Archive for the ‘2007 garden journal flashbacks’ Category

For a job that I quit a a year later because of the Big Revelation of 2007. we created on a deck some container gardens that I simply adored all summer of 2008.

deck containers with nasturtium and 'Black Lace' elderberry

hanging baskets and planters

hanging baskets and planters

We checked them often, deadheaded, groomed.  It was my idea to have the flower containers guard the precious stained glass windows; the original seating arrangement for this outdoor dining area had metal chairs right next to the windows and I could see two terrible accidents waiting to happen.  A diner stands up and slams a shoulder into the heavy pointy bottom of the metal hanging baskets, or leans a chair back and shatters the irreplaceable window.  These are the sort of scenarios one must always ponder when public gardening.

You may recall the truck-damaged garden that we repaired in 2007.  I never put a final update on the 2007 blog so here are some photos from 6 August 2007 of how well those gardens recuperated with fluffy new soil and lavish use of painted sage along the edge.

a border of painted sage

a border of painted sage

repaired border

repaired border with Cosmos, Painted Sage, Echinacea

On the other side of the paver and river rock path grew one of my favourite combinations:  Lilies with Melianthus Major.  Every winter I mulched and nurtured the Melianthus to bring it through.

Melianthus major and lilies

Melianthus major and lilies

The same spot was equally beautiful on August 10th of 2006:

August 2006

How I defended those lilies with Sluggo!  The intense fragrance stopped passersby in their tracks.

When I had begun to care for this garden sometime in the mid to late 90s, it had only four predominant good plants in the front bed: shasta daisies, Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ a Campanula, and some Yarrow.  They were joined by creeping buttercup so thick that on my first day of work there I removed a bushel basket of it in a very small area.  One end of the garden was infested with the deliberately planted (by a previous gardener) Bishop’s Weed, and bindweed twined throughout.  During my time there I added many the choice perennial and had quite a few returning guests tell me that they looked forward to seeing what new plant had appeared.  I have not looked closely at the garden since I departed but I suspect that the rampant pink ‘A.T. Johnson’ geranium and Rosa Rugosa ‘Alba’, both of which I kept firmly in check, may be taking back over again, and without constant battling I imagine that the Bishop’s Weed is creeping ever more determinedly through the other perennials.  Is the Melianthus major still there?  I rather doubt it.  It was ‘Antenow’s Blue’ by the way, the best steely blue (peanut butter scented) leaf of all.

Hardscaping note:  When the paver path was being laid I expressed concern about using river rocks between the round stepping stones.  Indeed, the round rocks frequently got kicked onto the pavers.  I always advise using tightly packed gravel (and never pea gravel) in a path that will have heavy foot traffic.

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Thanks to Allan’s hard work and our assortment of beloved clients, we had a most profitable and enjoyable work year.

Now comes vacation…a month of rest and reading and indulging my new computer addiction: Scrabulous on Facebook!  (If Scrabulous is still around, find me there as Flora Gardener and challenge me to a game.)

We had Christmas with Allan’s parents, sister, and brother in Seattle, and on the 24th just fit in a day trip to the Pike Place Market, a favourite place of mine  ever since my grandmother took me there as a small child.

dogs and cats at the Pike Place Market

With a dog band and cat world, flower booths and delicious restaurants, I was in heaven at the Pike Place Market.  As Christmas Eve approached, the restaurants closed unexpectedly early, so we tried Pan Africa…closed!…Sabra (Israeli)…closed due to family emergency….The Crumpet Shop…all out of crumpets!…and finally found a wonderful Russian Cafe in the Sanitary Market.

Now begins the quiet winter…and finally, catching up on the blog.  New entries go back as far as October 10th…Sorry it took me so long due to uploading problems.  Remember, if you can’t find anything here for 2008, check out my space at blogspot after awhile…I’m giving this site another try with a new set of pages and hoping they will upload better.

Happy New Year from Allan and Skyler of Tangly Cottage.

Tangly Cottage holiday

[2012 note:  Uploading problems continued on web.mac.com and I didn’t find blogspot intuitive, so my journal lay somewhat dormant through 2008 and 2009.  I say somewhat because I did keep up a sort of narrative flow in my Facebook photo albums, and I think now that I am going to use them to recreate a few more flashbacks for 2008 and 2009.  Our 2012 work season has begun but without the job of pruning those 300 (or was it 250?) hydrangeas, we can ease into it and I just might find time for those extra flashbacks.  This is for me, someday in the future perhaps in my mom’s old room at Golden Sands Assisted Living, so that I can read about all those years of gardening on the Long Beach Peninsula.

Oh, and Scrabulous is gone, but now I play Words With Friends.]

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and thus work ends for the year…

The mild weather kept work going for a long time.  Lack of frost meant cosmos kept blooming into late November. Finally we had to pull them, still slightly blooming, out of the old boat at Time Enough Books at the Port of Ilwaco in order to plant the last batch of narcissi.

Even after the storm clean-up, we found beauties in the garden as we made our last visit of the season to each.

Our last clean up at Laurie’s revealed the brightness of barberry and hebe.

Once we had the summer plants cleaned up out of the boat, Time Enough Books decorated the garden area for the holidays.  Did I mention that when my friend Mary visited, we learned that the Time Enough logo of an hourglass and broken spectacles is from the classic Twilight Zone episode in which a man who loves to read thinks he will finally have time enough after an apocalyptic event…then, while he’s sitting on library stairs surrounded by books, his glasses fall and break! That’s the ultimate horror story.

Time Enough Books decorated for the holidays

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Finally the storm came, and all the skeptics must have been sorry that they did not stock up ahead of time.  It lasted three long days of winds up to 140 up in the hills and 85 mph whipping through the towns. Downtown Astoria’s businesses lost windows, sucked out by the vacuum of the wind, and all over Northwest Oregon and our Peninsula, groves of trees splintered and toppled, roofs and siding blew off, and power went out for four to seven days.  In our case, four was bad enough.  I especially pined for the internet.  Until the storm finally ceased and the tiresome roaring winds died down, it was too dangerous to go out and check on the damage.  We were in a land of mystery, cut off from the outside world with neither landline nor cell telephone service and all the roads in and out blocked by fallen trees.  KMUN radio station in Astoria kept broadcasting with a generator but had no news of our side of the river because no one could cross the bridge.  I read the new Dick Francis by a good lantern flashlight and grimly waited it out, expecting one of the tall trees that lean over our house to fall on us at any moment.

When finally we emerged, the damage was impressive.   I felt kind of vulture-like taking photos of people’s woeful upended fences and trees.  Our friend J9 and Jill had lived in New Orleans and told us they had found it worse than southern hurricanes, as it lasted for such a long time.

trees down at Seaview Solstice house

At Solstice House, three large trees came down perfectly lined up to miss the house and the fence.

At Sea Nest, the driftwood temple which my former partner, Robert, built some years ago had imploded inward, and at the Tinker House near Jo’s garden, the glass of the patio shelter shattered.  (Allan repaired the temple but was not able to re-incorporate all the pieces because of breakage and splintering.)

by Jo’s garden

Jo’s fence and garden took a beating, and broken styrofoam bits had been swirled out a neighbour’s storage shed and scattered everywhere like snowdrifts.  Other neighbours will have some sawing to do because of a tree down over their stairway.

Along Sandridge Road on the Willapa Bay side of the Peninsula, entire groves of trees were mangled and splintered into heaps.  Along all the roads we saw this, but nowhere as dramatically as around 220th and Sandridge.

trees down along Sandridge Road

We visited all of our gardens, and other than the temple at Seanest found little heartbreaking damage.  Two clients and friends had chain link fences yanked high into the air by massive fallen tree rootballs.  Laurie’s house was deserted, the battery backup sadly bleating while the she and her dogs and horses were all gone to more friendly climes, perhaps.  [Later she told me they had loaded the horses up and driven to somewhere safer …I seem to recall she might have taken the horses to The Red Barn …when she saw that the sky was a strange colour, almost orange, and truly believed the storm would be serious.]  Denny at KBC was forlorn and lonely because Mary was stranded up in Silverdale and could not drive back for three days.,,nor could he get any word to her that the cabins had not blown away.  We found him   (he who had been skeptical) ruefully burning downed timber.  The fish he had caught in Alaska in early summer had thawed in the power outage.   Later we learned Seattle news had had very little coverage of the storm, so Mary was unable to get much news.  Our friend J9 had a tree down on a power line, and she and Jill were without power for days longer than we were.  Allan, having cleverly filled the gas tank the day before, had enough fuel to motor all over the Pensinsula till the pumps were working again, so rather than begin our staycation as planned, we spent the next week picking up debris and propping the plants back upright again. I am grateful for Allan’s childhood camping skills which enabled us to have hot coffee and warm meals! I would have been chewing raw coffee beans. Which reminds me, you cannot grind coffee beans without electricity, so remember to grind them the night before the storm.  Fortunately, when the local store opened with a generator we were able to get some ground beans (and more chocolate).  By the second day, the store was well picked over and had one loaf of bread on the shelf and was giving away free melted ice cream.  Allan took three quarts and, I believe, managed to eat two of them!

Update, 2015: For more photos of storm damage, Google “Great Coastal Gale”.  A particularly dramatic story is about the Uppertown Net Loft art studio in Astoria.  Another good article covering the storm is in the local paper, the Chinook Observer. A few days after the storm, we drove through the Surf Pines beach-side neighbourhood near Gearhart, Oregon.  Locals were now calling it Surf Pine because of all the trees down.  The skyline of Astoria changed as groves of trees on the ridge over town had been felled by the storm.


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South Pacific County Humane Society Brunch

We knew from the news that the storm was coming: Hurricane force winds bearing down on us from across the Pacific.  Saturday, December 1st, was windless but snowy and sleety…Not the sort of day on which I usually venture forth as I’ve an intense dislike of walking around on slippery snow.  However, since our friends the Grey Sisters, J9 and Jill, had organized the wonderful Humane Society Brunch, off we went.

J9 (Jeannine) put her decorating expertise to making the Senior Center seasonally festive. (Her party helper business is called Have Tux, Will Travel, and indeed, she wore her tux for the occasion.)  The food, donated and prepared by local chefs, was outstanding and lavishly generous.

beautiful table decorations

I’ll take credit for the spray painted twigs idea.  Later we put these same twigs in the windows boxes at Klipsan Beach Cottages.  Allan helped set up for the brunch the day before while I did some late fall clean up at the Shelburne.

The big topic of conversation was the storm, and whether or not to take the warnings seriously.  I called Denny at Klipsan Beach Cottages to warn him and he laughed it off.  We did think it might be a big one so on the way home we bought more batteries, lots of candles, and a tank full of gas.  Had I known the severity of the next three days, I would have purchased a lot more chocolate.

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A clamming weekend here at the beach drew large crowds as always…wonderful for our tourism, and especially for our clients who have clam cleaning sheds (Klipsan Beach Cottages and Andersen’s RV Park).  Even though Allan has lived here for three years, we have never hit a late clam tide so he could see the the string of lanterns against the setting sun until this perfect late November evening.  It’s a beautiful sight that I’ve collected some photos of over the years.

(left) clammers and full moon, (right) sunset clamming in Seaview

clamming with lanterns

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Immediately upon my return from the Sylvia Beach Hotel, Allan and I plunged into three projects that had been pressing upon the schedule: A new bed at the World Kite Museum, a new bed at a private home in Vandalia, and helping with landscape installation at the new Willapa Behavioral Health Center.

WKM bed before and during; this will be a bright colour spot

World Kite Museum director Kay Buesing lined up volunteers to help us with stage one of the new gardens, designed by Kathleen Sayce.

volunteer gardeners at World Kite Museum

The volunteer crew did not sit down on the job despite how it looks.  Right, the bed finished, and thickly planted with narcissi from that very last bulb order from Colorblends.  (I’d never ordered from them before, and was thrilled to find a Colorblends coffee mug and a crumpled newspaper from Amsterdam in with the bags of tulips and narcissi.)

Next, we put in a new bed of grasses and perennials at a private home next to the small Ilwaco airport. The ground had already been tilled.    All we had to do was acquire the plants, rocks, and topsoil, and then mulch, make a decorative rock border, and plant.

Garden bed, before and after; the wee stakes mark clusters of bulbs.

That’s me working…and our client coming home in his plane.

Finally, for the last of the special fall projects, we helped install plants for the wetland mitigation landscape at the new Willapa Behavioral Health building.

Willapa Behavioral Health swale planting project designed by Kathleen Sayce and installed by Doug Ray of Carex Consulting

The wettest spots in the swale were planted with Redtwig Dogwood and Darmera Peltata.  All native plants in appropriate drainage areas should thrive and be restful to the eye.  Meanwhile, Allan and I had earlier planted a patch of narcissi by the front entry and roped it off.  We found the ropes down but after a little altercation (not quite fisticuffs!) with the builders, we got the ropes back up and an agreement that it would not be walked on any further!  I think the contractor fellow thought I was going to back down…ha!

[2012 note:  We have almost completely stopped taking any job where we plant up a garden and then don’t get to take care of it.  But after swearing I never would again, I have agreed to such a project in Long Beach because it’s small and interesting and I can tell the owners are real gardeners who WILL care for it.]

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The Sylvia Beach Hotel

With Carol, my friend of almost thirty years, I went for two nights to my favourite place, The Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon.  Each room of the hotel is named for an author.  We had been lucky to get the Agatha Christie room for one night; usually this requires reservations a year in advance, I’ve heard.  I’d stayed before in Agatha with even more longtime friend Mary (the webmistress of tanglycottage.com), but even though I like to try new rooms on each visit, I wanted Carol to experience the one I find the most charming.

The library with its ocean view, and the best place to read in the world

After a dauntingly foggy drive and the disturbing factor of the car’s “check engine” light coming on, we arrived in time to do some reading in the third floor library, and even snagged the best reading spot in the world all to ourselves for an hour: the corner of the library loft where the big pipes go through to the roof.

Both of us were a little nervous about playing The Game at dinner:  a gathering of communal tables where one is encouraged to play Two Truths and a Lie while consuming a delicious meal of several courses.  We actually enjoyed it so much that we (or at least I) very much looked forward to the next night’s game.  The truth I told both nights which almost everyone thought a lie was that I live in a 460 square foot house.  Is this one of the only countries in which that would be so very hard to believe? (We just discovered that if one includes the loft, it’s about 600 feet, but technically real estate measurements do not include rooms unless you can stand upright in more than just the center of them.).  I recommended the book Material World to our fellow diners.

evening in Agatha’s room; the fireplace is across from the couch

We spent the first night in E.B. White to save a little money, and because each room has its own room diaries so one finds more fascinating reading by staying in different rooms.  I was a little worried when I went up to the library at ten PM and found no mulled wine in the tea room.  Had this important ritual been dropped since my last visit?  But it was just late; a second excurision found that the mulled wine tradition is still kept, so I carried two cups down to E.B. White and settled in to read the diaries. The next morning we were efficiently moved into Agatha’s room.  We spent the day in the library, except for a brief stroll out to lunch.  (The noisy cafe was startling after the quiet murmurous environment of SBH.) My ideal visit to the SBH involves very little leaving of the hotel during the day, and much sipping of Earl Grey tea (free along with a wide selection of teas and coffee in a small room off the library) while reading journals and gazing at the ocean view.   I was able to read all the diaries from the library, the upstairs economy-priced dorms, and several rooms which were between guests for the day.

Carol in the library, and the view from the library deck

After another scrumptious dinner (and The Game0, we repaired to Agatha’s room and started a fire in the fireplace…a  bit tricky even for Carol, which led to some teasing about how a Montana girl should know rustic fire building skills. I was sad to find that most of the Agatha guest journals were missing.  Originally the room had many clues (such as a bottle of “poison” in the medicine cabinet) and a few remain.but it was a greater mystery what happened to the diaries.  I snuck down to the Hemingway room and snagged a stack of journals from there, careful to return them later before guests arrived. Had guests checked in before I replaced them, I would have hung them in a bag from the Hemingway doorknob…which would have seemed a mystery indeed..

Guests write humourously in the style of their room author…Some of the Hemingway journalers excelled at that game.  Others write movingly of their lives…of a healing retreat in the Jane Austen room after a marriage which had taken place in the library two years before had gone awry…Of a visit by a 92 year old who could no longer make it up the flights of stairs to the library….Of a woman whose husband had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and who on their latest visit could no longer play Two Truths and a Lie.

Dickens, one of two Hotel Cats, and the view from the Christie room..

Sunday morning neither Carol nor I wanted to leave, and we spent another poignant hour in the library where I polished off two more journals from the Jane Austen room.  Jane seems to inspire a quiet, thoughtful sort of writing.  As we were checking out, we saw the most amusing map by the main desk: a local neighbourhood map with pins marking each sighting of hotel cat Dickens, with a drinks tab attached from a local bistro; he had come home with it tied to his collar.

The drive home was clear and beautiful rather than terrifyingly foggy.  We got to actually see the ocean, forests, and towns…little knowing that the charming towns of Wheeler and Garibaldi would be painfully thrashed by a monster storm less than a month later.  I recommend a stop at Bear Creek Artichokes, just past Tillamook, for good espresso and treats and culinary gifts. The “check engine” light remained on, but nothing bad happened and it went off as soon as Carol returned to Seattle!

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By the end of the first week in November, most of the bulbs were in the ground while we awaited a second shipment.  It never fails that no matter how extravagant my bulb order, more will be needed as people see us planting them and request just a few more.

We embarked on a new project for a new client, Sharon, who we’d met during her quest for a Gunnera leaf; she teaches classes in making stained glass pavers and in the casting of sculptural leaves in concrete.  She’d stopped to talk with us while we worked by the giant Gunnera in downtown Long Beach.  When we went to look at her proposed project we enjoyed the tour of her garden with all its creative touches.

(above, left) Sharon’s “Koi pond” of stained glass pavers, and (right) two of a long path along the bay side of the house representing the birds she sees out on the water.

The project of making a vasty sweep of grasses on a mounded garden bed along the driveway involved no weeding, as the ground was already prepared.  We decided a dry river rock stream bed was called for to match up with the rest of the theme of the garden…and went on a trip to several nurseries to collect as wide as assortment as possible of interesting grasses…and we divided out the best of the grasses from different gardens of ours to add as much variety as possible,.  Our favourite is Stipa gigantea which does not seem to be readily available here, so we use our existing plantings as a source for more.

before and after, above

(Above) grasses under a picturesque old tree, and the “pond” at the “headwaters” of the stream, which was softened by planting some clumps of water-loving acorus right through the landscape fabric, with granules of Zeba Quench mixed in to keep them moist enough.

The completion of the job was interrupted by my taking a three day vacation (next entry) but as soon as I returned we got back to the planting.  The dry creek bed tied in with river rock areas on the west side of the house (the new bed is further west) and with a charming dry creek bed which seems to emerge from under the east side of the house near the bay.

(left) The original bay side dry creek bed; (right) our new dry creek bed, newly planted, which theoretically disappears “underground” and “reemerges” to join the eastward river rock features.

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Bulbing goes on, and between the exhaustion of it all and the problems I was having uploading to this site, the blog fell by the wayside.  [2012 note: The problems were in uploading to web.mac.com, the iWeb blog hosting site which will be discontinued in June 2012, thus inspiring me to move all of 2007 into Feb. 2012…if that makes any sense at all.]

Yes, you may think you are reading what was written as life plodded on, but this is actually written some time later.  Bulbing takes all one’s energy,…the repetitiveness of the same muscle use day after day, and being out in the colder weather, means that evening calls for complete relaxation.

One of the first places where we planted a large selection of Narcissi ( some of each cultivar) was Kathleen’s new sweep of garden (below) along the bay.  She added this bed about a year ago with the soil piled on newspaper method..or in this case, on cardboard..and the underlay has now rotted enough to add bulbs.  Even old pieces of sheetrock had disintegrated into useful bits of gypsum, adding “Calcium plus magnesium carbonates, and sulfates”….(Thanks, Kathleen, for the scientific breakdown.)

garden on Willapa Bay

That was a glorious day of work.  After a dreary and ominous beginning,  the rain remained mostly light and intermittent and we were rewarded with a glorious rainbow over Willapa Bay.

Another recipient of many bulbs is the Shelburne Inn.  Unlike Kathleen’s, which must have mostly the deer-proof narcissi, the protected Shelburne garden gets lots of exotic tulips.

autumn at the Shelburne

Although the hydrangea had faded to its autumnal shades of beigey pink, the containers on the back deck still look vibrant. Euphorbia ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ brightens up a pot of annuals.

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