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Archive for the ‘2007 garden journal flashbacks’ Category

a house full of bulbs

We hear the UPS truck arriving with our bulb boxes…7021 bulbs in the first order and another few hundred bulbs to follow in a later order.  The sheer weight was impressive, but unfortunately I have forgotten it…somewhere around 400 pounds, I think it was.  A fortuitous four days of rain ensued so I was able to sort all of them into a box for each client, labeled and organized, without losing any outdoor work time.  [2012 note:  I think the yearly experience of having a 450 or so square foot house full of bulb boxes with hardly any room to move until they were planted was one of the main reasons that…after making the 2010 bulb order in August…I suddenly decided it was time to move to a bigger house!]

Now the seemingly endless bulbing job begins of going from client to client putting in $30 worth here….$200 worth there…depending on their budget and garden space.  The race is on to get them in the ground before they get soft.

Here’s some of what we planted from the first order (from Van Engelen), not including a wider assortment of Oriental and Asiatic lilies;  this is the assortment that went to Long Beach:

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An aside: the new horse at Laurie’s is in its own corral because one of the other horses took a dislike to it.  We have three cats, one of whom hates the other two, but it is a lot easier to manage three incompatible cats than three incompatible horses!  The cats find their own private nooks, amid some hissing and potential scratching, but that’s so much less complicated than separate stalls and flying hooves.

As we continue our rounds, we’re pleased that so many gardens still look delightful.

Laurie’s late blooming Hebe is matched in pinkness by the Cosmos at Sea Nest.

(left) Discovery Heights; (right) our own garden

The cotoneasters draping the rocks at Discovery Heights are highlighted with orange and red berries…and inside our own overgrown and rather neglected garden, viewed from the street, a fall blooming Clematis romps over the contorted filbert.

All the little clean up and tidying projects that we do now are time fillers while we wait for the arrival of the fall bulbs.  But in cleanups great and small, there are two different philosophies: Mine is to leave a lot of seedheads for the birds and a lot of structure of billowy tawny grasses and stems, but some clients like to have the garden totally tidied and GONE until next spring.

The two fall clean-up philosophies, illustrated above.

Jo likes her garden to be completely cut down, whereas Annie’s is left in more my style of hazy wispy mist-catching stems.

Or there is the philosophy of Annie’s dog, Kira, who naps through the day in a warm patch on the lawn and doesn’t bother with the garden clean up at all.

For gardeners who might be as lazy as Kira, garden writer Ann Lovejoy recommends leaving the garden alone till early spring when the old growth breaks off so easily, thus saving lots of clipping.  On the other hand, she recommends mulching in winter with washed dairy manure…and that’s not a job for anyone lazy.

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Why is Klipsan Beach Cottages my favourite place to work?  We love other  clients and gardens, but KBC offers the perfect combination of wild garden areas and a more formal deer-fenced area, clients who appreciate unusual plants and who are willing to buy the good topsoil and amendments that it needs, a budget to buy interesting plants,  guests who appreciate the garden, and often the offer, from owner Mary, of delicious drinks and snacks.

Inside the deer-proof garden, the wilder blue bench corner and the formal center. Next year I hope Tetrapanax papyrifer will make a striking tall statement behind the bench.

The deer are faced with a daunting fence and can only nibble rose shoots from the outside.  The Billardia longiflora has gorgeous purple-blue berries and grows alongside one of the four gates.

You may recall that we cut back all the fern fronds around the ponds; now all have filled out lushly.  One of the bright sun coleus is still going strong in the blue pot. We often sit on that bench to eat our lunch.

Ever since I have worked there Mary and Denny have always had cats and good dogs that like to join us in the garden.  We fondly remember the two big white Great Pyrenees, Misty and Debby, and black labrador Raven who used to help on cottage cleaning days by carrying the big set of keys.  Now handsome Doberman Riley likes to come out and keep us company, and if we are very lucky, Mary can get some time off from managing the place and come out to visit while gardening with us.  On days when rain surprises us, we often end up sitting at the round dining room table with cookies and hot chocolate. We have every intention of working at KBC until Mary and Denny themselves retire…

[2012 note:  In 2010 I made a Facebook page on which I regularly update photos of their gardens.]

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Here in the Pacific Northwest the gardens usually stay beautiful and lush till well into November, but the look changes to bronzy and yellow leaves, billowy beige grasses, and bright fruits on Cotoneaster, crabapple, beautyberry, and more. We try to get a little bit of fall clean up done before the bulbs arrive.

At Evelyn’s garden, two Cotoneasters, one with dazzling effect and one more subtle. The subtle prostrate one is my favourite.

At KlipsaN Beach Cottages, lavish display of berries on Billardia longiflora, and spectacular rosehips at Solstice house.

In our own garden, the powdery blue edible beans of the Chinese blue bean tree, Deicasnea fargessii…also known, I recently learned, as Dead Man’s Fingers! And a truly astonishing colour combinaton from a Euonymous shrub.

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  Rebuilding Together on the Long Beach Peninsula

Rebuilding Together‘s fairly new Pacific County group had its second 2007 volunteer day in Saturday’s rain.  Allan and I went to a project where nine excellently warm windows were to be installed in a double wide manufactured home.  The owner had once had a pretty garden which several of us brought back to its original shape, while Allan helped tear out the old windows.  Because of the rain and a predicted blustery wind, the window crew started out with the goal of getting one window done but succeeded in getting all but one…and the last one only because a new one of the right size had not arrived.

The garden (left, before) had herbs, dahlias, daisies, annuals… (right) Three of the five or more garden workers, all in colourful rain gear.

(above) The garden, after; happily, a pile of mulch was on the site so we were able to fluff it up, and a pile of driftwood provided edging material.

(Above) the front porch window, before and after (Allan in yellow rain pants)

(above) Window installers swarmed almost every window at once. Eventually, we could only laugh at how drenched we all were..

Allan took a load of debris to the dump whole the last of the windows were installed; it turned out we were the only ones with a hauling trailer, so we will be sure to bring it on future such occasions.

(Above) Installing the last screw, by which time the rest of the crew could only stand and watch (and drip, drip, drip).

(Above) Now the family will be cozy with new rather than old, leaky windows….(one of which was actually stuck open, so you can imagine the wonderful difference the new windows will make). Due to the ghastly weather, the exterior trim will be installed on a future dry day.

One of the crew told me an impressive statistic of how much energy the nation would save if everyone just could have good windows installed.

[2012 note: Rebuilding Together Pacific County now has a Facebook page and its own website.]

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We have a new ongoing project of fixing up Jena’s garden.  What a wonderful secret place to live, up a private road, surrounded by bogs (yes, there are mosquitos in summer) and willows…with a driveway circle, one of my favourite design features in a garden.  I forgot to take before pictures, unfortunately.  Originally designed by a now-gone landscaper called Beachscapes and Beyond, the garden has some good plants which needed some shifting around and an overgrowth of the dreaded orange montbretia which had been a gift to Jena and which she has taken against as much as I have.  So out it came, leaving room for the enjoyable task of adding some new plants and some species narcissi bulbs.

not before, but during………………………..and after.

The goal: turn the Wiegela into an arched shrub instead of a rangy partly dead tree. Two variegated boxwoods were shifted from being irksomely clumped together into a more elegant spacing.

(above left) a side view, quite overgrown…note deer fence of crabbing rope; I like it. (above right) cleared of too much white yarrow, and mulched with “Soil Energy” mix from Sandridge Topsoil.

On the day when we did the mulching, we had the Soil Energy loaded into our trailer in the rain, with blue sky just to the north  from whence a light wind blew.  Sure that the blue would reach us, we drove on to Jena’s, where the blue sat agonizingly out of reach and the skies opened with torrential rain.  Her spouse arrived as we were shoveling and inquired of our sanity.  The blue finally arrived overhead when we got to our next job.

(above, left) entrance view, before, with Allan weeding (above right) after, with the pretty weeping Japanese maple more clearly defined. No one seem to realize how big New Zealand Flax will get; the Phormiums look so charming in one gallon pots.

Happily, this will become an ongoing job, not one of those clean ups where one revives a  secret garden but then never sees it again.

[2012 note:  We did keep this job on a monthly basis through 2010, but in 2011 Jena hired someone else because we had never succeeded in making the garden low maintenance.  As usual, my plant lust got in the way.  The deer were a constant trial and chowed down on pretty much everything; the rope fence was nothing to them.  This, and maybe the bayside garden, were the only jobs we’ve ever been laid off from because the client was not happy.  And at the bayside garden, the wife was happy, but not the husband, and he was very much in charge..and even though he did not want to spend the money to have regular gardeners, he asked us back every February to prune the 300 hydrangeas.]

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Having had so much trouble recently uploading entries [due to troubles with functionality of iWeb blogs] has given me a feeling of incipient trouble when I think of updating this journal, putting a big dent in my enthusiasm.  I’m hoping that whatever bug in the system was causing the delay has been fixed.  Can I dare to dream this?

The first enormous rain is here.  Maybe not the first, as the weekend was rather nasty….but the first day if being totally rained out of work and of getting drenched just going from car to bank or store to run errands.

Earlier this month, we waited till our beloved clients and managers of Klipsan Beach Cottages went off to the Puyallup Fair and then created a new garden bed as a surprise birthday present for Mary.  Denny has since installed a fountain halfway down the length, and the bed will hold the plants which need to be dividing out from the overcrowded fenced garden.

Mary’s birthday garden before, and after digging and amending

I spent considerable time and effort on a mid-September weekend digging out almost all the dreaded orange montbretia which i had foolishly tossed into the roadside garden years ago, before I got brutal enough to discard unwanted plants.  ‘Twas such a hard job that the first weekend I tried it, I gave up, being too sore from the work week.

Meanwhile, Allan has put gutters on the house, something which has been sorely needed for years as the base of the stone foundation is wider than the roof, perhaps not the wisest design.

Last midweek I was filled with terrible melancholy upon hearing from the property manager of the blue roofed house on the bay, the one with all the hydrangeas, that the owners did not want us to go on with the job of mulching the hydrangeas.  Our work was complimented but no longer required. Our friend the manager was very upset; he has seen the owners lay off pretty much every gardener on the Peninsula before this.  [2012 note: I can add this now that the owners are both gone and the house for sale: We think it was because there was confict between the bossy husband and his wife; it was after she had asked us to mulch some of her favourite beds, and we of course complied,  that HE decided to not have us come back.]  Oh, how I hate leaving a job undone.  For three days those hydrangeas called out to me and haunted my every waking hour as I brooded over how one more workday would have finished the project.  Letting go of my own vision of what the garden could be was so difficult, and is always the risk of getting emotionally involved in someone else’s garden.  I can’t seem to enjoy work without that emotional involvement, so it was hard to move on.  (Our friend and liaison there was equally upset because he knew we could make the property as wonderful as it had been in its heyday.) They want us to come back and prune the hydrangeas, but I am hesitant. Without a real connection to the garden, my desire to be there wanes. Happily, we have an interesting new job where we worked all day yesterday restoring one of my favourite design things, a driveway circle garden.  (Much removal of orange montbretia is involved!)  Before and afters will be upcoming soon.

Autumn itself causes me no melancholy as it is one of my favourite seasons. It has always been so but is now increased by my happy anticipation of fall clean up of all the gardens (except the hydrangea one, darn it).  I am sort of tired of all the gardens as they are now…(You gardeners know exactly what I mean) and cannot wait to cut many things down!  Then I am going to do a page on each garden throughout the year…a delightful prospect.

Autumnal sights: (left) Goldenrod at Andersen’s Rv Park (right) Hippophae Rhamnoides berries at Andersen’s.

(left) The heavily flowered hydrangeas (with the last of the picket fence sweet peas at Andersen’s and (right) Colchicum at the entry ramp garden of Long Beach City Hall

No cry of woe here means the uploading of this entry worked this time.  If it doesn’t, I really do not want to spend one and a quarter hours uploading just one entry (with “publish all”) so will wait till I have our new project photographed to show off and then add two entries at once.  (We were rained out of the “after” day today.)

Later: Cry of woe: Still not working as it should so will wait for another day to upload more.

[2012 note: We did go back and prune those hydrangeas in February of 2008-2011, and were called back to do the occasional summer weeding, but in February 2012 the job has ended as both of the elderly owners have died and the house is for sale.]

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Before I get into our trip to the market, let me warn my faithful few readers that I am having a terrible time publishing to iweb.  Much woe is me, as I love the interface which enables me to so easily add photos and links despite my state of html ignorance. There is a work-around, to “publish all”, that is, the entire blog from the very first post, every time I add a new one, but it does take hours.  I hope Apple gets this problem sorted soon; forum posts show that I am not the only one.  Meanwhile, if my blog goes for weeks without updating here, that is why.  I have set up an alternate blog spot on blogspot, where you may someday be able to find me at [2012 note: blogspot did not appeal to me and so my blog was idle in 2008 and 2009 till I discovered WordPress and later moved 2007 to here.]

Today we went to the Astoria Sunday Market for some holiday shopping.  Our busy work schedule…yes, and assorted garden tours…have kept us away from there for all of this year (as far as I can remember), and we have less than a month left to enjoy it before it ends for the year.

We can always count on finding some good plants at the plant booths, but today our quest was more for presents…some of which were for a faithful reader or two of this blog, so the results are very hush hush.  My eyes were filled by flower vendors’ gorgeous bouquests and as always by the interesting plantings outside the Alley Cat coffee shop.  We used to go in there almost weekly so I could visit their sweet dog, George, but the last three times George has snubbed me by refusing to come down the stairs for petting.  I didn’t feel like getting my feelings hurt today.

the flower booth and the Alley Cat plantings

gleaming array of vegetables and a damp view of the Liberty Theatre

There had been talk of meeting our friend J9 and her out-of-town guest for coffee but that mission was cancelled because of rain. The crowds were but plucky, though, and kept on shopping despite the occasional and unpredictable sudden waterfalls off of overloaded booth tops.

rainy market day

Too damp to even go out to coffee at Astoria Coffee Shop (it was busy and the only spot with seating was a little too outdoorsy for my chilled and drippy condition), we went on to Fred Meyer where I bought more bulbs.  Oh dear, I may now have exceeded my projected budget (slightly over $2000) for clients, as I simply had to have all of the Sparaxis that the bins had to offer.

This is what a garden of two hundred and fifty hydrangeas looks like:

bayside house with hydrangeas

No postscript with cries of woe here means these last two entries uploaded smoothly.

POSTSCRIPT!!  And cry of woe: AGAIN with the crashing while publishing.  Now must “publish all”.  Must I really move this whole venture to blogspot?

[2012 note: I decided to leave in most of the struggles I was having with uploading to iWeb because I know I was not alone.  And because it is why I got discouraged with blogging, after being on such a roll in 2007. My good friend Mary who now writes Yummy Montana had similar trouble with her Yummy Northwest blog on iWeb (mobile me) as did the writers of many sad help forum posts.  Apple did not really fix it, apparently, and in June they are shutting down the old iWeb blogs.]

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After last Saturday’s tour of Cannon Beach cottages, I spent most of Sunday feeling melancholic.  Could it be that I would prefer if Ilwaco were more like Cannon Beach? Or that I realized that my fantasy of living in CB would never, ever come true because of its high prices? (Or was I melancholic because I was having a terrible time uploading my latest entries to this blog?!)  When I first moved to Ilwaco, I used to attend more civic meetings and often heard the cry of citizens: “We don’t want another Cannon Beach!”  While I am sure they were referring to high property taxes and unaffordable housing, I couldn’t help but wish that we had more of the charms of that Oregon town.  Every bit of progress made here: the village-esque upgrades to the Port, and the Saturday market, for example, make us a little more charming, and that makes me happy.  And Sheila reminded me that CB has strict CC&Rs and that our idiosyncratic house, with its multicoloured trim, might cause a fuss there.  Also, would I really want to stand in line behind twenty tourists just to buy my groceries? There, now I feel better.

When we arrived at the tour’s ticket sales table, I was thrilled to see that one of my favourite cottages was featured on the tour this year.  However, the tower, which has exerted a great pull on me every time I go to CB, was locked, and I did not see any way to storm it.  I learned that the cottage is called “Bears” (built in 1924) and that the tower is a studio and laundry room.

The “Bears” unstormable tower flanked by two of the cottage’s windows

cottage kitchens

I’m a bit concerned that I have the order of our tour and thus the names of the cottage photos mixed up, but I believe the above interiors are from the McRae cottage (built in 1937) and the McLaughlin House (1926).  I find the cupboards and shelves and windows speak strongly to me of home,  history, and the pleasures of daily life in a cozy space.

cottage tables

Tablescapes also thrill me.  Mine tends to be just drifts of paper…bills, seed packets, paper scraps with ideas, lists of books and movies to order from the library and Netflix, but every now and then it gets cleaned and polished and decorated with a vase of flowers and it can look like the ones above.  Left, the Hutchins House, built in 1924, and right, in the Mason House, built in 1925.

roof top deck

The Hutchins House had the charming surprise (above) of a rooftop deck that was entered through a small window from each of two upstairs bedrooms.

cottage windows

Cottage windows (above, in the Mason House), with and without fabulous beach views, often have the small panes and warped glass of old times, reminding me of my grandmother’s house (and later, mine) in Seattle where the electrical lines and trees outside seemed to waver.  I wish that when one had to replace a window with modern energy efficiency, the glass could be made with that old watery look.

A full view of the mantel in the Mason House and one of its beds, where I suddenly craved an enclosed and peaceful pale pink nap.

The large Ave Maria Retreat House (interior, below), now belonging to the Sisters of Saint Mary but built in 1928 with a widow’s walk and porthole windows, could make a girl want to join the convent.  Its enormity was not the sort of space that usually appeals to me, but the rooms were magnificent. I loved the clever touch of old porthole windows echoed by portholes in the dining room cupboards. The widow’s walk was not on top of the house as I would have expected but was a narrow walkway outside a second story bedroom and afforded a great view of the beach.

portholes in the Ave Maria Retreat House

Below, the view from the Ave Marie Retreat House looked down into the yard of the Goodman House, which surprised me by being one of my favourite cottages.  While I would have tried to grow more plants inside the windwall (closer view, right), it’s a great concept for providing some comfort on the west side of a beach house.

windy garden

The Goodman house, built in 1928, entranced me despite its vast paces.  Usually large houses fail to impress me but this one abounded with glorious spaces and colour and comfort.

(Above) The great west facing window, inside and out..and note the pop- out lower corner, which housed one of the world’s most charming sun rooms which ran about half the length of the north wall.

(Above) One end of the long sunroom, which is about all I could want out of life if it had a small kitchenette and bathroom attached.

(Above) A fireplace by Paul Bartels who is famous for his stonework in many of these old cottages, and a table where it would be a joy to dine.

Gardens did not abound around any of the cottages, although there were a few good landscaping  touches:

A rustic bench by the backyard guesthouse of the Bears, and a cat bench at the Goodman Beach House

cottage paths

The Goodman house had an inviting gravel path to the beach through a northside garden (above left) and (right, from a deck of the  most modernized of the cottages) this pretty amazing garden wound down a hill between two houses. We walked through there on our way back to downtown. The sign said it was private that that the public could pass through at their own risk.

We had parked well south of downtown (ah, another disadvantage to living there: the streets even off to the sides are crammed with overflow tourist cars like ours), but ate at Cranky Sue’s at the north end and walked back.  The sun blasted all day and made it hard to take photos of CB’s good downtown gardens.  There’s a rule that every business has to have one, so the town overflows with flowers.  Two examples:

All Cannon Beach business are required to have landscaping.

When the next day I was bemoaning to a friend via email about the glories of CB, she  wrote to me that when she and a friend had recently visited there, they drove around looking for just one run-down house and could not find one.  She compared it to Disneyland where the streets are washed at night.  Looking back, the only flaw I can remember seeing (other than the surprising lack of cottage gardens in the tour neighbourhood) are a few clumps of undeadheaded daisies and one, that’s ONE, dandelion in a the garden of a bar and grill.  Oh dear, I am getting melancholic again.  Would such perfection get tiresome?

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a perfect evening in Seaview

Our friend Patti has a dreamy garden in Seaview.  Every time we visit her two dogs are joined by other dogs in what seems to be an endless round of Patti dog-sitting for friends.  There were four on the day in early August when we visited to deliver a pot of Cotinus ‘Golden Spirit’: Bosco, who eluded the camera, Webster, the Portuguese water dog, and two small dogs, one rather bossy.

Was the charcoal furniture painted to match the adorable Webster?

The charcoal grey furniture throughout the garden provides plentiful sit spots.  Back in the days when Patti first bought and redesigned this garden, it didn’t have as much open space.  My former partner, Robert, lived there for a year some time after we parted and he, being an expert hardscaper and garden visionary, helped turn one area into a soothing gravel entertainment mecca.  Negative space is a positive thing.

Patti’s wonderful patio space

more water: a driftwood waterfall (another robert creation) and one of the cutest birdbaths i’ve ever seen

places to sit on and near the back porch deck

East of the back decks a richly tropical-themed garden with cannas and eucalyptus….(below left) on the morning August 2nd and (below right) again in the evening  of August 29th, when we were invited to dine al fresco with friends  on the gravel patio.  Patti’s one amazing cook so we got salmon with sauce, and prime rib, golden potatoes, a delectable dessert creamy sort of pastry tart, and scones made by Ocean Park guests.  It was an unusual evening at the beach: warm, helped along by a propane heater, and we lingered till almost dark in the magical paradise.

at Patti’s: the tropics in Seaview

There were four dogs in attendance, and later five, when the neighbour and owner of the Skookum Surf School brought his, so around and round the garden they ran and played and snuffled and romped, making it a perfect evening for a dog lover like me.

[2012 note:  We had a good time working in Patti’s garden on and off in 2011.  Be sure to click on that Skookum link just above; there’s a great little movie on the home page.]

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