Archive for Mar, 2019

27 March: boat and Boreas

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

I woke early after far too little sleep and looked out my window to see if the canoe had held water. Yes, it had. After that, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I went outside to pot up some cattails to add to the new water feature and to dig up some perennials to take to the Boreas Inn today.

To my dismay, I saw that instead of having filled overnight to the rim, the water had fallen an inch.

This was the culprit, an old patch and a crack.

Google tells us that this sort of material is hard to patch.

I wonder how much further the water will fall?

At least Skooter will be pleased that the canoe seat is no longer under water.

I also found a small disaster in the small pond, with two pots of marginal plants upended.

I hope the culprit was Skooter and not raccoons.

After breakfast, Allan helped me repair the damage. The pots were retrieved (with effort) and all from that shelf went into the canoe. Two smaller pots went in their place, small enough to be well wedged in with rocks.

One lesson I belatedly learned from pond making is to make the marginal plant shelf wider and deeper than you might think necessary.

Skooter thought it was time to go to work.

We made our first attempt to leave (without Skooter), only to find a shipment of water plants at the post office. So back home we went with water forget me nots and water mint.

I remember walking with my best friend Mary through the medicinal plant garden at the University of Washington in 1972-ish and discovering water mint growing in a little stream. I am glad to have it in my pond to evoke that memory.

I checked the weather and was assured that rain would not come till five. That should give us time to mulch the big lawn bed at the Boreas and get my dug-up plants in the ground there.

At the Boreas Inn, Allan took all the photos. The Soil Energy mulch had arrived. He dug out some Alchemilla (lady’s mantle) from the center of the bed where yesterday he’d removed barrow loads of moneywort. Why something low like the lady’s mantle was in the center of the bed instead of something taller has to be just a matter of spreading and reseeding in my absence. The bed had sunk so low below the lawn that we removed the edging rocks in order to raise it up all around.

Allan did over half of the wheelbarrowing, a tiring job on uneven ground. Years ago, these beds were made by The Elves Did It gardening business, on a base of landscape fabric which we have since removed. We also, in that same improvement project several years ago, widened two of the beds that were awfully narrow and made the edging be just one line of rocks instead of stacked rocks (a horror to weed and edge). I think of how the whole thing could be done in a more Piet Oudolfian style….perhaps in the lifetime of a future owner of the inn. The beautiful inn, residence, and gardens are for sale, and we do hope someone buys it soon so that Bill and Susie can retire! That will also help us on our road to partial retirement.

I got my plant donations in the ground: phlomis, elephant garlic, Solidago ‘Fireworks’, Oregano ‘Hopley’s Purple’, a red oriental poppy from the downtown planter that was once a volunteer project of Susie’s, some lambs ears, and a Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’. Deer may eat the latter. I cannot plant my beloved sanguisorbas in this garden because of deer.

The weather forecast had been so wrong. We first were mulching in a light rain that could be thought of as refreshing. We had to finish in a miserably cold drenching rain that kept us from continuing on with the easier mulching of the rest of the lawn beds.

On the way home at the Bolstad light in Long Beach

At home, warming up, I opened a belated birthday present in the mail from dear friend Shaz, with a Garden Bunny theme.

I settled in to finish my book…

I removed the label but put it back. More on this book later.

…while Allan went to the library at the Ilwaco Community Building and did a bit of deadheading while he was there.

Last night, I finished watched Gardeners’ World 2013. I’ll now return to The A to Zed of TV Gardening.

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Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Not long ago, Pam, the Seaside gardener, had sent us this photo of her favourite new shovel.

So of course, we bought one. Another narrow shovel she had recommended, also with a round (yellow) handle, had become of a favourite of mine over the past few years, but we seem to have left it somewhere in last fall’s cleanups. I could not find it on the first workday of this year.

The new red one has tough sawing edges and is called The Root Slayer. As a Buffy fan, it will please me to call it the Slayer.

I tried it out on a montbretia infested area at The Boreas Inn today. It worked a treat.

We had passed this job on to someone else a year and a half ago. It was very good luck for owner Susie that, because of the end of our Klipsan Beach Cottages job, we have time to take the Boreas back on.

I was disheartened to see how the horrid montbretia had taken over the Garden Suite garden, shown above. I had to clear it not only for aesthetics but also so I could plant sweet peas along the fence.

The ever annoying moneywort had taken over half of another bed. That was Allan’s project, and without the special new shovel. I showed him how the huge patch of Lysimachia nummularia, AKA moneywort or creeping Jenny, probably planted as a cute little edger, had consumed a large area.

The bed was already sunk low from lack of mulching. Allan set to with hand tools and the large yellow pick.

We will mulch it when some Soil Energy is delivered, I hope tomorrow.

Susie came home and asked if Allan could help clean up an area around an old canoe.

Not only did he rake out two wheelbarrow loads of weeds and debris…

….but we went home with the canoe!

It sat for a short while by the Nora House…

….while I cleared an area for it to become our long and narrow water feature. I was in a frenzy to get the canoe in place before dark.

This is where I had planned to do the Charlie Dimmock style railway sleeper (new, not old wood) water feature, till we found out how much the wood would cost. With the wood being over $250 and the pond liner being about $375, we had decided to use H blocks for the surround instead. And then the 17 foot Coleman canoe appeared, in a similar shape to Charlie’s water features, requiring no liner (if it holds water well) and no construction time.

 I dug up my river of Geranium ‘Rozanne’ that had run down the center of the garden and replanted it along both sides of the canoe. I especially like that the Rozannes will froth and break around the pointed stern.

We did get the project done by sunset. Skooter took a great interest as we ran hoses from the two rain barrels with faucets. We bucketed water from the rest of the barrels (including water already stored in many heavy green jugs). It was utterly exhausting.

I think he wishes that the seat was not covered by water.

This is a far cry from my grandma’s scrapbook pictures that had originally inspired my desire for a formal water feature, all of which you can see in this post. I did wonder if our two garden boats are one too many, or maybe one too few.

The most important point is that the price was right for a low budget garden. I do wonder what my grandmother would think.

As for the work board, sweet peas have now been erased (although I may find a spot somewhere for more, as there are seeds left over).

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25 March: a GW day

Monday, 25 March 2019

The predicted cold rain fell all day.  I did not mind one bit.

We began by watching the segment of The Great British Garden Revival that features Charlie Dimmock making a quick and easy formal water feature.  I was hoping that Allan would be inspired, so that he would share my enthusiasm for copying her plan next weekend. It will involve moving plants, and early spring is the best time for that, and I hope to fill it with rain water, another reason to do it soon.

He did get interested and even went out in the afternoon to check on the availability of the two long pieces (and one shorter) of large lumber that we would need.

On the way back, he photographed the Ilwaco Community Building in the rain. A second patch of salal should be trimmed on the right to match the freshly pruned one on the left. 

It turns out that the lumber would be over $125 for each long piece.  After some pondering, we have decided to make the pond out of concrete H blocks instead, which will be more work and more careful leveling but will be much less expensive.  I simply cannot afford Charlie’s simpler version.  Allan’s ideas about the dimensions of the pond are just a bit grander than hers (and we don’t want part of it to be a bog garden).  The liner will be the biggest expense.

Here is a wonderful sight:

Frosty and Skooter sleeping together

I then watched many the episode of Gardeners’ World 2013 via my subscription to Inside Outside TV.

Eventually, Frosty came to my lap…

…and so did Skooter….

…in a screen-blocking way at first…

I gleaned another good tip about composting.  Monty does not keep turning all four bins.  He lets the well rotted compost finish off in one undisturbed bin, a practice which I will adopt now that my autumnal debris is reduced in volume.

I offended the cats by rising from my chair occasionally, so they returned to their mutual nap elsewhere.

The rain continued all day.

from the north window

I noted yesterday that the deer are squeezing through my front garden fortifications and chowing down on bulb foliage and roses.  I do wish we could have an eight foot fence along the front.  Zoning does not allow that.

As I write this, I have only three episodes of GW 2013 left.  It is a great luxury to have all the episodes lined up in order rather than having to quest around the internet for them.  2013 and 2014 are seasons that have resisted my most determined searching, so I hope Inside Outside acquires 2014 soon.

The end of the pre-dinner evening was spent writing four blog posts, as I was all out!


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Sunday, 24 March 2019

We started the day with a couple of hours of work, mostly the planting of sweet peas at the Ilwaco boatyard.

Allan deadheaded two blocks of planter and street tree narcissi.

A mist obscured the view of Sand Island from the south end of the boatyard garden.

Allan’s photos
planting sweet peas
removing one sad euphorbia

The mist remained as we drove off to deadhead some narcissi along the port.

flowers in the port curbside gardens (Allan’s photos)

Time Enough Books and Purly Shell garden
Ilwaco pavilion garden

I spent the rest of the day in our garden.

Skooter chillaxing in the east bed

For someone not very social, I had a procession of visitors bearing gifts, to add to the generosity of dinner and gifts from Alycia last night.  Not sure what I did to deserve all this kindness.

First, we had a good visit with Devery who came to visit us and Alycia, followed later by Mark and Joseph and Gail (and dogs) bringing me some cattails (a different sort than mine) from Mark and Joseph’s pond.

We toured the garden and had some good garden conversation, and were joined at the end by MaryBeth who had arrived bearing some teapots.  More garden touring ensued.

Meanwhile, I had managed to clean out an area along the iron fence for sweet peas, another quite difficult and daunting weeding job that will need some mulch to look ok.

I am trying to make that little bed narrower toward the front in order to make the path better.  The bed to the right has been untouched for months and will be another daunting weeding job.  Someday when the Nora House belongs to someone else, we will put a narrow shed there for privacy OR a kitchen garden shared with a gardening neighbour…

Allan helped me clear out a couple of big pots and put up a bamboo tripod for more sweet peas.  A plant casualty occurred.  I will draw a veil over my sorrow over a tiny Dan Hinkley plant I had been nursing along, a case of lost-tagii so it would be hard to replace because all I know is that it was, and still is (but only two inches tall now) a special variegated shrub of some sort.  Alycia came over at the peak of my mopery with two delicious foil wrapped pita sandwiches which did much to alleviate my sadness.

These things happen and the plant casualty rather amusingly ties in with the book I am reading, We Made a Garden by Margery Fish. More on this when I finish the book.

The center bed weeding is still in the same state that it was yesterday. I am relieved to have gotten my sweet peas in, leaving just the Boreas Inn sweet peas to plant before that spring job is done.  (MaryBeth said she plants sweet peas on Presidents’ Day with success.  I have always waited till St Patrick’s Day, which means that with so many to plant, the time stretches into the last week of March.)

At the end of the day, with sunset fast approaching, Allan made it over to the Ilwaco Community Building to bottom out a patch of salal.  If one MUST have salal, at least let it be green and fresh.

Tomorrow rain is predicted, the sort of cold rain that will prevent finishing my weeding goal.

Here are the darling teapots that MaryBeth brought me; she is a genius for finding them second hand.





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Saturday, 23 March 2019

at home

I hope to take more days off this year even during busy times because life is too short to not be in my garden.

Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo

We’d had this much rain during my reading day.

I briefly admired the garden, despite its unkempt state…

…and then got Allan’s help in sinking a big pot of cattails into the larger section of the pond….

Allan’s photo

…followed by a shallow tray of marginal bog irises (no, not the invasive yellow one) and acorus.

Skooter was too tired to help.

Allan also installed three fish that someone had given me ages ago.

On the other side of the boat is the cat memorial garden. On Friday, Our Kathleen’s 19 year old kitty, Sabrina, passed away. This had been much on my mind; I will lend her Goodbye, Dear Friend by Virginia Ironside, a book which comforted me after the loss, over the years, of three excellent cats: Orson, Dumbles, and Smoky.

Today I had wanted to get the center bed all weeded.  It is a terrible mess with some thick grassy areas that need careful attention.

The hole is where I needed some plain soil for the cattails.  I hope for a water feature in that area soon.

I did not even get halfway done with the weeding by early evening.

Nora’s granddaughter was down to do some maintenance on the Nora House and invited us for a corned beef and cabbage dinner.

narcissi from my garden

She and her partner and we talked for three hours.

Tomorrow will be another day off, with my goal being to plant my sweet peas and finish weeding the surprisingly daunting center bed.


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Friday, 22 March 2019

I resisted the lure of watching Gardeners’ World on Inside Outside TV in order to have the joy of reading Christine Walkden’s memoir in one sitting.

I had become smitten with her when I saw her on The Great British Garden Revival and then watched as many episodes as I could find (less than half, I am sorry to say) of Christine’s Garden.

I loved her memoir even more than I thought I would.

“I eat, dream, and breathe gardening.  I would not want to do anything else.  I am incredibly lucky.”

I appreciated her honesty and emotion about the making of her garden programme:

Later….she writes of “losing interest and getting irritated…”

When asked to stay in her pyjamas and dressing gown for her first look around the garden she “…was not at all happy with the thought that viewers were going to see me.”

When the crew filmed the rooms inside her house and photographs on her wall, it upset her terribly.  She wanted to do a proper gardening show, and they wanted insight into her feeling and emotions, her “very soul!”

She told them, in tears, that she was a private person.  I cannot even imagine being in such a pickle!  Finally, the camera crew won her trust and she writes that she knows she is “not the easiest person.”  How I loved her for all of this!

After the show broadcast, a friend said, “I thought you were going to talk about potatoes and you talked about the soul.”

This is what makes the tracking down of the episodes of the show or ordering this book from the UK well worth while.

I had wondered if she had gotten picked on for her looks, looks which I adore, of course.

Later, she was asked to wear make up and have a hair stylist for a cover of the book.  She did not.

Christine is also a teacher with a solid education behind her and years of experience.  I wish I could have learned from her; I wouldn’t be an amateur with imposter syndrome.

The memoir is sprinkled with gardening advice.  I was especially inspired by the parts about compost (of course).  She has four assorted bins…

I concluded that I am still not mixing my compost together well enough.

I worry about how I will find enough compost material after we partially retire.  I will be scavenger like Christine (as I used to be for my small Seattle garden):

It was a treat to read about her various gardening jobs.

In the course of work and garden visits to friends, she mentions some shrubs that I often do not see mentioned in print (Stachyurus praecox and Escallonia iveyi!).

A running theme is her gardening neighbours (an enviable situation), especially Reg.

Another theme that deeply affected me was her thoughts about her 14 year old dog.

I know that Tara is gone by now.  I do hope Christine found another dog as fine.

Another of Christine’s traits with which I strongly identify:

And she loves books and has hundreds (or was it thousands?) in her house.

This is so very British:

She lecture-tours all over the country.  Her discourse on hotels is the way I feel and is one of the reasons I am not going to Hardy Plant study weekend this year.

(One of the other two main reasons is the expense.)

I wish to make an alpine trough that uses exactly the same plants as Christine’s.  Then I would feel a connection to her every time I admired it.

Christine’s appreciation of other gardeners:

Sometimes, rarely, I find a book that I want to carry around in a hug after I have read it.  Christine’s memoir made me feel that way.  I want to be her friend.  If I could afford to buy a house on her block, I would be wistfully lurking around her vicinity hoping that she would take me in to her circle of gardening neighbours.

Christine Walkden is, I think, obscure on this side of the pond.  Her shows and her books will repay your for the effort of finding them.  Even though I cannot find an official source for videos of her show, you can find some of Christine’s Garden on YouTube and a complete set of her Glorious Gardens from Above garden tour show can also be found on Tubi.

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Friday, 22 March 2019

Over time, I had heard the name of the book Cider with Rosie. I think I got it mixed up in my mind with another book by an author I do not enjoy. Recently, maybe in Uncommon Ground, I found out that it is a memoir about English village life in the 1920s. And what a wonderful book it is. I spent the first hour of a rainy reading day finishing it.

To entice you to do the same, here are some of the passages about the cottage and its garden.

The day of arrival:

The descriptions of cottages made me long to live in one (a fantasy that would include modern day heat and plumbing conveniences).

The mother’s gardening skill:

As the author’s mother grew old, he described her thus:

That sounds like an idyllic old age to me, one that might not be possible in the here and now.

Lee poignantly described the change from village life as it had been “for a thousand years”, all swept by the motor car into the modern world. I love much about the modern world, and would never want to go back, and yet nature was closer then, along with other rather spooky things.

Cider with Rosie is the first of a memoir trilogy. I will continue with the others when I have whittled down my pile of books to read.

I had two lap cats during this reading day.

Even though I longed for a Gardeners’ World binge on Inside Outside Tv, I turned to one of my birthday present books for the rest of the day, a book that made me deeply happy. More on this tomorrow.

Meanwhile, over on Allan’s blog, he has written up his latest sail. You can read it here in the March 19th segment of his Black Lake series.

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Thursday, 21 March 2019

Today, all of the photos but a few close ups of narcissi and of nursery plants are Allan’s.

At home, fortifications keep Skooter away from a birdhouse.


It has passed inspection and they’re remodeling inside. 

Diane’s garden

I planted sweet peas along the picket fence, and we mulched with Harvest Supreme.

Last fall I cut back some annual sweet peas to the ground rather than pulling them. They’ve come back; I’m not sure what to make of this.

I hope the new sweet peas do as well as last year’s.

The raised bed in the back yard got some sparaxis, tigridia, and seeds of night scented stock.

The violas have reseeded into the gravel in front of the raised bed.

Allan saw my good friend Misty while I was still in the front garden.

That was our only job today. We had an appointment with our accountant way up in Surfside and so we made two nursery visits on the way.

The Basket Case Greenhouse

Roxanne has a broken ankle at a most unfortunate time of year, every gardener’s nightmare.

We discussed seeds and I bought some granular Mycorrhizae fungi for planting in my own garden. Just spelling that correctly made me realize I have been pronouncing it with an extra R. (It’s not micro.) The trick (per Gardeners’ World) is to rub it on the roots when planting, which is why I have been seeking the granular or powdered form.

I tend to have poor success with seeds. Roxanne will try to grow a few for me that I long for, among them Nicotiana sylvestris, Nicotiana ‘Only the Lonely’, and Eryngium giganteum.

Penny said hello with doggish vocalizations.

The Planter Box

I got some barley straw to fight off pond algae, and a proper leaf scooping net.

Lots of gorgeous spring bloomers are available right now.

Ocean Park

After our accounting session, we took a slight detour to admire the massive planting of daffodils along Bay Avenue, which runs west to east from the ocean to the bay. The planting runs almost a third of its length and was accomplished by the newly formed (last year) Ocean Park Village Club.

It is breathtaking.

Salt Hotel and Pub

In the evening, Allan attended a Salty Talk with dinner and a view of the Port of Ilwaco marina.

Smoked tuna melt


I stayed home because I had an overwhelming desire to watch more of Gardeners’ World 2013 on Inside Outside TV.

With rain due tomorrow, we intend to take a couple of days off and get back to sweet peas after the weekend.

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Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The Shelburne Hotel

Allan examined the wisteria that we (mostly he) pruned a month ago. The buds are just barely showing. He was able to remove some more branches. Until they fully bud out, it is hard to tell what has been cut and what is still alive.

He checked the planters on the decks and planted some night scented stock, tigridia, and sparaxis in the bigger ones.

Tulipa sylvestris is the yellow.

I got the sweet peas planted all along the fence and mulched with Gardner and Bloome Harvest Supreme.

Allan watered the garden because it has been so hot, dry, and windy.

The wind was still mildly annoying. I must say that both yesterday and today were too hot for my comfort at 72 F. But…mustn’t grumble. A cold rainy day would have been worse.

Sun and shade

My Melianthus major survived the cold here and will have its old stems cut down after this weekend’s Celtic music festival. I thought the garden needed some height right now.

Long Beach

We picked up our check at city hall and learned that it’s been suggested that planting wildflowers is a solution for the beach approach planter thievery. That won’t work out there in the dry salty wind unless the planters get watered regularly (and not by us hauling buckets). The watering has to become part of the same it’s water truck routine as the watering of the hanging baskets…not as often but at least a couple of times a week. So far, wildflowers in general (poppies, for example) are not drought tolerant enough to take the beach front conditions without supplemental water. Only the plants most desirable to thieves…lavender, sea thrift, santolina…survive out there with no summer water.

I was cheered up from my brooding about it by the narcissi on the north side of city hall…

…and later by some street tree and planter narcissi.

We planted the sweet peas in Fifth Street Park. This involved a lot of hesperantha (formerly schizostylis) removal. It is so lovely in autumn and such a pest the rest of the year.

Allan removed the horrible mildew-prone Dorothy Perkins rose on the low fence in front of Captain Bob’s Chowder. Because of the low fence height and the narrow driveway, we can hardly let it bloom at all without it sticking out in the way of vehicles, and what blooms it did have were always nasty white with powdery mildew.

Allan’s photos:

I added some sparaxis and tigridia to the two nearby planters that we redid last year.

More glorious Tulipa sylvestris

I had thought we might get Diane’s sweet peas planted today, as well. No. The park took us well into the early evening.


Over the last couple of weeks, distracted by garden shows to watch, I slowly read a book at bedtime.

While I enjoyed it, I liked his later book, Sourdough, better.

Here are my favourite bits.

The passage below reminded me of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City (San Francisco).

I have been feeling lately like I have lived an awfully long time, and also that having fifteen reasonably healthy years to go is awfully short. Here are the thoughts of a much younger character:

On the work board, the sweet pea jobs have begun to disappear. The beach approach weeding is assuming a low priority at the moment as I am more interested in a day of mulching and improving the Boreas Inn garden and another day of sorting out, deep weeding, and some rearranging of the Shelburne garden.

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Tuesday, 19 March 2019

We woke up to the sound of battering wind again. I had asked about it on a local weather group. Among the usual snarky replies (“It’s called weather. Happens all the time. Shocking I know.” “Then why bother to have a weather group to discuss it?” I wanted to reply but did not), I got one informative answer: “Strong high pressure east of the Cascades and a thermal trough of low pressure along the immediate coast causes these extremely high winds. High pressure blows to lower pressure. Unusual for March more common late summer and into fall. As the winds blow down the Cascades, the air compresses and warms as it makes it’s way to the ocean beaches. Thus we are well into the 70’s. Warmer than Portland and Vancouver!”

I was pleased to learn that someone in the know agreed that it was unusual for March to have warm weather and winds over 30+ mph.

We tried to go to work at the Shelburne, based on my theory that it would be less windy there. We arrived and parked and I considered my mission of planting sweet peas along the windswept sidewalk. The wind shook our van. The bamboo and rhododendron looked like this:

Still feeling down and out from yesterday’s plant theft discoveries, I decided on “self care” instead. Allan readily agreed to not mind wasting the drive to Seaview, and we went right back home without even stepping out of the van. He thought the wind might be good for sailing on Black Lake, and after a bit of paperwork, that is just what he did. I’ll share here when he blogs about it over on his site.

I stayed well out of the 35 mph wind watching Gardeners’ World (2013) on Inside Outside tv. It made me so happy that I could feel myself smiling the whole time. Frosty was happy to have me in the comfy chair.

I was as happy as this lovely man buying flowers at the Malvern Garden Show. (I wish I knew him.)

After four half hour episodes, the wind dropped and I could no longer stay indoors without feeling guilty. As always, the compost bins are the perfect excuse to avoid all the weeding that awaits me. (I like weeding, but I like compost more.)

Bin two was half full of potentially good stuff.

I got an oyster basket of rough compost that was moderately fine but didn’t quite go through the sifter.

It went around my new Stachyurus praecox.



I reached the bottom of Bin Two…

…and got one and a half barrows of lovely sifted compost.

…with which I mulched most of a widened garden edge.

I examined the new ponds carefully for frogs and found none.

After some garden appreciation…

Corylopsis pauciflora

Bogsy Wood

Drifts of crocus


A beautiful Chaenomeles that I got from Cistus Nursery years ago.

My gunnera made it through all the snow and ice.

…I returned to Gardeners’ World for a pleasant evening.

Meanwhile, after sailing, Allan had worked on his own garden job, the Ilwaco Community Building garden.

Here is his progress report.

I want this salal refreshed by cutting it all the way down and am quite willing to help do it.

With the two day unusual wind event over, we should be able to work on planting sweet peas tomorrow.

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