Posts Tagged ‘fall clean up’

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

It is nice to have a cat who likes to have a bit of cereal milk at breakfast, like Smoky used to do.

The weather report I rely on most for advance planning is a local one called 642weather.com, 642 being the Long Beach area code. For hour to hour weather, I pay close attention to the Dark Sky app. Today, 642 had changed since yesterday’s forecast to show some light rain instead of heavier rain all day. Dark Sky warned of some light rain in the afternoon. We decided to go to work anyway (even though I would have loved a real rainy reading day).

The Depot Restaurant

As I have said many times, I do not believe in the kind of garden clean up that I do for most clients, especially public gardens. I suppose the Depot is one place where the owners, Nancy and Michael, wouldn’t mind if I put up an interpretive sign explaining that gardens left standing are good for bugs and critters. But…it’s easier to just get the job done in one swoop.


We both worked on clipping the hops that climb the dining deck lattice, Allan doing the hardest part because he was inside on the deck to remove vines from the top of the lattice walkway, while I was just clipping to halfway up on the outside of the lattice. Halfway through that job, torrential rain began. I wondered if we would have to just get the hops done and return tomorrow for the rest. I’d already cut some tall perennials down so it would look sort of half-arsed if we left it.

The dining deck entry from the restaurant, before
Allan’s view from inside of me clipping hops in the downpour
My view from the garden while getting thoroughly drenched
Lattice cleared of hops
It is not easy cleaning a sopping wet area…
….but Allan prevailed.
A sodden creature

As the rain slowed slightly, I decided to keep cutting the perennials down, using The Toy (our Stihl battery shearing tool) and hand clippers (secateurs). I still thought we would have to return to weed.

Wet and cold

The rain had come on so suddenly that there had been no time to get to the van and my raincoat without getting even wetter while trying to get into it.

With the hops done, Allan joined me by trimming a fern and some dierama (angel’s fishing rod).

View from where he was working

The sun came out so I kept on with the weeding, mostly prunella and some creeping buttercups and a smattering of bindweed. Allan weeded along the parking lot side of the logs and loaded up debris.

We had had this much rain in the squall that was less than half an hour long.

Sous chef Jamie came out to chat with us after putting on some meat to roast.

The smell of the food had been amazing and maddening while we worked. I so very much miss dining at the Depot, our favourite restaurant, and if it comes true that we can get a Covid vaccine in the springtime, our very first treat will be a Depot dinner. We might treat ourselves to a take out dinner this autumn to celebrate the start of staycation. We have not had takeout food because my Covid protocols are fierce, but I know that the utmost food prep precautions are taken here (and also at our favourite lunch spot, Captain Bob’s Chowder).


At home

We had a large amount of debris to process. Some bamboo needed trimming, and the trimmed bamboo bits and all the hops needed to be stuffed into bags in our wheelie bin. Covid protocols require that all garbage, even yard waste, must be bagged. (There is no recycling or yard waste pick up where we live.) Hops vines won’t break down well in the compost.

Allan dealt with the hops and bamboo whilst I chopped and loaded both the Depot debris and yesterday’s debris from Mike’s garden into bin two, which had been halfway full. Chopping it up makes it compost faster.

We got done in a brisk wind an hour before dark. Even with dry clothes, it took a long time to get warm afterwards.

I have some anxiety about a storm that might or might not arrive Friday night. The potential is being compared to The Monster of 2007 …an experience I do not want to repeat, especially in a double wide manufactured home; at least I know our metal box of a house came through the 2007 storm ok.

Our local paper has this to say:

“It’s been almost 13 years since the Great Gale of 2007 ravaged the coastal Pacific Northwest with strong winds, punishing rainfall, and left some residents in the dark for days. Uncertainty remains, but the region is currently in the bullseye for a similarly strong wind storm later this week.

The approaching weather system is associated with severe tropical storm Atsani that hammered part of the northern Philippines on Nov. 6.

Current forecast models have the storm arriving late in the evening on Nov. 13, bringing strong winds, large coastal waves and heavy rainfall. It is expected to have a low pressure between 968 and 973 millibars, nearing the 952 millibars reading from 2007.”

The article goes on to say that we could have 70 mph wind and, with Wednesday being a holiday, it would be a good day to prepare. It will not be a holiday for us, but we are more prepared than ever before. We now have not only a good little camp stove but a generator so that we won’t lose our frozen pandemic food stores! Apparently we are not sure if it will run both a space heater and the freezer and refrigerator. I hope we do not have to find out. The path of the storm could change or it may fizzle, as most storms here since 2007 have. The joys of anticipating some exciting storm watching ended for me after the 2007 experience.

Worrying about a storm can occupy the part of my mind that is not worrying about a trumpian coup. By the time this post goes to press, the national news will have changed. Today, I’ve been reading some dire thoughts by Heather Cox Richardson and Dan Rather.

In cat news, I think adding the kittens has had the effect on Skooter that I’d hoped for. He no longer sits and yowls pitifully for hours. I interpreted his yowls as complaints about being the only cat. Even though he growls and hisses at the kittens, he also occasionally has a brief moment of play with them.

He lounges in the living room, seeming content, and spends more time indoors. The paper is for cat amusement.
The cattens are endlessly entertaining.

The work board tonight; some jobs now get shifted into a final clean up column for one more check up in December….or after a big storm. [Edited to add a spoiler: the storm split into two and so was weaker than in 2007.]

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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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Wednesday, 13 November 2019

I wanted to capture how sparkly the azolla looked on our small pond after a night of rain.

I failed to show the sparkle.  Azolla is a water “fern” that came in to my ponds on some plant or other.  If we have a hard freeze, it might go away.  I like it.  I just scoop it out with a net and throw it on the garden bed nearby.  A most interesting article in Scientific American, “Can the Fern that Cooled the Planet Do it Again?”, tells about its prehistoric history and how it might be useful against climate change.  The article also states that is is edible (and tastes “like a blade of grass”). It’s a must read.  Perhaps azolla should be taken off the noxious weed list, eh?

midday back garden; the hips are from Rosa moyesii

Norwood garden

We finally got two doors down to the Norwood garden to trim up the small garden beds.

Allan thought the entrance needed a bit of a trim…

…so he fixed it.

trimming lavender

before, east side (forgot the after)

west side lavender before


The lavenders are probably a decade old and still bloom profusely.

I fretted over the privet I cut back hard last time, to make it more shapely next year.  I scraped at a stem with a fingernail and it is green underneath, so it should be fine.

Allan weeded the north bed.

We then stopped at the Depot Restaurant just to water the window boxes.

still blooming (Allan’s photo)

Long Beach

We went to Dennis Co in a quest for mulch, the quickest place to buy some bags for a south end job.  They did not have what I wanted (Soil Building Compost and potting soil).  How can potting soil be missing from the stock in winter?  Surely people repot their house plants, at the very least.  (There was one stack of potting soil bags of the fanciest and most expensive sort that is out of my league.)

However, the stop did reveal to us how terribly messy the two northernmost planters were.

Geranium ‘Rozanne’ gone all shabby


As I turned my attention to the planters across the street, Lezlie and I sighted each other.


Just this morning, I had sent her the link to this delightful blog post with this hilarious bit about going to town: “Today we had a day trip to the big city, well a city anyway.  We wore our best smocks held neatly in place with baler twine and caught the horse and trap into town.” Lezlie and I had a good laugh about it because “getting out the old mule and buckboard” is how we describe the effort it takes for her to come all the way south (about a fifteen minute drive) or for us to go all the way north to visit her in the Klipsan Beach area.

We got to pet this beautiful dog who was watching me work.

Allan’s photo

As for the second planter, if a santolina still looks good, I like to leave it till spring before trimming.  But if it looks like this…

….I do this.


Meanwhile, Allan had sheared back a street tree garden where the BadAster has firmly insinuated itself.

While I would have liked to collect all those leaves, we did not have time.

The Planter Box

We drove on to The Planter Box for our mulch and potting soil.

autumn display

As we were leaving, Teresa asked if we could identify a plant from a customer’s phone photo.  We could not.  But in the course of the conversation with the customer, Heidi, we learned that her uncle was Frank Herbert (author of the Dune series, which i loved in high school).  When I learned she is not on Facebook, we talked about the book I have been reading called Anti-Social Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. She recommended a book called The Soul of Silence.  It was a fortuitous introduction.  (I wish she and I could be Facebook friends.)

The Red Barn

We did a thorough weeding of the narrow garden bed and mulched it with Gardner and Bloome Soil Conditioner.  I had hoped one bale would be enough, as I had other plans for the second bale. The garden bed took both.

The main weed here is the annoying creeping sorrel.

Allan’s photos:


our good friend, barn cat Cosmo

in our van


I admired the way someone had decorated one of the planters.

pineapple sage and fall decor

Diane’s garden

Next door to the barn we did more fall cutting back at Diane’s garden.  We were rather anxiously racing sunset. I had been unable to remember if I had clipped back the tall sanguisorbas.  My own blog’s photos of last time had showed me we had not.

The roadside garden at dusk, after clipping the sanguisorba and some other plants:

I think I can consider the roadside garden as put to bed for the winter.  There will be just one more visit to Diane’s to tidy her back garden containers if we have a hard frost.

in Diane’s back garden

Allan trimmed the bed next to the house.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’s dried flowers will look fine through the winter.

The work board tonight:










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Friday, 16 November 2018

Klipsan Beach Cottages

the gardens and Mary and Denny’s soon to be former house, where the new manager will live

I have been the gardener at Klipsan Beach Cottages for over 22 years, first with Robert, and since 2005 with Allan, and have often written of it being my favourite job.  I posted a series about the garden through the year in 2012, starting here.

When we first began, the garden looked like this:

KBC garden 1998. simple railroad tie beds with herbs, and no deer fence

Robert and I helped with the big project that turned the above area into a fenced garden and enabled Mary to grow her favourite roses safe from the deer.

We have known all this year (and for the couple of years before) that longtime owners/managers Denny and Mary would be retiring at the end of 2018, and we had decided to retire with them from this one beloved job.  It had become our only north end job, which makes little sense because of the longish drive there and back.  And I just cannot imagine working there without Mary’s involvement in the garden and Denny coming outside to josh with us at “beer-thirty” at the end of the afternoon.

Mary and Denny will be living in Naselle, only ten minutes further of a drive for a social visit than the drive to go to work at KBC.

I will miss seeing them and my good friend Bella every week.

My sentimentality began with the view from where we park on the north side of the fenced garden.

the next door property with wild evergreen huckleberry

Sometimes on warm summer days, a rich piney smell would greet us when we arrived, reminiscent of childhood camping trips.

We worked hard for almost five hours.  I had poignant feelings mixed with some relief that certain issues, like a BadAster invasion, too much Japanese anemone, and a running rugosa rose were no longer my problem.

Too much pink Japanese anemone (done flowering now)

We had gotten this bed partly done last time.




Poignancy was soon overshadowed by some anxiety on my part about whether or not we would get done with the fall clean up today.  We did.  Mary worked with us for most of the time.

I dug some of the lilies, originally from my mother’s garden, and potted them for Mary to take to her new garden.

some huge lily bulbs (Allan’s photo)

assorted sizes (Allan’s photo)

Allan potted them up. (Allan’s photo)

Todd stopped by partway through the day with some snowdrop bulbs for me.  I had forgotten to order any.

Todd, Bella, Mary (Allan’s photo); I had given him a piece of a special phlomis that is shorter than the usual one.

In the garage, Allan photographed the usual squeeze between the truck and the golf cart that is used to ferry cleaning supplies and laundry to the cottages.

I feel quite verklempt about about the rebar gates that Robert built being left behind, but it is not as if Mary and Denny could take them to Naselle and leave the garden gateless.

the east gate of the fenced garden

Robert called this design the “fish gate”.

the south gate

Each gate has Robert’s hinge design.

In 2003, Robert built these steps for access to the pond pump.

I suggested to Mary that they take Robert’s free standing garden tuteur to their new garden.  She had not thought of it and liked the idea.  Allan helped pull it out of the ground.

the rebar tuteur

When we were done, at almost dusk, I walked the garden taking photos and thinking of the many years of gardening here.

The birdbath view

The center yews when we planted them, probably 2002 or 2003

Fuchsia ‘Debron’s Black Cherry’

cottages on the ridge

north side of garden

straight path for easy wheelbarrowing

sit spot

the greenhouse Denny built beside the garage

Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Steroidal Giant’ trying to flower

west end of the flower garden (further west is a fenced lawn with fruit trees and roses)

upper left, one of the eight cottages on the ridge

looking back to Mary and Denny’s house

Mary had put out the winter sign.

It will wake up to new owners and new gardeners.

Closing the gate for the last time today gave me a heart pang.

outside the fenced garden

the pond (Allan’s photo)

Upstairs on the house deck, I took some overviews of the grounds.

We lingered after work for awhile in Mary and Denny’s dining room, reminiscing about our many years of working together on the garden.

This table was the setting for many lunches together back when our schedules were more leisurely and we would all take a break to dine and chat partway though the day.

I will miss Sarah and Timmie. (Allan’s photo)

After dark, as we returned to our van parked outside the north fence, I took a last look.

It is not as if I will never be at KBC again.  When Seattle Carol visits, we like to stay there.  This winter, I hope to do a few posts about the room diaries that I read the last time I stayed with Carol at KBC, on November 1st, 2017.  Because our visit was the day after my best cat Smoky died, I never did find time last winter to share the best of those journals.

I know I will be glad to not have the long weekly drive to that one job and to have more time for other gardens.  Still, it is hard to let go.  I will recommend that if the new owners and managers need gardening help, they call Willapa Gardening (Todd) or BeeKissed Gardening (Terran), both of whom live closer than we do.

The Shelburne Hotel

On the way home, we stopped at the Shelburne to plant the ten snowdrops.

This time we succumbed to the golden glow of the pub windows and had a meal to celebrate the beginning of staycation.  It has come early this year because of all the good weather.  We just worked twelve days in a row.

celebratory pear cider

a nice piece of fish with capers

Allan’s salad topped with chicken

the work board

Over staycation time, we do intend to keep checking on the Shelburne garden (now my favourite job) and occasionally on the port and Long Beach gardens.

postscript: Christmas past at KBC

I spent a few hours on the following Tuesday evening tidying up the photo albums on the KBC Facebook page, which I have been administrating and taking all the photos for since 2009. I will be turning the page over to the new owners and managers in 2019.  Because Facebook used to allow only 200 photos per photo album, some of the older garden years were split into two albums and, for the sake of decluttering, I consolidated those albums.  I ran across these sentimental photos from Christmas gatherings in Mary and Denny’s home which are no longer quite right for the page.  Here they are:

the beautiful cabinet which a local artisan made

in the living room

Sarah and Denny and MaryMom (Mary’s darling mother who lived with them till her passing a couple of years ago)


Spring, summer, autumn, winter at KBC are all good memories to treasure.

















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Wednesday, 14 November 2018

We had an errand before work that took us near a former job of ours, so we took ourselves on a brief tour of

Discovery Heights,

a series of entry gardens that we planted and maintained from 2005 through…I can’t quite recall when we stopped gardening there.  As these photos show, the job entails a lot of climbing up onto raised, boulder-edged beds, something that became difficult as my knee got worse.  The garden is now in the capable hands of Terran Bruinier of BeeKissed Gardening.

lower garden, south side

The middle garden:

All montbretia in the gardens were brought in with the soil (not my choice of soil, not sure where it came from).

Salal, to the right, most definitely not planted by us!

Some of “my” ceanothus still survive…

…including this large one.

When we first began this job, I asked if the community was going to be gated and was told no.  I have a preference of not working in gated neighbourhoods, but I was fully invested in the job when the gate went in.

Driving back down the hill to where the Discovery Heights entry road intersects with the 100 Loop road that goes to Cape Disappointment State Park:

lower garden, south side, am pleased at how the plants drape the rocks as planned (cotoneasters, and I think some prostrate ceanothus)

lower garden, north side, on heavy clay

Escallonia ‘Pink Princess’ pruned into balls (left)

I regretted having planted the escallonias at the front of the top tier.  Terran’s solution to their height works.

Salal…snuck in!

Rugosa roses (left) are finally outpacing the deer.

from the loop road

It is pleasing to see the garden full grown.  The first flat terrace was always a problem because of such heavy clay and a break in the irrigation line.  My camera failed to get a driveby of the back of the garden where some rhododendrons, once quite small from the Clarke Nursery going out of business one gallon sale, are now full sized.

We went on to work at

Mike’s garden.

Our task was the last of the fall tidying, along with pruning an Escallonia iveyi that was hanging out into the sidewalk area…or the area where a sidewalk would be if there were one.

My preference with escallonia is to have them thick and shrublike all the way to the ground, so that it looks like this (same escallonia, this past July).

Escallonia iveyi

However, it was now growing well over the property line and Mike wanted it pruned. Cutting it back to the line revealed a tree like rather than shrub like form.  I had to work with that, and also had to reduce the height, because that is what people generally want when they ask for a shrub to be pruned.  Given what we had to do, here are the befores and afters:



The lilac to the left is going to be completely removed…by someone else…because it is pestering a sewer line.



It is rather shocking how much had to be cut to get it back behind the railroad tie edge.  At least I managed to save a layer of foliage that will give privacy for the deck.



Poor thing!  It should fill out again quickly next year.  It is now possible to easily walk the path behind it, also, which was party blocked before the pruning.  If it had to be done, I would rather it be done by me that someone else who might have just leveled it off halfway down and left nothing but shrubs.

We left Mike’s and turned our attention to the

Ilwaco planters and street tree gardens.

I was not sure if we would get through them all.  Rain was predicted.  The sky was so dark for awhile that it felt more like dusk than midday.

The city crew (a much smaller crew than that of Long Beach) was installing the cords for the lighted crab pot holiday decorations.

Allan made quick work under the trees with The Toy (our new Stihl rechargeable trimmer).

before (the truly horrible perennial sweet pea)

after (Allan’s photos)

That darn invasive pea under one tree has swamped all the “winter interest” plants, as have the BadAsters in the other tree garden pictured above.

Here is a before with no after…

The blob of blue felicia daisy got cut way back because it looks silly.

I got distracted from taking an after photo by my thoughts about the post office garden. I’d been asked by the crew if a crab pot could go IN the garden and had said yes, if they would just avoid tramping around with their boots.  I suddenly decided we had better go to the post office and make some clear space.



We had pulled all the cosmos.  The Toy worked a treat trimming the Stipa gigantea (the tall airy grass in the center).

Back to the planters, I left a few of the healthier nasturtiums just out of curiosity about how long they will last.

We are said to be due for an extra mild “El Nino’ winter.

trailing rosemary in a planter (Allan’s photo)

That rosemary is in one of the two planters on Spruce Street, out of the First Avenue wind tunnel that damages the ones I have tried there.

With the planters done, Allan went to dump the debris while I used The Toy at the Norwood garden, two doors down from ours.

before; I scored some of those leaves (left), too.

after; Allan helps clean up in the dusk while I weeded the north bed.

before (twilight)


The Toy made what would have been tedious clipping into a less than five minute shear!

We just had time before dark to check up on and pull some montbretia out of the J’s back garden, leading to some happy erasure on the work board.

I am hoping for semi-staycation to begin in two days.  I am calling it semi this year because we cannot completely neglect the Shelburne and Long Beach for two and a half months.  Post frost clean up—if we get frost—will be necessary in a few locations.

I had a nice cuppa tea at home.  Only one Builders tea bag remains and I am saving it…

Allan’s photo

As we watched an amusing show on telly, I was astonished by a city street scene. I had to hit pause in amazement.

Look at that overhead tram, and all the traffic, and bridges.  I reflected on my 38 years of city life in Seattle and on how much quieter my last quarter century has been here at the beach.





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Sunday, 11 November 2018

Good weather and fall clean up continued.  The days have been like the best of summer, sunny but not too warm.

Long Beach

My goal was to complete a few fall clean up areas and erase them from the work board.

We began with clipping catmint and pulling crocosmia and planting the Basket Case donation of sea thrift in the Sid Snyder Drive planters.



The ocean was bright blue and calm today.

the westernmost planter

gazania still blooming

The World Kite Museum garden, on the south side of Sid Snyder, got its fall clean up.

The museum dwarfs our pots and pocket garden.



The garden needs a lavender to match the one on the right side.

I like to leave a lot of seed heads standing, for birds, so did not cut back the oregano or lavender here.

We checked up on the Bolstad beach approach planters.  I did not mention last week that we planted some sea thrift out there.  I did not want to tempt the fate that has for the last several years made plants disappear by the day after I planted them.  It was worth testing it out with free plants from the Basket Case—and the plants are still there.  I am hoping that the thief has moved away.  Or reformed.  I am not hoping the person died, although I suppose that is a possibility.  I am also hoping said person does not read this blog.

Something strange happened.  I stood at the west end of the beach approach after pulling just a few weeds there and suddenly, I fervently wished it was February or March and that we were about to embark upon the ten to thirteen day annual first weeding of the beach approach garden.  I shocked myself with a feeling of joy at the prospect.  Peculiar.

looking east down many blocks of weeding

Apparently I still like this job.  That made me wonder how I am going to make the decision to retire from Long Beach!

We turned our attention to the fall clean up at City Hall (and the big popout nearby, where I clipped back some straying rugosa roses).

City Hall garden, north side

some late Welsh poppies

We next went to Coulter Park, where Allan pulled a vast number of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ in a bed that became inaccessible after a ramp was built, unless you crawl through or climb over the railing.


after (Allan’s photo)

The ramp goes to the old train depot building which will house Shoeboxes of Joy between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Shoeboxes of Joy in the old train depot, 2013

We don’t have time to make a shoebox (for local seniors) so we just give a monetary donation by popping in with some cash on a day when the volunteers are working, after Thanksgiving day.

Cotoneaster berries in Coulter Park

While Allan yanked Crocosmia, I did the fall clean up on two blocks of planters.  The planters will need a go-round again after the first hard frost.

I found a rock.

The cosmos are coming out of all the planters now.

They have little left to offer.

a planter that still has much to offer

As I took photos, my Lumix—a refurbished one less than a year old—insisted several times that it be turned off and on again, and then came the dreaded message:

Looks like another Lumix bites the dust.  (The several new Lumixes I have bought have all done the same thing after a year or less.)  I am disappointed because I like its capabilities.

I switched to my phone camera.

Escallonia ‘Pink Princess’, before…

and after, again thwarted from being eight feet tall and wide.

Chrysanthemum and Geranium ‘Rozanne’

another chrysanth just now starting to bloom—how I love them!

I have read several blog articles on Garden Rant frothing over with chrysanthemum loathing.  Fie on that!  They are quite wonderful here, bloom for ages, and return reliably in the planters.  And I adore the scent of the foliage.

When I bought my grandmother’s house in 1980, I spent some time trying to find chrysanths that were like the ones she grew when I was a child, the tall ones, almost as tall as me.  Then I realized my memory was measuring them based on my height as a little girl.

The dusky pink one just north of NIVA green is slowly fading.

Across from Dennis Company, has been blooming for weeks.

I am not going to do any fiddly deadheading at this stage.  When the frost comes, or when we go to shop at Dennis hardware for some reason, I will take that whole plant down to the base at once.  Later.

My last individual task was to pull and clip the BadAster which has been moderately welcome to grow under a street tree.

The seeds blew down the block….

Allan and I reunited by pulling some cosmos at the front of Coulter Park.  A hebe had suddenly decided to hide the memorial.


After we dumped debris, we bought four bales of Gardner and Bloome Soil Building Compost at Dennis Company.  The first three went to…

The Depot Restaurant

…where I had felt that mulch was needed after yesterday’s fall clean up.



The fourth bag went to…

The Shelburne Hotel

….to fluff up the area where we had dug out loads of Crocosmia corms to make a new fuchsia bed.  I am sure the soil had been thoroughly worn out by the vigor of crocosmia.

No wonder Allan is tired by end of the day.

That bale would be un-liftable had it been outside for awhile.  Dennis sells it from inside of a building, so it is dry.

very nice for the Hawkshead fuchsia I planted there yesterday…

While I did more tidying of the path and put river rock at the back of the fuchsia bed, Allan cleaned up a neglected area on the north side of the building.


after (Allan’s photos)

I noticed the canna is blooming in the full shade mini bog garden by the fine dining entrance:

The big dining room is open with its own menu on Friday and Saturday nights.

We did some more garden trimming until dusk….

Shelburne at sunset

the garden by lamplight )Allan’s photo)

Allan’s photo

…and then we were lured into the pub by the warm lights through the stained glass windows.

guests by the living room fireplace

I tried a Cranberry Shrub, delicious!

I told Brooke, the young bartender, that we were celebrating the end of Mulch Week.  She replied in her delightful manner, “I don’t know what that is, but yay!”…a reminder that not everyone knows our gardening terminology.

Caesar salad, delectable black garlic fried rice, fish and chips

my favourite dessert, the cream cheese blackberry tart

But oh, the dessert Allan had is new and so delicious, a rocky road semifreddo, like a frozen mousse.  It could almost divert me from the tart…This will be a difficult choice next time.

Allan’s photo

I reflected during dinner on how I feel that the Shelburne itself wants me to be its gardener, and how it missed me during the ten years when I left the garden (because of reasons).  I feel a connection with the place that I cannot explain.

At home, I was able to erase Coulter crocosmias, beach approaches, city hall, and kite museum from the work board.

I won’t say where, but today I saw the hidden stash of a homeless person hidden in a barberry patch…

I can only imagine the misery of making a camp in a grove of barberries because of the terrible thorns:

Tiny mean thorns all over the barberry grove.





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Friday, 9 November 2018

the very last of the eight yards of mulch

Allan filling buckets while I went to unload yesterday’s Shelburne garden debris from the trailer

mulch all gone!

We were able to fill almost the full array of buckets with the last of the mulch pile and spent the day doing the first complete end of season clean up at

Diane’s garden.

parked in the Red Barn pasture next door….with this many buckets. (Allan’s photo)

Holly got so excited she dragged the chair a little bit after getting petted.

Allan’s photo

Our first mission was the roadside garden, where I cleared while Allan brought mulch from the trailer in the pasture next door—a long haul that required using the wheelbarrow to transport the buckets.  There is not enough room by the road to maneuver dumping a wheelbarrow full of loose mulch.

Just as I started, my friend Terran of BeeKissed Gardening pulled up in her distinctive honey-yellow truck (during a lull in traffic).  I was pleased to see one of my three favourite chefs was spending the day with her, Chef Jason.  And, of course, I was even more thrilled to see two of her dogs.

Allan’s photo

Terran is my top recommendation for gardening jobs.

I will apprise you when Chef Jason opens his new food truck in Astoria.  That will get me across the bridge for sure.

roadside garden before (Allan’s photo)

I hated to cut down that sanguisorba, but I did, because it would have been silly and floppy on its own.

starting to pull the cosmos

Even though I had told Diane last week that we’d be at her garden early this week, I was glad we had waited till Friday.  A frost had damaged the cosmos last night and so we were able to clear them all out instead of getting sentimental about them still looking ok.

The bad foliage of one of the leftover plants of the Agastache catastrophe was revealed.

It never had gotten better.

More Agastache thoughts: I was pressured, by the person who had sourced these plants, to see if they would just grow out of their disease.  I left one here in the roadside bed, being an isolated garden, just to see.  No, it did not grow out of it.  I was also chastised at the time when I discarded all the other diseased plants that throwing them out was like “having a cat put down without knowing what was wrong with it”.  The plant-sourcing person knew I had had to do that with my poor darling suffering best beloved Smoky, so that remark did not go over well with me.  In fact, looking back now….. [Redacted…This is one of many times in the Agastache Castastrophe and later that I wrote about my full feelings about what happened and decided to delete it!]

I never did get the plants tested.  During the peak of gardening season, I simply could not allow such ugly looking foliage to stay on view in public gardens.  (Some of it was even worse, with black patches on each leaf.)  Expert nursery friends assessed the plants as being bad and dangerous enough to other plants to require wheelie bin disposal.  (“And then throw out your gloves”, said one, and “remove every fallen leaf!” said another, and a third said, after viewing the leaves, “Don’t get that plant anywhere near me!”.) Another gardener had the best advice, to just move on and not spend any more time than necessary fixing the painful problem, which was a personal as well as a monetary loss.

Yet agastache remains one of my favourite perennials, so I will try again next year.  I have read that the Kudos series is highly resistant to disease, and all of those that I used this year have done beautifully.  The catastrophic ones were Acapulco Salmon and Pink, Cotton Candy, Estella Indigo, Golden Jubilee, and Sangria….some of my very favourites, unfortunately.  Only one batch of the above cultivars was bad; the ones I had gotten earlier in the year were pristine.

Today ended the bad episode, with the very last of the bad agastaches going into the wheelie bin.  The bigger showy ones often behave as annuals around here anyway, not coming through the winter.  I am glad to be at the other end of the saddest plant experience of my life!

starting to apply soil after clearing and clipping

A little bed by the front porch deck is one we have neglected.  I am hoping we can finally improve it next year.  It is full of valerian, which is just fine, but also has an awful lot of creeping buttercup and terrible soil.  We ran out of mulch for it.  Allan got the plants cut back.


after, ready for some bagged mulch later on

The equipment shown in the photo is part of the septic system and includes the septic alarm box that sounds if something goes wrong.

We turned our attention to the raised box garden in the back yard.





after mulching (Allan’s photos)

The center had been mostly cosmos, and three of the Agastache ‘Salmon and Pink’ that I do not trust, whose leaves still looked suspect, so we treated them as annuals also and discarded them (no composting for them!).

We finished up the mulching of the roadside garden with four bags of a product that Diane had bought for it during the summer.

I am glad it was brown and not red bark!

not a big fan of bark, me…

Allan found a frog living behind the bark bags, along with a worm and a slug.

With the bark spread, it did look sort of reddish…

Allan’s photo

Most people see this garden at 20 miles per hour.


Almost all of Diane’s summer garden got loaded into our trailer to go home to our compost bins:

One more wheelbarrow load was added after this.

Diane’s garden now gets erased from the fall clean up list, and added to a new list on the workboard called “Post frost check-up”, which will be the final clean up of annuals either after a hard frost or in mid December, whichever comes first.

Helichrysum ‘Limelight’ climbing into a barberry, according to plan.

The Red Barn

We had an hour before dark to weed the narrow bed at the Red Barn.  It is not quite ready yet to erase from the fall clean up list.

Lots of sorrel weed appeared after we pulled the old California poppy foliage.

not quite done….but running out of daylight.

I don’t like using horse manure; it is too weedy.  However, I’ve decided we will add some to this gravelly garden bed when we return to finish the clean up job.  It needs something, and the Red Barn has a great big pile of horse manure always at the ready.

sunset over the Red Barn

At home, we unloaded the compressed trailer load of debris onto a tarp till I have time to enter it into the compost bin three.  Mulch week is over, with eight yards of soil moved in about 20 hours of very hard work.  The last two days, I was running on Doans Back Pills.  Yesterday, I frequently had to stand with my back against a wall to just straighten up.  The wall at the post office was especially good because it was warm from the sun.  I heard some pained noises from Allan, too, as the week wore on.

I hope to revive by staycation time and order eight yards of mulch for my own garden.

We now are entering serious fall clean up mode and hope to plug on through it without a day off until it is done or until rain comes, whichever is first.  Then: staycation preview till the first hard frost.


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Sunday, 4 November 2018

We “fell back” one hour for the end of daylight saving time.  Unlike most people I know, I relish the two time changes each year.  Now the evenings are good and long for reading and relaxing.  By March, I will be thrilled to have longer evenings for gardening.

We had had this much rain overnight.

Much to our surprise, the weather forecast for today was wrong.  We had a lovely, sunny, rather warm day, perfect for trying out the new chipper shredder, not perfect for the rainy reading day I’d been planning.  We had a large pile of woody branches and stems that had been used for our faux woodsy Halloween grotto.

new chipping machine

I was pleased that, except for when it was chipping a larger branch, its basic sound was no worse than a vacuum cleaner, and it had no annoying whines.  You can read all about it here.

It’s a cutie! The SunJoe electric chipper shredder

One does have to chop all the side branches off of a long branch, because the feeder slot is so narrow.  That is fine with me, as that means there is no way to put your hand in by mistake.

prepping branches for chipping

It did well on lily stems and woody herbaceous stems such as tall Helianthus and Joe Pye Weed.

results with lily stems

and an assortment of branches and stems.

Planter Box Teresa stopped by with a large piece of gauzy white fabric for next year’s Halloween.

I immediately made her examine my compost bins—truly my favourite part of the garden.

Allan says he must reset the sundial for the end of daylight saving time.

Carol and Bill stopped by, as well.  While Teresa and Carol toured the garden (the non compost bin parts), Bill and I talked about my new bathtub, coming soon, I think!  Our house is all plumbed and ready for it; the old tub was a ridiculous tiny thing that had been removed by the time we bought the place; we donated it to some folks who lived in a tiny trailer.

Carol and Teresa tour the garden.

All of the woody part of Halloween filled up this bin:

And the Jack O Lanterns, now going mushy, went into the other plastic bin.


Halloween is now all put away.


the woody pile


I am definitely envisioning a little garden shed on our land by the Nora house driveway, just big enough for the chipper and the mower, or maybe long and narrow and just big enough for Allan’s boat.  That way, anyone living in the Nora house would see a cute shed rather than our mess of buckets, water trailer, plastic compost bins, and wheelie bin.

The rain did come in the afternoon as Allan was mowing the lawn.  He did manage to finish.

before and after in one photo

I caught up on blogging this evening.  In this busy time, I am reading just a chapter today in The Gardens of Good Hope, Marion Cran’s 1926 memoir about South African gardens.




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Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Despite the daunting sight of wind whipping our alder grove around, we decided to try to work.  Rain was predicted at 2 PM.

Long Beach

We headed straight for city works and got 19 buckets of mulch from our pile.  That was every five gallon bucket with a handle that I could find.  We could use more if you have any to give us!

at city works

We mulched at city hall first (which also involved some weeding and some escallonia pruning).

city hall north side (Allan’s photo)

west side; I was pruning the escallonias so they would not touch the building.

Back we went to get another load.  This time, we gave the Bolstad planters their autumn top up.

I had been carrying with us some cereal that had dropped on the kitchen floor, waiting for the right birds.  Today was the day to distribute it.

Allan’s photo

We had only enough treats for a few, leaving many disappointed. (Allan’s photo)

While we were working on the beach approach, we encountered a couple of tourists (probably) who had parked at the west end of Bolstad before we arrived. A guy on a black bike smashed the window of their car and stole their belongings while they had walked down to get ice cream at Scoopers. The driver of the car saw the theft happening as they returned and ran back and chased the thief down the gravel that goes through the pines to the city from the Bolstad restroom parking lot. But the thief got away.  It was a sad encounter to see tourists’ have a ruined day. The police came, and one hopes a search was made of the beach pine woods because that’s where the culprit disappeared to, we think.

This happened to a friend’s car once when I was with her at the Oregon coast (the door jimmied rather than the window smashed).  Among my items stolen were two precious rolls of undeveloped film of our visit in Eugene, Oregon, and my leather looseleaf pocket notebook in which I had kept for years a list of books to read. Many books were unread by me because of that theft.

Back to work; I hoped the nineteen buckets would be enough for the eleven planters.  The soil in those planters sinks quickly into the netherworld, or what lies beneath.

Allan’s photo, the light layer won’t prevent beach strawberry or sedums from survival

Nineteen buckets was not quite enough so back we went for load three.  The wind was getting worse and a slight drizzle had begun.

We finished topping up the last three Bolstad planters and the west side of city hall, by which time the rain had fully arrived.

work conditions at city all

Long Beach City Hall west side

I was longing to get another load for Veterans Field, and then another load for Fifth Street Park.  The rain might stop in half an hour, said our weather apps, so we repaired to Taqueria el Jalapeño for lunch.  Yes, finally, many months since it opened, we had a rainy break to try out the new restaurant behind Lewis and Clark Square.

Vet Field

ready for a walk through the rain to the café

Inside, the decor was cheerful and delightful and the food was excellent.

I noted that the pop bottles were prettier than the Mexican coca cola bottles we had used for bouquets for an immigrant fundraiser, so we saved two and will keep saving them.  You do, too, if you dine there, please.

The rain did not cease and a 20 plus mph wind was kicking when we emerged. We gave up on getting more mulch.  We did accomplish planting two Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and four Oregano ‘Hopley’s Purple’ in the newly redone planter by the Long Beach frying pan.

Shelburne Hotel

And at the Shelburne, we removed three or four echeverias from two back deck planters to take home and winter in my greenhouse, replacing them with some hardy hens and chicks and sedums for the winter.

echeverias about to go home for the winter (Allan’s photo)

one of the pots, after

and the other (Allan’s photos)

front, looking north

Bulb Time day 11: the spreadsheets

I got the bulb lists all typed up and added.  When the last bulbs come for the welcome sign (which will be day 12), we will have planted slightly over 5332 bulbs.  (The overage is from some buckets of port bulbs from the defunct office garden that were waiting to go back in.)

The typing is not something Allan can help with because I use increasingly scrawled abbreviations for bulb names as the sorting goes on.

Only I can deal with these lists.

Fortunately, I very much enjoy sitting down to do a spreadsheet.  In another life, I might have quite liked an office job.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

(I am trying to get the blog caught up so we won’t be a week behind at Halloween.)

The Colorblends bulbs for the welcome sign arrived a day early!  The weather was dry and not windy, perfect for planting them.  We took a few more bulbs with us for a little job at

The Depot Restaurant

but could not plant them because the barrel for which they are destined is still so flowery and full.

Agyranthemum ‘Butterfly’

the “after” photo we did not take after cutting back perennials in order to plant bulbs last week.

Coreopsis ‘Flower Tower’

Long Beach

Bulb Time day 12

Into the welcome sign bed went about 300 tulips, red and yellow for the front and a soft pastel mix for the back.

Also single early tulip ‘Flair’ and some Orange Emperor along the front (Allan’s photo)

Now bulb time is done except for a couple of postscripts: the 15 or so tulips for the Depot barrel and the transplanting of some Lily ‘Conca D’Or’ from my garden to the Shelburne and the Post office.

We filled up 21 buckets of mulch at city works and mulched the corner garden in Veterans Field, not as deeply as I wished, because I realized the pile of mulch was not as big as I had thought.  The tarp was on a bit of a mound and the pile looked deeper than it was.

Then with ten buckets left of that load, Allan mulched five of the most beaten down street tree pocket gardens.  The rest will have to wait till next spring.

Allan’s photo

Meanwhile, I cut back one Geranium Rozanne:

And admired the flowers in another planter:

Zauschneria californica

Must have more Zauschneria californica next year.

It is much smaller across the street where it gets a bit less afternoon sun.

While Allan mulched the last two trees, I tackled a big patch of the BadAster that we have not had time to control.  He helped me finish up.

We returned to city works and gathered all the rest of the Soil Energy Mulch, 22 buckets this time and a bit more just piled in the trailer.  It all went to Fifth Street Park.

badaster bed, mulched. It’s the northeast corner of the four Fifth Street park quadrants. (Allan’s photo)

Salvia leucantha in a planter

Most of the mulch went to the northwest quadrant.

after, with mulch added (not as much as I would like)

One of Allan’s projects, before and after

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

The park still has sweet peas.

On the work board, almost all bulbs are planted, and mulch LB is erased by virtue of running out of mulch.

At home: Alycia has returned to the Nora house for a few days and so we are about to repair next door for a spaghetti dinner with “warm cookies and ice cream” for dessert.  With rain predicted, I think we will now have time off for paperwork (necessary) and Halloween decorating…oh, and cleaning the house after Bulb Time chaos and exhaustion.

Friday, 26 October 2018

After a rainy Thursday of paperwork (no time for fun reading), we took advantage of good weather to get a jump on the fall clean up.

the rain gauge (Allan’s photo)

Long Beach

before and after, Coulter Park

before and after, Lewis and Clark Square; I would have pulled the hesperantha, also.

While Allan did those, I clipped and tidied several planters.

by the pharmacy

clipped santolina, cosmos too pretty to pull

lots of snails revealed when I pulled a trailing California poppy…they are living at the city works yard now.

L&C Square planter before and after BadAster removal

hydrangeas in Third Street Park


We did a quick check up before their pre-Halloween ghostly event.

looking south

still sweet peas for Halloween

al fresco dining area


No time for a meal there; I wanted to work on a four part blog post in memory of my Smoky, starting tomorrow.  (Anyone who finds cats boring or irksome will want to skip those days and return to us on Nov 2.) And Halloween preparation begins full force on a series of days off; that’s what we’ll be doing (and then processing photos about it) while our most faithful readers try to load posts with a kajillion photos of my Smoky.




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Wednesday, 10 October 2018

The Depot Restaurant

Lonicera ‘Baggeson’s Gold’, Geranium ‘Rozanne’, pink gaura (Allan’s photo)

We did nought at the Depot but a light deadheading and window box watering.

Diane’s Garden

The weather for the first part of the work day was almost uncomfortably warm.

I pulled over half of the tired sweet peas off of the roadside picket fence.

The big trucks passing by were extra scary to me today because I do want to live long enough to finish reading my Marion Cran books.

In the back garden, I used to plant Helichrysum ‘Limelight’ to scramble through the barberry.  The shrub has gotten so big in its barrel that this year I planted Limelight in front in a separate pot.

Diane likes these two plants together.

That barberry predates my time on this job.

For the record, acidanthera is blooming.

Allan deadheaded the raised box garden and counted over 1200 deadheads along the way.

so many cosmos deadheads!

In my own garden, I have quit deadheading the cosmos weeks ago.

Holly watched Allan at work.

Allan’s photo

The Red Barn

I was relieved to see (and pet) Cosmo the barn cat.

inside the dark barn

garden view from the barn

The Planter Box

We stopped in to purchase some more potting soil and some bulb food.  The pumpkins have arrived!

Klipsan Beach Cottages

We did a couple of hours of serious fall clean up.  After maybe two more sessions, we will have the garden all cut back and plants somewhat labeled for the new owners and new manager.  It feels odd to know this year is our last fall clean up here.

looking in the east gate

inside the fenced garden

Next time, we will dig up some lilies for Mary and Denny to take to their new home.  Many of the lilies came out of my mother’s garden when we sold her house in 2010.

the birdbath view

sit spot under the tetrapanax

autumnal blueberries

by the greenhouse

Tiger Eye sumac

cobwebs by the basement entry

my good friend Bella in the basement

I will miss Bella, and the sister cats Timmie and Sarah, and Mary and Denny, much more than I will miss the garden.  Fortunately, it looks as if they might be living just half an hour from Ilwaco, only ten minutes further (in another direction) than they are now.

At home, I unloaded three wheelbarrows of compost debris from our trailer—but first, I shared a snack of cheese with a friend.


Later, Rudder hoped Allan might also have some cheese.

Along with dinner and our far from highbrow Wednesday shows (Survivor, Modern Family), I almost finished Marion Cran’s Gardens of Character.  I was just too tired to make it through the last three chapters.



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