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Archive for the ‘2008 garden journal flashbacks’ Category

Just next door to previous the very low maintenance front garden, bright citrus coloured poppies welcomed us to an elaborate landscape.

poppies

poppies

The whimsically adorable garden showed a love of Japanese style.

front garden

front garden

From the sidewalk, one entered the garden through an arbour and over a small bridge.

arbour and bridge

arbour and bridge

The narrow back garden, considerably lower than the front, had been leveled and built by the retired couple and carried out their Japanese theme.

back garden

One of the gardeners had painted the back drop at the very center of the garden.

garden centerpiece

garden centerpiece

The other gardener had built all the gates, fences, arbours and bridges.

looking back

looking back

The ground dropped off steeply behind the south fence.  I was impressed that they had managed to carve out a garden here at all.

gate to steep drop off

gate to steep drop off

sit spot and west end of back garden

sit spot and west end of back garden

On the west side of the house, a steep staircase leading us back to street level was adorned with musical frogs.

frog stairway

frog stairway

At the lower entry to the west side access, and at the top of the stairs stood two more Asian themed gates.

lower corner

lower corner

top of stairs

top of stairs

How much I enjoy a garden that strongly reflects the likes of the owners!

This garden captured my interest so much more than the previous two and gave me an insight into the lives of the gardeners that is simply not presented by a low maintenance garden.

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Snow is an unusual event here at the beach and one that has us out with our cameras recording every snow flake and drift.  On December 19th, Ilwaco and our garden were transformed.  Allan and I each walked around and around the garden taking photos from every angle while the huge falling snowflakes obliterated our footsteps.

Snow here is so much less stressful than when I worked in the city.  I don’t have to deal with getting to work because snow comes in our off season, and I certainly don’t have to suffer during the traffic problems that hilly Seattle has in any snowstorm.

 Someday, should I live so long, I will sit in my home (no longer this cottage home) or in my room at Golden Sands Assisted Living and be able to relive this snowy afternoon in our garden.

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We carry some apples, carrots, or at the very least a container of healthy horse treats from the feed store for our equine friends at work.

Kat and Moony

Kat and Moony were the friendliest of the five horses at Laurie’s garden. (11/19/08)

Dewey

Miniature horse Dewey was not so friendly, so we tossed him his treats from a safe distance.  He thought he was a big fierce stallion.  Technically he was a stallion, and he was certainly strong enough to knock someone over and kick them and had an unpredictable tendency to bite.  He did not especially want to be told in baby talk how darned cute he was.

[2012 note:  All the above horses live in California now as Laurie moved a couple of years after this.]

On December 4th at Joanne’s garden, three of the five horses came to the fence for treats.

horses three

buckskin

I had been told the buckskin acted out fiercely sometimes so I gave him his treat with caution.

Here’s the new little colt…Derby. Seven months old! The big horses kept him away from the fence, but when they wandered off I snuck over and gave him his treat.

Derby

Later some of the horses took a little nap.

naptime

Horses are definitely one of the reasons I am glad to be a gardener here rather than back in the city.

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One time jobs….One-off jobs….Occasionally we take them on although I much prefer gardens in which we’re involved in the ongoing process.

In mid October we took on a big weeding job just as one drives into Ilwaco from the east.  Health reasons had caused the owner to let her garden go dormant and she needed one clean sweep so that she could get back into it again.

before, with Allan weeding; after, weeded and mulched

If I were the ongoing gardener here, I would eventually have a bed running all along those trees and shrubs…

corner bed, before and after

We do pride ourselves in really getting the weeds out, not skimming them off like we’ve seen some jobbing gardeners do.

In the back yard, the owner had a big vegetable garden with some flowers and in it a spectacular dahlia.  I think she said its name is ‘Black Cat’ (but I might be mixing it up now with Scabiosa).  She gave me a bouquet after I admired it.

dahlia

Then at Barbara’s home in Ocean Park we created a one day front garden a la Ground Force.  (They took two days but usually added a water feature and some decking.)

before…what to do?

We had carte blanche to do whatever we wanted.  We had to think of the deer problem as they would probably enter the garden.  At first, I thought of a bed all the way around the outside, then realized it would be hard to plant right up against the escallonia hedge and decided that would be an excellent spot for the bench to sit on gravel.  I rarely draw out a design so we just plunged in to see where the future garden led us.

The sweet dog kept us company most of the day.

The darling resident dog, Delilah, obsessed all day about getting us to play ball with her…which we did as time allowed.

end of day one

End day one: Lawn removed and hauled off, washed dairy manure applied to future beds. Tools: Ho-mi (Korean hand plow), half-moon edger, grub hoe, wheelbarrow. We got the gravel laid and rolled and the decorative touches made on the first day, with pots and rocks that were already there.  Finally it got too dark to take the final “after” at the end of day one.
The next morning we stopped by to get the after photos.

afters

We had used some of the plants from her containers and also planted assorted spring bulbs.

This is the sort of garden I would have loved to follow through on….but by the time she wanted some veg. beds in her back yard we had become swamped with increasing hours from our regular jobs so had to recommend someone else (probably our capable friend Ed Strange) to take it on.

Meanwhile, autumnal beauty abounded at our regular jobs.

Hydrangea ‘Izu No Hana’ at Klipsan Beach Cottages, 1 October. This is my favourite hydrangea of all time.

Ornamental grasses and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ carried the show at Sea Nest.

Sea Nest, 5 December

Gazanias from The Basket Case Greenhouse bloomed tirelessly into December in the Payson Hall planters at Andersen’s Rv Park (backed with Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’).

at Andersen’s RV Park, 5 December

P.S.  In adding the link to Ground Force (my favourite gardening show ever), I ran across this, about the music.  The fact that the final song title is “Lament of the Dandelion” made me laugh out loud.

The theme music for the series was performed by the Black Dyke Band and included the following pieces:

  • Ground Force Theme—played during the show’s opening and closing.
  • The Titchmarsh Warbler—a fast tempo piece usually played during the rush to complete the garden.
  • Lament of the Dandelion—played near the end of the show as Titchmarsh surveyed the completed garden.  (Wikipedia)

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My friend Carol and I had planned a trip to Sylvia Beach Hotel and then her new job intervened so Allan and I went instead.  He’d never been.  I wasn’t sure how he’d take to “the game” (Two Truths and a Lie) played at dinner but he did well with three stories:  his mother in law was a Marine, he used to be a Ba’hai and …oh, I forget the third, but he fooled everyone with the second story since having been married to a Ba’hai had him well versed in its lore.

I advise on a trip from the Peninsula to Sylvia Beach that you be sure to stop at Bear Creek Artichokes to lay in some excellent traveling snacks and condiment treats to take home.  In gardening season it’s a good plant nursery, as well.  It has limited offseason hours.

Bear Creek Artichokes

Also Allan had to see the thrilling Devil’s Punchbowl and a lighthouse…

where we quite liked this sign protecting the lighthouse landscaping:

Allan went to the very top and got a window view of the lighthouse park in the storm.

to the top of the lighthouse

It felt to me like a homecoming to arrive at the hotel.  I tracked down house cat Dickens…and eventually lured him into the E.B. White room where we spent the first night.

E.B. White room has the brown and white patterned bedspread.

For our second night, we moved into the more expensive Colette room.

Colette room

The “red raft” (named after the bed where she lounged when ill, I believe) became my reading spot, even better than the red chair because the raft had a view of the ocean.

Colette room

Carol would have liked the details of this room; maybe we’ll stay in it again next time.

Four of the rooms have fireplaces: Colette, Mark Twain, Agatha Christie…and the library.

Dickens the cat did not follow us to Colette, but Shelley the cat did.

Shelley, and a cool photo on the wall showing one house cat in the sink outside the room’s bathroom while another sits on the bed

On the red raft I gathered up and read every one of the room journals.  Should I tire of reading, I could gaze at the windy beach outside my window.

the raft, the journals, the view

When I’d finished all the journals from Colette, I nipped into Mark Twain and borrowed a couple from there.  One precocious high school girl wrote in several journals.  She endeared herself to me with her love of reading and I looked for her handwriting and tracked her through several journals. By now she would be an adult and, I hope, having a good life.

Next time I think perhaps the Mark Twain room would be the place to stay.  Look at that enticing stack of journals.

While I read, Allan explored the beach and the nearby town and spent time in the Sylvia Beach library, as did I, catching up on the library guest journals.

library and its view

He spotted and photographed this most perfect handwashing admonition in the bathroom off the library.

wash your hands

This would be right across the hall from the Herman Melville room with its Great White Bed.

I never want to leave the SBH but we had cats and work projects waiting for us at home.  We stopped in Depoe Bay for a bit on the way home.  I’d never realized what a fascinating small harbour I’d been passing on the mission to get to SBH as soon as possible.  The marina is entered through a dauntingly small passage through rock.

Depoe Bay

We took a detour on the Three Capes scenic route on the way home.  The area from Pacific City north to Oceanside reminds me a great deal of the Peninsula.  Next to Brewin’ in the Wind coffeeshop in Oceanside a string of old fashioned beach cabins looks like a great place to stay.

so beachy

There’s a certain kind of salty old beach cabin, a little rustic, a little mildewed, a little run down, that is hard to find nowadays.  These have probably been refurbished and have all mod cons, but I can dream.  I’d like to have my morning coffee at the corner table, and I do approve of the sentiments on the coffeeshop t-shirts.

Brewin’ in the Wind

Our last stop of interest at the north end of the Three Capes Route was Cape Meares, with the most beautiful park sign I have ever seen.

When you walk down the long path to the lighthouse, it’s a surprise to to find out that it’s a really short one!

Cape Meares lighthouse

February 2012:  Three and a half years have slipped away without a visit to Sylvia Beach, but Carol and I have reservations for April.  The E.B. White room has become Steinbeck and was booked, so for our inexpensive room night we’ll have Oscar Wilde, and for the expensive night we’ll have Mark Twain.  I hope that big stack of journals is waiting for me and that I can find out what happened to the prolific young writer who made so many entries and had such dreams.

P.S.  When I returned from this I wrote on 8 October 2008 in Facebook’s Sylvia Beach Hotel Lovers group (before SBH had its own FB page):

My favourite thing to do at SBH is to read the room journals. On my latest trip, I read all ten of the Colette journals, caught up on E.B. White and the library journals since last year, and managed to get my hands on a few from Tennessee Williams, Melville, and Mark Twain. Must stay in the Mark Twain room as it has LOTS of journals. Had I known the guests for that room did not show up Sat night, I would have snuck in there and stayed up reading!

There is a theme through the Mark Twain journals that I want to follow: an articulate teenager named Megan W____ wrote every year as she was growing up, and the other guests followed her story. I Googled her and I found a Megan W______ who is a successful chef. Does anyone here know her? Entries in the later journals were hoping that she had ended up with a good life…

I found out about Edna, an octagernarian who used to rent the RLS  [Robert Louis Stevenson] room for two months out of every summer from ’88 to perhaps the mid 90s or later.

Pat Hendersen is a name which recurs often in the library and dorm room diaries.

In one of the journals this time, I found this moving entry:

“This is the first time since 1962 that I have been back. As a child we stayed next door at the Gilmore Apts–a shabby companion to the Gilmore Hotel (now the SBH) next door. The apartment house fell victim to the 1962 storms but the tips of the foundations are still visible from the beach. In those days only the little sea cottages were nearby and a skating rink (now a parking lot) and the tiny business block which used to include a saltwater taffy store, a cheap shell souvenir shop and a mom and pop grocery.

“How odd it is to hold the memory of what should be visible. I am the only one left of that little group who travelled to visit Mrs. Gilmore in the late 50s. Tonight I hung my cell phone out the window of the Herman Melville room so my mom in Idaho could hear the surf at her old Newport Beach. She cried and so did I, for times past, family gone, and some things eternal–like the ocean that buffets this dear old hotel still,”
Robyn 3-23-93 (Melville room)

Another entry in the Melville room:

“Herman Melville…the great novelist. I particularly fancied his masterpiece ‘One Fish, two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish’. Or was that Dr. Suess?

From the Colette room:

September 2005 “Alone now. Wife dead, son dead, this sweet place resonates with affirmations of love and reminds this old fellow of things eternal. Blessings to all who follow.” Jack Clay, Seattle

And good advice from the Colette room journals:

“Never stay less than two nights, and never leave the premises during your stay unless you have to.”

Another member of the group responded:

“I have stayed up many a night reading the journals in the rooms..I was thrilled when I found entries from my Grandmother after she passed away…she loved SBH.

“The first night I ever stayed there, we had been driving up from the Shakespearean Festival and she went to bed quite early… I took all the journals from the room and started reading them. Then I read all the library/sitting room journals. I was joined by a guy who was staying there for the first time also..he hadn’t know about the journals so he went and got his from Oscar Wilde ~~ soon he was waking up his brother and sister-in-law in Collete and his parents in F.Scott Fitzgerald for theirs..we stayed up all night.
I have kept a journal since the 4th grade so I am way into the journals
Do you know about the Hidey Hole in Mark Twain where people leave gifts for the next people??”  (No, I don’t, but I am still Facebook friends with this person because of this chance imaginary meeting in the SBH group, so must ask her before we go!)

She wrote further: “Up in the library…there is a journal that is pink or purple pale? with fishes on it?? there is a photo of my Grandmother in it sitting in her favorite place in living room
While I stayed there in August, I hide chocolate treats etc… with clue in journals and it was so much fun to read after people found them…random acts of chocolate…in Emily Dickinson in older journal is a pen drawing by a new husband of his young bride in bed.. absolutely Brilliant!!!”

This reminded me to write: “I once put a stamp inside a journal in the Wilde room next to the entry to a woman who often wrote in that one…and asked her to drop me a postcard (with my address) and she did…We corresponded for a little while; this was before email was common or we might have stayed in touch.”  She used always to bring her Teddy bear and write about what he thought of the visit!

Another person added this to the thread:  “Your first entry on this thread mentions an octagenarian by the name of Edna. I have read many of the journals on my many stays but have not come across any with Edna’s entries.

I was very fortunate to have met Edna on her very first (of many) visits to the hotel. She walked the beach daily in her “nice clothes”, didn’t seem to mind getting blown by the wind. She had stories to tell of her life (England, New York, etc.) and you could find her either at breakfast with the whole table listing to her or later in the day/night up in the living room with guests sitting around her on the floor like little children listing to her tales.

On her second visit to the hotel, I happened to be there. She remembered me from the year before and asked about the “young man” that had been with me! Surprised me; she was a “sharp as a tack” as they say.

At that time, she mentioned that she was going to move to Portland. Her kids didn’t like the idea but she had all the details worked out and was going to tell the kids AFTER she was settled in her new location.

Just a beautiful person; anyone who actually got to met her will never forget her.”

Finally, some wrote with this about the mystery of the Mark Twain room girl:

“Flora, just for kicks I googled Megan W______ too and shot an email to the one who’s a cook/chef, telling her about this group and asking if you might have been referring to her. She wrote back saying it indeed is her, and that she’s flattered that you remember and she wants to get back to the hotel. I just wrote her back now to ask if she minds if I post what she wrote me. :)”

Oh my.  This all brings back how much I love the SBH and makes me wonder why I wait so long between visits.  I know why, really.  Being there is so perfect that when I come home I feel discontent with my life until…eventually….that Sylvia Beach longing wears off a bit, and then I want to stay contented with my life, so I put off going back.

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I had long admired a garden in Ocean Park known to to its owner Kathleen and her friends as Sea Garden.  For various reasons it had somewhat gone back to the wild over the past couple of years and had been damaged by falling trees during the big blow of December 2007.  In July of 2008 she hired us to spend six hours a week bringing the wildnerness back to a garden that she could peacefully enjoy during her time at the beach.  Her attention was divided between the coast and a beautiful city garden in Seattle.

Sea Garden porch

The garden still retained much of its original beauty even though the paths had closed in with foliage.

On July 3rd we brought the fenced vegetable area back to a space that was plantable.

veg area before and after

found stones

Smooth gleaming stones reappeared from under the soil.

We placed other found treasures on a garden table.

china shards

(When I had first been to Sea Garden back in the mid 90s I had been inspired by the way Kathleen used broken china in the garden.)

bird bath at Sea Garden, mid 90s.

The garden’s several human-made ponds had disappeared in verdant vegetation.  The water drew me to rediscover the main pond even though I meant to be working on paths.  By the water, we found these shoes that Kathleen had left behind one day.

lost shoes

We arranged more shiny rocks by a tiny little splash of a pond as a surprise for the returning gardener who appreciated such things.

stones, water

As we cleared areas of the garden patches of flowers began to thrive in the light.

daisies and alstroemeria

In the late summer we got to enjoy the lilies and hollyhocks on our weekly visits, usually to a garden of solitude.

late summer flowers

We would email photos of the flowers when Kathleen was too busy to visit.  Because the garden had lost a great deal of privacy when chainsaw happy neighbours had felled many trees and had installed horrid bright night lighting, we piled collected weeds and trimmings in a berm which we hoped might eventually return some of the secret garden feel that had been lost.

Old roses clambered within the small deer fenced enclosure uncaring of whether or not a human saw their blooms.  Frogs croaked mysteriously, not bothered by the irksome neighbours who drove past using their big car for several errands every day.

We began to weed, clip, and define in the back garden behind the house whose big windows gave a lovely view of the forest where maples provided the focal points.

window views

Throughout the summer and into the fall we continued to clear paths and revive the garden.  On October 30th we came to work and from every north window of the house and every vantage point of the back yard one maple dominated the scene.

just a glimpse

Even from the front porch, looking through the curtains, across the living room and out the back window, we could see a glimpse of the vibrant red leaves.

By November 10th only a hint of its glory remained.

 

30 October …….. 10 November

We cleared storm-felled branches, dead rose canes from two giant ramblers, and masses of weeds and almost beat back all the ivy from inside an old chicken shelter that held the poignancy of the hens having been attacked by raccoons….a lost paradise which could perhaps be turned into another deer proof garden.  I remembered when Kathleen used to stop by our Ilwaco house bearing a gift of fresh eggs.

clearing by the old chicken house

We continued to add considerable definition to the views of the back woods.

window views

As autumn waned Kathleen expressed more peace with the fully cleared paths and open areas but we could tell she was restless as she looked for a garden closer to the city and with more privacy from busy neighbours.

On one of the days when she was at Sea Garden we created some plant table vignettes in the back garden.

plant tables

In later autumn her quest for a northern garden intensified and she visited the beach less and less.

We laid bark on paths on a rainy 28th of November…

and captured these autumnal images to email to Kathleen…

Although we continued to check the house on into early December, we could tell the heart had gone out of this garden and indeed its owner did find a new place where she could create her own paradise in a setting with more land and more privacy.  These are the last photos I took at Sea Garden on my last visit there, 6 December, 2008.

sheer curtain

in the sun room

garden tool on window sill

What has become of the garden now I don’t know, and like my old garden that I left behind in February of 2011 I really don’t want to see it now, but instead am focused on gardens of the present.

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One afternoon in September I decided to give myself the tour experience within our own garden….to wander, to sit, to ponder and to observe.

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Looking back on the years in this garden I do wish I had found more time to sit, especially by the pond.  I’m not sure I could have done anything different, because work had to be done and bills had to be paid.  Now that I’ve willingly passed the house and garden into someone else’s hands these photos strongly bring back to me the sights and scents of the old garden.

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