Archive for May, 2020

16 May: rainy Caturday

Saturday, 16 May 2020

At home

In pouring rain, Allan put wire mesh over the bamboo roof of the Catio.

While he was up on the roof, he photographed the back garden…

…and the plant sale and seed growing areas between the house and his shed.

I think I am going to have an invitational social distancing plant sale on June 6th. I would be happy to just sell two tabletops worth of plants just to make some room.

Skooter pretty much ignored the outdoors today because he does not like rain.

We finished Pale Rider ….

and I spent way too much time on Facebook reading amusing commentary about an “open the coast” demonstration in Seaside, Oregon, organized by members of a right wing group, that had promised busloads of people and produced only about twenty. The Oregonian covered the story in a rather uninformative way, while The Willamette Week got the background of the protesters right but got the number of protesters wrong by about thirty more than there actually were. Although local wits did amuse me with their clever comments, my couple of hours of reading about it would have been better spent doing something else. I comfort myself that while I do waste time, so do other people waste time (if it is a waste) watching sporting events and other things I do not do. We all choose and probably need to spend some time being non-productive. Meanwhile, my list of indoor projects on the work board has remained undone for two years!

Our Lezlie sent us a darling photo of Winston having his breakfast indoors while a squirrel dines outdoors. They share this ritual daily.


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Friday, 15 May 2020

We had a small one-off job to do today. On the way, we stopped at

The Planter Box

garden center to get some bagged mulch for the job and some potting soil for us. There seems to be a local potting soil shortage, something to do with the supplier.

I dared to enter the store, masked, to get some perlite, some grit, some perlite, so,e fish fertilizer, and even some fingerling seed potatoes. First time I have been inside a store since mid March.

A customer browsing vegetables in one of the greenhouses

All loaded up with soil amendments and supplies, we drove on to

Katie’s garden,

which is near the cranberry bogs.

Katie has been weeding the small garden in her spare time this week, making our job even smaller. I went over it with the Root Slayer shovel…

…and we planted some dahlias, lilies, and gladiolas that Katie had waiting for us, mulched it, added just a few perennial starts and some cosmos…

…and that was that. We will be seeing it again, because I am all excited to have left some buckets for Katie’s spouse to fill with rabbit poo for our compost.

A vignette from Katie’s porch:

On the way home, we made another shopping stop at

The Basket Case Greenhouse

just to see new plants that were on offer and to use more of our gift certificate!

I begged some tiny starts of Chocolate Cherry tomatoes from Roxanne even though they were not yet ready for the sales floor.

I also got a couple of new clematis with the Catio in mind.

On the way home, we had a look at the east end of the port, not close enough to be completely tormented and guilt ridden by its weediness, because I decided we must skive off work

at home

in order to get the Catio painted before the rain came. Heavy rain was predicted beginning at about nine PM. Allan got started painting after I said I would unload the whole trailer full of soil bags (except for the fifty pound bag of grit, which he handled). At one point, after sliding quite a few bags off of the tops of the stacks into the wheelbarrow, I returned to the trailer to find the rest of the bags conveniently arranged like this.

I admired some plants as I schlepped around with the wheelbarrow.

A special pink Allium nigrum ‘Pink Jewel’:


Albuca spiralis ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ from Castle Rock Dahlias and Succulents:

When I had the potting soil and mulch all squared away, Seaview Sara came by as arranged. I had offered her some orach seedlings and supplemented them with two choice alliums…

….because she had got us six items during her trip to the grocery store, enabling us to put off shopping for awhile longer.

With the six items (bread, sugar, milk, yogurt, Bisquick and oatmeal) dealt with, I finally helped Allan paint. We pushed on through till dusk, getting it done, with no-seeums maddeningly biting us.

I am confident that the wire sides and top will hold Skooter in, but not too sure about the bamboo part of the roof.

He can enter from the living room (excuse the dirty windows, not something I care about!)…

That muddy little square flap is the cat door. The ivy, a gold kind, makes the room indoors dark and green, like I prefer.

Or he can enter from the front porch…

…which is also part of his night time domain with the slider closed.

The first Catio is done except for some roof reinforcements and some more cat sitting shelves and play structures inside. The second Catio will be on the sunny side of the house. . I suggested a third Catio on the south side of the porch, but that idea did not go down well. Someone does not want to spend his entire late spring and early summer building Catios.

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14 May: Catio and work

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Allan continued with the Catio, while I actually did some work at our jobs on our block.

In Catioland, Allan worked around some baby spiders.

Fortunately, he is not an arachnophobe around spiders this size.

Meanwhile, I weeded at the J Crew Cottage and cut back the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ so that it won’t flop.

The roses in the back garden have only traces left of the thrip infestation, thanks to weekly spraying with an organic insecticide …which I would prefer not to do.

Above is Zepherine Drouhin, new last year, a good climbing rose with no thorns.

The J’s lawn needed mowing. My back was still sore from when it went sproiiing yesterday, so Allan took twenty minutes away from the Catio to mow.

I went across the street to Norwoods and weeded there.

Their lawn can wait a bit. I was pleased that the privets had come back from my hard prune last year.

They will now be more dense and shapely.

Back home, I admire Allan’s Catio progress. He had the wire sides up and was putting on the wire roof.

Then, in his shop, he was building a door.

He hung the door at the end of the day almost in the dark, and I was wishing I had mowed that lawn because he could really have used that twenty minutes.

Note that he cleverly used the barrel hoops to decorate the door, which ties in to the way I used them on the edges of the garden beds (an idea I swiped from Riz Reyes).

Where the Azara microphylla grows through the top of the Catio, Allan inserted bamboo canes for a roof in the almost dark and secured them with nailed strips of wood. I am not sure it would be kitten proof, but it should be Skooter proof.

We tested it overnight and it was a success. It includes the front porch, because at the top of the steps, an old shower door slides across to enclose the porch, and a cat door goes between the porch and the Catio.

Skooter complained, and gave us significant looks, and sat on a shelf outside staring mournfully at the cage he was in, but he did not spray in the house and he did not meow all night. I am still anxious to get it painted so that it blends in.

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13 May: more Catio

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

At home

I had some much loved visitors, former neighbors whom I miss.

They got their biscuits but no hugs because of social distancing.

I transplanted beets from the containers that were too shallow into areas along the edges of the back garden beds.

I had six plastic window box containers of beet seedlings. I left two window box plantings intact to see if, as a reader suggested (garden writer Tony Tomeo, as I recall), the long beet tap root might just go sideways and not cause a problem in the shallow pot.

Meanwhile, Allan worked on the Catio. Here’s the first wire section tucked in before nailing it in place.

I reminded him of his magnetic wrist strap that was a birthday present some years ago. He said later that maybe a few u-nails fell off but he thinks he found them all. Oh well!

Skooter wasn’t spotting the new entrance as he looked at the old route that was now blocked. Allan framed it with black tape.


That’s all I’ve got for today. Surely I accomplished something other than beet transplanting.

Catching up on a few photos that fell by the wayside recently:

This was from our local weekly, The Chinook Observer, and shows the beloved city crew putting up new signs. Look how careful they are being with my former planter.

The old signs had more words and no graphic appeal.

I miss being part of Long Beach, and yet we still have not caught up on Ilwaco gardens! Nor could we be making a Catio if we were still working full time. But….working in Long Beach made me feel that I had an identity as part of something.

Meanwhile at home, I took some photos back on May 5th when I was pondering what it would be like to walk by our garden on the sidewalk. Even though it is weedy, again, I would be intrigued and would walk very slowly.

Ribes speciosum


Meanwhile, in pandemic news, my dear Seattle friend of 42 years sent me this article from the Washington Post about the perils of driving a bus these days…which is her job, for Seattle metro. I worry about her so much. Before the virus took over the world, we had been planning one of our delightful annual visits in early April.

From the article: “In Seattle, a bus driver who recently lost his wife, who also was a driver, is left to raise three children while he contemplates continuing in a job that may have exposed his wife to the virus that killed her. In the District, where 81 Metro workers have tested positive for coronavirus as of Friday, a bus operator who spent three weeks fighting covid-19 recently returned to work, but with mental scars that make her afraid of everything she touches or any cough or sneeze she hears on board.”

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12 May: more Catio

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

At home

My back had gone sproiiing during my first hour up. I accomplished little as a result other than dividing and replanting two pots of sarracenias (pitcher plants).

One had been overtaken by the corkscrew rush in the planter on the left.

I put some plastic pots away in the greenhouse. Now if I could only make myself spend 15 minutes to really tidy it up.

Still, it is much better than it was a couple of weeks ago.

Here is where I made a bean planting in front of the mirror (before I realized the bamboo stakes were a hazard and took them away).

Here are some Sea Shells and Happy Ring cosmos that I actually managed to grow from seed!

I am well chuffed but would be chuffed-er if my back had let me weed the patio today.

It was extraordinarily windy, making me worry about the cosmos we planted on the south side of the port office last night.

Allan persevered in the Catio construction, fortunately being on the side of the house out of the wind (but not the rain).

It has some clever angles. Tomorrow should be wire mesh day and then a dry day will allow for it to be painted green. We had the paint delivered today by Oman Builders Supply, bless their hearts, because we had forgotten we needed some.

He noticed that cool damp weather had brought the snails out to end the run of perfect beauty on the Acanthus ‘Hollard’s Gold’.


I finally finished the book I have been reading for a couple of weeks, one that would have take a day in the winter…the third memoir by Diana Athill, about her career in publishing.
A few favourite bits from this excellent book:

”In old age I can still remember the matchless intoxication of falling in love (which may well be a neurotic condition but nothing else lights up the whole of one’s being in that way…”

A story with a horticultural twist:


An author description that reminded me of…someone.


…and about another author, Jean Rhys, “How this hopelessly inept, seemingly incomplete woman could write with such clarity, power and grace remained a mystery.”

On making friends in old age: “One feels almost regretful in recognizing exceptionally congenial qualities in a newly met person, because one knows one no longer has the energy to clear an adequate space for them.”

Why she loves books: “It is not because of my pleasure in the art of writing, although that has been very great. It is because they have taken me so far beyond the narrow limits of my own experience and have so greatly enlarged my sense of the complexity of life: of its consuming darkness, and also–thank God–of the light which continues to struggle through.”

At the end, having written two pages on why she still has faith in human nature and intelligence, she concludes …”in spite of reading the newspapers, and in spite of losing a considerable part of my youth to heartbreak, I wake up every morning liking  being here.”

With that memoir done, I turned to a topical book:


This sounds sadly familiar.


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11 May: Catio and cosmos

Monday, 11 May 2020

At home

We are now pretty much not working for a couple of days till the Catio is done enough to hold Skooter in at night.

Allan’s boat went up high in his shop to give him his work bench back.

He has an idea for a most interesting humans’ access door for the Catio that can be built inside the shop later.

The lumber was delivered by Oman and Son Builders Supply by an employee who was masked. The green jugs hold water that I dipped out of the two water barrels that had to be moved out of the Catio.

It is enough lumber and wire for the building of a larger Catio outside the back cat door, later. Both structures will be adjacent to the house wall, but not attached, as that is the rule for rooms added to manufactured homes. Allan’s Catio structures will be cat-proof fences, not rooms, but we might as well follow the rules, besides which, our manufactured home is too flimsy to attach anything to, and one must never ever “puncture the seal”.

While he constructed, I did some ineffective garden puttering.

At five o clock, we drove north through Long Beach to look at a small new one-off garden job. I felt twitchy about all the dying bulb foliage and deadheads in the city planters. We only saw one person on the sidewalk and I wondered if I had made the right decision to quit the job…Those poor planters.

While it would have been awesome to have a big new job with a big flower border to fill up with languishing plants from my imaginary plant sale, the small job we are going to do for someone we like very much is more the size of a couple of dresser tops.

At the end of this week, we will get it weeded and mulched and ready for Katie to plant and enjoy. It will get a few cosmos.

If anyone has a really big border to plant up (preferably one without deer), let us have at it with an assortment of my interesting plants. Or…I really must have an invitational hobby plant sale somehow or other, when our county begins to re-open.

When we returned to Ilwaco, we planted cosmos at the port office and the fire station (all Allan’s photos).

South side of port office:

North side of Time Enough Books:

Allan found lots of birds foot trefoil to pull.

My dwarf Stipa gigantea (from Xera Plants):

At the fire station:

We still must find a quiet time to plant some cosmos at our volunteer garden at the post office. Amazingly to me, I successfully grew some cosmos myself so have a some different ones (Happy Ring and Cupcakes) to plant on a return visit to the Boreas, as well.

At bedtime, I saw the news that Nigel of Gardener’s World, beloved dog of Monty and Sarah Don, had died at age 12. I cried for an hour, reading some of the hundreds of mourning comments on social media. I suppose I was crying for all the cats I miss, too, as a flood was unleashed. I expect more tears on Friday night while watching this week’s episode.

I think it was Kilyn who recommended to me that I read Monty’s book about Nigel. I had not even seen the show then or heard of Monty himself. After the book is when I sought out episodes of the show online and then discovered the extensive selection of British gardening shows on YouTube and DailyMotion and Tubi. My life was deeply enriched.

Nigel was a most wonderful, funny, gentle, playful, silly, dignified, and loving dog.

From Monty’s Instagram:

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10 May: a bit of work

Sunday, 10 May 2020

At home

I made a new planting of beans in front of the garden mirror, inspired by the need to put some wire in front of it to keep birds from flying into it. There had been a tragic little yellow bird….something that had never happened with the large mirrors that I had in my Seattle garden. Maybe city birds are more savvy about such things. It won’t happen again. With the wire there, I just had to plant some fava beans, the shortest kind I have. They will hide the mirror for awhile.

I accomplished little else, with the excuse of the weather being hot (by which I mean high seventies) and with a general feeling of malaise that has been common these past few days. I should have been weeding, as my weeds have returned in force.

I missed seeing Jazmin lying on the pavers in front of the mirror, so it helped to change the way it looks. (Here is a photo taken a day later.)

When I put some weeds into the wheelie bin and felt the heat of the green plastic top, I remembered how she used to like to lie on it.

Two days later, I took the bamboo poles out from in front of the mirror, realizing I did not want anything poky like that under a window that might be used as an escape route, heavens forfend.

Allan implemented my second idea for how to connect the porch to the Catio area, after being unable to saw through the wall itself yesterday. I shoved Skooter through the new doorway, to his great interest.

I had managed to keep Skooter in last night from midnight to eight AM, resulting in only four hours of sleep for me because of his pacing, yowling, pestering, caterwauling, and poking at me. He finally sulked on the hallway rug instead of on his pillow.

Allan has ordered lumber and wire mesh to come tomorrow. Other than pre-digging a couple of post holes, he could not get much further on the catio. He applied some ….liquid resin or something…to his boat project so that he could call it done for now and hoist it up to the ceiling.

In the evening, after the weather had cooled, we went to weed at the

Ilwaco Community Building.

After almost two months of neglect, the weeds had rollicked rampantly.

Allan’s photos:

I reflect upon how much I dislike heathers planted on flat ground. I like them on a moor-like slope and I liked them better in a variety. These are all winter blooming white ones, which is all I can tell you about them, except that this year’s budget, severely curtailed by the Covid economy, is even less likely than usual to give us time to clip the shabby scratchy things. The other interesting (to me) plants (not the salal that is another main feature!) are ones I added to give some variety.

Lots of weeds in the tiered garden…

We had no pedestrians but did notice a large number of vehicles heading south off the peninsula after a surprising number of out of town folks had come for the weekend, despite all lodgings and most shops being legally closed. Sundays are a good day for us to do the ICB garden these days, as there would be no one waiting for a bus. Allan noticed a box in the bus stop. (I don’t know what the initials stand for.) It must be along the lines of a “little free pantry” like the ones in Long Beach and Ocean Park.

The mugo pines planted on either side of the sign were about to grow higher than the address number. I candled and snipped away at them and we also trimmed one that was hanging far over the sidewalk.

I am probably saying “Why didn’t they plant something that doesn’t want to grow tall?”

The heathers that are growing across the sidewalk can’t be pruned back without being ugly and will probably need digging out, which will be hard to do but will give room for more variety and for plants that bloom in summer. All we need is time and energy.

It was a relief to get the ICB garden retrieved from chaos and off the work board.

I was able to find enough greens for two salads.

They were especially tasty, with assorted lettuces, chard, basil, calendula, white borage flowers, chives, garlic chives, mustard greens, wild sorrel (lemony!), baby radishes, radish greens and thinned carrot tops. My salad crops are now growing fast enough that I will probably be able to make a salad every third day, and soon, with more coming on, every day. Better than store bought by far.

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Saturday, 9 May 2020

At home

Skooter has changed his routine of sleeping on a pillow next to my head and was nowhere to be seen last night. I was so worried this morning that I could barely function. I called, searched the garden, fretted, got nothing done till two o clock when he came calmly strolling out of the front garden bed.

I wept with relief. How ironic would it have been if Skooter disappeared just when a Catio was in progress?

Allan began work on the Catio by trying to realize my idea of cutting a hole through the wall of the porch to the garden corner that will be enclosed.

Three shattered saw blades later, the hardy plank wall had defeated him. It would take a tool beyond the ones we own.

I spent the day hauling plants (scented geraniums and other tender plants) out of the greenhouse and potting up tomato and cucumber starts and putting them in the greenhouse. Before and after photos would have been pretty scintillating but due to all my Skooter worries, there were none.

We had a campfire dinner.

I missed Jazmin, who liked a campfire evening.

Meanwhile in Ocean Park

Terran of BeeKissed Gardening sent me a photo update of her new vegetable garden.

And Judy S. sent me photos of the glorious wisteria in her garden. It was there when they bought the house and required the building of a stronger arbor.

I do miss the wisteria that grew on the back porch of my Seattle garden. My grandmother had planted it. The fragrance in spring was so intense. It did pull the gutter off of the house one year. Here it is:

The view out my back door was draped in wisteria and the smell would fill the kitchen.

I wish we could go to a nursery right now, buy one in bloom and plant it growing up a tree.

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Friday, 8 May 2020

The planting of many little cosmos absorbed all my attention, as the planting of many small annuals is not my favourite thing. I do love the results. Allan took most of today’s photos.

The Depot Restaurant

We squeezed in five six packs of Seashells and Double Click cosmos in the garden bed and the shorter, yellow-toned Apricot Lemonade in the barrel.

Where one of the logs got shoved further into the garden last year, a lily is valiantly trying to emerge from being stuck underneath.

The Boreas Inn

We planted many and many a cosmos of the same three kinds. I have also grown some Cupcake and Happy Ring which I will bring later. Allan hacked out another patch of boring daisies that didn’t like the conditions and took up a lot of room with few flowers to show.

I wish the lawn beds would hurry up and fill in with the perennials I planted last time.

It is a difficult garden because of being close to the beach. The poppy sowing did not show much result so I also brought some poppy thinnings from the boatyard. I forgot, though, to bring some nigella (love in a mist) from my garden. But I did remember some small calendula seedlings that Susie had hoped for.

Deer live here, another setback because even the new plants that they did not like, they had pulled up to examine. Susie had pushed those plants back into place, but it certainly slowed them down. What’s more, an area next to where some moss killer was applied had some sadly distorted alliums, and I think chemical drift is the culprit.

We had been fairly miserable while working, a misery explained by the temperature gauge in the van on the way home.

We decided to stay home for the afternoon and go back out in the cool evening to finish weeding the east end of the port. Of course, once we were home, going back out did not happen.

I was sad to realize that I did not look first at Jazmin’s favourite sit spots in the house to see if she had come home. I suppose I have lost most of my hope. Although I’d love to be delightfully surprised.

Allan started measuring for the front garden catio, which will be outside the living room cat door and will adjoin the porch. He sat in this chair for a couple of hours pondering and sketching how to enclose the odd shaped space and keep Skooter from using a tree trunk to climb out.

The porch has a sliding door that can enclose it at night. A hole will be cut so cats can go sideways into thr small curve of enclosed garden. Now if we can just keep Skooter inside at night till it’s ready. It’s not easy. A friend who also has cats with a wild streak wrote to me, “Last two nights kept them in, but they begged and begged…so I let them go. I know, I know, but it’s in their nature…and it’s so beautiful out there.” One of her cats did get lost and came back weeks later, much thinner, now completely recovered, which means I still hang onto that shred of hope.

I am worried about getting the lumber and wire tomorrow on a busy Saturday at the lumber yard. But when am I not worried lately? I had hoped to get it today, before weekenders arrive, but that would have been by my method of just hastily guessing what we needed and then bashing something together without artistry. I also had a stroke of genius (?) about how to make a lovely Catio, twice as big, out the back garden cat door, but that’s another story.

Scott and Tony stopped by in the evening because I had an extra empty hanging basket to give Tony. They toured round the garden at a very safe social distance….we stayed about as far apart as in this photo of their departure.

An hour long episode of Gardeners’ World made a soothing close to the day. I am so grateful they they are managing to continue making the show with new segments and videos of viewers’ gardeners and some choice excerpts from previous years.

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7 May: Annuals Time

Thursday, 7 May 2020

I had a bit more ability to sleep, thank goodness, because I could not function well being sleep deprived day after day.
129B24AE-3848-4BB7-8A2D-321375FFB35878719CEB-EDB3-44F5-8DC2-8948667D2D96Allan began the day mowing the lawn at the J Crew Cottage while I organized the plants we bought yesterday.

We drove to The Planter Box for the first time since mid March’s stay at home order. I was glad to be able to buy some good Sea Shells and Double Click cosmos there. Having resigned from Long Beach meant I did not need the short Sonata cosmos for the planters, so please go buy some from Teresa!

Some of the Planter Box’s plants for sale:

Above, rhododendrons, below, veg.
D9F6D5B2-4577-495F-ACAA-2A316A297F2AFrom there, we swung across Cranberry Road, drove in and out of the Basket Case lot to get another bag of bark for the fire station garden, and finally got to our first big job.

Diane’s garden

Holly greeted us and got her biscuits.

Diane’s is now our biggest annuals planting job. It used to be second only to Long Beach. We stuff a lot of planters with annuals, and plant cosmos in the septic vault garden and along the road. I added some perennials to the vault garden, too, to counteract that creamy California poppy that wants to take over.

5B8A3C6B-FDF5-451A-842C-122773218932Allan planted the cosmos in the roadside garden.

He noticed the flowers on the azalea that blooms against the house.

I asked him to photograph the pretty horses next door.

The back yard containers don’t look like much now in the interim between spring bulbs and summer annuals.


Ilwaco gardens

We did not take time for the Red Barn garden today. Diane’s planting takes quite some time so we hurried back to Ilwaco to add some bark at the fire station’s north bed…

….and to plant some cosmos at Mike’s garden…

….where they will carry on a display in the front bed now that the spring bulbs are almost done.

When we saw Mike himself, he told us that coyotes have been sighted in his Beacon Charters RV Park, which is four blocks from our back yard, with long grass and willows running along the meander line from there to here. I am afraid that our hope for Jazmin is waning after 12 days,although we still long to see her return. I am pushing hard for a catio outside the living room cat door, so that Skooter can think he has been let out at night, even if for just a few feet, which might solve the spraying and yowling that weakens us into letting him have his way. Skooter’s previous home had exactly the same experience with his willful ways. I have a feeling that if I had been a mother, I would not have been a disciplinarian and my child would have run wild.

We finished, even though we were tired, by weeding one bed by Dave Jensen’s architecture office at the port.

7B86BE47-E631-403D-8435-A686214CBED0This is Frieda, who lives one door east and knows I am good for a biscuit.

I still have not been able to pet her.

Almost all photos by Allan today.

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