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Archive for the ‘journal’ Category

8 April: all Ilwaco

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Ilwaco Fire Station

We finally got around to a good weeding of our volunteer garden at the fire station, a block away from our house.

Planting a few plants I’ve propagated and one that I purchased
sw corner garden

I found a buddleia seedling against the wall. But where might it come from? I looked around. It must have come from one across the street.

I love buddleias but since B. davidii are on the noxious weed list (except for maybe the new supposedly sterile forms) it will get a respectful burial in the compost pile.

We are working our way to the last bits of uncultivated, weedy ground by the back doors of the station, around some big boxes of fans or heat pumps or some such. Next time we go there, I’ll make sure we have time to finish weeding those areas. Allan got a start and I did just a little bit.

I like the way the east wall is looking.

All plants acquired for free or from seeds.
This sparser end, where an invasive iris was removed, got some new plants.
The north side fern bed got trimmed up.
I do hope this was someone helpfully deadheading rather than swiping narcissi flowers.

Howerton Avenue curbside beds

We worked our way from east to west, deadheading narcissi, planting some lambs ears and a few other perennial starts, and weeding enough so that we can put off the extra-thorough weeding for a couple of weeks so that it will last till the beginning of May when Saturday market starts up. Our budget is a covid-affected smaller one this year and so I can’t achieve the perfection I want, but instead have to carefully parcel out the work so we won’t run out of money before we run out of months. I was even going to skip weeding this week, but simply could not.

Almost all photos at the port gardens are by Allan today.

In one garden, I was mightily annoyed to find that an adjacent very weedy bed inside the sidewalk (thus not ours to maintain) had been string trimmed and the debris let blow or blown on purpose! into “our” garden bed, adding weed seeds and just plain mess for us to clean up, just when I am worrying about the time budget. We already have enough problems in this bed with a whole lot of wild garlic.

Cleaning up someone else’s mess added precious time to the task all along the garden bed. I did express my displeasure to an unfortunate employee who emerged at the wrong moment, but it was a friendly conversation, I swear.

One of the buckets of string trimmings that we raked up.

But…onward, where there was plenty of beauty to soothe my nerves and plenty of my favorite flower, the narcissi. And we did not find many that had been picked. Sometimes I think there might be one resident at a time who does most of the flower pilfering, and sometimes that person moves away or reforms.

The wee narcissi that used to reliably bloom in May now bloom in early to mid April.
The drive over garden in which we do not trim the santolinas…at least not till they get driven over.
Baby Moon used to bloom in May.

Allan went on to do the garden beds by Salt Hotel, Skywater Gallery, and Freedom Market…

Skywater has been trying to give away this old boat for free.

…while I did the Time Enough garden and the gardens both north and south of the port office.

Port office, south side
Narcissus ‘Xit’

I finished by trimming one fern in the Salt Hotel courtyard that isn’t really my territory…but it bugged me.

Something else that bothered me when I was getting a tool out of the van: Some maskless folks walked toward me, so to be polite and social distance properly, I stepped off the sidewalk and stood behind the van. But one, an older man, stood by our open van door and asked me “What are you doing?” It occurs to me now he may have thought I was burgling! I said, “I’m waiting till I can shut the van door.” Then a younger woman, probably his daughter, said to him, “Oh, you are in her way.” She had a mask on, a phenomenon I noticed often in Long Beach last year, where daughters tried to coach their fathers to follow the local Covid mores. I said in a friendly tone, “Yes, I’m just social distancing”, at which the man said, “Oh, well, we are from Idaho, we don’t do that.” Because we must always do our best to make sure tourists have a good time, I just said, “Yes, it’s a complicated situation” and saved my eye roll till I had walked away.

Norwood garden

My favorite kind of narcissi, the ones with small cups.

I do think it is time to replace three old lavenders that have gotten ever so woody.

J Crew Cottage

I deadheaded five narcissi and enjoyed the flowers.

At home, the crab pot wall has grown.

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Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Because I had a desirable plant to pick up at The Basket Case, I was hoping for good enough weather to deadhead all jobs north of Ilwaco. None of them are further north than Long Beach these days.

Diane’s garden

We deadheaded the narcissi in all the garden areas. The weather began just cold but almost immediately turned to cold and rainy.

Fritillaria meleagris
Roadside garden


The Red Barn

Too much cold rain made me wimp out on pulling little weeds. We just deadheaded the barrels…

…and Allan shifted one that had been pushed around somehow so it was back to front.
Now the front is in front again.

The Basket Case Greenhouse

In a heartbreaking event earlier this year, our friend Dirk, who owned the English Nursery in Seaview, died. It was a shock. The Basket Case now has the stock from his nursery, including a wide selection of ornamental grasses, some shown in the foreground above. Dirk was only 65 and full of the enjoyment of life, and yes, he was from England.



The plant I came for was Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’, a darling of British gardening shows.

Beautiful new business cards

We paused by an antique store on Sandridge called The Bay Trader to get a photo of the sign commemorating the owner. Skip was a lovely man. He built us the beautiful bookshelves in our living room that I have enjoyed so much in the past ten years. He had somewhat retired from full time management of the store, but I well remember what a great conversationalist he was and so full of fascinating history of our area.

The Boreas Inn

We did the narcissi deadheading and some light weeding, grateful that the cold rain had briefly stopped. I had wondered if there would be enough dead narcissi to make the stop worthwhile. The pots on the southwest deck alone made it so.

The sweet peas bt the south fence are looking fine.

On the north fence, they are struggling and the soil around each one was ruched up. I tucked them back in, poor little mites.

I had a revelation about the sword ferns in the garden suite garden. They have not unfurled yet at all, when in other gardens, croziers are well out on sword ferns.

I suddenly realized that are in a rainshadow with half of the roots in bone dry soil.

I should have figured this out years before. I messaged Susie and asked her to set up a sprinkler there despite the rain.

The Depot Restaurant

We deadheaded narcissi…

…the tulips are blooming…

….and I noticed that in the front windowboxes, which I don’t plant but do care for in summer, black plastic is showing and it looks like pansies have been seeded, but the boxes need soil to hide that plastic.

The rain returned.

Patti’s garden

In the chilly rain, we picked off two dead narcissi, pulled two weeds, and we were done with the north jobs for this week.


It was good to be home with a nice cup of Builders. I churned out three blog posts, including this one, and watched some Beechgrove. And was glad to be half retired.

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Tuesday, 6 April 2021

at home

I think what gave me a taste for half retirement and being more at home was last year’s lockdown, when we were non-essential from mid March to the beginning of May and I had the first springtime at home in my own garden ever in my adult life. This may have been what led to the perhaps financially foolish early half-retirement. Springtime at home is wonderful.

Today, knowing that Allan would be mowing in the late afternoon, I decided to pull a lot of sword ferns back out of compost bin one so that they could be mower-chopped. Lesson learned: Unchopped, they took up half the bin. I had made a lot of extra work for myself by not storing them on a tarp till mowing season began.

I couldn’t even figure out where all these sword ferns came from…and there are more buried in bin two.

It looks like I may have gotten down to some siftable compost in bin one. If I can get it emptied, I’ll be able to start turning the bins. The trick will be to hold off till I finish an acceptable level of weeding in the garden.

Looks promising!

Meanwhile, Patti had given us a lot of bell peppers and tomatoes. We hadn’t been eating them fast enough, so Allan prepared them for the dehydrator. Since we didn’t have to use our new generator during winter storm power outages, I’d say the dehydrator was our most useful purchase last year.

When he emerged to mow, he found a sea of ferns to chop. He filled five lawn mower bags and put them in the food waste composter for now.

I had gone on to a Bogsy Wood project, preparing a place to plant two large Siberian Iris divisions that I had realized I did not want to divide and pot up. I’ve been removing scraggly salmonberries to make room for a greater variety of plants on the west side of the alder grove.

Before and after:

Allan helped me move a big barbecue stand planter over to the wayback sit spot.

That is too much clutter on one side of the sit spot. I will hack out a level spot on the other side, opposite the bench, and we will move the barbecue planter there. Too much clutter is not restful. In fact, I had better stop moving things back to this corner right about now, except for perhaps some more subtle wooden box planters for some ferns and such.

The Siberian irises got planted next to the new Bogsy path, after digging out some salmonberry runners. I very much liked the advice in one of Julie Moir Messervy’s garden design books, to accentuate natural features by making low spots lower and high spots higher, so I’m trying to lower the path. It’s a rainwater ditch in winter.

looking west
Looking east, at the end where it won’t be possible to dig down as deep because of tree roots.

This also provides soil to make the side bed, behind the hydrangeas, higher. I have some new shade plants being delivered by a friend next week.

The soil has clues that it used to be riverfront, before the port was built on fill.
After

In the background, a forklift had spent the the afternoon putting the crab pot wall, which I love so much, in place.

some springtime glory:

pulmonaria
Cowslip primulas still blooming.

I even achieved a barrow full of weeds, which I am using to fill in a dip in a path next door. I saw that Alicia’s portion of the meander line still has a lot of water, a good home for tadpoles if the frogs are still there.


By now, it was six PM and getting windy and chilly. I went indoors to watch some Beechgrove.

I have found two delightful Beechgrove specials:

Jim McColl at 80

…and…

The Beechgrove Garden 40th anniversary special

…which was well worth watching even though it has frequent breaks for commercials.

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Monday, 5 April 2021

at home

I had accomplished the biggest dig-up of lesser celandine on Saturday, followed by a rainy and windy Sunday of writing blog posts (and watching Beechgrove). The garden had two more areas colonized by celandine. Today, on my way to the first one, I noticed a small patch of them in Allan’s garden and dug them out, while he was indoors writing his boating blog. This meant I could get away with stealing three starts of a spreading patch of podophyllum, which were invading the personal space of this lovely trillium from Dancing Oaks Nursery.

I planted the podophyllum along the new Bogsy Wood path that runs behind the gunnera and hydrangea bed.

There, I was well chuffed to note that some cuttings I had stuck in of Salix magnifica appear to have taken.

It’s a willow that will have huge, rather tropical looking leaves.

Another good Bogsy Wood plant is this flowering quince from Cistus Nursery. It’s been blooming for months.

Next door, some lot leveling was taking place in the gear shed yard.

I caught Skooter in the act of squashing seedlings in a fish tote, despite my having put some tomato cages in there as a cat discourager.

I am not pleased. I laid some bamboo criss crossed to try to prevent more of this.

He tried to make it up to me with cuteness.

Meanwhile, the Greys were enjoying the back Catio.

I shut them out of the front Catio and tackled the lesser celandine in that area.

Those loathsome little round leaves….to the right of a nice primula.

Although I almost never use weed killer, I think that next spring I might paint some on the celandine with a brush. On Beechgrove Garden, I saw a clever weed killer applicator that was like a large roll-on deodorant device that you filled with the liquid and just rolled onto plant leaves. I don’t see any other way to permanently remove celandine out of the gravel.

The Catio sports one lovely white trillium.

The last celandine colony is along the west side of the garage driveway, setting a bad example to passersby. I had yanked the showy yellow flowers off the plants to make sure no one admired and wanted it.

I will probably remove the aquilegia from the bed to the north of the gate also (below) as soon as I get a bag of mulch for those boxwoods, which are a little bit yellow. I recent saw (on Beechgrove) that boxwoods really love a good rich mulch underneath and realized that these along the driveway are languishing in poor soil. Deer will eat all the flowers off the aquilegia so there is no point in them being there.

before and after

On the south side of the gate, I removed not just the celandine but also a big fuchsia that had insisted on growing inside the fence where it’s competing with a rose and a nice smooth-leaved ilex and overshadowing the boxwood.

before and after

I got three good rooted chunks of fuchsia that I moved to the salmonberry tunnel, where I am slowly filling in among the dwindling salmonberries with tall hardy fuchsias. There was no time to sit in the wayback sit spot on the other side of the alder grove.

The stacking of crab pots had begun next door.

Note to self: I must remember to cut some of the old canes out of the Rosa pteracantha…

….to encourage new ones with fresh, glowing red thorns. I hope it is still alive.

The textured leaves of the Coryposis pauciflora are starting to appear…

…and underneath, the ever annoying perennial Saponaria flora pleno (pink, pretty late summer double flowers which hitched a ride on another plant), which I will be trying to dig out, as I do every year.

In the front garden, I found room to plant three of my grown-from-cuttings Olearia traversii in my eternal quest to block security lights. This involved moving a cardoon…

Now an unhappy cardoon…

…and planting an olearia too close to another cardoon (after moving the Euonymus ’Red Cap’ that I’d planted there just days ago)…

…and planting two olearias on either side of a Japanese maple, all the while knowing that they will get so big that the maple would have to be moved, and all the while also knowing it was a bad idea because the olearia will get too wide but doing it anyway, even though I will probably take at least one olearia back out within a week. I wish there were a huge nursery nearby where I could pick from a vast collection of columnar evergreen or evergrey unusual and interesting small trees. Trees of a size to quickly give privacy. Window curtains don’t do the trick because I have houseplants that need daylight and sometimes the bright artificial lights turn on during cloudy days, giving me instant migraines in my living room. But putting a too big plant in a small place is not a good solution. Do other gardeners over- plant even knowing while doing so that they are being foolish? And that regret will drive them back to undo what they have done?

Now, along with taking the olearias back out, probably, I have the pleasant prospect of enjoyable and interesting weeding ahead of me because the boring celandine weeding is done.

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Saturday, 3 April 2021

In the front garden


The infuriatingly suckering wild plum tree next door is actually pretty in white right now.


Skooter in a pose
Finally about to weed



I finally got down to the tedious weeding battle against the lesser celandine in the unnamed bed along the east fence, partway back. Before:

Here is what Monty Don wrote about lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) in his new book, My Garden World.

And here’s what the Washington s State weed control board has to say:

This plant is on the Washington State quarantine list. It is prohibited to transport, buy, sell, offer for sale, or distribute plants or plant parts of quarantined species into or within the state of Washington or to sell, offer for sale, or distribute seed packets of seed, flower seed blends, or wildflower mixes of quarantined species into or within the state of Washington. It was brought into the state as an ornamental.

I was thinking I had failed in my digging of the same plant last year…and the year before, and the year before. But the fact that it has not take over the entire garden but mostly stays in this one spot may show it is something of a success. And if next year, I can get onto it sooner…I hope for even better control.

I dug with the Root Slayer and sifted the soil in a small and fine sifter. I’m sure I missed some bulbils. I have no way to get rid of all of the soil. That would be too heavy for the wheelie bin. But it does go right back into this one area only.

Two hours and forty five minutes later (note the project manager to the left of the grass path):

That was not the fun kind of weeding, and I still have another patch of it to tackle (not as big) by the front driveway. Then I get to the more interesting weeding of herbaceous beds.

The bed looks rather barren underneath the shrubs and I was thinking of getting some dark, shredded bark with which to mulch it, maybe even a trailer load full so I can make a path in the willow grove, too. Now I really think I will, having read this on the weed control site: “Sheet mulching with wood chips can effectively smother the plants, but only if the layer is thick, around six inches deep.”

There is a plant in my garden that I find to be not as pretty, more invasive, much more prevalent and massively more annoying than lesser celandine, and that’s the false lily of the valley, meianthemum:

It makes a dense, quickly spreading mat and won’t let any delicate plants come up through it, unlike lesser celandine which will share the space. I loathe it, as do many gardeners I know, but it won’t make any northwest noxious weed list because it is native and thus gets a pass. It is even recommended by many reputable sources as a native ground cover. I cannot see its virtues. Fortunately, like lesser celandine, it goes dormant in summer….after an ugly sequence of the leaves turning yellow and dying off. You can read an appreciative and informative post about it here, from a garden writer for whom it had not proved aggressive…yet.

During my weeding session, I found a small disaster in the making. My medium sized dustbin of phormium looks good from the front….

….but there is trouble brewing underneath.

I hope it is well rooted enough to not tip completely over.

Elsewhere in the garden:

Trailing Rosemary in bloom in an old dustbin, right.
Corylopsis pauciflora is still the star of the west bed.
Silver and gold
In the Bogsy Wood

It would take a video to show how well the mirror pieces catch your eye from the wayback sit spot.

A sword fern that I missed trimming
A still living willow in the willow grove.

We had a campfire dinner…

…and a visit from former neighbors who were next door for another campfire. They are the folks who live with my dog friends, Cotah and Bentley. I said, “You brought me a baby, but where are the dogs?”

Willa from next door came along.

I made a faux pas once when I encountered an acquaintance with a new dog and a new baby and made a fuss mostly over the new dog. Well, the dog was cute, and so is this baby, a mellow and “chill” little dude who we were happy to finally meet.

Allan managed to clip the twined honeysuckle off my mother’s small, rusty trellis. I thought we’d have to burn it off. He said the trellis wouldn’t have survived that.

Dinner was tasty.

Still no frog sounds from the meander line puddles!

We were happy to return indoors as the evening got chilly. The Grey trio had found indoors far preferable to the catios.

Allan had gone to the library today, photographed the hellebores in the entrance garden…


…and had picked up a Dvd I had ordered, a thrilling 2012 film called Argo. I am pretty sure it was recommended somewhere in a big book of essays I recently read, by an author I quite like, Chuck Klosterman. The book looked especially cool. (Allan said, “How do you open it?”)

Klosterman writes about assorted subjects and sometimes even makes a sports essay interesting to me. Just a couple of excerpts that I especially liked:

And this, which inspired me to immediately quest for the other book via interlibrary loan:

You may have noticed that I have gotten the blog to run four days behind, at last, partly thanks to Allan’s boating excursion. But since all I did today (Sunday) other than write three posts was to pick the last big mess o’greens and pull out the collards…in the freezing cold north wind that felt like January…it will already slip back a day.

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Allan’s boating excursion

Southwest Washington Paddle Trips

I am guilty of choosing a paddle because I liked the name of the river, and why not? Also it was lazy close, the first paddle of spring, and I had never been. It used to be called the Walluski but was officially changed in 1975. There is no particular character or story regarding the name that I could find. For a memory aid, there is a 1962 song by the Orlons called the Wah-Watusi that can be watched here featuring the charming KCTU dancers.

The Wallooskee is visible from the Astoria Column

To get to the Walloskee River you have two choices. Launch from near its shallows or launch from Astoria’s Public Fish Dock.

Launching from near its shallows heading down and back would work great in a short ten foot kayak. The tide should be rising when launching because if it is dropping, the water may just be…

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March-early April 2021

I ordered these two books from Timberland Regional Library. I think but am not sure that I got the recommendation from Loree Bohl’s book, Fearless Gardening. Now I have a day of a cold north wind when I’d rather stay indoors and reminisce about books.

Fearless Color Gardening by Keeyla Meadows

This book made me feel kind of inferior. I don’t really plan color in my garden, not in detail, anyway. I don’t have…or take…time for that sort of planning or for the intricate garden decorating shown herein. Perhaps being half retired will give me time to develop my garden with more intensity. I also felt frustrated by the suggestions of going to one’s local nursery or art museum to browse colors and designs and ideas. We have historical museums but not art museums and our nurseries are small with limited selections. But then…there is the world online to explore. The problem is, I am not any good at doing homework as in the assorted ideas of lists, sketches and journaling. And yet I still got a lot of inspiration from the book.

I brooded for a bit about my kitchen. Keeyla’s has red rafters. My grandmother’s kitchen ceiling was painted a deep dark reflective rich red, which I later found could be replicated with XO Rust paint. Her red kitchen ceiling was mine for over a decade after I bought her house and, in my first Ilwaco house, I painted the tiny kitchen ceiling the XO Rust deep red. But now that I have a double wide with its sort of soft material for a ceiling, I can’t imagine it would ever become glossy and reflective if painted…and I get dizzy looking up now, so it’s unlikely to happen. I gazed at Keeyla’s photo and then at the view of my kitchen from my comfy chair and felt frustration; it would look great to set the kitchen off with its own ceiling color (Allan?).

I remembered the neighbour couple from a block away who barged into our new double wide home uninvited when I was painting my kitchen wall yellow, in homage to my grandma’s yellow kitchen walls and cupboards, with a blue lower wall and red stripe. They scoffed, ‘What is this, the circus?” And I didn’t have the gumption to just show them the door before they snooped around the whole house with a superior air. They lived in a historic house, don’t you know. The man later took it upon himself to walk down and knock on my door to tell me I should have left the house brown instead of painting it green. (If I had booted them out either time, it might have saved me from this further encounter later that year. They no longer live a block from me, which makes life better. I wish I’d had then the insight that I have now about how I should have handled it all.)

Although this old scanned photo of my Seattle kitchen doesn’t show that by then the walls were pale pink, it does show the rich color of XO Rust red paint. Now called Rustoleum, I think.

But I digress. Keeyla Meadows’ design methods are so organized compared to mine.

I don’t think I color design very much at all my my garden, probably to its detriment. Having a colorful object to work around would help. (I love the colorful concrete benches and low walls that she makes. Well, she makes them with a crew, which I lack, and I already ask too much heavy work out of Allan.)

In Long Beach, I did take some time to color coordinate planter annuals with some of the colorful buildings.

The idea below is more free flowing (and beautifully written) and feels more like the kind of spontaneity that is the only design force in my own garden:

This advice soothed my feeling of inferiority: “If you are a very spontaneous type, you can have all your ingredients lined up and just have a go at it and see what comes out.”

Here is the question that I found most useful in a way to think about color.

I cannot begin to narrow it down…I like swathes and sweeps of color like a Piet Oudolfian meadow planter but I also like a brightly colored interlocked geometric modern art painting (and would have worn a fabric like that once upon a time, but wouldn’t have had it on my wall).

Her chapter on garden benches has some glorious examples.

This spoke to me because my grandmother read to me.

We didn’t know about children’s literature like Dr. Seuss and Winnie the Pooh, but we had a good collection of Little Golden Books that could be bought in the grocery store. I still remember one about a frog and some other critters looking for a pond after their puddle dried up.

When I read about her use of iron sulfate on cement…

….I wondered what would happen if I poured a solution of it on grey gravel paths. Would the gravel turn amber like the beautiful paths in the UK?

Even though I felt resistant to homework and much less artistic than the author, I give this book top marks for beauty and inspiration and have put in an interlibrary loan request for her earlier book about making artistic gardens.


The Artful Garden by James Van Sweden

Another library book, perhaps recommended by Loree.

My favorite takeaways follow.

I was pleased to find a section about Derek Jarman’s garden, one of my favorites, a windswept seaside garden decorated a with rusty metal and driftwood beach gleanings during the last years of Derek’s life. I’ve read his two books of journals and the book about his garden, Derek Jarman’s Garden. You can find many photos by googling “Prospect Cottage”.

Suddenly, I remembered a large piece of driftwood in my grandmother’s garden, in the bed to the right as one approached the front door, and how much she loved it. I don’t think she made it to the beach herself. I think she asked a friend who was going to the coast to bring a piece of driftwood to her. I haven’t thought of that for years.

Photos of sculptures and art abound in this book….mostly elegant and not often as whimsical and colorful as the art of Keeyla Meadows. Van Sweden often uses the spherical sculptures of Grace Knowlton. I liked them a lot. But when I read this….

…I was immediately reminded of the menacing orbs from The Prisoner.

I did not know this about Monet’s garden:

I was moved and intrigued by the sundial homage to lost children by artist Robert Adzema.

While I couldn’t find photos of that particular work of art, I did learn that he will create such sundials as custom memorials.

Once again, as in Keeyla Meadow’s book, the author advises going out to sketch in the garden. Once again, I resist spending time doing that.

And once again, I feel like some aspects of these books are for people of a higher economic class than me or most of the people I like.

Most people I know continue to live in houses with rooms!

The advice below is one reason my garden continues to be beachy and naturalistic and true to its riverside and coastal setting, even though I love and admire gardens with spikes, tropical plants, and vibrant bright art.

One of these days, given more time, I might break out, though.

I also find this advice to be brilliant, having read similar ideas in books about designing Japanese style gardens where rough stepping stones slow people down as they approach a tea house.

That makes me feel ok about my narrow side paths, tilted Bogsy Wood moss path, and the metal path that requires careful footwork. My main paths go swoosh straight down to the fire circle for the ease of campfire dinners and for the winter view corridor to the port. So the slowing down in other parts of the garden is a good thing.

I am working on making more rewards in the slower parts of the garden.

Finally, this speaks to me because I have, on a sign and as a motto, the saying that “Gardening is the slowest of the performing arts.”

……in the moment.

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March 2021

Work and not much rainy reading weather kiboshed my desire to read Monty’s new book in one sitting. However, it proved to be a soothing and comforting bedtime chapter book, and I was able to finish it on a rainy late March day. At just over 400 pages, it’s a good long read. I have already shared the beginning, including how startled I was to learn that all this time, Monty and Sarah had a wild hillside farm in Wales. How it made my head spin that they don’t spend all their home time at Longmeadow (real name, Ivington).

Monty on the farm; the book has several pages of photo inserts.

Isn’t it odd how startling it is….well, to me at least….when a memoirist who we think we “know” turns out to have a whole ‘nother aspect to their lives of which we knew nothing. Montagu (which is what his family and real friends, of which I wish I was one, call him) is a writer whose memoirs, especially The Prickotty Bush, The Ivington Diaries, The Jewel Garden and Nigel: My Family and Other Dogs, reveal much of his own personal life and struggles with depression.

Here are some of the takeaways that I found most informative or simply beautiful in My Garden World, a journal of nature in his two homes.

What he wrote about climate change…

…I found to be so true with the bulbs I plant. Twenty years ago, I could count on Narcissus ‘Baby Moon’ and May flowering tulips to be in full glory for the parades that took place in Long Beach and Ilwaco on the first weekend in May. But within the last decade, the bloom time has moved early to where those flowers are in bloom for the clam festival in mid April and are almost all done by May.

The same happens in our meander line pond; tadpoles are hatched but soon after, the seasonal pond dries up. It is worrisome that this year, we have heard no frog songs out at the meander line (the boggy ditch between us and the port parking lots) even when the frogs in our garden are deafening in the evening.

Mr. Tootlepedal has frogs that are photogenic. Mine are elusive.

Mr. Tootlepedal sometimes writes about the cutting of wildflower road verges in the borderlands of Scotland. That unnecessary practice is also hard on Monty.

Our neighborhood had collared doves. I had no idea that they originated in India. Because at one time, Allan and I watched a lot of Bollywood movies, that is fun to know.

The incomplete sentences in my book photos are there to inspire you to read the book.


I agree about elder, not just the fancy cut or colored leaf kinds but also the plain old elder, being welcome in my garden.

When I first moved to my previous Ilwaco home. I had no idea what the tree-like shrub was with leaves that looked tropical to me, on the steep slope outside my bedroom window. It was the red elderberry. I seem to recall that the ones with black berries are edible to humans but not the red ones, so I’m not even sure if the flowers of mine are edible. I have five red elderberries in my large garden today, and I think still they add an exotic feeling.

Monty writes lovingly about clover in lawns.

I have seriously considered quitting any job where weed and feed is used on the lawn. Unfortunately, that would probably mean having only the port and a couple of private clients left.

It is interesting how British gardeners and gardening shows welcome bird’s foot trefoil, which is considered a bane here (partly because it is native).

When I first moved here and saw it climbing into the beach pines in the Seaview dunes, I found it extraordinarily beautiful.

About trying to eradicate snails…

I am reminded of a woman in a northwest gardening forum who attacked me so angrily and repeatedly when I wrote that I do not kill snails…no, not even the invasive European ones….that I had to ask the moderator to get her off my back. It is a personal choice to not want my gardening to be all about slaughter all the time.

Now, if we had the giant snails that are invading Florida, I don’t know what I would do…but I certainly would not be able to stomach killing them. I was also filled with horror to read that snails and slugs in Hawaii can give humans a potentially lethal brain parasite from the slime on salad greens. That’s a ghastly situation that I am glad is not my problem.

Here is something useful when people here freak out about lichen on their trees.

It is fascinating to read about gorse, which here is on the noxious weed list as a plant which legally must be eradicated.

Monty writes about TH White’s book The Goshawk, which, in an interview, he said would be the book he would take to a desert island. And about kites, a bird which is making a comeback in Wales (as we have seen recently on BBC Winterwatch telly show). Kites use wool among their nesting materials. Our garden birds have no interest in the wool I left out for them.

The book closes with a chapter about Nigel, who died shortly after it was completed. I read the chapter twice, once having skipped ahead to see if there was a postscript about Nigel and then again when I came to the end. I wept hard tears both times, because Nigel died in a way similar to my dear cat Frosty, with seizures that must have been even more difficult in a large dog. The eulogy at the end of the chapter about just why Nigel was an especially good dog was comforting, and I, too, feel a Nigel shaped empty space when I watch GardenersWorld.

I ordered the book from the UK.

Postscript: Had a bit of mix up with the publishing time of yesterday’s post,, which ended up publishing retroactively on Saturday, April 3rd, instead of Sunday, April 4th, oops. At least it stayed in the right order and didn’t shatter my narrative flow

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Friday, 2 April 2021

At home

After an hour of potting on cuttings and so forth, I had a wee brainstorm and widened the edge outside part of the south Catio so that I can plant climbing beans (or peas) there.

Must find a better home for those plastic troughs of strawberry plants.

I got some of my new ladies in waiting planted.

In the front garden, probably too close to a cardoon…this should grow into a small tree.
This had died in a shady spot outside north window…I potted it in case there is any hope.
Nearby, I spy a tiny trillium emerging behind the Fatsia japonica, almost under a rain barrel.

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Thursday, 1 April 2021

At home

I intended to weed but puttered around instead. Someone at the Sylvia Beach Hotel once told me that her mother referred to such activities as “piddlefarting around the garden”. Because I am easily amused, this inelegant phrase struck my funny bone.

A productive hour was spent potting on assorted cuttings for my plant sale (which will be during the World’s Longest Garage Sale event on memorial day weekend, May 28-31 this year, if all goes well. I will probably do it on the Saturday and Sunday).

I then decided to take two wooden boxes back to the new wayback sit spot. They had been near the greenhouse with veg seeds planted in them. It wasn’t till midsummer, when I found Skooter sitting in one to drink out of the birdbath, that I realized why my seed planting there was not working.

I had an exciting moment when the old bench on which the boxes sat collapsed and almost dropped a heavy box of dirt on my foot. Gardening is filled with close calls.

This added rearranging the greenhouse plant sale holding area to my immediate tasks. Then off went the boxes and I to the wayback corner.

This time I had been smart enough to empty the boxes so that I didn’t have to ask Allan for help. I stopped on the way to admire some catkins on the contorted filbert…

…and to play with arranging my little houses on the big plant table.

In the wayback corner, I had fun arranging the boxes and planting them with some tiny hellebores, a heuchera, and some deer fern that had been a bugger to dig up from a dark corner of the front garden.

As you glimpse the corner from the main Bogsy Wood path, I think it now looks like there is a there there.

Or as renowned California gardener Marcia Donahue said in an excellent episode of Recreating Eden, “making somewhere out of nowhere.” That corner was nowhere to me, but birds and little critters probably thought it was just fine.

The hardest part was rolling a stump in place to put one of the boxes on. Then I wondered if the planters should be round to go with the round table and round stump, but decided that since the bench isn’t round, so it’s ok to have square and rectangular boxes.

This big old broken pot was also heavy to move. I planted a deer fern piece in it on a mound of soil, which may or may not work.

Skooter appeared from the direction of the gear shed.

I missed seeing what his secret way under the fence is. At one point, I thought I had the underside of the fence small dog proofed so a friend’s dog could safely run around the garden without escaping, but apparently not.

He wanted to help.

While sifting a bucket of soil from the old weed dump for planting the deer fern in the broken pot, I thought some more about how I wanted to make a path going west through Alicia’s property, up and over the mound of composted dirt.

It has been on my at home project list for weeks, since bad weather stopped me from finishing it in wintertime. It would have been great if I’d had time to finish it then. Now I think it won’t happen till next winter. My own weeding must take priority. Sensibly, I know it would have been a fun path I’d have walked on once or twice and then let go back to weeds.

The round stump that I’d rolled into the wayback corner had originally been intended to be a sit spot in the willow grove. It was too low for comfort. Allan helped by putting the second, rougher stump into the woodpile barrier at the east end of the grove.

My twig and branch fence collapsed again. I will try to make it better.

I resolve to not get too tidy out in the grove, remembering that long grass is good for insects. I should leave the long grass on the left side, below.

But when I look at the wild east end of the seasonal pond, which has turned to marsh rather than pool, I get the urge to do something with it now that I know our property goes more than halfway out there.

The temperature had dropped so that I was ready to go indoors. I admired sweeps of narcissi on my way back to the house…

in the Bogsy Wood

The sword ferns are unfurling in that bed.

Approaching the fire circle

Final plant admiration of the day, a flowering Salvia Africana-lutea (made from a cutting!) in the greenhouse.

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