Archive for Nov, 2021

Saturday, 28 November 2021

I woke at seven. My sleep patterns changed with vertigo, because my brain gets tired earlier at night. Allan remains a night owl, so I usually read the news and maybe listen to a guided meditation. I have lived with early birds before and know how irksome it can be when they start crashing around the house at dawn.

At the early for me hour of nine AM, I went across the street to plant a few bulbs (some narcissi and some Dutch Iris) at the J Crew Cottage. The predicted rain lightly began while I was there.

When I returned home, Allen had made oatmeal. I suggested we plant the bulbs at the post office before the predicted 35 mph wind arrived. He agreed, although not with enthusiasm. To this volunteer garden I contributed some Allium christophii and schubertii and some Dutch Iris from the purchased bulbs, and some divided and replanted assorted narcissi, and some tulips from the compost bins that may or may not be big enough bulbs to have a flower next year.

I surprised Allan with the plan to also plant some narcissi divisions under the four street trees at the nearby intersection. Earlier this year, a volunteer group had removed all the good plants along with weeds and stripped out so much soil that when we rescued the remaining bulbs by removing landscape fabric that the volunteers had applied, I suspected that a great many little bulbs had been removed in the digging out of plants. Some bulb foliage is poking up, but adding a few more would not go amiss.

Mostly assorted narcissi

Even wearing raincoats, we were pretty drenched when we got home.

Allan worked in the rain disassembling the bear-damaged front fence.

I changed to dry clothes and then got drenched twice more while getting empty pots from the greenhouse and then, after potting up eight trays of alliums in the dry garage, making room for the filled pots on outdoor tables and then bringing the filled pots outdoors.

Allan went looking for our delinquent cat Skooter to no avail. As Our Kathleen said, his motto is Live Free or Die. When he does come home lately, he is not drenched despite the rain and he only comes for one snack a day sometimes, so we think he has a second home now. I wonder, if this is true, will be behave nicely, and for how long until he started spraying in the house.

While in his fruitless quest for our runaway, Allan took some photos of the Bogsy Wood and cleaned the bear poo off of the swale bridge.

Our other three cats are advertisements for why it can be nice to share a home with cats. Faerie is the only snuggly one of the three, so there are not enough cats to go around and we compete for her company. At this moment, she is mine.

6:30 PM: He finally came home, ate food, had treats, vocalized his frustrations and then settled down.

Read Full Post »

Friday, 26 November 2021

At home

The big event of the day was the rescue of a frog from Zinc and Faerie, inside the house. Lately, a frog has been croaking in my closet; we couldn’t find it! Now perhaps we have.

We were worried because Skooter did not come home for his late evening or sometimes midnight meal, after which he is always annoyed and frustrated to be kept indoors for the night. In fact, he did not return till about 1 PM. After tucking into a large luncheon, he demanded OUT and left again. As I write this on Saturday late afternoon, he has not returned. He does not like rain so we think he is leading a double life in another household, in the same way that he did with two households when he was three years old. (He is almost nine years old now.)

Let me OUT.

The other cats know nothing of life beyond the catios. But from the way they gaze upon the world through the wire, I think they would like to know more.

The rest of the bulbs arrived. I did the sorting, which took a small space of three card tables instead of card tables and a big piece of plywood on saw horses.

I missed having the wealth of different bulbs to pick from as it used to be when I planted many kinds in Long Beach. The compensation was that the sorting took three or four hours instead of two or three full days. And due to the supply chain problem that resulted in the bulbs arriving a month later than usual, I am glad to not have thousands to plant. I think we can get it all done in three days of work.

Read Full Post »

Thursday, 25 November 2021

We saw the pheasant again, crossing the road one house east of us.

And speaking of wildlife, here is another recent video capture of the pesky local bear. I do not think it is a male bear. Somewhere on local media, someone said “Everyone calls it Rogue,” but that’s a bunch of hooey because I know neighbors who’ve been pestered by this bear who just call it The Bear.

Port of Ilwaco

I’m not much for holidays, having been self-employed since age 21. When I had a housecleaning business, a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas usually just meant lost income. However, as a gardener I can work on an autumn holiday if the weather allows. So we returned to the port to weed the curbside garden by Salt Hotel. Below is the east bed in front of Salt.

It is the most difficult garden to maintain, being large river rock on landscape fabric, without even an underlayment of smaller rocks, so the underwear shows as the rocks shift.

We peeled back a section of the fabric and removed it. It just makes maintenance harder.

Horrible stuff with weed roots embedded.

I am resolved to get as much fabric out as possible. Today, we didn’t have time for that sort of complete re-do. I did notice that the fabric is just tucked around the boulders and doesn’t go underneath them, so that will make it easier.

East Salt bed after

Allan went down to the westernmost bed by Freedom Market and pulled some Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, which was enough for me to declare those beds done. Everything else, including windblown Gaura, can wait till February. It’s off the work board, even though I suppose it is possible we might get a small surge of energy and clip a few more things (but I don’t think so).

The two westernmost beds on a dark windy day

The west bed in front of Salt looked even weedier, because of a lawn of reseeded quaking grass. It’s too bad it looks weedy when not in bloom, because at its peak it looks quite interesting.

The garden was installed by an outfit that is no longer around. In some places on the edge of the beds, they doubled the accursed fabric, making it even harder to work in, with a worse weed root situation. This was the case at the end of the west Salt bed.

The wind was kicking up considerably and the sky darkening ominously. Soon we had enough wind to make an empty bucket go skittering into the street.

I blame the sad state of that bed on the fabric, and a month of vertigo and then the weeks of working in Long Beach. Also, with the rocks, we couldn’t mulch it.


Two jobs on our block

I weeded the Norwood garden two doors down, which hardly took any time at all.

Narrow beds around the house, hydrangeas will be trimmed in late winter

Then we tidied the gardens at the J Crew Cottage across the street.

At home, I harvested potatoes…

…and, to my surprise, found the energy to unload three waiting tarps of compost material onto the bins, even chopping some things up. By now, the rain had begun.

The pile of Jackman’s Blue rue clipped in Long Beach last week still looked fresh enough (also to my surprise) to try making a flat of cuttings from it. I love that plant.

The work board tonight is transformed into having only a few days left. Maybe just four. Or fewer. Bulb time will be next week (weather permitting) if the shipment arrives. Supply chain problems delayed it badly.

Read Full Post »

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Before work, we saw a visitor next door.

Ring-neck Pheasant

The weather was perfect. Not cold, no rain, no wind. I decided we should do the boatyard and port rather than Js’ and Norwood because the port is so exposed to bad weather.

Ilwaco Fire Station garden

Allan added some mulch. I added some bulbs.

Ilwaco boatyard garden

We cut some but not all plants back. Some perennials look interesting all winter. Some are already messy or just too close to the sidewalk.

I tried cutting back the Euphorbia ‘Portuguese Velvet’ (below) from the sidewalk. You can see the sap, which burns some people’s skin, for which reason I decided the whole plant had to get dug and come home with me. It wasn’t till I wrote this after 7 PM that I realized the three nice pieces got dumped with the other debris because I forgot to retrieve them. Allan knows right where they are and will go get them back for me tomorrow.

Lily! Very soft and sweet
Trimming shrubs back from sidewalk

Oh dear, the second Ceanothus has dieback now. I will deal with it in February. The budget has run out for autumn pruning at the port.

This baptisia got cut down.
Geranium ‘Rozanne’ that got cut back last time we were here.

We took some time to weed the one street tree nearby that we had not finished last month.

Below: Boats at the north end of the boatyard.

I used to have a volunteer garden bed running along the north side, too, with a concrete block edge that the port bought for me. One winter there was some nearby road construction. All the trucks parked there and buried the whole garden, even the edging blocks, by parking on it and pushing everything into mud. I did not try to recreate it. I kind of blocked it from my memory. It is maddening to think of it. I had one of those orange ball buddleias, lots of perennials and poppies. It was beautiful. The edge blocks were like this one…and are probably still buried, a whole city block’s worth. I have no photos of it that I can remember. It was before I even had a computer. (I just realize this paragraph illustrates three uses for the word “block”.)

We went home to drop off a bit of compostable debris.Our neighbor, Frieda, who has never let me actually pet her, got a biscuit.

I collected some plants for the port. Frieda followed me for another biscuit. A bit later, she was hoping for a third one.

Howerton Avenue gardens

We weeded and clipped our way from east to west on the port curbside gardens.

A Kniphofia from Beverley got added.
Wind damage on wax myrtle?
Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’ reblooming, never saw that before
Crab pots stacked to the south of our alders

Crabbers get to set their pots on December 1st this year, so they will have a good Christmas.

As dusk approached, Allan went to dump debris and I kept weeding and planting two good plants from Xera Plants…an Erigeron glaucus ‘Wayne Roderick’ and a cleverly named watsonia.

In the almost dark, we planted another kniphofia from Beverly at the west end and then we were done…

…with only the Salt Hotel garden and a bit of the western beds left to weed. I hope we get a break from predicted rain in the next week to at least get that done . The work board tonight:

Read Full Post »

23 Nov: back to the usual

With Long Beach done, we returned to clients we have neglected for six weeks.

The Red Barn

Pineapple sage
Collecting manure from the barn pile. I don’t use much horse manure because it is weedy.

Diane’s garden

Back garden

Diane and Holly arrive from the Red Barn next door
Forgot the after photo!
The pots are still too lush for cutting back.

Front garden

Mike’s garden

Timba and new puppy Flirt get biscuits

at home

The work board tonight….all three gardens we did today will get another, shorter visit for more clean up and maybe bulbs. But the biggest part of their clean up is done. We need a frost to take more annuals down!

After I had attained my chair and a nice cup of Builder’s, a friend sent me this new drawing of the building that is proposed for just south of our willow grove.

The numbers are my enhancement: 1 is the Norwood back fence and gate, 2 is ours and Alicia’s south property line (the willow grove), three is the next door gear shed, where the crabbers sort crab pots where the swimming pool is, and the arrow is the alley the gear shed uses which is also supposed to lead to our otherwise landlocked south lot. Hmm…I do not even see a fire lane, and the frogs’ seasonal pond will be gone. So…suggestions for fast growing evergreen two story hedge more interesting than Leyland cypress would be appreciated.

Read Full Post »

Monday, 22 November 2021

Wet beginning

Long Beach

Today was supposed to be a rainy reading day. However, when we arrived home yesterday, I realized I had left my old wooden cane in the city works debris pile and that I had neglected to mulch one small shabby looking stretch of the city hall garden. With gas $4.25 a gallon, a forty minute round trip drive just for the cane was simply not on, so…we went to work. Was this a way for my subconscious to resist letting go of Long Beach?

The cane was right where I had buried it with yesterday’s debris. The big pile of sand that is sure to be spread around the field was still intact.

We filled buckets in the mulch barn.

Outside, it was nice weather for ducks.

The city crew was on break, so I took the opportunity to return our key to the kingdom. Maybe that will help in letting go.

On we went into the storm to dump five buckets on the west side of city hall.


Ilwaco Community Building

I had thought yesterday that I wished I had more mulch for the Ilwaco Community Building, especially the upper tiered garden. The Friends of the Library have bought mulch for us before but have not been able to have their big fundraiser book sales during the pandemic, so I had not wanted to ask. I therefore considered it part of our garden charity for Ilwaco to add the biosolids mulch.

The tiered garden

The Sanguisorba ‘Pink Elephant’ has gotten so weedy that it has got to go. I saved a bucket of mulch to fill in later. I love Pink Elephant because it gets so tall, but this year that inspired someone to climb into the garden and cut it back because it dared to put flowers over the railing. That made me feel territorial. I think we will replace it with a hardy fuchsia.

Allan’s knack for finding money was met with a penny today.

I forgot to set the brake and my rollator escaped on the awkwardly steep parking lot.
a last bit of mulching along the sidewalk

We were home before two, very wet and cold and with a big load of muddy laundry to do.

a garden show

I found the first episode of the new BBC gardening show, The Wild Gardener, here. In it, a professional wildlife photographer returns to acreage from his childhood and we follow his project of making ponds and planting it in a way to attract as much wildlife as possible. It’s a beautiful show. I was inspired by his “dead hedge” which is built against a chain link fence as a shelter for critters. If the new building appears to our south, I may do something like this with our wire panel fence, once “we” move it several feet to the south.

Ours would be taller.

The wild gardener, Colin Stafford-Johnson, had a wonderful father, Barney Johnson, who presented the first Irish television gardening show and who died of cancer at just age 50. He would be so proud of his boy.

Read Full Post »

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Before work, I checked on the greenhouses. This pile by the compost bins is just one of three piles in waiting for time off to process clippings brought home from work.

We remembered to water the Depot Restaurant window boxes, which are sheltered from rain under wide eaves. They needed it!

Long Beach

We needed to dump some debris from our buckets to free them up for mulch. While doing so, I met a crew member’s cute young dog named Lily, just seven months old and quite shy.

Then came load one of mulch.

Our goal was to finish all of the downtown street trees and planters, starting with the south block where parking is easy.

At the southernmost tree, a running weed grass that we had battled for years but had kept to one tiny area (its roots were entrenched in the tree roots) has been let run rampant all year and is now to be found throughout the tree garden. This annoys me. I keep thinking about the years of weed battles that one summer of neglect will have caused.

The weed grass previously did not to run to this side!

Our next area was one of the two most popular blocks. As I knew would happen on a Sunday, we had to park in the east parking lot and wheel the mulch for a block through the old fun rides walkway. The rides are for sale and did not open this year, which seems quite sad. I think of Long Beach as a carnival town with the rides an integral part, especially the carousel.

The walk took us past a cute little picnic gazebo with interpretive signs.

Can you tell I am getting all sentimental about Long Beach as the job draws too close…again? The autumn clean up is so familiar that it feels I have done it for a century, but this is only the 22nd or 23rd time.

We had two nicely weeded (by us) trees and two planters to mulch on this block.

And then we had a tree that we had skipped weeding last month because it was the one tree that had been weeded and mulched before we started the big clean up. Well, the weeding had just consisted of skimming off the tops and it was a mess again, this time of vetch that had been let run rampant. I’m sure it will be vetchy again next year. It is a great weed for pollinators!

We were DONE with the Long Beach trees and planters. However, I had noticed while driving around in a circle hoping to find better parking that the long narrow beds on the west side of city hall would look better mulched.

On the way there, I wondered what this new little building is in the beach pines on the west side of Ocean Beach Boulevard.

I contemplated the rugosa roses sticking out into the sidewalk air space by the Big Pop-out. Those and the former police station roses we are not cutting down like we usually would. There was just too much other garden repair work to do.

Allan stopped in the street with the hazard flashers on to drop off our remaining eight buckets and found a spot to park in the city hall east side parking lot.

The west side got mulched and on the east side, I decided the hydrangea looked silly with its remaining topknot of flowers.

And then I decided we must mulch that bed. On the way back to City Works, we lucked into a parking spot right next to the Pacific Realty pond. Trimming the rest of the untrimmed crispy sword ferns had also been on my list for today.

No after photos because I got distracted by realtor Leslie Brophy’s Boston terriers.

I told Leslie that if someone would just bottom out the sword ferns and photinia in the small bed under the office window by next mid-February, they would come back all fresh and beautiful. We used to do a little trimming on it even though it technically wasn’t part of the pond job.

Back at City Works, we refilled for the last time for city hall and two volunteer gardens in Ilwaco. I will miss driving in and out of the works yard. It made me feel important.

Allan mulched an end piece on the west side while I mulched the east side.

I really thought that was it for Long Beach till we were driving though town and realized we had missed mulching just one tree. Allan did it.

And from there he telephotoed one last happy photo of the World’s Largest Frying Pan.

the classic pose


We applied a few buckets of mulch at the entrance to the library.

We topped up the post office garden.

At the fire station, we said hello to neighbor dog Ernie, out for his evening constitutional.

We mulched all the beds.

My aim was not true.
We were racing sundown.

It was done, every last bucket used. We drove down to the port to catch the last of the sunset.

The marina
The lights are the Cape Disappointment Coast Guard Station.

At home, I erased Long Beach trees and planters and mulching fire station from the work board, which now returns to our neglected regular clients.

And, in our neighborhood, someone got a doorbell video of our frequent visitor, the bear.

Read Full Post »

Saturday, 20 November 2021

We postponed our last day of mulching in Long Beach till tomorrow. Saturday is not an easy day to work on downtown planters.

Before work, we had to unload Long Beach debris from the trailer, out of which came a heaping wheelbarrow of compost makings.

Patti’s garden

Although we are not in the mowing business, we do mow Patti’s lawn. (I started out in 1993 with quite a few mowing jobs which is actually more lucrative around here than gardening, at least if you don’t break your mower as often as I did.)

I tidied the flower garden while Allan mowed. As he came back to the driveway, I got to pet some cute Scottie dogs.

I still notice that Seaview friendliness when I am working in Patti or Susie’s gardens and wish sometimes that I had bought a house there, which was my original goal till I was distracted by a cute Ilwaco cottage with a pond.

This reminds me that I have always found Seaview to be a friendlier and more talk-to-the-passersby town than Ilwaco. I made more friends in one year of living in Seaview (1993) than I did in two decades of living in Ilwaco. Most of the Seaview friends were older than me and are long gone (died or moved away): John and Val Campiche, Glennie and Don Woodcock, Maxine Daly, Helen Dunn and Tootie Erickson, Donna Ryan, Bev Rolfe, Marge Horner. (It was a few years later that Patti moved from Portland to Seaview.) I had another older friend at the time, Avys Hathaway from north of Long Beach. She warned me that when she had bought her beach cottage in her thirties, she had made many friends who were older and no friends her own age, and was bereft when all her older friends died. “Make some friends your own age,” she advised. I still like old people best and am now one of them. It feels familiar to have old friends.

Anyway. After mowing, Allan repaired a section of sod which had been removed when some workers laid an excellent new patio.

Patti asked me to rake and overseed a lawn area where the work crew had worn a path in the grass. I had also fulfilled her request to plant starts of Geranium macrorrhizum along the fence.

Allan put in an hour more work than I did; I spent half my time visiting with Patti.

We then returned to Ilwaco to do a fall clean up on our two volunteer gardens. (If I had bought a house in Seaview, my volunteer gardens would have been the garden along the Seaview beach approach road and the two beds by the entry road at the Visitors Center and the English Nursery, both of which I was asked to work on at one time or another but didn’t because they were not conveniently close to home.)

Ilwaco Fire Station garden

SW corner

I asked Allan to remove the weeping love grass from the narrow east side bed. I feel it hangs into the sidewalk too much and is, I think, verging on a noxious weed.

I used to love that grass but I am over it.

I then remembered a rose which I had told one of the firefighters, Gary, that we would move. He had rescued it from somewhere…the Coast Guard station? and had planted it at the fire station, but in the shade. I could not guarantee it would survive the transplant but I had said we’d give it a sunny spot, so we did.

It’s a climber and I hope does not turn out to be that muddy red Dr. Huey that appears when a rose reverts to root stock. Next year will tell the tale.


Now we can bring some mulch, tomorrow, I hope.

Ilwaco Post Office garden

My plan had been that Allan would trim the Stipa gigantea the way he did last autumn, when I had protested that Stipa should be combed, not trimmed, and never in the autumn. And then it had turned out to be the best looking stipa in any of our 2021 gardens. Today I was just going to dig out a sanguisorba from front and center that the deer kept chomping and cut back a few other plants. But something happened and I just kept digging. The garden got quite a re-do, with a penstemon moved forward to front and center and other weedy perennials dug out.

We disturbed someone quietly contemplating on the bench.
The sanguisorba that the deer loved too much.
I had tired of the golden oregano in front.
I wish I had the strength to dig out the privet, lower left.
Will bring more mulch tomorrow!

The work board tonight:

Read Full Post »

19 November: almost…

Friday, 19 November 2021

Long Beach

Having decided to not delay in doing the final mulching of the street trees and planters, we got back to it, starting with a mulch load.

Here is part of the system that turns sewage into biosolids mulch.

The city works yard is surrounded by woods.

And is home to some retired equipment.

We started mulching on the busiest block, where we were lucky to get a parking spot. We are cutting back the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ in case next year’s gardener does not know to do so in the late winter. This last year, a lot of them did not get cut back and had dead flowers mingled with the new ones.

Fish Alley, where the planters I planted last fall held up well to a year of neglect. I didn’t cut those sedums back.

I forgot to take a photo of the new this year Fish Alley arch by chainsaw artist Josh Blewett so have borrowed this photo from the city.

If a frost came and we were driving through town, I would wish we had zipped off the foliage of all these hardy geraniums….but in this maritime climate, they might look fine all winter.

Some new sights around town…

Police station is now a visitors’ center.

We used up all 42 buckets of mulch and went back to refill. Our good friend Terran (BeeKissed Gardening) and her helper and her dogs showed up for the same purpose and the two humans helped us fill our last few buckets.

Two of Terran’s four huskies
Of course, I am also thinking, This isn’t six feet apart!!

Terran and I go way back to when we worked together in 2002-3. And we knew each other even before that.

Allan and I continued mulching trees and planters.

It had really irked me when we would drive through town this summer that the sword ferns had not been pruned at the pond garden this past year. (These are not jobs neglected by the city crew; the gardener was supposed to do them.) Allan trimmed some of them, but I see two we must go back for. They should have been done in February.

He trimmed the hard to reach ones by the waterfall.

The city crew truck and I all converged on a nearby planter at the same time. They were putting up Christmas stars.

More planters at the north end of town…

I reluctantly cut the rest of the santolinas that did not get trimmed in spring….just in case they don’t get trimmed next spring.

Without much mulch left, we got a start on the planters in the middle of town by clearing one where the Geranium ‘Rozanne’ still looked pretty.

All out of mulch but with maybe five planters left to mulch and three or four trees, we decided we did not want to finish the Long Beach job in the dusk with incoming weekend traffic, so we will plan to finish it (once and for all?) on Sunday. We returned to the mulch barn for the port.

Temperature gauge for the mulch pile


We added a fairly thin layer of mulch at the Time Enough Books curbside garden, which already got some good bagged mulch last spring.

I could feel this car speeding behind me.

We offloaded the rest of our buckets in our volunteer garden at the post office. I had big plans to redesign the garden this winter by removmoving the Stipa gigantea. That was before the Long Beach job reappeared. Maybe next spring. We will be tidying the garden this weekend, which is a backwards way to do things. Mulching tonight saved us from unloading and reloading full buckets.

Two battered buckets have been retired as of tonight which brings us down to 40

They served us well.

The work board tonight:

Guest photo: Meanwhile, on the beach…

Evening clamming, photo by Wendy Murry

Read Full Post »

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Port of Ilwaco (and the Long Beach mulch barn)

First, I want to thank Dave Glasson, Long Beach city manager, for letting us get mulch for the Port of Ilwaco gardens. We wouldn’t have been able to budget for that otherwise.

We began by filling 42 buckets, this time by backing in to the mulch barn. We haven’t backed in before because the mulch mountains were U shaped and it seemed good to have room to walk back and forth. Now the mulch is all on the east side and there is plenty of room, plus it was raining. It did make the mulch barn less warm and cozy to have the big door open.

Then we applied the load to the westernmost curbside garden at the port, snagging a handy parking spot in the Freedom Market parking lot.

Allan found money. Why is he always the one to find the big bucks in the gardens? (Because was ahead picking up the litter?)

We got this far.

And since we were not especially dampened by the light rain, we went back for a second load.

On the way through downtown Long Beach
Over the old police station, now a Visitors Center: cold wind from the east.
Backing into the mulch barn in rain so hard it bounced.
Torrential rain at city works made big noise on the barn’s metal roof.

Allan took a brief video of the rain and noise as I loaded more buckets.

Back at the port, we got the good parking spot again. Freedom Market pot shop just got a new paint job. Used to be all green.

I had managed to struggle into my heavy raincoat.

Hint from Deadliest Catch: Wear a baseball cap under your hood to keep it from falling into your eyes. Worked great!

Allan uses blower to demonstrate depth of rain water.

We got the west end done! Some weeds got buried but I remembered that when we got a sudden free load of mulch from a Salt Hotel project a couple of years ago and buried weeds, a lot of them did not come back. That was an encouraging memory.

Rain and an awesome stand of Arundo donax at Skywater Gallery.

We certainly were not going to go back for a last load in this weather, so Time Enough Books, which just has room for a light mulch dusting, will have to wait, I hope just till tomorrow afternoon.

Outside our house, Lake Street was living up to its name.

We did a big load of muddy laundry and had the rest of the day off.

The work board this afternoon:

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »