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Archive for April, 2012

At the end of April, my old friend Carol and I made a trip down the coast to The Sylvia Beach Hotel. and how glad I was to arrive there after a long absence.  How had almost four years slipped by between visits when it is my favourite place in the world?

Sylvia Beach entrance courtyard

Sylvia Beach entrance courtyard

Usually when I go there with a friend, we stay the first night in the E.B. White room….but not only was that room booked, but it had been redecorated as the new john Steinbeck room.  As before, it’s an excellent room for two friends who want twin beds.

Steinbeck Room

Steinbeck Room

Steinbeck faux window detail

Steinbeck faux window detail

Next time, we do hope to get the Steinbeck room.  It looks comfier than where we stayed on our first night, good old Oscar Wilde room with its crowded single and trundle bed arrangement.  Maybe a little crowded for two adults, but we had a good time, the room journals made excellent reading and I was reminded how on one of my first SBH visits, in 1991 or 2, Robert and I had stayed in that room.  I had put my address and a stamp in the room diary next to the entry of a woman who frequented the SBH, always wrote in the diaries and always brought a teddy bear, and we thus struck up a mail correspondence that lasted for a couple of years.

Oscar Wilde room:  "Either this wallpaper goes or I do" (or something like that)

Oscar Wilde room: “Either this wallpaper goes or I do” (or something like that)

Oscar Wilde room

Oscar Wilde room

Oscar Wilde desk

Oscar Wilde desk

Another room where I had stayed years before had been Edgar Allan Poe…a dark and purposely gloomy room which had recently been replaced by Amy Tan.  Her room was, we were told, not quite finished yet, but in April 2012 it looked this this:

Amy Tan

Amy Tan

If I am correct and she is now where Poe’s raven and pendulum once resided, it’s a remarkable transformation.

Of course, I had to check out every detail of the new JK Rowling room and took photos with my iPhone so I could sent them immediately to my good friend and avid Harry Potter fan, Mary.

JK Rowling room

JK Rowling room

JK Rowling room with broomstick, school ties, sorting hat

JK Rowling room with broomstick, school ties, sorting hat

Rowling room bedstand

Rowling room bedstand

Rowling room bedstand

Rowling room bedstand

Moaning Myrtle

Moaning Myrtle

The bathroom of the Rowling room has a painting of Moaning Myrtle.  I also had to check out the new toilet in the Suess room; it has live fish living in the tank.  I would dearly like to have one of these…The fish tank, that is, not the painting of Moaning Myrtle.

Dr Suess fish tank toilet

Dr Suess fish tank toilet

Shakespeare room

Shakespeare room

Another new room since my last visit was the Shakespeare room, and the previous visit had seen the opening of the Tolkien room.  Something about the new rooms makes me a little sad.  My favourite part of the Sylvia Beach hotel is the room journals, and what happens to the years’ worth of room journals when an author is replaced?  I was told that they are sometimes moved up to the library.   I hoped to find a wealth of journals up there since I intended to spend my portion of the two day stay reading journals, while Carol went out to explore the town.

looking down from the library attic

looking down from the library attic

the best seat in the house

the best seat in the house

I was fortunate to get, for the whole afternoon and into the evening, the best seat in the house, in the library attic by the big, warm, rattling pipes with a view to the north.

attic view

attic view

view at a glance

view at a glance

my view of the attic

my view of the attic

I did not find all the “lost rooms” journals in the library.  Oh, where have they gone?  Did the previous room designers take them home?  It seems a shame to have them unavailable.  But I did find a goodly stack from the EB White room and some strays from Poe.  I will share some of my favourites bits in my next entry.

Mark Twain roomMeanwhile, we had dinner at the Tables of Content, played Two Truths and a Lie (a game which one is encouraged to play at dinner) with a rather self absorbed but interesting couple (maybe they were self absorbed because they were so interesting: retired teachers who had married in midlife and now traveled the world together), and the next night checked into the large and comfy Mark Twain room.

Mark Twain room...big bed with trundle bed

Mark Twain room…big bed with trundle bed

Mark Twain room...a lovely clawfoot tub

Mark Twain room…a lovely clawfoot tub

We couldn’t have the cats in the room this time, but Shelly slept on a chair in the hall right outside the Colette room (also near the door to Mark Twain).  The fluffy orange charmer, Dickens, whom I remembered so well from 2008 had gone to a private home because he had ceased to be an excellent hotel cat.

Shelly

Shelly

From reading the journals in the Twain room, I learned about a charming feature.  You can just see in the above photo, to the left of the fireplace, a little cubby under the window seat.  In it, there is a container where guests leave a little treat for the next guest, and indeed, I did find some chocolate in there (and put a replacement chocolate in when we checked out!).

the Mark Twain cubbyhole

the Mark Twain cubbyhole

That is just one of the good stories I gleaned from the journals.  See next entry….

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On our yearly early spring plant buying road trip we always go to Joy Creek first, then on to Cistus on Sauvie Island.  The first time I went to Cistus I recognized only a small proportion of the plants on offer.  Here is a true collectors’ nursery.  I have heard that Dan Hinkley shops at Cistus.  (True or rumour?  The gardening elite do all know each other.)  Any nursery with so many cutting edge plants is highly educational and I now recognize maybe one third of what owner Sean Hogan sells.  I hope you enjoy perusing the photos of these unusual plants.

3 May 2010

by the parking area

entering the sales room

greenhouse exotica

in the greenhouse

Pseudopanax ferox...had this, but a very tiny one...killed it...just bought a new gallon size in 2012. Looks like it is made of metal.

Rubus lineatus...amazing leaves. Also had it, and it died, and I just bought it again....a familiar theme.

inside the greenhouse

The checkout desk cat

outdoor sales area. The metal chicken is for outdoor barbecue feasts. Note the clear-roofed plant room to the back right; there is one in each corner.

If I wanted this so much that it still haunts me, and did not buy it...I should have. It was not in bloom in 2012 or I surely would have.

display borders

display borders

detail

27 April 2011

the driveway

In 2011 a new path had been opened up to the left of the greenhouse entrance.

beckoning

punctuation

new path

gold...

layered...

...gold

exploring

returning to the greenhouse entrance...to the left, an area which will become another new path...

exotic and boggy plants

boxes of water

I adore this water feature.  In 2011 I acquired from the city of Long Beach two big wooden boxes in which glass had been delivered.  I placed them just like this, sort of offset from each…and filled them with soil and plants.  What was I thinking??

plants of desire

again with the Pseudopanax ferox.

Psuedopanax ferox:  I saw a big specimen when touring with Allan in north Seattle in 2005.  It did indeed look like a metal sculpture.  Later, much later, I acquired a tiny six inch pot of it, so small and slow growing that it got buried by a weed.  In spring of 2011 I found one tough leaf sticking out of that pot, but that particular plant never did put on any size…Thus my gallon, acquired in 2012….Will I succeed with it this time?

in the big greenhouse

one of the regular staff members

Chaenomeles

I did acquire in 2011 this gorgeous Chaenomeles (Japanese flowering quince) and planted it in a rough area in my little woods.  It still survives.  The deep mahogany blooms spoke to me.  I hope it gives me a flower or two in 2012.

blue bottle tree by the parking lot

the 2011 Joy Creek/Cistus haul

I don’t know what was wrong with me that day. I rejected some plants at Cistus cos my new garden has almost too lush soil and ended up with some room left in the car…unheard of.  But I made up for it in 2012….

12 April 2012

The disadvantage to going so early is that the display gardens are not yet showing as spectacularly as just two weeks later, although a Daphne outside the main greenhouse filled the air with intoxicating sweethouse.

sales desk cat

in the greenhouse

another cat

Echium candicans 'Star of Madeira'

I did very much want to buy the Echium but feared that it would simply rot away from moist cold in my garden.  It is so beautiful.  I would have taken a chance if it might have bloomed during the upcoming garden tour.

At Cistus part of the enjoyment is the entertaining plant labeling.  For example, on the Pseuodpanax ferox which I did buy for myself:  “One of those cool dinosaur plants found down Kiwi way that catches the eye and triggers the lust gene in plant geeks and adventurous gardeners. Juvenile leaves are dark brown, long, very narrow, stiff, and saw-toothed, growing downward from a central stem — odd indeed. Slow growing, trees reach 20 ft in 20+ years, only then producing adult foliage, shorter, wider, and green. Sun to dappled or bright shade and regular summer water. Frost hardy in USDA zone 8b in a sheltered location, though even in Portland we keep most of ours in containers and shelter during winter cold.”  You can read all sorts of information like that in their mail order catalog.

I have no budget for the plant tour, and by that I mean I will buy any plant I want for just this one year.  (Uh huh.)  Time will tell whether before July 21st we make another trip inland to feed the frenzied tour-driven plant lust.  I’d like to visit Sheila and Joy Creek/Cistus could very well be on the way….but down Sheila’s way we have Dancing Oaks and Gossler Farms, and my friend Shaz sent me a gift certificate to Ferguson’s Fragrant Nursery with an invitation to visit her near Portland….and our car is simply nowhere near big enough.

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I love our yearly trip to Joy Creek and its neighbour down the road, Cistus Nursery.  Because if you are still slogging through all these garden tours, you are probably also a plant nut, here are scenes from three years of spring shopping trips.  I do remember one glorious year that I was there more than once, and once I even got to take a design workshop there with Lucy Hardiman and Ann Lovejoy.  The Joy Creek schedule of classes would be well worth attending every single spring-autumn weekend were it not for the fact that we live two hours way.

3 May 2010

Agave with the house in background; Oddly I have never taken much to Agave...but it looks wonderful here.

Sambucus 'Sutherland Gold' (??)

Alliums by the small circular lawn

the border we worked on in the Ann & Lucy workshop; It's been redone since then.

gravel path

wind resistant English delphiniums in bud

glorious piles of ingredients

Joy Creek is very big on using quarter-ten washed gravel in the garden beds.

Just Google “Joy Creek gravel” and you will find plenty of information.

They even use it under their small lawn near the house.  If you poke your finger at the grass roots you can feel the gravel base which helps the lawn hold up beautifully to lots of foot traffic.

I love the way the gravel sweeps from the paths right in to mulch the beds.

sunny path

mid spring

Dodecathon?

display gardens go on and on...

and have a variety of metal sculptures...

mixed borders...shrubs, trees, perennials

splash of gold

Dianthus

magestic

27 April 2011


Many plants are tagged; if not, you can show the photo on your phone or camera to the helpful staff to get the ID

Gunnera leaves emerging

Rheum...something...ornamental rhubarb. I had one at my old house...wish I had bought one...

Springtime was LATE in 2011.

Euphorbia backed with gold

If that's a Forsythia, and I think it is, I want to prune mine like that.

textural gravel

more gold

tulips and gravel-based lawn

bright tulips

Pulsatilla

must have....

I was completely smitten with this tree that was sitting on the sold table.  Around and around the table I walked taking photos of the tree.   Took photo of tag on tree: Crataegus Laevigata Contorta …contorted ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ Hawthorn.  Turned out it was the only one…and had been sold to Kathy, one of the nursery workers (or Katie, I wrote it down..somewhere). So she let me buy it, because she can get the next one that comes in. I have Googled it and find the uncontorted version gets to 20′, but this tag says 6′. Wondering if that is true.  We planted it in our front garden, and as it went in the ground I heard the trunk make an ominous crack.  But although it was shocky for awhile, it came through winter of 2011-12 and is leafing out nicely in spring 2012.

12 April 2012

Never have we gone on our spring road trip this early….but I had a nagging desire to shop for the coolest plants ever since having found out a couple of weeks before that our garden had been selected as one of the tour gardens for the Music in the Gardens tour for 2012.  And because we were selected as Ilwaco’s business of the year for 2010….but the ceremony was in autumn of 2011….it seems one of our duties is to be grand marshalls of  the early May  Loyalty Day parade in Ilwaco.  (This is ironic because I often grumbled in the past about the McCarthy-esque origins of Loyalty Day, and being a non-patriot who’s fond of the world and who does not like nationalism….well, I could go on, but it might sound unappreciative of the honour, and I do believe it is an honour.)  Along with that, we have to make Long Beach perfect for its parade day (Ilwaco is Saturday, Long Beach is Sunday) and that’s a longwinded way of explaining why we went to Joy Creek so early, before more tender plants were on offer.

The gardens were rather bare. I like this fencing.

another neat fence barrier

early spring pizzazz

tufts of moss atop a stone fence pillar with garden beyond

Look at the way the white petals have drifted down one side of the tree...

rebar art

The sales area had some wonderful rebar trellises including this fan shaped one.  As some of my friends know, my former co-gardener made exceptional rebar garden art.  I wish I had taken up on his offer to teach me to weld with his oxygen and acetylene (??) torch but I was kinda scared of it.  Kaboom!

A ceramic artist had made birdbaths so beautifully mounted on little tree trunk poles.  I had to have the fish one.  Because we are going to be on the garden tour and need beautiful objects to keep up with all those fancy gardens I’ve toured in the cities.

How could I resist?

She had also made clever birdhouses with the holes sized, we were told, just right for the birds.

birdhouses

I resisted the birdhouses because I had not resisted pretty much any plant that caught my fancy….again with the garden tour excuse.  And our next stop at Cistus would assuredly provide more plant temptations.

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