Archive for the ‘weather’ Category

25 March: a GW day

Monday, 25 March 2019

The predicted cold rain fell all day.  I did not mind one bit.

We began by watching the segment of The Great British Garden Revival that features Charlie Dimmock making a quick and easy formal water feature.  I was hoping that Allan would be inspired, so that he would share my enthusiasm for copying her plan next weekend. It will involve moving plants, and early spring is the best time for that, and I hope to fill it with rain water, another reason to do it soon.

He did get interested and even went out in the afternoon to check on the availability of the two long pieces (and one shorter) of large lumber that we would need.

On the way back, he photographed the Ilwaco Community Building in the rain. A second patch of salal should be trimmed on the right to match the freshly pruned one on the left. 

It turns out that the lumber would be over $125 for each long piece.  After some pondering, we have decided to make the pond out of concrete H blocks instead, which will be more work and more careful leveling but will be much less expensive.  I simply cannot afford Charlie’s simpler version.  Allan’s ideas about the dimensions of the pond are just a bit grander than hers (and we don’t want part of it to be a bog garden).  The liner will be the biggest expense.

Here is a wonderful sight:

Frosty and Skooter sleeping together

I then watched many the episode of Gardeners’ World 2013 via my subscription to Inside Outside TV.

Eventually, Frosty came to my lap…

…and so did Skooter….

…in a screen-blocking way at first…

I gleaned another good tip about composting.  Monty does not keep turning all four bins.  He lets the well rotted compost finish off in one undisturbed bin, a practice which I will adopt now that my autumnal debris is reduced in volume.

I offended the cats by rising from my chair occasionally, so they returned to their mutual nap elsewhere.

The rain continued all day.

from the north window

I noted yesterday that the deer are squeezing through my front garden fortifications and chowing down on bulb foliage and roses.  I do wish we could have an eight foot fence along the front.  Zoning does not allow that.

As I write this, I have only three episodes of GW 2013 left.  It is a great luxury to have all the episodes lined up in order rather than having to quest around the internet for them.  2013 and 2014 are seasons that have resisted my most determined searching, so I hope Inside Outside acquires 2014 soon.

The end of the pre-dinner evening was spent writing four blog posts, as I was all out!


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Monday, 18 March 2019

I woke to wind battering the house, sounding like a winter storm.

I so wanted to stay home with Frosty and Skooter.  Frosty wanted nothing to do with the outdoors.

We resolved to try to finish the center parking lot berm in Long Beach, the one that mostly involves just string trimming.

The Veterans Field flags nearby showed the strong east wind.  The temperature was warm and the east wind, usually icy cold, was just a bit cool.

Allan’s photo

I started work a half hour later than Allan because Jenna (Queen La De Da) was taking some items to her new Mermaid Sandcastle just across the parking lot.


After Jenna and I put the world to right, I joined Allan on the job.

Some of the mess of the center berm, with more of the miserable-to-weed crocosmia and rugosa rose combination:

Allan’s photo

The wind blew our wheelbarrow right over.

Allan’s photo

string trimmed and tidied (Allan’s photo)

Despite the wind, I wanted so much to erase santolinas AND berms from the work board that we went out to the Bolstad beach approach to trim the santolinas in the planters.

In the westernmost planter, I found that just in the last couple of weeks, someone had removed one of the large old santolinas, a project that would require standing on the bench or the dune wielding a shovel.


the hole

Most of the small plants have already been stolen. Now the big ones are the prey.

As I walked along, I found more large plants had been dug out. Up till now, most of the plants stolen could have been removed with hand tools.

This planter is also off balance with a big santolina removed from one side:

trimmed, for what it is worth (Allan’s photos)

Santolinas that size would not even transplant well and so probably the thief ended up with dead plants.  The plants LIKED it out here in the salty wind and open air.  They wanted to be left to live their quiet lives.

windy and fuming

trimming some ground level santolinas

Of course, the many blocks long ground level garden needs weeding….but not in lousy weather of any sort.

finding another planter with large stolen santolina…or rather, without it

Just every OTHER grape hyacinth dug up and stolen…how thoughtful to leave some.

A sea thrift used to be where that hole is.

This poor fella got replanted.

These planters used to all have a lot more plants. Even most of the little sea thrifts that the Basket Case Greenhouse donated last fall have been taken.

gesturing in outrage with The Toy at more holes.

Don’t even ask why there are so very few narcissi out in these planters; they have been dug and stolen batch by batch over the past few years along Bolstad.  I don’t bother to plant them anymore; it would be a waste of time and money.

Another planter, this one with our name on it from volunteer days, had its big old green santolina missing.

We stopped at city hall because I had an urgent need to kvetch and whinge to the city staff while Allan watered the entry ramp garden that gets no rain (being under wide eaves).

One brilliant staffer had the idea that the planters could just have landscape fabric and river rock put down (by the city crew, as if they have time for that….) around the few existing plants.  I said that would be a good solution.  What plants remain would look scree-garden-y and not so annoyingly off balance.  (A layer of small pea gravel would have to go down first and then the larger river rock, so that the underwear did not show).  I just cannot imagine how the city crew could find the time. And I feel too arthritic to haul bucket after bucket of rock at a work pace.   We are 64 and 66 years old, fer-cryin’-out-loud!!

[update: That idea was rejected because people might throw the rocks. Wildflowers were suggested, but they get stolen, too, and they won’t thrive in summer unless someone has time to water them with the Long Beach water truck.)

Regarding another common couple of suggestions: There is nowhere to put cameras, no one to monitor the footage, and thorny plants like barberries have been stolen as readily as plants without thorns.

I told the nice office staffers that once upon a time, I imagined keeping the Long Beach job till I was doddering along with a walker.  Now, I just think “two more years” (what counts as full retirement age for social security), because the thievery has sapped some of the joy out of the job.  The beach approach planters used to be beautiful, before whatever happened that brought on so much thieving.

From the glory days:

one of the beach planters in 2015

Allan weeding one of the western Bolstadt planters in 2015

3 Aug, beach approach; these planters have to be relatively drought tolerant and very salt wind tolerant.

It makes me sad to compare photos of how good they once looked to how they look today.

A reader of my instagram had a suggestion that had already crossed my mind, that each hole could have a sign that said “This empty space courtesy of a plant thief.”  That wouldn’t look appealing to the tourists.

Now….I will keep my focus on the downtown planters and parks.  I am done with even trying to replant on Bolstad. I have to stop my blood from boiling about this or I won’t make another two years of living, much less working.

We went home early because the wind was unbearable at 35 mph.

A block and a bit away from home, we applied some water from big green jugs (formerly kitty litter containers) to our newly planted bed at the fire station, under a wide eave so not getting much rain.

not much going on yet (Allan’s photo)

Frosty was thrilled to have me home early.

I calmed down by making about fifty santolina cuttings (feeling just like Carol Klein!), potting up some plant sale starts, and writing four blog posts.

Berms and santolinas got erased from the work board. Sweet peas and poppies have appeared as the next round of tasks. The beach approach weeding will have to wait.

Next day I realized I must add Boreas Inn to both sweet peas and poppy lists. Susie hasn’t had sweet peas since we passed the job to someone else two years ago. One of the reasons I took it back. I hope I can have sweet pea success like I used to there.







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Friday, 1 February 2019

We had a day of chilly rain, which meant a wonderful binge of Gardeners’ World 2018 on BritBox. I am watching on my iPad and making many screenshots and notes.

Allan filled the jugs so that we will have more rain water for filling our pond after the liner comes.

He went to the library and found this hellebore being admired by patrons.

He also had a look where a handsome sailboat had sunk down at the port, we know not why.

Here it is the summer before last:

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Surprisingly good weather meant I had to tear myself away from Gardeners’ World and turn and sift a bin and a half of compost.

rain in the pond hole

bin three

my audience

You can hear the crows in a short video, here.

I got halfway through sifting bin four before near dusk.  All the siftings went into the garden beds where I had added sand.

After my compost frenzy, I picked some flowers for Jenna’s sneak peek Mermaid Sandcastle party.

We attended the party for of all of fifteen minutes but did bring the bouquet and chocolate chip cookies made by Allan.  (I have to confess, I was anxious to have time in the  evening to watch Gardeners’ World.)


The cute house behind the giant fry pan.

Jenna’s photo

The hellebores might be wilted by tomorrow, but the other parts of the bouquet will stay for awhile.

I was amazed at how Jenna had pulled the house together since we had been there eight days before.



and more treats

Jenna’s spouse, Don, doing caricatures.

Jenna and one of her mermaids

Sunday, 3 February 2019

I am pleased to report that Sunday was cold enough to be an all Gardeners’ World day for me.  I also finished this supremely enjoyable book.


I’d like to see those surveys. I am skeptical that gardening leads to longevity. I know of too many wonderful gardeners who have died before 70, even before 60, of cancer and ALS.

I rather share the author’s thoughts about death:

I, on the ….

I remember clearly my moment of realizing I was going to die someday. I knew it, of course, but late one night, as a teenager staying overnight at my grandma’s house, the realization struck me that someday I will just not be here at all. I’d never given it much thought before that moment. I can still remember the way the dark polished wooden headboard gleamed in the lamplight as I noticed my blurred reflection.

Even if gardening won’t let us all live to 100, the happiness and interest that it brings to life make it a worthwhile pursuit anyway.


Before bedtime on Sunday night, Allan looked out the window and saw an unusual sight which he proceeded to photograph in an unearthly white glow at midnight.

the water boxes




Compost bins


Frosty on the front porch

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25 December 2018

The Christmas present exchange between me and Our Kathleen had a touch of O’Henry about it.

from Kathleen (Cream Earl Grey is delicious)

To Kathleen (from NIVA green gift shop)

I would love to have sent the same Liquid Wisdom teapot to Montana Mary but have a long and sad history of fragile things getting broken by the time they reach her.

We had already celebrated Christmas on Christmas eve, so I spent the afternoon potting up plants for my Memorial Day plant sale.

rain gauge

In hazy winter light, the lawn sparkled but I could not catch that in a photo.

new greenhouse lean to already full

Skooter helped with digging and dividing.

A terrible disappointment: The Eryngium, grown from seed from a reputable big name seed company, that was supposed to be Miss Willmott’s Ghost, have all turned out to be just an ordinary eryngium (and this one is blooming in winter).

I am sad.  I still desperately want Miss Willmott’s Ghost.  If anyone can bring me a real one, I will take that person out to dinner at the Shelburne Pub!

I have had a potting soil situation.  I bought the same brand from two different local stores.  One shipment is normal looking and dark.  One is extremely red and barky.

This kind, spray painted to mark the barky batch.

So I bought some from each source and mixed them, two parts good to one bad (at least, I think it is bad).

I think the red and barky soil is not as good (left).

Look at the difference, same brand!

The barky bags also had a lot of this.

What do you think about that, fellow gardeners?

26 December 2018

rain gauge and Frosty getting ready to help

Along with potting up starts, I did a little project.  The patio I made in January of 2011 had pavers at the edge, with the water boxes that were later installed.  I suddenly realized those pavers no longer served any purpose and took them out.

I crammed in some sod so that it can be string trimmed right to the edge of the boxes and will no longer be a weedy mess.

From the free wood pile by Jessie’s Fish Co, Allan brought home an armload of plastic venetian blinds.  He had asked me months ago if I wanted them for plant tags.  At that time, I was tired from work, had no intention of having a plant sale, and said no.  I had been regretting that no and was thrilled the slats were still there.

now chopped into plant tag length, four per slat

The potting continued with hellebore seedlings and divisions of golden oregano.

I am keeping track of the time I spend on this project, and the soil, and will divide that by any profit I make to see if this is a worthwhile thing to do after we retire.  (I have dreams of a plant stand at the Saturday market.)

Allan got round to photographing a gnome (made by Wendi Peterson at a Basket Case Greenhouse winter workshop) in a downtown window.

27 December 2018

I continued on a doomed mission to remove as much Ficaria verna (lesser celandine) as possible from areas of the garden where it is taking over.  It no doubt came from plants I brought from my mother’s garden.  It goes dormant in summer, so during the time when I was taking plants while we had her house for sale, its tiny corms hitched a ride.

little round leaves on the run

I am unlikely to win this battle.  I do love the bright yellow spring flowers.

I debated cutting down more dead perennial growth with The Toy, but what is left still looks beautiful to me.

Chelone (pink turtlehead)

We had made a trip to The Planter Box to get some pots back; I have been donating all my extras back to them before I decided on having a plant sale.

potted up some hens and chicks in these cute tiny pots

The only hen that has made no chicks is my favourite one that I bought for about $8 last spring:

Sempervivum ‘Gold Nugget’ is, so far, ungenerous.

After dark, I took a break from daily reading to watch just one episode of Gardeners’ World.  I know if I go down that rabbit hole, my reading plans will end for the winter so I must resist.  But…just one…

I trusted my memory so can not tell you the location of a garden right by the sea…

with a wonderful greenhouse…

…where the gardeners mulched with seaweed.

They said it helped to repel slugs and snails.

I wept with the tenderness of the visit between Carol Klein and Beth Chatto, one of my all time favourite inspirational gardeners.

30 December 2018

We’d had more rain. and now I had a semi-squally winter afternoon for more potting up of plants.

This time, I worked partly in the greenhouse making cuttings.  Wish me luck; it would be wonderful if these take. I was advised in a workshop of yore and by my friend Ann to use perlite.  I had one small bag of the stuff, but found it hard to stuck the cuttings in so I made a mix of half perlite and half seed starting mix.

I used santolina (green and silver), escallonia, rosemary, hardy fuchsia, red and gold twig dogwood, and a few other plants.

Maybe the ones in the lower right should have fewer leaves (olearia, just an experiment).

Skooter chose to not help out in the iffy weather.

sound asleep by the bathroom sink, the warmest room in the house

31 December 2018

We had ice!  Definitely a reading day.

My sarracenia did not mind the ice.

My plant sale stash is growing, but no more will be added till the weather warms up again. We did not dip down into the 20s so I did not have to cover these.

I learned this month that while planting in the ground is not a task I enjoy, I love potting up starts and making cuttings.  I found myself wishing that I had kept my previous home, which was zoned commercial, so that I could have had a weekend nursery.

Wishing you a belated happy new year as I finally got around to writing this on January 17th!

Next: some of the reading of late December.


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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

I wanted to begin to work our way through the new projects on the work board.

The Depot Restaurant

Chef Michael had requested that we prune a big rhododendron.  I won’t just hack away at something to make it smaller.  We started with the idea of just keeping it from touching the eaves of the house next to the Depot that has the restaurant office.



A look inside the branches showed lots of old trash on the ground underneath and much dead wood inside.  While Allan pruned along the back and got the shrub off of the house, I started going in from the lower front and sides.



before and after (Allan’s photos)

I debated at length about whether to remove the one big old branch that is coming forward, down low.  Because I was so indecisive, it got left for now.  Cutting it would have made a more tree-like shape with perhaps less character.

after; lots of dead wood came out

Allan’s photo; Would you cut that curving branch?

This is not the best time to prune rhododendrons.  It should be done right after flowering before next year’s flowers have formed.  We lost a lot of flower buds doing it now. I can see how after next year’s bloom, we can make the rhododendron smaller and still shapely.

With a trailer load heaped with a debris, we went to the local dump.

Allan’s photo

I had the intention of following the offload by working at the Red Barn and Diane’s, till a considerable rain began.

dump view

The rain increased.  Instead of working in it, we headed north for an errand. On the way, we visited

The Cranberry Museum

on Pioneer Road.  (You’d think the Cranberry Research Station would be on Cranberry Road, further north, but it is not.)

Allan’s photo

I was looking for a birthday present for Mary of KBC.  It was something that the museum no longer had in its gift shop.

tightly clipped Vaccinium ovatum (evergreen huckleberry).

Allan’s photo

When I started gardening for a living here in 1994, one of my first jobs was pruning the huckleberry hedges at the Cranberry Research Station.

the bogs at the Cranberry Research Station

We continued on with our errand.

The Planter Box

Several bags of mulch were acquired, plants were admired, and a good talk was had with Planter Box owner Teresa.

autumnal foliage

autumnal cabbages

and kale

and chrysanthemums

This jungle bench is unusual.

With bags of mulch loaded, we put off Diane’s garden till tomorrow and headed south.

The Shelburne Hotel

I briefly checked the Cosmos ‘Xanthos’ that I had moved from an upstairs pot down into the garden yesterday.

It will provide some pale color (right) for awhile longer.

a new flush of sweet peas

Sanguisorba ‘Pink Elephant’ and one of the giant non blooming cosmos

Port of Ilwaco

The rain stopped and gave us a good evening to weed and mulch the Time Enough Books curbside garden.  (All the rest of the photos are Allan’s.)

This bed originally came with the wild beach strawberry.  I was heartily sick of the way it swamped everything else.  And this bed does not thrive even though I have given it much attention for years.  It was time for a do-over.


mulching with Harvest Supreme

after (will be removing more strawberry in the future)


the other side, before


While Allan went off to dump the debris, I messed around with some rocks.  I have the idea of making a crevice garden here if I can find enough long rocks.

so far that’s all I got…

I also messed around with some river rock.  I have an idea of a diagonal crevice garden and another diagonal river rock garden.  The river rock one started with the planting today of a Leptospermum rupestre that Evan Bean gave me. Xera Plants says “Stems follow contours as they grow, good surrounding rocks and down walls.”  So I had found a big rock to plant it by and then just had to play with others.  This garden bed used to be a tightly packed almost concrete-like river rock xeriscape so there are plenty of river rocks to be had.

The tiny leptospermum is in the middle. (looking south)

Some more rain will clean it up. (Looking north)

It reminded me of playing with tiny round rocks under the gutter when I was a child, and the results look like a child did it.  This did not help my chronic Imposter Syndrome.

But I had fun while I was doing it.  After we cleaned up around the edges, it was almost dark.

At home, I erased two tasks from the work board.

What’s left

When Allan got online, he checked his bank account and found that Medicare had cashed his big catch-up cheque.  This has to be a good sign.  They would not take his money for nothing, so we are sure he is reinstated.  I think the woman from the local office DID make a phone call to help us.  What an enormous relief.  I slept better than I had in the past two weeks.





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Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The day began with so much rain that, when Dark Sky said the rain would go on for a half hour, I took the opportunity to watch an episode of Gardeners’ World before work.

I want this pond:

It reminds me of the dream ponds that my Grandma put in her scrap book, and never realized in real life.  You can see her dreams, here.

I would like to make that dream come true in my own garden.

When the rain stopped, I would rather have stayed home with Skooter.

But off to work we did go. We had had this much rain since late yesterday afternoon:

When Allan went to fetch the wheelbarrow and retrieve tools I had left out, he discovered the mess I had left behind yesterday:

Allan’s photo

And also, what I had accomplished:

newly planted nicotianas (Allan’s photo)

As always, we stopped at the post office for our mail.

Ilwaco post office

We deposited some checks at Bank of the Pacific, where Allan noticed this plant life in the front entry:

Long Beach

We began the planting of agastaches, reddish ones (‘Sangria’ and ‘Mexican Giant’) in the Veterans Field gardens.

I was quite annoyed that during the parade events last weekend, a path had been made through the garden, flattening one area of plants.  This was after Allan fluffed it up:

Two plants (an overwintered agastache and a phygelius) had been smashed to such oblivion that only I knew they were there, flattened.

Allan found an apropos rock as I grumped about quitting public gardening.

Also we planted three Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’ in the corner garden.

It was tremendously, uncomfortably windy.

Allan’s photo

We began planting assorted agastaches as the centerpiece in the planters.

Allium christophii survived Sunday’s parade!

Narcissus ‘Baby Moon’ still going strong

tourists and Lewis and Clark

Amazingly, we got every planter agastached except for the L&C Square planter.

a tattered Tulip ‘Cummins’ (Allan’s photo)

Tulip ‘Formosa’ (Allan’s photo)

Tulip ‘Strong Gold’ still blooming (Allan’s photo)

the pond by Pacific Realty (Allan’s photo)

more Tulip ‘Strong Gold’ (Allan’s photo)

a chat with Heather of our favourite shop, NIVA green

We also got six Nicotianas planted in the NE bed of Fifth Street Park.

Allan’s photo, cerinthe and Dutch iris

a gladiolus and Cerinthe major purpurascens (Allan’s photo)

On the way home, we stopped by

The Shelburne Hotel

just to look over the fence and see what weeds awaited us there tomorrow.

not too bad!

A guest or diner emerging from the front door walked by and said to her companion, “Oh, I just love this, it’s like an English garden.”


At home, I realized that the flowers of my Davidia involucrata ‘Sonoma’ ARE white this year.  They started out small and greenish, and have elongated and turned very white, but are mostly hidden by the leaves.

So far, since I uncaged it, the deer have not nibbled it at all even though they have browsed plants around it.  (It is outside the deer fence.)

inside the fence, Tulip ‘Night Rider’, the last tulips of all

I only got one more episode of Gardeners’ World at the end of the day.

Some recent notes from watching GW:

The famous Sissinghurst garden had changed over the years to accommodate the many visitors, with roses no longer overhanging the paths.  It is now being revamped to be more like its original, wilder vision.

A guest presenter, in talking of the many gardening projects that can be done in autumn, said “Some think that autumn is time to cut the plants down, get inside by the fire and put the crumpets on.”

Must have plant: Althaea cannabina.

In 2016, Monty Don said “This is the first time I’ve needed glasses to prune my raspberries.”  He was 62 at the time.

I was relieved in the late evening to hear rain; I had been fretting that maybe we had not watered the new agastaches well enough.

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Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Allan’s day

This was the last of our recuperation days off.  Allan felt well enough to go boating.  He now has his own boating blog, so here is a sneak peak.  When he gets the full post written, we will share it over here.

At the post office on the way out of town:

Stipa gigantea all aglow against the newly painted wall

In South Bend, he had a treat at Elixir Coffee.

at Elixir Coffee

outside the coffee shop, a doorstop had a bright accent. 

On the way to boating adventure:

A sneak peek of the paddle trip:

Rain in the afternoon…fortunately, AFTER he got out of the water.

Rudder from next door greeted Allan in the driveway when he arrived home…

and wondering if there might be something tasty in our van.

Meanwhile, at home…

I started my day with just two half hour episodes of Gardeners’ World.  The cats also got a slow start:



I then got down to planting a selection of Agastaches (my current favourite perennial) in my garden, along with 20 each of Nicotiana ‘Fragrant Cloud’ and langsdorfii.  It is good to have some sort of continuing theme in a garden that is mostly onesies.

When I went in to get some potting soil in order to start my two window box liners, I found myself sitting down and watching just one episode of Gardeners’ World.  I simply had not been able to walk past my comfy chair and out into the garage to get the soil≥

After planting about 50 plants (and planting, you might recall, is my least favourite gardening thing), I did a project.  Here is a “during” photo:

Where the red lopper handles are, I cut down and, with great difficulty DUG OUT, a good, dark magenta Fuchsia magellanica and moved it to a new area of the Bogsy Wood garden.  It had been planted when the Bogsy Wood edge garden was quite narrow, and now it blocked the view of smaller plants further back.

after, because I did not clean up the mess.

The fuchsia went in here.

A light but drenching rain had began.

window box beginnings

The bulb window boxes will be switched out with the summer planting.

Narcissus ‘Baby Moon’ still going

rainy tulips

I weeded one more garden area of long velvet grass (which had swallowed a small fuchsia, almost irretrievably) in order to plant just one more nicotiana, and left another mess of weeds on the lawn because I had hit the wall of exhaustion and wetness.  I then found the energy to tidy up several pots.

Look how big this tulip is.

A last walk back to the Bogsy Wood…

…still did not inspire me to pick up any debris that I had left behind.

Trowel and Error

My reading has been slowed by watching Gardeners’ World.  When I went indoors, I decided I must finish Alan Titchmarsh’s memoir, Trowel and Error, before returning to GW.

I had last read this book in 2003.

I am always reassured that other gardeners remember plant names better than people names.

On one of his early gardening jobs, Titchmarsh was taught, by a senior gardener named Harry Hollings, how to plant a tree:

Alan writes, “My very first gardening book was Percy Thrower’s Encyclopedia of Gardening.”  Later, Mr. Thrower was the host of Gardeners’ World.  Somewhere in my book collection is this book, that I brought home along with other old gardening books from my trip to England in 1989:

That trip to England was in December and January, so I would not have been treated to any episodes of Gardeners’ World on the telly.

Many years later, Alan Titchmarsh became host of Gardeners’ World, and his cats took the role that Monty Don’s dogs now have.

Alan T. became the presenter when his good friend, GW presenter Geoff Hamilton suddenly died, less than a year before he had planned to retire from the show.

Thrust into the role of host with no gentle easing into it….

I was fascinated to read the inside story of how Gardeners’ World was filmed.

My favourite gardening show (maybe up till discovering GW) was Ground Force, starting Titchmarsh, Charlie Dimmock, and Tommy. Imagine if it had been like this initial concept:

It was much much better when they had Alan and crew actually making the gardens as a surprise for the owners.  Trowel and Error has a whole chapter on this show AND a chapter on creating the Ground Force garden for Nelson Mandela.

I like this bit about his garden helper:

I also take snails (or ask Allan to take them) for a long walk, and I always wondered if the mice than Allan used to trap and release at our old house were the same ones who perhaps reappeared to be trapped and released just days later. (See Allan’s video, Six Mice to Freedom.)

Alan T. has the same gentle side:

Every chapter of the book begins with a quotation, like this:

I kept meaning to look up all the different books later.  In the afterward, my illusions were shattered.

I was completely fooled.

I then watched another couple of episodes of Gardeners’ World with Monty Don.  I do wish I could find some of the old Titchmarsh shows to watch online.

watching Monty with Frosty

Nigel’s feline friend

the bins!

Monty expounds on the glorious compost bins.

At bedtime, I began the next Alan Titchmarsh memoir, Knave of Spades.  

Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow, more planting.




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Sunday, 15 April 2018

Instead of me finishing my cutting garden book, we took advantage of a break in the rain to put in a couple of hours at the Shelburne on two things that had been bothering me.

But first, I picked a bouquet to take with us.

window box

and another window box

Muscari botyroides ‘Superstar’

some tulips hoping to open

The rain has been hard on the tulips; it is a challenge to find nice ones to pick that are not rain-spotted.  The peony flowering tulips are in the worst state, of course.  Even the single flowers are battered.  This is one of those years when I resolve to never again grow anything but single tulips.

sad mushy double tulips

the rain gauges (Allan’s photo)

Allan’s photo

flowers on the way

The Shelburne Hotel

My project was to get some ferns removed from the roots of a rose in the front garden, and Allan’s was to prune a climbing rose in the back garden that may not have been pruned for years.  It had much dead whippy growth.

Allan’s photos:



Pruning canes with leaves does remove some of this year’s flowers.  However, the canes were so all over the place that it had to be done.  I would have had it done sooner but was unclear whether or not this arbor will be preserved.  It is more likely to be so if it does not look like a mess!


I am flummoxed by the formerly espaliered Asian pear trees on the west fence.  What to do?

(right) The pear has shot straight up in the past nine years.  The center tree is a limbed up hawthorn.

I got the center Asian pear tree looking a little better after I took this photo; it seems this one was not allowed to shoot straight up.

The third one has also been allowed to grow straight up. Its top growth does provide a screen from a window of a nearby house, so….might be valuable like this.

In the front garden:

looking south

base of the second rose today, where before it was all mucked up with a trashy fern.  It was almost buried in soft fern fronds.  And MINT.

Long Beach

We drove through town, stopping to deadhead under one tree, and then decided that the weather, which had just become miserably wet and windy, required the rest of the deadheading to wait.

Allan’s photos

Basket Case Greenhouse

A rainy day is a good time to check on the latest new plants at local nurseries.

Basket Case Greenhouse

We acquired some violas, at the request of Sous Chef Casey of the Shelburne, who wants them for edible flower garnishes.

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

I cannot resist agastaches.

On the way home, we decided to not plant all the violas in the rain; four went into pots by the front door where they will be handy for garnishing.

Allan’s photo

Allan’s photo

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Saturday, 14 April 2018

Looking out the front window, I noticed that the goldy-bronze Japanese maple, which I planted for eventual privacy, tones well with the cottage across the street.

Allan picked up some books from the library and did some deadheading there:

Ilwaco Community Building

Tulipa sylvestris

Tulipa (probably) ‘Peppermint Stick’

at home

In the early evening, Allan went on a splashabout in the back garden.

I wish that white bucket was not sitting there. Fire water bucket. I keep forgetting to move it.

in the bogsy wood

looking north from the Bogsy Wood

Bogsy Wood bridge

Bogsy Wood swale

the seasonal pond at the Meander Line

looking north

fairy door

at the north edge of the Bogsy Wood

lawn under water

In the evening, we watched the documentary Kedi, about the cats of Istanbul.  It was glorious.  You can watch it right here.

Skooter, lower right

To protect our telly, we had to put Skooter into the laundry room.  The soundtrack of meowing cats had him all in a tizzy. He never gets worked up by the meowing on the show My Cat From Hell.

After the film, I studied the first couple of chapters of this book, a gift from Lorna, former owner of Andersen’s RV Park, a longtime past job of ours..

I have looked at all the lovely photos before, but this time I am seriously studying it as I am not all that successful at intensive cutting gardens.  I am wanting a small one around the edges of the back garden of the Shelburne Hotel and would like to do better with cutting flowers at home because I am taking bouquets there on a regular basis.

A sweet story of how the author got started:

I don’t often pick bouquets for myself but I do like to make them for other people. I learned useful items already, such as succession seeding for annual flowers up till July 15th.  And planting them extra close together for cutting flowers.

After midnight, I looked to see how much rain had fallen on Saturday: 4.36 inches! And 8.55 since this storm began.

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Saturday, 7 April 2018

for the readers

The wind storm was late but the pouring rain was right on time, so we had a reading (me) and project (Allan) weekend.

a snoozy day for Skooter

Odd Lots  by Thomas C Cooper

I read Odd Lots years ago and rated it so highly that I decided to read it again.  It is one of those books that takes you through the months of the year in a collection of gardening columns.  Like Dan Pearson’s book of magazine essays, Natural Selection: A Year in the Garden, there is some repetitiveness as certain themes tend to recur every January or June.  That bothers me not at all.

Here are just some of my favourite bits.

Written in 1995, Cooper’s take on garden photography is so very different from today’s pocket cams and Instagram.

You WILL hear tales of my compost pile:

Mail order plants:

Yes!  I have such a strong memory of the first mail order plant box I ever received.  It must have been in 1990, from Herb Senft of Skyline Nursery.  His catalog was just a list of botanical names.  On the top of my order, wrapped in newspaper, was a blooming Pacific Coast iris.  I was so thrilled to get a bonus plant.  As for the newspapers, I enjoy my bulb order from Colorblends each fall, stuffed with newspaper from the Netherlands.


Puttering, also known as “something shiny syndrome”:

Narcissi (daffodils) are my favourite of all flowers:

I have read all of these authors except for Thalassa Cruso:

The joy of gardeners:

I found my day with Thomas Cooper a delight.  He does not seem to have written any other books, although he edited The Roots of My Obsession: Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal Why They Garden, which I acquired in 2014 at Timber Press during the Garden Bloggers Fling and still have not read.  I am moving it closer to the top of the pile.

The rain and the cat snoozing continued into the evening.


Sunday, 8 April 2018

The belated storm stayed offshore and did not create much fuss here.

Skip ahead to the third book for more about gardening!


I am probably the only one here who has a deep nostalgic love for Lenora Mattingly Weber’s Beany Malone series.  When writing up my 35 years of reading series, I was pleased to find out about this biography of her (partly an autobiography, as she did begin to write one before she died) written and self-published by her son.  I found it online for a price that I usually would not pay to own a book.

On using her friends or neighbors as characters in her stories:

She wrote a series of depression era short stories which were gathered into a (possibly children’s) book called Mr. Gold and Her Neighborhood House.  I cannot find a copy of that one online for less than $135.00

I would love to read all of Nonie’s diaries.

The beginning of the Beany Malone series (especially for Beany fans who might have wandered in here):



I wish I could find photos of the house and grounds that Nonie and her family lived in for awhile.  (Her husband, Al, was ill much of the time and so her writing supported the family, and this grand house proved to be too much for them in the long run.)

She felt that the house scoffed at the comparatively humble furnishings that the Webers moved into it.

I think I did find the duplex for which her son provided the address, the house that Nonie lived in while Al was so ill, and after he died, and which provided an open door for her grown children, extended family, and friends.  She rented one side of it to make ends meet.

Her adult life took place in Denver.  I love the name of her writing group, Nuts of the Round Table:

Nonie and her best friend:

Insight into short stories, with which Nonie mostly made her living before the Beany series:

I wish they would.


I used to go to library books sales in Seattle and I would buy a Weber book whenever I saw one.

Maybe it is embarrassing to tell you that I have read the entire series (14 books, plus another series in which Beany is a minor character) three times, and might read it all again before I die.

I did go outside between rain storms today, with the idea of just moving three plants that I had planted on Friday in not quite the right place.

the rain gauge since Saturday A.M.

I shifted two roses and a climbing aconitum and  planted one more plant:

Much to my surprise, I weeded a red wheelbarrow full of shotweed and creeping buttercup, only stopping when I lost my digging tool and then was driven from the search by more windy rain.

Tulips survived the storm.

Before starting the next book, I caught up on the Tootlepedal blog.  I had missed a couple of weeks during that time when we were working so hard on the Shelburne Hotel garden.  Do read this charming story of the opening ceremony for the rebuilt bridge behind their cottage.

A Full Life in a Small Place

I had time to read one more short book on Sunday, another re-read that I read and loved in the mid 1990s.

I feel very much this way about my compost:

On the compelling subject of age:



Below, the height refers to the the height of one’s lifetime achievements, and I adore her for admitting to her regrets (too similar to mine):

She let me know it is okay to be a homebody:


That is just a glimpse into this informative and transformative book.  It is easily ordered online.  Like Thomas C Cooper, she seems to have written only the one brilliant gardening book, although she does have a couple of others about nature.

During my reading weekend, Allan installed two vents for his shed, which has been becoming too humid inside:


The high vent. A low one is in front, both with heat controlled shutters.

Monday is supposed to be the ONLY nice day this coming week.  Definitely a work day.

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