Archive for the ‘journal’ Category

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Out and about in Ilwaco

I slept startlingly late, not by plan, which was good because I’ve been averaging five hours a night and bad because we didn’t get to be early birds at Butch Saari’s ongoing yard sale a block and a half east. I still got an old metal container for a planter and some copper cut outs to put on a fence. He is putting out new stuff every day and will continue the sale for one more weekend.

Some of my acquisitions from last week (unfortunately I can’t hang the chalkware waterlilies outside near the ponds, turns out it won’t take moisture):

Allan had another excursion, a history walking tour of downtown Ilwaco put on by the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum. I’d had a reservation for the tour also but had decided I just couldn’t do it; using the noisy rumbling rollator while touring plus possibly making conversation between lecture points seemed overwhelmingly daunting. Fortunately, our friend Patty from two blocks down was happy to go with Allan instead and said the tour was fascinating and inspired her to want to learn more local history.

at home

I created lots of green debris for compost bin two, which I am now filling and layering with sifted brown stuff from compost bin three.
The veronicastrum in the front garden is going to be dug up as soon as there is some moisture in the soil and air. It is too thirsty for this spot, and I could fit a small shrub or tree in here. It will be an exhausting dig. The interesting round hoop thing can go around a floppy plant somewhere else. Meanwhile, I cut the veronicastrum back.

To further fill out the compost bin, I pulled some Geranium ‘Rozanne’ from the driveway bed.

I am concerned and unhappy that despite diligent, deep watering, my Davidias in the front garden are unhappy, even ‘Lady Sunshine’ which is in such a sheltered spot that she should be fine. I think the hot smoky day was the culprit, maybe the smoke more than the heat.

I hope she will be ok.

The Japanese maple on the left is coming out of the front garden one way or another this winter. It gets too crispy and doesn’t not belong with the more drought tolerant plants. Allan has already dug a circle around the roots to give it fair warning.

Next door in Alicia’s backyard park:

Around the garden:

Looking south from front gate
Back garden, Rozanne Loop
I can’t remember what this is. (Then I remembered and then forgot again.)

Here are some photos in the garden from midweek that didn’t make it into a blog post:

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16 Sept: tree planting

Friday, 16 September 2022

at home

We had a little bit of rain, as is shown on my rollator and a different kind of rain gauge, a gunnera leaf waiting to be chopped for the compost bins.

My mission was to get my three new trees planted, two sizeable (by my standards as a gardener of small things) and one smallish. First, I sifted some compost to add to the tree areas, not too much, along with a couple of buckets of biosolids mulch to top off the planting of the two larger trees.

I read up on the trees for about the third time while trying to decide exactly where to put them, then hauled them out to the woods.

But first, the former table spot had to be dug over and weeds and roots removed. I was pleased to find a special Japanese painted fern (‘Joy Ride’), that I thought had died, languishing away under where the table had been. Out it went to the willow grove, where the beds seem to be holding moisture very well while also being raised, thus not too boggy. (It surprised me how little I’ve had to water those new beds.)


I planted the two-gallon sized Gold Rider Leyland Cypress in the new bed at the west end of the willow grove, where the paths stay drier and the bog dries out sooner, so I don’t think it will have wet soil that it wouldn’t like.

Allan had gone on the some errands in the afternoon. I anticipated his return to help me place the two larger trees just so, but what I really needed help with was digging the hole for the cryptomeria. It was to go on a mound that used to be a big alder stump with salmonberry. Although I forgot to take a before photo, this photo from last February shows it newly cleared and planted and how there was a view through to the new willow grove beds.

I wanted that view obscured to make more of a mystery. The only plants I had to move today were a young fuchsia and a tiny ‘Gentsch White’ hemlock which would be overgrown eventually. (I hope it survives.)

Allan helped dig the bed for the hemlock more thoroughly…

….and then took over making the planting hole for the cryptomeria. My balance is way off and it wasn’t a place I could easily stand, balance, and dig.

The view is now wonderfully obscured.

The lovely mountain hemlock went into the former table bed, below. It shows well there.

I probably won’t live long enough to see it reach 20 feet; I’d be happy with ten. That’s the problem with starting a new privacy screening at age almost 68, pretty much the only “problem” with the project. I no longer mourn the possibility losing my winter view of the port. My warm fuzzy feelings of being able to see the curbside gardens there and the port office building is gone because of the events that transpired with us quitting the gardens. I’d rather not look at it and be reminded but instead want to create just our own little enclosed world. It has been fascinating to create a new style of garden at the south end of our property. Some shrubs and perennials will have to be moved as bigger, faster ones grow. I want it to look full in the meantime, so I’ve planned for that. The central willow grove beds at about six months old:

I still don’t know if they will be in full wind or behind a windbreak building, or in partial or full shade, or maybe even some sun like they have now.

My only concern for the property line is to see the frog bog preserved. If a passle of daycare children are playing in a playground beyond it, I’ll find it nostalgic to hear them. I grew up (at my grandma’s house) near a playground and it’s not something that would bother me at all. I do think they would enjoy the educational opportunities of a small frog boggish wetland.

However, I still think it’s a mistake to change the nautical feeling of the port. Surely I am not the only one who loves the maritime sights of crab pots being stacked and nets being laid out and repaired in the grassy field, which looks to me like the last open space at the port available for those activities. (Another field that used to be used for net mending, past the south of the boatyard, is now fenced off.) If I am in the minority on this, then never mind.

I am pleased with today’s tree planting results. Please let the trees be as happy. Now I am looking forward to my next ear doctor appointment in October so that I can go back to M&T Nursery for more treasures. I sure do hope they will be open that day.

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Summer 2022

Summer is not a good reading time for me except for a chapter or two at bedtime. Two books that are pertinent to the topics of this blog were my favorites this past summer.

Walks in Wild Yellowstone, by Cliff Murray

This book was given to me by my friend Montana Mary, who lives near Yellowstone National Park. The author is a friend of hers. I’ve read an excellent and amusing novel by him, which is about zombies, and intend to read its sequel this winter. This book is on the quieter side of life, about his several long hiking and camping trips in Yellowstone. No zombies to avoid, just bears. I think you will enjoy the beauty of his nature writing in these excerpts. I did, even though I am not a hiker; gardening is about as outdoorsy as I get.

The following is also true of the beachy tourist community where we live. Tourist season used to end in mid September and now goes on and on; there is no longer a shoulder season.

The Essential Earthman, by Henry Mitchell

This book I loved years ago. I acquired a copy of my own to reread. Here are a few of my favorite bits from this gently witty and droll garden writer.

(There is much of the referring to all gardeners as men or “he/him/his”, making the book seem more old fashioned than its copyright date of 1981.)

On “the defiance of gardeners”:

Come to think of it, both of these books were a great deal about weather.

On garden design:

On garden-making:

On bulbs: I also appreciate the different small shapes of species tulip bulbs.

On narcissi (my favorite flower):


My favorite:

He has one more book, a sequel called One Man’s Garden, which I will reread soon.

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Summer 2022

Seaside, Oregon

Trips to appreciate the Seaside, Oregon downtown gardens by Pam Fleming (Nature’s Helper) used to be a treat a few times for us each summer when we went shopping for plants down the north Oregon coast. Because we haven’t been there since 2019, I was most pleased when she sent me these photos of this year’s gardens. You can read here about a walking tour we enjoyed in 2016 which gives an idea of the layout of the garden beds.

As always, I am filled with unseemly envy that all of her curbside beds have irrigation!

All photos in this post are from Pamela Fleming. I have captioned just a few.

Nicotiana langsdorfii
Pam takes care of the hanging baskets, too.
Salvia patens
The river that runs through town
Pink turtlehead

Thanks, Pam!

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15 Sept: all the jobs

Thursday, 15 September 2022

All the gardens are dry and tired and so are we.

Diane’s garden

Diane, Holly and the horse trailer were gone today. We weeded and deadheaded.

The Red Barn

Cosmo got lots of pets and Bentley got his biscuit. I said hi to some horses while Allan got water for the barrels by the gate. I didn’t charge for my time because all I did was talk to the animals.

Long Beach

Because we had some extra time, we worked some more on tree and planter clean up. This is a process that will take quite some time. Allan pulled Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and trimmed pink cranesbill geranium under the tree by Malai Thai Restaurant…

…while I tidied up two planters, removing self seeded California poppies and tired foliage of Geranium ‘Rozanne’.

Aster douglasii is a pushy plant that I pull all summer long. This results in just enough left for a pretty display here and there. Otherwise, it takes over and when crowded gets powdery mildew.

We drove by city hall on the way to dump. A bindweed sighting called for an emergency stop.

The city works yard has a wealth of good “urbanite” at the back of the field.

Ilwaco Fire station

We watered our volunteer garden. Allan pulled crocosmia (which we didn’t plant).

Ilwaco Freedom Market

We watered and weeded.

I confirmed that the two roses in the improved entry garden are just boring browny-red flowers from the root stock, assuredly Dr Huey. So I will be thinking about what to replace them with, not with roses because of the deer. This was their only flower so far this year.

Time Enough Books

Karla had the sprinkler running, meaning we didn’t have to water. Some light weeding and removal of our wooden Slow Drag protection stakes, and we were done there.

In the field behind our property, fisherfolk were drying and repairing their nets.

Ilwaco street trees

When I announced at Monday’s city council meeting that we had run out of budget for the street trees, the budget was extended to keep them watered till the rains come. So Allan did it. Some of the little gardens hardly look worth the trouble despite all our efforts.

He photographed the second saddest one. Others are better.

Jay Crew Cottage

I watered where the timed sprinkler doesn’t reach and then went home, across the street, and did the half monthly billing.

Of course, every single day includes some watering at home. We and the plants long for good autumn rain.

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Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Long Beach

Fortunately, the planters did not look terribly dry. Today was the post Rod Run day when we would begin the pulling and clipping of tired foliage that we had left to try to protect the planters from car-watching sitters. An article in our local paper said that the event had been extra rowdy and violent.

Long Beach. “— While the vast majority of visitors in town for Rod Run 2022 were law-abiding fun seekers, a man found himself in hot water after allegedly brandishing a firearm and terrifying a man and woman during a road rage incident.

This was the low point of loutish behavior that primarily played out in Long Beach, while actual event participants were peaceable.

“After many years of fairly well behaved crowds, it seems that we are going back again to a more disorderly and disruptive crowd,” Long Beach Police Chief Flint Wright said on Sept. 12. “There were many fights downtown.

The city’s new restrooms off of Bolstad Avenue were damaged and thousands of dollars of damage was done — the Observer will report further in a follow-up story. “We did catch the suspects, thanks to witnesses, but to be honest the taxpayers will end up paying for the repairs more than likely,” Wright said.

The police chief said he plans to propose a steep increase in law enforcement staffing and expenses for the 2023 Rod Run weekend.

“I am always nervous going into Rod Run weekend, but it seems that for a long time we were going in the right direction. We even reduced the number of officers we brought down. After this weekend I am going to request an increase in law enforcement presence next year, “ Wright said.

The chief estimated the cost to Long Beach at about $29,000 this year, and said it could grow to nearly $49,000 in 2023.

“I am also going to request an increase of presence from Washington State Patrol in the hopes they can increase the number of troopers here next year,” Wright said. “I am very grateful to Sgt. Brad Moon and the troopers who were here to assist. They were a great help. I also want to thank for the support that I have received from Mayor Phillips and the Long Beach City Council in funding my requests in the past.”

The new restrooms were severely damaged.

So I was surprised to see only one planter really squashed along the edges. Perhaps people were busier brawling than sitting still.

A Hebe ‘Boughton Dome’ is now more like a cave.

Plenty of debris was left behind. We cleaned up, watered, and did some clipping of tired plants.

Allan deadheaded helenium and pulled sweet peas in Fifth Street Park and clipped blackberries out of the rhododendrons in Third Street Park and the pond by the Bolstad stoplight

We began the task of pulling Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ from under the street trees. The hanging baskets have been taken down, which means the water truck is no longer being used to water the street tree gardens, so they are looking quite dry.

At city works, the baskets await emptying; the contents will then go home to our compost bins.

The welcome sign also looked dry. Allan hauled six buckets of water to it while I deadheaded.

We stopped at V’s Coastal Market for more feta cheese. I learned that I am rich in elephant garlic, which grows all over my garden.

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Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Before our planned all day work session in Long Beach, I made what I thought would be a futile call to my ear doctor’s office in Longview to see if I could get an earlier appointment than October 4th. They had a cancellation at 2:45 today. I took it! We hurried to leave because I might have time to visit a an excellent nursery before the appointment; it’s only 4 minutes from the clinic.

We drove on the Oregon side of the Columbia, thinking it might be faster. Going over the Astoria Megler bridge, some construction stopped us for a few minutes, enabling a photo looking west and one looking east.

I like the Washington side better…It is quieter and more bucolic, although it does have some cliffs with “falling rocks” that make me nervous. I tried for a photo of the heavily industrial look of the lumberyards as we approached the bridge that takes us back to Washington State and Longview.

We did get there in time for 45 minutes at one of my favourite nurseries.

815 Westside Highway, Kelso, Washington

The aisles are narrow and packed with trees and shrubs, some unlabeled.

My mission was conifers to block our south view. I didn’t have time for deep browsing. I almost bought this…

..but then bought a two gallon size for just about $12 because I think it will root in better to hold up to wind. The price for the large tree was amazingly inexpensive at $75. I’ve seen trees this size for $200 and up.

I am pretty sure I found a Cryptomeria ‘Sekkan’, but neither I nor the nursery owner or manager could remember the name. I remembered it as soon as we left. If the new growth in spring is white, I’ll know my ID is correct.

I was deeply thrilled to find a mountain hemlock. All for incredible, wonderful prices. If only I’d had more time.

M&T Nursery makes me very happy.

My appointment at the clinic revealed that whatever is going in is an inner ear problem, not what the local clinic was able to diagnose. My right ear drum doesn’t move at all. I’ll take a short dose of steroids, give them time to work and go back in five weeks. Then, the kind Dr. Priyanka O’Brien will put a tube in my ear drum if all else has failed. This doesn’t not scare me because it means I can go to M&T Nursery again, my only fear being that in late October, it might be unexpectedly closed on a weekday. (Their phone just rang and rang when I called today to see if they were open.) I wish I’d gone back for an hour after the appointment. Could have should have.

Instead, we left Longview by an industrial road after just avoiding being shunted back over the bridge to Oregon. Groups of pickets lined the streets; Weyerhauser lumber workers had just gone on strike, and for good reason. Local supporters had set up a long table with a barbecue feast in one area.

“An IAM [International Association of Machinists] spokesman told the Longview Daily News Monday the latest contract was voted down because general wage increases were too low; some vacation time was cut; employees were asked to pay for healthcare premiums for the first time since at least around the 1990s; and retirement benefits weren’t improved.

Weyerhaeuser reported its “2021 financial performance was the strongest on record,” and a roughly 69% increase in net earnings from 2020 to 2021, according to a January press release.

We gave this group a thumbs up.

On the way back, we stopped at Cathlamet so Allan could look at a boat launch. What a darling town. I would like to live there. As soon as we were on the two lane quiet highway heading home, I wished we had stopped and taken more photos of the historic houses, large and small.

Cathlamet’s banners are so much friendlier and so much more specific to place than Ilwaco’s angry eagles and “support our troops” banners.

My new trees now await our next days off, two days hence. I had been worried slightly all day about the effect of leaving the Long Beach watering for another day. Lesson learned, don’t postpone work, as we did Monday, because you are sure you can do it the next day.

Our route: There on 30, back on 4

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Sunday, 11 September 2022

at home

Ann Amato came to visit and bright with her two cat drawings that she was given, one for her and one for me, when she visited Bob Nold (of The Miserable Gardener blog). It is very meaningful to me to have a piece of art by Bob’s late wife, Cindy. Because Ann has a tuxedo cat, I said she should keep that drawing and I would have the one of a grey cat looking out a window. His name was Pipo.

We had a good long visit, first in the garden and then, when a blissful rain began to fall, we moved to Alicia’s covered patio next door.

It was still raining when Ann left. I was ecstatic at the thought that we wouldn’t have to water Long Beach tomorrow.

Then I found out that it hadn’t rained in Long Beach. How disappointing. The prospect that it might rain later this week encouraged me to take Monday off anyway, postponing watering LB till Tuesday. I hope I don’t regret it…..but I am tired.

Monday, 12 September 2022

At home

The rain barrels had been almost empty and now are half full.

Despite me feeling a little guilty about postponing work, we stayed home. I accomplished one little thing outside, back in the Bogsy wood.

As I entered the garden, I noted again how very green, except for a few patches, the lawn is all the way to the house, even though we’ve had no appreciable rain for weeks. It had never been this way before. I think it speaks to how high the water table has become. The lawn used to completely brown off in summer except for the fire circle and woodsy areas.

When one passes by a floppy Panicum ‘Northwind’ on the way back to the woods, the temperature cools off on most warm days.

The new location of the plant table pleases me.

My tiny mission, just suited to my low energy today, was to clean the old ashes out of the bottom remnant of an old burn barrel in the bridged swale. It wasn’t hard to do. The barrel bottom still held water, and from now on it can be more of a clear (well, maybe rusty) pool of water instead of murky ashes. The ashes went into a compost bin.

I noticed that despite the rain, some primulas, a fern or two, and a couple of hydrangeas still look flattened by the heat, and the smaller gunnera had a few crispy leaves.

By then, the temperature felt too hot for my comfort. I am tired of summer heat. When I retreated indoors I thought the heat pump thermometer would say it was at least 90F. It was 73. What a wimp I am!

Nevertheless, I spent the afternoon indoors catching up on the Tootlepedal blog. I was shocked to see I was not one but two months behind on it. It’s been a demoralizing year and somehow that has made time slip by. Spending three hours catching up on life in the Scottish Borders was soothing to my soul.

Allan mowed. Faerie and I watched briefly from a window.

In the evening, while watering, I noted more plants that are frazzled by this past weekend’s heat and smoke. The pear tree is not happy, the Veronicastrum has to be removed from its unhappy spot in the drier front garden, and the Davidia looks a little bit better. I read that smoke can be hard on plant leaves.

The little veg patch behind the garage seems to get too much sun. I’m thinking it would be a better place for a little lean to shed for storing potting soil or tools.

Tomorrow, back to work to find out if we made a terrible mistake by not watering Long Beach today.

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Saturday, 10 September 2022

I woke up early and went out in the garden at eight to water. The strong east wind whipped tree branches and the tarp next door. With the wind had come the wildfire smoke from inland.

Above: You can see my Davidia ‘Sonoma’ tree does not like the heat and wind despite diligent watering. Below: Cosmos and heleniums.

I had promoted Butch Saari’s yard sale, one block east, on my local Facebook pages (Our Ilwaco, Our Long Beach Peninsula, Tangly Cottage Gardening), and a comment by his wife alerted me that he had new stuff. We hightailed it to the sale and got a box of L brackets that Allan had regretted passing up last week, a ceramic water lily….thingie…and an old bucket.

Allan went to the market for local peaches and onions.

When returning books to the library, he noticed lots of grasshoppers at a downtown planter we care for, across the street from the nearest grass, a sign of the end of summer. (I go by meteorological autumn, starting September 1st, but it still feels like summer.)

I churned out four blog posts because it was too smoky and too hot to enjoy the garden. After evening watering, an episode of Garden Rescue rounded out a lazy day.

Some photos from local Facebook show other smoky views.

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Friday, 9 September 2022

at Quaker and Lake

Butch Saari is cleaning out his mom’s old house, which is for sale. Perhaps you might like to buy it. It’s one block east of us, on a sunny corner lot, with two outbuildings. “A real fixer”, said Butch’s wife, Ann. We went to his yard sale today, on its second weekend, with new stuff. I gleaned some more good garden decor junk, including even more tool heads for fence toppers.

at home

I’d had a project in mind: If I move the original fern table, where it now is would be a perfect spot to plant a conifer to hide the enormous and quite unattractive building that may be built on our south boundary.

the old plant table
The potential new spot for it, right.

I pulled everything off the table into a wheelbarrow (the plants) and onto chairs (edging material and decorative bits). Allan then came out to help me. He found that he had to repair part of the table legs, and it did need a new top. In its new place, I planted it up again. It’s by the fire circle now, where it might even be configured to hold some campfire food items if we ever again have campfires with company.

I had gotten three excellent mail order ferns from Sebright Gardens and will be ordering from them again. One fern went into the tablescape.

Allan also moved the lady, who had gotten hidden behind the table.

The day was so hot that plants were wilting despite regular water.

Around the garden today:

From the port, I could hear the Slow Drag preliminary heats starting up and then the race itself. Before the pandemic canceled it for two years, we used to take lots of photos documenting the whole event (see our other blog, and in this blog see posts called “Slow Drag and the Gardens”), but when the direction the vehicles drove in changed a few years back, the vehicles no longer lined up slowly along Waterfront Way, making for a lack of photo opportunities. Going the other direction meant they went quickly down Waterfront Way and never lined up with a nautical backdrop. We kvetched about it for two years to no avail. So this year we didn’t bother to go, except that Allan went down toward the end to see if some flagging tape had worked to protect the Time Enough Books garden. (It had.) Turns out the vehicles had gone back to their old direction. I hope this reversal sticks for next year, too, because if it does, we might return to documenting the entire event. (And yet…should we promote a gas guzzling event?! Part of me says it’s fun, with people dressed up in team costumes, and another part of me says everything about Rod Run is atavistically bad for the environment and all old cars should be admired in museums, not driving in circles around and around the peninsula. What do you think?)

Allan took some photos while he was there. You can see that once again the vehicles line up, instead of quickly driving past on Waterfront Way like they did when they drove in the other direction. It’s much more scenic this way. But probably burns more fuel while they are idling!

As I had worked on my project, the air became smokier from inland wildfires and made my lungs and eyes burn a little. This might be the last day this weekend for garden projects.

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