Archive for May, 2023

Monday, 22 May 2023

at home

I knew the wind was supposed to be 25 miles an hour today, which it certainly howled like it was. But I did not except it to be cold, in the fifties. I don’t mind working in the cold, but adding a cold wind is just too too much. My first inclination was to skive off for the day and hope the Long Beach planters would be ok. Although this did make me anxious, the wind made me more anxious about being miserable.

Then, after I had decided on the course of irresponsibility, the sun came out. Dag nab it. I knew all along we were going to have to water, I suppose.

We did postpone a couple of other work tasks, and I spent the morning labelling plants. When I was taken by surprise by seeming short on labels, I looked at amazon prime for next day delivery only to find an announcement on all the plain white plastic labels (I know I shouldn’t use plastic but…I reuse and reuse, and so do my friends) that they are considered a hazardous shipment and can’t be sent to a post office box. (We don’t have street delivery.) WHAT? and why? I’m not making this up.

The best labels I have are ones a friend made by cutting up white plastic cartons of some kind. My mother used to cut up clear milk cartons. I tried that, but the ink came off those too fast. I was going to cut up broken black plastic pots and write on them with a white marker. Even bought the marker, but where is it now and where is the time to implement that idea? Another great option was when we found some old white Venetian blinds and cut them into tag size. Today’s hazardous materials incident did inspire me to think outside panic mode and to look in advance for recycled plastic labels to buy. I can’t afford the wood or bamboo ones, or…rather…I could, but would prefer to spend the money on plants…which is environmentally irresponsible of me. Must improve. [Later, I found out that it is the marking pen included with the labels that makes them a hazardous shipment! So the answer is to order the kind with no marking pen.]

Fortunately, in the evening I found a bin in the greenhouse with lots of old labels, all I will need for now, giving me time to think about better options than unrecycled plastic for next time. Maybe I WILL get it together to cut up old plastic pots.


And then watering. Poor plants in gallons and smaller very much want to feel their roots in the ground.

And then…

Long Beach

We started watering the downtown planters and adding a few plants at 2:45, because we wanted to be home by six to zoom an Ilwaco city council meeting. The plants were happy to see us and to get water for recovery from the drying wind.

Parahebe perfoliata in the big Lewis and Clark Square planter

Bulb foliage clean up continues.

I don’t want columbines because of their tatty foliage, but they always get a pass because of their flowers. Where they came from, I do not know.

Some of the quick connect hose connections are lowdown and dirty and very difficult to use. It is tiresome.

Here is a reminder that this planter has one santolina…

…without its handsome match on the other side. All that was left of the other one was a thready stem of foliage and broken root. What the heck??

Allan caught me brooding over it.

For all that it can be monotonous and take over and not leave room for pretties like diascias, golden oregano really does look good.

That is one of two planters with Escallonia ‘Pink Princess’, there since volunteer days, that wants to get as big as a truck.

Finally, the last planter.

We had time to grocery shop at V’s Coastal Market and then I had time to water my pots again at home before the meeting.

After the city council meeting, I emailed a friend who had also zoomed it and asked, “How can they adjourn a meeting with no warning, no ‘goodbye folks’, no ‘thanks for coming’, no ‘are there any more public comments?’  So RUDE.” Ilwaco council meetings are so full of interruptions, mostly (as a citizen or three have pointed out and as even male council members have pointed out) male politicians interrupting female. In comparison, Long Beach council is well spoken and respectful in the way it listens to people. I am gobsmacked twice a month by the Ilwaco meetings! And what’s more, Ilwaco starts at 6 PM, whereas Long Beach starts at the much more convenient hour (for planter waterers) of 7 PM. Trying to be an informed citizen in my own town just results in my blood being on the boil.

To think that in 2010, I had a choice between moving into my mother’s double wide in Long Beach on a lot almost as big as this one, which I had just inherited, or this one in Ilwaco. Many times in the last couple of years I wish I had made the other choice, or even stayed in our little house behind the boatyard (but that garden was in too much shade…but I miss the natural pond there). Still, there is one huge advantage to where we live now: Having Alicia as a next door neighbour and the J Crew across the street and Norwoods two doors down.

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21 May: sorting

Sunday, 21 May 2023

at home

I planned to get an early start, then had terrible insomnia, then slept late and got a late start. First, I indulged in some appreciation of my new primulas, some on their second year. You can see the deep path has dried out in the heat, wish I had time to dig and contour in there.

This primula is new this year.

I like it a lot.

I finally planted my new ferns, some of them in a recently expanded bed by the metal path.

I sorted out the plants I have propagated, being the kind of person who can’t throw out a perfectly good plant. The collection included a lot of dross, and a narrowed it down to a about four tables full. It seemed impossible and so time-consuming and then came that magic moment when everything slotted into place. I am tidying for a spring garden open, which is a good thing because it makes me weed, even though I don’t have time and it isn’t almost perfectly weeded until I have the late July or early August Lily Time garden open day.

The wood that Allan got for free had arrived at just the right time as one of my tables, made a few years ago with an inside quality door, was about to collapse.

There was considerable excitement when the door was gone and a shelf of breakable pots was loosely attached and started to tilt. It can’t be attached to the house because when one has an old double wide manufactured home, one must never “puncture the seal”, as the innards of the walls are cheap and would spread any damp that got inside.

Only one terracotta pot got broken during the crisis.

Allan broke the old door up and found the inside partly made of cardboard. It’s amazing it lasted for several years with innards like this.

All fixed with new planks from the free wood pile. If it has not been for that well-timed pile, we’d have had nothing with which to fix it.

While I sorted plants, Allan trimmed a few more paths in the Bogsy Wood…

….and Willow Grove.

Other than picking up empty pots and trays and tools, I feel my project is pretty well organised except for labelling the plants. If only I had time to perfect the weeding!

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Saturday, 20 May 2023

at home

In the front garden, tying in the jasmine that Tony Tomeo gave us; it needs special hand watering now as it did not like being transplanted just before the heat wave. It will be fine, though.

Back garden, appreciation, while weeding, of that chaenomeles that I like so much, from Cistus Nursery, still blooming:

Allan noticed two kinds of allium:

A thalictrum which was short when I weeded near it a couple of weeks ago is as tall as me now.

The crab pots behind the next door gear shed are stacked high:

Too bad I don’t have a before of this bed south of the fire circle which was blurry with weeds, especially “sticky willy” and some stinking Bob.

Allan helped by strimming and blowing off a path that had been buried by meianthemum.

Appreciation of the former danger tree bed:

The last difficult weedy spot was an area in the east bed of iris and camassia full of velvet grass, which makes me sneeze and itch.

Was sneezing too much to take an after photo.

Finally, I did a task I do not enjoy. (I rather enjoy most weeding.) I planted lots and lots of cosmos that I had grown from seed anywhere I could squeeze it in to the back garden. Skooter helped.

I still have lots of cosmos left. I wish I enjoyed planting, Maybe when I am more retired, I won’t find it so stressful and tiresome.

When Allan walked to the post office, he saw a cute cat from two blocks down named Yo Yo.

He unpacked and stacked the free wood, three pieces of which would become essential the very next day.

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Friday, 19 May 2023

at home

I finally got the front yard weeded. The afters were before Allan blew off the sidewalk and paths.

Front east bed:

Callistemon ‘Wetlands Challenged Mutant’:

sidewalk and paths:

I had had a nagging feeling that I was expecting a plant order. But even though I knew a box was at the post office for me, I didn’t put those two things together until Allan went to the post office (interruption for post office garden photo)…

…and brought home a box from Sebright Nursery. Usually plants get delivered to our porch by UPS. I was afraid to look at the plants, almost all of them special ferns, but they were fine. I did not want to get distracted from weeding, so as I unpacked them, I put them all in a small bucket to soak their roots till tomorrow. I tried to photograph each fern and then the label, which are not the kind you can stick in the ground, and was not entirely successful. It is going to be more of a challenge even than usual to remember which is which.

That’s a beesia, not a fern.

Also got another of the painted fern called ‘Crested Surf’, the only one with a real tag so its ok the photo failed!

I then tackled an unweeded area in the centre of the back yard west bed.

The front garden created three heaping wheelbarrows and the back garden another three.

I admired my pink camassia some more…

…and was thrilled to see the return of Astilbe ‘Amber Moon’, which I thought had died.

I should have remembered to cut back the foliage on this variegated iris, in the midst of the Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’. I trimmed 100 leaves to the new growth (I counted!) and it still wasn’t done.

Allan kept busy mowing the lawns of two neighbours…

and then went to the port to get bunny poo. I had forgotten it yesterday. On the way home, he saw a pile of free wood and snagged all the good boards.

This would prove to be very fortuitous when we needed just such wood two days later.

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18 May: more planters

Thursday, 18 May 2023

Long Beach

We finished cleaning up tatty bulb foliage, planted a few plants and made the rest of the planters, 11 that we did not get done yesterday, look fresh and green again.

We took a break from traffic and cleaned up the bulb foliage at city hall.

On the east side, I did not plant the hostas and don’t have time to battle the snails.

On the west side, we did not plant the Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’! We wish it were a more interesting garden.

Back to the planters.

We finished by weeding and planting some cosmos in the NW and SE quadrants of Fifth Street Park.

We have moles.

the clinic garden

We had been horrified yesterday to see that in the wee garden at the future Smart Moves medical clinic, the bindweed had made a comeback and we’d been neglecting weeding. So we addressed the recurring problem. We had just plain forgotten about it. The clinic was empty and unused for several years, so the bindweed got its roots firmly entrenched. I must remember to “never let it see a Sunday.”

the hill garden

We needed to water the young plants at the hill garden, which means taking our hose, because raccoons chew on hoses there if they’re left out! While Allan dragged hose around, I weeded the couch grass in that one little bed that’s infested with it.

You can tell where I weeded and where I didn’t weed. It was evening and we ran out of time.

The middle driveway garden. no couch grass, weeded by Allan:

The upper driveway garden, also free of couch grass.

Now for three days off! With so much to do in the garden that every moment will be important.

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17 May: planting, day two

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Long Beach

At last, the water was on and we were able to fill out the downtown planters with some more plants. I have successfully got them pretty full of long blooming perennials, especially Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and edging plants like silver thyme. Sometimes I miss the showier days of more annuals, but I’m trying to get the planters lower maintenance and more drought tolerant. The weekend heat, a week since any rain, and not having the water on till today was quite a test, one I might not have dared to make. The plants came through great, and I am very pleased. Once the new plants establish with a week or two of twice weekly watering, I just might dare to try watering once a week.

Planting is exhausting and perhaps my least favourite gardening task so…mostly pictures today. Almost all taken by Allan. Planting takes all my energy.

Plant ID question, answer was Parahebe perfoliata.

A new cistus where an unhappy rhododendron came out last year:

LOTS of extra-tatty bulb foliage to remove; the heat speeded up the yellowing.

Sparaxis, below, I don’t see it for sale anywhere or I’d have bought more over the years.

Sometimes the planters look battered at this stage, but at least they are green, not yellow and brown. A lot of them looked better than the one above. I didn’t have the energy to plant in the three planters left at this end of town….I had hit the wall an hour and a half before, kept going, my toe hurt (my doctor thought I just needed a bigger shoe, but sometimes it screams even now!). My legs hurt. Suddenly I just could not go on.

We just had these two more planters to tidy that wouldn’t need more plants, below across the street, and a few plants to put into the one above…

And I could not go on. So I finished this one…

And that was that for today. Apparently, at 68 years old, I can’t work till dark anymore.

However, there were mitigating circumstances today. This scene had sped right by us, first south, then police cars going north. We heard the gun shot and I thought, I AM going to get these plants planted and just kept working!

A parent had seen the driver almost hit some kids further north, and chased him south through Long Beach tailgating and honking. They past within a planter width and I thought the parental chaser was the road raging bad guy. Two block later was the go kart track incident and then the shots as the chase headed north again, one street to the east, while the cops came sirening north right past us. ““He fired either a shot into the air or back at the vehicle,” WSP Sgt. Bradford Moon said. “It is undetermined where the gun was pointed. A couple of witnesses said it looked like it was pointed up and one said it looked like it was pointed back.”

For the rest of the day, I had been more aware of the roaring, sometimes aggressive traffic, and I think it had something to do with suddenly being in too much pain to work; I think we were both holding a lot more tension than usual.

Ilwaco Fire Station

While I watered at home, Allan watered our volunteer gardens at the fire station and the post office.

Last winter, for some reason, the fire dept folks cut down the big maples that made an L next to the parking lot and the small, unused old historic fire station. I do not know why. Something about leaves (but we loved the leaves and took them home for our leaf mould bin) and branches overhanging the neighbours’ property.

Marc Hamer had something to say on this subject in his gardening memoir, Spring Rain.

We will miss the leaves.

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16 May: planting day one

Tuesday, 16 May 2023

The Red Barn

After a slow start due to cat antics, we finally got to the Red Barn. The first I noticed was that the Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ had dried up in the planter by the barn door. In the background, barn cat Cosmo waited for petting, not much of which was forthcoming because I didn’t have much time for a petting break.

I had not brought a plant for that space, so we just transplanted a Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ from the garden and added two red diascias.

Two of the three other barrels in the garden bed had lost their Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ over winter and got new ones, and some diascias; some of last year’s diascias have survived. These planters have to be tough because they don’t get much water. They couldn’t have cactus or agaves because a horse or dog might get poked.

Bentley and Quinn appeared, requesting biscuits.

Holly appeared on the run from Diane’s next door for her biscuit; she got half.

Cosmo was very disappointed in me today.

Diane’s garden

I cleaned up lots of bulb foliage and planted annuals in the containers.

Allan planted cosmos in the driveway garden.

Holly got her other half biscuit.

While I finished the containers, Allan planted cosmos down the middle of the septic vault garden.

Although the containers look sparse now, they will fill in. I wish I had time to go overseas (across the Columbia River) to seek out some more unusual plants than the local offerings, but…I do not. And Diane really likes the old standbys and will be happy with this.

Port of Ilwaco

Allan watered at Time Enough Books and the Freedom Market

Ceanothus at Time Enough.

At Freedom Market, the Tiger Eyes sumac that I had planted and thought was dead is finally leafing out! I thought it was a goner.

The entry garden is difficult, as I knew it would be, because people walk in it to jump the log.

The curbside bed is more successful.

I watered at home.

I was pleased that my Davidia ‘Lady Sunshine’and my full moon maple had come through the heat wave still looking fresh.

Fatsia ‘Spider’s Web’

Nickel enjoyed his couch.

When Allan got home, he saw a frog (one of many that make a deafening evening chorus) in the water canoe.

After watering, I had to put all the gardening books back on the shelf because of the morning’s cat escapade (yesterday’s post). We had moved the shelf back against the wall so that it no longer provides a secret cave for cats. The books seemed to have multiplied during the day. My plan to have them all organised failed and they ended up stuffed in till autumn or another too hot or too windy or too rainy day off.

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Tuesday, 16 May 2023

I found out that not all the planters in downtown Long Beach had their water turned on. Would this be a disaster after the heat? I did my best not to worry about it, and we packed annuals for Diane and The Red Barn instead. I had gotten up early with big plans, delayed while I waited to hear about Long Beach and further delayed by CATS.

As I was just about to leave my living room desk, I heard a thump. Zinc had been on top of a bookcase and now she wasn’t. The bookcase was at an angle in a corner of a room…and she was behind it with just a triangle of space, one fallen book, and old cable tv hookup, and ten years worth of dust.

Work got delayed while I took every book off the shelf. All garden books, mostly big heavy ones, which I stacked on my desk and the floor.

As soon as every book was removed, up popped Zinc, easy as could be.

The cats thought I had done a wonderful thing for them.

I didn’t have time to put the books back so left them to it.

Basket Case Greenhouse

Needing some potting soil for work, we went to the Basket Case Greenhouse first. (It’s further along Sandridge Road past Diane and the Red Barn.)

I found some beautiful Black Cherry and Sungold tomatoes, my top favourites, to buy for me. (I had grown Rosella, beloved of Jim McColl on The Beechgrove Garden, and Gardener’s Delight, recommended by Monty Don.)

The Basket Case, a family business, had done an amazing job of keeping the plants happy during heat that rose to over 100 degrees in the greenhouses.

We had a pleasant visit with Roxanne and with the cats, little Izzy and bigger Pumpkin.

And then finally we went to work, a couple of hours later than originally planned.

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15 May: cooler

Monday, 15 May 2023

at home

At least the temperature dropped to a tolerable 70 degrees. A day of weeding in the back garden ensued.

I was pleased to see Salvia ‘Amistad’ survived the winter cold and springtime slugs.

My banana did not scorch in the heat.

I thought I would have to do lots of remedial watering, but our delightful water table is still so high that the ground all through the back garden is still damp. Only one cardiocrinum had scorched in the heat. The transplanted-last-fall golden Japanese maple looked fine. The impatiens omieana had not flopped.

My first project was to address the horror of the ground elder that had mysteriously appeared.

It is mingling in one small area with other plants.

I chased it down diligently and I think I got it all. Not everyone is as horrified by it as me. Anne Wareham, one of my favourite garden writers, likes it, as described here.

My expensive (compared to white and blue) pink camassia is blooming.

I used to pull all the fringe cup, a native plant whose rampant nature annoyed me. I now leave it till it blooms, and then pull most of it, and it is thick again the next year. The hyancinthoides blue bells are a battle I have given up on, and it was comforting to read on Facebook that Scott Weber of Rhone Street Gardens has also given up, just enjoys them and then pulls them, knowing they will return.

There may finally be hope for a leaf on my new little mimosa tree.

I left the back garden for the driveway garden, having remembered what mess it was.

I had planned to dig all the potatoes out of this bed next to Alicia’s driveway and then only harvested a few last fall, having grown a lot of choice potatoes in big pots.

When I had it weeded, I mulched with rough compost.

I weeded the little corner garden, too.

And the narrow bed between compost bins and fence.

Meanwhile, Allan cut down a columnar conifer that had started to turn brown even before the heat wave. Sad. It is I planted years ago when Seaside gardener Pam Fleming suggested that my garden needed evergreen columns. All have now plotzed except for a columnar golden yew.

Some growth was green. But not enough.

I’ll plant some columnar Euonymus ‘Green Spire’ here and there.

Nickel appreciated that I had put the summer cushions on his couch.

In the evening, we zoomed the Long Beach city council meeting, and this wonderful thing happened:

Tomorrow, back to work. Annuals planting hell time begins.

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14 May: hot!

Sunday, 14 May 2023

at home

The temperature was in the 90s so, after morning watering, I churned out some blog posts and then read (Fat Chance by Simon Gray). We inherited air conditioning when we bought this house, which at the time (2010) I said we would never need. We have needed it for one hot spell per summer in the last four years, but never in May before.

There was…

…that I would do any weeding in that weather.

Allan gave the potted plants some water for me when I whinged that I could not bear to go outside.

When a bit of the garden near the patio had fallen into shade, I thought I could finally go out at about five PM and plant up the tomatoes from the kitchen windowsill…

…but when I opened the back door, it was like a wall of heat. I waited till six thirty and finally was able to pot up.

I planted the tomatoes deep after picking off the bottom set of leaves.

The evening sun looked amazing on the alder grove.

Tomorrow should be cooler. It’s been annoying to lose hours yesterday and a whole day of weeding time today because of heat.

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