Archive for the ‘spring clean up’ Category

Sunday, 17 March 2019

I had a tiny bit of birthday in the morning when I opened two cards from two friends I’ve known since we were all age 12.

from Montana Mary and Roberta

Whenever I see that garden and library quotation, my literal mind says, “But we need food and drink, also.”  Mary’s card and gift addressed this:

A cozy cat mystery is something of a tradition….as long as the cats don’t talk!

Then there was no getting around going to work, because of nice weather and because of having missed a couple of days to the Shingrix vaccine.

Long Beach

The weather forecast called for big wind on Monday and Tuesday.  We drove out to the beach approach to see if it would be too busy and crowded to work there today; it is the worst place in the wind.  The whole stretch was bustling with cars and pedestrians so we returned to the parking lot berms on the east side of downtown.

I had thought it would be moderately easy to do the south berm, based on the north berm going quite swimmingly yesterday.  It turned out to be much thornier and more hard-packed with weeds than the north berm and was a fairly miserable work session in weather that felt uncomfortably warm.

We found all sorts of trash in the beds.

Getting the crocosmia out from the rugosa roses was most unpleasant.

Allan’s photo

Years ago, an alternative school had its student parking in this lot, and there was so much backing and forthing across the beds than anything delicate got crushed, leading to the decision to plant rugosa roses.  The school has moved but the thorns are still there.

using The Toy to trim the edges


after (Allan’s photo)

clamshells in the garden (Allan’s photo) from a parking lot feast, perhaps by a gull? or humans.

tight quarters

a fasciated stem of…something (Allan’s photo)

We acquired a full trailer load of thorny and otherwise debris (Allan’s photo)


We have not had any mulch left over for the berms for years, so not only is this not a raised berm, it is sunken down to pavement level and extremely hard to weed.  I finally decided we would just string trim the open areas and they can darn well just be lawn. These three beds get no supplemental water so in late spring and summer, the short grasses will stop growing anyway.


another walk through after the strimmer


When we left to dump our debris after four unpleasant hours, our van thermometer said the temperature was 76 degrees.  It felt like 76 to me.  No wonder I was so miserable.  I then looked at the weather apps and saw it was actually 62.

After a short turn around time at home, we drove back to

The Depot Restaurant

where we were joined by J9 and Our Kathleen for a birthday feast.

wilted spinach salad

Allan’s halibut special

the famous crab mac for J9

Cinghiale for me

birthday flan

I have now entered my 65th year (turning 64).

chocolate espresso pot de creme for Kathleen

salted caramel brownie

At home, I opened the rest of my presents.  I got a haul of wonderful gardening books from Allan, all ones I especially wanted, along with a book about punk rock in Eastern Germany from Kathleen and the cat mystery from Montana Mary, and an insulated lunch bag from Mary and Denny.  (They had found us in Long Beach on Friday and their other present, chocolate dipped shortbread cookies made by Mary, was already consumed!)

Allan might enjoy Alys Fowler’s book as it is about boating as well as her own life.

The Christine Walkden book has me burning for a rainy day.  Just opening it, I could see it is a wonderful diary of JUST the sort that I adore.  Fortunately, we are due for some rain by Friday…I hope.

Allan also found for me a proper English watering can (I had told him that the metal one was too expensive) and soil sifter for topping off seed flats. The can has a push on rose rather than screw on and a place to store the rose on the can. The flat end of the rose snaps off for cleaning. It is perfect. I’ve lost all the roses on my cheap watering cans years ago by removing them in annoyance when they get clogged.

Another special birthday treat was that so many of my friends on Facebook donated to my birthday fundraiser for Pacific County Immigrant Support that by today, the amount was $251 for this important local cause.










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Saturday, 16 March 2019

Before work, Allan helped me plant my new stachyurus.

front garden, east side, before

To the right is a Dan Hinkley selection of a different stachyurus, a willow leafed form, whose flowers do not show off as well.

I moved a young Descaisnea fargessii into a sunnier back garden spot to make room.  If it plotzes, it will not be too terribly hard to find a mail order replacement, and it has not liked this spot.

Here is my gorgeous Descaisnea from my old garden:

Decaisnea fargessii

It had blue beans, thus its common name. the blue bean shrub. From this blog years ago, the photos below also show another shrub that I want to regain in my now not to new garden.

In our own garden, the powdery blue edible beans of the Chinese blue bean tree, Deicasnea fargessii…also known, I recently learned, as Dead Man’s Fingers! And a truly astonishing colour combinaton from a Euonymous shrub.


Frosty wanted me to stay home.

And I wanted to stay home with him.

On the way to work, we toured the annual Peninsula Quilt Guild Show at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum just three and a bit blocks east.  That will be our next post, which may or may not be tomorrow morning…or the next day.

We stopped off for a book exchange at the library, where we admired the garden (a project that is mostly Allan’s). I reflected that our Stihl electric shears would finally make it possible to trim the heathers, the main feature of the garden (which we did not design; we have just managed to squeeze some other plants in amongst the heather and salal).

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo (the blue is Anemone blanda)

entry garden

We added the hellebores…(Allan’s photo)

…and the pulmonarias and more.

The entry garden from the corridor windows:


The Master Gardeners were setting up for a seminar in the community room.

Allan’s photo

It looked like a plant giveaway was part of the event, but work called on this pleasantly warm spring-like day.

stocking the plant table

Allan’s photo

Long Beach

the welcome sign

When we arrived at the north parking lot berm, I suddenly felt so incredibly sore that I had to take the magic combo of advil and tylenol.

The berms are at the bottom of this satellite view.

I felt that The Toy (we each have one to wield) considerably speeding up the first clean up and trimming of the north parking lot “berm”.  (The three so called berms are barely raised, thus not really berms, but they have had that name since they were installed by the city almost two decades ago).


Someone had dropped a treasure trove for my compost bins:

a veg assortment

Allan found an egg:

Allan took one side of the berm and I took the other.

Allan’s photo

This is not a job where we have time to strive for complete perfection.

Not one but two big trucks came and parked on our debris.  The first one’s driver heard my muttering even though I was yards away and cheerfully moved the truck back when I said that it was preventing us from cleaning up.  She laughed (in a friendly way) when I said, “Don’t write about the crazy gardener on TripAdvisor!”  The second huge raised big tire truck drove onto some debris while I was raking it off the pavement.  I held up my hand and walked forward, making it back up, while the young driver looked like he just did not understand why.

My mind boggled.  I also must be careful of my muttering during tourist season. Next time, we will set up a cone or a line of buckets to define our work area.

After, trimmed but not yet completely picked up:

Between the two truck incidents, I got a message from a friend that teenagers were picking daffodils in Fifth Street Park.  (They got yelled at to stop by said friend.) Also that day, a friend’s own planter by her business suffered from a child picking the flowers while a mother indulgently observed and said, “Thank you”.  Friend’s mind also boggled.

The Toy made easier work of trimming small branches back from over the pavement.

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Tomorrow, Saint Patrick’s Day (Sunday), is my birthday.  My wish was to get one section of the beach approach weeded; that dreaded job (that takes at least ten days) is hanging over my head like the axe of doom. However, I’ve decided the other berms would be wiser because, with such nice weather, a Sunday on the beach approach might have a great deal of vehicular traffic.  My nerves are being worked hard by the picking of flowers and parking on debris so I had better work somewhere other than by a busy road tomorrow.  Maybe getting older is making me more crotchety.  As a rule, when my gardens are not being damaged, I LOVE tourists; I remember being one.






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Friday, 15 March 2019

Before work, I had an exciting delivery from Gossler Farms, a Stachyurus praecox.  I have been looking for this plant since I left my old garden and had to leave a large one behind.  (It probably got crushed when the new owner had some danger trees felled from the slope above it.)  It is a winter blooming shrub that I adore.

Allan’s photos

It is gorgeous.  Now I just have to figure out how to squeeze it in to a garden bed that I can see from my living room desk in early spring.

I dug up several clumps of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and one clump each of a couple of more special sedums (“Strawberries and Cream’ and one with more glaucous foliage whose name I forget) to plant as the new center plant in the

Ilwaco planters.

Allan took most of the photos for this first part of the day.

in the boatyard

My hope is to make the small round easily-baked-in-the-sun planters need watering only once a week…or even just once every five days, or even four, would be an improvement.  We had removed the winter battered Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ which have been the centerpieces for years.

loads of snails in a planter near the boatyard

under a street tree

I admired both the south facing window and the garden bed below it at the Col Pacific Motel.

One of three erysimums that we had left because they looked ok looked so bad close up that I was sorry I had left it.

A variegated sedum had been taken over by a green reversion.  I axed all the green parts off and I do hope it will stay the handsome variegated form.

Just look how much it had reverted!  I had all but forgotten that it was anything but the plain green form.

The offending green parts in a bucket will be welcome elsewhere.

Long Beach

We began with a quick check up and some tidying at the city hall garden….

a corner at city hall before…

and after

The old lavatera in the west side garden beds that were planted by Gene and Peggy Miles has become so worn that this is probably its last year.  I will need to plant something low there because the office staff likes to be able to see out the window.

And then we trimmed santolinas and did some other grooming on the planters on the Sid Snyder approach and the six downtown blocks.

Sid Snyder Drive

The trimming will inspire the santolinas to have a nice round shape instead of getting raggedy.

before…this one took a lot of hand trimming rather than the speedy Stihl trimmer….

…because it was so intertwined with narcissi.

Allan took on the truly horrid job of clipping the rugosa roses that volunteered itself under one of the trees and then weeding it for the first time this year.



I walked back and forth between planters and street trees, heading north and trimming santolinas as I went.

This is the planter that started it all, one of four that I did back in about 1998 when they were all done by different volunteers.  The city administrator at the time said it was “magnificent”.  It still has the original santolinas.


A few years ago, I got so bored while hand trimming the furthest one that I suddenly cut it back to the trunk! It took it two years to come back.  I am glad I have The Toy now which makes the job fun rather than high pressure and tedious.

after (I blocked part of the photo with my thumb, oops)

Allan caught up to me halfway through town and removed the protective old leaves from the Fifth Street Park gunnera…

…and then trimmed a couple of blocks of planters himself.

The carousel is back, a sure sign of the tourist season.

I love small cupped narcissi.

I realized I would not have the satisfaction of erasing santolinas from the work board because we still have the ten or so planters on Bolstad beach approach to trim.  At five o clock, I was too exhausted to do it even though in past years I’d have gone on till dark to get it done.  I blamed the after effects of the Shingrix vaccine (whose side effects can last 3-5 days) rather than aging.

I did not even think I could muster the energy for the last two untrimmed planters north of the stoplight that I saw when we were on our way to dump debris. But I did (which means Allan did, too) because those blocks would be more crowded on a Saturday.

one of the last two planters

The downtown santolina trimming used to take all day, with sore hands from clipping afterwards.  The Toy made it take just the afternoon.

The work board tonight:





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Monday, 18 February 2019

Long Beach

We would have started at the Heron Pond had there been a parking place.  Instead, we began with the City Hall gardens.

I was so pleased with how the Stihl trimmer (The Toy) worked on the ornamental grasses on the west side that this is the only photo I took there.

I did not ask my phone to make its photo all artsy black and white.

Allan did better with before and after photos on the east side of city hall.


I channeled Gardeners’ World’s Carol Klein by putting some cuttings of Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ into a plastic baggie to keep them fresh till I can pot them up.  I had forgotten to bring a baggie but had fortuitously found one in the gutter (lord knows what was once in it).

Before we had quite finished cleaning up, Allan espied a parking space by the pond, a block away, and hightailed the van over there to snag it, then came back for the wheelbarrow and tools.

While he tidied and weeded and clipped around the pond, I did the same for the north two blocks worth of planters, therefore missing the traditional photo of Allan crossing the little waterfall without falling in.

His work location could have been viewed on the Heron Cam, shown here the following afternoon…

…so someone would surely see if he lost his balance.

My planter photos:

Erysiumum ‘Bowles Mauve’

The Toy works wonderfully at trimming small stems in the planters, and I believe it has already saved me hours of clipping.


a messy golden oregano

after (with hand clipping around the bulb foliage):

I helped Allan finish the last bit of work around the pond.

our audience

Allan’s Heron Pond photos:



Note how the underwear shows on the way across to the waterfall (and around the edges). I want to avoid this with our pond.

Next came Veterans Field and the Police Station rugosa roses, with only an hour clipping before time to clean up and dump debris.

Neither area allowed for use of The Toy; both required big loppers and the cutting of individual stems.

Police station (Allan’s photos):


Veterans Field flag pavilion, before…

Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies” has very tough stems.

The great big mess (Allan’s photo) had me fearing we would not get done by dark.

We prevailed. (I left the Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ unclipped because we are still due for some cold nights.)

Way over by that white car, below, is the little corner garden.

Because I did not get that far, I cannot erase Vet Field from the work list.  We did make an excellent dent today and also scored a gorgeous bookshelf from a “free” pile on our way home.

This morning:

This evening:

None of these work accomplishments are refined and perfect weeding jobs, just the somewhat rough first clean up.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

I spent the next day in the greenhouse at home, avoiding the rain by potting up some plants for my sale and rearranging my room to accommodate the new book shelf.  This meant that I actually emptied out my ancient and ugly filing cabinet, the one full of old letters from friends and of sorted articles (on non-gardening topics) that I have been collecting since the 70s.  Putting the files into two cardboard boxes does not mean that I can erase “filing cabinet” from my at home list.

I have a plan for the old filing cabinet.  More on this later.

Allan’s outing included taking some of his boating book to Time Enough Books (where it had sold out!) and a quick tidy of the post office garden.

Ilwaco Post Office, before

I even booted up my computer to write this post instead of writing from the depths of my comfy chair.  With rain due tomorrow as well, there may be a blog break.  I feel more comfortable and less pressured when the blog is running at least three days behind.


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Sunday, 29 April 2018

Shelburne Hotel

We loaded up three flats of cool plants for the Shelburne, including a Melianthus major (unfortunately, not Antenow’s Blue, so needs to not be front and center because I am saving that space for a shorter, hardier, bluer one), and a couple more cultivars of Agastache, fuchsias for the edible semi-shade totem pole garden, nicotianas langsdorfii and ‘Fragrant Cloud’, and more.

My only “during” photo is of some diseased white phlox.  I had removed almost all the phlox years ago because it gets to looking so bad, and now it is back to being everywhere.  Some of the clumps that look sick have got to go.  The garden needs some breathing room anyway and there are so many of clumps of phlox, and it has a short bloom time.

A lot of plants are everywhere in the garden, including Joe Pye weed, which is too tall for a lot of places where it now is, and the dreaded variegated ground elder, and so much Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ that the garden would be bright red for two weeks and then nothing but green.  Today I did a big editing session.  The same thing happened during the first year I gardened at the Shelburne, when it had just about four perennials: shasta daisies, Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’, white phlox, and peachleaf campanula.  Much editing occurred then, too.

Allan’s photo

placing plants

We emptied a white container of mint, on the north side of the building, to replant on the south side and make a more matchy container area.

before (Allan’s photo)

mint saved by the kitchen door (Allan’s photo)

Outside the kitchen door are the two hose hangers that Robert welded for the hotel, back when the Shoalwater was the name of the restaurant (so each hanger has an S; one is hot water for the kitchen so one must never water the plants with that one!)

Robert’s Ironworks hose hangers

Last week, the mismatched pots on the south side bugged me:

the pub deck with a couple of newly planted pots

I like it better now:

sweet peas coming up along the picket fence (Allan’s photo)

weeding and editing

We have to take all weed buckets home and dump in our garbage can because they contain ground elder!  It is up into every plant.  Sad.

I took some after photos.  Unfortunately, I am still sick with this horrible cold, so a day that should have been enjoyable (I love working in this garden) was quite a struggle.  Warm weather and rain had brought on a wealth of bindweed, and I despair at how the ground elder (bishops weed) is now everywhere in the garden, both variegated and plain green.  I think I have figured out why.  Plants were moved from one area to another to fill in (thus the Joe Pye weed everywhere, a good plant but can’t be everywhere) and the plants from the south end, where ten years ago I had the ground elder pretty much beaten back to just under the rhododendron, carried it into the north end garden.

I wish I had a before of the view below.  The end closest to where I stood had suddenly become thick with creeping sorrel, and the path needed weeding.  Here it is last week (before the weeds went crazy):

Allan’s photo, watering, last week

And today:

some new plants in place

looking north from the entry last week

looking north from the entry today

I think the big rosemary on one side of the entry is dying (below); it looks a little crispy and the trunk is damaged.  That could make for asymmetry, because the one on the other side of the porch still looks good.

north side

south side

I used to have a small, well mannered clematis climbing over the entry railing.  It is gone now.

looking south from the entryway

In the back yard, tucked around the west side in the shade, the totem pole garden is coming along.

Here it is earlier this month:

looking north, 13 April

I decided the big Melianthus could go in by the pub deck.

will make more room for it later as needed

Above is the one place, along with a big container, that I am letting the fennel grow.

I’m desperate to get rid of THIS (used to be a hydrangea in this spot) but I don’t feel I have permission yet.  It looks just silly.

At home, I had to do B&O tax forms and preparations for monthly billing, and I now hope I have time for at least one online episode of Gardeners’ World before suppertime.  I missed my comfy chair very much today.

Later—bliss. Note on the right, I’m being offered a British show on “wartime kitchen and garden”. Oh for more time.


A much gentler way to divide perennials, with two garden forks instead of my usual big chop with an axe:

I learned that Knophofia really should be pronounce Knip-hofia; it was named for a Mr Knip.

Just time for one or two more shows before bedtime.

Just look at this, a gold medal display from the Malvern garden show. You can see more glories of the garden show here.

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Monday, 23 April 2018

Dispatch from my comfy chair.  This was supposed to be tomorrow’s post, but I got a bit punchy and somehow published early.

When I am too lazy to sit at my desk, I blog with my iPad, which does not allow as many formatting options.  All my photos today were taken with my phone, as I had a feeling I might want to blog from my chair.

Today, I felt poorly with a tight chest and sneezy sniffles. And yet the weedy garden plagued my mind.  In between reading Mirabel Osler’s A Breath from Elsewhere, I made a few brief weeding forays into the garden.  The weather, slightly over 70F, was too hot for my liking.

In the front garden…maybe I posted this yesterday, as well:

This is the single flowered Kerria that I mentioned recently, backed with a Goldflame spiraea.

Parts of the back garden look like the gardener passed away and nature is taking over.

Especially the Ficaria (lesser celandine):

In a bed by a big alder, near the campfire, the planting is a muddle with no feature.

The feature is supposed to be a variegated hydrangea that, after two years in the ground, has one pitiful leaf.

It was planted as a tiny thing. I still ponder turning that bed into a raised pond. If I had the building skills, I would. Or if I could find a huge and attractive old wooden hot tub or some such thing. For now, I think I will put some sort of big pot in the middle.

Maybe I could drag forward my big phormium-in-a-garbage-can!  That is statement…of some sort.  You can just see a bit of it the photo of the area, above.

On one trip into the garden, I got a whole edge of the east bed weeded in a rather half-arsed way, and Allan kindly dug out a couple of huge African love grasses along there that I have gone off. I lacked the energy to place the pots on the pavers.

A before from two days ago:

and this evening:

At almost sunset, I made another short foray to free my Acanthus ‘Whitewater’ from weeds. It was perfect weather then, a campfire paradise if we had not both been sick.



I walked back into the Bogsy Wood and was delighted to see that Allan had trimmed the sword ferns and had deadheaded narcissi. Now if I only felt well enough to weed.

Outside the south fence:

Our “bluebell wood” (just Scilla):

I wish a had taken a better camera. Maybe tomorrow.

Plant table:

I must remember to fertiLize the gunnera; I did manage to get my roses fertilized today.

After my Pittosporum ‘Tasman Ruffles’ apparently plotzed in the front garden, I replaced it but could not bear to not give it one more chance, in another back garden spot that looks like the gardener is long gone:

Mirabel Osler wrote:

“There is the particular kind of happiness–never commented on by poets–which comes from seeing a shrub you’d assumed dead, one day has minute specks of green on an otherwise lifeless stick. As this occurs more often than you would expect, no gardener should pounce in despair to pull out an ailing plant.” (I first learned that from Ann Lovejoy.). I do think I have killed this one. I will give it a few more weeks.

Asphodel at sunset:

Skooter toyed with the idea of being a lap cat and then changed his mind.

Meanwhile, Allan had weeded and trimmed ferns in his own garden.

Allan’s photos in his garden:

Arisarum Proboscidium (mouse plant)

And dead-leafing the bogsy wood sword ferns:

In good company:

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Sunday, 22 April 2018

When I first tried to continue with my weeding of the front garden, an attack of sneezing sent me rushing indoors for allergy medicine.  The local weather report explained that I was probably not alone.

I am skeptical about the sources listed; I think pine pollen carried by the cold strong wind (again!) was the culprit.

I would rather have worked in the less windy part of the garden, but I could no longer stand the idea of sidewalk passersby being able to see so many weeds.  So after reading A Breath from Elsewhere for a half hour till the medicine took hold, I returned to the front garden, where the wind was literally whistling overhead.


I forgot the after from the above angle.  Will get one tomorrow.

Next day. I will be repainting the bamboo poles!




My after is all blurry; I will try again tomorrow.

Next day

I have decided to take one more day off to weed at least a couple more areas that are so terrible.  Fortunately, they will be in the back garden where the soil is looser and more pleasant to work in.  And I must fertilize all my roses.


The front garden was created by digging up all the sod (because I wanted to plant bulbs straight away), and the soil is still tighter and more difficult than in the back garden, which was made by the newspaper method.

front garden, 8 November 2010

14 November 2010, showing part of a pile of soil energy.

That sod digging was absolutely exhausting!

16 November 2010

Newspaper method in the back garden:

22 December 2010

December 2010, garden beds slowly expanded as I got more newspaper and soil down.

5 January 2011.

Eventually, I cut the old rhododendron down (right) because it blocked my window view of the Cape Disappointment bluff and of the port office weather warning flag.

This method of newspaper, soil energy mulch, cow manure, and homemade compost made the most luscious and easy to weed beds.

From yesterday, a repeat photo showing how they look now:

You can the whole sequence of initially creating the garden starting here.

Back to the present: Due to the cold wind, I suppose, Skooter had had no interest in joining me outdoors today.

In the afternoon, Allan went to work on his own, “just” to dig two woody old lavenders from the Port Office garden.  It was a more difficult job that either of us had expected.  I felt bad at having delegated, and yet I don’t think I would have been much help.  It was a job for one strong person.

Port of Ilwaco

the garden boat at Time Enough Books

Port Office, south side, before

a tough, rooty job

bleached out bulb foliage fro being hidden in the lavender

before, other end


just across the lawn

south side, port office, after

I think I might plant Agastaches instead of lavenders, for no reason other than my great love for Agastaches (and because a couple of lavenders remain in the middle of the bed).  The reason the lavender sprawls so much is that in the summer, hanging baskets give an increasing amount of shade.

a surprisingly large load of debris

I had forgotten how huge those lavenders had become.

In the evening, we watched this film, based on a great book by the author of Ethel and Ernest, which we had purchased because we could not find it otherwise. (I think it might be available for online viewing. I like to watch films on a nice old fashioned DVD, from the comfy chair.)


“A naive elderly British rural couple survive the initial onslaught of a nuclear war.”

And then, as happens sometimes, i suddenly came down with all the symptoms of having caught Allan’s cold.

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