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Archive for January, 2012

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2011 in our new garden…

I do love a slideshow.

There is such a gap between tulip time and the flowers of early July.  2011’s tulips were extraordinarily late, and my new baby plants of other sorts were late to flower.  I lacked roses because we did not yet have our deer fence.  2012’s new roses will be babies, so I might have a similar gap this year.  I hope not.

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our new garden, the first year

A sunny garden…What a change from the old Tangly Cottage garden with its boggy, shady, cloud forest environment.  I wanted meadowlike sweeps of flowers in the new garden.  (Why do we always think of a meadow full of flowers, of all things!?) As always, I wondered how long before the beds filled in!

May 15

15 May, 2011

The big rhododendron which caused me so much uncertainty (keep it? chop it?) bloomed heavily on the house side.  The other side had serious bed head from wind.  I had to admit it was stunning.

I found the perfect “Park” sign at Olde Towne Trading Post Antiques for the entry arbour to the back yard.

park sign

entrance to back yard

By mid May, I had discovered that due to the low profile of the double wide home, the north side garden was in full blasting sun!  Imagine NEEDING shade beds when I had come from a garden of 80% shade.  In the back, by the alder trees, I began to create a haven for my shade dwellers.

beginning shade bill

beginning shade bed

Of course it ended up being a lot bigger!  Smaller is just never with a garden bed, is it?

Living in a dull brown house just wouldn’t do, so Allan started painting in early June.

house colours new and old

house colours new and old

Let me just say that if you were my neighbour and you painted your house, say, hot burnt orange, and I did not like it….I would not pester or question you about it in any way.  Our immediate neighbours were lovely, but I heard the cry of “WHY PURPLE!” from down the block.  I simply follow in the footsteps of the many gardeners’ home that in Portland and Seattle are the wildest of  jewel tones.

I returned from the Hardy Plant Society study weekend in Portland in an absolute frenzy of ideas, on a mission to raise the front garden bed.  Until the mission was accomplished, I couldn’t focus on going to work at all!

27 June, raising the front border

27 June, raising the front border

By June 30th, the house was fully painted.  Go, Allan!  He is a powerhouse, painting every day when we came home late from work.  How does he do it?

me loving the new house colours

me loving the new house colours

By the beginning of July, I was still waiting for plants to fill in, for the mixed borders to burgeon forth in the back yard.  One day I turned and was gobsmacked by the glory of Clematis ‘Etoile de Violette” blooming over the arbour, back with a pink rose which was one of the the six (yes, only six!!) original shrubs that came with the yard.  (Forsythia, Camellia, Rhododendron, Lilac, Holly, and this rose…)

5 July, rose and clematis

5 July, rose and clematis

Oh the impatience of waiting for my vision of the Geranium ‘Rozanne’ river to bloom.  By early July, the plants were still…creeping, not leaping.

5 July

5 July, still no river of blue

Meanwhile, glorious dianthus and poppies fulfilled that need for sunny flowers that no amount of working in other people’s gardens had met.  Now, at home, in my own garden, I had the plants I had been unable to grow in the shade.

Dianthus 'Coconut Surprise'

Dianthus ‘Coconut Surprise’*

By the 7th of August, the river of blue finally began to show.  I had started with very small plants because I knew I needed a lot of them to replicate Blooms of Bressingham’s glorious river, my obsession since seeing Adrian Bloom’s slide at the Hardy Plant Weekend in 2010.
7 August, a hint of blue

7 August, a hint of blue

By August 21st, at last, my vision had almost reached perfection…still a bit of soil showing, but close to my dream:

the river of blue

the river of blue

The west and east beds exploded into blowsy billowing cosmos and poppies.  Any structure of permanent shrubs and small trees (and they are in there) will have to wait a year or two to impact THIS annual exuberance.

21 August

21 August

During the end of August, a time when work traditionally slows a bit, Allan built the second big idea that I brought home from study weekend: an arbour to soften the boxy front of the double wide.

28 August, new arbour

28 August, new arbour

What is the SOIL that still shows in the front garden?  Again I feel impatience.  I might need to get me one of those signs that says “GROW, Damn it!”

window view, 3 September

window view, 3 September

The glorious back garden continued burgeoning right through September and into October..as you can see in the view through my window screen, above.  All the flowers I wanted and had only been able to grow at sunny jobs were now mine, all mine.

sweet peas and a baby Robinia

sweet peas and a baby Robinia

But trouble loomed: The day after I took this photo, deer came in and ate every golden leaf off my little Robinia psuedoacacia ‘Frisia’.  I saw ahead to a winter not of rest but instead the building of a giant deer fence!

The river of blue continued strong until the end of October and slowly petered out in November.  I think it will begin by June in 2012 now that the plants are well established.

Rozanne River, 16 October

Rozanne River, 16 October

My lovely sunny beds finished with a blast of fragrant red pineapple sage.

8 November, back garden

8 November, back garden

and Geranium ‘Rozanne’ just kept on giving.  No wonder it was the 2008 perennial of the year.

Rozanne, 8 November

Rozanne, 8 November

By the end of the year after the first three weeks of staycation I had spread 24 yards of luscious mulch (six of washed dairy manure, 12 of “soil energy” mulch) over all of the beds.  The flowers were done, the annuals pulled but some seed stalks left up for the birds.  And Allan had begun the next big phase of the garden: the deer fence.  Note what is gone:  Yes, with a little sorrow and uncertainty we took down the huge pink rhododendron.  As soon as I saw the amazing new view through to the hills at Cape Disappointment I knew I had made the right decision.

26 December, the garden asleep

26 December, the garden asleep

The mulch made me happy, especially in the front garden where I felt the soil had looked low, hard, and somewhat unhappy.  Hundreds of bulbs had been planted and surely they would enjoy the fluffy, rich new cover.  The tulips now planted in the back yard would appreciate deer protection, new roses have been ordered, and in a week of cold January rains, I’m waiting for a spring and summer of floriferous exuberance.

*Dianthus ‘Coconut Surprise’ and several other wonderful dianthus were purchased at Emerald City Gardens in Seattle; if that’s your town, you are lucky to be able to shop there!  If you happen to be coming to visit me, I could do some virtual shopping and you could bring me a box of plants from expert plantsman Jay Williams.  Just saying!

Next up, I’m pondering a slide show of 2011’s best flowers from spring through fall.

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snow!

Snow is rare here by the ocean and the river, which is one of the reasons I love living here.  Even Seattle had too much snow for me.

Over the winter of 2011-12 we had one small snowfall.  It is always best to arrange one’s patio in the most attractively fashion for snow pictures, and we definitely had not done so.

back garden

back garden

new arbour under construction

new arbour under construction

south window view

south window view

front path

front path

primroses

primroses

Allan's garden

Allan’s garden

front garden

front garden

cat bench

cat bench

lamp post in snow

lamp post in snow

My favourite snow picture of the winter was this one, taken during a midnight snow flurry that did not even stick until dawn.  It reminds me of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.  What might have happened had I walked out into this beautiful scene and said “Narnia, Narnia, Narnia”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For the last several years, I resolved to work a bit less in order to spend time in our own garden…with visions of barbecues, actually sitting in the garden chairs, maybe a garden party…and then interesting work intervenes.

For the past three years, we have begun in February with a one-off, week long pruning of almost 300 hydrangeas in a Japanese style setting by the bay.

just some of the 300 hydrangeas

just some of the 300 hydrangeas

The job is always weather-challenged…and after a very few hydrangeas, gets pretty boring.  But the surroundings are lovely.  I will miss it; I think the job passed away when the client did so in midsummer.

also prune azaleas at the hydrangea job...

also prune azaleas at the hydrangea job…

Not many people get to see the beauty and architecture of the place….

at the hydrangea job

at the hydrangea job….the caretaker rakes this sand…

We care for one garden that is sort of private AND public: a vacation rental house called Sea Nest down a dead end street, right on the dunes just past the Loomis Lake area.

Amazingly, the driftwood “temple” that my former partner, Robert Sullivan, built over ten years ago still stands…after being repaired by Allan when damaged by the Dec. 2007 storm.

Sea Nest west side, March

Sea Nest west side, March

Since a change of ownership of Sea Nest, we have gone to a more naturalistic, lower maintenance look than the flowery garden of annuals that we had when artist Phyllis Ray owned it.  It fits better into the budget to not have to water weekly, so what you now see is a garden so drought tolerant that we can rely pretty much on natural rainfall to keep it beautiful.

Sea Nest entry garden, summer

Our other private gardens are the sort of lovely secrets that you only see when invited, or when they might be on the Peninsula garden tour.

Jo’s Long Beach garden has been on the garden tour more than once when in its full June glory, but we get to see it in springtime bloom.

Jo's garden in spring bloom

Jo’s garden in spring bloom

At Marilyn’s up near Surfside, we continued to try to achieve privacy.  The goal was achieved looking to the west.  We are still waiting for shrubs to fully fill in to provide year round blockage of the driveway of neighbours  to south and west who hacked down their sides of the garden (and to the east, encroached on some beach pine branches that should have stayed put on Marilyn’s side of the line!).  While the shrubs take their own time to grow, ornamental grasses do the trick for the west sightline in summer.

Marilyn's, 22 May

Marilyn’s, 22 May, with view of neighbours’ driveway

Marilyn’s, September

Marilyn's in mid-July

Marilyn’s in mid-July

At Casa Pacifica, a garden that is so secret you would not even guess it existed, and which is not even on the Peninsula (it’s on the road leaving the Peninsula toward Raymond), we added lots of colour to twelve new whiskey barrels.

Casa Pacifica barrels in spring

Casa Pacifica barrels in spring

Of course, in summer the barrels were planted with our favourite annuals (can you guess? cosmos and painted sage, etc), and we are hoping the narcissi will cycle around for 2012.

The soil at Casa Pacifica is heavy clay, and the water system is iffy because it’s on a well.  The needs of the householders trump the needs of the garden in late spring, so we try to plant very dought-tolerantly, and the garden is at its best in early summer.

Casa Pacifica, thick with foxgloves in June

Casa Pacifica, thick with foxgloves in June

Casa Pacifica, June

Casa Pacifica, June

The garden is up on a rock wall on a slope, backed with woods, and the house looks out on it as if onto a theatre stage.

One of these times we hope to bring in mulch, but getting it up the rock wall and onto the garden is going to be a tiring feat.

The latest project going on there is to plant all sorts of ground cover on this vertical slope.

Casa Pacifica hillside project

Casa Pacifica hillside project

We’ve got cotoneasters, ‘Point Reyes” Ceanothus, some yellow splashed vinca, a collection of sedums, and lots of small narcissi bulbs in there and are hoping for the best.  It’s about halfway up the long drive to the house, across from the guest house (which has its own set of planted whiskey barrels).

In Ilwaco, we only have only one private garden to care for.  (Odd, that!)  Cheri does some of the gardening herself, and we check up on it a couple of times a month.  Her yellow house will definitely be a feature in the essay on colour that I am working on for my other blog (Our Ilwaco)!

Cheri's yellow house w/red pineapple sage

Cheri’s yellow house w/red pineapple sage, October

looking down on the painted sage and poppy patch

looking down on Cheri’s painted sage and poppy patch

We made a new area where once was strawberries and poppies…Now painted sage, cosmos, and poppies.  (I’m so predictable.)  Went up on a crane for this one….No, actually, top of the stairways of the over-garage studio.

The saga of reclaiming the woods at Crank’s Roost in Seaview goes on.  I hope I have written about this before.  We want to keep the woodsy feeling, block the view of a big neighbouring house wall (the usual mission!), add more flowers via hardy fuchsias (my pet plan) and have paths that are high and dry in the winter.  The plan is working…

Crank's Roost in June

Crank’s Roost in June

stunning cones

stunning cones

Just look at the cones on one of the new trees.  Japanese black pine?? (I think.)

Crank's Roost in August

Crank’s Roost in late August where once was partly a thicket of bog sedge and blackberry

autumn, Crank's Roost

autumn, Crank’s Roost

Finally, the true test: the gravel paths stayed almost entirely high and dry in much rain.

Occasionally we do a one-off gardening job.  We did a few days at the quite lovely garden of our good friend Patti in Seaview…a garden which has several times been the beginning point of the Peninsula garden tour.

at Patti's, afterwe defined the plants...

at Patti’s, after we defined the plants around the little pond

at Patti's after a good pruning and weeding session

at Patti’s after a good pruning and weeding session

On just one day, we went to Patti’s rental property.  Next door to it was a former Patti property, a parklike garden that I used to liken to a manicured miniature golf course when it was first installed (before Patti owned it).  Over the years, the shrubs have filled in and gotten a little wilder and the bridges and paths are charming, as was the wildlife, especially since it’s not a garden I have to fret over.

Patti's former property...

Patti’s former property…

...and one of its residents

…and one of its residents.

Finally, after absolutely swearing to myself that we would take on NO NEW JOBS, we couldn’t resist taking on a scrumptious garden on the bay, one I had heard about for years and hadn’t seen.  Every now and then, I heard of a new gardener getting the job (as gardening businesses came and went) and felt envious because of the great reputation the garden (and its owner) had.  Through the power of Facebook we finally connected and it turned out she had always heard I was too busy!  So despite the problems of scheduling more time, it has been a pleasure to go every other week for a good session at this secret paradise.  It’s been on the tour before, so some of you have seen it.  Those were the years certain gardens of mine were on the tour, so I had always missed it.

the bay house garden in spring

the bay house garden in spring

bay house garden

bay house garden

a stream runs through it....down to the pool on the bay side

a stream runs through it….

The stream runs from one side of the house to the other and drops from a waterfall into a pool.  I don’t take many pictures there…preoccupied with peaceful grooming of the garden.

the upper pool where the stream begins

the upper pool where the stream begins

All this beauty was designed by the owners, who did the rock work themselves.

the woodsy side

There’s lots of potential to make interesting paths through the woods behind the garden.

We’re working now on defining the native shrubberies in a new driveway circle at the bay house garden.  Of course, I did add one patch of cosmos to the formal flower garden area, but mostly it is in a different and much more restful style than my usual gardens and is probably the most peaceful one to work in.  The sort of place where one removes pine needles and cones from the moss so that every detail is perfect.

There you have, I think, all of our current private gardens.  As for my yearly vow to not take on anymore…Yesterday while on staycation in my own garden, I was surprised by a couple who came in through the gate.  They had been to both my mother’s and my old garden during garden tours and want us to come and create a flowery garden bed for their place in Long Beach.  Can I resist this? I doubt it very much.

[January 2013 update:  We had to quit the bayside garden because it was so very far north, and we had gotten too overbooked, and because the owner wanted to bring in a garden designer and have us just plant things.  I felt too old for that.  We did put in the little Long Beach flower bed, and it did ok but needed more watering than we had time to provide.  It has drought tolerant plants and will, I feel, do much better now that it is established by a rainy season.]

(Note: if a photo appears as a question mark…am having some trouble with that…I think it will show up if you click on it.)

Next up: two public garden that I forgot!

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(as one does)

As usual, our favourite job was Klipsan Beach Cottages.

Klipsan Beach Cottages

Not only are we given pretty much a free rein in terms of what plants to add, but there is a large fenced in area where we can plant roses and fuchsias and lilies and tulips and not have to worry about the deer.  Many more photos of the KBC gardens are in albums at their Facebook page.

We continued to do the Long Beach parks and Ilwaco planters.

Long Beach planter

Long Beach planter

Ilwaco planter

Ilwaco planter

(I didn’t used to be much of a fan of petunias.  In fact, I was anti-petunia.  But some of the new ones are pretty fantastic.)

Also in Ilwaco, the port manager hired us to recreate part of the old boatyard garden, a project I had done many years ago as a volunteer, back when I had more free time.  It had gone away when a new electric line and fence were installed, and now we have brought the garden partway back and are planning to expand it a little more in 2012.

Ilwaco boatyard garden

Ilwaco boatyard garden revived!

We did our usual planting of cosmos in the new, and slightly smaller than before, garden boat at Time Enough Books and felt flattered when owner Karla had our name painted on it by local iconic artist Don Nisbett.

“Plant Vessel” Skyler

Because some of the older plantings along the port street consisted of tall grasses and messy old Phormiums that blocked traffic sightlines, we redid several of the gardens with a smaller palette of hardy plants.

new port garden during Slow Drag

new port garden during Slow Drag in mid-September

Most of our jobs do seem to be about resorts and tourism.  Other than the Port, City of Ilwaco, Long Beach, and Klipsan Beach Cottages we continued to care for the Anchorage Cottages, Andersen’s RV Park, and the Wiegardt Gallery.

Anchorage...

Anchorage…

Andersen's...revamped planters

Andersen’s…

Wiegardt Gallery

Wiegardt Gallery…

At Golden Sands Assisted Living, we expanded into two new areas of the courtyard garden, a completely enclosed space where the residents can sit and admire the flowers.  Not a single deer can get in there.  The biggest challenge is to improve the soil on a budget, and we wheelbarrowed  many a bucket of horse manure (from another job of ours, the Red Barn Arena) carefully through the long carpeted hallway to the interior entry door to the garden.

Golden Sands

Golden Sands, one of four quadrants

I think I will have remembered all of our public garden jobs if I add this photo of the Depot Restaurant (our favourite), where owner Nancy asked us for more colour in 2011.

Depot

colour! at the Depot, mid September

Oh, and bear with me while I boast a little about how great the park in Long Beach by Marsh’s Free Museum looked this year…so much better than a couple of years ago when it had the monstrous big Phormium in the back.

LB park, 27 July

LB park, 27 July

LB Park, 5 October

LB Park, 5 October

Roundabout the autumnal season in the garden, we were gobsmacked to get recognized as Ilwaco Merchant’s Association/Pacific County Economic Development Council 2010 business of the year…not only for our gardening, but for our work on the Discover Ilwaco Facebook page.  We got to ride a bus up to South Bend for an official banquet and award presentation.  Mary Caldwell of our beloved Klipsan Beach Cottages job took the photo that the awards group requested, in front of the KBC greenhouse, with one of my favourite plants of all time, Melianthus major ‘Antenow’s Blue’.

Skyler (Flora) and Allan

Skyler (Flora) and Allan

Next, a peek into the secret world of our private garden clients!

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