On Facebook, the “Good Enough Gardeners” posted this status update:
“Amanda says: I’ll be back soon. One more week of summer annuals hell.”
Yes, day after day of working till dusk…and while, not being morning people, we start at ten, that is still a long day for people pushing sixty. (Okay, I’m pushing sixty from five years away, but it doesn’t feel that far off.)
Every day I hoped we would get done before sundown, but it was not to be. I worked 52 days with only four days off; Allan had eight days off but they were because of his mother dying.
I realized how truly hard a season it was when I managed to get only one walk down into our own garden to get a quick photo of my favourite viburnum. Usually I have more time to savor it.
Also managed one photo of my single Himalayan blue poppy plant which survived from what I hoped would be a growing colony of these. On one of my four days off, I did clear most weeds from one bed in our own garden; the other, say, nine distinct areas of the garden have reverted to jungle. It’s hard to imagine that two years ago we were on the Peninsula garden tour!
So let’s focus on the good gardening news:
The storm did not do as much damage as I had feared. I thought the whiskey barrels and colour pots at Andersen’s Rv Park would be decimated, but those plucky petunias (not my favourite plant) and agyranthemums survived.
The plants were laid a little flat but only one red petunia broke off!
We managed to rig up and fly our earth flag for just one day in Long Beach, a response I came up with to the disturbing number of Confederate flags in town. But unlike those boys who don’t mind their big flags blocking traffic or whacking passing tourists in the face, we realized we need a somewhat smaller one to be polite. We had too many annuals to move out of our staging area and into the various gardens to find the time to figure out a better flag solution.
Every day we stuffed the car full of the more tender plants, and the trailer full of wind resistant plants, and spent the day planting. Then on the way home we would pick up more plants from local nurseries, mostly annuals, some perennials, to begin the same rounds the next day. While working mostly in the rain was rather a misery, the blessed part of it was once we had the plants in, we did not have to water them nor did we have to backtrack and water the ones we had planted two days before.
Somewhere along here I had a revelation and quit two more boring jobs, but that wasn’t enough to catch us up, just enough to take two failures (failures to show up!) off the roster.
It seems that this year May showers will bring June flowers, because in many gardens there is still a wave of budded green but very few flowers. (Above, Oman and Son Builders Supply garden in Ocean Park, usually riotously colourful by now.)
The little joys kept us going through exhaustion and utter crankiness, like the friendly new colt, Justin, at the Red Barn; a Justin visit was in order while planting cosmos and container plants there. He is such a friendly little guy.
Klipsan Beach Cottages, one of our oldest and most established gardens, perhaps warmed by the gravel paths, behaved in late May more like I expect a garden to at this time of year…Yes, one of the busy days was up north doing KBC, The Wiegardt Gallery, and two full days were spent at mid-Peninsula weeding and planting at Andersen’s, while I inwardly fretted that Long Beach was still incomplete.
We spent two days getting the Anchorage Cottages gardens and containers all nice again. (I had stayed away for a month to avoid watching a crew of painters step on “my” gardens; the cleaning up and refurbishing of the gardens went well and happily but was so busy that not a photo was taken.)
Getting the Long Beach parks and planters perfect in time for Memorial Day weekend was a huge crunch, especially since our first planting had gotten whipped hard by the surprise windstorm. My dog-niece Sophie joined us one day, and in my punchy, weary state I took pleasure from the very cuteness of her paws.
We plant the Long Beach planters with “the principle of Stuffage” (I think that’s an Anne Lovejoy term): lots of plants. The poor cosmos got hit hard by the windstorm, so I got a few more packs and will add some next time we walk through town; we literally ran out of time on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.
On Thursday evening we learned that there was to be a memorial service at the above planter where a beloved local resident was murdered last fall by a violent ex boyfriend. The city needed it to look spectacular, so off we went on another shopping trip to buy the sorts of plants that will take the full beach approach environment, and in quite a cold wind and rain planted it up. A family member who had wanted to adopt it had not been able to take it on after all, but we had not known that before. (Even without working on this planter, I never pass by here without thinking of you, Lisa.)
With new soil and plants, it is ready for the ceremony today. We checked it last night and no vandalism or problem had occurred… If these plants are left alone and can all knit together, it will be an excellent beach planter. Surely no one will vandalize a planter with a memorial plaque on it? One can hope.
Back to the parks late Friday afternoon….in the rain…where I did not really get them done to my obsessive satisfaction and had to tell myself that only the most intense garden tourist is going to peer at the back of the garden looking for little dwarf fireweed and shotweed…Then on to check the Ilwaco planters for dead bulb foliage and to weed the garden at the Port’s Time Enough Books…till it was almost too dark to see…and then we had to admit that we had done all we could to catch up. Two private gardens remain neglected, and nothing is quite as it should be, and my own garden is beyond my level of tapped-out energy, but we could do no more. Truly it was such a hellish day that even a hot bath and a glass of sherry were not enough to ward off the chill.
(But one more happy thing: riding around with a blossom of ‘Pink Marshmallow’ on the dashboard, which I picked up off the parking lot at the Basket Case Greenhouse.)
Yesterday, Allan soldiered on weeding Discovery Heights entry gardens, also neglected due to our family crisis. I had hit the wall, oh, about a month ago, so while I carried four plants by hand to plant down at the port, I then went to the Saturday market and TOOK THE REST OF THE DAY OFF! A call came from Allan’s brother and I thought another family emergency was about to ensue…but it was just a discussion, nothing involving more emergency trips to Seattle. There is a light, maybe not sunlight, a sense of warmth, nothing to do with summer because the weather is still freakishly cold…but I think that in about a week we may actually start to catch up after what has been the hardest spring planting season I have ever experienced..