Archive for Oct, 2019

real time alert:

Allan will be selling his book at this holiday bazaar on Friday and Saturday.  (By “proceeds” in the bottom line, they mean the fees that the vendors pay to have a table in the bazaar.)

Thursday, 24 October 2019

With warm and sunny weather and no bulbs delivered to the front porch by midmorning, we went to work at the port.  My idea was to stick close to home so we could keep checking back for the bulb order.

I trimmed some lavender.  Monty Don has convinced me that it will get better air circulation and less chance of rot in winter with the spent flowers cut off.

I took armloads of lavender to the three closest businesses, Time Enough Books, the port office and the Don Nisbett Art Gallery.

Meanwhile, Allan cut down a big elderberry on the north wall of Time Enough Books. We bottom it out every autumn so that Karla and Peter can more easily put up Christmas light—and I have had my eye on it for Halloween decor.

Allan’s photos

I also have my eye on that grass.  I usually only cut grasses in late winter, but….that would be useful for Halloween.

refers to bookstore staff member and my good friend, Scout

Allan also did some pruning on another elderberry that we leave up to soften the look of the utility boxes.



He thought he had cut one too many branches.

On our way home to look for bulbs, we saw that the port crew had already assembled the Crab Pot Christmas Tree, which will be decorated by volunteers in November.

Allan’s photos

And we saw a boat sure to please Our Kathleen.

The bulbs had indeed arrived, only half as many boxes as usual.

I have few tulip jobs left and so got many fewer big tulips, just enough for Long Beach and Diane’s garden. (By “tulip jobs”, I mean gardens without deer!)  Last year, I got an enormous number of bulbs because of wanting That Job I Quit (a “tulip job”) to have some of all my favourites.  My thought this year is that A) I crave an easier year and B) I have planted so many bulbs in Long Beach, the Ilwaco Community Building, and to some extent the port that I would like to see how many of the narcissi, crocus, species tulips and others have perennialized.

Allan set up the tables in the garage…

…and I got right to sorting.

I had to call a second bulb company to find out when a small order will be delivered.  It is on its way from McLure and Zimmerman. I placed the order because they had watsonia and, of course, was tempted by other bulbs.  I will only get the others, because the watsonia had a crop failure.

Bulb sorting used to take two brain-numbing days.  This year, it took only seven and a half hours (not counting making the spreadsheets, still in the future).

While I sorted, Allan worked on Halloween decor, starting with the punkin-head ghost.


He then moved on to use all the elderberry branches that he had cut today.  One side of the Corridor of Spooky Plants took shape.

I hope Tony Tomeo, who wrote this interesting post about Halloween decorating, would not find ours as horrid as some.  I think our punkin head ghost does not cross the line into bad taste like some effigies.  I was once appalled to see a depiction of someone hung from a noose (can’t remember if it was a skeleton or mannikin) not long after there had been a suicide in the local news.

We do use fake cobwebs, but I find them so tawdry the next morning that I go out at night to remove them after the last trick or treater has gone.

I like the home made monsters like the one a block north, with flowing robes, that moves on a long stick.

the scariest house in town

I do think that our own decorating is a good example of making something out of almost nothing.

The work board is full to bursting right now.

Fall clean up will be partially on hold till a hard frost or the second week of November, whichever comes first.

I seem never to get to the at-home projects on the lower right.


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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

morning Skooter (Allan’s photo)

The rain gauge this morning showed last week’s rain.  Today, the storms had ended for now.

Before I went garden touring with Beverly, my back went SPROOOIIING when I stood  from picking up windfall apples.  I wasn’t even sure I would be able to go garden touring!  Fortunately, I had a couple of hours to recuperate with Doans Back Pills, a dose of CBD (which I had neglected to take last night, thus the sproing, perhaps) and some very straight standing up against a door.

Allan postponed his work to make sure I’d be ok and occupied himself by mowing the lawn.

in the bogsy wood

He found some standing water in the bogsy wood swale…

…and some branches downed by wind.

After I could walk without hobbling and kvetching, he left to trim escallonia hedges at CoHo Charters at the port.

south side of CoHo Charters Motel

Escallonia ‘Pink Princess’ still blooming

north side

I had asked him to tidy the east curbside bed a bit.

The rest can wait till Bulb Time.  The bulb sorting will begin Thursday (as the shipment is  going to be a day later than originally stated).  I am frustrated by the delay but will find some useful work to do tomorrow.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

My first idea was to chop up some bucketed leaves, since we had the mower out. I spread them on the lawn next door.

I was pleased to see you can chop leaves on a driveway, too.

We started our last workday before Bulb Time by mowing Marlene’s lawn, just a neighborly favor because she’d hurt her foot in a fall.  I had my own motive, the chopping and collecting of her fine collection of maple leaves.  Even though every one had blown off the trees….

….I only got two lawn mower bags full.  I think the strong wind had blown most of them off into the woods on the hill behind her cottage.

Just down the block from Marlene’s is this palm tree, which I photographed for the entertainment of arborist Tony Tomeo.

We dropped off our chopped leaves and the mower…

and then began our workday at

The Depot Restaurant

with some watering of window boxes and cutting back of spent lilies.

Coreopsis ‘Flower Tower’ and bamboo

Long Beach

We trimmed up the welcome sign garden….

…tidied up the city hall garden and several downtown planters, with a brief social interval when we encountered Beverly and her husband strolling downtown on what had turned into a summery day.

I had intended to tidy Fifth Street Park’s west side until I remembered that the city crew would love it if we cleaned up around the pond on the east side of the park.

Allan took all the rest of the photos.  We were racing daylight by then.

The Darmera peltata was ready to be cut so that the crew can clean out the pond.


We also cut the big gunnera leaves that drooped into the pond.

We pried off the darmera roots that had moved into pond territory.

The half moon edger proved useful for cutting through some of the bigger, surface running roots.


To load the vast amount of debris, Allan made a tarp burrito to add the darmera to an already full load of foliage trimmed from city hall and planters.

Fortunately, we had room in our wheelie bin at home for the weeds of the day, and the garbage goes out tomorrow.  The rest of the debris went in a pile behind the garage to be chopped up for composting later.

Our audience:

We got done just at sunset.

Just after dark, Allan photographed the newly installed Halloween decor at the J’s cottage across the street.

It is de rigueur to decorate for Halloween in Ilwaco, given the hundreds of trick or treaters who come to the flatlands.

Tomorrow, bulb time begins, with the frustration of having to sort bulbs on a beautiful weather day, followed by several more good days to get started on the planting.

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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Beverly had invited me to come with her to see artist and dancer Linda King’s garden, one of her favourites on last summer’s Long Beach Peninsula garden tour.  I had seen Linda’s garden briefly on the tour when it was brand new, in 2009, the same year my mother’s garden was on the tour (so my visit to Linda’s had been rushed). I was delighted to have the opportunity to see how it had matured.


Beverly had given each of us a small fairy for our fairy gardens.  After Linda opened hers, we went into her studio so that Beverly could pick up some acrylic pour paintings that she had made in one of Linda’s classes.  They were gorgeous abstract swirly patterns which I neglected to photograph, but here are some examples of Linda’s work in that medium:

Beverly is holding up the big floral one.

Views from the studio windows:

With the paintings packed up…including one of Linda’s that Beverly bought for her collection…we took a walk through the woods to Linda’s “Tarry House”.

A large fallen branch was evidence of last week’s storms.

The path to the Tarry House, a writing studio, leads through a woods carpeted with moss and ferns….

…and fungi tiny and large.

tiny white mushrooms

The Tarry House:

view from the Tarry House porch
ephemeral art

We walked down the long lawn back toward the house…

…and then toured the gardens around the main house.

On the front lawn:

And here we return to where we began.

Back at home again, Skooter awaited my return…

…and Allan got home from work just in time see Beverly and I discussing garden tour plans for 2020.


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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

A new-this-year gardening friend had invited me to tour a garden with her today, one I very much wanted to see.  Because we would have time to visit at least one other garden first, I suggested we go to the home of an artist couple who had invited me and Allan to see their autumn garden.  In the early afternoon, Beverly and I set off garden touring, while Allan decided to get a hedge trimming job done.

The Toepfer Garden

….is one of my top three favourite local gardens. It is the haven of two artistic plant collectors and up-cyclers.  You can read about Kent and Betsy’s art on the Northwest Artist’s Guild site, here.

The big wheels on the fence are something to do with (I think) cable tv.  At least, I think these are the circles that once were a big structure in the garden itself, as you can see in this post from my first visit there.

Coincidentally, the next day Allan saw the big circles in use an electrical utility truck.

Although the garden creators had to be gone today during our tour time, we had permission to wander.  We were greeted by a purple donkey.

To the east side of the entry drive is a dry garden whose red theme is now enhanced by bright autumn foliage.

We noticed a theme of cotinus (smokebush) throughout the garden, beginning with the blazing red one above.

Turning to the west, we walked along a shaded path.

(I think) Cotinus ‘Golden Spirit’

I remember this horse from previous tours and had been looking for it.

The glorious main is all wire.

We turned to the garden around the house.  Beverly pointed out that the repurposed pot covering, left below, is the whirly vent thing that goes up on a roof.

Left, below, another smoke bush of a more subtle hue and I think a rhododendron with dark foliage.

mirror ball

I would like to trade with them a start of my very silver pulmonaria for a start of theirs with long and narrow leaves:

another fancy rhododendron

Coming around to the north side of the house:

I was filled with envy when I saw their Pseudopanax ferox; I have tried and failed three times to grow it, and it is not readily available to replace after a failure.

It is perfect for  a garden with lots of repurposed metal accents.

I lingered covetously…

…but finally moved on to a hydrangea with exceptional fall colour.

I think I spy another smokebush.

The outdoor fireplace would be sheltered from winter wind.


by the back deck
on the deck

I bet that Betsy’s art, or maybe mirrors, get hung here during summer days.

I hope Beverly and I can return next spring to see the garden in a different season.

We still had an hour before our arrival time at our garden destination.  Beverly suggested the long way round and I suggested that we could go to one of the furthest north gardens in Surfside and at least look at it from the road.

Somsri’s garden

We arrived at our second artist’s garden, and Somsri, being home, welcomed us in.  You can see full tours of her garden here (2015) and here (2019, summer).  Today, I was focused in on the art pieces she has created.  Beverly is artistic and crafty herself and had good questions about how the art was made.

Somsri’s two greeters were ever so sweet and welcoming.

Somsri’s magnificent septic vault garden is always the high point for me.

I am particularly smitten with the bowling balls decorated with marbles.  Another way Somsri gets the orb shape is to cover a light globe with cement and then break the bulb…or something like that!  (Not quite sure why you’d have to break it; I think Beverly understood the crafty parts better than I did.)

We both loved the orbs covered with glass shapes other than marbles.

Another local artists had made the plate and bowl flowers, screwing them together, which would work much better than gluing.  I have noticed that glued ones soon fall apart.

Somsri even makes her own stepping stones.

And these realistic squashes were made, in a method that mystifies me, out of paper and (I think) crumpled nylon…

We had to tear ourselves away because we were now running a quarter of an hour late for our arrival at our original artist’s garden destination.

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Sunday, 20 October 2019

Daemon Voices by Philip Pullman (That is just a piece of autumn leaf by Skooter’s eye.)

I had set this big book aside for a few days till such time as I could read it all in a day.

The title comes from his trilogy, His Dark Materials, in which “Dæmons are the external physical manifestation of a person’s inner self that takes the form of an animal.”

Most of his works are fantasy, a genre I have almost entirely stopped reading but loved in the past.  When I first started to read The Golden Compass, I had a hard time with the whole concept of the daemon creatures and almost gave up on the big tome.  And then, something shifted, and I understood it, and it was like the top of my head lifted off and floated around the room.

During a long ago time when I had stopped reading fantasy, at age 20, I took a class on the subject at the Experimental College, a low cost, citizen-taught, non-credit “college” sponsored by the University of Washington. I remember walking after a class through the campus, at night, in the winter, with wind rustling in the trees, with the top of my head lifted off and floating around as I realized how much I loved the feeling of reading a good fantasy novel.

About a year later, I discovered Iris Murdoch and my three favourite Margarets (Drabble, Laurence, and Atwood, back when Atwood wrote realistic novels), and then Nina Bawden and Barbara Pym, and I left the realm of fantasy and science fiction.  I was still lured back in occasionally by a well-reviewed book (leading to the reading of everything by Philip K Dick in one long swoop at age 29), and that’s how I discovered Philip Pullman in my forties.

I might have some catching up to do.  I had no idea he’s written so much.

I had many takeaways from this book.

The author is surprisingly funny…surprising because his trilogy, His Dark Materials, I remember as being serious.

I like his comment at the end of this passage on Oxford, and the passage itself.

I was in Oxford once in December for a misty day and night.

Oxford Botanical Gardens
Oxford High Street

On gardens:

And there is a glorious chapter on Tom’s Midnight Garden.

But speaking of gardens, I had to set the book aside for an hour during a break in the rain, so that we could go to the Ilwaco Community Building to clear some leaves from the parking lot while the library and alternative school are closed.

I checked the rain gauges before we left.

I had thought that wind would have taken down more of the leaves at the community building.

There will be more to gather next Sunday.

Allan’s photos

Allan’s photo
Allan’s photos

the tiered garden

sanguisorba and witch hazel
autumn crocus
Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo
the infiltration of salal

I saved some of the prettiest leaves in hopes they will last till Halloween (or I can collect more).  I like to drift them in our forest grotto (the Halloween garage).  Philip Pullman says, “I like the word grotto, and I like to use it as often as possible.”

At home, I returned to Daemon Voices.

I so agree with this:

And this (quoted from someone else’s story):

I feel the urge to join a book club:

About Swallows and Amazons:

I found it especially interesting that, even though Pullman is an atheist or agnostic, several of his lectures transcribed for Daemon Voices are talks he gave to (intellectual) Christian groups.  His writing felt so open, kind, and non-judgmental that I think spiritual and non spiritual people would enjoy it.

People tend to argue with me when I tell them I am not spiritual.  I feel the way that Pullman puts into eloquent words when he gets to the part about “any talk about the spiritual“:

He writes about creating a Republic of Heaven here on earth.

Which reminds me of a garden sign that I have out in the garden…

Something about writing: I don’t think I’ve ever given thought to the difference between the narrator and the writer.

Jazmin joined me for our nightly viewing of a couple of episodes of The Leftovers.

The next day was one of practical activities like cleaning all the ornaments that sit on open shelves in preparation for Halloween, a gathering that inspires a good, detailed once-a-year housecleaning whether it needs it or not. I would rather have been reading an enormous Monty Don book that came from the library and needs a full day’s attention.  The cleaning frenzy was followed by churning out the previous four blog posts. Next: some garden touring on Tuesday.


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Saturday, 19 October 2019

The night blooming cereus flower, though spent, is still hanging on.

But the storm has blown most of the leaves off of the hamamelis that was so pretty from the east window.

Jazmin’s new favourite indoor spot is Allan’s chair.

We have had 3.27 inches of rain since Tuesday evening.

Some midmorning sunshine drew me outside.

blueberry bush
the red rain gauge

I had just long enough to give my neighbors biscuits and apples before the rain returned.

Because I was relishing my staycation preview of reading time, I was happy about the rain.  I continued with The Hacking of the American Mind. It was not what I had expected, being more about the evils of processed food than a discourse on social media. The second half of the book was the most interesting to me, with its concern about the power and influence of big corporations.

Read up on this Powell fellow and his influence that eventually led to corporations being deemed “people”. Fascinating, and just the beginning of a chapter:

Product placement is not the road to happiness:

Is this true (below)? Do talk show hosts really guzzle booze at 10 AM?

I was sorry to see the author’s solution to a happier (contented) life, because the last of his 4 Cs…

….is something I do not enjoy at all: Cooking.  The idea is to eliminate all the extra sugar found in processed foods.  But I do not enjoy cooking, none of it, not chopping things, not getting the pan out the cupboard, not sautéeing or baking or sauce-making or anything but the eating.  Allan doesn’t love it either, but at least he does it. He soon got bored with my nightly recipe of dropping a bagged salad onto a bed of couscous (which you don’t really have to cook, just boil water). Neither of us is likely to take to making tomato sauce from scratch to avoid the sugar.

Oh, dear.

Perhaps after I semi-retire (in two years?) this blog can chronicle a journey toward at least trying to enjoy preparing food.

After I finished my book, during a non-rainy spell, we went to work for a few minutes, deadheading cosmos at the port.

south side of port office (Allan’s photo)
high tide (Allan’s photo)
a boat whose paint job I love (Allan’s photo)

As it happened, we met the lovely gentleman whose green boat that is.  He was filled with praise and thanks for the gardens at the port and said how wonderful it is for a fisherman to come into port and be able to see flowers.  In turn, I praised the port office managers over the years who have financed the floral beauty.

His love for the gardens brought a tear to me jaded old eye.  We do get compliments but not many that are this moving.

On the way home, Allan and I checked out the progress of Halloween on the Ilwaco flatlands.

Some foliage by the fire station matches the building well.

the home of not one, but two local school principals!
Ilwaco Fire Department window

the scariest house in town
garden spiders, similar to the ones all over my yard (in real life)

Sometimes just a few pumpkins are enough.

Or one, if it’s big enough.

We have only gotten as far as putting up some lights.

Back home, in evening light…

(with the leaves of Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’ almost gone)

…I added another old quilt to the compost bins, this one made by me, years ago, out of old socks, sewn on my grandma’s genuine treadle sewing machine.

Although I have loved its warm heaviness, it is now too tattered to wash.  I am interested to see if I will be able to pick out which socks were synthetic and which all cotton or wool.

In the evening, I read the novel on which the mesmerizing telly series we’ve been watching is based, and we finished watching season two.


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Friday, 18 October 2019

The night blooming cereus flower was done.

The rain gauges today:

With Allan continuing to work on the cold frame in the on and off rain….

….I felt I had better do a little something other than reading, and so I took some cuttings of fuchsias, escallonia, lavender, and luma, and potted them up.

I was pleased to find that some dianthus cuttings taken not long ago had turned into plants.

Roots and all!

Allan scraped the gravel out of the cold frame destination:

He wheeled the finished product into place.

Inspired by having found that domed window, the cold frame is now in place to protect a few precious plants in a hard freeze.

I showed Allan that I was wondering if we could move this physocarpus back to the middle of the west garden bed…

…and he cleverly reminded me of how well it balances the physocarpus in the east garden bed. I still think the west one is too far forward.

In the late afternoon, I started a new book, just because the title had interested me.

I thought it would be more about social media and less about its main theme, sugar in so many food products and the damage it does to our minds (and a little bit about social media).  The first half is strongly science based.

Even though the author wrote another book called Fat Chance and has a career as a doctor to “obese children”, he turned out to not be a fat-basher and had much of interest to say.  A bit more on this book tomorrow; I did not finish it today.

 Allan ran errands and dropped in on the preview and artists reception for the 6×6 Art Auction (which will be November 2nd at Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum).  I did not want to leave my book.

My favourite:

It will be almost too much excitement to have Halloween on the 31st and the art auction on the 2nd.

I was sad to come to the end tonight of the 2019 Gardeners’ World series.  My gardening year has at least seven, maybe more, weeks to go (with breaks for weather).

Monty Don with one of his cold frames:

A good idea, planting bulbs with a crowbar.

I felt verklempt as Monty and the dogs bid farewell for the year.


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