Archive for Jun, 2020

Allan’s first boating adventure since the lockdown.

Southwest Washington Paddle Trips

22 June 2020: Aldrich Point

The Lewis & Clark National Wildlife Refuge is on the lower Columbia where the river widens around many low grassy islands. Svensen, Knappa, and Autio’s Ramp, are among the places I have launched on the Oregon side, but Aldrich Point is the easiest way to get into the middle of these islands. A close look at Google’s satellite map revealed cabins in the water near two of these islands, and those are what I wanted to see today.

Screen Shot 2020-06-27 at 8.47.30 PM These are Ilwaco-centric posts. Aldrich Point is an hour away.

Screen Shot 2020-06-28 at 1.25.27 PM.jpeg A USWFS map with the cabins of mystery marked.

DSC07529.jpeg It’s a slow bucolic 5 mile drive through dairy farms and low hills from Hwy 30.

DSC07527 Some people collect unusual plants. This family apparently collects unusual animals.

Brownsmead prairie has many waterways if you are willing to pull off the road and trespass to use…

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Monday, 22 June 2020

Allan went off boating today for the first time in months. He is writing a blog post about it, which will appear soon, possibly even next. (But don’t be disappointed if it’s not next… He doesn’t churn out blog posts as hastily as I do.)

Here are a few photos that did not fit into his blog narrative.

The Maritime museum in Astoria has a new pool for model boats.

He explained this radio controlled model cost only $80, ready to sail, and that they often have races. He tries to practice daily. Video narrated by bird calls here.

And on the tracks behind the Maritime museum, even though the bird was being photographed from afar, it still did its broken wing routine.

Later while paddling around a cluster of floating cabins on the Columbia River, he saw many flying birds. This one was returning to a piling in a cabin’s yard.

I stayed home, of course, and took the opportunity to spray paint all my decorative bamboo poles, a project that took most of the day, partly because I had misplaced the bag of spray paints I had bought for the lockdown back in March and had to tidy the garage to find them.

The hardest part is finding again all the rebar stakes that the poles slip on to. I did not manage to get them all back into place.

An interesting before and after…

Today, looking east from Alicia’s lawn:

And in 2014, in a photo that Becky Winters recently sent to me:

Meanwhile, next door, Alicia worked with another Becky, of Sea Aire mowing, after the mowing of the back meadow was done, to prune up a rhododendron into a tree like form.

We will be mowing the field from now on. By we I probably mean Allan.

I admired my Jude the Obscure rose…

…and another newish rose whose name I am too lazy to look up. I was tired so did not pick the black spot leaves off for the photos. I think the back of the flower is even prettier than the front.

My Veilchenblau rose is blooming much more successfully than usual, because the deer have not figured out how to break into the front garden. The rose is especially sentimental because I grew it from a cutting from the Seattle garden of Bryan’s mother, a cutting taken in about 1989.

Don’t read under the dotted line if you are squeamish.


A big part of my daily life lately that I have not written about because I could hardly bear to think about it (but thought about it all the time) has been a bad fingernail injury. I don’t know how I did it, possibly pinching it while carrying two gallon pots in one hand, perhaps by tipping the wheelbarrow and hitting my finger on a post. I say OW! several times a day while gardening so why this happened now, I do not know. I won’t illustrate this with photos!

That evening, I noticed a bruise at the base of my left index finger. Since then, the nail has been slowly detaching itself from the base, discolored but without pain. I have been horrified. Ever since a day in my childhood when I suddenly realized there was soft skin under my fingernails and was distressed by the thought, I have been squeamish about nail injuries. Oh, I have been so unhappy. I kept it covered with a bandaid for probably two weeks, desperate to not have to look it, getting Allan to have a look when I changed the bandaid.

Eventually, the skin on my finger got so bothered about the bandaging that I had to leave the bandaid off. I was in floods of tears; by then the nail was half detached. Finally, finally, I managed to be a grown up and clip off some of the loose part. Gold star for me! That was after I imagined going to a doctor (during Covid time) and having him or her later tell people about the old lady who came in blubbering about her nail. (I couldn’t talk about it without crying. I have had surgeries and far more painful injuries without any tears, but this…)

Over my gardening career, I have learned a blister or cut on one’s hand can severely impact one’s gardening enjoyment. Now I am tougher about my half-there nail and have hardly cried in three days, but it still bothers me a great deal as it is only half way off. I leave it open to the air and wear a nitrile glove at work and keep my finger protectively curled in. I wrap a paper towel around it and tape it at night to avoid the bandaid problem. I put Vaseline on the nail bed to protect it. Like a boss.

Having decided to write about it, I will give you updates…under the dotted line.

Speaking of things under the line, the CHOP occupation with its community garden and speeches and art in Seattle seems like it may end in disillusionment. Seattle Black Lives Matter made a statement asking its members to focus on other Black led protests because the CHOP seemed to have lost its focus; a Seattle friend said it had turned into a block party. I don’t have enough facts to be an authority on the matter, and taking the Long Beach job back has been so tiring that I can’t go back and find the articles about it that I read a week ago. I do still hope that something good like a community center comes of it.

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Sunday, 21 June 2020

Long Beach

We gave up our Sunday off in order to weed the Long Beach City Hall garden while it city hall is closed, thus making it possible for us to park in the parking lot.

On the way, we had a look at the welcome sign, where Parks Manager Mike and crew had done a clean up of weeds and old bulb foliage that I thought was better than our own work!

As we drove through busy downtown, I was looking at the weeds. Allan noticed the people and said he thought about 40% were wearing masks. My observation later was maybe 20%.

At city hall, we started with the east side.

The Basket Case baskets are up by the ramp.

The weeds were tall.

Normally I would have pulled the running aster from this garden but now that they are so near to bloom, I will leave them.

Allan’s befores and afters:

Snails had consumed a cautionary sign (which had since been replaced).

The west and north sides then got our attention.

Am amusing elephant garlic:

We used caution tape where there was no room to social distance from passersby.

It worked fine except when I got tangled up trying to move the posts and tape.

The west side should look more different in the before and afters. A whole bucket of weed grass came out of there.

Those photos really were taken half an hour apart!

I had originally planned to just work in the late afternoon and evening doing city hall, till I realized that three other areas could be done without much likelihood of close passersby. So next came the little circle garden at Coulter Park. A straight-on view shows the garden better. It doesn’t look quite this drab after weeding in real life. A nice crisp half moon edger job and some mulch would help, but there was no time today for such niceties.

Garden beds look battered when a big weeding happens at a time past spring clean up.

I got two planters nearby weeded when I realize they were people-free.

Those two planters weren’t bad at all. Two down, fifty -some to go (including the beach approach planters).

I was going to pull bindweed off the shrubs by the bus stop, since there are no buses on Sundays, but someone was using the bus shelter as lounging area so I did not.

Next came Veterans Field, where the flag pavilion arc garden took much longer than city hall, much to my surprise.

It was a great big mess.

And it looked much better when we were done.

I admired it from across the field where we attended to the corner garden and its mess of horsetail.

It looked better but battered when we were done. The side view is never good because nothing wants to grow there.

Between doing the two Veterans Field gardens, we had pulled bindweed from the hydrangeas behind Lewis and Clark Square and from the police station roses.

I had also gone over to pull some huge weeds out of the planter in front of the police station. It was not easy to find a space between people walking by in groups, going both ways. Six foot marks on the sidewalk are not really working. I dashed to and away from the planter three times, getting a few weeds on each quick attempt. A sunny Sunday, even in the early evening, was not the best time.

The trailer was heaped with weeds.

I liked the feeling when we opened the gate to city works with our key. I liked it even better when, after mourning over a pile of smashed concrete water vaults in the dumping field, I saw three good ones. One was was half buried, but Allan agreeably got me the other two. I feel guilty when he wrestles something that heavy, but also…I want them so badly for faux trough planters.

Although he did ask me sardonically if I wanted this one, too.

I wonder what kind of grass this spectacular wild one is growing along the edge of the dump field.

If Allan had not had a plan of going boating tomorrow, I would have tried to do some more planters with the hope that the tourists had thinned out downtown. But he needed time to load up the boat so that he could enjoy his first day on the water for many months. The planters will come this week. In the evenings. Wish us luck.

The work board tonight:

(I am supposed to find, dig and pot up an akebia runner for Patti but I keep forgetting.)

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Saturday, 20 June 2020

Tomorrow, we must work to try to back on top of the Long Beach situation. Today we can still enjoy the refuge of our own property. (Actually, Allan would rather be out boating. He’ll do that on Monday.)

He was unhappy with the way that a post had sunk, making one side of the new Catio uneven on top.

Even though I told him that once I have a vine of some sort growing along there no one will notice, he figured out how to fix it.

I removed two lilies from the Catio garden. I’ve had cats and lilies coexisting in my gardens for decades, but since lilies are toxic to cats, why tempt fate by having them right inside the Catio where a somewhat bored cat will be spending more time than he likes? I’ve planted grasses in there. He is already nibbling on the panicum.

The corner seemed like a good place to move a small Billardia vine that has been languishing elsewhere, so I did.

Allan continued his excavating work by digging out three old fence posts for Alicia next door.

I sifted just one partial wheelbarrow of not quite ready yet compost mixed with leaf mold…

…and put it in one of the new red Jessie’s bins. It is going to take a cubic yard to fill it up. Some of that will be soil dumped from the big pots I’m now growing veg in, when they are done.

Skooter kept me company.

Some photos from around the garden today:

My mom’s “red velvet” rose

Rosa rubrifolia:

Rosa moyesii:

A Bogsy Wood bed with two kinds of Impatiens omeianum:

Iris ‘Black Gamecock’:

Behind a plant table, Anchusa from Annie’s Annuals and Perennials:

I looked it up a year ago and figured out it is not the one that is on the Washington State invasives list. I hope.

A nap on the cat bench:

I am sorry that we are not going to have a four day weekend. Maybe that luxury will return soon.

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Friday, 19 June 2020

At home

With the day off, I weeded in the front garden while I waited for Long Beach Parks Manager Mike to come by with our work supplies.

Bill and Carol Clearman drove by and we had an excellent chat.

Mime arrived with all the stuff we need to start Long Beach again: the supplies we had returned to them now returned to us (potting soil, Sluggo), and our hose and faucet gear and our precious key to the city works gate. Also some new supplies: posts and caution tape, more traffic cones, N-95 masks, protective gloves.

I insisted he give up a bit of his lunch break to tour the garden.

He loved it, was surprised how big it is, and really noticed things, like these planted boxes.

Don Andersen showed up to snake out our clogged sink…and, of course, all four of us observed proper social distancing.

After another good catch up chat with Don, Allan and I turned our attention to the fish bins from Jessie’s Ilwaco Fish Company. Allan added some wood and fiberglass to repair some holes.

His audience fell asleep.

We wrestled the two bins into place.

I used the lid to turn one into a table for now, since I have so many veg plants in containers. Then I realized the second bin did not have the Jessie’s stenciling. So it all had to be undone, the heavy bathtub of beets moved again, and put back with the stenciled bin at the front.

Jessie’s, once the biggest employer in Pacific County, is in bankruptcy receivership now, so that stenciled bin may be quite a historic item. I do wish I had one or two more bins like that.

I actually sat in a chair for awhile and admired our work. I am sincerely trying to do more sitting and looking in the garden.

Allan continued his productive day by working in a door for the sunny Catio.

I reflected upon some vegetable failures. I has bought a packet of “salt wort” from Pinetree seeds. This is what came up.

I tried a leaf, expecting a salty flavor. It was horrible and bitter. Then I checked the seed packet description. It should be long, thin, and crunchy, like sea beans. Maybe the seeds are for sea beans. There was no botanical name given. I pulled out the horrid bitter things, glad I was not poisoned, and replanted from the packet.

The snails got 90% of my Malabar spinach that had sprouted so nicely.

I was mad and disappointed and put some more seeds to soak overnight, as the packet advised.

I turned my attention to planting some of the plants that I got from Jane, the Mulch Maid. We traded plants. Hers to me were much cooler than mine to her.

Case in point:

Stylophorum diphyllum (a woodland poppy)

Petrorhagia saxifraga

Leucoseptrum japonicum ‘Golden Angel’

I had already planted, last weekend, Pacific Coast Iris ‘Nearly Wild’, Kniphofia ‘Timothy’, and a couple of different Libertias with bronze foliage. All these are cool plants, some I had not even heard of before.

Skooter did his best to help with the planting.

I have gold foliage at one end of this Bogsy Wood bed and not at the other. I must somehow fix that.

The other end is green, and well grown, and so full it will be hard to figure out how to add gold.

We ate dinner late, as always, with Gardeners World. A delicious salad with berries came from our garden.

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Thursday, 18 June 2020

Between daytime work and evening work, we attended a Black Lives Matter vigil/protest/rally of support in Long Beach. Allan took all the photos.

This block had the best social distancing:

I personally saw only three negative reactions. Allan saw this guy…

…and one fellow shouted loudly from his vehicle, “Go home, dumbasses!”

Other than that, the reaction of passersby was so uniformly positive, even elated, that I felt choked in with emotion the whole time.

Our police chief drove by and on his loudspeaker announced, “I appreciate what you are doing.”

The sign that stabbed me in the heart when I saw Allan’s photo of it (because I stayed at the far end of the protest, well social distanced) was this one.

I did not watch the video of the murder of Mr. Floyd. I knew he had called out for his mama but had not read the exact words. After reading this sign, I found these two articles about how mamas are being “called” to these protests. (Some mothers are called to protest in public. Some are called to protest in other ways in order to keep their own children from being targeted by racists.)

From ABC news : “It touched me and it hurt me that he cried out for his mom… and she couldn’t help him,” said Kimberley Owens.

“That was part of the reason Owens decided to attend, despite deep concern surrounding the coronavirus.

“I’ve never been to a march or a protest before. It always gave me anxiety, but I thought [that] this was a cause to come out for.”

From National Geographic about the “sacred invocation” of his calling out to his mother:

“Floyd lies immobilized, groaning on the pavement as cars rush by, police radios beep and bystanders gather, yelling that Floyd’s nose is bleeding, that he is subdued, cursing and entreating the officers. “Let him breathe, man!” one bystander yelled.

Please, man!” Floyd begs as he is ground into the pavement. His pleas mix with the ambient noises around him. They are the disjointed sounds from the clash of belief systems and competing visions of sovereignty, of ownership, of authority over black bodies compressed into the narrow frame of Floyd’s last moments.

“Momma!” Floyd, 46, calls out. “Momma! I’m through,” the dying man says, and I recognize his words. A call to your mother is a prayer to be seen. Floyd’s mother died two years ago, but he used her as a sacred invocation.

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Thursday, 18 June 2020

While Allan went to work across the street, I delayed to return a call that looked important, from Long Beach City Works. Parks Manager Mike was hoping we might consider returning to work on the Long Beach parks and planters at least this year,even though he would understand if I said no. To my surprise, my first reaction was to say yes, with stipulations.

1. The city crew must do all the watering of planters and street tree pocket gardens, to my satisfaction….because being stuck with a hose hooked up would create our most hazardous contact with other humans. Agreed!

2. We would get some barricade posts and caution tape so that we could sequester ourselves from other humans when working in any of the parks. That way we would not have to wear masks to work in the garden beds. Agreed!

We made a few other arrangements, including Mike telling me we would be provided with gloves and masks to use when around people. I told him the job had been haunting me, even though I was loving the time off, and that if Allan agreed, I would say yes. Allan did agree, although not with my passion for the job. Mike will bring us our gear, like our precious key to the gate, tomorrow. During the busy weekend is not the time to start, although we may do some work in certain quiet areas on this Sunday. Allan has exciting boating plans for Monday.

I do hope saying yes is not a mistake. If it gets scary, we might quickly reconsider. Once we get the garden beds and planters back into shape after three months of neglect, the weekly job should be fairly quick and easy without the watering. We will try doing the planters in the evening, because heaven forfend we have to get up at five AM (after two hours of sleep) to do them at dawn before the tourists emerge from their lairs.

J Crew Cottage

While I was on the phone, Allan mowed and weeded in the J’s back garden, including some areas we don’t always do…

…and then I joined him in the front garden while keeping an eye on our house for a delivery. It came, two Jessie’s bins which an occasional gardening client had owned.

Port of Ilwaco

We’d been asked to trim some blackberries off this sign. Someone (probably the city crew) had beaten us to it.

Allan noticed beautiful detail on the house behind the sign.

We weeded from the middle to the west end of the Howerton Avenue curbside gardens. Allan’s photos:

Maybe we need to move the please do not pick sign!

I am pleased to see one of my new Baptisias (probably ‘Moonlight’, as I recall, from Digging Dog) is blooming.

In the curbside bed by Salt Hotel, a eucomis (pineapple lily) had come up inside a libertia that we recently planted. It must have originally been from my front garden.

Across the parking lot to the north of Howerton, a huge new building has been appearing. It will house the deconstruction of old boats.

We went on to the boatyard and did a basic weeding of big stuff from one end to the other. We had a short work day because of an event this afternoon.

The blue flower that reappears in many of our gardens is Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’.

I had to message Jenna and tell her that an ornamental grass (the annoying Pennisetum macrourum, which runs too vigorously) is going to grow up and block the art walk sign. Same thing happened last year with a Panicum ‘Northwind’, and when we moved the banner, it was never quite the same.

The smoky colored Baptisia is lasting longer than the blue lupine.

I must make cuttings of this Halmioscistus wintonensis now that I know it is easy.

With that done, we had a brief turnaround at home before going to a Black Lives Matter rally in Long Beach. Allan took many photos, which will comprise tomorrow’s post.

When we returned home after six, I mowed Alicia’s lawn next door. I had told Allan that, since he has agreed to take on Long Beach again, I will mow it, at least the front lawn. Maybe not the back meadow.

I did used to mow for a living, back in 1994. We will see how long this arrangement lasts. I think Allan gets satisfaction out of mowing. I noticed that he went over to do the string trimming there before I even had the mower set up.

My glorious Stipa barbata looks amazing in the front garden. I asked Allan to take one last photo.

I must either collect seeds and propagate it or buy more from Annie’s Annuals And Perennials. To have a whole line of them undulating in the wind in one of the port gardens would be an amazing sight. I have tried dividing it without success.

I made a new list on the work board.

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Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Port of Ilwaco

We started with a small project at the port, applying a bag of mulch to a rocky area where the plants were not doing well.

Brodiaea ‘Rudy’:

Sadly, we found the killdeer gone from its nest, the only evidence left being two broken eggs.

The Depot Restaurant

Allan found a rock.

Phygelius ‘Cherry Red’, Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’ and Cornus ‘Hedgerows Gold’:

Patti’s garden

Stella greeted us.

The garden needed no work.

We were pleased to see the morning glory and sweet pea seeds have germinated.

For the second week in a row, we sat in a long drive-through line at the bank to deposit work checks. The teller at the window told us the lobby is now open, but I think we will stick with the drive-through this year.

The Red Barn Arena

Biscuit time!

Diane’s garden

Holly got a biscuit, too.

There are still too many white California poppies on the septic vault.

I planted the rest of the morning glory seeds along the roadside fence where the sweet peas are just barely dawdling along. Diane agreed that it might be because her mowing service may have used weed and feed that may have drifted along the edge of the fenced garden, retarding the sweet peas growth.

We skipped the Boreas Inn this week but Susie took this photo of a red admiral butterfly.


We got back to our town in time to weed at Mike’s garden.

At the Ilwaco fire station, I planted some more shade perennials (Maroon Beauty saxifrage and geranium macrorrhizum) on the north side. I must get some epimediums in there, too.

Allan watered the Hot Lips salvia in the street planter…

…and checked up on the south side and watered the east side, where the roof overhang keeps the narrow strip of garden too dry.

We then weeded at the Ilwaco Community Building. Because the library is still closed, we have not given the landscape there as much attention as usual. Weeding grasses out of the heather was not much fun. [Update: The library is about to open for no-contact pick up of books, etc.]

Allan does the tiered garden, which requires agility to get into.

I like the white Brodiaea in the entrance garden.

We finished by weeding at our volunteer garden at the Ilwaco post office. I believe the asiatic lily is Landini.

A Black Lives Matter protest had taken place in Long Beach today. We focused on getting as much work done as possible so that we could attend one tomorrow. Our friend Terran and her son attended.

You can see more photos of today’s protest here.

Almost all photos today were by Allan, except for a few taken with my phone.

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16 June: Catio painting

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

We are getting used to five day weekends. The thought has crossed my mind that we should find some more work than just two days a week. The time will increase to longer days when watering season begins at the port; I don’t think we have ever had such a delightfully late start to watering season. But the time off is too enjoyable to give up yet, if ever.

Allan did go to work two doors down, mowing the Norwood lawn.

He then began to paint the new Catio. I’d every intention of helping, till I got a visit from Jenna. I had invited her, just did not know exactly when she might arrive. We haven’t seen each other, except in passing, for months.

After a good long social distancing visit, I joined Allan to finish the painting project. It goes much faster to paint the side for which the wire has not yet arrived.

I eagerly await the delivery of enough wire to finish the enclosure.

Alicia next door used our “grandpa’s weeder” (which according to this sales site was invented in Seattle in 1913!) to get a few dandelions out of her own lawn.

I took a few photos around the garden.

The greenhouse…

…with lots of tomato plants and two cucumber plants and a Dortmund rose out the back door.

Paul’s Himalayan Musk is still blooming.

Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Frisia’ and Thalictrum ‘Elin’

And a small but delicious harvest of Sugar Sprint peas and strawberries and brazzleberries.

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Monday, 15 June 2020

We had had some rain.

I woke with the pleasant realization that I had a project to do. The new Catio was built over the year-old faux rock wall in a way that looked like, well, an unplanned addition.

I spent a couple of delightful hours fixing it.

More Catio progress came about with Allan’s carpentry.

He had mentioned several times that he wondered how cats could navigate around the big old rose in one corner of the Catio, one of the few original shrubs that came with the house.

It was pretty during its brief bloom time…

….but wanted to be huge. Last year I had cut it back hard, and it clearly was not going to bloom this year, while being determined to regain its huge size. When I gave it an experimental dig with the Slayer shovel and it rocked in the thin, gravely soil, I suggested to Allan that if he disliked it so much, he could dig it out.

I put the rose up on offer on the Peninsula Gardeners Facebook group and within five minutes Matt, spouse of Seaview Sara, showed up to nab it.

We had a garden chat before he left.

I sifted some compost for the new kitchen garden…

Another project of mine was to dig out a rhododendron that was lost in the undergrowth back by the Bogsy Wood. I had won it in a raffle at the Astoria Garden Tour over a decade ago. Only last year did I realize that its new growth is is white, like my favourite rhododendrons at Steve and John’s bayside garden.

From this invisible spot…

…I dig the poor little thing out…

….and gave it a better home at the edge of the Bogsy Wood where I hope it will grow to show off its beautiful leaves.

I also dig some small catmint starts for the Catio. Skooter showed an intense interest.

I picture him basking there as our good friend Spencer used to do at Klipsan Beach Cottages.

In the evening, we watched an episode of Springwatch 2020 on BritBox. Skooter took a highly unusual interest in what Chris Packham had to say.

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