Posts Tagged ‘compost’

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Guest photo: Rosemary Saunders Hickman shared with us this photo of the daffodil display in Ocean Park, in front of our former gardening job, the Wiegardt Gallery.


Port of Ilwaco 

I began the day by picking a bouquet for an event at Don Nisbett’s Art Gallery. I have to confess it did not get there till almost noon. Allan and I were both exhausted and slept late. Allan delivered the bouquet.

The gardens at the port have grouped displays of small and delicate narcissi.


FEB7E997-FD81-4D0B-AC9E-928946BF39D4The bouquet was pleasing to Don and Jenna. I wish I had remembered to include some red twig dogwood stems



At the marina just across the lawn from the gallery, boats floated in a silvery late winter light.

After bouquet delivery, Allan went to the library where a Carol Klein cottage gardening book awaited me. A sock drive will provide some warm coziness to the feet of local homeless folk.


At home 

While picking the bouquet, I had been drenched with a sudden rainstorm and thought oh good! A reading day! Yet when the rain stopped and a weak sun emerged, I had to start moving a big pile of compost by the Nora House driveway.
Allan had the idea that sword fern leaves could be chopped with the lawnmower.  He pulled them from the pile and from a tarp in which they’d been burrito-ed and kicked them around on the lawn next door…

8DBDB31C-6BD9-4C04-AF9D-810CD104838E…and successfully mowed them.

So exciting was this that I pulled a quantity of ferns off the top of one of the compost bins and he mowed those, too, in an area that I had recently thought about graveling someday to extend the patio, till I remembered that it made a perfect leaf mowing area.


He trimmed the side bits off the bamboo that we had gleaned at our Depot Restaurant garden and was able to mow them…

2BC158C6-5D97-45EF-8057-178039D05F1B…rather to my surprise.
DBEF1406-7A86-4515-8AA0-9B8E812C5551Lots of chopped greens got mixed into the compost bins to provide a dose of nitrogen.
He helped me place a concrete vault, one that I had been lucky enough to get from the Long Beach City works yard, at a corner of the front gravel garden…

…all ready for cool small plants. I added some pipes and chimney pot thingies to the very front of the garden…

1D394243-0582-40DE-AD48-E33587CBC748…and was amused to realize this was very Derek Jarman.

(I started his memoir, Modern Nature, last night.)

Allan helped me with a couple of biggish rocks that came from the works yard.


Someday when we no longer have the Long Beach job, I will miss all the salvage and compost materials that I get from there.
One more little brainstorm that Allan helped with was to make small wood toppers for the shorter lengths of rebar that I have stuck in along one gravel path, to avoid eye poking.  This also reminded me of Derek Jarman.
B4983FAB-8192-41EB-B9AF-C7FED1BA22ADWith the fun decorating done, I applied myself to moving the biggest pile of compost. I had a lazy and rather bored audience, one of whom fell asleep during the show.

I used The Toy to chop the tall grasses into three lengths for quicker composting.

Although I frequently thought that I was too tired, too cold and would stop, I persisted and got the pile pretty much done.

The compost bins are piled so high that they are almost toppling. I will be interested to see how soon the level will fall.

Tomorrow I hope to get even more accomplished in my garden.

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Saturday, 23 November 2019


Allan kindly agreed to help me get more maple leaves from the Ilwaco fire station.

We went to the post office first (which all the local townspeople must do for mail delivery as we do not have home delivery here—and how I miss home delivery, 27 years after leaving Seattle!).

Every leaf lying on local pavement or lawns calls out to me.

leaves on the post office lawn (Allan’s photos)

I sometimes cast my thoughts to that lawn and think how lovely it would be to expand our volunteer garden…  Perhaps when we semi retire….

At the fire station, we raked some leaves off of grassy area but not off of the narrow garden beds at the south side of the parking lot.

The house to the southwest of the station is empty.  I think it is available to buy from the city for a few dollars…but it must be moved, a complicated matter as it has asbestos siding (or asbestos inside, or something like that).


our leaf harvest

The weather was quite chilly.

on the way home 

Home is so close to the station that I could fetch leaves in a wheelbarrow, on foot…if that did not make me feel too eccentrically conspicuous.

We spread out the leaves on the Nora House back lawn for chopping.

Meanwhile, Allan blew alder leaves off the rougher lawn of the Nora House back yard.

He mowed them up for me.

He then did the last lawn mowing job of the season at the J’s Cottage across the street.


Still not out of energy, Allan decided to do a nice thing for our good friend and neighbour Alicia, Nora’s granddaughter.

That Lady With a Tractor had recently chopped down a big barberry on the front lawn whose thorny stems stuck out over the sidewalk.

today, before

Even though I valued the privacy from the street in my own front garden that the barberry had given me, we don’t want it to grow back.  It had probably just volunteered there.  Once upon a time, Nora had had a rose garden running along the side of the driveway.

at it with pick and electric chain saw

One hour later:

My bounty of leaves has filled three receptables.

A basket waits to be added when the piles sink down….as do the leaves stored in a tarp.

Rather to my surprise, I had found the oomph to drag and chop the big pile of waiting compost from the back driveway bed….

before, looking east

…into compost bin three.

after, looking west

I have an exciting new batch of books from the library.

Because I cannot read the Susan Wittig Albert mystery until the one before it in sequence arrives, I picked this one to read tonight.

 I wish that era would end already.

While it had many takeaways too gloomy for this blog, here are a few.

About classism and racism:


About the plight of farmers:

I found this interesting article which states that the book has been reissued with a new forward, pertinent to current events.

If the weather forecast is right, tomorrow should be a full reading day.



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Friday, 22 November 2019

my day at home


I had big compost sifting plans for today.

Frosty accompanying me to the project

When I tackled bin three, as planned, I found the compost almost unbearably cold to sift.

ice on the canoe pond
before: bin four is tarped in blue

I got this far with some rough sifting…

…before my hands ached too much to continue.

Giving up, I decided to shift some plants into my new cold frame and pot up a few cuttings and then, just as I was about to return to the house and a book, the weather warmed enough to get on with the sifting.

Jazmin supervised.

second load
third load
fourth load
the last batch
bin three empty!

I used the rough mulch along some edges by the fire circle, where I had expanded garden beds in the late summer.

Bin three is now ready to receive a batch of fall clippings.

 Allan’s day at the port

Allan got a midmorning call for help from Jenna.  Going to the rescue with our garden loppers, he found her at a gear shed near the boatyard, battling to undo a vine-entangled net.

Our Jenna

Jessie’s Fish Company had donated the net for some sort of Crab Pot Christmas decorations.  After some of the ivy had been clipped off, a Jessie’s fork lift driver helped to drag the net open.

A nice large piece was then cut off for decorating purposes.

Because neither Jenna nor Allan felt hungry enough for a lavish reward, they split a burger at Salt Pub.

When Allan returned from his day, he positioned a new plant table for me, one that we had found in the free wood pile near the boatyard.

My reward for my unexpectedly productive afternoon:

I had an evening of reading an enjoyable novel about an aspergian man.  It is the first of a trilogy.  The library only has the first, so interlibrary loans will ensue.

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Sunday, 31 March 2019

Allan had gone boating.

My mission was to get enough compost to mulch the battered soil around the new water feature….which has leaked another half an inch or so.

I need to make some driftwood or other access points for frogs to get in there.

My hope for mulch lay in compost bin one.

compost critter

I got four red wheelbarrows of coarsely sifted compost.

Bin one empty:

Center bed is better now, but I still need more mulch.

When I have time, I can surely get more from bins two through four, especially the lower half of bin four, which has been sitting the longest.

While gardening today and yesterday, I thought at times about gardening partners, with some envy about couples I perceive as working hard together on their entire gardens.  The only couples who come to mind who I imagine doing this compatibly are the owners of The Bayside Garden and Mirabel Osler and her late husband, based on her book A Gentle Plea for Chaos.  (Even those two had a somewhat traditional division of labor, with him doing the mowing.)

In our garden, Allan now does the mowing (although at first I did, before the garden got big enough to needs lots of work).  He has his garden, on the east side of the house, small enough to be kept perfect, and I have the rest…not a half and half arrangement like Ciscoe and Mary Morris’ evenly divided and competitive garden.  Unlike that equally garden-obsessed pair, Allan does have other interests.  However, I can count on him to help whenever asked and to build cool things like my greenhouse lean to.  Longtime readers have seen much photo proof of his efforts.

In two previous relationships of mine, Bryan had no interest in gardening…until years after we broke up, when he developed a passion for collecting bamboo.  And he was a pot farmer, which I suppose counts as gardening but was not something I was involved in at all.

I was not obsessed with gardening during the five years when Bryan and I were together, although I did try to care for my garden that had once been my grandmother’s. Bryan and his friend Owen planted a parking strip tree for meyeads before I turned the parking strip into a garden.

Chris had no interest in the garden, to the point where I one day gave him an ultimatum, that I would no longer read any of his writing until he started to appreciate my art, the garden itself.  He did listen.  His next spouse was also a gardener.  Now, many years later, he has an allotment patch.  If he had been such a gardener in 1990, we would probably still be together!

(I must also point out the irony that both Bryan and Chris were completely opposed to having children while in their 20s and 30s, and both changed their minds in their mid 40s, very much to my disgruntlement at the time.)

After I became an obsessed gardener, Bryan built a wonderful fence for me at the back of my Seattle garden, just because he was a great friend.

And Bryan and his mum Louise helped prune my pear tree and pick the fruit each year.

Robert was my co-gardener both at work and in the garden.  Even though I did the plant collecting, I remember us gardening together at home and even have photos to prove it.

From our Seattle garden:

Robert watering
Robert building a twig arbour
Robert pruning the pear tree, early spring
Making our Ilwaco garden, 1995

However, I am content to garden large expanses of my current garden mostly on my own.  I get to make the decisions without a lot of argy bargy, have help to call for if something is to big for me to handle alone, and I am well aware that not all gardening partnerships are idyllic—especially with someone like Walter.

This evening, I finished reading We Made a Garden by Margery Fish, whose spouse was the worst example I have ever read of the kind of gardening partner that you do not want to have.

I did remove the label, and I put it back on.

I found a perfect essay about Margery and Walter right here on Slate, titled A Gardener’s Revenge, which is just what I was thinking while reading the book.

I remembered what Ann Lamott wrote: “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

All about Walter:


When she wanted to plant in amongst paving, “Walter would not have [that] at any price. I was allowed a few very small holes…. Time has improved things and a lot of the …cement has become loosened…helped…by a crowbar.”

He insisted on blue clematis and ridiculed the red ones she liked. “I was warned I was wasting my time.” He referred to them as “your red clematis” until they began to do well, and then they were “ours”.

He would not let her have a wisteria….  “Since Walter died, I have cut down the ampelopsis.  He could never be persuaded to have a wisteria because he said they would take too long to flower.  Now I have two, and they flowered two years after I planted them.”

He hovered and criticized.

I am reminded of how my mother, after my father died, even though she missed him dreadfully, soon confessed to me that “it’s kind of a relief to not get made fun of” for her gardening efforts.

Margery’s stonework “did not meet with approval.”  Walter liked to “gaze with horror” at what she had done the day before and make snide remarks.

He insisted on planting pole roses and gaudy dahlias in the area she had planned out, so that she had to work her planting around them.

“He never worried about treading on my plants, or smothering them with the great piles of earth that were thrown up, so I had to be careful not to plant anything” near the dahlias.

Margery wanted a year round garden but was “not allowed to plant many out of season plants” because all Walter wanted was a summer garden.

I found this the most telling paragraph of all:

(She was frightened of harming her little plants so dotted the manure around carefully.)

Oh, but wait, there’s more:

You might say that there must be another side to the story. I say what a horrible, dreadful man. After he died, and the pole roses and big showy dahlias went away, and cracks were made in the paving for Margery to plant as she liked, she became a famous garden writer and a great inspiration to cottage style gardeners of today.  It was in watching Carol Klein’s wonderful Life in a Cottage Garden series that I learned of Margery’s books.  I now intend to read all of them.

We Made a Garden is invaluable for its plant lists and descriptions and I must get myself a copy of my very own, maybe with this lovely cover:

Postscript: Two days later, in Tales from Titchmarsh, I found Alan T. expounding on the same topic:

…planted and where….








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Friday, 22 March 2019

I resisted the lure of watching Gardeners’ World on Inside Outside TV in order to have the joy of reading Christine Walkden’s memoir in one sitting.

I had become smitten with her when I saw her on The Great British Garden Revival and then watched as many episodes as I could find (less than half, I am sorry to say) of Christine’s Garden.

I loved her memoir even more than I thought I would.

“I eat, dream, and breathe gardening.  I would not want to do anything else.  I am incredibly lucky.”

I appreciated her honesty and emotion about the making of her garden programme:

Later….she writes of “losing interest and getting irritated…”

When asked to stay in her pyjamas and dressing gown for her first look around the garden she “…was not at all happy with the thought that viewers were going to see me.”

When the crew filmed the rooms inside her house and photographs on her wall, it upset her terribly.  She wanted to do a proper gardening show, and they wanted insight into her feeling and emotions, her “very soul!”

She told them, in tears, that she was a private person.  I cannot even imagine being in such a pickle!  Finally, the camera crew won her trust and she writes that she knows she is “not the easiest person.”  How I loved her for all of this!

After the show broadcast, a friend said, “I thought you were going to talk about potatoes and you talked about the soul.”

This is what makes the tracking down of the episodes of the show or ordering this book from the UK well worth while.

I had wondered if she had gotten picked on for her looks, looks which I adore, of course.

Later, she was asked to wear make up and have a hair stylist for a cover of the book.  She did not.

Christine is also a teacher with a solid education behind her and years of experience.  I wish I could have learned from her; I wouldn’t be an amateur with imposter syndrome.

The memoir is sprinkled with gardening advice.  I was especially inspired by the parts about compost (of course).  She has four assorted bins…

I concluded that I am still not mixing my compost together well enough.

I worry about how I will find enough compost material after we partially retire.  I will be scavenger like Christine (as I used to be for my small Seattle garden):

It was a treat to read about her various gardening jobs.

In the course of work and garden visits to friends, she mentions some shrubs that I often do not see mentioned in print (Stachyurus praecox and Escallonia iveyi!).

A running theme is her gardening neighbours (an enviable situation), especially Reg.

Another theme that deeply affected me was her thoughts about her 14 year old dog.

I know that Tara is gone by now.  I do hope Christine found another dog as fine.

Another of Christine’s traits with which I strongly identify:

And she loves books and has hundreds (or was it thousands?) in her house.

This is so very British:

She lecture-tours all over the country.  Her discourse on hotels is the way I feel and is one of the reasons I am not going to Hardy Plant study weekend this year.

(One of the other two main reasons is the expense.)

I wish to make an alpine trough that uses exactly the same plants as Christine’s.  Then I would feel a connection to her every time I admired it.

Christine’s appreciation of other gardeners:

Sometimes, rarely, I find a book that I want to carry around in a hug after I have read it.  Christine’s memoir made me feel that way.  I want to be her friend.  If I could afford to buy a house on her block, I would be wistfully lurking around her vicinity hoping that she would take me in to her circle of gardening neighbours.

Christine Walkden is, I think, obscure on this side of the pond.  Her shows and her books will repay your for the effort of finding them.  Even though I cannot find an official source for videos of her show, you can find some of Christine’s Garden on YouTube and a complete set of her Glorious Gardens from Above garden tour show can also be found on Tubi.

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3 March: bin three

Sunday, 3 March 2019

At home

I returned to my compost project, once again a bit worried about being a bad neighbor by running The Toy intermittently for hours to chop up dry compost materials for faster decomposition. Although I had an idea for a different project of the day, I noticed my neighbors to the east (near the bins) seemed to be gone and so I did all of the noisy work in their absence. When I next see them, I’ll ask if The Toy is loud. They might not even notice its gentle buzzing, especially when compared to the local pressure washers and forklifts.

Bin three gave me a disappointingly low volume of sifted compost, just this much:

It was enough to mulch my irises by the pond.

Most of bin three got piled onto bin four….

…with some saved to add back in with fresh material.

I even found some whole apples that will please my canine friends next door.

After I had all the new material chopped and layers (green and brown mixed), bins one and two look quite promising.

A look from the back side reveals some woody material underneath so it won’t be all delicious siftings.

While adding my bit of mulch to the irises, I noticed the small pond was so low that the tops of the planting baskets showed.

This was most disconcerting. Then I remembered evaporation. Google informed me that even in winter, especially when the air is as dry as it’s been this week, evaporation of an inch or more per week is normal.

Fortunately, a rain barrel with a faucet is fairly close to the ponds.

(You can watch my beloved Christine Walkden speaking about water butts right here. )

The pond looked grand topped up with rain water and with a third papyrus added at the back.

I pondered adding one more pond, inspired by an episode of The Great British Garden Revival in which Charlie Dimmock demonstrated a simple pond idea.

Charlie says don’t forget your level.

Other than ordering and awaiting the liner, Allan and I could do this in a day, I bet.

My idea is for it to go here:

It would tie in to the look of the water boxes…

…which are just across a piece of lawn.

I like the way Charlie’s plan includes a bog garden at one end.

This will have to wait at least a week! We probably have to go to work tomorrow through Wednesday, and then my dear friend Seattle Carol will be visiting for three days.

In the garden:

Meanwhile, Allan had gone questing for tadpoles in the ponds along the meander line south of our property.

The only pond that is year round is the one behind The Lost Garden two doors down.

I don’t mind that he didn’t find any tadpoles yet. I am interested in the claim that if you build a pond, frogs will find it, and I sort of want to wait and see how long that takes.

Tonight, I am going to have a look at Christine Walkden’s more recent show, Glorious Gardens From Above, even though I should be checking out my seed arrivals and placing an order of much desired plants with Annie’s Annuals. My iPad tells me that my screen time is up.

Little does it know that a couple of those days were eight or more hours of The Great British Garden Revival.

Here I go down another rabbit hole.

Here is Christine …. Within the next month, we will each turn 64.

I do love her so!

Oh, OH, look where she is going to land!

I am in heaven.

Beth was 91 when this segment was filmed; the broadcast was in 2014.

What treasures these women are.

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Friday, 25 January 2019

my buddies next door

My pond project began.  I was inspired to try it when Monty Don said on Gardeners’ World that even if you try something that doesn’t work, you have learned something.


I used rocks from the south side of the boat to fill in under the newly moved trough.



When I went in the house, I found a package hanging on the gate, and inside…

I still have not met Sara’s dog, Jet, and must remedy that.

Thank you, Sara.

I still don’t get why I have such nice friends, since I am not much of a social animal anymore!  These chocs truly made my day.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Allan went boating.  If you missed the reblog a couple of days ago, you can read all about his adventure right here.  He had a slightly touch and go navigational experience.

I moved and managed to divide into two pieces my grandmother’s “sweetheart” rose from the new pond area, to either side of the sundial….after sifting a load of compost for that spot…and two days later I moved the tiny roses further forward in case I ever put a small pond where the sundial is.

after removal of landscape fabric that had been under the sundial, back when it was at the edge of the garden bed

lovely compost


I got halfway through bin one of the compost area and then realized that the undoing of my scree garden in the future pond area was going to take me at least two days.  Too bad I did not decide to make the pond first…like two years ago.

The end part (there will be two sections) just involved the moving of some broken pottery, so that is where I started digging.


I will use the sand to build up low areas in the back garden beds.  In 2011, I built them up with Soil Energy mulch.  That does not work…it just sinks down over time.  I learned that any sort of raised berm needs to be made on something more solid, like brown sand.  In fact, Bob Nold suggested, in his book High and Dry, throwing in a ridge of rubble…too late for that.


The rock will be moved to the side of the Cat Memorial Garden, which I widened today.

I widened it even more the next day.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

view from the porch with Acanthus ‘Hollard’s Gold’

a further widened Cat Memorial Garden

We had pond inspectors (Sara and her mum Connie stopped by to see it).

Allan ran errands and fetched me some bags of plain garden soil for repotting my water plants.

In the course of building up a garden bed with sand dug out of the pond area, I also transplanted some lily bulbs to further back instead of close to the edge (where they have blocked the view into the bed).


Monday, 28 January 2019

The weather is what we call Junuary.

Another pond inspector came by…Ann Amato from Portland.

I showed her my good neighbors.

cool specs (Allan’s photos)

Skooter observed.

Ann’s travel buddy cat was intrigued. (Allan’s photos)


Allan helped to dig the big section of pond; I had finally gotten most of the rocks moved although we were still sifting little ones.

Because the pond will be L shaped, it has a land bridge between the two sections (which will also help me access the boat garden for weeding and deadheading).


Tuesday, 29 January 2019

We began with a trip to The Planter Box to get some more little pots for my plant sale and to see if they had a really really big piece of pond liner.  (No on the latter.)

hellebores for sale at The Planter Box

While dropping off a tax form at the Adrift Hotel (for our Shelburne job), we admired the pots there, which we believe are done by Lenane of Ocean Park and are changed out more often than our pots at the Shelburne.

Allan’s photos:


They are highly visible, right at the entrances to the lobby.

Back home, I refined the edges of the pond.

The round pond at the stern of the boat has sloping sides (at least one) to encourage frogs.  The other has steeper sides to discourage raccoons.

beds getting built up with sand

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Research convinced us that The Pond Guy was the best source for pond liner and underlayment and so we placed an order.  The eight yards of mulch is off the schedule now; all the extra winter money is going to the pond project.

While waiting a week for delivery, and with this being the last good weather day for a bit, I turned to turning and sifting compost and finished bin one…despite feeling a distinct lack of energy at the beginning.

I moved Gram’s sweetheart roses further forward…

Have gotten about four barrows from bin one!

bin one, empty!

with new bottom layer of cardboard and newspaper to keep weeds and hops out

At the end of November, all the bins were piled as high as the clothesline.  I love how fast decomposition goes.

Skooter’s favourite spot these days

My buddies next door each got an apple to eat.

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Warm and sunny weather made for an unexpected compost turning day and opened the crocuses.

I got all of bin two sifted (which went on top of the sand in a garden bed) and shifted into bin one.

bin two

Rain is due and I am so very ready for some days of sitting down and watching Gardeners World on BritBox, to which I subscribed so that I can watch all of the 2018 season in order (and I think they will show 2019 pretty much soon after it shows in the UK).





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Saturday, 17 November 2018

first day of staycation

I woke much too early with the memory that we had a big shrub from Klipsan Beach Cottages to plant.

This rain gauge must have recorded the rain we had on the dark day last week, perhaps in the night; we did our 12 days in a row of fall clean up with nary a sprinkle during work time.

Yesterday during our final clean up at KBC, Mary had given us a large callistemon that had been in a big pot all this time.  Her plant collector brother had given it to her some years ago. Denny doesn’t like weird plants much; this one has greenery-yallery  flowers.

the callistemon at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Callistemon, now ours

quite a prize! might be ‘Shamrock’

I dug a Big Hole and Allan brought the trailer right next to the destination and helped me plant.

callistemon in the ground

I may eventually have to move the two ornamental grasses on either side of it.

In the course of making room, I dug up some Geranium macrorrhizum and took some starts over to the Norwood garden, two doors down.  I appreciate being able to cut through the Nora House back garden and its connecting gate.  The Norwood garden also got a couple of starts of Dierama from KBC, perhaps not well rooted enough to “take”.

Geranium went into the corner of this north bed.

I thought I was going to have to rearrange the hydrangeas for spacing, but they look ok to me now.

Very young hydrangeas…The one on the far right got cut off from the photo….

I snagged myself an oyster basket of fallen leaves from the driveway.

Because I was so tired from work, I set myself a simple mission, to clear out compost bin three in preparation for adding the huge pile that waited outside the west gate.


before: bin three looks promising

I sifted just this much compost out of it by the time it was completely emptied.

I could not resist starting on the hauling of debris.

the pile, before

It was a relief when the tarp appeared from under the huge pile that consisted of Fifth Street Park debris and all of Diane’s garden.

Meanwhile, Allan was using the Pencil Sharpener to chip two piles of woody debris from work.

Frosty found it amusing to have us out by the driveway, where he enjoys sunbathing.

Somehow I found the energy to wheelbarrow the whole big pile from the driveway “garden” (potatoes and weeds and debris dumped from work) and got it clipped and layered in into the compost bins, filling bin three and heaping up on top of the other three bins.  I must admit the last couple of loads just got stuffed on top with no chopping.


As I worked, I fantasized about us driving to the free wood pile at the port and finding five more pallets and making two more bins on the other side of the aisle.  I reminded myself that if we semi-retire in a couple of years, we will no longer be bringing home such large amounts of compostable material.  It is tempting, though, to expand…  I will have to wait for these piles to settle before I can start sifting again.

A new addition today is a leaf bin, made from a round of wire and a couple of rebar stakes.  Marion Cran had written eloquently of leaf mold in her books, and with my two plastic bins now full of leaves and chippings, I needed more space.  Allan set it up.

the wire clipped together

newspapers at the bottom to keep weedy grass out (Allan’s photos)

I wanted more leaves from the Norwood driveway but simply did not have the strength to hobble over there again.

the garden at dusk

When I received Allan’s photos of the day, I learned that he had also done a little project I had forgotten about: freeing the welcome frog from the jail that had happened with last minute Halloween decorating.


after; a gift from Mary of KBC

Allan noticed the Joseph’s Coat rose is still blooming.

My compost accomplishment called for the last bag of Builders Tea, because this garden was not built on chamomile.

Indoors, Skooter spent the evening, typically, in his favourite spot, where he gets petted every time someone walks by this intersection of hallway and kitchen.

He is still not much of a lap cat.






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Friday, 24 August 2018

reader photo: 

Lorna (formerly of Andersen’s RV Park) recently returned from a trip to Norway, where she found these planters and sit spots in Oslo.  “As usual, I’ve kept an eye out for street flowers in which you might be interested. Nothing….until tonight walking along the 5 mike long!! harbor front promenade. Don’t know about watering needs but certainly no deadheading.”

At home…

last night’s night blooming cereus flower was done…

..and I enjoyed the first of three days off with a few accomplishments in the garden.

Frosty was especially glad to have me home for the day.

I dipped out every rainwater barrel with our five gallon green jugs (wonderfully useful reusable kitty litter jugs with lids).  And filled every watering can.  The rainwater is all saved now and the barrels and bins are ready to fill up again if the forecast of rain comes true.  This should help with conserving water in September, one of the four months per year on which our water bill is based. (Three days later, I was relieved to find out that the autumn months of water averaging are October and November, not September.)

Continuing the theme of heavy lifting, I divided the fifty pound bag of grit, purchased from the Planter Box on Wednesday, into two buckets.  This is what I bought.  I hope it is the sort of grit that Monty Don speaks of so often on Gardeners’ World.  Is it?

I greatly enjoyed turning compost bin four into compost bin two, skipping empty bin three altogether.  This now gives me TWO empty bins into which I will start combining green clippings with the older brown stems of compost material.

The cats hung out together next to the compost bins, in the shade.



putting larger stuff back onto the pile

This dry and not at all rich partial wheelbarrow is all bin four had to give me…

…along with potato bugs and a very large spider.

six hours later, a huge mountain of compost in bins one and two, with bins three and four empty

It probably only took a couple of hours to sift through bin four.  I did other garden puttering during breaks from compost sifting.

Cosmos ‘Cupcake’ appreciation.

and Cosmos ‘Psyche’, probably

hips of Rosa moyesii

Geranium ‘Rozanne’ clambering into Rosa glauca (rubrifolia)

Allan weeded and beautifully mulched his own garden, and took no photos of befores and afters.  Here is a photo from two days later, when we did indeed have a fine spell of rain.

mulched with Gardner and Bloome Soil Conditioner

I continue to read The Prickotty Bush by Montagu Don, just a little bit every evening.

Every evening, I try to figure out what the cover photo is supposed to be.

It’s a poignant tale of creating a garden whilst knowing it might be lost for financial reasons.

Friends who have Seasonal Affective Disorder might find this article about Monty Don’s experiences with depression interesting and comforting.  I appreciate his honesty about his condition because I also suffer from depression on and off, although it tends to be situational rather than season; winter (Reading Time!) is my favourite season.  Perhaps when I can retire or partially retire, summer will be my favourite.

Tomorrow begins a series of several posts about our wonderful Saturday with friends, touring gardens public and private on the north Oregon coast.


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Saturday, 7 April 2018

for the readers

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

a snoozy day for Skooter

Odd Lots  by Thomas C Cooper

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

Here are just some of my favourite bits.

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

You WILL hear tales of my compost pile:

Mail order plants:

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


Puttering, also known as “something shiny syndrome”:

Narcissi (daffodils) are my favourite of all flowers:

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

The joy of gardeners:

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

The rain and the cat snoozing continued into the evening.


Sunday, 8 April 2018

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

Skip ahead to the third book for more about gardening!


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Nonie and her best friend:

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

I wish they would.


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

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

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

the rain gauge since Saturday A.M.

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

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

Tulips survived the storm.

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

A Full Life in a Small Place

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

I feel very much this way about my compost:

On the compelling subject of age:



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

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


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

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


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

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

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