Archive for Dec, 2022

at home

Thursday, 29 December 2022

After a long Wednesday of wind up to 70 mph, we went out on Thursday to look for damage. Almost all of the peninsula and Astoria had lost power, but our town did not.

With the wind having blown over a heavy bench…

….,I was pleased that fences had all held up and the alders hadn’t lost any big limbs. But the danger tree snag is now more of a toothpick.

Most of it fell between the maple we’d recently transplanted to that bed and a Hydrangea ‘Aspera’.

I decided then and there that I must move the plant table that sits under it. But where would such a big table fit? I found a place on the opposite side of the fire circle and got to work transplanting a couple of hardy fuchsias to make room and then clearing the table off.

I needed Allan’s help to lift it. What a relief to remember that the heavy boards on top are just sitting there, not screwed in. We were able to carry it across the lawn one foot at a time.

I had been planning to stay off the swampy part of the lawn for awhile. Now I am back to trampling it, almost losing shoes in it, and leaving rollator ruts that I will tamp down later.

The rest of the afternoon was spent reassembling the plant tablescape in its new home.

Plants from two smaller tables that had collapsed all went to the big one.

This wobbly old table couldn’t endure the storm. No surprise.
After. I moved the variegated corokia (again!) to sit by the table (left) where I think it will like drier conditions.

Also, I harvested my only somewhat successful cabbage. Just one, which took up a lot of room, and its form was quite loose compared to a store bought cabbage. Tasty.

Friday, 30 December 2022

I put all the tall bamboo canes in between the boards that Allan had installed earlier in the week. It made an excellent small dog barrier.

A bright idea of where to put the spare bamboo canes inspired me to move it away from the area that is overgrown by hops. They fit beautifully into the burner holes of an old propane stove that had become an outdoor plant table.


The bamboo canes had been stored near the hops in an old kitchen composter. Removing the canes had been exhausting, and even though I was well pleased with the new bamboo dog “fence”, I forgot to take photos other than of a start of a box leaf honeysuckle that was coming up inside the bin, right where I would have wanted to plant one once I got the area cleared. The corner is not completely tidied yet, so an after will be forthcoming eventually.

At twilight, I did some transplanting, moving a sadly tilted and rather struggling rhododendron that has been moved many times, this time from the south fire circle bed to the new rhododendron path.

In its place, I transplanted my European bladder nut tree, which I think has been in too dry of a spot to thrive. I got it as a seedling from Markham Farm in 2019. It is still so small that it just looks like a bundle twigs in December.

A large schizophragma hydrangeoides had mostly come down with the dead tree; it had been climbing to the top. When I noticed that some of it had roots along the stem, I took some pieces and transplanted them by trees in the Bogsy Wood.

Saturday, 31 December 2022

Today was the day to tidy up the fallen danger tree. Yesterday, I had begun to enlarge the bed in a way that will solve a major view blocking problem by planting a tree in what used to be a view corridor from our south window.

expansion in progress; I soon decided that pointy rocks close to the fire circle were not a good edging idea.

I have ordered an Albizia ‘E.H. Wilson’ (an extra cold hardy mimosa ) from Forest Farm, which might get to 25 feet tall, maybe not in my lifetime, especially started from mail order “tube” size. OR I could plant my Cotinus ‘Grace’ there which would get only about 10-15 feet tall.

Allan sighted out how tall a forty foot tall building in the field to our south would be, then obligingly stood in the spot where the tree will go, holding a rebar pole to give an idea of how tall a ten foot tree would be or a fifteen foot tall one. Even a ten foot tree that far into the garden would block the view (which according to drawings I’ve seen will be a great hulking fortress-like windowless building). I am basing the potential height of the building by measuring a male figure in the architect’s drawing, and then going up the building based on him being 5’9. Maybe it is a bad drawing because forty feet would be towering, halfway up the height of the alder grove, hard to imagine.

Imagine a windowless building as tall as the alder branches that show above the arbor crosspiece and you will get the idea…
ten foot tree. Where the arrow meets the background alder is how tall the building might stand on our horizon.
or it might be this tall…But a sixteen foot tree where Allan is standing would hide it. Amazing.

Evergreens planted by our south fence will get taller, providing a view blocker while visiting the willow grove, maybe even while I am alive to see. I think that the mimosa will get to ten feet in a very few years and should have a broad overhanging canopy. I hope I get to see it.

I made a kind of ghost shadow shape of the danger tree across its garden bed and into the next bed. In the long run, I might not like that. Today, it amused me. The schizophragma just might decide to grow horizontally along it, which would be fun.

The kitchen compost, nicely broken down, all went into the enlarged bed.

I still urgently need more soil, having used up all my spare mulch, so am hoping the garden compost bins will offer something up.

As I went indoors at dusk, Allan was still working on a bench…

And Zinc was enjoying some New Year’s Eve catnip.

We hope you also have some good treats on New Year’s Eve and we wish you a happy and floriferous 2023.

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At home

Sunday, 25 December 2022

We had a quiet Christmas, like an ordinary day except for the gifts. Upper right, Allan found a very old British book that I had wanted and that had been impossible to find before. With color plates and all. I’ll be reading it in January.

Monday, 26 December 2022

We had a break in the rain not quite long enough to complete a walk around the garden before it started again.

Despite the return of rain, Allan did some carpentry on an area where little dogs from next door are coming through. He put in a post and some cross pieces which make an area where I can stuff in tall bamboo canes. I did some garden tidying in weather solidarity until we were both thoroughly drenched.

Later in the week, I read two gardening books. This first one I loved and highly recommend. It got me all het up to get out into my garden and add more plants. By the way, it is not about just planting with native plants…otherwise, it would not have inspired me so much. I tend toward a mixed palette.

The second one I did not like as much. It felt to me like upscale people with a lot of money making fancy gardens. I did glean two quotations that I liked but got only three takeaway ideas, one of which I’d already gotten from Danger Garden (using big funnels as planters).

Two of the gardens did inspire me. Scot Eckley in Seattle said…

And the garden of John Gwynne and Mikel Folcarelli was the sort I love.

We did get in a project day before the end of the year, which I hope to write about tomorrow.

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Wednesday, 21 December 2022

As I struggled along setting up my new computer…and Mac makes it intuitive except for my difficulty switching from touchscreen to cursor and back to a traditional rather than iPad keyboard…but it is all slowly coming back to me…

I asked Allan to go outside and take some photos of the winter garden to make a test post. Ah, let’s see if the joy of dragging photos from the desktop to WordPress still works. And can I resize my photos in preview? Why, yes, it does, and yes, I can.

Mahonia, one of the sisters of Mahonia ‘Charity’, maybe ‘Faith’ or some such. I think.

How heavenly. I’ve really missed that since I started to blog just on the iPad.

No more typing and watching the letters appear at slower than snail pace.

new tables

The deep path did not fill with the rather small amount of rain. If I didn’t have this new computer to set up, I would be out adding some pretty rocks.

Cryptomeria ‘Sekkan’
rhododendron path (with still very small shrubs)
the arbour path from Bogsy Wood to willow grove
Fuchsia hatschbachii

South of the willow grove the frog bog has its winter standing water.

A flashback to three days ago: I photographed the space from where I moved a maple tree…

..from under the danger tree snag and saw how very iffy that snag is. A heavy schizophragma hydrangoides uses it to climb on, all the way to the top where it weaves through rotted open spaces. when the whole trunk crumbles, we will have a problem.

There, test complete. This post, which would have taken me an hour on the ancient iPads, took about 35 minutes on the sleek new MacBook. I still hope to stay on an intermittent blog break because I have a whole new stack of library books and some left from the previous batch and more on the way and only an approximate 8 weeks of staycation left.

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At home

Thursday, 16 December 2022

At the end of a vigorous gardening day, I took all the trays of plants off a recently collapsed picnic table and its old and also decrepit bench. Like all of the tables and boards and planks and benches that I use to hold propagated plants, we had gotten them for free. Suddenly I just couldn’t stand the mess anymore: boards and blocks and benches and planks and tables of all different heights, with ornamental potted plants mixed in from when my potted plants were all for show, before I started obsessively making plants from cuttings and divisions and weeds underneath that I couldn’t reach.

When Allan helped me move the bench out from under the collapsed table, he said he could use the wood to make a new bench. “It’s good cedar.” I had thought it was all just rotten junk. I said, “I will buy the wood if you make me a couple of big tables to replace all this mess,” and he agreed. I imagine he was tired of looking at it, too. I was so thrilled that I immediately started dismantling the entire chaotic set-up that had grown bit by bit over the past ten years.

When he builds the new bench, a simple one with no backrest, it will go here.

Friday, 17 December 2022

From noon to dark, Allan built a very large table to fill up half of the space where I was busy weeding, leveling, and scavenging river rock from when the area used to be just a decorative plant display.

Here is what the space between house and shed looked like when we first arranged it from November 2010 to January of 2011. (Click through gallery if you wish to biggify the photos.)

The new table was so big and heavy we needed a handcart to help move it. Allan had found two sheets of plywood stashed for work trailer repair, which wasn’t needed yet, and some old posts, so I did not need to buy wood after all.

By the time we got the new table into place…

…it was too dark for a good after photo.

Saturday, 18 December 2022

I was outdoors by midmorning, instead of the usual morning dawdling, because upon waking at eight thirty, I had envisioned rearranging the square pavers that Patti gave us when she moved away. I could run them under the door-barrier-trellis-thingie that divides the plant table area from the greenhouse patio, arrange the large plant containers on both sides and make it all ever so much nicer.

What a sad looking, dank space where a cutting of a tiny ilex with small smooth leaves has been trying to grow for three years or more. I moved it to a much friendlier spot in the front garden.

Grevillea ‘Victoraea’ is blooming there…

…and new shrubs in the east front bed are sizing up, especially the variegated pittosporum to the left.

When I was done rearranging the pavers and pots, both sides of the dividing door looked tidier, although the peeling paint on the door to the leanto greenhouse is bringing down the tone. Can’t do much about that till next year.

Allan was relieved that I had not been putting more plants on the big new table before he could add a couple of supports under its middle. He did that and started on the second table.

I spent the afternoon moving plants into the elegant clean new space of table one, and putting big pots in storage underneath it, something that had not been possible with the multilevel mish mash I’d had before. This involved hacking into a Medusa’s lair of old hops vines on the east side of the veg totes, a privacy screen gone mad that had swallowed up stacks of pots next to the east fence.

I regret planting the hops. There is some hope, because the other end of the old clotheslines was equally rampant with hops and I actually did manage to dig out enough (and bury some roots under sheets of old plywood under the totes) to win the battle. So far.

I only got far enough with the cutting back today to rescue the stacks of pots.

I found space on the first new table for all of the plant trays that were half blocking an access path by the garage. Across the corridor from the new tables, I took down three planks that had stored a line of plant trays at almost ground level where they did not get enough light, and I still have room left over. I now have a stack of H blocks and one very sturdy thick plank to make a shelf next to the greenhouse…but not today because it was completely dark by the time we got the second table firmly in place. Allan trimmed the pointy entry corner so no one will run into it.

Monday, 19 December 2022

The table project went on for another morning and afternoon with setting up a new shelf by the greenhouse on which I put some flats of perennials that I divided and potted up when when garden paths were reconfigured earlier in autumn. They’ve been languishing all over the new garden bed I made on Alicia’s side of the fence.

Moving pots back and forth and further tidying lasted till late afternoon.

An hour before dark, we went on a gift delivery to Our Kathleen’s and back again. Tarter a very late evening big grocery shopping trip, we are all tucked in for the predicted cold weather (20 degrees F? poor plants!) and reading time at long last.

Sid’s Market has gone Freudian.

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At home

Thursday, 15 December 2022

At the end of a day of cutting and stacking willow stems…did I show a photo of the willows on the west side after they were pruned? Before and after…

After was taken at dusk

…but I digress. An hour before sunset, while admiring the stacked branches…

…I had a brainstorm about making a new garden bed by the west Bogsy Wood gate. I grabbed the half moon edger and made it happen. I had some ideas of what sort of shrub or tree I could plant there: An evergreen to totally stop the eye or something deciduous to allow glimpses through to the willow grove and other evergreens which I hope WILL make a visual barrier during my old age?

My supervisor

The sod went to an area by the fire circle which is always soggy, to raise it up with hope that when the water table rises in winter, more of it will go into the deepened swale.


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at home

Tuesday, 13 December 2022

While waiting for Ann and Felix to arrive, I had untied and piled the elderberry cuttings that had been part of our spooky woods themed Halloween decor.

Later in the day, Allan helped me cut them up, because he enjoys using his zippy new little chainsaw.

I started the pile between two alder trees that will make a view blocker to give the woodsy garden more mystery. I had a pile there several years ago which eventually became firewood for campfire dinners. This time I want to use wood that does not burn well, so that the wall can stay.

If it were to run it in a longer line through or on the edge of the garden, it would be called a dead hedge. I saw a good example of one that created privacy on the edge of the Old Goat Farm nursery (but I didn’t photograph it).

I eyed a good place to get some wood: willows that are leaning over my escallonias on the west side of the back garden.

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

I started the day by moving the chaise longue that is in the south Catio. Seems like that should have gone quickly but it did not, as it involved digging up and moving a big pheasant grass that was filling up the corner behind it, replanting said grass in three places till I found just the right spot under the tree dahlia, and shoring up a whisky barrel planter that Faerie had dismantled. It is much easier for a human to move around in there now. Several fig branches that had to be pruned for access were added to the dead hedge wall.

Zinc said, good job!

Did I mention already that my tree dahlia at the other end of the Catio had bloomed after its leaves had been nipped by frost?

After all that, I moved my red barrel, a yard sale find, and Allan helped me level it into place where it makes a garden feature on the west side that balances out the bright red fish tote veg garden on the east side.

I’m still fussing with trying to get the galvanized tub centered.

Just before dark, Allan cut some of the big willow branches, leaving a pile to deal with tomorrow.

Thursday, 15 December 2022

Allan cut down more overhanging willows with the pole chainsaw.

This left a stumpy look up above head level, but that is ok. (It reminds me of the way George prunes on The Beechgrove Garden. George’s pruning style is sometimes quite shocking to me.) The trunk couldn’t be cut at the base because we don’t have a big enough saw. In this case, the willow will make a sprouty ball of willow stems that will maybe make more of a thick soft silver wall of foliage behind the green sparkling shiny foliage of the escallonias.

I spent the afternoon chopping and stacking.

I am well chuffed with my wall of branches. The willow is on top of a layer of elderberry cuttings so that it won’t root into the ground. Just before dark, I had a sudden vision of a new garden bed and cut it out as quick as I could with the half moon edger and…but that is the story of another project that was continued on Friday.

The weather has since continued to be project weather. Two more projects have already been accomplished as I write this on Saturday. What has not been accomplished is setting up my computer, so I am still slogging along on the old iPad. I just can’t stay indoors on a non-rainy non-freezing day and, after a day of projects, I don’t have the mental energy to deal with new technology.

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Tuesday, 13 December 2022

at home

We got busy in the morning dealing with the piles of sod and mud around the new bridge, which took a couple of hours. No before pics of that mess, but here’s Allan repositioning the biggest piece of the metal path to line up with the new line of the lawn path.

Then I walked around and admired the new path from every angle. But wait…let’s go back in time first to a visit in the early 90s to Puget Garden Resources, on Vashon or Bainbridge Island.

I was inspired by a swale crossed by a bridge. To my surprise, of my four photos from that day there is none of the bridge except perhaps in the background of this photo of Robert next to a gunnera.

I did photograph some rocks in the swale and an excellent cat bench.

My Ilwaco garden, where I lived at that time, had a seasonal creek crossed by a short bridge by a year round pond, which provided many hours of enjoyment

When Allan and I bought our new property in October 2010, the back yard looked like this, with one small compost heap I had started:

The Bogsy Wood looked like this, photos taken as I made some progress hauling out debris in winter of 2010-11:

You can click through this gallery of what it looked like today.

Skooter gave a thumbs up as best he could.

I tamped the lawn, which had turned to the texture of pudding.

In the afternoon, Ann Amato visited with her good friend, Felix.

Then after one more solitary walk around to admire our bridge project, I went indoors at dusk to do some reading and watch the daily episode of Garden Rescue.

This is a must read.

I already have new projects planned for the garden, small ones, that I can mostly accomplish All By Myself. I will be writing about them later on a new Mac (not set up yet) which Allan kindly bought me. The old iPad has been a terribly sluggish typer for the past several months, and a MacBook that a friend kindly passed on when mine plotzed several years ago is also pretty old and slow now, so I may become more wordy about projects when I can type with ease! No more typing a sentence and slowly watching it fill in letter by l e t t e r……….while I try to practice calming meditation.

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At home

Sunday, 11 December 2022

At last, we had some good weather after a considerable amount of rain. The swales still had water, which made bridge building a mucky job.

Allan contemplated his bridge design…

…and then got to work.

As we dig, we continue to find bits and loops of rope that were buried over time when the Bogsy wood was an almost impassible grove of salmonberry and blackberry tangled up with fishing gear belonging to the son of the previous owner, Shirley Maki.

I occupied myself with shifting plants around, including the rather ridiculous swapping of two olearias, putting a slightly larger one in the front garden and moving the front garden one to the south fence. All for an extra maybe four inches of growth and a bit more fullness in the front garden.

I hauled fifteen buckets of mulch from the driveway to the Bogsy beds. By then, Allan had the bridge in place, and we were running out of daylight.

Monday, 12 December 2022

Allan decided to treat the sawn ends of the bridge planks with a preservative.

He then stapled wire mesh to the boards to make the surface non-slippery and then set to building the railing, using driftwood poles that I had stashed against the west fence. He notched the uprights so they fit perfectly.

I had had a middle of the night thought that I could use the Root Slayer half moon edger to pry into the fallen tree which has been gently rotting next door on Alicia’s back lawn. It worked a treat and was an enjoyable expenditure of energy. I hauled the pieces of rotting alder back and put them in woodsy garden beds where they will provide nice microclimates for bugs and moisture.

Even more energetic was digging up some old pieces of asphalt from the mounds in the east Bogsy Wood, two mounds, now planted, that were built on rubble before our time. That was the kind of job that gives you a stitch in your side and requires some Advil later on.

As darkness fell, Allan put three of the big flat chunks into place. By the time he was done, it was almost completely dark. The final tidy of the trampled, soggy lawn and the piles of sod and dirt and some path realignment and mulching would have to wait for tomorrow.

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9-10 December: too soggy

Saturday, 10 December 2022

At home

Usually, I completely welcome rainy winter days as reading time. Last winter and this one were different. A year ago, building the new front fence and moving the back fence took most of the winter, even in rain or hail or freezing cold. We started work again in February without being at all rested or refreshed. This winter should be much more relaxing, but I do long to get the bridge project done. It was not to be for two days in a row.

Friday was too windy to even go near the alders. Saturday, I took photos during a brief break in the rain.

I had not walked down the next door driveway or looked at the front garden. Allan did and saw that the fremontodendron had one trunk over the drive. He fixed it.

He also ventured out to the post office and did a quick tidy of our volunteer garden.

The cats stayed indoors most of the time, too…

…and had a brief flurry of excitement when Nickel broke into the treat box.

I read a long and excellent novel.

The strange thing is that it was about triplets, of sorts. Allan was also reading a science fiction book about triplets who were clones, and a couple of days later, a documentary I’d ordered from the library arrived, Three Identical Strangers (also excellent), about…you guessed it.

Our next post will be about getting back to the bridge project.

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Wednesday, 7 December 2022

at home

I stayed up extra late to finish Vigil Harbor by Julia Glass. I very much relate to this passage about being a working class gardener. (The character named Austin is an architect to the wealthy.)

It has not been true of all clients…but even the ones it is NOT true for, there is almost always still a class divide. I have stories to share about this which I may do one day.


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