Archive for Oct, 2022

Monday, 24 October 2022

Bolstad beach approach

Before Molly continued on her journey, she came by from her night at a local lodging place to pick me up at 8:30. We went for a drive with the windows open, glad it wasn’t windy and pouring rain, got take out coffee (me for the first time since March 2020) and sat in the car with a view of the ocean while we had a good and meaningful talk. We had cookies to go with our conversation. Callie sat on my lap!

Molly marveled at the height of the waves, which this photo doesn’t show at all.

Molly back in the mid 1970s, when we were in our twenties…

…and in the 1980s with her horse, Peo Peo, and with me.

at home

After our long talk, which gave me much to think about, I delved into my project of shifting the path on the east side of Rozanne Loop (the path that goes around the center bed with its river of Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and the water canoe).

We’d had some rain.


I got much further along than I had expected. It works for me psychologically as being no longer a straight path to the port. All roads from my garden no longer lead there, visually, at least.

Next up is the west part of that loop. Hummingbirds are still active around the big Salvia ‘Amistad’. I may wait to move it till its flowers are done.

The orange spray paint gives an idea but isn’t entirely accurate anymore for where I am going to dig. We are still about a month from staycation, so we must put in a work day (and then Halloween preparations) before I can get back to this.

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Sunday, 23 October 2022

at home

Before company arrived, Allan helped me by bringing my dustbin phormium forward to a brilliant new location. I hope he used the handcart in a way that didn’t hurt his back. Is that even possible? I could have dragged it inch by inch but I lack the good balance for operating the handcart.

I realized the perfect spot, in sun instead of shade, is tied to a short old fence post at the corner of Alicia’s driveway. After it’s used for Halloween display, the orangey red barrel will go into the patio area with its heavy table top, now propped against the utility pole.

Allan must have been in less pain, or ignoring it, because he brought out the ladder and reached over the east fence to tackle the bindweed that is coming through from next door all along the area where the phormium was and beyond. It is a nightmare.

I tried digging up some sod from the Rozanne loop path in the middle of the garden, a path which I wish to relocate. The ground there is soooo hard that with my sore knee, I could barely get even the powerful Root Slayer edger into the ground.

I turned instead to another part of the same project, moving my faux flint topped wall. I do not like the look of the battered old green plastic pots. They brought down the tone all summer. That area is going to just be garden bed.

I moved the wall to the pot display just to the north. It’s wonky. I like it. When I first created it, I was well chuffed when a friend from the UK saw the photo and commented, “Tha’s done good, lass.” She knew the kind of Yorkshire stone wall of which I was trying to make a faint echo.

Yorkshire, January 1990:

Richmond Castle
On the Brontë moors

Then in the late afternoon, my beloved old friend Molly arrived with her darling dog, Callie. It may have been 32 years since I last saw Molly. She had made a detour to see me, and I was so thrilled. She brought take out food from Salt Pub, so delicious (their tuna melt which Allan and I have not had since before the pandemic began and a veggie burger for herself) and we dined around the unlit campfire. After being in the worst air quality in the world from Seattle’s wildfire smoke, a campfire dinner was not on the agenda for Molly. Allan returned to printing some of his book while Molly and I caught up on our lives as much as possible in a couple of hours and made plans for another visit tomorrow morning.

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Saturday, 22 October 2022

Time Enough Books

I had some books for Karla, so we visited the bookstore and had a good natter till some customers came in. I gave her some good condition novels for her used shelf, just to be rid of one more box from the house, and my entire set of Harry Potter for a child she knows who would like them. I enjoyed the Potter series but I know I won’t read them again; the later books needed editing and could have been a lot shorter! I’m thinking in particular of one excruciatingly long plotline about camping.

at home

We’d had some rain.

I started planting my new trees and shrubs. First, a classic Leyland Cypress to hide part of a potential big building to our south. All of the plants today from M&T Nursery in Kelso are beautifully rooted, not root bound.

I moved an Osmanthus burkwoodii from a spot too far in the background for a scented plant and planted a Thuja ‘Emerald Green’. I have tended to think of all arborvitae as boring because of overuse. When it was in place, I found it beautifully satisfying.

My three small mail order hemlocks from Forest Farm are growing healthily and perhaps quicker than I had expected. Still a long way from giving privacy and sight-blockage.

Tsuga diversifolia

I admired the plant table by the wayback sit spot….

…and moved a small variegated Lonicera from near the table to a more visible spot by the fire circle…

…and pondered a sequence of plants that I may move to shift a path sideways in the Bogsy Wood.

To move, maybe: the potted stump
….a white hydrangea…
…this Impatiens omieana cultivar…
…and I must not forget the woodland poppy.

Allan got a head start on Halloween by draping a ghostly sheet over the front garden tuteur. A pumpkin head awaits placement on the top.

One more garden thought for today: Putting a dish that holds water into a veg tote was not the smartest placement.

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Friday, 21 October 2022

at home

Today was put plants in the greenhouse day. The echeverias and aeoniums go in the very back of the main greenhouse, because they don’t need to be reached with water during the winter. Allan helped me get cannas out of the water boxes and canoe and move four large plants with the hand cart (bananas and brugmansia), which may be why his back still hurt four days later. (Not good, will retirement be sooner than we planned?) I try to get him to do tasks more slowly or to divide up heavy loads into two (weeds and brush, for example). We both have a tendency to get gung ho and overdo it.

The greenhouse during, with plants I had put in, although Allan had moved the large one (Prostranthera or mint shrub) in the back:

Cannas and bananas get cut back and put under the shelves.

The ginger, second from left, from Tony Tomeo, goes on a shelf but will die back.

Brugmansia ‘Charles Grimaldi’ outdoors:

For its summer display, I put its large pot in large box which is a cold frame in winter. I will not put big heavy potted plants in a large box ever again, because then it had to be lifted out of the box before the hand cart could be used. We are too old for that sort of thing, and I have to plan better.

The greenhouse after:

To the right is a bowl of some winter salad greens.

Some more plants will be added after the sweet peas, right, sprout and go into a cold frame. I will dig three of my precious Canna ‘Stuttgart’ to winter over in greenhouse and garage and leave two in the ground as an experiment. It was so hard to come by. I ordered several that did not grow and only acquired a good one when my friend Teri gave me a big pot of it, which I have since divided into several plants.

I also filled up the lean-to greenhouse with the baby gunnera starts and some smaller potted plants.

We have a guest photo to share today, from Lithia Park in Ashland, from blog reader Flower Kwilter. Let’s spare a moment to think of this beloved person, a renowned stained glass artist.

I searched around and found a Facebook page called Canterbury Stained Glass with photos of some of the work of Tim and his son, Dal. Here are a few, including a blurry photo of Tim and Dal, to enhance this memory.

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Thursday, 20 October 2022


We returned to the hillside garden where we continued a big clean up project.

With a light midmorning rain, I had decided to bring some baby plants for the south of the deck: santolinas, blue oat grass, assorted sempervivums, one “bunny tail grass”, one gaura. I also moved some bearded iris from a weedy slope next to the parking area into that bed, where they should enjoy the sunny situation next summer.

The plants are tiny ones that I propagated and that are hard to find for sale around here, especially at this time of year. I had a lot of blue oat grass, not my favorite but good for now.

In the slope going from the west bed down to the south bed, I found some baby sword ferns to move from a shady gravel path and moved some more irises, though these may go back to the sunnier parking area bed when I get it weeded (maybe next time). The irises are a sentimental plant from the owner’s daughter’s garden.

Here is the original iris bed just partly weeded, before and after (well, during). Maybe next time I will finish it. I will be removing the perennial sweet pea which wants to swamp the iris. It can live in a wilder spot. The bed also has some sort of crocosmia…or gladiolus???

When I had all the plants shifted around, I worked on the garden by the concrete block wall overlooking the view, which slowly appeared during the day…

…and made some good progress even though I ran out of daylight before I ran out of weeding. I am glad to report that the grasses in here are clumping, not horrible couch grass. The worst problem is it is full of montbretia corms so it would take some work to make room for more of a variety of plants.

Meanwhile, Allan, after helping me with planting the steeper end of the south bed, worked hard on north side of the lower driveway. He pruned a lot of dead wood out of the shrubbery…

….and pulled a lot of weeds. He also fought blackberry canes and ran the strimmer at the top of the wall. Still don’t know what the mysterious cement pad is for.

Strimming will do for now; later we might weed this area and plant something drought tolerant. Or not. We had probably better wait until there is some sort of outdoor faucet that will reach this slope; at present, there is not. I can think of a good assortment of plants tough enough to get established without much supplemental water and low enough not further block the view….but tall enough to be seen over the wall. (I need to read up on whether they could take gale force wind.) As usual, they aren’t plants that are available around here.

Self sown alders and spruces that are blocking the view maybe need to be removed. Or maybe the spruces and alders should stay as a windbreak for a future garden bed. Tree removal is beyond our hand tool gardening. Also, I’d consider taking the top two or three tiers of blocks off the wall because the garden area is sunk low behind it and would show better.

Finally, at dusk, Allan helped me clean up my mess and quickly pruned some dead out of a conifer that overhangs the property line.

The work board tonight shows an itemized list of tasks in the hill garden that will finish the initial project: maybe two more sessions will get us that far.

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Wednesday, 13 October 2021

J Crew Cottage

We tidied up the little garden almost across the street from us.

Diane’s garden

We did a quick check up, but not much. It seemed a waste of her money to do much tidying before the first autumn rainstorm that is coming.

The Red Barn

We did a quick watering just to tide the garden over till Friday. We saw no cat or dog friends today. The adjacent pole barn area was abuzz with preparations for crabbing season.

Long Beach

We accomplished more tidying at city hall.

An incredibly strong wind suddenly came up, making it impossible to work without clippings blowing halfway down the block. We cleaned up and bailed out. While driving into the city works yard to dump debris, we saw our good friend and sister gardener Terran driving out with a load of mulch.

We bagged up some leaves in Fifth Street Park for my leaf bin, but first they will be part of our Halloween spooky plants display.

at home

Allan helped me with the window boxes on his shop, lifting out the summer annual insert and putting in the spring bulbs insert. He disturbed a frog.

I had time before dark to put some of my smaller patio plants into the greenhouse. My formerly “good” knee was still plaguing me, not as much as I had feared it would. I noticed that my iron weed, which has been in place for three years, has finally honored me with a flower.

One more work day before we have rain at last.

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Tuesday, 18 October 2022

We enjoyed some garden and nature related amusement on our way to and from the ear doctor in Longview.


We found a new park with a public restroom and a community garden!

I later got this description of the garden from the local newspaper:

The Community Garden has 17 raised beds in which we grow vegetable produce we donate to Wahkiakum County area food banks during our harvest season. Most years we have donated around 1,500 pounds of produce.

Funds we raise [at their annual plant sale in May] are used for the purchase of garden supplies and maintenance of equipment. This year we have installed a plastic greenhouse–we call it a Hoop House due to its construction–bigger and better than before. It is a great place to nurture our little seedlings we grow for our raised beds and to sell at our plant sale.

In addition there are 27 plots for individuals who do their own gardening. Although there is no fee for a plot, gardeners need to provide their own plants and seeds and we require gardeners to keep their plots neat and tidy and the weeds out. We are an organic garden so only organic products are to be used in the garden plots.

A friendly volunteer told us that they had just made the last harvest for the food bank today. We walked around to take some photos of the impressive and productive garden.

As we left, we saw some of the latest harvest.

Even more than before, I find Cathlamet to be an appealing place to live. I photographed a few of the charming homes and businesses as we drove back to the highway.

Highway 4

It’s a lovely bucolic drive to Longview, the latter part of it along the Columbia River.

The last part before Longview is the suspenseful part of the drive, the cliffs and falling rocks stretch of the highway. I’ve never heard of anyone being killed by falling rocks here, although I did once know a woman whose girlfriend was killed in their vehicle by a falling rock on a different highway. The highway department does try in various ways, with nets and barriers, to protect us.


At the clinic entry, we always notice how this sword fern was trimmed. But we don’t mess with other people’s gardens.

During my appointment, Allan took a two block long walk to the nearby river.

We then made the side trip five minutes away that I’d been looking forward to for weeks.

M&T Nursery, Kelso

I love this long and narrow, packed full nursery, where I bought some trees and shrubs for further privacy enclosure of my garden.

My ear doctor wants to see me again in six months, which will be perfect for a springtime visit to M&T.

the road home

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Monday, 17 October 2022

No Monday off this week because we are going to Longview tomorrow to see my ear doctor.

Long Beach

We cleaned up two more planters…

…and then worked on Fifth Street Park. We had a nice conversation with the owner of Benson’s Restaurant, who appreciates our work and noticed the decline when we tried to retire.

I checked the garden beds…

…while Allan strimmed the boring bed of Alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle)…

…and blew leaves off the lawn; we will gather them up soon for my leaf bin.

Town was quiet, with very little traffic. For the first time since spring, it was easy to find a moment to cross the street.

We tidied up Veterans Field. Allan takes on the lawn edging when no one else does.

I can’t remember what cultivar of salvia I put in the planters by the stage. Unlike ‘Hot Lips’, it stays red all summer instead of turning white. Much better.


Even though we will have rain on Friday, we watered our very dry volunteer garden at the Fire Station. The narrow side beds are under a deep overhang of eaves and really need (but don’t get) watering all year long.

We then drove around town to see who had started to decorate for Halloween.

My day ended badly when, while walking across the living room, I felt something go SPROING (or SNAP or BOING) in my so called good knee. Allan, still outside unloading the van for tomorrow’s trip to the doctor and M&T Nursery, did not hear my yowls as I was temporarily unable to take another step. With a feeling of doom, I wondered if I would have to retire this year after all and would I even be able to walk around the nursery tomorrow.

I iced it, and, fortuitously, was able to ice it the next day on our three hour round trip to the doctor and nursery. As I write this four days later, it is not entirely better but is not as dire as I was afraid it was going to be.

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Saturday, 15 October 2022

at home

Today the temperature got to a shocking 86 degrees and the air reeked of wildfire smoke. We stayed indoors with the air conditioning on. (When we moved into this house and saw it had air conditioning, I said, We’ll never need THAT!)

I had a good book to read, the new-ish Ann Tyler novel (one of my favorite writers), a story of a family over half a century, ending in the first pandemic year. While I loved it, my two favorite passages were these, set in 2020.


When we realized how smoky the day was, we had three unhappy cats brought in from the catios and forced to stay indoors with the humans. Skooter was who knows where but he did choose to meow at the door and come in early. I did have to go out and water. The smoke hurt my lungs.

I took some photos while I was out there because the flat and sunless light was good. The first is a mistake that I like. I was trying to telephoto a bird with the cheap pocket cam.

Then some other garden photos:

Birds ate all the amaranth seeds.
Back lawn still green with no watering.
the metal path
Iris foetidissima
last look before retreating to air conditioning

Sunday, 16 October 2022

also at home

We were ever so fortunate that the smoke was gone and that the day, even when it became sunny, didn’t blaze with heat. Seattle has not fared so well, having had dangerously smoky air on and off for weeks. I don’t know how jobbing gardeners and other outdoor workers managed to do what they had to do. If it were smoky here for weeks, we would still have to water. (A couple of days later, Seattle had the worst air quality in the world.)

I set up a potting station at the front of the garage and potted up three flats of sweet peas, which will winter over in a cold frame a la Monty Don. Last year, that method was very successful at producing healthy vigorous sweet peas that bloomed early and long. This year, I used some extra deep pots that a friend gave me, should be good for the sweet peas making good long roots.

I had to get the tomatoes out of the greenhouse to make room. Even though we had enough various cherry tomatoes from August on to have a fresh home grown cucumber and tomato and arugula salad every evening, the harvest was pitiful compared to previous years when we had an overload of tomatoes and had plenty to dry in the dehydrator. There won’t be any leftovers this year. (We also had only about seven apples across three apple trees, and they were small ones. We let the birds have them, was not even worth getting out the long handled picking basket.)

Skooter helped.

the last tomatoes

Allan did make it off the property to water the planter at Wendi’s gallery….

…and the hardy fuchsias at the future clinic on Spruce Street.

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Friday, 14 October 2022

We had to drive across the river to return our television cable box in order to cancel cable.

We are now modern people who stream their telly choices. (We are currently watching The Good Place on Netflix. I love it, it makes me laugh and also brings up deep emotions.)

We shopped at the Astoria grocery co op. It was not surprising to be the only masked people in the cable tv store, but I was surprised to be the only ones in the progressive atmosphere of the co op. Still a freak.

A lot of wildfire smoke is expected this weekend, and the first half of the day was gone anyway, so we decided to go to work in the mid afternoon. We had been planning to clean up the Long Beach city hall garden Sunday when it’s closed. Now we’d do some of it today and take the smoky weekend off.

Ilwaco Community Building

On the way, we picked up some books at the library. Something so weird happened at that building two days ago that I have not been able to write about it here, although I did so on Facebook the day it happened, as follows:

”Moral of this story: This is not the first person who adamantly hates my gardening style. Also, it’s bliss to be able to afford to quit jobs.

Just so locals know: We resigned from the community building (Ilwaco Timberland Library etc) garden, which we were going to resign from next month anyway (because Allan is turning 70 and we won’t have to work as much). An apparently self appointed volunteer went in and scalped out the perennials from one of two perennial beds. (The rest is salal and white heather.) We asked in a friendly tone (really!) what was up. She said she hated those plants because they hid the flowers. I said, “We planted them, and they ARE the flowers.” She said something like they were awful. I think she felt they hid the colchicum (another plant we chose). So I said, still in a friendly tone (really!), that we had been going to resign the job in a month, so she could go to city hall and maybe get paid to do it. “It’s all yours now. Don’t forget to water everything,” I said as we drove off.

I really meant she could have the job cuz I want someone to care for it after we resign in whatever style they like. But I realized later she’d have to be licensed and carry one million bucks in insurance and buy the city license to do the job for money. Which seems unlikely. So maybe she’ll do it as a volunteer, which would be great for the city.

I doubt she knows that the witch hazels need their root suckers removed but maybe she knows a lot!

We called city hall and resigned.”

55 comments followed on Facebook (some of them my responses, many from professional gardeners). Today I took a photo of the results of the weeding and hard cut back. I don’t know where the flowers are that the plants that got whacked, mostly Sanguisorba ‘Pink Elephant’, were supposedly hiding. Even the colchicums (“autumn crocus”) are gone.

Here are a couple of photos from earlier this year of the same garden bed. Before this unauthorized clean up, the sanguisorba would have been tall with pink bottlebrush flowers. Sometimes it draped over the railing, which I loved, and which was no doubt disturbing to anyone who disliked wildly exuberant gardens. It is now more clear why earlier this year, we found some pulled out and left in a heap on the driveway and why someone cut it halfway back in full flower last autumn.

Lots of young sanguisorba, above, one of my favorite perennials. Below, here is some photographed in Long Beach the next week.

Sanguisorba: What’s not to like?

We don’t mourn the job. Some jobs have to go to celebrate Allan turning 70 in January and collecting social security. If I didn’t love working so much, we might even fully retire. Also, last month, Allan had a most unpleasant experience in the community building garden that sealed his willingness to quit it:

For the second time, he found that a human had pooped by the wall in the entry garden to the Ilwaco library. As he put it that day, “another reason to retire from that [gardening] job” at the end of this year. That time, a heap of clothing got his attention. He took responsibility for finding paper towels and disposing of the jeans and a shirt that an individual in serious digestive trouble had left behind. He didn’t realize the clothes were pooped in till he picked them up and got poop on his shoe. Not a job we want to keep! For some reason, we don’t run into this in Long Beach parks, even though you’d think maybe we would.

It has been a weird year with resigning in June from the port gardens (because of reasons), then the Ilwaco tree gardens (because bucket watering is just too exhausting), and now an early departure from the community building. Those gardens (but not the trees) we had planned to do well into retirement! I haven’t been able to emotionally process it, especially the port and the boatyard gardens. But…onward!

Long Beach

We worked at city hall starting in the late afternoon, not doing everything we would have done on Sunday by far. We didn’t pull all the crocosmia, thus avoiding weeding behind it, which we didn’t have time for….

…and there is still shrub pruning to do, especially the two escallonias.

Deer are eating the hardy fuchsias and the Physocarpus ‘Dart’s Gold’ (nine bark). This is new. Rain into early summer followed by drought has cut down on their natural food sources, so they are being more damaging to parks and planters.


We swung by home for some mulch and, in the last hour of daylight, went to the hill garden to add it to where we had weeded yesterday, because that makes me happy and because smoke might keep us at home for a few days, not to mention a trip to the ear doctor early next week.

We have made a big difference here I since the beginning of the month and are probably half way through the clean up job, with (I think) the physically hardest parts done.

Almost sunset

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