Archive for Aug, 2019

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Because of the good rain, we did not have to water and were able to cram all the rest of the week’s work into one day instead of two.

Depot Restaurant, Seaview

weeding, deadheading

in the green shade on the dining deck (Allan’s photo)
a quick trim of Lonicera ‘Baggeson’s Gold’
a volunteer Nicotiana ‘Langsdorfii’ with Geranium ‘Rozanne’ in the background (Allan’s photo)
Cosmos ‘Seashells’ , my favourite kind (Allan’s photo)

Long Beach welcome sign

Weeding and deadheading

Allan’s photo

The Red Barn

a very quick weeding and deadheading with no watering required. Allan’s photos:

roofing in progress

Diane’s garden

weeding and deadheading the containers, septic vault and roadside garden

I pulled the pretty weed, fireweed or rosebay willowherb, to make the rest of the roadside garden show better.

the full view

Allan trimmed the alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle) on the east side with The Toy.


I cut back a sad aster at the back of the septic vault garden.  We will completely dig it out later.

pitiful brown foliage

glorious Agastache ‘Black Adder’
statice and butterfly (Allan’s photos)

Long Beach

We walked around town from two different parking places, tidying the planters and Fifth Street Park and Vet Field gardens—blissfully, no watering required.

two cute doggies
hydrangeas, Third Street Park (Allan’s photo)

Allan attended to some floppy Crocosmia in the park behind Lewis and Clark Square….

…making it easier for patrons of the adjacent Mexican restaurant to use the patio.

The annual Washington State International Kite Festival was in full swing.  Yesterday’s storm had resulted in yesterday’s events being doubled up with today’s.  We chose to not go out there this year—getting the work done and having time off at home felt more appealing.  I refer you to this kite festival post of yore.

The trolley, painted by our friend Don Nisbett, shuttled festival goers around the town.

Although we did not get out to the festival, our friend Lezlie and Anne, her friend visiting from England, did:

Photo by Anne Cambridge

Photo by Anne Cambridge

Meanwhile, downtown, I thought that this planter, which gets nothing added to it and needs minimal summer maintenance, was looking rather fine.  You mainly see Geranium ‘Rozanne’, reseeded California poppies, and silver santolina.

dahlias in a planter (Allan’s photo)

Boreas Inn

We spent one hour weeding and deadheading.

looking northwest over the back garden

Port of Ilwaco

We deadheaded and weeded the curbside gardens from At the Helm Hotel all the way to the west end.

By Ilwaco Pavilion, looking east toward At the Helm:

I had left the old flowers on the santolina in the drive over garden, the next bed toward the west, to protect it from being driven over (by making it more visible)….to no avail.

It could not be nicely fluffed up and quite a bit was broken off, but this almost indestructible plant will revive.

This photo shows how small and vulnerable the Drive Over Garden is.

I am pleased that seeds of Coreopsis tinctoria grew and are flowering.  My photo of the orange-y ones was out of focus so I have only this one to offer you.

Cosmos ‘Cupcake’ in the port office south side garden…

…and a quick look at the marina after deadheading there.

A charter fishing party had just returned.

It might be fun to go out some time with our friend Butch’s CoHo Charters, to see the sights more than to fish. But I am afraid that I would turn out to be a “puker”, a longstanding nickname for tourists.  It might refer to charter fishing seasickness or to eating too many ice cream cones and clam fries.  I never ever call tourists that.  I do something say punters, being a Brit-ophile. It has some unfortunate connotations, as well, but I have always heard it used (on British telly) to simply mean customers.

Down at the west end, my former garden bed, the one I had sort of imperialized, is all bark now, with some of the plants removed, and thus no longer of interest to me.

Well….I do have some interest in what it will look like in the future.  It was all bark when I started it, and to bark will it return? I really must get the two clumps of oxeye daisies out, as they are on the Class C noxuous weed list and I have been preventing them from going to seed and slowly working on removing them from the west end port gardens.  I love them and am also a responsible gardener.  And I was born in the wrong country, because in the UK that lovely flower featured large this year in a Chelsea Flower Show garden.

We have three days off now, thanks to that excellent rain storm.

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Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Last night after work, we dumped the new planting mix into the new patio bed.

Allan’s photo

Today, I finished the project by planting it up with some ladies in waiting.

I added this much compost mixed with sifted leaf mold.

I also added some annuals that had been in containers.  I am tired of so many ornamental containers.

That many pots got emptied.  I can’t afford many fancy pots, so any somewhat attractive plastic pot gets put into play, and I have been lucky to have been given some new ones by our neighbor three doors down.

I might even sit on that chair sometime.

In other news, I have been dipping some water out of the little pond and letting it evaporate so that it finally got low enough to make it easier to catch the one fish.  I am sure the fish ate my tadpoles. It is now in the water canoe, where frogs will find the sides perhaps too steep for their liking.

I refilled the pond and added fresh rain water to the canoe from the heavy green jugs.  Exhausting.  Then used a hose and a rain barrel with spigot to top the ponds up.

a snail going for a ride

Pacific tree frog at the back of the pond (Allan’s photos)

I would like to get the other fish out of the bigger pond, but it has way more places to hide.

Then I emptied all the water barrels by dipping into jugs and buckets because rain is due tonight.  Oh, I do hope it comes.

I added more water to my original water feature, the water boxes. My black taro looks grand in there.

Allan got out the Mighty Mac and shredded about half of our woody debris pile…

…got it jammed while learning just how big a branch it will take, and then got it fixed again (but by then it was almost dark).

ooops (Allan’s photos)

not quite this big next time

this much left for next time

looking south over the water boxes at dusk

We both hoped for rain and another day off.

At bedtime, I finished an Ann Lamott book.  Somehow I had missed the last two of her memoir/advice/inspiration series.

I like her honesty about her flaws, especially envy of other’s successes.

I don’t think that envy of other’s successes is one of my assorted flaws. Unless maybe it is someone that I really dislike.

Anyway….she is moving and also funny and that is why I read all of her books, even if belatedly.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

The rain came! Over half an inch!  We won’t have to water the port this week.

I had all sorts of busy little plans, like sorting out and storing all the plastic pots that people have kindly given me since my plant sale, and tidying the green house.  But I had gotten two irresistible Alys Fowler books in the mail.  Today became a reading day for me.  Meanwhile, when the rain stopped, Allan got two more rain barrels plumbed…


…and finished chopping the woody debris with the Mighty Mac.

The Thrifty Gardener by Alys Fowler

I gleaned lots of useful tips from The Thrifty Gardener.  (And again I will say that I am tired of the gardens of the very rich; I want to see gardens of people who have to make do.)

My takeaways:

Gardening is something you do, not something you buy.  You don’t have to spend money to have a great garden.

She writes of having found a gardening community in New York years ago, in a way that reminded me of the streetside gardens of Ron Finley.

I learned the term scrap craft.  Alys is British, and in the UK, junkyards are scrapheaps or scrap yards.

She refers to scrap craft as “how I make my world.”  I love that.

Because the book is British, it goes on about the wonders of horticultural grit, which we just cannot buy here.  (I use turkey grit—not the same.)

It is something you do have to spend money on.

Now my mind is confuzzled about not using builder’s sand…which is sometimes recommended on this side of the pond.

Best tip of the decade is right here:


She builds her compost bins from scrap wood, and very elegant they are.  I don’t use a roof or a cover.  I guess maybe I should?

I have watched Alys sow seeds with a certain hand motion on her telly show, The Edible Garden (which I managed to find online).  It’s rather poetic that she uses the heart line:

A revelation…I could put a proper propagator on my front porch, which is enclosed and has electricity! (Something else to buy, though.) I am so terrible at growing from seed that I need all the help I can get. I believe the point is that it provides warmth.

An UK-ophile’s question: Why would ironmongers sell plants?

Another great tip: pour a small cup of veg oil into a rainwater barrel to kill mosquito larvae.

The following made me say WHAAAT??:

If “annuals don’t respond well to deadheading”, I am wasting a considerable amount of my work life (and this is another place where she contradicts Monty and just about everything I have ever read on the subject).

She writes that the Chelsea Chop is cutting the whole plant to its base.

I had to Google. The RHS says “cut down by as much as half” and Fine Gardening says “cut the plants back by a third or half.”

She names penstemons as a plant easy to root from cuttings.  I must try them!

Regarding weeds, it astonished me that homemade weed killers like vinegar mixes are “illegal under current EU legislation.”

It is comforting that Alys, too, loses her tools.

She writes a couple of times about garden styles or decor that are just too “granny”.  Hrm, I think grannies are the best. Finally, some granny appreciation:

Even though the book made me go WHAAT a few times, and even though I am more of an ornamental than food gardener (although I do try, and I used to grow food pretty well in my Seattle garden), I loved it and turned almost immediately to my other newly acquired Alys Fowler book.

I did take a few steps outside first to see how much rain we had had.

The slowest to fill barrels were full.

The air smelled autumnal.

I made a nice cuppa tea and got myself some Tim Tams…

Thank you, Kilyn and Peter

…and settled in for more reading. A cat interlude amused me.  Skooter is not comfortable going through the simple towel of the new, third, cat door.  (Allan took the photos).

Frosty loves it and was right on the outside, wanting in.

It is all too much for Skooter.

The Edible Garden by Alys Fowler

Food for thought:

A new gardening word for me, polyculture:


Another new word: brambling, meaning botanical rambling, either in internet browsing or outdoors.

In my Seattle garden, I could create a whole salad meal.

But then my friends would complain that if they came to dinner, all they got to eat was a huge salad.  Well…that was the way I ate in the summer.

This is very useful for container veg gardening:

Some interesting advice:

She calls the “council black compost bin” a “plastic Dalek”.  That is delightful.  I have two such bins.

Again the great idea of rotting weeds in a water bucket:

out what they are”, you can add them to bin.  More compost material.  I am thrilled.

I learned why my comfrey in a pot just will not do:

I will have to plant it, but its running ways scare me so I am not sure where.

She writes that she does not dilute the comfrey tea that she brews for fertilizer.  Yet Monty Don dilutes his.  Oh, dear, who is right?  Everywhere else I have heard dilute, dilute, ok!

Another new term: keyhole paths, to get into your garden for harvesting.

Here is another contradiction from what I have seen on Gardeners’ World about pruning tomatoes:

Oh dear, I just plucked a lot of leaves off of mine per Monty’s advice.

Plants I want: Nine star broccoli, which is perennial, and callaloo, which i saw on an allotment special and which I now know is leaf amaranth.

I also want this:

Both books are quite wonderful, so I do hope you can lay your hands on them.  If you are local, and a good book borrower who will read the books in a jiffy (because I want them on hand for reference as I am now further inspired to grow food), you can borrow mine for a couple of weeks.

A two book day was simply glorious (and we managed to find time to watch Master Chef during dinnertime).

I like time off.  And I think we can polish off the rest of the work week in just one day because, thanks to the thoroughly drenching rain, we can skip watering.



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Monday, 19 August 2019

Long Beach

We watered the street trees and planters.

While on my watering rounds, I did horsetail patrol and sweet pea and cosmos deadheading in Fifth Street Park.

I like to see people photographing the garden.

Someone had posted praise for that garden on a local Facebook group.  I felt gratified, because it has been a struggle this year.  I was pleased that she had taken her photos shortly after a horsetail patrol.

I have realized that some of the cosmos, like the one in the lower right of Olivia’s photos, that were sold to me as Cupcake, are instead one called Cupcake and Saucers.  The latter is nice enough, but I prefer the pure and simple Cupcake that looks so much like the frilly paper cup that my mom baked cupcakes in.

Cupcake and Saucers

The frillier one is a fine flower but it doesn’t remind me of cupcakes.

Changing the plant subject, here is a Sedum (well, Hylotelephium, sigh…) ‘Autumn Joy’ that missed getting the Chelsea Chop.

And here is one that got the chop.

Allan saw happy tourists who had made merchants happy by purchasing souvenirs.

Allan’s photo
happy people (Allan’s photo)

There is that old erysimum that I want to pull out, looking floriferous in the foreground.

Allan peeked inside the new World’s End Pub.

Two of the street trees have non functioning water. Allan had been lugging bucket water every week from a planter a quarter of a block away.


A staff member at Beachcombers noticed and told Allan he can water the tree garden with a hose spigot on their building.  Bless them!  That particular garden bed will be some much happier. (I realized later he still has to haul a bucket, but a much shorter distance.)

Allan’s photo

Across the street, some Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ that was too far out into the street got yanked.

after (Allan’s photos)
another street tree (Allan’s photo)

Before we left Long Beach, we bought four bales of raised bed planting mix at Dennis Company, for my home project.


Because we were a bit early for the planter watering, we watered our volunteer gardens at the post office (Allan) and the fire station (me) first.

fire station garden looking a bit tired
post office garden

Allan then filled his 25 buckets at the boatyard.

boatyard sweet peas

Today, I walked around and tidied all of the Ilwaco planters (26 in all) and the street trees (ten of them) in order to speed up the job.  This enabled Allan to just dump a half bucket of water in each one and move on.

the sunflowers of mystery

Col Pacific Hotel has planted a seed mix.

cosmos and godetia

I used to do half of the bucketing but no longer can because my knee won’t stand up to the lugging. Last time we tried to resign from the job was 2014, when I could no longer help water.  No one bid on it…no one at all.  So Allan used the water trailer for a few years, a method that still involved some bucketing to speed the job along, took longer and was still difficult.  This year, impatient with the trailer, he went back to bucketing.

As I observed this exhausting job this evening, I decided to ask him if he is ready yet to resign from the difficult and tiresome planter job this year instead of next year, and he said yes.  The most telling words to me were when he said, “I don’t enjoy it.” So our idea now is to quit it at the end of this year, keeping the port and boatyard gardens where we have the comparative ease of hose watering.  Ideas change.  But it is looking good to us right now to be able to have Allan stop lugging and pouring about 225 gallons of water a week, the equivalent of about 1800 pounds of water per week from May through September. Something like over 3/4 of a ton of water per week. (You can fact check my poor arithmetic skills. A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds and, considering slopping over, each bucket averages 4 to 4.5 gallons.)

I think the planters need new ideas, anyway, and maybe someone who wants to water them more so that they can be lusher.  OR someone who is willing to take the risk of planting all succulents…and cacti? agaves? (but we can’t risk hurting someone, and the coolest plants get stolen repeatedly)…or just grasses (and put up with the complainers who want pretty flowers and think that grasses are weeds).  Someone with fewer other jobs might have more time for using the water trailer (which we will return to the Ilwaco Merchants). If we follow through on this plan, we will be leaving the planter job just a month before Allan turns 67.

The watering is problematical because some of the planters have drainage problems and even sedums get mildewy and lose their leaves.

Maybe whoever is doing the fabulous dahlias at city hall will want to do the planters.

Our final watering of the day was at a private garden, just a four-time job, with this being the last day.

We had been told to harvest from the garden, and so we grazed on strawberries and arugula and had delicious green beans and cucumber for dinner.

The garden has a creative solution to a level change.

And beautiful containers of flowers as well as edibles.

What is this?

We are so caught up on work, or else we are so burnt out that we are pretending to be caught up, that we will take tomorrow off.  If the promised rain comes tomorrow night, we might get Wednesday off, too, and not have to water the port this week.





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Southwest Washington Paddle Trips

18 August 2019: Sailing up the Westport Slough

About halfway between the Longview bridge and the Astoria bridge there is a ferry that crosses the Columbia River. Cathlamet and Puget Island are on the Washington side, Westport, today’s paddle, is on the Oregon side. Today I was returning from a trip with the PNW Hobie Island club at Yale Lake and I wanted to explore one of the many sloughs on the southern shore of the Columbia River.

Screen Shot 2019-08-24 at 1.20.08 AM.jpeg

The visitors I usually see on the water are there for recreational fishing.

DSC02151.jpeg An abandoned boat offers a surface for budding graffiti artists.

DSC02155.jpeg Adjacent to the dock are mysterious ruins of a previous generation .

A couple of guys were fishing off the docks when I arrived.

DSC02159 2.jpeg What were they fishing for? “Anything that bites.”

Before I could get my last snaps snapped and my last clips clipped, a young man politely…

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The boating life

Southwest Washington Paddle Trips

I can’t really  improve on the introduction that Seth wrote. “The third event in the PNW  Hobie Island Club series for 2019 will be at Yale Lake. This lake is a PNW sailing staple, and we’re really excited to get a group of Island owners out there to enjoy it with us! We’ll be camping overnight at Beaver Bay Campground, which is also host to the boat launch we’ll be using to access the lake as well. The lake has some great parks to explore and offers great views while cruising. Be sure to book a campsite in advance if you intend to join us both days!”

Its north south alignment apparently helps make it a very popular sailing lake and the scenery certainly is beautiful.

It would be longer than a reasonable day trip so I splurged for a couple of nights of camping.

Screen Shot 2019-08-23 at 10.02.20 AM.png Yale Lake is northwest…

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Friday, 16 August 2019

Allan departed to go on a two night camping trip with the Hobie boat club.

For starters, I put a tattered wool quilt and an old cotton shirt in the bottom of compost bin one.  The quilt, made for me over 50 years ago by my grandmother, had become moth eaten and torn and had lost its backing (a pattern of horses and cowboys on a blue background; I was a horse crazy city girl).  Because she loved composting, this was a good end for it.

I took the buttons off the shirt and had a tiny brainstorm, which resulted in my getting out my grandma’s old button tin.  I had added some non-vintage, unsorted plastic buttons over the years.  I fished some of them out.

I used them for a topping, like a pebble mulch, in a dish of succulents.  It is not quite Pinterest worthy yet.

I planted rooted cuttings of dianthus and some baby Eryngium giganteum (which I grew from seed!) in the newly expanded end of the center bed.  They were doubled up in the same little pots, as I had despaired of the eryngiums, put the cuttings in the pots, and then had the eryngiums emerge after all.

I then thought of (and did) something that should have been so obvious, potting on the rest of the tiny eryngiums into proper potting soil, not the less nutritious seed starting mix.

I lifted my four big pots of hardy fuchsias out of the ornamental pots area on the east side of the house and got the fuchsias planted out at the edge of the bogsy wood, along with some of my ladies in waiting.

This one must be either Santa Claus or Jingle Bells.
Fuchsia ‘Barbara’
Fuchsia ‘Genii’
with Cornus ‘Hedgerows Gold’
a new Brunnera ‘Alexander’s Great
from Secret Garden Growers

In the back corner of the bogsy wood, the willow branches that I stuck in the ground are growing.  My idea is to make a willow cave back here…although as you can see, bindweed will be a problem.

These are my remaining jobs for the weekend.

With the fuchsias moved, this bench area is going to be reorganized as an almost completely plant sale holding area rather than an ornamental area…tomorrow.

While I watered my plant sale plants on the west side of the house, the deer browsed next door.

Skooter was fascinated.

My dahlias are slightly nibbled, surely by bugs or snails rather than deer.

They cannot reach this climbing Mermaid rose.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Frosty and Skooter

I worked on my shelf reorganizing and flower pot rearranging until Our Kathleen arrived in the late afternoon.  She would help me with a job, but first we had dinner at At the Helm Hotel’s Waterline Pub.

waffle sliders
truly delicious chicken lettuce wraps

After dinner, Kathleen and I did a watering job that I had taken on for the weekend.

I found the impressive kitchen garden inspirational.

I had an audience.

I later had a peaceful evening finishing a book that I had started earlier in the week.

How to Forget, a Daughter’s Memoir, had me in tears with the Alzheimer’s decline and death of Kate Mulgrew’s mother.

The frontispiece:

A house full of books and being unable to read them…one of my utmost fears.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Morning ablutions…

Frosty with the reorganized plant sale area in the background:

On Friday, I had had a Big Thought about the back, west side of the patio and how cluttered and difficult it was to access.

The thought had percolated yesterday and came to fruition today.

I started scraping away at the gravel and hit the thick and heavy top-of-the-line landscape fabric that I had used to line the patio.  It resisted my efforts to cut it.  I went inside and had a look at an influential gardening book.

Pavement or landscape fabric…either way, I wanted to know how deep the bed must be on top of it.

Yes! The patio clutter is what I had tired of.

But then I went out with a new burst of energy and managed to poke a hole in the fabric and then was able to cut the center area free of it.

I also managed to move two big tubs (one by removing a lot of muck and water) all by myself.

First, I thought just putting the old bathtub next to the water tub would be good enough.

But then I had to move both of them to a diagonal to give me more room for assorted ladies in waiting.  I found all sorts of rubble and pavers that I had buried nine years ago to make a wall under the gravel where the house sat a little higher than the patio.

That was as far as I could go before Allan returned from his trip.  I needed soil to complete the project.

We went together to the watering job and did not get done with it till almost dark.

It is high time for a

Cat Report!

At the beginning of the week, I had some terrible anxiety when Jazmin went out the south cat door and, despite our calling and searching, did not return till 6:45 AM.  She has stayed indoors by choice, as far as I know, since whatever adventure befell her that night.  I realized while fearing I would never see her again how attached I have become to her odd little personality.

On Wednesday evening, she had a showdown with Skooter as she sat on her new favourite chair in the living room.

He looked away, significant body language in catdom…

…tried again to more growling and hissing…

..and then they both relaxed.

Since then, she has been the one to chase him around the house whenever she decides he has invaded her personal bubble.

And thus a Queen of Her Domain is crowned.

Sunday evening, she almost agreed to share the lap with Frosty.

Not quite.

For tomorrow, we will share a post from Allan about his boating weekend.

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Thursday, 15 August 2019

Our work start was slowed a little when we saw Jenna trying to figure out how to get a free table from outside the Ilwaco Pharmacy into her vehicle.  We had already stopped our rig to water a dry looking Ilwaco planter, during which time Allan saw the entire swallow family.

Allan then loaded the table into our trailer for delivery later in Long Beach.

The Depot Restaurant

The barrel planter under the east window shouted to me that everything was dry.  The windowboxes confirmed it, so we took extra time to water.

lilies at the Depot

Long Beach

We deadheaded and Allan strimmed around the welcome sign.

We delivered the table to Jenna’s gallery…

The Mermaid Sandcastle (Allan’s photo).

Because we were parked near Fifth Street Park for the delivery, I changed my plan from weeding Coulter Park to trimming the last area of tatty lady’s mantle in Fifth Street’s SE quadrant.  The three tree bed is a goshawful mess of weeds in damp soil, with roots all wrapped around the tree roots, so the only work we do on it is trimming it down a few times a year.  I think the whole bed should be turned back into lawn.  The saturated soil has always made it a happy home for swamp sedge and is a mucky mess to weed.


As you can see, the sky was a lovely grey with no sun to be seen.

I admired the rudbeckia in the NE quadrant of the park.

To think that once upon a time I did not like that fine plant for being just too orange and plain.  I love it now.

While Allan cleaned up the three tree bed, I deadheaded and did horsetail patrol in the NW quadrant.  A large group of tourists sat on the benches, eating their lunches from Captain Bob’s Chowder and declaring it was the best chowder they had ever had.  They were facing me and watching as I weeded, with one of their large dogs barking at me from three feet away.  I longed for a cloak of invisibility and had to remind myself over and over “The park is for people.”

It looked good when I was done, but my shoulders were up around my ears.

We bought some creamy garlic chowder to take home for a comfort food dinner. (We have a neat little mini refrigerator-freezer in our van.)

We then embarked upon watering all of the downtown planters.

The Knautia macedonica is back in my favour in the two planters where it resides, having reverted to green from the variegated Knautia ‘Thunder and Lightning’.  I was not happy when the center had grown sparse.  Now it has filled in and has been blooming non stop without any deadheading all summer long.

The very first chrysanthemums are flowering behind Geranium ‘Rozanne’ in the planter by NIVA green.

From there, I could see across the street to the Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ that I wish I had pulled last fall.

I had anthropomorphized it when it started blooming like mad: Oh, it wants to live despite its sparse woody base.  Now it must stay there till after Rod Run.  Maybe.  I can hardly bear it, but I think an empty space might look worse.

When I got to the northernmost planters, I walked an extra half block and pulled bindweed out of the bus stop corner of Coulter Park.

The back of the park looks ignorable…Even the lawn is dry.  That area is due for some changes next year (by the city crew, not by us).

The front of the L shaped park is still pretty and green.

I noticed an appealing faux sedum item in the window of Dennis Company.

While I was watering the planter at the south end of Dennis Company, a nice employee came out and asked if we take care of the street tree in front of the store.  Yes, we water it once a week, I replied.  She told me that a man had come in all upset that the ivy was going to kill the tree.

Here is the ivy in question, a bit of small-leaved variegated ivy that gets trimmed once a year.

I had much to say, and apologized to the Dennis employee for “killing the messenger”.  I probably did not plant the ivy, or if I did, it was about 20 years ago when reputable garden writers were saying that the more delicate forms of ivy were still ok to plant, even though English ivy had become a noxious weed here.  I pointed out that the tree is still a fine and healthy specimen after 20 years, that the ivy is a small leaved variety that grows slowly and gets trimmed now and then, that its roots are down among the tree roots so we’ve never been able to get rid of it, and that I firmly believed that googling would back me up in it being harmless.  And that 2020 would be my last year of all the annoyances of the job.  That was a far cry from Monday, when I loved the job and wondered how I was going to bear to let it go.

Google did back me up.  Despite our alarm about English ivy destroying biodiversity in the Pacific Northwest, in the UK the Woodland Trust says “Ivy does not kill or damage trees and its presence doesn’t indicate that a tree is unhealthy or create a tree safety issue in its own right.”  The American Ivy Society of course says “The answer from the American Ivy Society is NO [ivy won’t kill a tree]. When people look at deciduous trees in winter and see evergreen ivy growing up the tree trunks, they incorrectly assume that the ivy (Hedera) is taking over the tree, or damaging or even killing the tree. Ivy is not a parasite but simply attaches to the trunk by means of adventitious roots that cling to the surface of the tree’s bark. The roots do not penetrate the bark which is a non-living, outer protective layer of a tree.”

I won’t plant any kind of ivy anymore, and I battle English ivy when I find it.  I am just so, so glad that that little patch of green and white variegated ivy will be someone else’s problem by the time I am 66 years old.  I can almost guarantee that no one is going to let it climb all the way up the trunk.

Before long, my beloved ratibidia had soothed my nerves.

After watering downtown, we watered the Sid Snyder beach approach planters.  There, I do the four planters closest to town on foot, while Allan drives out to the three westernmost planters.  Now it was his turn to get disgruntled.

I found about it when we reunited at the World Kite Museum and did a bit of light deadheading.

He showed me his photo of how one of our planters, on the sidewalk next to a resort, had been trimmed completely down, except for the rosemary, which had been hacked at.  Right before kite festival!

The plants cut to the base were two smallish ornamental grasses and a handsome echinops (blue globe thistle).  They had been there for years, leftover from volunteer planter days, making it an easy planter to maintain.  To some non gardeners, they would not have been recognizable as good plants.

Just lovely for kite festival week (and you probably know how I feel about red bark).

There used to be river rock where that new red bark now lies. I think that made more sense for drainage.

It was too late to go to city works, so I said to Allan, “Let’s go to city hall; they are still open.  You’ll feel better if you tell the staff about it and show them your photos.” So we did, and because of the always sympathetic ear of the city staff, he did feel better.  The plants will grow back, but not for kite festival, Labor Day and Rod Run weekends.  

Update, next day: As you can see, the planter is tucked into the resort property. The powers that be agree that the resort can take care of it from now on and we no longer have to water it. We wash our hands of it, not our problem. I hope they dig out the perennials that do not appeal to them and replace them with something that they like. They could configure their sprinklers to hit the planter as well as the adjacent garden.


I watered and weeded at the boatyard while Allan watered the street trees and planters.

I found the most wonderful hose at one of the boatyard faucets.

It is like one of those cloth hoses that always burst, but this one is made of metal, puts out a good amount of water, and does not kink.  I absolutely must have one.  It is short, about 40 feet, but maybe two could be hooked together for watering the port gardens.  I can see, though, that if someone drove over it, it would probably be ruined.  A boat guy said, “You couldn’t drag it over your car” without causing damage.

The boatyard garden needs a thorough going over.  I am just not sure when.  I spent an hour watering and an exhausted hour weeding.

Allan kindly watered both our volunteer gardens at the post office and fire station so that I could get on with the half monthly billing.

We now have a three day weekend, except for a private home watering job that we agreed to do.  Allan is off for a two night boating campout near Portland and I will leave my property as little as possible considering that said watering job must be done.




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Tuesday, 13 August 2019

our volunteer garden at the post office

Norwood garden


Allan’s photo

Mike’s garden

I said we were only going to weed and water at Mike’s for half an hour…and then I suddenly got inspired to do some pruning of the ornamental cherry tree (something I knew Mike wanted).  He came home and was most pleased.

final nipping of little dead bits

Not being an arborist, I was afraid to go further for fear I would shock the tree.  After Mike arrived and got involved, we took even more than I had planned. Makes me a little nervous that we have an arborist as a regular reader!  Monty Don and Seattle’s Swanson’s Nursery say summer pruning is good…along with other sources.  Maybe August was a bit late.  Some of the large branches have lost some bark.  Mike wanted to paint them with some kind of tree tar.  I told him I think that was no longer considered to be good practice.

The Red Barn

We watered and deadheaded and weeded.

bucket watering
Allan’s photo from one of the entry planters

Diane’s garden

We got a different view of the septic vault garden because Diane’s horse trailer wasn’t parked next to it.

Diane and I had a good conversation while deadheading the sweet peas. She loves her garden and keeps it well watered.

Allan’s photo

Deadheading cosmos on the septic vault:

drumstick alliums

Boreas Inn

We arrived to find Susie and two guests enraptured by a doe and baby fawn in the next door garden.

Allan’s photo

We weeded and deadheaded and Allan string trimmed the lawn edges.

Susie wishes her lawn, built on what used to be beach sand, was better.  I have no advice to offer about lawns.

Port of Ilwaco

We watered the east end, CoHo Charters, Port Office, Time Enough books garden beds on Howerton Avenue.

south side of Port Office

east end garden (Allan’s photo)
the fasciated toadflax (Allan’s photo)
CoHo bed that was all a big, traffic sight line blocking escallonia last year (Allan’s photo)

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Long Beach

In preparation for next week’s Kite Festival crowds, we weeded the city hall garden.

entry ramp, Allan’s photo, Basket Case Greenhouse baskets
Allan’s photo

We then weeded the beach approach garden and planters.  How we laughed that the kite festival event trailer’s truck had been driven over the end of the garden.

It only took an hour and a half to do the weeding job that takes over 50 hours in early spring, because the roses hide most of the grassy weeds and dry weather prevents new ones from appearing.

We met an interesting fellow who was interested in the “weed” grasses because he is searching for salt tolerant grasses for alkaline soils in Colorado, Idaho, and Nevada.  I suggested he read Bob Nold’s blog and Bob’s book, High and Dry (which he had heard of).

I don’t think the little wildflowers will stand a chance during the kite festival foot traffic.

Allan’s photo

Before the rugosa roses filled in most of the blocks-long garden bed, it would get completely trampled.

I will be curious to see if this little patch right next to a walk through survives.

Some are safely tucked in (I hope).

I like the ropy look on the curb edge of sand and moss.

The wild areas across from the sidewalk are just as beautiful as the garden.

Reaching the arch…

…we had come this far in good time.

Boreas Inn

Because the beach approach went so fast, we were able to add an extra job that Susie had asked for, trimming ivy in the narrow passageway on the north side of the inn. (English ivy was not classed as a Pacific Northwest noxious weed back when it was planted there.)


Port of Ilwaco

We watered curbside gardens by the David Jensen office, At the Helm Hotel, Port Pavilion, and the west end garden beds on Howerton.

by At the Helm Hotel
by Ilwaco Pavilion

We were startled to see that some plants in the Freedom Market garden had been ripped up and that thick red bark had been added where plants had been. I had been taking care of the garden rather minimally for free. The previous manager had asked me to take it on when it was nought but weeds, but because it was too complicated to bill a manager from a multi-town chain for such a small thing, I just did it gratis after the first clean up, for the joy of seeing it begin to turn into a proper little garden. Although it was difficult because a lot of it gets walked on, I had finally succeeded in making it garden-y this summer. I had provided all the plants except for the two old roses. Today I told the shop staff in a calm way (really!) that I would no longer be working on it. It was just a little volunteer project.  That is always the risk with imperializing someone else’s garden; it likely won’t be permanent. Too many cooks…  I had been hoping to make it better and fuller with free plants every year.

I was slightly upset and felt (like with That Job I Quit this past spring) that I wished I had those wasted work hours back. Soon after, I just felt relief at one less thing to do.

And I do loathe red bark. I quit an eight hours a week private garden twenty years ago when I showed up to work and the beds had all been covered with bright red bark!

Allan’s photo

On the way home, we drove by a pretty streetside garden on 2nd Avenue southwest.

Norwood garden

While I watered my own container plants, Allan returned to the Norwoods for a bit of string trimming.

We had a little end of day triumph.  I had rescued from one of the beach approach planters a catmint that was partly pulled out of the soil, an apparent human theft attempt as it is not a plant that deer like.  When we got it home, Allan potted it up and realized that one of our ground staples was in the plant!

The staple was in there level with the soil and had prevented the plant from being completely removed.  With some nurturing and recovery, it will live to see another day in a planter.


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Monday, 12 August 2019

Having pulled some of the Ilwaco art walk signs out of planters and tree gardens, because there will not be a September art walk, Allan returned them to Don Nisbett at his gallery before work.  Don showed Allan that he is now making garden flags, with your choice of art.

Long Beach

We watered the downtown street trees and planters. Today I felt the lift of joy in the Long Beach job that adds a thrill to the everyday.  It has only happened a couple of times this year, today with a feeling that lasted the entire three hours of watering.

Inside Wind World Kites, the blue shop in the above photo:

Allan’s photo
variegated silene still blooming!

I am loving the ratibidia in the big Lewis and Clark Square planter.

Agastache ‘Black Adder’

I am pleased with a re-done planter by Fifth Street Park:

Compare to last year when it was mostly Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’:

I feel satisfied at last with the Fifth Street Park gardens.

My only annoyance all day was that whoever trims the escallonia hedge at Fifth Street Park (not the city crew) drops cut rose bits into the garden…

…making for a stabby situation for us.

Allan’s photos while watering:

Busy sidewalks can make it a challenge to squeeze through with a hose and a bucket.

street tree garden

I am so jealous that Allan saw this puppy and I did not. I’m especially fond of Boston Terriers because I had one as a friend when I was a child.

Muscari (grape hyacinths) are coming up already.  (That is normal.)

We finished Long Beach by weeding the Veterans Field garden beds.


We were done with Long Beach too early to water the Ilwaco planters without parking problems, so we watered our volunteer gardens at the post office and fire station first.

Allan watered the street trees and planters while I weeded at the J’s.

J’s garden looks a little different because the hedge next door got trimmed hard.


July 24th:

The mystery sunflowers are blooming in one of the Ilwaco planters.

I think I know who planted the seeds, and I think she is giving them extra water. I wish the sunflowers at the fire station had done as well; they were a complete bust this year.

book report: Down to Earth by Monty Don

Late last night I finally finished an excellent book I’ve been reading slowly at bedtime.

back cover

Here are my favourite takeaways:

A 20 mph wind is “officially classed as no more than a fresh breeze.”  !!!!

Monty has won me over to leaving the edges of the garden wild.  I am going to make a sign with words from the following passage.

My sign will say “Always have some long grass growing.  Nothing is more beneficial to insects than long grass.” And it will be stuck in to a long-grassy area under a thorny rose bush that is almost impossible to weed.


That could not feel more true to me.  I have felt, since I became an obsessed gardener about 30 years ago, that anyone who walks through my garden is walking through my very being.

On not being judgmental about other people’s private gardens (and I am not saying that is always easy):


One of my top favorite paragraphs is this one.

In a chapter on kitchen gardening, I love that he injected a bit of social justice:

The books last chapters are one for each month of the year.  In July’s, Monty writes:

Every summer, I feel that I have not paid enough attention.  From 1995 to 2005 and beyond, when I worked so much that I did not have much time for my garden, I would think every summer, “It’s another lost year in my garden.”

Even though I like winter (reading season!) and do not suffer from seasonal depression like Monty does, I feel joy in every late October when Daylight Saving Time ends and I can draw the curtains at 4:30 and have long evenings indoors.

Three months and a bit till staycation…

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(…if I do say so myself.)

Friday, 9 August 2019

Inspired by Gardeners’ World, I made a list.  The fuchsias in question are ones that are hardy, in pots, and tired of being in pots.

Allan took the wire off the back bedroom door’s cat passageway (a large “mousehole’ cut out in the bottom of the door) and I took the cover off the cat door from the back bathroom to the outside.  No more closed doors, and a good thing, too, because warm weather and no window cross draft made for a stuffy house.

Next, the metal fire circle (an old tire rim) had broken recently when Allan tried to break a branch that was resting on it. I thought I could make a bigger fire pit with concrete chunks. The official fire rules say it could be three feet across.

However, it stayed the same size when I realized that the metal ring could rest on the concrete chunks (that were once the sidewalk to the Grocott house over on Spruce Street).

Meanwhile, I had already diverged from my jobs for the weekend, with the realization that I could not possibly sift out enough compost to fill in the expanded beds around the fire circle lawn.  Allan agreed to fetch me a yard of Soil Energy from Peninsula Landscape Supply.


It is not called Soil Energy anymore.  The company that delivers it has a new formula, with more sand, more chicken manure and less bark.  It smells more strongly of manure, a very good thing.  I think it will be better even though its name is duller (Lawn Starter or some such thing).

While Allan was off on his round of errands, I edged like mad.  With mulch coming, I could make the beds even bigger.

I was well stuck in when Judy and Larry stopped by, having been invited to see the lilies.  They were just in time.  Peak lily time is almost over.  We had an entertaining conversation, joined by Skooter.

After they departed, I got back to edging.  The fresh yard of mulch arrived.  It rather ponged of manure.  That pleased me.

Allan dumped three barrows of sod for me and then set to on another project that did not make the list. He rebuilt the south cat ramp so that it won’t scare Jazmin with its wobbliness.  Last night, she had gone outside and was so scared that I had to rescue her with much pleading and calling at midnight in order to nab her and bring her back inside through a people door.

after (Allan’s photos)

Oddly, my knee held up quite well during the wheelbarrowing of the yard of mulch to the newly expanded areas.  I was mightily hot and tired when I got done and mightily happy with how it looked.  Here are the obligatory befores and afters.

(different angle)

Every bed around the fire circle lawn has been slightly expanded.

And re-expanded from last week.

This was all inspired by our recent visit to Markham Farm.

I finished mulching at eight thirty, just in time for a campfire that Allan built to test the new fire circle and have a roasted hot dog dinner.

I realized that edging the new beds with rocks would be a good idea, to make the edges will show better in the dark. The rocks pick up the firelight.

After midnight, I watched this week’s Gardeners’ World on Britbox.  I loved when Monty showed a teasel sticking up through boxwood and said “teasel refusing to bow to authority.”  He left it there.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Utterly exhausted from yesterday’s efforts, I slept till 11 and read news and Facebook and so forth till after two.  We’d had rain, much to my delight.

in the street
in the red rain gauge

Allan made a new cat door, one that will be accessible on warm days when we have the door open.  I had come up with that big idea when I watched Skooter guarding the living room cat door, preventing Frosty from going out without getting a playful swat.

The all-weather cat door is behind the little pink chair (which is still on offer free to any taker).

Frosty helped Allan with the project.

The final result has a towel hung in the opening to keep bugs out.

This was my afternoon project:


Skooter helped.


I planted some salvaged plant divisions and a few of my ladies in waiting along the new edges that I made yesterday.

The fire circle lawn is still plenty big.

Meanwhile, Allan went to work at his job, the Ilwaco Community Building garden.

shady entryway

It had been awhile, so he was there for hours and got five heaping barrowsful of debris…


…and then gave it a good watering.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Having used up all my yard of mulch, I needed more.  I returned to my “jobs for the weekend” list and spent the afternoon sifting out compost bin four, not something I would usually choose to do on a hot day—but needs must.

It was too hot for cat helpers.

How Skooter laughed over not sharing the shady with Frosty.

I got this much compost…

…by also mixing in some sifted leaf mold…

…and got to the bottom of bin four.

Bins two and three are heaped high.

I applied the compost where I’d weeded and planted just a few more ladies in waiting (nothing with an exciting label) while awaiting a visit from Marlene and her granddaughter, Abby. When they arrived in the evening, we walked all around the garden on almost every path.

The lilies and passionflowers….

…became a backdrop for a photo on Marlene’s camera.

I took a photo at the front gate.

I remembered the glory of having an excellent grandmother and remembered happy times with her when I was a child and a teenager.






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