Archive for Feb, 2020

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

The day started cold, with ice on rainwater in the red wheelbarrow.

The spring clean ups do not happen in springtime, they are for springtime.
Mike’s garden

We went back to Mike’s because I realized from Allan’s photo of yesterday that the variegated buddleia had not been cut low enough.  (This shrub was in the garden when we took it on; we wouldn’t plant this sort of buddleia now because, sadly, it’s on the noxious weed list.)



He’d only cut it to five feet. Today, I cut it much lower. On the right, below:


Allan trimmed this Fuchsia magellanica to the base today.

It will be that tall again by midsummer. While I did some more weeding, he reset some paving stones in the area that was cleared for plumbing purposes.
I haven’t seen Mike yet to discuss what to do there.
In the garden, pieris…

6DD7D987-8754-436F-BA54-E48ACA1B9D33…and spring bulbs are looking fine.

The Depot Restaurant 

We did the chopping of the ornamental grasses that provide summer enclosure for the dining deck.

It is rare to see the whole parking lot garden on a work day because usually our van is parked there.
The plants in the north bed, above, will be as tall as me and taller by mid summer.

Long Beach

Allan dropped me off at the Boreas Inn and went back to the heart of Long Beach to do a one person job, involving climbing up on the Big Popout to prune the pampas grass, followed by the dumping of debris.


The so called dwarf pampas was planted before it was on the noxious weed list. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself not to plant rugosa roses in that bed. It would be more fun with an assortment of smaller plants at eye level…but then choicer and smaller plants might be stolen…

Boreas Inn

Meanwhile, I sheared plants in the west gardens at the Boreas.

Sword ferns (and Susie’s hellebore):

Ornamental grasses:


Sneak preview: The next day, I divided the nearest grass so that we could have a run of three, rather than two, in the bed between the Boreas and the neighbouring lot.
When Allan arrived after his debris dump, we returned to the Depot Restaurant…

Our original intent had been just to cut, on the way home, a big ornamental grass in the front of the adjacent old house which is the Depot office.  However, in the meantime Chef Michael had texted asking us to trim some bamboo. The timing was fortuitous because, it being one of his days off, he had not even known we were there today.
I pruned this clump away from the restaurant wall…


And Allan pruned some more that grows in a narrow area behind the kitchen. I can’t even fit back there.


The Boreas is not done yet, so could not come off the work board. I’d had a dream that Allan might get the roses cut in one section of the beach approach today. I live in hope, often thwarted by jobs almost always taking longer than I imagine.

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Monday, 24 February 2020

We devoted the day to Ilwaco gardens.

Ilwaco Community Building

Allan took on the community building job several years ago when I turned it down because of its over abundance of salal—one of my least favourite plants in a garden (although a fine plant in the woods). Since then, I have helped with it on occasion, especially when trying to fill in more plants around the monoculture of heathers (another plant that does not thrill me). But not today.
Somebody had picked some narcissi, maybe for a bouquet in the building. We wish they would at least leave the foliage, which is needed by the bulbs. If the picking was not done by someone for a bouquet within the community building, for shame on the finger blight. And just pick the flower stems! 

The crocuses are bulking up.6025A555-F830-468C-AB3C-156961856864



This garden also has the dreaded orange montbretia.

Almost every garden we do has orange montbretia. I even found some in the roadside garden at Diane’s last week, which I most certainly never planted. Especially since Diane’s garden is supposed to have no orange or yellow summer flowers.
Meanwhile, I worked on one of our volunteer gardens, the

Ilwaco Fire Station,

which did not need as much work as I had expected.


I stuck some clippings of silver santolina in the hebe bed (with all the power boxes) and the long narrow side beds. On the east side, I figured out that the iris that came up from mystery roots last year is the noxious weed, Iris pseudocorus, the yellow flag iris. Because I did not have a shovel, most of it stayed for now.


J’s garden

Almost across the street from our house (and a block from the fire station), I next clipped sword ferns and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and pulled a surprising number of weeds at the J’s cottage.


I think that moss will not revive. Waiting to see.


The mugo pine got a slight trim.  I still think the garden might be better without it. Here is what it looked like when originally planted by the previous owner.

While weeding, I heard a slight sound and turned to see Skooter.
It is, unfortunately, not unusual to see him over at the Js, but I was startled that Jazmin crossed the street.
Shortly after my cats left, the cute tabby from next door who will never let me pet him appeared to be reading a message…

DC535E2F-1FAF-4C78-B269-043395186839…and then left a reply, probably for Skooter.CF6EF534-68C0-4543-B743-AC531A917F3B
Mike’s garden 

After the community building, Allan had gone a few blocks east for the wake up call to Mike’s garden.

While pruning the hydrangea, Allan had a vocal audience.


Norwood garden

I finished my day by weeding the narrow beds around the Norwood house, two doors down.
What a relief it was to see that the two privets that I had cut way down, seeking a thicker new growth, were leafing out. I had been worried that I had gone too far (but not worried enough to have walked over and looked during the winter).


When Allan got back from Mike’s, he mowed the Norwood lawn.
Today’s work resulted in a dramatic reduction on the work board.
The difficult beach approach job has made an appearance since Allan might make it out to one section tomorrow to cut some roses.

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Saturday, 22 February 2020

Allan helped take the old lights off of the crab pot Christmas tree so that the port crew can dismantle it at last.

I was a bit worried about him climbing up there. Our health insurance agent advised no ladders after age 65! He survived.
I spent the day propagating plants…


……filling up a new table (old door found in the scrap wood pile by the boatyard).

Allan dug up one clump of Veronicastrum ‘White Icicle’ for me that I got 36 small plants from. And he photographed a floriferous Iris unguicularis that Todd gave me a few years back.
Allan mowed three lawns: the Nora House, the Jay’s back garden, and ours. The lightweight strimmer burnt out its motor and will need replacing post haste.

In the evening I finished Mary Karr’s third memoir.


Of four items I saved, two were chapter headers:


…Ironically, I haven’t read Nabokov at all (I want to now).  I sort of feel like this:


Mary Karr’s own thoughts on death: …I’m a habitually morbid bitch. Even my poetry is obsessed with our collective hustle toward death—the prospect of my own death seeming specially tragic and unsung. 

Sunday, 23 February 2020

We were kept indoors by a wind storm of fifty miles an hour all day long, and a good thing, too, because I had a Christopher Isherwood memoir to read: The Lost Years, about a time in his life so chaotic that he didn’t keep up his daily journal, and so recreated it years later from notes, letters, memory, and a daily calendar diary.  At only 350 pages, I thought I might finish it, but with extra small print, I have 50 pages yet to go.


I just like this description of a house that sounds ideal to me (if it were smaller).


An interior courtyard would be so perfectly private.

I always like reading about Christopher’s friendship with  Dodie Smith (Beesley), author of I Capture the Castle and 101 Dalmatians.


This friend of Christopher’s reminds me so much of our friend Tony Hofer.


I identify with Chris’s chronic hypochondria. His doctor’s advice reminds me of the excellent book by Barbara Ehrenreich, Natural Causes. 1848FAA4-B37C-4DD5-B8DC-6A2081C386DF
Much of the memoir is about Christopher’s difficult relationship with his live-in lover.  The description of what each of them wanted out of domestic life reminded me so much of life with my ex.

Christopher: I want to have a comfortable, predictable, fairly quiet daily life, in which my mind will be as free from anxiety as possible, and I will be able to work……I don’t care much for parties, but I am prepared to give them from time to time, especially if Caskey makes all the arrangements and does all the cooking and we don’t have to stay up too late.  Oh, sure I’ll help with the dishwashing if necessary.  As for Caskey, I want him to be happy and busy (at something, never mind what), and to go to bed and wake up at the same time I do.

(Caskey had the habit of tormenting Chris with loud music in the night.)



I had a look at the Derek Jarman memoir, and the type is even denser and smaller, oh dear!  I need more rainy reading days for my small stack of library books. But tomorrow will be back to work.



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Friday, 21 February 2020

With the port gardens tidied up, we were able to start making the rounds.

Ilwaco Community Building

We did a bit of light tidying and some garden appreciation (Allan’s photos) after picking up two books at the library. (Derek Jarman and Christopher Isherwood interlibrary loans!)

Long Beach

I had hoped to trim ornamental grasses at the Depot Restaurant, till we saw a parking lot full of trucks and work being done on the garage. We kept going…passing the Long Beach welcome sign…

and were lucky enough to get a parking spot close to the Heron Pond, facilitating the spring clean up there.

69FF5B63-14DA-479A-96BA-B7E4AD0994B2Allan walked on water to get to the waterfall ferns.


I got to pet a cute wiener dog.
Because we were parked right in front of the NIVA green shop (new, inspired, vintage, artful), we had a quick peek inside.

We went to the beach approach to pull one and just one unattractive clump of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’…

59E542BE-59E5-4090-BC99-9EE731C684AC…and to check out the brand new loos.

They passed inspection, with four new private rooms (two of which were locked).

The Red Barn Arena

We weeded and tidied the small garden…

…and had the addition pleasure of seeing horses being led out…

9FB9CF54-F953-42AE-BA37-944536BCBFD3…and horse friends…


Allan’s photo

…and I got to give a biscuit to a very good dog named Dog.
And I found some compost makings in the form of rotting pumpkins in one of the planters.
Diane’s garden

My good friend Holly also got a biscuit (but no photo today).

We tidied up the septic vault garden…


E6A86E34-2344-43D7-BCF5-140A696DA8D9…and the house garden…

…and the driveway and roadside garden.


Today’s work allowed four erasures on the work board.

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Thursday, 20 February 2020

The crocuses and a few early narcissi are in bloom at the Ilwaco post office.

I imagined that we might be able to polish off the boatyard garden’s wake up call with time left over for a smaller job like the Ilwaco Community Building. Ha. Ha ha ha. Why do I have these dreams?
Before, looking south along the narrow border, about two blocks long.
The garden has many santolinas to trim.
Fortunately, The Toy (our Stihl trimmer) makes the job go much faster than when I used to clip them with the secateurs. Today, Allan shovel pruned one of them that had a major weed grass infestation. (That means digging it out and discarding it.)

The crocuses that I planted in groups of three have multiplied into purple pools. I must add more yellow ones…although there are some yellows that are onesies now but will multiply as time passes.
Allan zip-tied the anti-flower-picking signs to the cyclone fence.
We have some that Allan made that read “Please leave the flowers for everyone to enjoy,” and some made by Don Nisbett, featuring “the crabby gardener”.


The Crabby Gardener by Don Nisbett

Soon more narcissi will join the earliest ones that are already blooming. I saw evidence of finger blight in one clump, where a trowel shaped hole evidenced that a thief had helped themself to bulb and flower.
In better human news, a fellow stopped and chatted with us yesterday and today. He lives locally and is a retired mushroom forager with fascinating tales of forest lore.
And he is funny. I loved the story of how he sat on his mushroom hunting bucket to take a break when he saw a bear further up the path. And the bear sat down, too, so they had their break together.
Sometimes it takes so much energy to even make words when I am working hard, especially toward the end of the day, that I pray no one will stop and talk to me. However, I will welcome more tales from this lovely local gent.

There are always interesting sights to see at the boatyard.
And, of course, there is garden interest as well, even in this season when many plants are dormant.


Ladybugs with spring fever


fasciated euphorbia

Some photos (all by Allan today) of our work in progress:
After we passed the gate, I despaired that we could get to the end before dark.
85256BAB-8B3B-4BB3-9B63-5235F1077437A temperature drop was making the work harder. I kept weeding madly while Allan made a debris dump run with our many full buckets. (Any invasive plants, for example oxeye daisies we pulled at the port yesterday, go into a wheelie bin rather than a dump spot.)

To my amazement, we did get done.
Allan recently found an article I sent to him in the mid 1990s.


We’ve now finished the first go round of all of the Port of Ilwaco gardens and can move on to other, shorter jobs…ones that make the work board list get shorter, faster.
The work board tonight:


Just as I had made myself a nice cup of Builders, our power flashed three times and went off. I went outside, where Allan was offloading the last of the debris. He had heard a large boom from near the port. We read by flashlight for three hours as the house got progressively chillier and then the power returned. Soon we were running the dishwasher and the washing machine, having a nice warm dinner, and appreciating the mod cons. A transformer had blown near the boatyard, putting all of Ilwaco and surrounding areas out of power. Our internet remained out for the night. I hoped that tomorrow would not be spent on technical problems instead of working.

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19 Feb: still curbsiding

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Port of Ilwaco

We continued on with the curbside gardens along Howerton Avenue, hoping to get them done today.
First, picking up where we left off yesterday, I finished the detailed weeding of the pavilion bed while Allan got started on the drive-over garden, so called because it is between two driveways and gets smashed at least twice a year. We did some rearranging by removing a sad old green santolina and inserting some starts of Miscanthus ‘Gold Bar’. I have noticed the green santolinas get woodier and gnarly sooner than the silver ones, and have less new growth in the center so that they can’t be cut back as hard to refresh them.
Before and after:

Of course, that took longer than I thought it would.
We moved west to the two end beds.  It was so fortunate that we happened to get a pile of free mulch for them from Salt Hotel last fall. They are easier to work on with the soil more level with the curb and look much better, too….and, while still lurking underneath, the creeping sorrel and strawberries are not as rampant. They probably will be later because we had to just cover some of them on that emergency mulch day late last fall when the free mulch pile had to be moved.
The penultimate western bed, before:


And after:


The sheet of pink achillea on the east end of the bed can wait to have grass weeded out of it later.  It will be time consuming and…it is only February and we have more urgent fish to fry! Strangely, it is blooming months early.
While dumping a weed bucket in the trailer , I looked at the garden from across the street  and thought, Wouldn’t it be great if the two sides of the sidewalk cut-through matched?
Why did I never think of this before? It can be achieved by moving some grasses around…next time. We did plant one libertia to make a matched set; I had spares in a bucket so that was easy.
In the westernmost bed, a santolina that has been bothersomely infested with grass got dug out and replaced with another libertia.


Allan also added three libertia starts to the Salt Hotel curbside bed. Something that often happens: When I saw his photo of the plant to be planted…which involved cutting a hole in heavy landscape fabric…there was a big cluster of unweeded shotweed around it.
This will be addressed in our next go-round of port weeding, or on a special trip if it haunts my dreams.
Libertia is a plant with iris-like leaves and stalks of white flowers in spring. It is tough and thrives in the difficult conditions of the port.


Libertia grandiflora in my garden, 5-14-13

We had saved four eastern beds for last. The easternmost one is long, with many santolinas to cut back.


I moved on to the two red lava rock beds by CoHo charters while Allan finished tidying the end bed. By now the sun was setting and I was considerably stressed by my desire to finish the port gardens today. When we had begun the easternmost bed, it had seemed unlikely we would reach that goal.
Finally, with daylight left, we had just one more bed, by the new bakery (which is possibly going to open in June).  We decided that one big old tired lavender had to go.

And…we had reached our goal with just enough time to dump the compostable debris at home. It was most satisfying to know that we can move on to the boatyard garden tomorrow.
All photos by Allan today. I’m too frazzled to get a camera out.
The work board tonight:


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Tuesday, 18 February 2020

We returned to the Howerton Avenue curbside gardens at the port.
We started at one whose before and after is dramatic, by David Jensen’s architecture office.
It took a discouragingly long time to weed that bed. I realized we would probably not get as far as I had hoped for today.

While Allan loaded debris, I moved west to the next bed, which is a hedge of Escallonia that I did not plant.  The fish canning company adjacent clips it into a sharp line once a year, making it not any good for bees because it is never allowed to flower. Only last year did I decide to maintain the edges around the escallonia,  a bleak verge which was bark with landscape fabric showing through and drifts of weeds.  We removed most of the fabric last year.  Today, I took the bricks out from the weedy curb edge and pulled out the last of the thin, ineffectual fabric and moved the bricks inboard to make future weeding easier.


Of course, it took longer than I would have liked. In compensation, I met a nice dog from the Tuna Club next door.
Her name is Tuna.

We both moved on to the curbside beds at At the Helm Hotel and Pub. (We don’t do the hotel garden inside the sidewalk, just the curbside beds.) I decided to coppice about a third of the stems of the red twig dogwood, to make for bright red new growth for next winter. (Before and after are two different patches.)

This garden has a maddening amount of beach strawberry. I curse the planting of it (not by me!). The beach strawberry is at least intermingled with some of the pink flowered ornamental strawberry, but I find them equally thuggish and hope to find time this year for some extensive thinning.


It also has massive of wild garlic or whatever that nondescript little allium is.
Nor did we plant the sprawls of kinnickinnick, which Allan trimmed back from the sidewalk.
I think we should whack all the kinnickinnick hard as can be, when we have time.

I went on to weed the two beds by the Ilwaco Pavilion (the restroom building). No before photo to show what it was like prior to trimming. I turned one Miscanthus ‘Gold Bar’  into three and bunged in a couple of Sanguisorbas from my garden to see if they will escape deer browsing.
I was punchy and racing daylight by the end of the job and was mad at myself for accidentally clipping two narcissi and, worse, breaking the sprout off of an eremurus, especially exasperating because I had noticed it but in my tiredness broke it anyway.
I had had an absurd fantasy in the morning that we might finish the curbside beds today. Ridiculous. We still have four long and three small beds to do and I didn’t quite finish weeding the second pavilion bed.  (All photos today were by Allan.)

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Monday, 17 February 2020

I had planned for a good weather day off because Allan had a 1 PM dental appointment. However, last night my phone would not charge, nor could I get it to charge this morning even by wiggling dirt out of the porthole with a paper clip. I thought we had better get some work done, since if the phone stayed dead, we really don’t have time to go get a new one while the port and boatyard clean up is on the agenda….not till the rain comes back.  Allan managed to get a charge going, so I decided I would just treat my phone as a land line and leave it at home.

Rousted into unexpected work, we made it to the port a half hour earlier than usual. Allan saw a crow on an old boat; it was camera shy.

7375AB18-7C76-4695-B6AA-AA08E43D9110Allan clipped santolinas and weeded in the Salt Hotel curbside bed….


….and finished the west end of the Time Enough Books personal garden…


Before but no after of cleaning up the very end of the river rock area.

I finished weeding the Time Enough curbside garden. The curbside beds between sidewalk and street belong to the port.  The gardens, if any, next to the businesses on the inside of the sidewalk belong (sort of) to each individual business, and so a business has to hire us separately to maintain those areas, because that is not port time. Time Enough has been a client of our for many years and we do some garden care for CoHo Charters; other “inside the sidewalk” areas don’t get any care from us.

Just in case we have a brand new reader, here is a satellite view that shows the curbside gardens.


Curbside gardens run from east to west all along the landward side of the buildings.

It shows the beautiful marina at the bottom, then Waterfront Way and the port buildings, each of which has a long term lease from the port (but the port still owns the land). Running along the north (top) of the strip of businesses is a sidewalk and then the street of Howerton Avenue. Our curbside beds run all along Howerton’s south side except for interruptions from driveways and parking lots.
So while Allan was weeding on bookstore time inside the sidewalk, I finished weeding the curbside bed on port time. We keep the record to the minute to be perfectly fair.

Time Enough curbside yesterday:

31972E58-0C98-4CBF-B30A-4E62835DD919and when I was done today.
I am at war with the pushy beach strawberry and would like to eliminate more of it from around the tree…

…but have no time for that today. Even if Allan had the afternoon free, we would have gone home when a cold and windy rain squall came along.
At home, I collapsed into my chair for awhile and then made it back outside to do some plant propagating for my plant sale (Memorial Day weekend).
When Allan returned, he worked on our yellow and our grey wheelbarrows.
He made a plywood underside and used some sort of boat goop on the yellow one that I put a rock through the other day.
I had been ever so excited to hear dogs barking next door: Could my old friends Cotah and Bentley have come to visit? I hurried to the treat gate…and met two pleasant strangers, who were glad of a treat but weren’t my beloved friends. They are guests so won’t be regulars.

I almost missed noticing the Iris reticulata in the window boxes.
Allan took all but the last two photos today.

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Sunday, 16 February 2020

I woke to sunshine and immediately scheduled a work day instead of the day of leisure that I had imagined. But first, I picked a bouquet for Don Nisbett’s Gallery; he and Jenna were having a shindig there today.



Artist Don Nisbett


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Friday, 14 February 2020

With better weather than had been predicted, I rather reluctantly let go of my idea of another reading day. Instead, we went to Long Beach to tidy up Veterans Field. (All the photos are Allan’s today.)
The flag pavilion arc garden has mostly gone to Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’, whose stems are so tough that the big loppers are needed for cutting them to the base.



Even though this gaura is one of my favourite perennials, it is one of my least favourite to trim in the late winter.  If only it would just break right off like phlox does!

I had dug up some of the reseeded gaura and eryngium from the arc and moved them over to the corner garden bed, which tends to be very dry.
It is also infested with the thin scrimmy style of horsetail. Filling it up with gaura will help hide that, since I will never get rid of it. (Also…so much for the theory that a dry garden will resist horsetail.)

We still had time to weed the two little pop outs on Ocean Beach Boulevard. The one I am looking at here…

…looks pretty silly and unimportant. It has lots of weed grass crept in from the rough vacant lot next to it. I think it would have been better to have these areas be just paved sidewalk.  We only attend to them in spring and fall, with maybe one summer weeding session, and we never water them.
The other one is better, being a bit bigger with room for some substantial ornamental grasses.

I suggested we do one more thing: weed the small circle garden bed at the front of Coulter Park. When we parked there, I realized we had forgotten about a large patch of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, in an area that is hard to get to.  Allan crawled through the railing and cleared the bed out.

After we made a dump run to City Works, we were ready to go home at four because of dropping temperature. It was the right decision.
We were home in time for Allan to finish his repair of the yellow wheelbarrow.
The rain, along with wind, should continue through Saturday.
The work board tonight:

With the basic clean up of downtown Long Beach done, we can turn our attention to my favourite of our gardens, the curbside beds at the Port of Ilwaco.

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