Archive for Mar, 2017

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

We had wind and a gale all day long (37 mph peak gust).  I finished an excellent book that I had started last night.  I recommend it.  It would make an excellent companion read with Deep South by Paul Theroux.


“A Journey to the Heart of Our Political Divide”

Here’s one passage.  I liked the different words for nostalgia.

After an ecological disaster:



Two quite astonishing Lousiana ecological disasters that you might want to read about are the Bayou Corne Sinkhole and the Lake Peigneur sinkhole of 1980, neither one of which I had heard of before.

While I finished the book and wrote three blog posts, Allan ventured out to the post office and library and returned with enough photos for this third entry written today:


Fritillaria and narcissi at the Ilwaco Post Office

Ilwaco Community Building:





Anemone blanda




tulips under deer attack


anemone blanda and crocus foliage


behind the bus stop


a cold day to wait for the bus




fritillaria meleagris


shady garden


cozy reading area in the library

At about 9 PM, I realized the long post I’d written and (I thought) scheduled about my happy binning day had simply disappeared.  I recreated it (leading to a very late dinner and telly time), and you’ve seen it,  but I swear it was better the first time I wrote it.

We need some good weather.  The work board is filling up with visits that must be made before we can start on the beach approach weeding.


Guest Photo:

From Marilyn’s daughter Nancy (co owner of the Depot Restaurant) comes this photo of Coral, who used to live with Skooter and Marilyn and who has also gone to a happy new home.



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Monday, 27 March 2017

Allan still being slightly under the weather made an excuse to take a pleasant day off.


Allan’s photo. front porch


Smokey flirting (Allan’s photo)



I emerged in the early afternoon and the first thing I noticed was a Stipa gigantea in a water bucket.


I had been looking for this grass since bringing it home from the boatyard garden 8 days ago.  I had verbally declared that Allan must have accidentally thrown it out, so I had to show him my discovery.  “Are you a little bit sorry?” he asked.  Yes, I was.

(The quotation on the water barrel is by Iris Murdoch: ‘People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.’)

Allan found some boards to make fronts for the new compost bins and helped me plunk the heavy pots, taken from the old plastic pond two days ago, into the water boxes.


My mission was to move a few wheelbarrows of debris from the old debris pile to the new bins, even though I should perhaps have been weeding.  The composting was irresistible and I worked on it for four hours.


ignoring a weedy garden


a weedy bed near the debris pile

I unearthed an old rhubarb plant that I’d thrown into the pile last fall.


happy rhubarb


I disturbed at least three big frogs.




I transplanted some hot mustard, which Devery loves, in the former debris pile next to her driveway.

Just as I was trying to finish by picking up the debris around the old pile and spilled along the way from a couple of too-full wheelbarrows (what my grandma called “a lazy man’s load”), a heavy gale and rain came up.  I called to Allan for help and he kindly joined me and did some raking.


the debris pile several days ago


and today

I had filled two bins, leaving the third to turn the first two into.  Google tells me I can do that weekly, if I want to.  I do want to, if I can find the time.


I tried to put the older debris into the center bin.  That idea went all willy nilly when the rain came.





Skooter wanted in.  He hates rain.


Later, we were all dry and happy.

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Sunday, 26 March 2017

More exceptionally wet weather kept me indoors.  Even though I’ve heard of our region being described as the Pacific NorthWET, I feel (without checking statistics) that February and March have been exceptionally rainy.

I took the briefest of walks out into the front garden.


Pieris and flowering plum




needs detailed weeding!


one showy tulip


pleased that my rosa pteracantha has leafed out; I had been worried about it.




Japanese maple


also relieved to see Tetranpanax leafing out after a cold winter


No feline had come outdoors with me.





I applied myself to finishing Thank You for Being Late…


Parts of it were good…

…and then turned to a much shorter book that I’d been looking forward to and that was soon due at the library.


I had read all of Betty’s books, enjoying both her acerbic wit and the Seattle and Vashon Island settings.  (Warning: The Egg and I, her most famous book, published in 1945, has some passages of racism toward the local native tribe that bothered me very much when I read it.  This is addressed in just one page of the biography.)

As I had always suspected, there was a more harrowing truth to the egg farm story than was revealed in Betty’s fictionalized autobiography.

I had started young on Betty’s books, with Mrs. Piggle Wiggle being a favourite of mine in grade school.


I was astonished to read that in the 1930s, Betty lived just three blocks east of where I grew up (6317 15th; I lived at 6309 12th).  I must have walked by the house many times.




Betty’s home, as it was

I was even more astonished to read that the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books might have been an influence on the name I chose in 1994 for my gardening business.


In spring of 1994, I somehow ran across (before I had internet!) a mention of a place in England called “Tangley Cottage”.  I wonder if my memories of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s “tangly garden” is why the name appealed to me so much.

Paula Becker felt compelled to find Betty’s story.  That is just how I felt about Mass Observation diarist Nella Last, and about Gladys Taber’s memoirs.

“Why do some moments in history, some people’s stories, resonate for us more than others?  Perhaps because on some level, our own histories are deeply listening for them.  Listening to the quiet voice saying, Find me.”  —Paula Becker, Looking for Betty McDonald

Someone else that I found more about this week was Samuel Mockbee.  First, he was mentioned in the real estate listing of a hidden garden paradise we recently toured, and then his Rural Studio was mentioned in the great book, Deep South, by Paul Theroux.  Last night, we watched Citizen Architect,  a video about him.  It made me want to be young and a student at the Rural Studio.



As you can see, rainy days are in many ways quite perfect.

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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Much as I longed to go the weekly political postcard party, I did not want any of our friends to get our colds.  By now, Allan’s was worse than mine as it got passed down the chain.

With the first really nice day all week, I decided to explore the potential compost bin area by our greenhouse.



It used to be a raspberry patch that had not done at all well.  Last year, it became an axiliary frog home with a free pond (the sort meant to be dug into the ground) that we had gotten from a friend.

I had started poking at the weeds when Allan emerged and asked if I wanted the pond emptied out.  Why…yes!  (I had carefully checked for frog spawn and found none.)


We set the waterlogged pots of water loving plants to one side to drain out; they are too heavy to lift into the water boxes right now.



One of the water boxes has a leak toward the top.  Having the big pot of water hyacinth in there will hide that problem.


sadly one inch low water box

Many snails had found a home on the bottom of the plastic pond form.


Allan’s photo

Not long after they were deposited into a bucket, the snails embarked upon a daring escape.


Allan took them to the big field out back.


on the way, standing water in the swale (Allan’s photo)

Devery popped over from next door, and when I mentioned that I was going to give away the preform pond, she happily took it to make a planter.  From looking through my grandmother’s old scrap books, I have realized that if I do have a pond sunk into the ground, I would like it to be a simple shape, like these photos that she had cut out from magazines long ago.

Back to the preparation for the compost bins: I was cursing the thick, ropy, hard-to-cut hops roots that coursed throughout the old raspberry patch from the hops and honeysuckle poles at each end.  It was not an easy weeding job.  Allan helped by hacking clumps with the big pick.

Every time I have assembled pallet compost bins before, I’ve tied them together with rope and let them sit there all wonky.  Allan had a different idea.


his tools (and the pick handle)


a trench dug to make the pallets level


proper assembly

With the first bin done, I began to fill it up…an exciting prospect.


newspaper base will help keep roots from coming up


The new bin inspired some clipping

I was startled to learn that we only had four pallets, not the five needed to make two bins.  Allan had dismantled the fifth one to repair the other four’s missing slats.


The project at a momentary standstill

On his errand to pick up the mail, Allan decided to quest for three more pallets.

He saw this down at the Port:


Soon, Allan triumphantly returned to the garden, carrying a pallet, and began to finish the second bin.


In order to continue to use one of the clotheslines for blanket drying, we had to place the bins so that there is only a narrow space between the back and the greenhouse.  I am hoping to reach in with a hoe from each end to get weeds and am aware that it might be a future problem.

The second clothesline will now only work for smalls.

Skooter had emerged to inspect the project and to monitor the frogs in the water boxes.



I had clipped more plant matter in the greenhouse and on the patio to add to my first bin when me legs suddenly seized up, and I had to hobble into the house and have a sit down.  Little did I know that Allan had actually acquired three pallets.  As he stayed out to finish the project, I felt guilty but incapable.  I did not realize he was able to complete the third bin till he showed me the photos.



Eventually, there will be big horizontal boards that slip in along the front to hold the debris in place.


I was well chuffed to have three compost bins, like Mr Tootlepedal.  Later in the evening, I caught up reading the last week of the Tootlepedal blog and was reminded that he has four bins: A, B, C, D.  It has been his compost turning and sifting exploits over the last few years that reminded me how much I do like having proper compost bins.  It’s so satisfying and makes faster compost, something that will be beneficial as we work less and can afford to buy less readymade mulch.

I will be shifting the debris pile from next to Devery’s driveway into the new bins.


the old debris pile, soon to be some sort of garden

It would be fun to have a shared kitchen garden there, but it is outside the deer fence.  Perhaps herbs and flowers.

I look forward to the future filling of the bins and shifting piles from one to the other and then the sifting of the finished product through a screen placed over a wheelbarrow.


My mother sifting compost in 2008, age 83

At my house in Seattle, which was once my grandma’s house, I had two compost areas separated by a narrow concrete path, and  I still remember the pleasure of tossing the partially decomposed clippings from one pile to the other and then sifting finished compost.  As a small child, I dreamt one night that I was one of the wriggling red worms in Gram’s compost pile.  That sounds like a nightmare.  It was not.

At 3 AM, I could not fall asleep because my mind was so busy imagining the collecting and layering of compostable material into my new compost bins.



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                Friday, 24 March 2017

I did not mind the wind and rain because I was still recuperating from a cold. A weather break in the afternoon did inspire a walk through the garden.

Trailing Rosemary by the greenhouse

Reseeded hot mustard. Our neighbour Devery loves these!

The edges and the back lawn were soggy.

Fresh rainwater for Smokey

No campfire anytime soon.

I imagined the satisfaction of pulling the huge shotweeds in the bogsy wood.

I imagined the moss looking prettier with the weed grass gone.

I imagined this bed clipped and weeded.

Physocarpus ‘Dart’s Gold’

Looking north. Allan had mowed between storms.

Leycesteria ‘Jealousy’

Leycesteria ‘Golden Lanterns’. I imagined it deadwooded.

I imagined three pallet compost bins here.

The epimidium’s old leaves should be clipped by now.

New growth on new boxwoods.

White bleeding heart in front garden

Happy to see some sprouts at base of melianthus plus plenty of Anthryscus ‘Raven’s Wing’

Weather bowed tulips

I imagined moving all this debris to three new compost bins.

View from next door of two storm flags at the port.

The rain came back.

Flowering plum

Back inside I went with my only accomplishments imaginary ones.



Started a new book about the modern world.

Allan had a quiet puttering sort of day with just these photos:

His secondary boat was mucky from just sitting.

He wanted it clean so he could park it without shame at the Black Lake Yacht Club, here shown in January.

All spiffed up:

A brief break in the late afternoon rain:

More rain:

And a sunset.

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Thursday, 23 March 2017

I might have tried to work if the weather had been good.  I did not want to go out, feeling poorly, in rain and wind.

When the sun appeared in the mid afternoon, Allan departed for Long Beach to do some weeding and deadheading.


returning a book to the Ilwaco library (Deep Survival, I read it, did not love it)


Long Beach welcome sign


He laid out the deadheads to show me how many there were.


welcome sign


Long Beach city crew putting up banners.


deer-pulled tulips in a planter on one of the main deer intersections (where we no longer plant new tulips)


Narcissi and primrose.  It is hard to get ALL the tatty hesperantha (formerly schizostylis) foliage pulled.


crocuses chomped by deer.  Pretty sure they had flowered first.  Also on one of the main deer intersections (7th South)




deadheads. so glad Allan went to pick them


after, with grape hyacinth


Muscari (grape hyacinth) and lavender


Tulipa sylvestris, one of my favourites


snail damage


Sluggo got applied.


lilies emerging in Fifth Street Park


Muscari, one narcissi, scilla (which I did not plant…it goes back to volunteer days).


by Fifth Street Park



the rain returned


narcissi and rhododendron


more white and blue scilla (which would take over if I let it)


more banners, with Fitz and Parks Manager Mike


in a street tree garden


tulips and crocuses 



By Stormin’ Norman’s. Calocephalus brownii came through the winter.


under a street tree


Allan checked on the Veterans Field gardens:





Meanwhile, at home:


I’ve never seen Skooter and Smokey snuggle up before.  It was Smokey’s idea; he tucked himself in under Skooter’s head.

I had read about Jaywick, a semi-derelict English seaside town recently in A Kingdom By The Sea by Paul Theroux and decided to look at a video about it, which turned into watching several.  I could actually afford a bungalow there.

The longest and most official Jaywick video is here.

From that, instead of reading, I segued into the Bill Bryon Notes from a Small Island series on youtube.  I meant to watch only the first one and ended up watching all of them in my comfy chair. Partway through my watching, Allan returned with a tasty crab roll for me from Captain Bob’s Chowder.

In closing, here is a public service announcement from Steve of the Bayside garden:

There are two upcoming special events which Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden hosts — the “Early Show” and “Mother’s Day” events.    Details on one-sheet, attached.    Both have judged flower shows and plant sales.  Info on rules, etc., on both at:  http://rhodies.org/chapter/pdx_activities_detailed.htm#early a page available at www.rhodies.org, the Portland Chapter’s website.

 It could be a worthwhile day trip for Peninsula people.


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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Not getting home-delivered mail here means a daily trip to the post office.  I was still malingering because of my cold.  Allan went to the Ilwaco Timberland Library as well and photographed the garden there.



It was an especially wet day.



Fritillaria meleagris



At home, Skooter and all the cats slept.


I read a book, just arrived from the library, one I had been looking forward to.


with Calvin


after the yawn


I am sorry to say that the book did not live up to my hopes.  The author wrote about several Mass Observation diarists’ lives but without using enough of their words.

The diarist”Helen” was inspired by my beloved Nella Last, who had three Mass Observation books all in her own words.


Unfortunately, only a few paragraphs of Helen’s own words are in the chapter about her life.  I would like her to get the “Nella Last treatment” with a book all her own.

After starting her adult life as a Tory, she became a “socialist firebrand.”

This reminds me of the recent postcard parties I’ve attended.




In her old age, she went out to Gulf War protests.


I would like to read much more in her own words instead of a few scattered paragraphs.  If only I could spend months at the Mass Observation archives.  I would hope that Helen’s handwriting is more legible than Nella Last’s.

Here’s a guest photo from Todd Wiegardt:


Narcissus ‘Snow Baby’

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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Because of a rather bad case of the sneezes and sniffles, I spent the day in my chair reading an excellent curmudgeonly memoir about a clockwise, three month trip around the coast of England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. 

Certain passages reminded me of life in our own seaside towns, especially since the day was again windy and rainy. 

“Vacationers sitting under a dark sky were waiting for the sun to shine, but the forecast was rain for the next five months. ‘Bracing’ was the northern euphemism for stinging cold and it always justified the sadism in the English seaside taunt, ‘Let’s get some color in those cheeks.’ It was another way of making a freezing wind compensate for the lack of sunshine.”
“I imagined day-trippers getting off the train and taking one look and bursting into tears. But of course most people at Morecambe were enjoying themselves in the drizzle, and the fault was mine, not theirs. This was just another cultural barrier I was incapable of surmounting. 

Nothing is more bewildering to a foreigner then a nation’s pleasures, and I never felt more alien in Britain then when I was watching people enjoying their sort of a seaside vacation.”

A passage near the end describes how the English coast has changed.  Theroux found the Scottish coast to still be wild. 

I was especially fascinated by Jaywick, an English seaside town that has fallen on hard times and looks like it could be a dreamy place if a bunch of artist types, and I don’t mean the gentrification type, moved in. I began looking at seaside bungalows for sale. I’d like this little bungalow, please. With this little garden:

While I sat and dreamed, the rain stopped. Allan (who felt just a bit sickly, not as bad as me) embarked on some errands. I asked for him to gather some photos of narcissi in Long Beach. 

At the Ilwaco library:

At Beachdog in north Long Beach:

and narcissi and more in the Long Beach planters and street tree gardens and pocket parks. 

He did some deadheading. 

A camellia just north of Scoopers:

The carousel has been assembled:

I appreciate seeing all the flowers I might otherwise have missed and, even though the reading day was glorious, I look forward to getting back out there. 

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Monday, 20 March 2017

In honor of the turning of the season, here is my favourite quotation about springtime:

“Every year, back comes spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants.”  Dorothy Parker

Skooter was not enthusiastic about the drizzly, cold weather.


head under the covers (Allan’s photo)

I picked some flowers for an event, and then Allan and I went for our tax appointment with our accountant, Jennifer, whose office is just four blocks west.


Jennifer’s flowers



office assistant Helen

We then delivered two bouquets of flowers to Salt Pub for our dear friend Jenna’s evening event.


There was a new tiny little baby to see!


flowers for Jenna (and, later, for Salt to have)

We went back home because the cold drizzle was supposed to end in half an hour.  Allan became absorbed in “do not pick” signage for the boatyard and I delved into the excellent book I’m reading.


I am loving Mr. Theroux’s trip around the English and Welsh coast.

This reminded me of Mr. Tootlepedal:


Along a branch railway line:


Two most interesting sounding places:


Chesil Bank


Undercliff Walk at Lyme Regis

I googled up some photos of both these areas and even found videos of the Undercliff walk.

This description of tourism in seaside towns certainly reminded me of where I live (even though we love tourists here, and I well remember being one):


Meanwhile, Allan worked on strengthening the pallets that will make the new compost bins.


Allan’s photo

I had to leave my book and Allan his projects when the weather seemed to clear.  We drove to

The Anchorage Cottages.


Our good friend Mitzu

The weather was actually quite miserable, damp, drizzly, with a bitter wind.  We did not last more than an hour.






Center courtyard: not much happening except too many bluebells coming up




narcissi and primroses


hellebores, pulmonaria, and ranunculus




trillium (Allan’s photo)

I cut back some hardy fuchsias, planted three lily bulbs, we did some weeding and could bear no more of the cold and headed back home.

I did not get to take photos of the Long Beach narcissi display….


too cold and miserable to stop

After an interlude at home, we went back out to that event for which I had picked bouquets.

Ilwaco Merchants Association Spring Mixer

Oh, how I had tried to weasel out of going.  Because our dear friends Don and Jenna (Queen La De Da) are heading the group this year, Jenna did not let me escape.


By the time everyone arrived, we had a full house at Salt Pub.


Our Jenna (Allan’s photo)


the view (Allan’s photo)

We discovered that Jenna had a special purpose in wanting us to attend: The merchants presented us with a community recognition of our work, both in the gardens and in taking photos for the Discover Ilwaco Facebook page.


Thank you plaque by Artist Don Nisbett

Raffle prizes were drawn, hors d’oeuvres were served, drinks were downed, and the crowd was happy.


Ponytail: Andi from the Visitors Bureau (ponytail), with Jenna and our Mayor Mike, Don Nisbett in black, and Jane from The English Nursery.

We were so touched by that nice award.  And impressed with the fun and liveliness of the event.  If only the usual Ilwaco Merchants Association meetings weren’t at 8 AM!

Tomorrow: more rain, thunderstorms….I do hope the Long Beach narcissi hold strong till I get some of them photographed and closely appreciated.

P.S. After 9 PM, I suddenly had the sniffles and wheezes. This bodes extra ill for work tomorrow. Almost everyone I know has had The Three Week Cold this winter. I thought I had escaped. Am embarking upon all my home remedies. 

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By which I mean the last spring clean up job of 2017; I hope not the last of our career, as we plan to keep working at least part time for several more years.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

We were pleased to have a good weather day for weeding and clipping the boatyard garden.


before, looking south

Allan cleaned up the small bed just around the corner:


before (Allan’s photos)




weeds and self seeded poppies


and lots of escholtzia (California poppy) seedlings


Allan’s photo


north end of garden, before (Allan’s photos)


and after

Some of the very old woody lavenders needed to go away.  Allan did the digging:








after.  We also trimmed a lot of santolinas.


The last big clumps of Miscanthus inside the fence.



I have forgotten which one this is.  I have learned so many plant names in the last two years that I thought I would remember and don’t.  I need to make a list as I learn them, because my memory does not grab on like it used to.

Edited to add: I found the name.  Not a miscanthus. Pennisetum macrourum. 

The garden still had a few crocuses…


But I had expected there to be daffodils, especially since I had planted about 100 of the same one as is blooming right now in the Long Beach welcome sign.  As I began working in the garden, I realized Every Single Damn One had been PICKED.  Not by deer (which would be unusual because narcissi are poisonous) but by humans.  Each stem was cut down low.  The foliage was not nipped at all like a deer would do.


stolen, every single one!


empty stems

A boat guy said that he had seen “a couple messing around in the garden” earlier that morning.  Or the thievery could have happened over the weekend or late last week.  It must have taken awhile to pick every single flower. So much for creating a great big beautiful show.

It was not a gardener thief, and I know that because I found a number of bulbs pulled out and just left lying on top.  A gardener thief would have considered the bulbs to be extra bounty.


bulb pulled out and left behind

I persisted at the job.  It would have been enjoyable to work among flowers instead of in a garden with only a few crocuses.  About a third of the way along, I thought we would never get it finished today.  By the time we passed the gate and only had about one third left, I thought we would get done after all.  And we did.


looking south from the gate

The new owners of Marilyn’s garden stopped their vehicle to say hello.  They are happy with Dave and Melissa’s spring clean up work at their new home.  I am so glad the garden is in the hands of people who appreciate it.


Passersby did not have much to admire.  I enjoyed when a small family passed, and the dad was reading aloud as he walked.  I thought he said, “When she wanted to have her morning coffee there, she simply lifted him down into the garden.”  I wondered from which story that comes.  Google let me find it!  Pippi Longstocking:



south end, weeded (Allan’s photo)

I took my after photos from the van because I was too sore to walk.



It would look a lot more interesting with 100 narcissi.

We had not put up our polite “do not pick” signs yet.  Allan dropped me off at home and went to dump debris, and on the way back he put up the two signs that were still in good enough condition.  The words “horse” and “barn door” come to mind.  We have caught people picking flowers right smack dab under these signs before.  I do think signage might deter some.




Wouldn’t it look nice if there actually were some flowers to leave?

At home, I was pleased to erase the last spring clean up job from the work board.


Tomorrow, I had been hoping for good weather.  Now the forecast calls for rain.  We need to check up on the Anchorage Cottages garden, and I want to photograph all the narcissi in Long Beach, while they are still there.


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