For the last several years, I resolved to work a bit less in order to spend time in our own garden…with visions of barbecues, actually sitting in the garden chairs, maybe a garden party…and then interesting work intervenes.
For the past three years, we have begun in February with a one-off, week long pruning of almost 300 hydrangeas in a Japanese style setting by the bay.
just some of the 300 hydrangeas
The job is always weather-challenged…and after a very few hydrangeas, gets pretty boring. But the surroundings are lovely. I will miss it; I think the job passed away when the client did so in midsummer.
also prune azaleas at the hydrangea job…
Not many people get to see the beauty and architecture of the place….
at the hydrangea job….the caretaker rakes this sand…
We care for one garden that is sort of private AND public: a vacation rental house called Sea Nest down a dead end street, right on the dunes just past the Loomis Lake area.
Amazingly, the driftwood “temple” that my former partner, Robert Sullivan, built over ten years ago still stands…after being repaired by Allan when damaged by the Dec. 2007 storm.
Sea Nest west side, March
Since a change of ownership of Sea Nest, we have gone to a more naturalistic, lower maintenance look than the flowery garden of annuals that we had when artist Phyllis Ray owned it. It fits better into the budget to not have to water weekly, so what you now see is a garden so drought tolerant that we can rely pretty much on natural rainfall to keep it beautiful.
Sea Nest entry garden, summer
Our other private gardens are the sort of lovely secrets that you only see when invited, or when they might be on the Peninsula garden tour.
Jo’s Long Beach garden has been on the garden tour more than once when in its full June glory, but we get to see it in springtime bloom.
Jo’s garden in spring bloom
At Marilyn’s up near Surfside, we continued to try to achieve privacy. The goal was achieved looking to the west. We are still waiting for shrubs to fully fill in to provide year round blockage of the driveway of neighbours to south and west who hacked down their sides of the garden (and to the east, encroached on some beach pine branches that should have stayed put on Marilyn’s side of the line!). While the shrubs take their own time to grow, ornamental grasses do the trick for the west sightline in summer.
Marilyn’s, 22 May, with view of neighbours’ driveway
Marilyn’s in mid-July
At Casa Pacifica, a garden that is so secret you would not even guess it existed, and which is not even on the Peninsula (it’s on the road leaving the Peninsula toward Raymond), we added lots of colour to twelve new whiskey barrels.
Casa Pacifica barrels in spring
Of course, in summer the barrels were planted with our favourite annuals (can you guess? cosmos and painted sage, etc), and we are hoping the narcissi will cycle around for 2012.
The soil at Casa Pacifica is heavy clay, and the water system is iffy because it’s on a well. The needs of the householders trump the needs of the garden in late spring, so we try to plant very dought-tolerantly, and the garden is at its best in early summer.
Casa Pacifica, thick with foxgloves in June
Casa Pacifica, June
The garden is up on a rock wall on a slope, backed with woods, and the house looks out on it as if onto a theatre stage.
One of these times we hope to bring in mulch, but getting it up the rock wall and onto the garden is going to be a tiring feat.
The latest project going on there is to plant all sorts of ground cover on this vertical slope.
Casa Pacifica hillside project
We’ve got cotoneasters, ‘Point Reyes” Ceanothus, some yellow splashed vinca, a collection of sedums, and lots of small narcissi bulbs in there and are hoping for the best. It’s about halfway up the long drive to the house, across from the guest house (which has its own set of planted whiskey barrels).
In Ilwaco, we only have only one private garden to care for. (Odd, that!) Cheri does some of the gardening herself, and we check up on it a couple of times a month. Her yellow house will definitely be a feature in the essay on colour that I am working on for my other blog (Our Ilwaco)!
Cheri’s yellow house w/red pineapple sage, October
looking down on Cheri’s painted sage and poppy patch
We made a new area where once was strawberries and poppies…Now painted sage, cosmos, and poppies. (I’m so predictable.) Went up on a crane for this one….No, actually, top of the stairways of the over-garage studio.
The saga of reclaiming the woods at Crank’s Roost in Seaview goes on. I hope I have written about this before. We want to keep the woodsy feeling, block the view of a big neighbouring house wall (the usual mission!), add more flowers via hardy fuchsias (my pet plan) and have paths that are high and dry in the winter. The plan is working…
Crank’s Roost in June
Just look at the cones on one of the new trees. Japanese black pine?? (I think.)
Crank’s Roost in late August where once was partly a thicket of bog sedge and blackberry
autumn, Crank’s Roost
Finally, the true test: the gravel paths stayed almost entirely high and dry in much rain.
Occasionally we do a one-off gardening job. We did a few days at the quite lovely garden of our good friend Patti in Seaview…a garden which has several times been the beginning point of the Peninsula garden tour.
at Patti’s, after we defined the plants around the little pond
at Patti’s after a good pruning and weeding session
On just one day, we went to Patti’s rental property. Next door to it was a former Patti property, a parklike garden that I used to liken to a manicured miniature golf course when it was first installed (before Patti owned it). Over the years, the shrubs have filled in and gotten a little wilder and the bridges and paths are charming, as was the wildlife, especially since it’s not a garden I have to fret over.
Patti’s former property…
…and one of its residents.
Finally, after absolutely swearing to myself that we would take on NO NEW JOBS, we couldn’t resist taking on a scrumptious garden on the bay, one I had heard about for years and hadn’t seen. Every now and then, I heard of a new gardener getting the job (as gardening businesses came and went) and felt envious because of the great reputation the garden (and its owner) had. Through the power of Facebook we finally connected and it turned out she had always heard I was too busy! So despite the problems of scheduling more time, it has been a pleasure to go every other week for a good session at this secret paradise. It’s been on the tour before, so some of you have seen it. Those were the years certain gardens of mine were on the tour, so I had always missed it.
the bay house garden in spring
bay house garden
a stream runs through it….
The stream runs from one side of the house to the other and drops from a waterfall into a pool. I don’t take many pictures there…preoccupied with peaceful grooming of the garden.
the upper pool where the stream begins
All this beauty was designed by the owners, who did the rock work themselves.
There’s lots of potential to make interesting paths through the woods behind the garden.
We’re working now on defining the native shrubberies in a new driveway circle at the bay house garden. Of course, I did add one patch of cosmos to the formal flower garden area, but mostly it is in a different and much more restful style than my usual gardens and is probably the most peaceful one to work in. The sort of place where one removes pine needles and cones from the moss so that every detail is perfect.
There you have, I think, all of our current private gardens. As for my yearly vow to not take on anymore…Yesterday while on staycation in my own garden, I was surprised by a couple who came in through the gate. They had been to both my mother’s and my old garden during garden tours and want us to come and create a flowery garden bed for their place in Long Beach. Can I resist this? I doubt it very much.
[January 2013 update: We had to quit the bayside garden because it was so very far north, and we had gotten too overbooked, and because the owner wanted to bring in a garden designer and have us just plant things. I felt too old for that. We did put in the little Long Beach flower bed, and it did ok but needed more watering than we had time to provide. It has drought tolerant plants and will, I feel, do much better now that it is established by a rainy season.]
(Note: if a photo appears as a question mark…am having some trouble with that…I think it will show up if you click on it.)
Next up: two public garden that I forgot!
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