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Posts Tagged ‘Back Alley Gardens’

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

my morning

I had to get up early! Before eight AM! My inner clock does not allow me to sleep early, so I had maybe six hours. Nancy arrived with a double iced mocha in hand for me, and I ate a tahini sandwich on the way as had no time for breakfast. The reason was to go to Astoria with Nancy, Stephen, and John to be on the Diggin’ in the Dirt radio show to help promote the July 19th Music in the Gardens tour. Stephen and John’s is one of the ten tour gardens.

KMUN radio is housed here.

KMUN radio is housed here.

detail

Stephen, Nancy, and John

Stephen, Nancy, and John

view from the KMUN waiting room

view from the KMUN waiting room

Pam from my favourite local collectors nursery, Back Alley Gardens, joined us for the show to promote her Seaside walking tour which will take place on July 27 (sadly for me, it starts at 8 AM). The organizer of the Astoria garden tour was there also; it’s July 12th and I am very sorry to miss it this year as we will be at the Bloggers Fling in Portland. I wish there was some way I could have a sneak peek at the gardens.

After the show, we all walked a few blocks to have coffee together at the Blue Scorcher Café.

on the way, we saw goats...

on the way, we saw goats…

a hillside pasture for city goats!

a hillside pasture for city goats!

and gnarled old rhodo trunks reminiscent of some of the very old rhodos in Stephen and John's bayside garden.

and gnarled old rhodo trunks reminiscent of some of the very old rhodos in Stephen and John’s bayside garden.

walking and looking

walking and looking

My left calf had felt absolutely seized up with pain when I woke briefly at three AM, yet by midmorning had recovered enough that I was able to walk up and down hills in Astoria with not much trouble.

We gazed upon this because Stephen and John are conifer men...one more than the other, I think perhaps.

We gazed upon this because Stephen and John are conifer men…one more than the other, I think perhaps.

wild cucumber vine

wild cucumber vine

at the Blue Scorcher

at the Blue Scorcher

Pam, John, Stephen, Nancy

Pam, John, Stephen, Nancy

Pam's delicious looking brunch (some sort of curry soup); I simply had a chocolate croissant.

Pam’s delicious looking brunch (some sort of curry soup); I simply had a chocolate croissant.

On the way back, we happened upon a George Schenkian public garden that I admire very much. Jessica Schlief’s garden that she made by piling soil on top of asphalt to make beds has been here for years.

roses inside an ornate fence

roses inside an ornate fence

Pam and John.  (Stephen and John buy cool plants from her nursery.)

Pam and John. (Stephen and John buy cool plants from her nursery.)

1460

fence1

inside

inside

poppy and lily

poppy and lily

roses

roses and, I think…feverfew perhaps

bee balm

bee balm

My favourite ornamental grass, Stipa gigantea

My favourite ornamental grass, Stipa gigantea

sunflowers

sunflowers

The potted yew was a hit.

The potted yew was a hit.

garden admiration

garden admiration

John and Stephen

John and Stephen

all grown in raised beds atop unbroken asphalt

all grown in raised beds atop unbroken asphalt

Alllum schubertii

Alllum schubertii

allium2

allium shadow

allium shadow

The day had gotten bright and very hot. Back at KMUN to get the vehicles, I admired a bumper sticker.

I SOO dislike beach driving except for litter clean up and surf rescue.

I SOOO dislike beach driving except for litter clean up and surf rescue.

As Nancy and I drove back to the Peninsula, she expressed a desire to peek at the very secret house that I had dreamed about on Saturday. So we did. I did not pine for it as much, mostly because I have realized I would have to have a deer fence there, and it has no fencing at all.

Meanwhile I was on the phone with Allan, who informed me that it was very, very hot, that he had been sweating while starting his work day by watering Larry and Robert’s garden, and that I might not want to work. I could feel it, but thought surely we could accomplish our project, which was to weed one of the Long Beach parking lot berms.

I took time to stop at Nancy’s to meet her new chickens, still housed in the living room till their feathers grow in.

chickhouse

very curious

very curious

a peek at Nancy's veg garden

a peek at Nancy’s veg garden

her purple peas

her purple peas

She's very pleased about these Liberty apples.

She’s very pleased about these Liberty apples.

alliums in the flower garden we made there

allium albopilosum in the flower garden we made there

Allium schubertii

Allium schubertii

Eryngium 'Sapphire Blue'

Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’

After the brief garden stroll, I called Allan and said that it was indeed TOO TOO hot, and would he come and get me and we would go home and go back out to work in the evening. After dumping the weeds he had already collected, he came over and we all sat on Nancy and Phil’s porch and drank ice water for awhile…and just as Allan and I were about to depart, a faintly cool breeze wafted from the north and I thought that perhaps we could go back to work after all.

Allan’s morning

This is how hot it was (so unusual for the beach…although seems to be ominously less unusual lately):

He saw this man while driving through Long Beach.

He saw this man while driving through Long Beach.

92 F!!

92 F!!

another fellow lounging in the shade by one of our planters.

another fellow lounging in the shade by one of our planters.

a before photo of the weedy parking lot berm

a before photo of the weedy parking lot (not really a) berm

He began by pruning back the overhanging roses

He began by pruning back the overhanging roses

then tackled the horrible mess in this garden for which we had had not time yet this year.

then tackled the horrible mess in this garden for which we had had not time yet this year.

Our afternoon

After we decided to get back to work despite the heat, we paused at Fifth Street park for a restroom stop and I checked the nearby planters; amazingly, there were still damp enough to not have to be watered yet.

The city crew was mowing, surely glad the temperature had dropped a bit.

The city crew was mowing, surely glad the temperature had dropped a bit.

park

I joined Allan in the berm weeding.

Yikes!

Yikes!

I had accidentally packed the wrong homi, the one that is too straight and springy.

I had accidentally packed the wrong homi, the one that is too straight and springy.

I tried the double tool but it did not have enough oomph.

I tried the double tool but it did not have enough oomph.

I borrowed Allan's ho mi that had enough oomph.  (Ho Mi, Korean Hand Plow, Zen Weeder, E-Z digger)

I borrowed Allan’s ho mi that had enough oomph. (Ho Mi, Korean Hand Plow, Zen Weeder, E-Z digger)

weeds!

weeds!

awful

awful

a nightmare indeed

a nightmare indeed

We had been hinting around that maybe a city parks intern could do this area…and finally it had gotten so bad I could not bear to leave it alone.

certainly an improvement!

certainly an improvement!

The main problem is the soil is tight and difficult, so lots of weed roots were left behind.

a battered looking weeding job

a battered looking weeding job

not great at close inspection

not great at close inspection

with some pockets of weeds that were so daunting we left them there for now

with some pockets of weeds that were so daunting we left them there for now

It is...better.

It is…better.

There are some good plants in this garden that may distract people from the rough rootiness at ground level.

Rosa glauca and Stipa gigantea

Rosa glauca and Stipa gigantea

Rosa glauca and Stipa gigantea

Rosa glauca and Stipa gigantea

Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

assorted shrubs

assorted shrubs

Echinops (Blue Globe Thistle)

Echinops (Blue Globe Thistle)

Even the horrible phormium

Even the horrible phormium

had redeemed itself by putting out a flower.

had redeemed itself by putting out a flower.

Across the parking lot, a garden at the Oceanic RV Park was brimming with potted astilbes.

a very nice little garden on the north wall

a very nice little garden on the north wall

Home, so tired from such a tedious job and the early morning, I got back to garden tour blogging. I glimpsed from my window that the sky promised a good sunset and then got so absorbed in writing that I forgot to look again. Judy four doors down probably won’t mind that I show you the sunset photos that she posted on Facebook.

sunset on Lake Street

sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Allan had gone to breakfast with J9 at the Long Beach Grange.

breakfast with J9 at the Grange

breakfast with J9 at the Grange

home

I slept longer and then took a stroll out to the bogsy wood.

It had definitely begun to dry out...

It had definitely begun to dry out…

I wanted to see some frogs in the bog but they were all hiding.

I wanted to see some frogs in the bog but they were all hiding.

Many the crab pot was stacked next door.

Many the crab pot was stacked next door.

I made another attempt at the crocus photo in the front garden.

the crocus run

the crocus run

also: narcissi

also: narcissi

crocus and hellebores

crocus and hellebores

more hellebores

more hellebores

and more

and more

tulips and narcissi

tulips and narcissi

Allan's garden

Allan’s garden

After my garden walk, I called Allan to suggest that we go overseas (to Oregon) rather than work, as the grey day’s weather was changing to drizzle. The work board still had some first time clean ups on the list (and I had forgotten to add the Red Barn).

skiving off from work

skiving off from the work board

Back Alley Gardens in Gearhart

After his breakfast, which of course had taken place at about 11 AM, Allan and I headed over the bridge toward Gearhart and our favourite north Oregon coast nursery, Back Alley Gardens.

Back Alley and The Natural Nook, formerly Fitzgeralds

Back Alley and The Natural Nook, formerly Fitzgeralds

March 1st at Back Alley

March 1st at Back Alley

plants

on the deck

a charming primula

a charming primula

double primula

double primula

inside the adjoining Natural Nook gift shop

inside the adjoining Natural Nook gift shop

The Natural Nook

The Natural Nook

We were so busy visiting with Pam and Prissy that we almost forgot our mission to buy a spare Birds Be Safe collar. Fortunately, Allan saw them after we had rung up our assortment of exciting hellebores and wee conifers.

see birdsbesafe.com

see birdsbesafe.com

Now look! There, to the left, is the new Ducly Mahar book and I did not even notice it till now.

Pam’s Gardens in Seaside

After visiting with Pamela Fleming of Back Alley, also the gardener for Seaside, Oregon, we made our usual detour down Broadway to check out her curbside gardens. The photos are strangely composed and blurred because we were on the move. We always used to tour these gardens by car even before we met Pam in person. They never fail to impress.

nicely mulched, with Heucheras

nicely mulched, with amber Heucheras

pocket

 

an impressionistic blur by the river bridge

an impressionistic blur by the river bridge

driving west on Broadway with gardens ahead

driving west on Broadway with gardens ahead

seaside

ever westward

ever westward

shrubs

one of several welcoming sit spots

one of a few big, welcoming sit spots

thick clumps of narcissi

thick clumps of narcissi

Seaside's famous Candy Man (handing out samples from the Candy Man store)

Seaside’s famous Candy Man (handing out samples from the Candy Man store)

turn

the western end

the western end

hydrangeas on the shady side, with nary a weed

hydrangeas on the shady side, with nary a weed

Seaside 7 Dees

While I had gotten some extra choice small hellebores from Back Alley that will bloom next year, I still was on a quest for larger ones in bloom now. When we arrived at 7 Dees (part of a Portland-based chain), blooming hellebores awaited us along with something very exciting, indeed, breathtaking: Edgeworthias!

Hellebores and Edgeworthias

Hellebores and Edgeworthias

more Edgeworthias inside!

more Edgeworthias inside!

I think I got the only one of this colour:  Edgeworthia chrysantha Rubra

I think I got the only one of this colour: Edgeworthia chrysantha Rubra

(The tag says Edgeworthia c. Rubra, which I assume is chrysantha, which is I believe supposed to have larger flowers, but Google tells me it’s Edgeworthia papyrifera Rubra.)

and I got myself this Edgeworthia papyrifera

and I got myself this Edgeworthia papyrifera

I was so very chuffed to find these. I used to have a precious Edgeworthia chrysantha; it had been brought to me on the train from Seattle to a Seaside spring garden seminar by none other than my gardening idol Ann Lovejoy. I adored it in my old garden and of course had to try to move it to my new one, and killed it. All I have left is one little branch; I had used its carcass, painted purple, as garden decor till it disintegrated. While these won’t have the emotional attachment for me, at least I have the excellent winter blooming shrub again.

mine!

mine! waiting to be rung up

and a pretty and fragrant wallflower came along, too...

and a pretty and fragrant wallflower came along, too…

Last year I would not have been able to buy such shrubs as we then shopped in the small two door Saturn. Look at us now!

van

load

While shopping at 7 Dees, I’d gotten a text from our friend Jenna (Queen La De Da)informing me she was on her way to Olde Towne Café in Ilwaco. When I told her we were at 7 Dees she asked if they had any of “those swirly trees”…and so we were even able to fit THIS into the van for her new shop, along with all our plants, with room to spare.

would not have fit in the Saturn!

would not have fit in the Saturn!

Astoria

One of the glories of the day was not having to buy frozen food at Costco; Allan had shopped on his own earlier in the week. Thus we were able to have an early dinner in Astoria. We chose Blue Ocean Thai.

Blue Ocean Thai at the west end of Commercial

Blue Ocean Thai at the west end of Commercial

The ambience of the restaurant is perhaps a little lacking.

a big sparse room

a big sparse room

Allan pointed out that the chandelier’s shape reminded him of an Allium.

Allium shaped chandelier

Allium shaped chandelier

The food was exquisite. I wish the Thai restaurant that is closer to us was this good. I almost wept with joy; it had been years since I had Thai food of this quality.

so delicious

so delicious

Top left: cucumber salad… The Larb Gai (bottom) was served at a cool temperature, as it should be. The Pad Prik King (green bean dish, top right) and Allan’s dish with peanut sauce filled me with joy, and there were leftovers for later.

After dinner we had a quick look, in the uncomfortably chilly dusk, at the Garden of Surging Waves. The ropes that kept us from going in last time have been removed from the new Chinese Heritage garden and many more plants added.

waves

now open to the public

waves

view

statue

rocks

fish

my favourite part: the wall of words

my favourite part: the wall of words

words

words

More words: metal tables (or benches?) inserted into the wall inscribed with quotations:

tables

words

words

temple

The last time we had looked at this garden, a big 7 Dees truck delivery truck had been parked nearby. And here, in the garden today, we saw several Edgeworthias (Chinese paper bush, so perfect for this garden’s theme). Maybe that is why they had been available for me to buy at the Seaside garden store.

edgeworthia

Edgeworthia

Edgeworthia

home

My lovely plant haul, photographed the next day:

haul

I had just seen Ciscoe rave about the Brazleberry on telly.

Hellebores small (very collectible) and large

Hellebores small (very collectible) and large

I am still taking Pam's advice and adding more columnar conifers.

I am still taking Pam’s advice and adding more columnar conifers.

Back Alley had two tables of fabulous Xera plants.

Back Alley had two tables of fabulous Xera plants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday, 1 November 2013

We had made a plan to go shopping “overseas” (NW Oregon) but had to squeeze some work in first.  (My Facebook friends know that I am trying to avoid using the word “but” too often in the blog, but here, oh, and THERE, I will allow it!)

I had noticed on Halloween evening as we toured the town’s decorations that Cheri’s garden definitely needed some fall clean up.  The dead brown stalks of Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ might have looked spooky for the big Ilwaco holiday.  Now it is over, so today down they came.

Cheri's, before

Cheri’s, before

One of the cats (Jake, I think) was out in the new cat enclosure.

Pet me!  Rub my head now!  More please!

Pet me! Rub my head now! More please!

KITTY corner across the street, I checked on Mike’s garden as well.

Gaura 'Whirling Butterflies'...

pale pink Schizostylis and Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’…

...and Pulmonaria and Brunnera 'Looking Glass' in Mike's garden

…and Pulmonaria and Brunnera ‘Looking Glass’ in Mike’s garden

Then, at the Port, we weeded the Time Enough Books garden.  The next day a big event would take place.

Soup Night book signing tomorrow!

Soup Night book signing tomorrow!

I took some photos in order to help promote the event on Facebook.

books and bowls

books and bowls

Local potter Karen Brownlee, she who organizes the wonderful Empty Bowls charity event here on the Long Beach Peninsula, had created some bowls especially for Soup Night.

bowl

I particularly looked forward to the event because the author, Maggie Stuckey, had co-written the excellent kitchen garden book, The Bountiful Container, and because Maggie is friends with Peninsula garden tour organizer Nancy Allen.

I then checked on the wee garden on the south side of the Port Office.

after a bit of deadheading and weeding

after a bit of deadheading and weeding

The marina’s mirror like reflection belied the storm warning evidenced by two triangle flags.

so peaceful....

looking west….so peaceful….

looking east

looking east…placid and still

and yet!!

and yet!!

The gale warning gave me something to worry about.  What if the power went out when the storm came during the night or the next morning?  How would we have delicious soup at the book signing?

Even though the weather continued into the afternoon warm and wind free, we went across the river.  I felt bad about it as we should have been working.  And yet Bulb Time fast approaches and I wanted to check out the fall plants available at Back Alley Gardens.  Crossing the river in the wind (on a bridge, not a boat) scares me.  And the cats would be quite agitated if we did not replenish their canned food treats at Costco….so off we drove.

Back Alley Gardens in Gearhart

Back Alley Gardens in Gearhart

It is pleasant to browse a nursery on a beautiful day.  We usually take trips there only on rainy days.  For the longest time I felt that the nearby town of Warrenton had a bleak and miserable appearance until I realized one summer garden touring day that I had ONLY seen it on rainy day Costco shopping trips.

As always, Back Alley had a collection of wonderful, irresistible plants from Xera.  Theirs is the only nursery locally to offer them.  I made another purchase to add to my collection of plants I have no idea where I am going to put…

They are must haves....

They are must haves….

One of the most interesting finds was a hardy water plant, to the left, above.    Xera says:  “Cyperus sp. ‘Zero’:  A large growing perennial for moist locations including water containers and the margins of ponds.  To 4′ tall and upright, outer stems bend outward in time.  Excellent textural plant throught the summer months.  Stiffly rising green stems have the look of bamboo topped with umbrella shaped leaflets.  Deciduous in winter (freezes back to the ground, returns in spring).”  I have one from the Planter Box that did come back once.  This one might be a more unusual cultivar!  Over the winter we intend to install an embarrassingly generic black plastic pond that we got for free (and we do appreciate it!), so we had better have something cool to make it special.

Another plant new (to me) was Escallonia ‘Lou Allen’.  I adore Escallonias even though many of my friends consider them passé.  Escallonia ‘Lou Allen’ is described by Xera as a “FANTASTIC compact form of Escallonia that grows relatively slowly to only 2′ tall and 3′ wide. Great low hedge or small scale groundcover.  Very formal looking. Medium pink flowers appear in early summer and sporadically throughout the year.Tough low maintenance shrub that is drought tolerant when established. Evergreen. Full sun to very light shade in average soil. No pruning necessary- it just grows like this. Cool.”  I have NO idea where I need three compact Escallonia (other than sitting in pots waiting to be planted somewhere).  They are here now!

on the deck at Back Alley

on the deck at Back Alley

inside the shop, "The Natural Nook"

inside the shop, “The Natural Nook”

All summer long, we could count on being stopped near the highest spot of the Astoria Megler bridge because of work going on.  Now that storm season is here the work has ceased, so I cannot show you a good photo of a marvelous sight we saw going home.  All I can offer is a hint taken from a fast moving van.

looking east, at 45 mph

looking east, at 45 mph

The Columbia River by Astoria, Oregon, was so calm and clear the the lights of cargo ships reflected in the water, while low tide revealed the sand bars.

tide

I have rarely seen such still water in the river.  It was hard to believe a storm was coming. Tomorrow, storm or calm, would be a day off for us because we had three artful events to attend.

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After the Cannon Beach Cottage Tour, we stopped on our way home at Back Alley Gardens and The Natural Nook.  Although it was past closing time, we got to peruse the new plant purchases and autumn displays in this delightful collectors nursery located in Gearhart, Oregon.

It must be (almost) autumn!

It must be (almost) autumn!

plant tables

plant tables

pretty little faces of autumn

pretty little faces of autumn

more cool plants from Xera

more cool plants from Xera

It definitely saved me money that the cash register was closed out because…just look at that little hot pink flower!   They also had some Salvia clevelandii ‘Aromas’…at least that is what I called it back when I had a late blooming sage with intensely fragrant leaves.

a planted potbelly stove

a planted potbelly stove

love the way these have decided to grow on the edge of the plant display table

love the way these have decided to grow on the edge of the plant display table

garden art

garden art

We had a pleasant visit and some good plant talk and stories of public gardening and then Allan and I were on our way.  Crossing the Astoria Megler bridge, a construction stop let us get a great view of the ships.

looking east from the bridge

looking east from the bridge

ship and Astoria

ship and Astoria

stairs at the highest part of the bridge!

stairs at the highest part of the bridge!

Looking northwest, we saw the Peninsula had become almost invisible because of a heavy bank of fog and clouds.  I hoped for a rainy Sunday so I could spend the day blogging about the cottage tour.

toward home

toward home

north on the four mile bridge

north on the four mile bridge

And the rainy day that I wanted is exactly what I got!

I took exactly one photo on Sunday the 15th of the rain out my south window.  I was able to write all day and avoid falling days behind again while posting about the cottage tour.

Sunday rain

Sunday rain; love the big pink cosmos in the garden boat

If I am lucky, Monday will be rainy as well and instead of blogging I just might catch up on paperwork.

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August 25, 2013

After our stroll through the Astoria Sunday Market, we headed south for the real purpose of our trip “overseas”:  checking out the new Xera plants at Back Alley Gardens in Gearhart and its sister business, The Natural Nook.  We entered via the home and garden gift shop.

inside The Natural Nook

inside The Natural Nook

Everything in the shop is something I would love to have if I were the sort of person who spent money on “stuff”.  Only a limited income and lack of space stops me!

Just look at these "hens and chickens" candles!

Just look at these “hens and chickens” candles!

a beautiful window

a beautiful window

chubby little birds

chubby little birds

Natural Nook is also a florist shop.

The Natural Nook is also a florist shop.

Outside in the nursery, I saw the abutilon that had caught our eye in the last garden of this year’s Astoria garden tour.

abutilon

and a tag telling all about it….

tag

Plantswoman Prissy Martin took us to her greenhouse behind the Back Alley plant sales area to show us a very cool plant…whose name I cannot remember.

mystery plant with green flower

mystery plant with green flower

She said it gets tall.  Maybe shop owner Pam Fleming will see this and comment with the name.

We then checked out the garden in the way back area where Prissy tests out plants and grows flowers for her darling small “tussy mussy” bouquets.

Kiss me?

Kiss me?

Now, is this “Kiss me Over the Garden Gate” or the more sinister sounding common name “Love Lies Bleeding”?   Or both?   Google tells me the latter is Amaranth and the former is Polyganum orientalis.  The amaranth has longer flowers.

backed with statice

backed with statice

Pam and Prissy navigate through the jungle of interesting plants...

Pam and Prissy navigate through the jungle of interesting plants…

I was impressed with Pam’s ability to make jungle noises.

Prissy points to a plant of interest.

Prissy points to a plant of interest.

The sad thing was that Cathie Cates, co owner and florist, had to miss all this fun because someone had to run the shop.

looking back toward the nursery from the verdant back garden

looking back toward the nursery from the verdant back garden

In the nursery, the latest acquisitions from Xera were artistically displayed.   Pam joked it was the “Skyler table”.  Or had the “Skyler influence.”  I will pretty much buy anything cool from Xera…  (Limited income has rarely stopped me from buying plants.)   The previous week, a garden club from Cannon Beach had been in and got most of the cool stuff before I got there, so I was glad the stock was replenished.

Xera table

Xera table

customer

customer…and competition for the best plants!!

When Pam and Cathie visited our garden on the Edible Tour day, Pam had suggested that I need more evergreens in the back beds, pointing out how beautifully an evergreen would set off the Stipa gigantea.  I did love evergreen columns and shapes in my old garden and had avoided them in the back yard of the new because I did not want to block my view of the port.  However, it is true that smaller evergreens correctly placed would not block the view.  Well, I am very suggestible, so….

Pam totalling my purchases, including a few evergreens (or ever-silver, ever-golds).

Pam totaling my purchases, including a few evergreens (or ever-silver, ever-golds).

And look how beautifully they fit in our new van!

van

Before we left, we compared our gardening hand tools with Pam’s, the ones she uses in her job as the gardener for the town of Seaside.  Hers, on the right, look more serious somehow.

tools

We bought one of the excellent hefty red handled double headed tools and a good extra thin and pointy long handled shovel for digging in narrow spots.  I already own one of the good claws, in the middle right beside the pointy trowel, and yet I prefer my little green or gold handled 99 cent claw.  I used to have a pink handled one we called Pinky, and since then any nice fork-raking of disturbed and weeded soil is referred to, in our business, as “pinkifying”.  It was a sad day when I lost Pinky up at Discovery Heights because the pink ones no longer seem to be available.  Now it’s just “Greenie” and “Goldie”.  The pink ones were not a breast cancer awareness tie-in, either, and I used to be able to get all three colours at Dennis Company.

After this pleasant nursery visit, we came back home…

bridge view to the west

bridge view to the west

bridge view to the east

bridge view to the east

container ships at rest

container ships at rest

looking east

looking east

and back at the town of Astoria

and back (south-east) at the town of Astoria

My gardening life is enriched by having such a great collectors’ nursery less than an hour away (38 minutes if one does not get stopped by bridge construction).   I love and am loyal to our Peninsula nurseries, but Back Alley is the only place with those amazing Xera plants.

For more about local nurseries, you might want to read this excellent article.   I learned that Prissy is known as “the propagator”!

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August 11, 2013

I got up early, invigorated by the idea of tour day, and I do mean at about 8 AM.  The night before, I had made tabouli which I dressed up with all sorts of vegetables from my garden: cucumber, tomatoes, chives, cilantro on the side, and edible flowers:  Calendula, tuberous begonia, borage, chive flowers.  We had some lemon water to offer, and Allan had bought some animal crackers but forgot to put them out. Brownies (and Allan’s favourite, red licorice) did not seem quite right to offer on a serious and healthy edible garden tour.

a welcoming table

a welcoming table

I arranged some samples of edible flowers on plates, an idea I swiped from last year’s edible tour at Lisa Mattfield’s Homewood garden.

edible flowers

edible flowers

On the shed wall across from the tabouli table:

Let's see, what's edible?  Fuchsia flowers, and a Stevia to the right

Let’s see, what’s edible? Fuchsia flowers, and a Stevia to the right

The beautiful wall vase was made by my friend Sheila, who brought it to me when she came from Oregon for the Music in the Gardens tour.

wall vase

wall vase

In the remaining time before noon,  I rushed around pulling a few more weeds and wishing again that we had run the string trimmer around the garden beds…

I thought Pam Fleming from my favourite local collectors’ nursery, Back Alley Gardens in Gearhart, might come and was feeling the garden was not at its required tour perfection…

I put out some of my favourite garden books, this time mostly ones with an edible theme (Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest, The Bountiful Container).  Even though it is purely ornamental, I did simply have to put out my very favourite garden book, Shocking Beauty by Thomas Hobbs.  And I hung at the gate a print of the cover of the Beverly Nichols’ book, Garden Open Today.

garden open today

garden open today!

My garden was looking much more ornamental than edible….

garden boat (The "Ann Lovejoy") with cosmos and elephant garlic.

garden boat (The “Ann Lovejoy”) with cosmos and elephant garlic.

But I had gone to great effort to grow salad greens in containers all over the garden.

salad containers, background

salad containers in background

It really is an ornamental garden, though; there is just no denying that.  Lisa really had wanted us to be on the tour, and I did my best…

In the greenhouse, I had tomatoes from The Planter Box, The Basket Case, and the River Rock Farm booth at Long Beach’s Columbia Pacific Farmers Market.

in the greenhouse

in the greenhouse

lavender as one enters the back yard

lavender as one enters the back yard

encouragement to smell scented geraniums, etc

encouragement to smell scented geraniums, etc

laundry lines and raspberries

laundry lines and raspberries

my grandma's embroidered pillowcases

my grandma’s embroidered pillowcases

one of four corn plants, and potatoes on the debris pile

one of four corn plants, and potatoes on the debris pile

veg box

veg box

To have more edibles with little open ground available, I had planted some drawers with autumn crops of kale, and labeled them.  Kale is ornamental as well as edible.  I could have just labeled them and not even planted the seeds! But the seeds are in there, I guarantee it.

Let the tour begin!!

Local jobbing gardener Diana Canto and her dog Lucy were first to arrive just after the tour start time of noon.  Diana is the gardener who created the Bristol garden, featured on the Music in the Gardens tour.

Diana and Lucy

Diana and Lucy

Soon after, Nancy (Music in the Gardens tour organizer) and Phil Allen arrived.

Phil, Nancy, Lucy, Diana

Phil, Nancy, Lucy, Diana

group

Phil, Nancy, Diana, and I

Phil, Nancy, Diana, Lucy, and I

in the distance, tour guests

in the distance, tour guests

Our friend Sarah Sloane, local author (of the charming children’s book The Marble Game) and topiary artist, came early.  I showed her the topiary that she gave me last year and said “I have been clipping on him”.  “Hand me the scissors!” she said, and went to work.

sarah3

Sarah Sloane

Sarah Sloane

s3

More people came, in fact we had quite a rush of about 18 people in the first hour and fifteen minutes!

tour guests

tour guests as Sarah clips  the topiary bird

Ann Gaddy came to see the garden.  I was thrilled to meet her.  Her father, Pete Hanner, is the one who told the story about my garden at my neighbour, Nora’s, funeral earlier this year…  Ann intends to bring Pete sometime soon, and I look forward to seeing him again.

 Ann Gaddy in the garden
enjoying Ann's company

enjoying Ann’s company

We had “met” on Facebook but not in person before this day.  Note Frosty, above, in the background watching from his cat perch.

Sarah, me, and Ann

Sarah, me, and Ann

One man turned out to be very interested in biochar.  I told him he and Jim Karnofski would have a lot to talk about, and he said he was going to Jim and Vera’s Biocharm Farm next.  He had been to a national bochar conference of some sort recently.  I hope he and Jim had a great time having a discussion on the subject.  As Mr. Tootlepedal (one of my two favourite bloggers of all time, the other being Mary Ruston of Moosey’s Country Garden) commented on my photos of Jim and Vera’s veg, “A very good advertisement for his methods.”

Another man introduced himself as from Astoria.  In conversation, I realized he had had his garden on the Astoria garden tour before, and I had been there.  It is in this blog entry as the Wigutoff garden, a lovely front garden that leads up to a deck with a Columbia River view, and had more edibles than I do, as I recall.  Unfortunately it was written when I used smaller photos on my blog (and before my great computer crash where I lost all original photos from 2010-12).  (Yes, I have a better back up system now!)

I believe this is Mr. Wigutoff from Astoria.

I believe this is Mr. Wigutoff from Astoria.

I have no idea why there is a corkscrew next to The Intelligent Gardener book.  I swear I was not boozing during the garden tour!  I have my phone out because am looking up Mr. Wigutoff’s garden on my blog.  (Allan tells me the corkscrew was to open his own bottle of Mexican soda pop.)

A young couple passing by on the street had asked early in the tour (which began at noon) if they could come in just to see our garden.  They had sailed down from Alaska in their boat and were docked at the marina.  Of course, we said yes.  They wandered appreciatively through the entire garden and I think they stayed for over an hour.

I showed the woman the way the seeds of the Impatiens balsamina jump when you touch a ripe pod (which is why it’s common name is Touch Me Not and why it is a class 2 noxious weed….ooops).

She's about to test out a seedpod.

She’s about to test out a seedpod.

laughter as it pops

laughter as it pops

Something about her smile and her voice convinced me I had met her before, but that was impossible.  She must have strongly reminded me of someone.  Her partner took a great interest in the cats.

cat

Frosty loved the attention.

Frosty loved the attention.

I wish them both smooth sailing and hope touring our garden gave them a fond memory of Ilwaco.

Debbie Haugsten came with her friend Charlene.  They arrived at the peak of the early guests, so we did not have time to visit.  Later, due to my face blindness, I thought maybe she had been with Helen Westbrook (whose fabulous Astoria garden I like to visit) but Debbie helped me sort it out later….

Debbie and Charlene

Debbie and Charlene

charlene

The two Colleens from Peninsula Landscape Supply arrived and stayed for awhile.

Sarah and Colleen

Sarah and Colleen

Not only was I happy to see them but I also was glad they could meet Sarah.  I think the topiaries would be a great addition to the stock at Colleen’s garden center.

And then, after they left, there was….no one else!   Sarah kept clipping the topiary as we visited on the patio.  Allan got discouraged after awhile and put the tabouli salad away.  He made us a lunch of chili and mandarin oranges (a house specialty that Sarah enjoyed).  After awhile, thank goodness, Judy came  from her garden four doors down to see how the tour was going and kept us company for awhile.

Allan noticed that Sarah’s dogs were in the car, so we invited them both in.

patiently waiting

patiently waiting

Judy loves little dogs.  They provided much entertainment as we continued to wait and marvel at the lack of tour guests.  These two dogs won the obedience trial at the Doggie Olympic Games in Long Beach earlier this year and they performed some cute tricks for us.

Judy

They liked Judy very much!

They liked Judy very much!

The tour was due to end at five;  Sarah and Judy had left by about four.  The bird was re-shaped to Sarah’s satisfaction.

an excellent bird

an excellent bird

I have to admit that I was kind of let down when my friends had departed.  I did not expect the 500 people who had come through on Music in the Gardens tour 2012, but I was hoping for at least 50!  I walked through the garden taking some photos of it while it was in such excellent condition (and pulled a few more weeds on the way).

That one spot of lawn always gets brown.

That one spot of lawn always gets brown.

archway to back garden

archway to back garden with Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’

entering the back garden....This is where folks always exclaim they did not know it was so big.

entering the back garden….This is where folks always exclaim they did not know it was so big.

elephant garlic

elephant garlic

Leycesteria 'Golden Lanterns'

Leycesteria ‘Golden Lanterns’

cat bench

I had been worried all the lilies would be done by tour day, but there were still plenty of them.

lilies

lilies

Eryngium and lilies

Eryngium and lilies

more lilies

more lilies

afternoon light on the garden boat

afternoon light on the garden boat

blue Agastache

blue Agastache (hyssop) and Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed)

Verbascum 'Eleanor's Blush'

Verbascum ‘Eleanor’s Blush’

Geranium 'Rozanne' river from the side

Geranium ‘Rozanne’ river from the side

my flock of chickens

my flock of chickens by the garden boat

Sheesh, not only is my garden not full of edibles, but I don’t even have real chickens!

more Agastache because I love them.

more Agastache because I love them.

by the bogsy wood, many empty chairs...

by the bogsy wood, many empty chairs…

by the edge of the bogsy wood....Hey, salmonberry groves have edible berries!

by the edge of the bogsy wood….Hey, salmonberry groves have edible berries!

weeded woodsy edge with before photos clipped to  branches

weeded woodsy edge with before photos clipped to branches

into the bogsy woods

into the bogsy wood at the south end of the lot

same area as above in November 2010

same area as above in November 2010

looking north from the bogsy wood

looking north from the bogsy wood

looking west

looking west

Gunnera

Gunnera

salmonberry tunnel

salmonberry tunnel

plant table inspired by George Schenk

plant table inspired by George Schenk

another well weeded bogsy wood area

a well weeded bogsy wood area

Oh well, it IS nice to have the garden almost perfect on occasion!

fairy door with market basket; the fairies have gathered their "edibles"

fairy door with market basket; the fairies have gathered their “edibles”

another fairy dwelling

another fairy dwelling

Judy’s son said the fairies do not need stairs because they can fly.  But they DO need stairs for their pet frogs.

from the bridge over the swale, looking west

from the bridge over the swale, looking west

fish in the well weeded swale

fish in the well weeded swale

south edge, inside fence, looking east.  The property goes further south outside the fence.

south edge, inside fence, looking east. The property goes further south outside the fence.

Emerging from the bogsy wood, I photographed my way up the west side path.

looking north

looking north

beside the shade garden

beside the shade garden

blue

blue bottle hanger from The Natural Nook in Gearhart

blue bottle hanger from The Natural Nook in Gearhart

Fuchsia magellanica

Fuchsia magellanica and purple trunks of old camellia

before photo of the camellia which is now just purple painted trunks

before photo (with no garden) of the camellia which is now just purple painted trunks . Nov 2010

looking back south

looking back south

walking north into the sun

walking north into the sun

And then….JOY!  Another garden guest arrived!  She was a member of The Mozart Chicks quintet who had performed at Pink Poppy Farm on Music in the Gardens tour day and had reprised their performance with a trio during the edible tour!

a musician in our garden

a musician in our garden

I walked around with her, and as she left, Pam and Kathy from Back Alley Gardens and The Natural Nook in Gearhart arrived.  More joy.  I really had been rather glum about having only nineteen people so far (and pretty much all of them in the first hour with three hours in between having no new arrivals).

Pam Fleming  and Kathy Cates

Pam Fleming and Kathy Cates

We walked all around every inch of the garden, which was most satisfactory and made my day.  Pam told us that she and Kathy had not known where our street, which is one block south of the main drag through Ilwaco, was.  I am so used to people having a GPS that I never thought to make sure the program had more specific directions.  Because of their determination to visit us, they turned back when they realized they were heading east out of Ilwaco.  But what was worse was that Adelaide’s Coffee in Ocean Park, the northernmost ticket sales point, had been CLOSED.  CLOSED on Sunday?  On tour day???  Which is when most people buy tickets???  When their hours say they are OPEN on Sundays?  Why had they agreed to sell tickets at all????  I found out later that they had told Lisa, the tour organizer, a few days before that they would be closed that day.  Whatever the emergency was, if there was one, my mind is still boggled that this happened.  How many other people might have tried to buy tickets and then given up and done something else with their day?

Because of this fiasco and having to drive back south to buy tickets at Jimella and Nanci’s Café in Klipsan, the only two gardens that Pam and Kathy visited other than ours was Pink Poppy Farm and the Millner Garden.  They loved Pink Poppy Farm…who wouldn’t? and Pam raved about a pink drink with Shiso (Perilla, a Japanese herb)….somehow the Shisho made the drink a gorgeous pink colour.  Then they went to the Millner garden at the Planter Box.  Pam was so taken with Ray Millner’s talk about the health benefits of his garden that she had made a movie of him with her iPad to show to Back Alley plantswoman Prissy.

Pam taking an iPad photo

Pam taking an iPad photo

We sat in the patio and talking about gardening, especially public gardening.   (Pam does the gorgeous Seaside, Oregon gardens and I have admired her work for years.)  Allan brought the tabouli salad back out.  Time passed.  Pam played us a bit of the video of Ray Millner.    They were thinking of stopping by Painted Lady Lavender Farm for the very end of the Beach Bellydance Festival but we kept nattering on.  (Last year the festival was beautiful and I was sorry to have missed it this year.)  By the time they departed, they decided to skip the festival.  On the way out, we all had a good look at Allan’s garden, especially his unidentified mystery fern.

Kathy and the mystery fern

Kathy and the mystery fern

One more guest wanted to come in, but by now the tour was over….

Onyx from next door

Onyx from next door

…except for Vera and Jim Karnofski who came up from Biocharm Farm to bring us the big tour sign to return to Lisa the next day.    We walked all around with them, and they took some tabouli with them to eat later.

I had emailed Nancy Allen to bemoan we had only had 23 people.  She responded:  “Phil told me I shouldn’t tell you Andrea had 130” [at the Patten edible garden].   I believed it for about two minutes and thought that many many people had been unable to find our address!  It tied in with Pam and Kathy having told me that they heard the Pink Poppy Farm-ers were surprised they had so many people.  But it turned out that the 27 people that they did get seemed to them like quite a few for the edible tour (that only got 20 people in 2012!)

This tour needs a better attendance, especially since it is a benefit for the food bank.  We have the Facebook page now, and had some good publicity in both the Chinook Observer (local weekly paper) and the Daily Astorian.  Next year we need to get a promo on the public radio.  The tickets are extremely reasonable:  $7 or 5 cans of food for the food bank.  I hope it is just not that people (like me) are more interested in purely ornamental garden tours….but I won’t pass up the chance to tour any kind of garden.

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July 27, 2013

Back Alley Gardens and The Natural Nook

My idea of great fun after a garden tour is to go nursery shopping, and what could be more convenient after the Gearhart Gardens by the Sea tour‘s last garden than to nip right over to Back Alley Gardens.  Here’s a nursery that has made my life much better because it fulfills my need to find cool collectible plants without having to drive inland to Joy Creek and Cistus nurseries.

Back Alley: lots more than annual geraniums

Back Alley: lots more than annual geraniums

Plantswoman Prissy took us to the way back of the nursery to show us the garden where she tries out plants.

Prissy's garden

Prissy’s garden

Right: Salvia lutea africana...combined with something pretty and complimentary

Left: Salvia lutea africana…combined with something pretty and complimentary

I've always grown this salvia in a pot.  It is much more vigorous here.

I’ve always grown this salvia in a pot. It is much more vigorous here.

more of Prissy's garden

more of Prissy’s garden

and more

and more

She is growing Quinoa but is disappointed as it is supposed to be more colourful.

bachelor buttons

bachelor buttons: I recognize those!

but not these

but not these

Prissy's sweet peas are better than mine this year.

Prissy’s sweet peas are better than mine this year.

Back Alley owner Pam Fleming, or maybe Natural Nook’s (the florist side of the business) Cathy told us that Prissy prefers growing plants with small flowers.  When she showed me one of Prissy’s bouquets, an old fashioned tussy mussy, I understood why.

Prissy's bouquet

Prissy’s bouquet

We saw a happy customer leaving with one of these.

Prissy herself

Allan’s photo of Prissy herself

We explored the plant selection, especially the ones from Xera, and the garden decor.

beachy mobile

beachy mobile

birdhouses

birdhouses (Allan’s photo)

twiggy

twiggy

our purchases

our purchases

Pam and Cathy were kind enough to hang the Edible Garden tour poster in their window and Pam said she would plan to attend because our garden would be on it!

Edible Tour poster

Edible Tour poster

While we were there, Teresa from The Planter Box called to see if we knew, from a description, what a plant might be that someone had asked about that the person had seen in the Seaside public gardens.  Since Pam DOES the Seaside public gardens, I put them on my phone together but the signal was too poor for good communication.  However, our plan for the afternoon had already included a drive to look at Pam’s gardens.  Maybe we would sight the mystery plant…tall, variegated, and with a magenta? or orange? flower.  (Writing this three weeks later makes it hard to remember).

Back Alley Gardens and The Natural Nook

Back Alley Gardens and The Natural Nook

But first! We had a stop to make that I had also planned to see one of the cutest places that we usually drive by while I crane my neck trying to see the details:  The Java Reef drive through coffee hut.

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