Archive for the ‘reading’ Category

Monday, 12 August 2019

Having pulled some of the Ilwaco art walk signs out of planters and tree gardens, because there will not be a September art walk, Allan returned them to Don Nisbett at his gallery before work.  Don showed Allan that he is now making garden flags, with your choice of art.

Long Beach

We watered the downtown street trees and planters. Today I felt the lift of joy in the Long Beach job that adds a thrill to the everyday.  It has only happened a couple of times this year, today with a feeling that lasted the entire three hours of watering.

Inside Wind World Kites, the blue shop in the above photo:

Allan’s photo
variegated silene still blooming!

I am loving the ratibidia in the big Lewis and Clark Square planter.

Agastache ‘Black Adder’

I am pleased with a re-done planter by Fifth Street Park:

Compare to last year when it was mostly Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’:

I feel satisfied at last with the Fifth Street Park gardens.

My only annoyance all day was that whoever trims the escallonia hedge at Fifth Street Park (not the city crew) drops cut rose bits into the garden…

…making for a stabby situation for us.

Allan’s photos while watering:

Busy sidewalks can make it a challenge to squeeze through with a hose and a bucket.

street tree garden

I am so jealous that Allan saw this puppy and I did not. I’m especially fond of Boston Terriers because I had one as a friend when I was a child.

Muscari (grape hyacinths) are coming up already.  (That is normal.)

We finished Long Beach by weeding the Veterans Field garden beds.


We were done with Long Beach too early to water the Ilwaco planters without parking problems, so we watered our volunteer gardens at the post office and fire station first.

Allan watered the street trees and planters while I weeded at the J’s.

J’s garden looks a little different because the hedge next door got trimmed hard.


July 24th:

The mystery sunflowers are blooming in one of the Ilwaco planters.

I think I know who planted the seeds, and I think she is giving them extra water. I wish the sunflowers at the fire station had done as well; they were a complete bust this year.

book report: Down to Earth by Monty Don

Late last night I finally finished an excellent book I’ve been reading slowly at bedtime.

back cover

Here are my favourite takeaways:

A 20 mph wind is “officially classed as no more than a fresh breeze.”  !!!!

Monty has won me over to leaving the edges of the garden wild.  I am going to make a sign with words from the following passage.

My sign will say “Always have some long grass growing.  Nothing is more beneficial to insects than long grass.” And it will be stuck in to a long-grassy area under a thorny rose bush that is almost impossible to weed.


That could not feel more true to me.  I have felt, since I became an obsessed gardener about 30 years ago, that anyone who walks through my garden is walking through my very being.

On not being judgmental about other people’s private gardens (and I am not saying that is always easy):


One of my top favorite paragraphs is this one.

In a chapter on kitchen gardening, I love that he injected a bit of social justice:

The books last chapters are one for each month of the year.  In July’s, Monty writes:

Every summer, I feel that I have not paid enough attention.  From 1995 to 2005 and beyond, when I worked so much that I did not have much time for my garden, I would think every summer, “It’s another lost year in my garden.”

Even though I like winter (reading season!) and do not suffer from seasonal depression like Monty does, I feel joy in every late October when Daylight Saving Time ends and I can draw the curtains at 4:30 and have long evenings indoors.

Three months and a bit till staycation…

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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

The promised rain and 25 mph wind materialized, giving us a day almost off.

Skooter did not want to give up my chair.

Allan managed to stuff the landscape fabric strangled stump from Mike’s garden into the wheelie bin.

Only Allan did any work today, applying some mulch to make the shrubless areas at Mike’s look good till we get some plants to fill in.


I have a small start of Lonicera ‘Baggeson’s Gold’ which I hope will grow to match the other one (one photo later).

after; you can barely see the Lonicera at the back of the mulch

The mature L. Baggeson’s Gold clipped into a ball

Meanwhile, I caught up with the Tootlepedal blog and the Miserable Gardener blog. This post on the Miserable Gardener was especially good.  If you aren’t reading his blog, might I suggest that you should be.  It is unfailingly wonderful. He is my inspiration for sometimes writing about personal matters. I have never had a loss as deep as his, and I never could because I have never had a bond of over twenty years like the one he shared with his late wife. So any revelations I make in my own gardening blog are not as deep.

I finally finished the book that I have been reading just a bit of, for weeks, every night at bedtime.

I had given The Happy Isles of Oceania to Allan for his birthday.  While not as much about boating as I had thought it would be, it was fascinating.  Theroux is a curmudgeon of sorts and can come across as judgmental of the people of some of the islands (and some entire nations, especially France).  Sometimes I wondered if he saw himself as superior to assorted islanders.  I’d still recommend it because of passages like the following.

He likes to camp on beaches.

(Unfortunately and so often tragically, that is not the way of the world for women traveling alone.)

He loves the stars.

In Hawaii, he chose the rare luxury of staying in a $2500 a night (in 1991) bungalow resort, complete with personal butlers.

I’m happy to report that he then camped on a beach and achieved a goal of living on less than $2.50 a day instead of $2.500.

I also recommend his book Deep South.

New cat Jazmin is still in hiding.  Last night she slept at my feet for awhile before managing to open the closet door and find a secret spot inside.

Tomorrow our friends from Steveston, Canada, will visit, and we will tour the Bayside Garden, rain or shine.  Then we will all head to Ocean Shores for the north county garden tour.  Allan and I have the good fortune of being invited to stay in a guest house near Markham Farm, my very favourite garden, saving us a stressfully long one day trip and giving us time there to socialize with friends.  I am hoping it works out to have Kilyn and Peter tour Markham Farm, as well.  So there should be quite a garden tour sequence for the next week of blogging.

I am anxious about traveling, especially possible traffic accidents, being absolutely nothing like world traveler Paul Theroux.  Only garden tours get me willingly off the peninsula.


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Monday, 15 July 2019

We had rain overnight, not enough to make me regret running the sprinklers, but enough to delay watering Long Beach and Ilwaco till Wednesday, with other jobs to do tomorrow.

I finished a book that I’ve been reading this week.

Gardenlust by Christopher Woods

Here are my takeaways (probably impossible to decipher if you are reading this on a phone, for which I apologize).

A poetic dedication

Each chapter is about a garden made in this century, mostly public gardens.

I loved that The Garden of Flowing Fragrance, in the Huntington Botanical Garden, has a “Pavilion for Washing Away Thoughts”.

Kevin Scales, who designed Quinta da Granga in Portugal. made me happy by not being formally trained:

It struck me as unusual and daring that the author would criticize a garden, in this case the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London:

I’d love to tour the gardens of Carrie Preston, a Dutch garden designer:

She likes fading tulips: “That is the prettiest moment for a tulip, just as they start to fall over in a sigh.”

I like this:

Landschaftspark, a garden built around the ruins of a former iron plant, is one I’d like to see.

Look, Gasworks Park gets a mention.  Although it is mostly lawn around the old Seattle gasworks, as I recall.

The photos show that Landschaftspark has much more of a garden feel.

About a public garden in Australia, and public gardens in general:

In a chapter showing high rise vertical gardens:

About her Fisherman’s Bay garden in New Zealand, Jill Simpson says:

Out of all the gardens, hers and Carrie Preston’s are the one I would most like to see.

Gardenlust has a combination of large and glorious photos and thoughtful, critical prose.  It is a heavy book, one that you will want to read in a comfy chair.  You can get it from Timber Press or, if you are lucky like me and have access to the Timberland Library system, they have a copy.

I got my blog caught up just now and, within minutes, Devery will be here to bring us her cat, Jazmin.  We are adopting Jazmin because Devery is going to visit family for awhile.  We hope she will return to the peninsula that she loves so much.

Meanwhile, the back bathroom will be Jazmin’s haven, with the tray of fresh green cat grass from Lezlie, lots of comfy sleeping spots, and her own litter box and her bed that will remind her of her home with Devery.  She once lived right next door to us in the Nora house.  Within a couple of weeks, we hope to have Jazmin incorporated into the entire household and, eventually, the garden.


We had a farewell visit with Devery.

One More very blurry photo of Jazmin in her new haven. She is an affectionate cat and was happy to be petted.

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Monday, 22 April 2019

We were out the door to go to work, not relishing the cold air, when the rain began.  I happily retreated to my comfy chair and a book that Allan had checked out for me from the library.  It had been recommended to him by a book site while he ordered other British books. “If you like that, you’ll also like this.”

watching the weather

 A paragraph in the introduction, by Nigel Slater, had me thinking about how timid I am about what I choose to share in this blog.  I write an awful lot that I then delete, although WordPress preserves it all in the various drafts of each post (along with all the typos and mistakes that get corrected):

I am aware my writing has taken on a melancholic turn,” the author writes much later into the book, “so perhaps it is time to share a sunnier story.”  So even he pulled back from revelation for a moment.

And even later:

This was the perfect time to read a book by someone brave enough to dig deep, even though he is a well known writer in the UK and now people will know his secrets and pain.  How does he feel about that, and how can he stand the exposure? I ask that of almost every memoir I read, while at the same time being grateful for the writer’s transparency. (It is ironic that I just deleted two lines from this very paragraph.)

It had taken me a long time today to settle down and actually set all other materials aside and apply myself to reading.  Then the first page mentioned snails eating baby beans.

I had to get up again, go outside, and apply Sluggo to my baby sweet peas.

The table I painted yesterday looked wonderful in the rain.

Allan’s photos

Plot 29 goes back and forth between the present day and the author’s childhood and his search for answers about his parentage.

Well, now, this is just how I felt about several gardens I have gone in to rescue over the past 25 years…

I was excited to see a mention, all in one paragraph, of Monty Don AND one of my favourite gardening books, the book that inspired me most about seaside gardening, Derek Jarman’s Garden.

On the appearance of a gardener:

Jenkens and his allotment companions use the principles of “Biodynamic gardening” and stir up various potions.

At bedtime, I am reading chapters of Linda Chalker-Scott’s The Informed Gardener books, one chapter thoroughly debunking Biodynamics.  Oh dear.  Sometimes I am not sure what to think of all the debunking, since further scientific studies often contradict the first studies, etc.

I can tell biodynamics is just not something I would have the energy or belief to try.

Oh!  The author writes about driving: “I have only once been behind the wheel.” I am thrilled.

On his three gardens, one at a small summer cabin in Denmark, one a rooftop garden outside his London flat, and the allotment patch:

As regular readers know, once I began to read Plot 29 I could not stop to do anything until I had finished.  I so appreciate Allan finding it for me.  Locals can order it from the Timberland Regional Library.

Mr Tootlepedal had asked if I had seen any of a gardening show called The Beechgrove Garden.  I had not.  It is a Scottish gardening show, rather like Gardeners’ World, and I I was delighted to find some episodes online.  I watched one episode and will watch as many as I can find.  Down the rabbit hole!  It has been on telly since the 1970s.  Fortunately for my getting things done, all the shows are not online.

I also found in the past few days a Gardeners. World Road Show from 2005 in which the hosts go on tour to a city, visit many gardens, and have a plant swap.

They may be too big of celebrities now to do that anymore.  Perhaps a viewer over there can tell me if they still have a roadshow special each year.





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A year ago, I read two books by which have been sitting by my desk with markers in the pages.  I ran out of time then to recommend them here…and now have miraculously found the time,

I discovered these books when Mirabel Osler, in her memoirs, mentioned Katharine Swift as a good friend.

Some takeways from both books:

Morville is the name of Swift’s home and garden.  Based on the structure of a Medieval Book of Hours, The Morville Hours goes deep into the history of the place, making for a slow and thoughtful read. I don’t have many saved takeaways from The Morville Hours because the whole books is complete perfection, making it difficult to separate out any parts to inspire you to read it.

My cats and I liked this poem by an Irish monk:

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

On tramps and homelessness:

On my favourite flower:


I agree with her that mole soil is “the best potting compost in the world.” It is a gift from the world below.

Next, The Morville Year, which is more of a straightforward memoir.

I have, since reading this, made the start of a willow cave or gazebo or some such thing:

My other inspiration was Ann Amato’s willow arbor.

It is time to find the time to be in my own garden:

On sweet peas:


On memories:

One of my favourite passages brought back memories of my two trips to the UK and looking into back gardens from trains and buses:

…and seguing into allotments, another favourite topic of mine…

In The Morville Year, I found the most moving poem I have ever read, Adlestrop, by Edward Thomas, “a vision of lost England recalled from the trenches” of World War I, where he was killed in 1917..

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
I learned from The Morville Year about how “the humble petunia” might hold a cure for cancer.  You can read about it here, from 2002—I hope something came of it.
On the power of a public garden:
On bulb planting:
So, gardening friends who are readers, you see why I think you must read these books.  A third, A Rose for Morville, is due to be released in December 2020, and it is promised that it will go deeper into the story of her beloved husband who left her—a man who surely made the wrong choice, in my opinion.  The release of the third memoir is something to live for.  I hope I make it that far because I long to read it.

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Thursday, 11 April 2019

I read the rest of The Ivington Diaries by Monty Don, my favourite kind of book, a very personal and revealing journal about making a garden by one of my favourite gardeners.

The entirety is simply wonderful.  (You can get it from Timberland Regional Library.)

Some of my best takeaways:

“The more every day is like its predecessor, the better I like it.”

In talking about ground-cover plants: “Perhaps all ground-cover plants should have a big sticker saying, ‘Be careful—this plant does precisely what it claims.’ ….The moral of the story is to never plant ground cover of any kind in a border.  It never coexists with any satisfactory mix of plants.  Better to use it as an end in itself or not at all.”

The horror of the lesser celandine, with which I am also cursed:

All the British telly gardeners go on about horticultural grit, which is not available bagged anywhere around here (not the kind that I see on the telly):



I heartily agree, that is the perfect vacation.

For someone who loves routine, as he mentions more than once, Monty Don admits that it is hard sometimes for him to travel so much for work (French Gardens, Italian gardens, Around the World in 80 Gardens) and yet he excels at looking happy and relaxed in his garden tour shows.

I was in heaven through all the hours of reading.

Perfect description of pear trees:

I suppose some might say Monty sometimes writes purple prose (although far less so than Reginald Farrer or Beverley Nichols).  I just love it to bits.

I got teary-eyed over this book more than once.

A garden sign, so true:

A website for Bryan’s Ground is here.

Now, this is the thing….Monty perfectly describes why I can’t (yet) try to make my garden less work.

An unhelpful friend said to me when we moved to our present garden that the lot was too big (much smaller than Ivington!) and that I would not be able to keep it up in my old age.  Well, I can’t keep it up now while working, but I do hope there will be at least a few magic years of partial retirement when I CAN do so and can achieve all the ideas that I have for this garden.  (Allan hopes he can have years of enjoying boating and not having to help me achieve all my garden dreams, I suppose.)


There was a year, 1987, when I could not garden because of depression.  In that hot summer of unusual drought, shrubs in the garden (an azalea, some roses, and more) that had been my grandmother’s pride died from neglect.  So I appreciate when Monty shares his own such struggles:

I lay on the couch back then pining for a lost love.  The emptiness later where plants had died eventually gave me room to make the garden my own.

As well as emotional and revealing, The Ivington Diaries is full of useful gardening knowledge.  (Painted Lady and Cupani are two of the sweet peas that I grow.)

This passage about roses….

…reminds me of the hideous new hybrid tea called Ketchup and Mustard that I am horrified by every time I see it. ….Although we could have used it humorously back when we did the McDonalds drive through garden in Long Beach.

I learned a new word…”strig is the bit that … all berries are attached to.”

I am quite thrilled when a gardener I so admire has a failing that I share:

More on that plant that I crave:

Poor Miss Willmott.  I have a feeling people will say, when I die, if they remember me at all, that I was a bit of a pain (or worse).

I would like to be remembered more like this old gardener of Monty’s youth:

….Another passage that brought tears to me eyes.

 I enjoyed Monty’s story of hosting a garden competition show and having one of the contestants say she had entered “primarily so that she might meet Alan Titchmarsh”!

I wish Allan and I could have been Monty’s Norman and Jayne!

I feel better now at all my unoriginal ideas:

Monty rhapsodizes a lot about working in the garden with Sarah, and about her design skills….but even they have their moments…

That makes me feel better than sometimes Allan’s and my workdays are like Bickering with the Bickersons.

Finishing the book in the late afternoon, I was inspired to go out and take a tour of my own garden.

First, biscuits for Bentley and Cotah.

Pear tree admiration:

The good ship Ann Lovejoy:

In Allan’s garden, the lantern that his mother made reminds me of the Japanese Garden books that I read earlier this week.



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from the weekend (I think I forgot to post these)

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

I was ever so pleased to see rain so that I could finish the book I had started at bedtime the night before,

The Deckchair Gardener by Anne Wareham.

I recommend it.  I had enjoyed her book The Bad Tempered Gardener so much that I decided, correctly, that it would be worth ordering this newer book from England.

Here are some of my favourite bits, and sometimes what they made me think about….which is appropriate, because the author’s website is thinkinGardens.

Her book will try to help you take it easy in the garden.


I laughed out loud about Monty and his two dogs.  Geoff Hamilton was one of the earlier hosts of Gardeners’ World, another affable and soothing fellow. (I have found some old videos of his shows online.)

In two different chapters, she advises …”give up all magazines, newspaper columns, and television programmes on gardening.”


But I cannot give up my British gardening shows! However, last year, once the days were longer, I slowly eased out of watching and did not start again until January 2019 (and now have ever so much catching up to do, which reminds me, the new show of Gardeners’ World has appeared on BritBox TV this afternoon and I have not yet watched it).

Anne lays out advice for each season of the year about what you can get away with NOT doing in the garden.

Among many suggestions for making gardening life easier is not growing seeds for the veg garden (which I am terrible at, anyway) and instead supporting “the kind people who make a living growing seeds for you, so you can assist them making their living, while they assist you in not becoming exhausted making your living.”   Thanks to this revelation, I might even have more of a veg garden by purchasing plants from The Basket Case and Planter Box nurseries….except that I already bought seeds this year, unfortunately.

Now, true this may be about compost…

…but I have no desire to give up my bins.  I love them so!  In fact, I had begun to realize that I do very much enjoy all the busy work of gardening from which Anne is offering to rescue me.  Nevertheless, her book continued to amuse and educate me.  I am glad that I own it, because as I get older I might have no choice but to refresh my memory about her labour saving methods.

One of the most interesting aspects of her garden called Veddw, as I learned in The Bad Tempered Gardener, is the extent to which she leaves debris on the soil, an elaboration on the chop and drop method that I learned from Ann Lovejoy.

I tried the Ann Wareham version of chop and drop a couple of years ago, and by spring I could not stand it….I just had to haul the debris to the compost pile and then, after much turning and sifting, bring it back from whence it came.

I wish I could visit Veddw at different stages during the year and see her method in action.

That doesn’t mean I don’t chop and drop debris; I often do, in very small pieces…and I also (so much work!) chop it up smaller when I put it into my precious compost bins.

There were two things I fervently disagreed with in both The Bad Tempered and Deckchair Gardener.

One is her praise for …”ground…

I find it such a dreadful plant.  The variegated form runs like crazy through the Shelburne Hotel garden, popping up in completely different garden sections from the original patch.  I do think maybe one of the past gardeners (someone who worked there after me, and before I took the garden back on) deliberately spread it around.  The dreadful PLAIN form, which has nothing to offer, is into every shrub and perennials in the north end of the Shelburne garden.  I could weep over it sometimes (and not with joy at its pretty white flowers).  In fact, I recently stood over a patch of the green stuff with despair in my heart.

the Shelburne Horror

My other disagreement is about Anne’s dislike of lawn edges.

I LOVE my nice crisp lawn edges, cut with my half moon edger (I have three of them, so I can easily lay my hands on one). And I have banned Alchemilla mollis from my own garden for years (although now that I have The Toy and can give it a quick trim, I am thinking of relenting because it is awfully nice when in chartreusy, greenery-yallery bloom).

The advice to put the garden aside in winter is good advice that I sort of take…in that it has been several years since I have managed to mulch the garden with yards and yards of purchased mulch during staycation.

(Note: I should try again to read The Wind in the Willows.)

But look what happened this past winter….I spent hours preparing plants for a late spring sale AND we made a pond.  This is mainly because we don’t have time for big projects during work season.

Even though I have a fairly large collection of specifically winter-flowering shrubs, mostly because I used to have so little time to enjoy my own garden in summer, I still feel this…”Winter-flowering shrubs will irrititate you by making you think you should go out to admire and smell them...”…..which I do, even when I would much rather keep my nose in a book.

Here’s something about which I completely agree with Anne:

Everyone in the acknowledgments gets to share a little piece about their own gardens.  This was my favourite:

I love The Jabberwocky poem and often recite parts of it to myself.  It was Allan’s vorpal blade that recently went snicker-snack on a rather rare plant.

If you are local and a friend, I would lend you The Deckchair Gardener for three weeks (same as a library loan).

Speaking of loans, I rarely borrow books because I always have such a big stack to read, often from the library with due date pressure.  As the rain continued all day, I finally read two of the three books that Judy S. lent us (I am embarrassed to say) last summer.  There is a third one that I cannot find at the moment (it is small), another reason I get anxious about borrowing books.  I must find it, and have spent at least an hour looking in my stacks of unread books.

Two books about Japanese gardens

Judy thought Allan might like these because his garden does have a Japanese touch, due to some lanterns inherited from his mother.  His family lived in Japan for a couple of years when he was quite small.

This gorgeous photo, below, shows why, when Bill of the Boreas Inn recently asked me what he could do about his mossy lawn, I replied “Revel in it!”


The Boreas Inn “garden suite” garden could be enclosed a little more, inspired by this:

The second book:

Here, in Reflections of the Spirit, Maggie Oster puts her finger on why I like all my home gardening chores:

I appreciate the author’s frequent reminder to be respectful of Japanese culture and traditions…

Even unto…

…and I thought, Uh oh, I have seen such gates in gardens, always with the best of and surely respectful and admiring intentions.


Do you think this could apply to my new water-filled garden boat?


Finally, I must remember that when (if?) the wisteria blooms at the Shelburne, it would like to be toasted with sake.

Both books are rich in large and beautifully inspiring photos (especially inspiring for my mossy Bogsy Wood) and made for a lovely afternoon. (Thank you, Judy, and I will find the third book; I know it is here somewhere!)

I was inspired to go out and have look at my pieris…

….and one of my Japanese maples.

It is definitely bringing down the tone to have a plastic bag-mended water barrel in the picture.  Must get a new one and relegate that one to holding potting soil or some such.

In the rainy front garden, cardoon and tulips…

While I read and read, Allan did a fence repair of a stretch with two rotten posts.  It was not easy because they were set in concrete. He had knocked into one backing out of the driveway not long ago…  His photos:

This would have been a great time to weed.  There was a moment when I emerged from the garage with garden tools, and went right back indoors because of the cold.

Before this procedure, I got all excited with the idea we should have a white picket fence instead.  Three other gardens on the block have picket fences.  I could grow sweet peas on it.  And then….after reading the books about Japanese gardens…I realized that the plain wood probably looks much better with the somewhat exotic plants I try to grow in the front garden (Melianthus major, Tetrapanax, Callistemon, etc).

Allan also captured this ironic sight on an old sign that used to belong to my mother:

Tomorrow is likely to be another rainy and windy day.  I wish it could be a reading day but we must interrupt it with a visit to our accountant.


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