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Posts Tagged ‘Ann Lovejoy’

Monday, 11 May 2015

We usually are careful to wait till Mother’s Day for planting annuals, to avoid cold nights. Jo’s annuals never suffer from being planted (at her request) a week or two before any of our other clients, but I don’t want to risk it unless the client is determined (like Jo!).  This year, we’d begun annuals last week, here and there.  However, annuals time can’t officially begin without changing the work board.

as it was

the work board as it was

I still have not gotten my back garden weeded enough to fertilize more than a few plants, and we have no sign of when we might have time to weed the 13 sections of the beach approach garden.

The annuals board has begun.

The annuals board has begun.

While we have some of annuals in at Andersen’s and the Red Barn already, they won’t get crossed off till they are completely done.  Cosmos are an annual, too.  Here, “annuals” means container plants like calibrachoas and trailing lobelia, quite a different planting experience than putting cosmos in the ground.

Mary watched us leave for work.  I wished I could spend the day with her in our garden.

Mary watched us leave for work. I wished I could spend the day with her in our garden.

First stop: check the painting situation at the Depot Restaurant.  The lattice is done.

First stop: check the painting situation at the Depot Restaurant. The lattice is done.

planted three Agyranthemum 'Butterfly' and two Helichrysum 'Limelight' in the barrel.

planted three Agyranthemum ‘Butterfly’ and two Helichrysum ‘Limelight’ in the barrel.

The Planter Box

We began to collect our flats of cosmos from the back greenhouse of the Planter Box.

some handsome heucheras on our way back to the last greenhouse

some handsome heucheras on our way back to the last greenhouse

I often ponder this table and two chairs, as we have a larger chair that matches this set.

I often ponder this table and two chairs, as we have a larger chair that matches this set.

Teresa at The Planter Box

Teresa and Raymond,  sibling owners at The Planter Box

a van packed with cosmos

a van packed with cosmos (Allan’s photo)

With the van stuffed with flats of cosmos and more, we drove to Andersen’s RV Park, just a few blocks up the road.

Andersen’s RV Park

Allan watering the garden shed garden after some weeding and the planting of cosmos there.

Allan watering the garden shed garden after some weeding and the planting of cosmos there.

Alliums in the garden shed garden

Alliums in the garden shed garden

allium closeup

allium closeup

Allan's photo: We also have Agyranthemum 'Butterfly' and some Salvia viridis (painted sage).

Allan’s photo: We also have Agyranthemum ‘Butterfly’ and some Salvia viridis (painted sage).

Cosmos 'Sonata' short) and some Agyranthemum 'Butterfly' went into the Payson Hall planters.

Cosmos ‘Sonata’ short) and some Agyranthemum ‘Butterfly’ went into the Payson Hall planters.

pinching after planting

pinching after planting

planting cosmos in the picket fence garden (Allan's photo)

planting cosmos deep down in the picket fence garden (Allan’s photo), with sweet peas

Each plant gets some Dr Earth fertilizer mixed with Quench, or whatever natural moisture retentive product that we are using now that Zeba Quench has seemingly disappeared from the market

If you plant cosmos deep, they root along the stems like tomato plants do.

I have a feeling we won't be working here all summer to see this garden mature...

I have a feeling we won’t be working here all summer to see this garden mature…

It’s weird planting annuals at places that are for sale.  I always wonder if I will see those gardens through the summer.

Having one fewer job would be wonderful.  I just don’t want a sale to happen right after we’ve added all the new babies.  Either before or at least two months after annuals planting time would be perfect.  

Speaking of fewer jobs, I completely forgot to tell you about the moment of truth while we were planting at Jo’s last week.  I realized, after spending all day (as usual when behind on work) trying to figure out which job to quit to make life more manageable, that one job did have to go.  I chose the most private one, because it has less impact on the world.  I wrote to the client with much sadness at quitting in May, of all the times…but said truthfully that I had thought I could manage one more year at this pace and I’d been wrong.  I recommended three other gardening businesses.  Because the home is being extensively remodeled right now, it would not be a bad year to have the garden in transition.  In the long run, I don’t have time to implement a whole new garden bed around the newly shaped house, nor do I have time to make the woods parklike, as the client dreams of, and I think one of the younger and possibly less busy local gardening businesses could find the time and energy to turn it into something wonderful.  Fortunately, our client understood.  So, a poignant farewell to Casa Pacifica and its darling dogs….   I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the break in person in the presence of my good canine friends Dusty and Spook.

On the way home from Andersen’s today, we drove by the hotel at the port to admire the increasingly charcoal grey paint job.

hotel

At home: I burble every flat of painted sage so that they stay healthy and vigorous till we get them planted.

At home: I burble every flat of painted sage so that they stay healthy and vigorous till we get them planted. (Allan’s photo)

Allan's photo: waiting for the air bubbles to stop.

Allan’s photo: waiting for the air bubbles to stop.

Allan had to clean up an entire bin of hand tools from the van because the container of corn starch based soil moisture product sprung a massive leak and coated everything in the large tote bin.

Allan's photo, as he transfers to product to a new container.  That was a big leak.

Allan’s photo, as he transfers to product to a new container. That was a big leak.

It had happened at Andersen’s and fortunately we did not spill any on the ground, as that would have made the lawn dangerously slippery.  I miss Zeba Quench; it had more substance, like fine grains instead of a powder.  I learned about it from Ann Lovejoy.  Allan says whenever he tries to order it online nowadays, it is unavailable.  On one order, a synthetic gel like product was substituted and we refused it.  Allan even corresponded with the man behind Zeba Quench, who sent us some directly, and then that contact fizzled out.  It’s frustrating.

One job got erased from the work board: Cosmos at Andersen’s.

board

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I woke in the night to the sound of rain. On and on. This was good. All the plants we have been planting will get watered.

It was not so good at ten AM when a seemingly ceaseless torrent was falling. We had in the garage five flats of plants for today’s job and I just wanted them out of here. I did not want to be carrying them out to the patio to get light, and then into the car tomorrow instead of today. Annuals hell must end, as weeding jobs are urgently calling to us. As is my own garden.

Mary sets a tempting example

Mary sets a tempting example

But wait…Was there some lightness in the sky to the south? The sky was definitely light around the edges to the south and to the west. I said we should just go to the job. I cited the example of Deadliest Catch, an inspirational tv show about hardworking crabbers on the Bering Sea. Allan looked skeptical about the weather, especially since the forecasts all called for it to worsen hourly all day long. But the rain suddenly stopped. We loaded, and as we did the rain came lashing sideways again. I did not care (much). Surely we could endure and plant twelve whiskey barrels even in a torrent. And yet…if I stayed home I could read a couple more months of the Tootlepedal Blog archives.

But we went to Casa Pacifica, Dan and Leanne’s garden near Wallicut Farms. It is our only job off the Peninsula (unless one is a stickler for the fact that technically Ilwaco is part of the mainland).

When we got there, the sun came out intermittently. And rain came back for a while but not for long.

after a squall

after a squall

Soon raincoats came off and stayed off and all twelve barrels and several smaller containers were cleaned up and planted.

The barrels have Narcissi so we cut the foliage back by two thirds. It must be done in order to plant. My guru Ann Lovejoy would not approve; in this recent article she writes of the importance of letting the foliage mature. And yet once NW garden celebrity Ed Hume (who was as well known as Ciscoe in his day) said in a lecture that narcissi foliage can be cut three weeks after the flower has bloomed.

before

before; unplantable.

before:  last year's boringly overgrown Helichrysum

before: last year’s boringly overgrown Helichrysum

after

after, Helichrysum cut back VERY hard

Planted: An Agyranthemum in the center (“Butterfly’, ‘Spring Bouquet’, or the white one) and around the edges mixed (80!! total) calibrachoas of various colours and sanvitalias and, in the planters closer to the house, some blue felicia as well. In the mid-center of each, three painted sage triangulated around the Agyr. Some have Diascia that came back from last year.

Dusty lives in hope that I will stop to play fetch. It will not happen as then he will not stop pestering. But most of the time he walks with me all around the job with his head just where I can reach down and pet him. I love that and lavish him with smooches.

Dusty

Note Spook in the background.

Dusty

Dusty

Spook continues to be very shy, but it is progress that she stays out from under the deck while we are here.

Spook

Spook

We did not have time to weed, but I did walk along the bottom of the garden casting Sluggo up into it, with camera in hand. (Allan deadheaded narcissi while I talked to Dan and Leanne at the end of the work session.)

the shady end of the long border

the shady end of the long border

I don’t add many new perennials to this garden because it has water troubles in the summer; the well is just not enough for home and garden, too. It might be fixed for this year. It has therefore been a garden that peaks in mid springtime.

Another problem is that I would like to lavish the garden with cow fiber mulch but the lawn where a truck would have to drive to deliver the load close to the garden is also the septic field. And it would have to be wheelbarrowed up at the end of the wall. And if the pile were dumped in the driveway it would be far from the end of the wall. And I am tired just thinking about it. Maybe this fall we will manage to do it. As I have said to myself every year since taking on this job.

long curved border goes from shade to sun

long curved border goes from shade to sun

guardian of the garden

guardian of the garden

geranium and hosta

geranium and hosta

Silene

Silene

hardy geranium

Geranium macrorrhizum

Halmiocistus wintonensis

Halmiocistus wintonensis

Around the north side of the house, in a spot that is usually wet from roof runoff, I found a small blue flower which I think is a kind of Camassia that I planted last fall. I would have rain barrels at every gutter catching water for summer in this garden.

camassia

I surprised Spook in her nap on the hot tub cover and got as close to her as I ever have!

snoozing

she was snoozing

With this, the last of the big batches of annuals is planted, and I can see the light at the end of Annuals Planting Hell. There are still a few days of filling in here and there. The concrete planter in Ilwaco that needs a hole drilled is still undrilled. Andersen’s needs more cosmos and some Salvia patens. Some gaps in the Long Beach planters need filling, and because I had made a careful list of exactly what plant was needed where, we went to The Basket Case to get some more annuals.

My list would have been incomprehensible to another: two uppies here, four trailies there, five herbie flatties there. But I knew what I wanted.

We also got some plants for a big shady planter against the house at Andersen’s RV Park; it only gets morning sun.

I'm trying a big new impatiens there.

I’m trying a big new impatiens there.

and assorted types of begonias

and assorted types of begonias

These might like more sun but they do ok in the east facing planter. The tuberous begonias excel and are the same thing that Andersen’s owner Lorna’s dad used to plant there.

At The Planter Box I stocked up on Cosmos for planting at the Ilwaco boatyard, Larry and Robert’s garden and….soon I hope! my garden. Uh oh, I still need more for my friend Nancy! And more for a few last clumps of Cosmos at Andersen’s, in an area it was too late to weed tonight. I got one flat of the very good Salvia patens plants that Planter Box grew this year.

At The Planter Box

At The Planter Box

Teresa and I talked a bit about when would be a good date for a midsummer madness Cash Mob at the Planter Box, probably in early July.

Planter Box

Planter Box

I saw salpiglossis starts and wanted some for gardens of ours that might be on the tour this year, but we were full up with plants by then.

Salpiglossis has a gorgeous flower.

Salpiglossis has a gorgeous flower.

I also saw just two of this cute little plant I had once found for sale somewhere and planted in an Ilwaco planter. It looked adorable all summer long. Apparently, it is a house plant. I don’t know why it is not sold in quantity for summer containers.

so cute!

so cute!

Then…Andersen’s after six. The wind had come up with a biting chill and the rain returned, but the east facing planter was not at all bad to work in with the house between us and the ocean. I was so tired I did not put on gloves, then regretted it, then could not get them on over wet hands. I just remembered that one of the crew gave me some Hershey’s kisses, as he often kindly does, and I was so busy I put them in my pocket and did not eat a one. (I think that shirt is still in the car….tempting….). I decided to hold off on planting some Salvia patens in the Payson Hall planters, as it is supposed to get down to 44 degrees tonight. I think they will be happier if they wait till we go to Andersen’s (and all other north end resorts) on Friday to fluff it up for the three day holiday weekend.

The last task was to plant 12 tiny little not very promising white petunias in the two west side whiskey barrels that lacked them. They were in little six packs so small that one could hardly tell each held six plants. The wind and rain blew straight from the sea just over the foredune and I thought very hard about Deadliest Catch while planting the little plugs.

I often think in bad weather, "Could be worse, could be crabbing on the Bering Sea!"

I often think in bad weather, “Could be worse, could be crabbing on the Bering Sea!”

It’s on tonight and I look forward to sitting in my chair eating warm food and drinking wine and feeling inspired by the crabbers’ hard work in almost all weather. I have put on hand lotion five times and my hands still feel dry from the wet cold soil. I could never be a crabber…too wimpy.

Home by seven PM! I had had it with the outdoors, but Allan went out and mowed and weed-ate our lawn…in the drizzle. The grass was long and so wet it is amazing A) that he did it and B) that our little rechargeable electric mower got through it at all.

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Ann Lovejoy’s garden

I have no photos of the 2000 garden show in Seattle because that was one of the years that a show had a VHS tour available for purchase.  The day after the garden show, Ann Lovejoy (yes, the Northwest garden writer whose 1988 lecture at Tilth I credit with turning me into an impassioned gardener) invited me and Mary to Bainbridge Island and took us to lunch, as a thankyou to me for having started the volunteer boatyard garden in Ilwaco.  I had talked with her about it at the workshop in Cannon Beach the previous summer.  That was also the day we helped a bit with one of her volunteer garden projects at the Bainbridge Library. She took us to her own garden and to the nursery of which she was then part owner.   Below, her garden in February with a wall made of broken concrete.

Anne's Bainbridge garden, 2000

Anne’s Bainbridge Island garden, 2000

wattle fence around a tank, Ann's garden

wattle fence around a tank, Ann’s garden

Below:  In Ann Lovejoy’s garden, at the side of a large open area she used for outdoor Tai Chi. The property was her home and garden school and Tai Chi studio all in one.

Tai Chi area

Tai Chi area

The wattle fence behind the patio had been created by Sue Skelly, whose long ago Ballard garden had been an inspiration to me.

Below:  In Ann’s  garden; I was thrilled to see her work area.

work area

work area

Ann took us to a new garden that she was creating; this shows the design technique of leaving space between shrubs and one’s house.

leaving space
leaving space
She also took us on a tour of Bainbridge Island Nursery

She also took us on a tour of Bainbridge Island Nursery

a typical Ann design

a typical Ann design idea (love!)

At lunch, she shared her own hardships in beginning her writing career, in her marriage ending, and other stories that made me realize my own personal struggles were much the same and that eventually I might be able to come out the other side of the difficulties.

 

 

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In June, 1999, Sharon and I and Mary from Klipsan Beach Cottages went to see the amazing rose gardens at Heirloom Old Garden Roses in St. Paul, Oregon, and also to Joy Creek Nursery in Scappoose. We were on a buying trip for Sharon’s garden and Klipsan Beach Cottages.

Heirloom Roses in 1999

I had been to Heirloom once before with Mike Kitzman on a buying trip for the Fifth Street Park in Long Beach, but it had been before the roses were in bloom.  This time, I got to see the rose garden at its peak.

Heirloom Roses

Heirloom Roses

arbour near the shop

arbour near the shop

banks of roses

banks of roses

Fourth of July' rose at Heirloom Roses.

Fourth of July’ rose at Heirloom Roses.

To this day, roses ‘Polka’ and ‘Jude the Obscure’ from Heirloom Roses are showpieces of the Klipsan Beach Cottages gardens.

Joy Creek Nursery

My visit with Sharon and Mary was my first of many yearly visits to Joy Creek.

Robert and I worked in the spring and summer for a millionaire named George Fiske-Hammond III, whose meticulously designed small garden in Seaview I wish I had photographed. The second time I went to Joy Creek Nursery, shown here, was on a buying trip with him, during which he generously lavished me with plants and a good lunch.

Joy Creek 1999

Joy Creek 1999

Joy Creek 1999

Joy Creek 1999

The George job would all come to grief later in the year when George, who was in Al Anon, had a deep rift with Robert over an incident where he felt Robert was argumentative. When he wanted me to keep working for him and not allow Robert to be there, I resigned.  He encountered me at the grocery store and lamented “You were a huge disappointment to me.”  If I had NOT resigned, my home life would have become even more difficult.

Seaside

On the way to buy plants at Raintree Nursery in Seaside, Oregon (now Seven D’s), we would take a detour to admire the streetside plantings there.  That is a detour that Allan and I take years later.

Seaside, Oregon

Seaside, Oregon

Cannon Beach

Here is where my memory fails, because in  my photo albums I have TWO sets of photos for Haystack Rock summer education program workshops with Ann Lovejoy and Lucy Hardiman.  Did I really attend these two years in a row with my friend Sharon?  I do know that 1998 was the garden tour one, which I have already written about.  But apparently in ’99 there was another one, the garden design focused one (so what was the ’98 one?)   The second day of the ’99 workshop, Lucy Hardiman’s spouse gave a workshop on building copper garden structures, and I have photos to prove it.

Fred Hardiman

Fred Hardiman

Fred's copper spiral

Fred’s copper spiral

copper pipe arbour

copper pipe arbour

Below, Fred cutting the copper with a special cutter, which I simply could not get the hang of, thus I was hampered in trying to make things like this.

cutter

cutter

Fred cutting the copper with a special cutter, which I simply could not get the hang of, thus I was hampered in trying to make things like this.

making a trellis

making a trellis

If I could only operate the pipe cutter thing, I could make things like this!

On lunch breaks, Sharon and I took walks through Cannon Beach and admired the gardens. I think 80% of each commercial property’s surrounds have to be landscaped by law there. Or something like that.  The effects are marvelous.

 Cannon Beach garden

And we walked through the Presidential blocks of Cannon Beach where I photographed my favourite little house. It’s almost always the tiny ones that catch my eye.

a favourite sight in Cannon Beach

a favourite sight in Cannon Beach

Even thought I have claimed that during the ’98 workshop, Sharon saved for me this Bubble and Flow sketch by Ann Lovejoy and gave it to me later as a gift, maybe that happened in 1999!  If I ever go through all my years of seminar and workshop notes, I might find out.

bubble and flow

bubble and flow

Joy Creek again

In fall of 1999, I took a design workshop with Sharon at Joy Creek Nursery;  Anne Lovejoy and Lucy Hardiman supervised the redesign of one of the display garden borders.  Below, some class members and the Joy Creek work crew (who RAN with wheelbarrows full of gravel and soil!) rework the border.

border redesign

border redesign

the new border being planted

the new border being planted

at Joy Creek

at Joy Creek

Joy Creek sculpture

Joy Creek sculpture

mesh and metal sculpture

mesh and metal sculpture

sculpture

sculpture

sculpture

sculpture

Had a digital camera been at hand in 1999, I am sure I would have more photos, including pictures of Lucy and Ann teaching.  I was kind of shy of taking photos of them….would not be so today!

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Way back in 1998, my friend and then-client Sharon and I went to a Haystack Rock summer weekend in Cannon Beach for which Ann Lovejoy and Lucy Hardiman taught a garden design workshop on Saturday and took us garden touring on Sunday.  (Sharon and I had become fast friends when we had created a garden for her earlier in the year; a few years later she moved away and the garden faded back into lawn.)

Digression:  Making Sharon’s Garden

In 1998 we created this garden around Sharon's house where once had been just three scraggly rosebushes.

In 1998 we created this garden around Sharon’s house where once had been just three scraggly rosebushes.

..and we made a rock wall garden along the bayside of her lot.

..and we made a rock wall garden along the bay side of her lot.

above: back in the days before the “straighten”button!

...and turned a mound into a little pond waterfall area.

…and turned a mound into a little pond waterfall area.

Sharon's beautiful bird bath.

Sharon’s beautiful bird bath.

And here is Sharon’s garden in 1999:

Shaz garden with pineapple sage

Shaz garden with pineapple sage

Shaz' garden

Shaz’ garden with new arbour by my former partner, Robert Sullivan

Back to the tour story:

On the weekend of the Haystack Rock garden design workshop, we toured the big country garden of Cannon Beach garden designer Beth Holland first, just on the other side of Highway 101 and down a short quiet road..

Beth Holland's garden just outside Cannon Beach.

Beth Holland’s garden just outside Cannon Beach.

Beth's greenhouse was constructed with large old windows from a school.

Beth’s greenhouse was constructed with large old windows from a school.

In Beth's garden

In Beth’s garden

After the lovely tour of Beth’s estate, we drove to the Tolovana neighbourhood of Cannon Beach and saw this lovely sight by the sea.

a Cannon Beach garden

a Cannon Beach garden overlooking the sea

garden detail

garden detail

in Cannon Beach

in Cannon Beach

One of the gardens had a train layout.

train garden

train garden

train layout in ocean view garden, Tolovana neighbourhood of Cannon Beach.

train layout in ocean view garden, Tolovana neighbourhood of Cannon Beach.

My favourite garden was that of local writer and quilter and gardener June Kroft.  (I was deeply saddened in 2010 to learn that the one year (2009)  when I had forgotten due to my mother’s ill health to go to the Cannon Beach Cottage tour, June’s cottage had been on it. I would love to see the inside.)

in June Kroft's garden

in June Kroft’s garden

In June's garden (left, Lucy Hardiman)

In June’s garden (left, in blue, Lucy Hardiman)

June's glorious garden shed

June’s glorious garden shed

I have an old book from the Cannon Beach Historical Society, a bit worse for wear from years in my old damp cottage.  I got it when the society had a photo exhibit called “A Village of Flowers”  at their museum in 1999.  The booklet is created from a manuscript by June Kroft and I share here a few pages from it in hope that perhaps you may be inspired to find yourselves a copy.

From the book:  Old Timer: Throw out a bunch of nasturtium seeds around a piece of driftwood.  That’s a beach garden.”

cover

Hinoki

sharing

historic

Tommy's garden

paths

vegetables

Now that’s my idea of a garden tour.

For my next birthday after the garden design workshop, Sharon gave me this framed sketch that Ann Lovejoy had made in Sharon’s notebook to illustrate the design concept of “bubble and flow”.  I treasure it to this day.

Ann Lovejoy: bubble and flow

Ann Lovejoy: bubble and flow

It helped a great deal with my garden design confidence, that while Lucy Hardiman makes design drawings that are intricate and scaled to the inch, Ann’s a more of a sketch, an idea, a chicken scratch….like mine.

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WAY back when: me in my garden in 1980 when all I grew was spuds and lettuce (and tended the existing ornamental plants)

WAY back when: me in my garden in 1980 when all I grew was spuds, tomatoes, green onions, spinach,  and lettuce (and tended the existing ornamental plants)

1987, with my Gram's shrubs

1987, with my Gram’s shrubs

1988

3-88: step one: digging sod

3-88: step one: digging sod

3-88, new garden space

3-88, new garden space

3-88, view from the garden

3-88, view from the garden

4-88 with my cat Valene

4-88 with my cat Valene

In 1987 my garden was pretty much the same as when it had been my grandmother’s.  I had bought the house in 1979 and for the ensuing years had maintained the garden, weeded it, but felt it was holy ground and that I could not change it.  In 1987 I had a trying summer and did nothing in the garden, resulting in the death of some of my grandmother’s (now mine) old shrubs.  While the shrubs did not survive, I did and emerged into the new year.  (Motto: It Gets Better!)

Ann Lovejoy‘s columns in the Seattle Weekly (that later became the books The Year in Bloom and The Garden in Bloom (and perhaps also The Border in Bloom) inspired me to start digging in March of 1988.

My grandmother’s parking strip lawn had been a thing of such green perfection (helped along by toxic chemicals because that is what one did back then) that I could pick it out from the hill on the other side of Green Lake.  It had not fared as well under my care.  The two trees I had added under the Seattle Street Tree program did not help the grass, so out  came the sod.   (You can see that Chris and I had an ugly but useful car!)

Mine was the first garden for blocks around to have a planted parking strip which are now popularly known as hell strips.   (I had never heard or thought of the method of making garden beds on newspaper or I could have save myself some digging.)  I already had two beds on the parking strip planted with tulips, around the two trees (a Hawthorn and a Mountain Ash, both pretty but irritating in different ways).

April

April

April tulips

late April tulips

Meanwhile on the other side of the sidewalk the rockery looked spectacular.

rockery, April

rockery, April

That big rock on the other side of the little stairway is where my grandmother once sat every evening to hose-water her perfect lawn.

narcissi and Gram's sitting rock

narcissi and Gram’s sitting rock

Meanwhile, in the back yard:

My grandmother's wisteria

My grandmother’s wisteria

Wisteria in May 88

Wisteria in May 88

(A couple of years later my housemate Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire, who resided, as a good horror writer should, in my attic, climbed on a ladder to get the wisteria out of the gutter.  Down he came, AND the gutter, but fortunately he was not seriously hurt.)

No doubt in one of Ann Lovejoy’s columns, I read that one of the big principles of garden design is to “stop the eye”, so I decided my back garden needed to be fenced off from the alley.  My dear old friend Bryan (from bygone years when all I had grown in the garden was vegetables) built me a stunning fence and cut waves into the top.

Bryan's workshirt on the greenhouse door.

Bryan’s workshirt on the greenhouse door.

(Above) You can see through to my neighbour’s house across the alley, but that view would soon disappear.

Chris's cat, Natasha, "helps" with the fence building.

Chris’s cat, Natasha, “helps” with the fence building.

fence project

fence project

I experimented with making paths of broken concrete, having wheelbarrowed a bunch from a yard across the street.

I experimented with making paths of broken concrete, having wheelbarrowed a bunch from a yard across the street.

Now, back to the parking strip.  I had filled the front garden with annuals grown from seed, having learned (in Friday Harbor) about Cosmos in particular.

parking strip: July

parking strip: July

parking strip and rockery: August

parking strip and rockery: August

Parking strip from my downhill neighbour's lawn, August

Parking strip from my downhill neighbour’s lawn, August

In the back yard, I grew a wealth of sunflowers.

sunflowers, from the back alley outside the garden

sunflowers, from the back alley outside the garden

me in the sunflowers

me in the sunflowers

In one of my first flirtations with quirky garden decor, I spelled my Gram’s name, Gladys Corinne Walker, on the gate with wooden beads.   To the left, an old wooden Dutch figure of hers; she loved all things Dutch.

garden decor

garden decor

Orson with the new soil

Orson with the new soil

In the autumn, inspired by my recent attendance of Anne Lovejoy’s “make beautiful dirt” lecture, I ordered a huge load of dairy manure from a local supplier. I took the day off work and when it had not arrived by mid morning I called and kvetched. The supplier said he would instead bring their finest topsoil because he did not have manure after all; when he dumped it, it blocked the alley. Poor Chris (NOT a gardening enthusiast; he was bemused and not thrilled by my new passion) got shanghaied to help me get it out of the alley as quickly as possible, filling every path with hastily dumped soil for several days till I had it spread out.  Here is the back yard in fall 1988 after I double dug it and incorporated the new soil. (With a very young Orson.)

Orson with the new soil

Orson with the new soil

The soil was hot and barky and burned some of the plants, a problem I did not know enough to prevent by at least watering it down.

When I would walk home from work, I would go through alleys and pick up any stray brick or rock along the edges that I could use in the garden….If it was JUST on the edge by someone’s garbage can, and loose, I told myself it was not stealing. Not exactly. Not really.  I could carry about twelve bricks in my backpack.  Because I had a housecleaning business and worked all over the neighbourhoods of Greenwood, Phinney, Ballard (and further afield on the bus), many alleys lay within my daily territory.

My grandmother had collected rocks in the same piecemeal manner, picking up any one that she saw on the loose and asking her many friends  to bring her a rock each time they visited.  (She used them to make mortared raised bed edges in the back garden.)

copying Reflective Gardens

copying Reflective Gardens

Now back to the parking strip:   From Ann Lovejoy’s lecture, I had learned about perennials and wanted a whole new selection of plants.  I had also been inspired by walking past a small curbside garden in Ballard.  I followed their rock pattern, having sketched it out.  That garden, tiny and perfect, was next to an old store that some people lived in.  A huge passion flower in bloom grew up the south wall.  I have never seen such a thing.  A sign on their door said “Reflective Gardens” and I later learned the couple had a gardening business and eventually moved to a larger property in Poulsbo.  Kelly Dodson, one of the two, now owns plant collectors’ mecca Far Reaches Farm.  The other, Sue Skelly, is a talented artist in cedar and (more connections!) had made a woven gate for Ann Lovejoy that I got to see when visiting Ann’s garden school in 2000(ish).  Information from Google and not guaranteed!

But I digress.  Here is the parking strip on October 17th.

from my downhill neighbour's lawn

from my downhill neighbour’s lawn

After this year I would get all plant snobbish for awhile about things like big marigolds.  But I remain hooked on Cosmos from the summer of ’88 till the present day.  And if truth be told, the parking strip with perennials never looked as spectacular as that first year with annuals did.

Cosmos atop the rockery, front garden

Cosmos atop the rockery, front garden

What a year of transformation in the garden!   On the sill of the piano window over my couch, I could look up all winter at a basket of dried flowers from the parking strip display.    And the wonders of learning about perennials still awaited me.

dried flowers in the piano window

dried flowers in the piano window

 

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The bouquet that changed my life in spring of 1988:  It was on an outdoor table at a Friday Harbor café and I did not know what the flowers were but had never seen anything more gorgeous. It stirred something about flower gardening that had lain dormant, as up till then I had mostly grown veg around the existing framework of my grandmother’s old garden.

You can see the staple marks from my having this photo on the wall.that bouquetNow I know that the bouquet, which since then I think of as “THAT bouquet” (of great significance) includes cup and saucer Campanula, Calendula, some phlox, maybe some candytuft and bachelor buttons.

I also remember looking into someone’s garden in Friday Harbor, over a picket fence, and photographing a little flower patch containing Cosmos and Bachelor Buttons, although I did not know what they were at the time.

While on San Juan Island, I took some other photos that I still like:

a handsome building: The Elite Hotel

a handsome building: The Elite Hotel

a hotel in Roche Harbor

a hotel in Roche Harbor

a San Juan mansion

a San Juan mansion

a corner of the parlour at the B&B in Friday Harbor

a corner of the parlour at the B&B in Friday Harbor

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mosaic at Wallingford Tilth

mosaic at Wallingford Tilth

On another life-changing day in late summer 1988 I attended an Ann Lovejoy lecture (with glorious slides) at Seattle Tilth’s  harvest fair at their Good Shepherd location in Wallingford.   She spoke quickly and with almost breathless enthusiasm and joyousness.  She advised “Make beautiful dirt” and showed slides of her glorious little garden on Capitol Hill.  Someone had walked by her garden and asked her to write a column for the Seattle Weekly and thus her career as a garden writer was born.  In early ’88 her columns had inspired me to dig up my parking strip, but I still did not know about perennials.  The columns had been gathered into her first book, The Year in Bloom (c. 1987).   You will find her mentioned often in this journal because that lecture transformed my life as did That Bouquet.

She spoke in botanical Latin, which I don’t think I had ever heard.  When she recommended and showed an irresistible photo of Oenothera berlandieri (which she pronounced ee-NOTH-era, so I never would have guessed it started with an O), she comfortingly said not to worry about the name, just ask for evening primrose, “the pink one”.

Within a year of studying plant books, I learned many plant names just sort of by osmosis, it seemed;  I had never found anything so easy to learn.   Within a year I was able to identify many plants as I walked around Seattle neighbourhoods and that ability added enormously to the daily pleasure of life. My garden quickly became transformed.  My life transformed more slowly, but the transition to full time gardener had begun.  The Year in Bloom was the second gardening book I ever acquired (the first being Katharine S. White’s Onward and Upward in the Garden which I had bought just because I liked The New Yorker). I now have over 200, all well read.  But those by Ann Lovejoy are still among the top favourites.

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