Archive for Apr, 2021

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

at home

I finished weeding the east bed in the mid morning and started in on the cat memorial bed in the early afternoon. It was a tough little garden bed with tight, sandy soil. I hadn’t gotten very far and was relieved to take a break when, as planned, Ann Amato (the amateur bot-Ann-ist) and Felix came by to deliver some plants from Secret Garden Growers, where Ann works as a plant propagatrix.

Greeting Faerie and the Greys

We had a walk all around. Ann was the first one to actually try out the wayback sit spot, at my request.

We had a visit sitting around the campfire circle.

After a good long chat, we had a look at the willow grove project and the driftwood marker for our newly discovered property corner (so exciting!).

After Felix and Ann departed, I returned to the rather difficult weeding of the cat memorial garden. (I still have not been able to bear to put Frosty, Smoky, and Calvin’s ashes there to join Mary, the mother of the first two, who is buried there. But it does have a lot of silver grey plants.)


I pulled out some landscape fabric from around the boat, installed by me in winter 2010-11, before I wrote what is, oddly, my most popular blog post ever, What Not to Do With Landscape Fabric. This photo shows why it doesn’t work even under a section of river rock: Weed roots just get entwined in it. Horrible stuff.


I have an excuse for leaving the back of the bed along the fence rather weedy and grassy. The pond frogs like long grass. I will probably give in to convention and weed it later.

I finished by weeding more of the west bed. It’s not done yet.

West bed, evening sun

I’ve begun to take some plants out of the greenhouse. I do think my scented geraniums will be ok outside now. I need room! While watering the remaining plants, I heard a familiar whine outside the east greenhouse door. My former neighbors, Cotah and Bentley, were visiting next door and got their biscuits.

The space between the cottage next door and Allan’s shed is open to both households now instead of being gated, and the east greenhouse door now serves as the “treat gate”.

Work calls tomorrow, so at home projects will have to wait, but not for long.

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Allan’s latest adventure

Southwest Washington Paddle Trips

The Bear River is five miles northwest of Ilwaco at the south end of the Willapa Bay. Highway 101 parallels the Bear and then crosses the river before continuing southwest up the hills overlooking the Columbia River on the way to Seaview or Astoria.

The Bear has been an elusive goal. I have friends who have paddled this river by pulling off the highway onto a wide driveway entrance. They then carried their boats 200 feet across the highway to launch but my paddle trips book discourages this type of parking in favor of using safer parking lots.

Dohman Creek to the west has a proper launch but the bay between is wide and shallow. Launching from the Willapa Refuge is about the same distance but has advantages. This is a segment of NOAA’s full map of Willapa Bay available here. I’ve had one printed up and it makes wall…

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Tuesday, 13 April 2021

At home

Allan went boating, which may be tomorrow’s post. (After his boating day, the week got too busy so he just started writing it as I write this.)

I applied yesterday’s product from the Pencil Sharpener shredder to the bed where I recently dug out loads of celandine.

It got warm enough to discard the hoodie and even change to a cotton shirt before I started weeding the big east bed.

MaryBeth stopped by with a box of books and another box of plastic flowerpots and we had a brief walk around that gave me a break from weeding. Her praise for the wayback sit spot and willow grove project was most satisfactory. Then I went indoors for a three PM zoom class on dahlias. I found later that I wished I had spent the time weeding because, even though I buckled back down to weeding at four o clock, I ran out of time before I ran out of weeds. The south end of the east bed will have to wait for tomorrow. Befores and afters of the north end:

I barely scraped up the energy for some garden admiration.


The night before, I finished the book that has been fascinating bedtime reading for a week.

I enjoyed it all, with its idea the whole planet, having been irrevocably altered by humans already, can be a rambunctious garden that we care for. Here are a few of my takeaways.

Of course, being a fan of exotic plants, I liked this…

I used to have a beautiful tamarisk, got rid of it when it made the noxious weed list, and would love to have one again.

I was thrilled, as a born Seattleite, to read a fascinating chapter about the Duwamish river restoration. The Duwamish project is threaded through an entire chapter. There’s much more to it than these excerpts. I’d love to see it…if I ever go to my home town again.


….A worker at a business asks…

About the land management of the lost civilizations of the Americas, and the shameful and heartbreaking way those civilizations were decimated…


And finally, about the rewilding of wasteland areas however small (and I should read Sand County Almanac! and will!)…

And I couldn’t agree more…

Great book, do read it, if you like that sort of thing, and you probably do.

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12 April: more weeding

Monday, 12 April 2021

At home

I was glad to finish the center bed weeding….

…and to turn my attention to the big east bed. Which did not get done, but progress was made. Again, the strong, cold north wind was extremely annoying.

Skooter was underfoot, helping.

I had had a thought during the night that I should plant some spare ornamental grasses in the south Catio. Cats love them, and their chasing around flattens more delicate plants. So I put several in there. Faerie immediately found and appreciated the biggest one, a transplanted self seeded pheasant grass.

I knew that Allan had agreed to run some thin branches through the pencil sharpener, and so I pruned a couple of Physocarpus and coppiced a smoke bush.

East bed before
West bed before
And after

I doubt Allan had expected that big a pile…

He got it done, except for some fuchsia stems too big for the pencil sharpener, as we call the small and quiet shredder.
All those branches reduced to this.

He also installed my new cups as decorations on the window boxes on the side of the shed that will later hold the great wall of china. Thanks for the cups, Montana Mary!

And he trimmed some more of his ferns.

I wonder what it would be like to have a hobby that did not have living things depending on you to care for and water them? Something like knitting, photography, boating, computer games? Sometimes at the end of a big weeding day, I feel awfully tired, but now that dry weather is here, still have to find the energy to water. Especially the plant sale potted plants, which dry out quickly. I’m trying to remember to stop weeding soon enough to get the watering done without misery. Today, I stopped weeding after I’d gotten so punchy that I broke off a pointy maroon sprout of a pineapple lily. Damn it. That happened after the weeding delay of having to dig up, remove grass from, and replant a grass-choked dianthus, one of the reasons weeding takes so long sometimes.

I was too tired after all that for much garden appreciation except for noticing again how beautiful the pulmonarias are.

I keep reminding myself that we are only working a couple of days a week now so all the weeding doesn’t have to be done at once. I hope to get most of it done tomorrow so that when the wind dies down, I’ll be able to do some fun gardenscaping in the Bogsy Wood.

Allan, feeling virtuous after all his accomplishments today, has loaded up his boat to go boating tomorrow.

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11 April: weeding

Sunday, 11 April 2021

at home

The day began with cat proofing the kitchen window sill after Faerie put footprints in two of the tomato seed six packs.

Scotch tape, hope it works. (It has.)

Then, as Monty Don had instructed in jobs for the weekend, I took cuttings from my scented geraniums. Those little potted ones are cuttings I took last year and will be in my plant sale.

We’d had some rain but a predicted hard frost had bypassed us, for which I was grateful.

Skooter did his best to make up for some bad behavior last night by being cute.

I could no longer put off weeding the center bed. One side got done…


Skooter helped, then lay down in another garden bed nearby.

A cold and horrible strong wind ruffled his fur while he napped; it made the gardening not very pleasant.


I really do not like the sweet woodruff that is at the south end of the center bed. Today, I saved time by not battling with it. It hitched a ride into my garden somehow, probably from my old garden, where it was quite a pest. It bided its time for a few years and suddenly became rampant. Some people love it.

I did, on Impulse, do some fuchsia pruning in the next bed over. I like a big hardy fuchsia, but it was swamping other plants.

The other side of the center bed did not get done because at six o clock, I ran out of steam and out of endurance for the damn wind.


One of my best birthday gifts ever was the twin solar powered tiny fountains that Allan got me for the canoe pond last year, see above and below. I’ve seen a hummingbird playing in the spray.

I was halfway down the second side when I couldn’t take it anymore.

where I bailed out
Almost done

The garden boat is lovely, though weedy.

Skooter had stayed in the same place all afternoon.

Allan mowed Alicia’s lawn at the end of the day.

Cat proofing ended the day also. This is really not the way I want my garden bookshelf to look…

…but last night at midnight, Skooter got on my desk and waggled his butt like he was about to spray the books in rage at not being given his outdoor freedom. Perhaps he was just posturing, but I can’t take a chance. This will have to do until I find a clearer solution.

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10 April: seeding

Saturday, 10 April 2021

I spent the day planting seeds, first tomato, cucumbers and peppers to try to get started on the kitchen window sill, and then some flats of assorted cosmos and a few other flowers in the greenhouse. Skooter decided to squeeze himself into a flat of seeds before the last two six packs could be added.

The greenhouse seeds were a mix of flats and six packs, a combo which fits best on the shelf in the lean to.

I hope it will be warm enough to put the tomatoes and cukes and peppers in the unheated greenhouse in two weeks. The windowsill does not get much light and is a method I have not tried before. A source from the Seattle area said that April 10th was the last date to sow tomato seeds. Last year, I sowed some free tomato seeds in the greenhouse later than that and got fruit bearing plants out of it. In fact, last year was a surprisingly successful year for seeds for me, with good cosmos and a black scabiosa and and blue hyssop and China asters and ratibida (mexican hat flower), giving me confidence to try again.

It is a juggling act to plant this early because the greenhouse is still full of tender plants.

I felt more sore after seeding than I do after five hours of weeding. My legs hurt, my back hurt, and I could barely hobble out to the south gate to see the results of Allan’s afternoon project.

The gate, when open, made it awkward to walk to the east end of the willow grove garden.

He had thought he could change the hinges to make it swing all the way open, but he had built it to not fit inside the frame, which makes its lines fit in seamlessly with the fence but made the hinge job extra tricky. So it ended up being changed to swing inward, an excellent solution.

I was thrilled to see redwing blackbirds in the willows. They were my grandmother’s favorite bird, with chickadees running a close second.

(Oddly, I don’t remember seeing hummingbirds in her Seattle garden despite her many fuchsias. I don’t remember them from when that garden was mine, either. I think hummingbirds were sort of new to me when we moved to the beach, because I remember hearing a sound in summer of 1993 that I thought was a child playing with a whirring model airplane and going outside to see a group of hummingbirds in a flowering quince bush.)

I took some garden appreciation photos as I hobbled back toward the house.

This vignette has been in bloom for weeks.
There is much less snail nibbling on the narcissi flowers this year.

Allan noticed this tulip.

….and a curious cat.

I picked a mess o’ greens, this time surely the last of the collards.

I was so glad to get in out of the cold wind, which the other cats had preferred to avoid…..

…and to have a nice cup of Builders with an episode of Beechgrove, followed by the latest episode of Gardener’s World on BritBox with dinner. Last night, we finished an excellent French tv series, Call My Agent, recommended by Laurie of the Hinterlands. It was quite wonderful. We ended our evening with the first episode of Lovecraft Country, which I thought was absolutely perfect and suspenseful and entirely great. The capture of Chicago in the 1950s is beautiful. Then the trio of travelers, on their way to the setting of Lovecraft’s horror fiction, find that racist humans are as scary as actual monsters. That’s all I will say. Very much looking forward to the next episode.

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Friday, 9 April 2021, part two

Ilwaco post office garden

Allan had to actually go into the post office to pick up a package. To avoid other patrons, he went early just when it opened, and while he was there he deadheaded our volunteer garden and set up some rocks to protect some lily sprouts. The fence at the property line has been removed and the garden edge may be walked on while it is replaced.

We used to maintain this garden almost daily, before the pandemic changed our routine so that Allan usually picks up our mail at midnight.

Cutting the Stipa gigantea back hard, which I disagreed with when Allan did so last autumn, has resulted in it being the best looking one this year. I think next year, we will cut them back hard in all gardens in February instead of combing them out, (because I still cling to the idea that grasses don’t like being cut in autumn).

The missing fence
I hope this will protect the lilies.

Ilwaco Community Building

After helping me with two projects at home, he went to the library to pick up three books (Chuck Klosterman’s pondering about death, another book about artful gardening, and a new Agatha Raisin mystery; now I need some reading weather). While there, he did some garden appreciation and some deadheading.

Narcissus bulbocodium (yellow hoop petticoat)
Tulip ‘Lilac Wonder’
with blue and white anemone blanda
A bouquet fit for a zombie

At home

In his own garden, Allan took the old fronds off of some of his ferns. He prefers to wait till the new croziers are unfurling to avoid the long wait when one does the trimming in February.

He bottled up the productive results of yesterday’s work with the dehydrator.

Some of the dried tomatoes made their way into a delicious spaghetti sauce for dinner.

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Friday, 9 April 2021

At home

I got Allan to help me move the barbecue stand planter…again…in a rearrangement of the wayback sit spot. First, I dug up an aruncus (goatsbeard) which I would replant where the bbq planter was.

Then we moved a piece of broken pot with a deer fern planted in it.

in progress

And then, with much excitement (on my part), we moved the planter. Before and after:

Before, too much clutter on one side
After, perhaps more well-balanced clutter
Skooter inspects

I unintentionally got deeply involved in weeding the Bogsy mounds.

I want to put some rocks to raise up the bed on either side of where the path turns.

In going after one more clump of lesser celandine, I photographed its bulbils, which make it so hard to get rid of.

All around grows the meianthemum, which is native, thus admired, but which I dislike almost as much. I rarely engage in battle with it because of not being pressured by the noxious weed list, which it isn’t on.

Here is a good plant, perhaps also with the common name celandine, given me by Jane the Mulch Maid.

Stylophorum diphyllum

I believe this is the plant that Laurie of the Hinterlands described, in comments in my recent celandine post, as growing next to her fence in Maine.
It also has the common name of celandine (celandine poppy), which is why the botanical names of plants can be so important to know. Lesser celandine, the bad one, is Ficaria verna. Believe me, I had to look all that up! It did not just roll off my tongue.

My next request of Allan was that he help me finish measuring the length of our property. We had 17 feet to go that we had not been able to measure till the water dried up at the west end. I was astonished to find that we seem to actually own almost the whole seasonal pond.

Allan dug in a vertical piece of driftwood to mark the corner. I think we need more posts, something a bit showier that says this is OURS.

If we had known, we might have put the fence out further. But I’m glad we put it between the alder and the willow grove because that is a natural boundary.

I was startled to see that the middle, deeper area of the seasonal pond is drying up, too.

The willow grove has an atmosphere all its own. Its only disadvantage is that anything I plant out there will be browsed by deer.

And ducks?

The advantage is that I might have a close encounter with a deer. They have not nibbled the sickly Garrya ‘James Roof’ that I banished out here. It still does not look healthy.

There is a wilder, greener smell out among the willows.

The view north through the gate to tamer garden:

Next, the rest of Allan’s day.

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8 April: all Ilwaco

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Ilwaco Fire Station

We finally got around to a good weeding of our volunteer garden at the fire station, a block away from our house.

Planting a few plants I’ve propagated and one that I purchased
sw corner garden

I found a buddleia seedling against the wall. But where might it come from? I looked around. It must have come from one across the street.

I love buddleias but since B. davidii are on the noxious weed list (except for maybe the new supposedly sterile forms) it will get a respectful burial in the compost pile.

We are working our way to the last bits of uncultivated, weedy ground by the back doors of the station, around some big boxes of fans or heat pumps or some such. Next time we go there, I’ll make sure we have time to finish weeding those areas. Allan got a start and I did just a little bit.

I like the way the east wall is looking.

All plants acquired for free or from seeds.
This sparser end, where an invasive iris was removed, got some new plants.
The north side fern bed got trimmed up.
I do hope this was someone helpfully deadheading rather than swiping narcissi flowers.

Howerton Avenue curbside beds

We worked our way from east to west, deadheading narcissi, planting some lambs ears and a few other perennial starts, and weeding enough so that we can put off the extra-thorough weeding for a couple of weeks so that it will last till the beginning of May when Saturday market starts up. Our budget is a covid-affected smaller one this year and so I can’t achieve the perfection I want, but instead have to carefully parcel out the work so we won’t run out of money before we run out of months. I was even going to skip weeding this week, but simply could not.

Almost all photos at the port gardens are by Allan today.

In one garden, I was mightily annoyed to find that an adjacent very weedy bed inside the sidewalk (thus not ours to maintain) had been string trimmed and the debris let blow or blown on purpose! into “our” garden bed, adding weed seeds and just plain mess for us to clean up, just when I am worrying about the time budget. We already have enough problems in this bed with a whole lot of wild garlic.

Cleaning up someone else’s mess added precious time to the task all along the garden bed. I did express my displeasure to an unfortunate employee who emerged at the wrong moment, but it was a friendly conversation, I swear.

One of the buckets of string trimmings that we raked up.

But…onward, where there was plenty of beauty to soothe my nerves and plenty of my favorite flower, the narcissi. And we did not find many that had been picked. Sometimes I think there might be one resident at a time who does most of the flower pilfering, and sometimes that person moves away or reforms.

The wee narcissi that used to reliably bloom in May now bloom in early to mid April.
The drive over garden in which we do not trim the santolinas…at least not till they get driven over.
Baby Moon used to bloom in May.

Allan went on to do the garden beds by Salt Hotel, Skywater Gallery, and Freedom Market…

Skywater has been trying to give away this old boat for free.

…while I did the Time Enough garden and the gardens both north and south of the port office.

Port office, south side
Narcissus ‘Xit’

I finished by trimming one fern in the Salt Hotel courtyard that isn’t really my territory…but it bugged me.

Something else that bothered me when I was getting a tool out of the van: Some maskless folks walked toward me, so to be polite and social distance properly, I stepped off the sidewalk and stood behind the van. But one, an older man, stood by our open van door and asked me “What are you doing?” It occurs to me now he may have thought I was burgling! I said, “I’m waiting till I can shut the van door.” Then a younger woman, probably his daughter, said to him, “Oh, you are in her way.” She had a mask on, a phenomenon I noticed often in Long Beach last year, where daughters tried to coach their fathers to follow the local Covid mores. I said in a friendly tone, “Yes, I’m just social distancing”, at which the man said, “Oh, well, we are from Idaho, we don’t do that.” Because we must always do our best to make sure tourists have a good time, I just said, “Yes, it’s a complicated situation” and saved my eye roll till I had walked away.

Norwood garden

My favorite kind of narcissi, the ones with small cups.

I do think it is time to replace three old lavenders that have gotten ever so woody.

J Crew Cottage

I deadheaded five narcissi and enjoyed the flowers.

At home, the crab pot wall has grown.

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Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Because I had a desirable plant to pick up at The Basket Case, I was hoping for good enough weather to deadhead all jobs north of Ilwaco. None of them are further north than Long Beach these days.

Diane’s garden

We deadheaded the narcissi in all the garden areas. The weather began just cold but almost immediately turned to cold and rainy.

Fritillaria meleagris
Roadside garden

The Red Barn

Too much cold rain made me wimp out on pulling little weeds. We just deadheaded the barrels…

…and Allan shifted one that had been pushed around somehow so it was back to front.
Now the front is in front again.

The Basket Case Greenhouse

In a heartbreaking event earlier this year, our friend Dirk, who owned the English Nursery in Seaview, died. It was a shock. The Basket Case now has the stock from his nursery, including a wide selection of ornamental grasses, some shown in the foreground above. Dirk was only 65 and full of the enjoyment of life, and yes, he was from England.

The plant I came for was Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’, a darling of British gardening shows.

Beautiful new business cards

We paused by an antique store on Sandridge called The Bay Trader to get a photo of the sign commemorating the owner. Skip was a lovely man. He built us the beautiful bookshelves in our living room that I have enjoyed so much in the past ten years. He had somewhat retired from full time management of the store, but I well remember what a great conversationalist he was and so full of fascinating history of our area.

The Boreas Inn

We did the narcissi deadheading and some light weeding, grateful that the cold rain had briefly stopped. I had wondered if there would be enough dead narcissi to make the stop worthwhile. The pots on the southwest deck alone made it so.

The sweet peas bt the south fence are looking fine.

On the north fence, they are struggling and the soil around each one was ruched up. I tucked them back in, poor little mites.

I had a revelation about the sword ferns in the garden suite garden. They have not unfurled yet at all, when in other gardens, croziers are well out on sword ferns.

I suddenly realized that are in a rainshadow with half of the roots in bone dry soil.

I should have figured this out years before. I messaged Susie and asked her to set up a sprinkler there despite the rain.

The Depot Restaurant

We deadheaded narcissi…

…the tulips are blooming…

….and I noticed that in the front windowboxes, which I don’t plant but do care for in summer, black plastic is showing and it looks like pansies have been seeded, but the boxes need soil to hide that plastic.

The rain returned.

Patti’s garden

In the chilly rain, we picked off two dead narcissi, pulled two weeds, and we were done with the north jobs for this week.

It was good to be home with a nice cup of Builders. I churned out three blog posts, including this one, and watched some Beechgrove. And was glad to be half retired.

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