Archive for Sep, 2018

I had a weekend of pleasant gardening weeding and grooming because of company coming on Monday.  I knew they would view my garden for maybe fifteen minutes and was happy to spend three days making it look pretty much autumn-tour-worthy.

Friday, 21 September 2018

I had debris from work to move through the compost process.  Of course, I found sifting compost from bin one more enticing than beginning my weeding project.  I had high hopes for bin one, because i felt I had not sifted it thoroughly last time I loaded it up.  Sure enough, I was right.

Wheelbarrow number one….

…went into this area.


The second partial wheelbarrow went at the front end of the center bed.

The only compost material that has been in there since May without breaking down at all is this packing material from Digging Dog Nursery.

oddly resistant to the composting process

Allan had begun working on a request of mine, which was to make sort of an awning over the space between greenhouse and shed so I can put some plants there for winter and keep them from frost.

Figuring out the angle is tricky.

The cats enjoyed having us around.



Skooter again

I had a sudden idea when I saw this piece of driftwood that I’d used as corner edging for years.



Allan went off to run errands and I took the opportunity to get into HIS garden and dig out shoots and roots of an annoying running-from-next-door tree.  Some kind of thorny invader.  And I finally planted my back up Azara microphylla ‘Variegata’ which has been in a pot (up-potted, at least) since I got it from Digging Dog.

cleared out all of bad tree behind the big water bowl

When Allan returned, he brought a book that had arrived in the mail.

Unlike my other Marion Cran acquisitions, it had not come from the UK.

Allan had groomed about half of the Ilwaco planters; they did not need watering because of the well timed rain.

He found a rock.

And a botanical piece of trash.

As he watered the Ilwaco fire station garden, a good rain began.

hose water

and then rain water

cosmos at the fire station

Corn ‘Field of Dreams’ with variegated leaves (variegation was more pronounced earlier)

Saturday, 22 September 2018

We had this much lovely rain overnight.

The soil felt so damp that I did not need to water.

I got an early (for me) start on gardening with the realization that my new driftwood planter needed to go into the front garden.

This led to a weeding and clipping frenzy throughout the front garden.  I just wish I had taken before photos!

east bed results

middle front

Under the variegated azara, I fretted over two dwarf conifers I planted in the dark corner back in 2010.  Why did I do that? I tried digging one out but it told me it did not feel like moving today.

bad planting error

Allan shopped for supplies for my greenhouse awning.

one of the sights in Long Beach town

trail to the beach

He returned with lumber and then spent some time working on our utility trailer.  Just as he finished up, this critter came walking by.

We ended the day with a campfire dinner.

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

An almost full moon rose behind the alder trees.

a momentary spooky dark cloud with no silver lining

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Today most of the back garden got a good weeding and tidying.

I suggested to Allan that the beautiful lantern his mother made was hidden by new fern growth in his garden.  He moved it to a showier spot.  His mother loved to garden and was every so skilled at crafts.

He decided to repaint the trim on his shed before adding the greenhouse awning.


after (Allan’s photos)

I got four new salvias planted.  One, not shown below, is ‘Compact White’.

left to right, Bumble Blue, Bumble Berry, and Blue Marvel

The back garden looked quite spiffing in the dusk.

distant colour echo, from canna to Kniphofia ‘Earliest of All’

fire circle; Allan had mowed.

Next year, I will plant white nicotiana to the south of the fire circle, to go along with the three other fire circle beds from which it glowed in the darkness of our Saturday night fire.

danger tree bed

east fire circle bed

I think that tomorrow when guests visit, they will find all our paths enticing.

into the bogsy woods east!

I put my wheelbarrows away by the compost bins, to say “Weeding, what weeding? The garden always looks like this!”

finished up at sunset

Tomorrow: garden touring from Ilwaco to Oysterville and back with Beth and Ketzel.




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Thursday, 20 September 2018

Diane’s garden

We got a view of Diane’s garden that is usually blocked by her horse trailer.

the raised box garden from where the horse trailer usually sits

Allan’s photo

Just deadheading this floriferous garden takes a long work session now.

in the raised box garden before

after (Allan’s photos)

Allan deadheading cosmos and sweet peas along the road

We briefly deadheaded at the Red Barn after Diane’s and did not see Cosmo the barn cat. I hope he is okay.

Long Beach

The baskets are still up at city hall.  I have my eye on them for compost makings.

autumn crocus at city hall

I deadheaded most of the downtown planters, which did not need watering thanks to all our good rain.  Allan got stuck in to digging out the planter by Fifth Street Park where I wanted to say goodbye to a mess of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and BadAster and curly teucrium.

A passerby asked for and was thrilled to get starts of all of those.  She was even happier when I also gave her a start of the pink hesperantha from a park garden nearby.

This garden bed has suddenly become glorious.

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, hesperantha

The pink one is either ‘Viscountess Byng’ or ‘Mrs Hagerty’.

more hesperantha with ‘Super Dorothy’ rose

Zauschneria in a planter

I just read that zauschneria is “Epilobium canum, also known as California fuchsia or Zauschneria, [and] is a species of willowherb in the evening primrose family.”  So saith Google. I find its relation to fireweed (rosebay willowherb) surprising.

A few Allium christophii made it through the summer.

Meanwhile, Allan’s planter project:



He found a painted rock in the planter and set it aside before photographing it. A passerby snagged it and left one of her own behind.

We went to city works to dump our debris, stopping on the way to tidy up the Veterans Field gardens. After dumping, we filled eight buckets from our Soil Energy pile.  When I put the tarp back, I came awfully close to this critter who must have been in a fold of the tarp taking a nap the whole time, till I woke it up.

a big one

I wish I could have caught it and taken it to my garden to eat slugs.

big and fast and annoyed (Allan’s photos)

Back at the planter, eight buckets was not quite enough.

will add more later (Allan’s photos)

The planter on August 13th and today:

I feel you can now see Captain Bob’s Chowder, a favourite lunch spot of ours, more clearly (to the left of Marsh’s).

The big lavender has to stay because it’s all mixed up with the metal tower thingie. A smaller lavender on the other side got cut back so that its flowers would not wilt over the weekend.  I gave the lovely bouquet of lavender to Cathy at Captain Bob’s Chowder.

Shelburne Hotel

We watered the garden so that we would not have to worry about it during our long weekend.  Allan checked the upstairs pots and found them dry.  The rather silly dahlia survived our pot re-do of Tuesday without wilting.

Dahlia will go in the garden later (Allan’s photo)

guests with garden questions

The sweet peas are mostly looking tatty now.  I will remove them soon but cannot bear to yet.

still flowering and fragrant

not very nice in the middle

I spent awhile picking and clipping off hops leaves and stems with sooty mildew.

not nice at all

I had hoped for time to tidy the Ilwaco planters and perhaps water them.  The hops problem took up all that time.  Allan will check on those planters tomorrow.  Other than that we are now embarking on a long weekend, with the blissful news that tonight, when Allan checked the Medicare website, he found he has indeed been reinstated.

And the work board got an erasure.

getting shorter till I add more tasks




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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

I wanted to begin to work our way through the new projects on the work board.

The Depot Restaurant

Chef Michael had requested that we prune a big rhododendron.  I won’t just hack away at something to make it smaller.  We started with the idea of just keeping it from touching the eaves of the house next to the Depot that has the restaurant office.



A look inside the branches showed lots of old trash on the ground underneath and much dead wood inside.  While Allan pruned along the back and got the shrub off of the house, I started going in from the lower front and sides.



before and after (Allan’s photos)

I debated at length about whether to remove the one big old branch that is coming forward, down low.  Because I was so indecisive, it got left for now.  Cutting it would have made a more tree-like shape with perhaps less character.

after; lots of dead wood came out

Allan’s photo; Would you cut that curving branch?

This is not the best time to prune rhododendrons.  It should be done right after flowering before next year’s flowers have formed.  We lost a lot of flower buds doing it now. I can see how after next year’s bloom, we can make the rhododendron smaller and still shapely.

With a trailer load heaped with a debris, we went to the local dump.

Allan’s photo

I had the intention of following the offload by working at the Red Barn and Diane’s, till a considerable rain began.

dump view

The rain increased.  Instead of working in it, we headed north for an errand. On the way, we visited

The Cranberry Museum

on Pioneer Road.  (You’d think the Cranberry Research Station would be on Cranberry Road, further north, but it is not.)

Allan’s photo

I was looking for a birthday present for Mary of KBC.  It was something that the museum no longer had in its gift shop.

tightly clipped Vaccinium ovatum (evergreen huckleberry).

Allan’s photo

When I started gardening for a living here in 1994, one of my first jobs was pruning the huckleberry hedges at the Cranberry Research Station.

the bogs at the Cranberry Research Station

We continued on with our errand.

The Planter Box

Several bags of mulch were acquired, plants were admired, and a good talk was had with Planter Box owner Teresa.

autumnal foliage

autumnal cabbages

and kale

and chrysanthemums

This jungle bench is unusual.

With bags of mulch loaded, we put off Diane’s garden till tomorrow and headed south.

The Shelburne Hotel

I briefly checked the Cosmos ‘Xanthos’ that I had moved from an upstairs pot down into the garden yesterday.

It will provide some pale color (right) for awhile longer.

a new flush of sweet peas

Sanguisorba ‘Pink Elephant’ and one of the giant non blooming cosmos

Port of Ilwaco

The rain stopped and gave us a good evening to weed and mulch the Time Enough Books curbside garden.  (All the rest of the photos are Allan’s.)

This bed originally came with the wild beach strawberry.  I was heartily sick of the way it swamped everything else.  And this bed does not thrive even though I have given it much attention for years.  It was time for a do-over.


mulching with Harvest Supreme

after (will be removing more strawberry in the future)


the other side, before


While Allan went off to dump the debris, I messed around with some rocks.  I have the idea of making a crevice garden here if I can find enough long rocks.

so far that’s all I got…

I also messed around with some river rock.  I have an idea of a diagonal crevice garden and another diagonal river rock garden.  The river rock one started with the planting today of a Leptospermum rupestre that Evan Bean gave me. Xera Plants says “Stems follow contours as they grow, good surrounding rocks and down walls.”  So I had found a big rock to plant it by and then just had to play with others.  This garden bed used to be a tightly packed almost concrete-like river rock xeriscape so there are plenty of river rocks to be had.

The tiny leptospermum is in the middle. (looking south)

Some more rain will clean it up. (Looking north)

It reminded me of playing with tiny round rocks under the gutter when I was a child, and the results look like a child did it.  This did not help my chronic Imposter Syndrome.

But I had fun while I was doing it.  After we cleaned up around the edges, it was almost dark.

At home, I erased two tasks from the work board.

What’s left

When Allan got online, he checked his bank account and found that Medicare had cashed his big catch-up cheque.  This has to be a good sign.  They would not take his money for nothing, so we are sure he is reinstated.  I think the woman from the local office DID make a phone call to help us.  What an enormous relief.  I slept better than I had in the past two weeks.





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18 Sept: a quest

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Yesterday, we had learned that our local insurance agent could not help us in our quest to get Allan back on Medicare.  (He had asked after almost two weeks of trying to fix the problem himself.) The anxiety about him being uninsured has plagued me every day and night since September 6th when we found out he’d been dropped.  His many phone calls and emails and his sending of a large check to the powers that be had so far had no results.  We were advised by our friend and agent to go to the social security office in person, over in Astoria, even though Allan had been told on the phone that they could not help.

The Ilwaco post office as we began our drive.

After a harrowing (for me) trip with a truck stopping right in front of us on the hill leaving Ilwaco, then the long bridge, and then a wrong turn resulting in a drive on a steep hillside road that I swore to never go on again after visiting a garden there years ago, we made it to the office, only to be told that they could not help.  The nice woman at the desk said it might take two months for the reinstatement decision to be made, and if he got rejected, it could take till next July to get reinsured.  I made her repeat that. Surely she did not mean July.  She did.  I asked her if she had ever seen before the payment mistake that Allan had made.  “All the time!” she said, which made us feel better in a way.

We had both been imagining a sit down in a comfortable office and the Astoria office calling the national office and getting it sorted, rather than standing at the front desk window and getting nowhere.  We were most disappointed.

Since we were over there, we went shopping to see what flower bulbs were at Costco and Fred Meyer (oh, and groceries and cat food).  The bulb selection was poor this year compared to others.  At Fred’s, I saw Halloween cat decor that tempted me till I saw the price of $70 each for the large ones.

I also examined two large gold metal spiders that would have been grand.  Buy one, get one free! But imagining catastrophic medical bills while uninsured, I did not dare fritter away money on Halloween fripperies. (It is a VERY big holiday in Ilwaco and we like to decorate well for our 500 trick or treaters.)  I pictured myself finding a round piece of wood and attaching sticks for spider legs.  Sort of a Blair Witch poverty project.  But I am not very crafty.

On the way back over the bridge, I questioned aloud why “they” make it so hard to get back on Medicare after making an ignorant mistake.  I burst into a brief and intense moment of tears with, “Don’t they WANT people to be insured? What do they want to happen to us?”  I have talked with people who have lost their homes because of medical bills.  A former client in Seaview who had a house (with every cupboard and counter designed for her height) and a beautiful double lot whose garden I cared for lost everything when she needed expensive back surgery.

We had passed two homeless men with a cardboard begging sign on the way to the Astoria office and I had pictured me and Allan in their place.  This is a common fear among our working class friends and acquaintances.  It shouldn’t be.  For our overseas readers who have the National Health Service, here it works like this: When people of moderate to low income retire and are living on social security of maybe $1000 a month, about $175 is automatically deducted for Medicare, and then one must also purchase another $200-ish worth of insurance to fill in the large gaps that basic Medicare coverage lacks.  That doesn’t leave much for household expenses and food. Oh, for the National Health Service!

Back on the peninsula, we went to work for the afternoon.

The Shelburne Hotel

I was concerned that more cosmos might have broken and flopped after the weekend’s rain.  The garden looked fine; we had time for some basic weeding and to re-do two pots on the room four deck, as I had hoped.

One pot had a rose which, although it had earlier produced one beautiful pale pink flower, was riddled with black spot.  I had intended to plant it in the lower garden till I saw how diseased it was.  I did not want its tendency to spread to all the garden roses here and so out it went.

after cutting it back, before working it out of the pot (Allan’s photo)

pot, newly planted, up on the room four deck (Allan’s photo)

The grass in that pot is fiber optic grass, appropriate for a hotel which, with all its history as the oldest continuously operating hotel in Washington State,  now has a sleeker and more modern and cleaner look inside.

I pulled Cosmos ‘Xanthos’ out of another pot on that deck.  It needs too much deadheading for a pot we cannot get to when the room is occupied.  The dahlia will go down in the garden but for now, it stays because it told me that it didn’t want to move today.

replaced the cosmos with a curry plant and added some trailing fuchsia and other little starts from my garden (Allan’s photo)

I poked in a few other little starts of this and that in one of the nandina pots on the hallway deck.

The garden below, after weeding and fluffing and deadheading the sweet peas on the picket fence:

looking north

We needed comfort and so we had a pub dinner. While I am frugal to the extreme about some things, I intend to enjoy good dinners at our favourite places while I still have the ability to do so, and we support the businesses that support us.

salad with fried chicken and a bowl of vegan nachos

that amazing cream cheese tart with blackberry

tiramisu (Allan’s photo)


At home, I began the fourth of Marion Cran’s gardening memoirs.  I know from reading about her that she lost her second garden for several years because of financial and health woes.  That tale will be told in her last book, Hagar’s Garden.

The caption under the frontispiece says “I don’t care.  I have secrets.” What a fascinating woman.  In the introduction, she quotes Rabindranath Tagore’s thoughts about humans and animals:

Marion’s very old 1320 house, rebuilt from ruin:

I like her thoughts about possessions.

Tonight felt like autumn and I put on my favourite long black sweater with its raggedy sleeves.

Clothing is one of my frugalities. I will wear this out in public, even though I am years older than when I dressed in punk rock rags.  I don’t care; I have secrets.







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Monday, 17 September 2018

We are having a few easier weeks before fall clean up kicks in.  I have started the work list for the fall:

Frosty expressed his joy that I’d be spending the day in the garden with him.

Skooter doesn’t get all that excited.

I looked at the hebe which is increasingly blocking our path to the back yard.

I had been planning to leave it till after we had garden company the following Monday.  However, I found myself wielding the loppers today.

I have mixed feelings. Now it would be nice to have a more attractive rain barrel (or at least a level one).  It amuses me to see howthe hebe broke out of a wooden pot that I had set there in autumn of 2010, never planning for the hebe to be there permanently.

(Update: Allan noticed that on rainy days, Skooter now likes to lie under this hebe to stay dry.  I don’t think he would have fit before.)

I then managed to get some ladies in waiting planted.

Epimedium ‘Starlet’

Sarcococca ‘Dragon Gate’

I think I got this one from Dan Hinkley at the Hardy Plant Study Weekend.

I had two new billardias to plant, both purchased from Dan Hinkley back in June.

I planted one in the sun, contrary to advice, and then thought better of it and moved it to part shade.  I don’t want to follow my mom’s example; she used to say she planted plants where she wanted them, regardless of what they wanted, and if they died, so be it.

In the process of replanting, I got the tags mixed up so I don’t know which is where at the moment.

next to the front gate, to the left

My original plan was to have one on each side of the gate.  But to the left, below, I had planted in full sun.

So that one went off to a shady area in the back garden.

Quite possibly ‘Wills Track’ is now planted under the big rose arbor in back garden.

With daylight waning, I returned to reading Marion Cran.

As her third memoir begins, her husband had left her for ““one less belligerent, an alien beggar maid much younger and nicer-looking than this old wife”, and when the lease ran out on the garden and home she’d written about in her first two books, she had to find a new abode and start a new garden.  Even though her new home was ancient in structure and in terrible disrepair, I think the title has a double meaning.

I do love her so.

My favourite garden writers are the ones who lift that veil and let the garden book also reveal their lives.  Monty Don does this and so does Kate Llewellyn.

I finished the book and then caught up on the daily August entries of the Tootlepedal blog.  His blog is what inspired me to write every day.

Frosty, me and Mr T.

With a big stack of books to read still on the table and 20 suspended holds at the library, and with several blogs by others to catch up on, I am longing for bulb time and fall clean up to be over and staycation to begin.  Two and a bit more months of work stand between me and two months of reading time.




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Sunday, 16 September 2018

Sarah of the hilltop cottage had invited us to a party given by friends and former neighbours of hers.  We knew it would be pleasant to visit anyone she likes, so despite my usual non-party mode, we decided to go.

I went into our garden to pick some flowers.  My Lumix pocketcam is doing the oddest thing and randomly taking photos on its own when it is turned on.  So it got this:

Frosty went right with me.

It is not set on burst or multiple photos…such a mystery.  Click, click, utterly randomly timed click.

We’d had this much rain since yesterday:

a substantial amount, somewhat of a muddled rain gauge with weeds and buckets

I went into the greenhouse to pick some tomatoes on my last plant and had to move a spider to get in.  She had started her web again by the time I had the tomatoes picked.

upper right-ish, creating a web in the doorway

I am always in a rush when going out and I don’t pick a good backdrop for a bouquet photo.

Sanguisorbas ‘Korean Snow’ and ‘Pink Elephant’ are the stars.

And off we went.

The sign at the party location had a meaning that went right over my head.

As soon as we arrived at the little brown cottage where the party was held, Sarah appeared and also someone I fell in love with immediately: Bismarck, a huge and adorable Newfoundland.

Sarah, me, Bismarck and Mabel. (Marty’s photo)

Allan’s photo

A random camera click caught our host, Marty, in a welcoming pose.

There was also a kitty.

And another sweet dog, Lefty, so named because that is the paw she lifts to shake.


I was smitten with the little pond by the garage.  It is made from a swoopy shaped plastic pond just like the one I gave away because I could not figure out how to make it look natural.

I clearly did not try hard enough.

near the pond

Our hosts Marty and Bob had provided delicious burgers and sides for party food.  Because the weather had been predicted to be rainy, we dined at two tables in the tropically decorated garage with the big door open.

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Bismarck and Bob

I learned that Bismarck is ten and has been part of the household since a few months old.

Allan’s photo

Bismarck’s post-lunch nap

Allan’s photo, me being the life of the party (not)

During after-lunch chatter, I learned that several guests were Sherlock Holmesians and had been attending a Holmes convention in Astoria, had walked around Astoria in costume and that the Andaman Island Resort sign refers to a Holmes story, The Sign of the Four.

I have to confess that I never managed to read all of Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories.  I have loved various incarnation of Holmes on telly, my favourite being Jeremy Brett.

And Tom Baker, my favourite Doctor.

After some literary conversation (with me just listening), I went out to take a turn around the garden.

in a cottage window

Bob likes trees.

In the back yard, Bob built an impressive walkway and stairs going down the steep hill.

Allan’s photo

My nutty camera caught my hesitation.

a pond in progress at the lower level

Bob’s plan is to have a waterfall going down next to the stairs.

road to the beach

The beach is just down there.

I returned to the party and Allan set off to see the boardwalk and stairs. He was impressed with the construction

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

During the talk about costuming and Sherlock Holmes, we had been shown a whole shelf of boxes labeled “costumes”.  I had a feeling that Marty and Bob might enjoy Halloween in Ilwaco so invited them to our second annual party, hosted by Tony and Scott at our house, saying they would not have to dress in costume.  Marty’s funny response was something like try to KEEP her from dressing up in a costume.  I do hope they come.

On the way home, we drove by the port gardens so I could assess their condition.  A new sailboat had appeared in the boatyard, perfect for sailing off to Andaman Island.

For the rest of the day, I journeyed into the past with the third memoir/garden book by Marion Cran, The Story of My Ruin.

Marion on creativity in the garden (written in 1924; she knew plenty of women gardeners):



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In the effort to catch up in book reports, I will begin with the book I recently finished.  (This means I have skipped over the two Morville books by Katherine Swift; I hope to catch up on book reporting later this autumn.)

The Prickotty Bush by Montague Don

Those who have read Monty and Sarah Don’s The Jewel Garden know that they loved and lost a garden due to financial woes, long before Monty was the famous garden show presenter that he now is.

I read The Prickotty Bush, the story of that garden, slowly over a few weeks of this exhauting, rain-free summer, just a few pages before bedtime.

Its somber cover goes along with the somber subject of a garden under siege by the bank and an obsessed man trying to make a garden as quickly as possible.

Here are some of my favourite bits:

On the imposition of order by pruning:

Also known as Something Shiny Syndrome:

The bullying wind:

On doing it all oneself:

Interestingly, in one of the next books I read, Marion Cran wrote about the same thing.

Below, I identify with Montagu’s urgency.  I felt, at age 55, when I started the Lake Street garden, that I had to get it laid out the first winter during a two month staycation, no matter what the weather.

30 December 2010, gardening in ice-crusted soil

On time in the garden (shared because I love what he says about human aging):

On how to look at your garden:

On garden design:

On plant names:

Friday, 14 September 2018

Frosty rejoiced that I had the day at home.

He was vocal about it.

Rain gauges from last night:

Even the slowest filling rain barrel was almost full:

I think I might need to remove a hebe.  I set it in the spot below, in a wooden planter, and it has rooted into the ground, broken the planter apart, and is about to block our path.  It pulls debris out of the wheelbarrow when I pass by. And yet it is so grand.

From my window I had seen an exciting glow:

Kniphofia ‘Earliest of All’

I had tried in late winter to divide it and transplant some to the center bed.  So far, this is all the transplants have done after many months:


My goal today was to deal with the basket plantings brought home from Long Beach.

In bin two, I had a pile of all green debris on top of brown.  I wanted to layer them, green and brown, into bin four.

Four hours later:

I got just this much compost from bin 2, which had not had much time to decompose since the last time I turned it.

Because I feel anxious about the financial aspect of retirement, I rejoice in any compost that I can make instead of buying mulch.  It’s good practice for more frugal years. Compost turning and sifting is an activity that relaxes and pleases me ever so much.

After a couple of rains, the rest of the basket root balls will be easier to break apart.

I wish I had a before photo of where Allan helped me dig out a big orangey grass that had seeded into the front of the east bed.  I needed some room for other plants, and have many others of this grass that I originally got from Pam Fleming’s former nursery.

left, some of the many that are left; right, a new empty space (not for long)

Salvia africana-lutea and an matching spider

Saturday, 15 September 2018

At last, I had a glorious rainy reading day, all Marion Cran.

First, I went through my book marks in her first book, which I finished two nights ago,  to photograph my favourite bits to share in a later post.

When I first opened my used English edition of The Garden of Ignorance, I found these inside:

All the way from Old Blighty, perhaps; there is nothing on the back of the picture.

Today I read all of The Garden of Experience and more than half of the third book of her autobiographical series, The Story of My Ruin.  She will get more than one of a series of blog posts when I have time to write more about the summer’s reading.

Here is just one excerpt that echoes Monty Don’s words about having to make one’s garden all by oneself.  In Cran’s world of the 1920s, that meant with the help of a gardener, but the garden owner also knew where every plant was and did much of the work herself.

I hope to offer you many more shared thoughts about Marion later this year.  Meanwhile, I enjoyed the endpiece to The Garden of Ignorance:




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Thursday, 13 September 2018

Note how long the bouquet of liatris from Steve and John has lasted on our kitchen windowsill.


We began the day by planting a red phygelius start at the fire station garden.

our volunteer garden at the Ilwaco Fire Station

Phygelius ‘Cherry Red’ start from the Depot Restaurant garden

The garden has one very late night blooming stock.  I doubt if anyone walks by to smell it at night, and it probably does not emit its fragrance on cool autumnal evenings.

Matthiola longipetala

In the book I am reading, The Garden of Ignorance by Marion Cran, she describes this wonderful plant.  (Much more on Marion when I have time to write about my summer reading, and many thanks to Anne Wareham for recommending her!)

A light rain began as we left the fire station.  I checked Dark Sky, which promised it would be gone in an hour.  We would run errands first and then work.

more rain as we left Ilwaco

On a leisurely back road drive to the bank, I took the opportunity to photograph two cute cottages.

The No See Sea sign has been on this cottage since I came here on vacation on 1991.

I love the cottage names and wish I had photographed them all over the years.  One I especially wish I had photographed before it was gone was “Cape Nodinauf” in Seaview.

still raining while parked at the Bank of the Pacific

By the way, here is the new landscaping at the bank, replacing some conifers that I quite liked.  It was done by an outfit out of Oregon called Greensmith.


After the bank, we returned south to the Shelburne and went into the pub to wait out the rain over tea, coffee, and cream cheese tarts with blackberries.

Shelburne Hotel

looking through the window, wondering if the sky was getting lighter

With our tea time over, it had been well over the hour of rain predicted by Dark Sky.  The view out the front door as we prepared to work:

in the garden (Allan’s photo)

Rain or not, I had two brief tasks in mind: take down one more towering non blooming (dangity blang) cosmos in front and check on the bean plants in the back garden.


trying to decide if big cosmos that had flopped forward but had flowers should go or not

after; now I wish I had done this weeks ago.

As for just doing one thing… once I started, I could not stop.  Fortunately, the rain did stop or the job would have gotten quite muddy and messy.

mostly good cosmos with one dangity blang one

I disturbed a frog.

And another frog showed Allan some bindweed.

Things to be dealt with later: a dahlia emerging through a santolina (they must be separated) and peonies that are planted so deeply that they will not bloom.

In the back garden, I decided that even though one of the two Sunset runner beans is getting quite sparse, it is still interesting to view from the deck of a ground floor room.

Allan’s photo, before picking yellow leaves

We made a brief stop at the Depot to examine and discuss a rhododendron that Chef Michael wants pruned (not the right time of year for preserving flowers, but we will get it off the eaves of the building):

The house next door to the restaurant houses the office. (Allan’s photo)

We had recently heard that the Sou’wester, just west of the Depot, has a new gardener, so I suggested we go have a look.

Just south of the Sou’wester, this once was Marge Horner’s house; I used to mow the lawn.

Sou’wester Lodge 

Vintage trailers (caravans) for nightly rentals.

I planted that pampas grass in 1993, because I did not know any better. It was my Garden of Ignorance!

As we walked into the grounds, a woman left her truck and came up and asked if I was Skyler.  Are you Cecily? I asked, and she was.  I had remembered the name of the new gardener because of The Importance of Being Earnest.  How very fortuitous that she was there so that we could walk around the grounds together.  The conversation was so interesting that I forgot to take many photos.

with Cecily

a newly developing native plant garden by the road

In 1993, I had gardened at the Sou’wester.  As you can see from the photos in that link, I made more of an “English Cottage Garden” there, whereas the new garden is more Native Northwestern.

by cabin 10; I brought the Geranium ‘A.T. johnson’ down from my garden in Seattle (more “garden of ignorance’ because it is so pushy, here it still is).

I planted this from Heronswood Nursery in 1993. cannot remember what it is, am asking the Plant Idents group.


Photo not close enough for an exact ID, but it is an Olearia.

along the front of the lodge now

and from above in 1993

by The African Queen trailer (a very cool three level trailer)

I told Cecily that lo those 25 years ago, I had African Queen lilies and an African Queen buddleia in this bed.  I probably also planted the Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, and a willow had since pushed out the buddleia.

one of Cecily’s containers with deer ferns and evergreen huckleberry

Art Gallery trailer

There is a phone booth on the property.

photo courtesy Sou’wester Lodge

Allan could not resist seeing if there was a dial tone.  This is what he heard.

After our walk around tour with Cecily, we had more work to do.

Port of Ilwaco

I had told Allan we had just a couple of things to do between the port office and the west end gardens, just fluffing up some Slow Drag damage.  Of course, once I got started, I found much more, just as he had said would happen.

We cannot redo the port office garden yet because more work might be done on the building.

The deck that used to be on the upper level is not coming back.

new windows, empty garden

Brainstorm: They should have a deck where the garden used to be, for break-time sitting on nice days.

high tide, looking west

looking east

a long drift of Aster douglasii

I was thrilled that Allan agreed to weed the Captain’s Quarters river rock strip.  If he is not successful at getting the little grasses permanently out, I will pass this job on to someone else next year (I have no idea who), because weeding rocks is not my joy.


after (Allan’s photos)

(Update a week later; his weeding job held up much better than mine.)

I remembered that I had been waiting till after Slow Drag to clean up the little bed by the Don Nisbett Art Gallery sign.  It had been driven over once (by the builders, I suppose) and had been somewhat trampled during Slow Drag.

The grass weeds and birdsfoot trefoil had gotten away from us in here.

after considerable hard work

While repairing the minimal damage to the western garden beds, I remembered that a friend had admired this santolina at Time Enough Books…

the wildly sprawling one that I forgot to clip

…more than the nicely clipped ones:

We got home an hour before dark.

greeted by Skooter

We now have four days off, thanks to the time saved by a good rain and not having to water.


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Wednesday, 12 Sept 2018

Fall clean up actually started at KBC yesterday.

For a brief and tempting breakfast time this mid-morning, I thought we might have the day off.  Dark Sky app suggested rain through the afternoon—reading time! joy!—and then it changed to no rain after noon.  So by noon, we were off to work.

Passersby kept telling me it was going to rain any minute.  It did not.  We have a pretty good feeling for weather, especially if the sky is light around the edges.

The Depot Restaurant

Deadheading only! No watering! I hope this trend continues.

We drove over to the east side of the highway in Seaview to drop off a good Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ at Sarah’s cottage.  (We have two Sarah friends now; I will start saying Seaview Sarah for this one.)  On the way, I photographed a Seaview garden that I like very much.

tantalizing entryway

from my passenger window

Long Beach

Now that darkness comes at 7:30, I removed the cosmos that were blocking the lights at the welcome sign.  As I am sure you know by now, the darn plants were not blooming anyway.  When we planted them, the lights had been stolen and were capped off and I did not think they were going to be replaced.

We then parked downtown and, while Allan focused intensively in the area by Fifth Street Park, I walked four and a half blocks of planters, clipping back many plants that I had left past their prime to help protect the planters from Rod Run planter sitters.

Allan getting started at my request that he pull all the beach strawberries out of a tree garden; they were smothering other plants.

Allan’s tree and park project photos:



cutting back lady’s mantle before


I think the alchemilla should have been cut back that hard during the shearing after the flowers went brown.

Allan also dug several big clumps of columbine out of a planter for me.

horrible aquilegia foliage (Allan’s photo)

I did not plant the columbines.  They have been in three of the planters since volunteer days. After making the mistake of getting soft on removing them, I cut the foliage back hard after the flowers bloom. It comes back fresh and clean and then gets columbine leaf miner again.  (“Insecticides are of little help in controlling columbine leafminers and may do more harm than good by eliminating existing natural enemies. The practical control is to ignore them…”) I cut the ugly foliage again, it comes back nice…and back comes the leaf miner.  No more columbines in the planters!  (I’ve said this before.  I mean it this time!)

One of the most tatty looking batches of California poppies was at the Fifth Street intersection.



Although there was a fair amount of this sort of smashing in the corners of the planters…

….I think my thick foliage strategy had paid off, just as it did last year.

Where California poppies still look fresh and happy, like in this planter….

…I will leave them for awhile longer.

I am also leaving the Geranium ‘Rozanne’ trailing, even if it looks sort of tired, as long as there is some blue.

In the NE quadrant of Fifth Street Park, the BadAster reigns right now.  Nature wins.

Aster douglasii and lots of it

The BadAster in my garden, too, in one area.  And at the Shelburne.  (I had pulled a lot of it there and was hoping for a better aster.  It is the same old BadAster, unfortunately.)

Fifth Street Park, NW, where Allan did a lot of good weeding:

more BadAster

The high up light post baskets have been taken down. The lower ones by the restroom, gazebo, and police station are still up and blooming.

While I trimmed up planters in the two south blocks (where only three needed attention), Allan took Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ out from under a tree, as I had done with two trees at the north end.  Usually I leave it a month longer just for some interest.  This year, the leaves looked rusty.



We had a large load of debris to dump at City Works, where I scored all the rest of the hanging baskets! (Not the baskets themselves; those go back to the Basket Case.)  Last year, I only got half of them before the rest got buried.

Got ’em ALL for my compost this year.

This is clean compost makings, no weeds or disease.  It is not organic compost makings because these were fertilized all summer with Miracle Gro.  So if I had a certified organic farm, I could not use this stuff to make mulch.

The pond behind city works is almost completely dry because of drought.

When I read the local paper, I was glad that we had not been in Long Beach for the Rod Run event.  (Slow Drag is a different and happy story.)

The Shelburne Hotel and Pub

I had generously brought a half bucket of my own soil to fill up a hole where Allan had dug a clump of rampant Spirea douglassi out yesterday.  Gardeners will know it is the utmost generosity to give up precious soil.

looking north

Violas are putting on a second show.

We decided to have a work reward dinner at the pub, and we each had the chopped salad topped with their delicious fried chicken.

The pub was almost full, I was glad to see.  It seemed many locals had reemerged now that tourist season is over.  (The wisest tourists come in late September and into October, a beautiful and quiet time here.) We had a corner table behind the bar.

view of the enclosed bar space

The food was so satisfying that we decided to put off dessert till a late lunchtime tomorrow, after we do some more Shelburne garden tidying.  Allan must try that cream cheese tart with blackberries.

Must decide tomorrow whether or not to give up on more cosmos.

By dark, we managed to get all the hanging basket stuff unloaded and dumped back by the compost pile to be processed on my next day off.

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Tuesday, 11 Sept 2018

It had rained some overnight.  If the Long Beach planters were damp enough to not need watering today, our schedule would change.

a different angle on the post office garden

We dropped off a composter at the Shelburne Hotel for Chef Casey to use.

behind the kitchen, not part of the garden!

Long Beach

We parked twice so I could poke at two planters.  Yay, we can skip watering till at least tomorrow. The planters mostly did not look terribly sat upon from Rod Run weekend, although I did see some that looked squashed along the edge.

We picked up our cheque at city hall and tidied the garden a bit.

north side: salmon pink hesperantha, undesirable volunteer orange montbretia is getting a temporary pass.

city hall, west side

looking west down the Bolstad approach

After a bank run to deposit cheques, we dumped debris—and picked up six of the innards (root ball and plants) of the hanging baskets at the city works dump.  I look forward each year to getting them for good compost makings.

Because of not having to water, we would do Wednesday’s route today, except for the Depot Restaurant.

Diane’s garden

After light deadheading at the Red Barn, we deadheaded at Diane’s. (No Cosmo the barn cat at the Red Barn today….I hope he is ok.)

I did the roadside garden:

Allan did the raised box garden.

Allan’s photo, pre deadheading

Allan’s photo

cosmos, allium seedhead

statice and cosmos

Klipsan Beach Cottages

We are doing KBC every other week now.  Thus we had an hour and forty five minutes of tidying to do, more worth the long drive than just an hour.  It is time to begin the very gradual cutting down of the garden.  (I’d leave mine totally wild all winter, except that I want room to mulch.  Tourist gardens get made tidy and rather sparse for winter.)

birdbath view


Lonicera japonica ‘Aureo-reticulata’ and Hydrangea ‘Izu No Hana’

Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Steroidal Giant’ and offspring

Although Allan disagreed, I insisted that the big lower leaf was yellowing and had to be clipped.

Hamamelis leaves are turning.

hamamelis and Miscanthus ‘Gold Bar’

black currants

rose, hesperantha, Japanese anemone

autumn crocus

before pulling aged Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

and after (Allan’s photo)

We finished the job in a drenching and welcome rain.

KBC guest on motorcycles glad to arrive (Allan’s photo)

As we drove home, it was only 4 PM and seemed to early to quit, so I suggested we check up on the

Shelburne Hotel.

I was glad we did because I found a bit of a cosmos catastrophe.  Since I was there for lunch yesterday with Our Kathleen, either from something romping through the garden or maybe some strong rain, several big stems of the tall cosmos that are just starting to bloom had snapped off and were lying all cattywampus.  I did considerable clipping.  As for photos, I have one looking north from last Friday:

looking north

and one from after I clipped and hauled today:

A big one to the right is totally gone because every stem was broken off at the base.

I must decide later this week whether or not to severely clip or pull this one that has flopped forward onto other plants:

Should it stay or should it go now?

Even though it’s blooming, I think it will be for the chop.

Allan, meanwhile, had dug out those Stella D’Oro daylilies in deep shade that had defeated me last week.




after (Allan’s photos)

We got done at 5:15.  Allan immediately agreed to my suggestion that we go to the Depot for an early dinner.

The Depot Restaurant

artichoke fritos and olives as an appetizer

My main motivation was to have two favourite dishes that would soon disappear when the fall menu is reinstated.

refreshing cold gazpacho

and Mediterranean salad

Allan had his favourites:

clam chowder

Parmesan chicken

At home, I got to pet the ever patient Rudder.

And before dark, we got all the compost debris unloaded and back to the bins.

I am most pleased that dusk comes at 7:30 now, because I WILL keep going until dark. Earlier darkness is the only way that our workdays begin to get shorter. I am longing for staycation to come, with darkness at 4:30, rain, and time to catch up on books and my favourite blogs.



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