Archive for Feb, 2019

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Last night at about two AM I saw that a houseplant that had been given me by a friend had flowered and was indeed a plant I had always wanted. I carried it to the porch to get a clearer photo this morning.

I asked Ann Amato, houseplant expert (and seedstress) what in the world I had. It is a Queen of Tears bromeliad, Billbergia nutans.

Despite cold weather, I had a list of smallish work projects to accomplish. I hoped that the strong wind gusting through our garden would not follow us to Seaview and Long Beach.

The Depot Restaurant

We had one more grass and a few perennials standing between me and erasing Depot from the spring clean up list.

Allan’s photos:

Because of the night temperatures still being around 30F this week, I then decided we should change my plan and prune the Dorothy Perkins and Super Dorothy roses in Long Beach rather than trim back perennials in Diane’s more exposed garden. As we drove up to the park, we saw traffic cones and then the dreaded pressure washer sitting on its own during lunch break. Our plan changed (although the ideal rose pruning time is said to be Presidents Day to March 1st, which is coming fast).

We paused in Long Beach to cut two little grasses in a tiny pop out.

I was pleased to see lots of poppy seedlings.

Boreas Inn

Allan trimmed the ferns by the Yett Cottage, a vacation rental next door to the Boreas.

I trimmed the sword ferns on the northwest corner and the east entry garden at the Boreas. In order to save oodles of time trimming ferns with The Toy, it has to be done now-ish before the tight knuckles of new fronds start to uncurl.

The Boreas is a former job of ours that we passed on to another gardening outfit which did not have time to care for it properly, and so, with a gap in our schedule that was left when we departed the Klipsan Beach Cottages garden, we are taking it back. We had intended to spend that extra time on ourselves…but the Boreas called out to me.

I saw that in the west gardens, we need mulch and to get a rampant ground cover (moneywort) back under control.

That is for another day. At the end of the lawn beds, a path goes all the way to the beach.

The Garden Suite ferns, before and after:

Of course, the before photo is much prettier, but left without trimming, the ferns would have many brown fronds by midsummer. Soon the beautiful sequence of unfurling fronds will be visible.

Allan helped clean up the entry garden.

I had also pruned some hardy fuchsias that were almost into the path.

The icy wind managed to get into the courtyard, making for a rather miserable time of it. I longed for home and tea but decided we should do one more thing, get some mulch and apply it to the Port Office garden.

Allan saw this bundled up dog while acquiring the mulch.

The weather forecast showed why our work day was rather miserable.

Felt more like 32 than 39, if you ask me.

Port of Ilwaco

I found the cold wind just about unbearable at the port. Fortunately, the job was quick.

At home…

The work board tonight:

A nice of Builders, a bit of dark chocolate, and my comfy chair soon put things to right.

I watched the last episode of Monty Don’s Around the World in 80 Gardens…with a slightly curtailed view.

Better yet, I discovered a new garden show….

…featuring Monty, Joe, and Carol from Gardeners’ World and Charlie Dimmock. Even better, someone has put all of Season One up on youtube so that I don’t have to go questing about for each episode. I have already watched one. It was pure heaven. My head (or brain) was so happy that I felt like it was floating around the room.

The first video set is almost ten hours long. It is a darn good thing the weather forecast looks like this…

The rose pruning can wait till Friday or Saturday. Meanwhile, I’ll be watching telly in my comfy chair.

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Monday, 25 February 2019

The hellebore that was a birthday present a year or two ago from Our Kathleen:

Perhaps she can remind us of its name.

A bird family is making a nest outside our kitchen window.

Allan’s photo


Last night I had assured Allan that we would probably have today off because the weather forecast suggested the temperature would stay below 42 degrees (F). I need to stop making assurances that I cannot keep. By midmorning, a 46 degree temperature called for at least cutting back the grasses and some perennials at the Ilwaco boatyard…just when Allan was making himself a list of other things to accomplish.

I am still using my phone to take photos because I want to sit in my lazy comfy chair when I get home and type on my pad rather than at my desk with my computer. This despite the arrival of a new (used) camera whose photos would be much crisper.

Lots of crocuses and iris in the post office garden:

Boatyard, before, looking south, with Panicum ‘Northwind’, which I intend to divide into three later in the spring:

I found that The Toy (shown above at the edge of the sidewalk) made quick work of the grass, and, to my great job, also is strong enough to trim the santolinas…

…although I am going to wait till the nights are above 30 degrees before I trim them. The experience of trimming them with The Toy was such a delight that it was hard to resist doing them all today.

Looking north

Lots of little poppy seeds:

Allan’s photo

The Toy also works great at trimming the new growth of Ceanothus back from the sidewalk edge.

Across the street from the boatyard was the biggest pile of free pallets I have ever seen. I found myself pondering more compost bins.

You might want to read up on the supposed residual toxicity of some pallets vs others and how to allegedly tell the difference. I haven’t bothered…but there might be something to it.

We met a pleasant tourist, who stopped his car to ask us where he and his mother would enjoy visiting here. I suggested the two lighthouses at Cape D; he said his mother collects lighthouses and had never actually seen one! And I suggested the Ilwaco marina, with Time Enough Books and the Don Nisbett Gallery, and the Long Beach boardwalk, and Oysterville. Awhile later he drive by, now heading from the marina to the lighthouses, and told us how much they had enjoyed meeting Don and that they had bought a painting. Don later gave Allan and I a chocolate candy each and told us the painting had been one of clammers.

The boat that sank and is now being worked on:

Allan’s photo

Befores and afters (Allan’s photos):

The view from the south end of the boatyard garden:

Allan’s (tele)photo

Finishing up:

It took us only three and a half hours to weed and trim the whole boatyard garden (except for santolinas), a speed unheard of before, thanks to us each wielding The Toy. We bought two so have invested over $200 in working faster and therefore making less money, a bit of a conundrum.

During our boatyard session, Amy and April of the Port Office staff had walked by on their lunch break. We were able to find out that the former garden by the south wall of the office is indeed to be a garden again and so we went to weed it.

My view while weeding there:

Allan’s photos:

Our good friend Ernie walked by with his human.

Allan’s photo

Afterward, we hauled a large quantity of non-weedy compost to our home compost bins, which are now heaped high with unchopped debris.

The work board tonight :

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Sunday, 24 February 2019

Despite chilly weather, we spring cleaned from the east to the west end of the Howerton Avenue curbside gardens at the Port of Ilwaco. You may note we did not trim most of the santolinas. Because it is still freezing cold at night, I am waiting on them till closer to actual spring.

Dramatic clouds decorated the horizon south of the marina.

East end garden (Allan’s photos):

David Jensen office, before and after:

Oddly, while Allan was trimming one of the grasses today, a man walked by and said “I’ve never seen a man do that,” apparently meaning he had never before seen a man gardening.

A rain shower sent us home to unload the clean (non weedy) plant debris we had collected so far….more gleanings for my compost bins.

Half an hour later, we were back on the job.

From now on, I will call the former ShoreBank building “At the Helm”, the name of the new hotel with pub (The Waterline Pub) that is due to open sometime this year.

I could not help but clip some of At the Helm’s ferns. The Stihl trimmer made quick work of it. Last year, no one trimmed them and the many dead fronds hurt my eyes.

Looking east from the Ilwaco pavilion (At the Helm is the red building):

The drive-over garden (between two big driveways):

Powell Gallery/RiversZen Yoga garden (Allan’s photos):

Removing some weedy catmint from a bed by the Don Nisbett art gallery; I put some small, clean pieces back in:

I had a look at the garden on the south side of the Port Office. What to do? I will have to ask if the plan, after last year’s building remodel, is to have a deck or to recreate the garden.

The marina in sunshine:

Port Office curbside garden (Allan’s photos):

The good mulch (Gardner and Bloome Soil Conditioner and/or Harvest Supreme) that we added to the Time Enough Books curbside garden has been well worthwhile. The garden is full of poppy seedlings, and the plants are now much more vigorous than before.

Narcissus ‘Julia Jane’

The rest of the photos are all Allan’s.

West end gardens:

On the work list, as soon as the nights are less cold, is the addition of some Phlomis and a few other plants to these beds.

I got to meet a wonderful dog. She said “Woo woo woo!” and was ever so soft.

Despite the break for rain, we got the whole length of Howerton done. The Toy (the Stihl trimmer) really speeds us up with this kind of work.

Across the street from the west end garden:

Allan said he could not decide which photos to send me of the rainbow he saw later at the east end of the marina. I couldn’t decide among them, either, so here they all are.

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23 Feb: ferny

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Around the garden:

Dark clouds to the south boded ill for a work day.

The cats accompanied me while I opened the greenhouse.

Bentley and Cota each got a biscuit. Cota (whose name I have now learned to spell) is most likely a Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog.

The day became brighter.

Clematis ‘Freckles’

The ficaria (celandine) is definitely winning in my garden. I am pretty sure it arrived with some plants from my mother’s old garden and has now spread itself all over. While I will still remove some now and then, I don’t think it is worth the all out battle than I once thought of waging. It is a pretty thing, goes dormant in summer, and is, I think, considered a nice plant in the UK (maybe).

When the forecast of rain had not materialized yet, we went across the street to do the spring clean up in the J’s little garden.


Our audience was shy little cat with whom I want to be friends.

When I took a load of fern and grass clipping across the street to my compost bins, Allan took some more photos from five feet away. Neither of us could get close…although there was a moment when kitty did almost sniff my hand.

Before and after Allan removed some shotweed:


We just got done in time to get only somewhat drenched when the rain arrived.

Allan’s photo

I do like the Lake Street puddle for reflections.

I settled down to write a blog post. From the garage, I kept hearing a steady dull roar and wondered if Allan was vacuuming, or sanding something. Finally, I realized it was the Pencil Sharpener chipper!

The rest of the Shelburne wisteria…

turned into this. (Allan’s photos)

I checked on last fall’s chipping and saw they had not decomposed much all on their ownsome….

…so the new batch went into the compost bins, joining another new ingredient. Allan acquired a paper shredder and went on a shredding frenzy. The shreddings have already been added to the bins. I know this will work, because my mother successfully composted reams of shredded paper.

Between rain storms, Allan went to the Ilwaco boatyard and hung the flower protection signs, to have them in place when the narcissi bloom.

The rest of my day was devoted to British gardening shows. I discovered a delightful series about Christopher Lloyd, Garden Provocateur , followed by a tribute to Gardeners’ World presenter Geoff Hamilton. It is simply wonderful and also explains something about how the show was made. Both of these shows feature the lovely Alan Titchmarsh and both made me ever so happy.

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Friday, 22 February 2019

Between spells of heavy rain, I spent some time in and out of the greenhouse potting up plants for my plant sale. Here, especially for those who aren’t interested in reading excerpts, are some garden photos.



Center bed with Tommy crocuses

Skooter watched me walk back and forth with my plants.

MaryBeth brought us an adorable patio stove…

….and some teapots, which she says can be hung spout down from trees to make birdhouses. I am not sure I can let the birds have these pretties.

Frosty helped me write a blog post.

And now for the reading.

The present:

I had finished two books.

When Allan brought them home, he had inserted a note in the one by Anne Bogel to the effect that the librarians told him that they share and identify with chapter ten.


From chapter ten:

Cormoran Strike 5 is who knows how far away!

The future:

From the Bogel book, I added new titles to my endless list of so many books to read that I will never get them done before I die, especially with the distraction of British gardening shows.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

The Divine Conspiracy

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

The Bridge to Terabithia (both books mentioned this one)

The Irrational Season by Madeline L’Engle, a memoir of hers that I have missed somehow

But What if We’re Wrong by Chuck Klosterman. (His other books amused me.)

Please Understand Me II

Reading People by Anna Bogel.

The past:

I congratulate myself for randomly picking a file folder from the two boxes of my old files and going through it. It happened to be one that I especially wanted to revisit: all of the articles I had saved from newspapers and magazines, going back to the 80s (pre-world wide web), in the file titled FAT. Nowadays I would recommend the book Body of Truth by Harriet Brown. Back then, articles like these were all I had to share with people like the very thin-by-nature person who ended our friendship with an angry “there’s nothing genetic about being fat, it’s just a lifestyle choice.”

My first foray into such articles was a well researched political paper that made the rounds of the feminist community in Seattle in the mid to late 70s. One of its most interesting references was a study that said that in cultures in other countries where fat was acceptable, it was not associated with high blood pressure and other diseases with which it is associated here in the USA. But when people from those cultures were exposed to the fat-loathing Western culture, they became prone to those diseases. The hypothesis was that self-loathing and bullying can lead to illness. By now, study after study have contradicted each other, some saying this phenomenon is explained by our fast foods, but that idea certainly stuck with me.

Some snippets from many articles in the Fat file (which is literally a fat file, now somewhat thinner and nicely tucked into the hanging files in a big desk drawer):

I remember all too well that during my several thin years in my late twenties to mid thirties , I made a long succession of the most foolish decisions of my life. Could it be that my brain had shrunk? I inhabited a size five to seven body achieved by two to three daily hours of vigorous exercise and a frequent feeling of hunger. I accomplished nothing creative during those years because all my energy and focus went to going to the gym or running, and I was physically ill much more often than I am now. Reading and believing in the earlier articles in my Fat file had not saved me from succumbing to the lure of finding out just what it would be like to be one of the thin ones. (Being able to easily shop for clothes was the best part.) As soon as I stopped the obsessive exercising, I became my real self again.

I remained a fat activist even while in a thin body. Thin women at the gym said terrible things behind the backs of the fat women because they thought I was one of their elite thin society. Every one of them got the surprise of a fairly knowledgeable recap of my Fat file articles, and I assured them that I would not always be one of them. I knew that eventually, I would have to do something more productive or else lead a wasted life.

I have only two big boxes of files on other subjects to go through before I can erase “file cabinet” from my at home project list. Next…soonish…will be the file folder titled “Aging”. (The Old file.)

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Wednesday, 20 February 2019

While Allan pruned the Shelburne Hotel wisteria (see yesterday’s post), I did some garden clipping and tidying before helping to load the debris.



I was happy to see the beginning of the spring bulb display.

With the wisteria debris loaded into the trailer and the trailer parked at home, we joined Our Kathleen for burger night at The Depot Restaurant.

Baked apple cider

Allan’s photo

Apple cobbler

Vanilla bean flan

We had a good long talk and, just as in My Dinner With Andre, we looked around when the kitchen lights went off to realize that we were the only diners left and that the staff was tidying up.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Our small Pond was lightly iced over.

The pond edges are cluttered, like my mind.

I noticed that next door, Nora’s patch of snowdrops is blooming by her garage.

After a dump run with yesterday’s wisteria clippings, I decided that the remaining pile of wisteria at The Shelburne, along with what we would clip today, would not be enough to fill the trailer for a second dump run. In order to save our clients money by combining a load, I resolved to collect some more debris first.

Long Beach

We visited City Works to ask the crew for a pile of Soil Energy mulch and picked up a bucket of gravel for a low edge on the Heron Pond garden.

Allan’s photo

The area we weeded earlier is level with the sidewalk now but needs some river rock (of which there is a bin at City Works) to dress it up.

We could have dumped today’s LB debris at City Works…but It would save time to just include it with the dump load.

We spring cleaned the corner garden at Veterans Field…

….and clipped and weeded the little popouts.

Allan’s photos. The Toy makes quick work of ornamental grass shearing.

I walked over to the main street to check on a planter that I had been told had been recently dug in (plumbing problems). The damage was minor. To my distress, I saw on a different planter that someone had picked every single flower, the crocuses and irises and early narcissi, and shredded them into a pile left on the edge.


I carried the petals back to show Allan. I had resolved to not get so upset about finger blight this year and have already failed in my resolution.

The Depot Restaurant

We trimmed the ornamental grasses on the south and east side of the dining deck. That doesn’t mean we can erase The Depot from the work list, as the north side garden is still untouched.

The Toy, which made short work of the lighter grasses, is not strong enough to go through the giant Miscanthus, whose stems are like bamboo.

The Shelburne Hotel

While Allan finished the wisteria pruning and made the second dump run, I did more general spring clean up of the garden. (I wish I had a before and after of the excellent pruning of an old woody hydrangea that I accomplished there yesterday.)

Anyone who has a lot of sword ferns to clip should buy themselves The Toy. It is available at Clatsop Power in Astoria and is saving us a substantial amount of time.

It also worked wonders on zipping through the epimedium. You can trim epimedium to the ground now so that the new flowers show off. I just thinned it here to avoid a bare effect.

In the garden:

We worked on wisteria clipping and clean up till dusk and then rewarded ourselves with dinner in the pub.

Brian O’Conner performs there most Thursdays. His deep and resonant voice makes any song emotionally moving. I resolved to try to dine there most Thursdays this year. That may be a resolution I can keep.

He plays in the parlor, which is adjacent to the pub and also has pub dining.

View from our favourite table

Hummus appetizer

My favourite, chopped salad with Mary’s fried chicken

The work board this morning

And the work board tonight

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Wednesday, 20 February 2019

With a beautiful day instead of the predicted rain, we tackled the wisteria project. Other jobs got done, as well, as you’ll see in tomorrow’s post.

Pruning the Shelburne Hotel wisteria (unpruned for twelve years) had been hanging over my head for a year. Last year, we didn’t have time during the proper pruning months (winter and early summer). Allan would have to do all the ladder work, so I’m not sure why it weighed so heavily on my mind. Perhaps I feared another year would pass without us getting it done.

Most of the photos are Allan’s.


Our friends Ed and Jackson Strange stopped by to chat.

At the end of the day, we had a trailer load of debris which we took home and parked overnight. The wisteria still had uppy growth that would have to wait till the next day because we were out of daylight.

After (before the clean up underneath):

Thursday, 21 February 2019

After a trip to the dump, we did a few other trimming jobs because of my theory that the rest of the wisteria would not make a full dump load. That was correct, but my plan threw the timing off so that Allan had to make the second dump run before the wisteria was quite done. We are still left with a partial load of whippy, twisty growth….without enough for another dump run, so it will have to be slowly disposed of at home (wheelie bin and shredder).

I find getting rid of debris to be the second most irksome part of gardening. (The first is finger blight aka vandalism.) I liked the attitude of an Astoria gardener who used to have the policy that she would pile debris but not haul it away.

However, that does not work in public and resort gardens.

Anyway! Today Allan and I refined the wisteria pruning so that we are both well chuffed about it. When it leafs out, Allan will go up the ladder again and pull out any dead stems.

Almost after:

My mental guide had been this RHS article, especially the part about hard pruning of a severely overgrown wisteria. The vine had not flowered well last year, and what flowers it had were mostly buried in the tangle of branches. Allan hadn’t read the article so was relying on my advice and on instinct. I am worried we pruned it too hard for much bloom this year. It had to be done… The messy piled up tangle was not at all attractive.

I wish we had a before photo looking up; no sky showed at all.



After all that work, we are short on “after” photos.

After leafing out, we hope to refine it some more, and after the hoped for flowering, even more, and from then on, it should be an easy job twice a year.

Here’s our third batch of debris, an unfortunate result of my underestimating how long day two of the wisteria pruning would take.

Some of it would be good basket makings for a weaver of natural baskets. I thought of that all the way through the job…. It can be harder to give material away than to just quickly dispose of it, and with rain and maybe snow on the way, speed was of the essence.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Due to the lack of after photos, Allan decided to go out today (a cold and rainy day off) and acquire some.

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