garden, but now I can share it with you here.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »