Friday, 8 February 2019

Note: While on staycation, I mostly take photos with my phone, leading to photos that are a bit softer, unfortunately.)

We still have snow.

Front window view:

The temperature was still so cold that in the back garden, not even in the shade, wheelbarrow ice had not melted.

First, I gave biscuits to my friends next door.

I’d had a brainstorm before rising this morning: plastic window boxes would work well for plants on the pond shelves.

I fretted for awhile on whether green or brown would be hidden better under the water. (I can’t plant these up with marginal plants yet because my plants are still frozen into their pots.)

Our friend Mark, a pond owner, reminded me later that algae will hide either color!

The cold water felt painful on our hands. Nevertheless, Allan redid the driftwood edge on the back of the little pond that has gotten dislodged while making the big pond; he inserted blue broken pottery to hide the liner.

I worked on placing rocks and broken pottery “waves”. Just using the rocks we have makes for a rather jumbled effect which I hope to improve on later.

This time, I added some green broken pottery. A friend’s photos of waves at nearby Cape Disappointment State Park have enlightened me that ocean waves contain a lot of green.

Photo by Donna McKinley

Icy cold rain sent me indoors. Allan decided to go, despite the rain, to a secret driftwood collecting spot; we needed some to hide the liner that is tucked up against the boat at the back of the big pond.

On his quest:

Before he returned, the rain stopped and I went back out for more pond edging.

Allan unloaded his excellent collection of driftwood and went into the pond like Monty Don.

He had found the perfect very thin piece of wood to screw into the boat in order to hide and secure the top of the liner.

The long pieces of driftwood will further hide the liner and make good shade for frogs…but not today because daylight ended.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Predicted snow did not arrive and so we were able to continue on with the bigger pond. A small land bridge divides the two ponds for several reasons. It will allow me to get to the boat for boat gardening. It lets us avoid a weird L shaped liner fold. And it isolates problems so a leak would be easier to find and fix.

The back garden still had considerable snow.

I raked all around our new work area to remove packed ice.

Those hoses from yesterday were lightly frozen into the smaller pond. When I tossed little smooth rocks on top (to go to the bottom and hide the liner), they just sat.

Allan’s photo:

The second pond had more little rocks to remove (the results of having been a scree garden). Allan deepened the bottom a bit and we sculpted the edges.

Allan’s photos:

Allan is able to hop in and out of the pond more easily than I could.

We siphoned water out of our faucetless rain barrels, bucketed out of others, used every bucket of water we’d had sitting around and every green jug Allan had filled up last week…

…and we still had to use metered water to fill up the last few inches. I could not wait for more rain to see how it looked full.

While the pond filled, I found some marginal pond plants reseeded into the patio (from the water boxes) and potted them up in plain bagged soil, not potting soil, put little rocks on top, and placed the plants at the back of the small pond.  I had hidden the liner there  with some driftwood

There was a sudden crisis when I realized that we had not used the board and level method of making sure the sides were even. The west edge was deliberately higher, but the land bridge was too low for the pond to fill high enough to cover up my pond planters. Fortunately, I had saved a wheelbarrow of the brown sand for just such an emergency. Much rushing about, squabbling, and swearing (mine) ensued but we averted catastrophe and got the land bridge built up and tamped down so that the pond could fill by dark.

I even had time to add just a few rocks.

Snow is again predicted for tomorrow. I hope to have time to work on hiding the liner. We ended up with enough leftover liner and underlayment to make me question our measuring skills. If the extra liner does not have enough of a wide part to make another mini pond or stream, I can use it to make a bog garden. Allan measured it and put it tidily into boxes.

Frosty (age 14) had wanted nothing to do with this icy and challenging project.

6 Feb: ponding

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

The pond materials arrived from The Pond Guy a day early.

Allan’s photo

We were determined to get the small pond done.

Snow had melted in Allan’s garden on the east side of the house.

Some plants have been laid flat.

Between the house and shed, snow still lingered, blanketing some of my plant sale plants. Even the plants without the protective white blanket appear to have survived the cold, down to 26 F at night.

I’d feel more secure if I had been able to fit all of them into the greenhouse.

I recently learned from Gardeners’ World that I could have put winter dormant plants under the greenhouse shelving. Too late for this year. Next year, that will make more room.

Snow still lay firmly over the back garden, despite sunshine.

I was pleased to find that my special Dan Hinkley plant that I bought at last summer’s Hardy Plant Weekend, now in a pot too heavy to move, seems ok with the cold. I had asked him what plant I should buy that would make other gardeners envy me and he said this one. (I should look up the name. The pond is distracting me.)

Also on the patio

I eagerly went to the little pond, only to find that the ground was frozen solid so that the edge could not be sculpted. Happily, after an hour indoors, the temperature warmed enough so that we were able to carve out the plant shelf edge in a different spot (the thawed side!) than I had planned. The frozen side will be the gentle slope that frogs (and I hope not raccoons) are said to like.

I almost forgot to be like Monty Don and use a board and level.

It was perfect.

I raked the snow from around the pond to avoid working on a mat of ice.

Allan was glad to have the Nora House driveway for laying out the underlayment and liner. Later, I saw a hint on Gardeners’ World: Monty said to lay out the liner in the sun for an hour to warm up. I don’t think that would have helped today. He uses a butyl liner. Our is heavy but not that heavy. (I think we could have bought butyl liner from Firestone…but Pond Guy has a good reputation so we went with his, which is, by the way, heavier and cheaper than Home Depot’s liners).

I was glad the underlayment is dark, not white.

Skooter helped (Allan’s photo)

We were able to run hoses from two faceted water barrels to fill it up.

After helping

I wanted to put rocks all around…but the temperature had dropped so much and dusk was fast approaching.

That’s as far as we got today.

We begin with two guest photos by Steve McCormick of the Bayside Garden, probably taken on February 4.


Tuesday, 5 February 2019

I stayed in all day watching Gardeners’ World on youtube, a treasure trove of old episodes from 1991, when Geoff Hamilton was the amiable host. Allan took a walkabout when he got the mail.

A small snowperson at Thandi’s house:

Remnants of a snow angel:

A new garden on Spruce Street! Deer stroll throughout our town so the boxes are probably to keep them out.

His walkabout continued in our garden:

Ice gauges

He had company.

….And an audience.

I wondered if the snow would melt enough for us to install our pond. The liner was scheduled to arrive on Thursday. With more cold weather predicted, we might have a frustrating wait. Meanwhile, I was perfectly happy immersing myself in British gardens.

Monday, 4 February 2019

I woke at eight after only four hours of sleep and simply had to get up because not only has the snow stuck, but it was still at that stage where every twig was laced with white. I had to take photos. I figured that, as usual here at the beach, all the snow would be gone within hours.

The delicate details did disappear in a few hours but the snow has now lingered in the garden for three more days….unheard of since I moved here 26 plus years ago.

Allan’s garden

I knocked some snow off my azara and other bent down shrubs and trees.


Willows Loop East was impassable.

Cat memorial garden

Pond project

Fire circle

Bogsy wood

Plant sale plants

More plant sale plants under a cozy blanket of snow

Allan’s photos:

Allan took a walk while getting the mail and saw these snowy sights:

Post office


Boatyard garden

The boat that sunk earlier this week is in the boatyard now.

Crab pots

Looking toward the Bogsy wood

Our work trailer, still idle

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

January 2019,  end of staycation reading 

Here are just some (about half) of the books of January with takeaways that I liked.

I continued with Jane Casey’s mysteries.

Takeaway: why I moved to the beach.

(I wouldn’t be sick of rain.)

Another memoir by Vivian Gornick, via Interlibrary Loan:


embracing feminism in the 70s:

(I have, but not with the same intensity of joy and camaraderie.)

Perfect description of the kind of beach house I like:

Maybe Vivian knows why a friendship in which I had confidence but was often walking on eggshells did not work after all; my friend of forty years, Carol, once wisely warned me that if you become friends with someone angry or explosive, eventually that anger will turn on you:


Meanwhile, this…from Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights, a Salman Rushdie book that Allan was reading:

The garden belonged to the gardener.”

In another Jane Casey mystery, a subplot of a woman who’d had to move from a small rundown cottage into a London tower block, thus losing her community of neighbours, had me in tears.  It brilliantly reminded me of the history of post WWII England, by David Kynaston, in which so many people were ousted from their communities and put into tower blocks.

She remembers her garden…



I heartily recommend this funny and informative book about Scandinavia:

Everything about it is so entertaining that I can’t select any separate takeaways.

I became completely smitten with Novella Carpenter and want to be her friend and neighbour.  I’d move to Oakland to be her neighborhood! I followed this gardening memoir with Gone Feral, her memoir about her father.

I read this because I had recently liked the film:

I somehow happened upon this quite wonderful novel about baking and farmers markets:

The kind of house I like:

Some advice:

It’s set in San Francisco:

I must read his other book.

A memoir/advice book written in a breezy, conversational style might be informative to someone who does not want to read anything as serious as Body of Truth by Harriet Brown or The Obesity Myth by Paul Campos

This helped me with my thoughts about someone with whom I expected to share old age …till the diet and fat-denigrating talk (“____ looks like shit since gaining weight”) began to predominate. My attempts to divert to a neutral topic were to no avail.

It is not easy (for me) to tell the difference between seasonal and long term people. I fall easily for anyone who gets mushy and sentimental at the beginning of a friendship. And I may not have enough  years left to figure this out.

My biggest takeaway is this:

I told you the book is breezy and conversational, and the author swears so much that even I thought she went over the top in that regard.  However, it was just what I needed to read as I go into a new year, after a 2018 that was, socially, shockingly bad in some ways.  Do I have to screen skinny new friends to see if they are fat bashers or do I just wait for them to spring it on me, after I have emotionally invested precious time and love?  I hope I won’t get ambushed, if there is a next time.

Walking on into 2019, I am still carrying the burden of 2018’s disappointment and increased social mis-fitting. Fortunately, I cherish solitude so intensely that I have welcomed having even more of it this winter.

I wrote, rewrote, then severely edited and almost deleted all of this personal revelation. I reminded myself that the books I like best are memoirs in which the author reveals flaws and heartaches. May Sarton, Vivian Gornick, Nella Last….. And personal revelation is why The Miserable Gardener, Bob Nold’s blog, is in my top two of blog reading.

If I bury the personal in posts about reading, non readers won’t delve deep enough to find it. But the thoughtful people who like that sort of thing will.

January reading drew to a close (except for bedtime chapters) when I subscribed to two channels that allowed me to easily watch three seasons of Gardeners’ World. Inside Outside TV) offers Big Dreams Small Spaces and a plethora of Alan Titchmarsh shows.  So the rest of January’s rainy days and early evenings were this: