Archive for the ‘spring clean up’ Category

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Allan went off shopping across the river, partly for a new string trimmer and partly for pandemic supplies—in other words, enough canned goods, rice and beans and other staples to enable us to avoid shopping for a month if, heavens forfend, there is a coronavirus pandemic here. We should be able to go to work since our work can be pretty much non-peopling. I’m not scared, exactly, but I am depressed to have to think about all this, and worried for friends who are in fragile health, and sad because Seattle Carol (a Seattle metro bus driver) will probably cancel an early April visit during this uncertain time. Of course, I am made for being a recluse but would rather not have such a potentially dire reason.
Today I did a bit of propagating for my plant sale, wondering if fate will even allow The World’s Longest Garage Sale to take place as usual on Memorial Day weekend in late May.
The big plan was to prune all my roses that are not the old fashioned kind. The ramblers and shrubs I just let do what they will except for removing dead wood.
After the front garden roses, I got distracted with other projects….

Weeding a small front garden bed…

Yesterday ….




I removed yet another Ilex ‘Sky Pencil’ that had suddenly died, as they seem wont to do…

4B339961-5D3B-4C2C-AE12-77746D5BDBCCIn the background, behind the Melianthus, said ilex had been fine till it turned up its toes just last week. I probably won’t replace it with another shrub since the Melianthus would shade it out unless I put in something quite tall to begin with.  My budget doesn’t run to that.

I decided I must get the celandine out from the two beds by the front gate. Its pretty bright yellow daisy flowers set a bad example, making passersby think that it is a lovely winter bloomer that they should have.

It has smothered out some choice small flowering bulbs that I used to have in that area. Because its root clumps leave tiny earth colored nodules behind, it will be back next year no matter how much sifting I do, thus the removal is not impressive as it might look.
In the far back garden where I dug and sifted and fretted over every nodule last spring, the celandine now looks like this, stronger than ever.
Utterly maddening.
In Modern Nature, Derek Jarman says this about a childhood memory of celandine.

Instead of pruning all of the back garden roses as planned, I allowed myself to be distracted by the second pile of compost and leaves, this pile actually on the back corner of the Nora House driveway, which is a rather rude encroachment even though I know that her granddaughter, Alicia, does not mind.
Yesterday, before and after Allan dealt with the bamboo:


My leaf bin contents had sunk during the winter and so, after moving the compost debris to the big bins, I was able to fill the leaf bins to the top with the tarped leaves. The rest were strewn onto the driveway garden bed and the final amount filled two oyster baskets.
My audience:

I had found it all so exhausting and so very cold that I almost quit several times. To finish the pile was revitalizing enough that I found the oomph to prune my mother’s two tea roses, but no more.
There is still much cutting back to do, including six Stipa giganteas….

….and two more large roses. I would have done them a disservice to prune them at the end of the day when so very tired and cold.
The last thing I managed was a brief back garden appreciation walkabout.
Oh no, some stray celandine. Was too tired to get shovel…must remember before this makes a new big patch.

We did not get cold enough weather to kill the Azolla that covers the ponds.

3FDE589F-018C-4169-B3A2-EB6C5FACB3F1In better news, I found….




Physocarpus ‘Dart’s Gold’


Corylopsis pauciflora





Thick new shoots of Dranunculus vulgaris


Yellow hellebore


Narcissi in the Bogsy Wood

…and in the greenhouse…


Echeverias flowering



Salvia Africana-lutea

…and in Allan’s garden at dusk some crocuses toning well with a hebe.

Tomorrow just had better be an all day Jarman reading day. I’m tired of waiting!

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Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Long Beach

We had to leave the beach approach weeding for next week, because now our time must be spent getting downtown Long Beach ready for the clam festival.

The first Saturday in May used to be our target for the final spring clean up, until the clam fest was revived a few years ago, always in mid April.  You can read about the first year here.  Now the pressure is on.

We started in Veterans Field because the tent will be set up in the adjacent parking lot (at least, we assume that tradition will be followed).  All the photos are Allan’s through most of the day.

Veterans Field is large (here shown in summer with market tents) with two small gardens: a narrow arc shows at lower left and a corner garden at upper right.

Not surprisingly, the arc garden was weedy.  The flags overhead made an intense flapping racket because of the strong wind.


The corner garden was not as weedy as I had feared.

red anemones, white narcissi, Jackman’s Blue rue (which got a haircut after this photo was taken).

Even though we did not have time to weed more of the beach approach garden, we did pick up some Soil Energy mulch….

Some of it went in the center of the Vet Field arc garden, where I had previously removed a large quantity of Monarda ‘Jacob Cline’ which was not getting enough water to be happy.

My plan is to put some starts of eryngium and echinops (blue globe thistle) in there.

I also planted bachelor buttons seeds (cornflowers in the UK) and stepped on them to press them into the soil, like Monty does.

Then out to the beach approach where we had enough mulch left for one half section.

The wind was a big bully.  I thought about how I would be watching Deadliest Catch in the evening and that at least we weren’t crab fishing on the Bering Sea.

Deadliest Catch

Shelburne Hotel

The Shelburne was a good place to work out of the wind.

Easter weekend will be a big one at the Shelburne, we think, so we spent the rest of our day weeding and tidying there.

Allan checked on the upstairs deck planters.


One of two planters that we did not redo last year is coming up with mint and fennel.

In the garden, a leaf speared by Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’:

front garden

another spear

I finally got out my camera and took some photos of the garden.

We ended the workday with dinner in the pub.

chopped salad with chicken, and smoked salmon reuben (just a peek)

delicious blackberry cream cheese tart

Allan’s dessert

at home

I have started a four part series on BritBox TV that I love: Tales From the Coast with Robson Green.

Tonight I saw sand art with artist Mark Treanor, who said, as the sand washed his art away, “We all disappear.”

It always amuses me to watch Robson Green whether in a drama series or these travelogs because he looks so much like my ex spouse, the Leedsman (but a little over ten years younger):

Their voices are similar, with a northern accent, so it is inescapable that I think about the disappeared past of 29 years ago.


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Friday, 12 April 2019

Long Beach

We checked on the Long Beach welcome sign, where the vole damage does not seem to have increased at all, thank goodness.

I did not examine the tulips closely.  Ignorance is bliss.

We deadheaded two blocks worth of planters downtown.

I don’t think I have grown Tulip ‘Suncatcher’ before.

Suncatcher…very showy.

Allan’s photo

The tulips and the tulip foliage look great despite all the rain.

in front of Stormin’ Norman’s

We then took last time’s debris to city works and picked up a buckets-load of Soil Energy mulch.

Allan’s photo

And then, out to the beach approach to see how far we could get with the mulch on the sections we had already weeded.

We barely had enough for the first (westernmost) long section, the longest of all of them.  Then, on to weeding, hoping to get at least one half section done.

a thorny job

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo (telephoto; we were far from that close to the background hotel)

This week is spring break so the town is full of happy tourists.

Rain came, steaming on the road.

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

We only got one half section done…

Allan’s photo

…and we still have this far to go.

Vehicle above is on the wrong side of the road to politely avoid us, unlike many who cut it very fine as they pass us, despite our traffic cones and Allan’s safety vest.

We dumped today’s debris and finished deadheading the other four blocks of downtown planters.

Tulip ‘Akebono’ is one of my favourites.

I love Akebono’s green sepals and delicate, thin red edge (which does not seem as visible on these).

Allan’s camera picked up the red edge, on the yellow, behind the red tulip.

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

Tulip ‘Green Star’ (Allan’s photo)

Tulip ‘Green Star’ (Allan’s photo)

I am partial to all the viridiflora tulips.

‘Akebono’ (Allan’s photo)

Allan’s photo

😦 Allan’s photo

more Green Star (Allan’s photo)

I’m thrilled to see buds on my asphodeline.

I was not thrilled to find evidence of finger blight by Fifth Street Park.

Some flowers were just picked and dropped; perhaps someone yelled at the thief?

broken, not clipped with secateurs

And some were downright taken.  There should be five or six orange tulips in each of these clumps.

The ones across the street were as they should be.

The weather had become pleasant again after the rain and wind that drove us off the beach approach, and so we did a big tidy up of the northwest quadrant of Fifth Street Park.

our audience (Allan’s photo)

before (Allan’s photo)

There was way too much Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, hesperantha, and the ever maddening horsetail (the little scrimmy one) and some kind of belligerently spreading skinny allium.

after (Allan’s photo)


I might use some kind of annual along the front, so that it can be cleaned more easily of weeds in the autumn and winter.

Unfortunately, we had much more to do so no time to have a late lunch at Captain Bob’s Chowder.

camassia in the southwest quadrant

We deadheaded the last two blocks….

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

…and the Sid Snyder beach approach planters, where we saw two darling dogs…

…and a remarkably cute goat.

We deadheaded at the Kite Museum and almost got stuck dumping our debris at City Works.

Allan’s photo

Shelburne Hotel

While Allan did our grocery shopping across the street, I deadheaded at the Shelburne and noted an influx of weeds, mostly sorrel and creeping buttercup, that must be dealt with by next weekend.  I resolved that the next nice day would be partly spent there.

hmmmmm….what happened here?

I put down Sluggo all along the fence where I had planted sweet peas.  I could see a few of them, tiny and threadlike, emerging.

looking north

looking south

Looking south from the north end….In the distance, walking away, is Seaview Sara’s spouse and their dog, Jet; I had finally met the lovely dog for the first time.

Tulip ‘Akebono’ again

only one tiny hint of the red edge

Tulip ‘Spring Green’

Tulip ‘Queensland’

Tulip sylvestris

I had finally learned, from Monty Don on Gardeners’ World, that T. sylvestris is fragrant.  I rarely think to smell a tulip.  I did, and it has a beautiful scent.

not sure which one this is!

The work board has gotten ever so slightly shorter.


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Sunday, 7 April 2019

Skooter in the morning (Allan’s photo)

Once again, the weather forecast, which had called for 3/4 inch of rain and some wind, was so wrong.  I was disappointed; I had been planning on a two book day. Once upon a time, I would have said we had to go to work, back to the dreaded beach approach.  But no, I stayed home and planted up my plants from Annie’s Annuals and Digging Dog.

The rain had come during the night.

The canoe repair is still holding.  This makes us so happy.

I gave my neighbours biscuits.  Their love for me may be cupboard love.

Skooter woke up from a nap….

…and helped me plant.

What I got from Annie’s Annuals:

And what I got from Digging Dog.  The ones that did not get sent will be sent later, I am told.

Some of these plants I have had before; some I am adding another of (like the crambe.  The Crambe cordifolia that Digging Dog sent last year looked so small but looks sizeable this year, and I wanted a second one.)

Meanwhile, Allan had made a new 2019 version of his boating guidebook.

book pages laid out for assembly

He delivered the new version to Time Enough Books at the port and did some deadheading of the curbside gardens.

When he got back, I enlisted his help drilling holes in some potential seed trays and then digging out a big clump of pheasant grass.  I asked him if he thought the garden bed in question would look better without it…

…and told him he might want to lie because he was the one who’d have to dig it out.

During and After (Allan’s photos):

I think it is an improvement.

Our Kathleen stopped in for a visit, and afterwards I took a little time to appreciate the garden, even though I felt glum on and off all day by how weedy it still is.

back east bed

front east bed

front east bed

The red bells of Ribes speciosum is popular with hummingbirds.

I learned from Carol Klein that pulsatilla likes sun.  Ooops.  Here it is in full shade.

Acer campestre ‘Carnival’

some tulips with weeds

My goal is to half retire at the end of 2020.  I hope then to have ten years at least of much more time in the garden….if we are lucky.  I know Allan hopes to be able to keep kayaking into his 70s and beyond.

I want to have time to dig up weed infested plants like this kniphofia…

…which I just don’t have time for now…

…and get the whole garden perfect, a bit every day.  Now that this goal is in distant sight, it is getting much harder to wait.



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Thursday, 4 April 2019

The weather surprised us with a workable day.

Tulip ‘Lilac Wonder’ at the Ilwaco post office

Long Beach

We plunged right back into weeding the Bolstad beach approach, with the hope to finish three sections, by which I mean three HALF sections; I have divided it up more in my mind to make it psychologically easier.

Allan’s photos tell the tale.

I LOVE poms!

one lonely tulip that the deer did not eat

By this point, I really wondered if we were going to make it to the end…which would be three short sections.  It was one of the harder, more grassy areas.

I was determined but exhausted.

It would be nice to be able to leave the clover and birdsfoot trefoil and vetch for pollinators.  I want to but I don’t think people would understand.  What do you think?

Allan doesn’t like the vetch because it climbs all over the roses in a cloud of pink….and the birdsfoot in a cloud of yellow.

We did it! You can see there are grasses still at the very base of some of the roses.  My arthritic right hand, going into its 65th year, just cannot get those out very well anymore.  Once the roses leaf out, the grasses there will be pretty much hidden.  That’s just the way it is.  In a more refined garden, I would manage it (or delegate).

We were delighted to reach our goal.  On the way south, we deadheaded two blocks worth of narcissi in Long Beach….

Tulip ‘Lilac Wonder’ at the police station.

…and the Long Beach welcome sign.

I have begun to notice that there is little sign of the pink and white tulips on the back of the sign.

just one patch out of 100 tulip bulbs

The front looks floriferous.

But when I got in close, I found several tulips like this…drooping, and when I pull them, the stem comes right out.

This says to me that voles have taken up residence in the planter and are eating the bulbs.  This means that for next year, the tulips would have to be planted in cages or pots covered with mesh….or this might be the last year that tulips will be the spring show at the welcome sign.

Voles won’t eat narcissus bulbs so the spring show might have to be all daffodils; some are late blooming…but then there is so much bulb foliage to deal with.  How very tiresome to have to ponder this.

With our work in Long Beach done, I did a quick check up on the Shelburne Hotel garden while Allan did some grocery shopping across the street.

The garden is looking fine and needed only a small bit of deadheading.

looking north

the first Dutch iris

My neighbors were at the pub!

Bentley and Cota

Allan’s photo of Bentley

looking south from the north end

looking south from the entry way

Allan’s photo

I had received in the mail a plant order….I was happy to see it but I wished the plants (some agastaches) were in some sort of little pot (even fiber, to save on plastic) rather than just loose and needing immediate attention.

I have to admit that I was so tired, I just bunged them into a bucket and will deal with them tomorrow.

The work board tonight:



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Tuesday, 2 April 2019

I had a perfect rainy reading day.

There were all sorts of takeaways that I had marked in Ehrenreich’s book, especially things that it surprised me to learn we shared in her relationship with her volatile and unpredictable mother.  At the end, it all seemed too personal for a gardening blog so I saved none of it.

I then had the pleasure of reading Meg Wolitzer’s new book in one long sitting.

She is one of my (many) favourite authors.  This wasn’t my favourite of hers but still made for an enjoyable afternoon and evening.

I was also ever so pleased to see the Shelburne Hotel using an image of the garden on Instagram.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

The weather looked ominous. Skooter, who is usually outside in the morning, wanted none of it.

We tried to go to work on the beach approach in Long Beach.  The bitterly cold wind was whipping along the approach at about 20 miles an hour, so all I did was plant California poppies in the planters that I missed on Monday….

cold and miserable with a cute but annoying hat

…and then we returned home, with a book return stop at the library on the way.  Allan took some quick photos of the Ilwaco Community Building garden during the book returning.

I had started an Alan Titchmarsh book at bedtime last night, loved it from the start, and looked forward to an afternoon of reading. But first, I needed to water plants in the greenhouse and have a look at the ponds.

We’d had this much rain.

And then I thought I might just strip the leaves off the Melianthus major branches piled behind the garage and put them into compost bin one.  And then I might just pull a few weeds from the messy bed by the Nora House driveway in order to fill up the wheelie bin which sits nearby.  And then…the wind was gone and the weather warmed.

Once upon a time, not long ago, I would have said to Allan that we must go back to the beach approach.  Instead, I kept on weeding.

I got distracted by the front garden’s westernmost bed and got it all weeded.  A before photos would have shown quite a mess of unwanted green.


Meanwhile, Allan worked on fixing the crack in the water feature canoe.

using the water trailer pump to empty the canoe to below the crack
after removal of the old repair!
the new patch, cut from a tote and epoxied on…fingers crossed.
It will have to set before refilling.

He then used The Pencil Sharpener to shred the melianthus and some dogwood branches:

I returned to my original project and got pretty far along before almost dusk.


This bed is a dreadful one for couch grass and horsetail.  Repeated years of potato growing have failed to clean it up.  It has so many spuds in it that I will have potatoes again this year (red and Yukon Golds).  My big idea is to have a shed here for privacy between the two properties. Or, if someday we have a friendly and compatible gardening neighbours, a shared kitchen garden!

I collapsed indoors and read my Alan Titchmarsh book for an hour before dinner and telly.

Like Mr. Titchmarsh himself, it is wise and droll and funny.  More on this when I finish it.  I was pleased that he shares my feeling about privacy, even with (I hope eventually) good gardening neighbours.




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Yesterday’s post about gardening partners elicited such good comments that I was inspired to remember and add some photos of Bryan helping in the garden. I had forgotten about that. Go back one day and have a look if you were one of the readers who responded to that post. I think you will like them.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Long Beach

Before we began our project, we saw our friend Jan and her nice, soft-to-pet dog out by the beach approach.

Allan’s photo

We set out to weed one section of the Bolstad beach approach and to plant assorted California poppies (me) in the planters out there.  I know I said I had totally given up after the recent disheartening plant theft but….hope springs eternal.

While planting, I found more plant theft holes.

We found a santolina that had grown from cuttings tossed (by me) behind the planter; Allan dug it up and I put it in one planter to replace a big stolen one…for what it is worth.

Allan’s photo

I also dug a couple of starts of the native beach grass with its wide blue blades, where it was growing right by the road. It has mostly been pushed out by European beach grass.  Maybe it will be left alone to grow in the hardest hit planter…

…or maybe not. So much has been stolen that the grass might as well fill up the whole planter.

I got to see our very good friend Mitzu, who was on her way to a beach walk.

I thought that maybe the Lisa Bonney memorial planter (which is just a few feet from where she was killed) had been left untouched by thieves.  Loved ones of hers have planted new plants in it.

Then I looked closer:

one side still complete…
stolen well established sea thrift from the other side

I left about four of the planters unplanted with the poppies in a moment of panic when I thought I had lost my camera.  (It was in the van.) So that task did not get erased from the work list.

The beach approach garden, at the beginning, looking east:

Satellite view:

the long narrow Bolstad garden
Allan’s photo

I remember that moment from late last fall, on the last or almost the last workday, when I stood at this spot and felt an odd surge of enthusiasm for weeding this blocks long garden in the spring.  I wish I could feel it again.

Allan’s photo

While weeding the westernmost section of the approach, I had a brainstorm.  Instead of saying that the approach garden has thirteen sections (counting two end caps as one section), I will divide it further.  Each section has a clear halfway point, and so I am putting 26 sections on the work board.  That way, on a day like today when we have other places to be, at least I get to erase one number.  And my right hand is so arthritic now that combining the beach approach with other, less painfully repetitive tasks, is a good idea.

Allan’s photo, after today’s work

Boreas Inn

I planted a few plants, including a Verbascum ‘Cotswold King’ and ‘Southern Charm’ and a Salvia ‘Amistad’ in the west side gardens, along with more poppy seeds.

Allan’s photo

I have learned from Monty Don and Carol Klein that I should have more success with the sort of seeds that one covers only lightly if I press them down hard.

Allan wheelbarrowed some bucketed mulch to the east entry garden, followed by mulching and then pruning a hardy fuchsia (me) and trimming some ivy (Allan).

what’s left of the five yards of Soil Energy (Allan’s photo)
entry garden sit spot
Allan’s project, before

We would never plant English ivy.  It is considered a noxious weed now but is firmly entrenched in some places.

The work board tonight, with revised beach approach sections.




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Saturday, 30 March 2019

Skooter’s mid morning greeting

Allan industriously weeded dandelions and mowed at the Nora House next door…

…and made a trip to the Ilwaco community building to cut down another patch of salal (to rejuvenate it and make it fresh and green).

At home, I spent the afternoon and early evening weeding the middle bed…

…and even some areas of the two big east and west beds.

Corylopsis pauciflora in west bed
after much shotweed removal
east bed
plant table
center bed, still have not finished cutting back the Sedums…
or combing out the Stipa gigantea.
Gold Nugget! still with no offshoots

It seems that for once I got to large stands of shotweed before they shot their seeds, since no seeds hit me in the eyes today.

I walked to the very back corner of the bogsy wood and found, to my delight, that the willow sticks I stuck are all leafing out, to become a bower one day, I hope.  No photo of that!

The Bogsy Wood
telephoto: willow bower will be in the corner to the left; tire outside the fence is on gear shed land.
Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ looking very strange as it emerges.

I was happy to go indoors as the sun set and watch several episodes of Gardeners’ World 2006 from my comfy chair.  The show was so different then, in an artificial setting (“Berryfields”) with lots of demonstration gardens and with Monty, Joe, and Carol all working together in the same place. And no delightful dogs!




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Friday, 29 March 2019

We weeded and mowed the pocket lawn at the Js across the street.  I planted some sweet peas along the white picket fence by the front gate, just because I have extra seeds.

Js front garden
Allan’s photo
a handsome Berberis darwinii next door
a passerby (Allan’s photo)

At the Ilwaco Post Office, I planted some sweet peas along the fence. I have never succeeded in growing them here, but I live in hope.

lilies emerging (Allan’s photo)

At the port, we worked our way from the east to the west end, planting poppies in some of the curbside beds (me), and weeding and deadheading (Allan).  He took all the photos at the port.  By poppies, I mean California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, in assorted colours—Buttercream, Copper Pot, Tropical Sunset, Dusky Rose, Rose Chiffon, Pink Champagne, Jelly Beans, Alba, Bridal Bouquet, Appleblossom Chiffon.

CoHo Charters curbside bed
Dave Jensen architecture office and the Tuna Club
At the Helm hotel (not open yet)
At the Helm curbside

by Ilwaco Pavilion
so far not much picking this year
Time Enough Books curbside
one of the Purly Shell pups (about six months old)
Time Enough Books
Time Enough Books entryway
photo especially for Tony Tomeo
Muscari paradoxum, which I adore

We went to The Shelburne Hotel for the rest of the workday.  I had really wanted to spend all day there, but it seemed important to get the California poppies planted at the port before the rain returns.

Allan tackled the annoying Ranunculus ficaria in the back garden, bagging it up for disposal.



And in the limited time we had, he also went after some of the montbretia that is trying to return.

I took out more of a run of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ in the front garden, in an area where it is partly shaded and turned sad and mildewy by late summer.

After: I want hardy fuchsias there instead.
not very showy yet
Muscari ‘Helena’
Tulipa sylvestris

We had our dinner in the pub.

Allan’s smoked salmon reuben

And now for two days off (maybe Monday, too, if a predicted rain storm arrives).  I intend to not leave my property, and Allan has a boating plan for one of the days.





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Saturday, 23 March 2019

at home

I hope to take more days off this year even during busy times because life is too short to not be in my garden.

Allan’s photo
Allan’s photo

We’d had this much rain during my reading day.

I briefly admired the garden, despite its unkempt state…

…and then got Allan’s help in sinking a big pot of cattails into the larger section of the pond….

Allan’s photo

…followed by a shallow tray of marginal bog irises (no, not the invasive yellow one) and acorus.

Skooter was too tired to help.

Allan also installed three fish that someone had given me ages ago.

On the other side of the boat is the cat memorial garden. On Friday, Our Kathleen’s 19 year old kitty, Sabrina, passed away. This had been much on my mind; I will lend her Goodbye, Dear Friend by Virginia Ironside, a book which comforted me after the loss, over the years, of three excellent cats: Orson, Dumbles, and Smoky.

Today I had wanted to get the center bed all weeded.  It is a terrible mess with some thick grassy areas that need careful attention.

The hole is where I needed some plain soil for the cattails.  I hope for a water feature in that area soon.

I did not even get halfway done with the weeding by early evening.

Nora’s granddaughter was down to do some maintenance on the Nora House and invited us for a corned beef and cabbage dinner.

narcissi from my garden

She and her partner and we talked for three hours.

Tomorrow will be another day off, with my goal being to plant my sweet peas and finish weeding the surprisingly daunting center bed.


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