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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Ilwaco

The day started badly when I saw a swathe of smashed plants down the middle of the post office garden.  Just as I was staring at it in shock and saying “What happened here? Did a big dog run through?”, a man emerged from the post office and said “It was me, and I’m sorry.”  “But…..how?” I asked.  He explained he had tripped over the curb getting out of his car, and it seems he staggered across the sidewalk and fell headlong into the garden.  I made sincerely sympathetic noises about the fall, while at the same time holding clumps of broken off lilies and then trying to prop up half broken Allium albopilosum and a laid flat blooming stem of Eryngium ‘Jade Frost’.  The sight was so painful that I realized later I had not even taken a photo of anything but the broken off stems of Lily ‘Landini.’  This is a garden I spend my own money on for plants, mulch, and fertilizer, and I am all….planted out and don’t feel like buying new ones to fix it.  I staked the Eryngium with a bamboo tripod and as we left, started to worry someone ELSE would fall into the garden and poke themselves in the eye on a stake!  Being a skilled catastrophizer makes me good at making public gardens safer.  I resolved to return later with a rounded top hoop stake from home.

broken off plants

broken off plants

The Basket Case Greenhouse

It was not the postmistress’s day to be there, and I did not think the postmaster would be happy to have to find a vase, so I took the lilies to Basket Case Nancy.  (On the way, we checked the transplanted plants in the Fish Alley barrels in Long Beach.  They had survived well and would not need replacing.) We needed to go to The Basket Case to pick up the latest Long Beach plant bill anyway.  Nancy greeted the lily bouquet with much admiration and I felt the poor broken off flowers had been redeemed.

At the Basket Case: gunnera seedlings

At the Basket Case: gunnera seedlings

The perennial greenhouse with African basil (which is not really a perennial here, but never mind)

The perennial greenhouse with African basil (which is not really a perennial here, but never mind)

Brunnera 'Jack Frost'

Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’

Long Beach

As I hobbled up the ramp to drop off the bill at City Hall, one of the staff members said “Looks like you have a hitch in your getalong!”  Oh, how I loved that.  It cheered me right up to have such a charming new saying.

Long Beach City Hall, west side

Long Beach City Hall, west side

Allan's photo: he found a sizeable dwarf fireweed and dandelion at the south end.

Allan’s photo: he found a sizeable dwarf fireweed and dandelion at the south end.

City Hall

City Hall

As we had come round a corner to get to City Hall, I’d observed that the traffic sightline was somewhat blocked by two mugo pines planted years ago and supposedly “dwarf”.  Some pruning was in order

before

before

after

after

(I do look for problems like that and try to fix them whenever I see them.  That’s why the Port of Ilwaco gardens have gone from tall shrubs, pampas grass, and tall New Zealand flax to short, see-over perennials and subshrubs in most of the curbside gardens.)

We then began the watering of the Pacific Way planters in Long Beach, splitting up to each take half the town.

We parked near Veterans Field.

We parked near Veterans Field.

While the day was grey, the wind had finally somewhat died down, and the flags were not creating flapping chain-clanking sounds as they have been on recent Long Beach work days.

A comparitively gentle breeze was a welcome change.

A comparitively gentle breeze was a welcome change.

I bucket watered the four Fish Alley barrels and found that one already had its “hens and chickens” disrupted.

finger blight, perhaps interrupted as the plant is still there.

finger blight, perhaps interrupted as the plant is still there.

The rest of the watering went smoothly with no hung-up hoses and very little finger blight.

Planter by Campiche Gallery (and near Scoopers Ice Cream)

Planter by Campiche Gallery (and near Scoopers Ice Cream)

The only disconcerting event was that while I was waiting to cross at the Stoplight of Mystery (a long one), a man said to me I should have a trash picker upper stick because I needed to pick up more trash.  I have a hard time reading people and could not tell if he was serious or just someone with a “needler” sense of humour.  He seemed pretty serious when he told me that he had picked up two bags of trash today.  I asked where, in town or out by the beach?  He said he walked a circuit of town and the beach.  I commended him for trash picking and said the city crew do a great job of picking up trash in town.  (I also pick it up if I see a stray bit blowing around, but that is rare because of the good work of the crew.)  He said he was going to report me for not doing my job.  I think that was supposed to be funny, but as usual with that kind of humour, I was flummoxed.  Well…onward.  The light finally changed and I made my escape.

dennis2

I love our fresh new planting by Dennis Company.

I love our fresh new planting by Dennis Company.

Love the flowers on this hebe in Coulter Park.  I planted it because I love its foliage.

Love the flowers on this hebe in Coulter Park. I planted it because I love its foliage.

Dianthus 'Charles Musgrave' in a planter

Dianthus ‘Charles Musgrave’ in a planter

the wonderful fragrant daphne by the Elks building

the wonderful fragrant daphne by the Elks building

Allan's photo, a bit of finger blight

Allan’s photo, a bit of finger blight

Allan's photo: 3rd Street Park

Allan’s photo: 3rd Street Park, with city crew member staining the statues.

Allan's photo: careful work with no spillage

Allan’s photo: careful work with no spillage

Allan's photo: planter by the Hungry Harbor Grille

Allan’s photo: planter by the Hungry Harbor Grille

Allan's photo: Fifth Street Park

Allan’s photo: Fifth Street Park

Outside the Mostly Hats shop, Allan found tomatoes stashed under the tree!  (They belonged to a Mostly Hats employee, who was keeping them out of her hot car.)

Outside the Mostly Hats shop, Allan found tomatoes stashed under the tree! (They belonged to a Mostly Hats employee, who was keeping them out of her hot car.)

Ilwaco again

With Long Beach done, we returned to Ilwaco to do some watering of planters and port gardens.  First, I did get a hooped stake from home (and Allan got the heavy battery for the water trailer), and I staked the Eryngium safely at the post office.

Perhaps you can tell that someone fell right through the middle of the garden.

Perhaps you can tell that someone fell right through the middle of the garden.  Wah.

Allan and I parted ways so he could water planters and street trees.

Allan's photo: seen while he was filling the water trailer tank at the boatyard

Allan’s photo: seen while he was filling the water trailer tank at the boatyard

Allan found a lovely bag of dog poo in one of the planters.  Kudos to the person who bagged the poo, and yet...

Allan found a lovely bag of dog poo in one of the planters. Kudos to the person who bagged the poo, and yet…

Meanwhile, at the Port,  I worked my way down the port gardens, watering with hoses.

I met an old blind cat named Pit Stop.

I met an old blind cat named Pitstop.

The marina: The weather had at last turned to blue skies.

The marina: The weather had at last turned to blue skies.

My favourite garden bed.

My favourite garden bed at the port

The air was not too warm, the wind was not too strong, and I was getting much weeding and watering done.  I walked by the one place that won’t allow use of their hose anymore and moved one of the plants, purchased by the port, to a happier location in a garden that where I can access water, and thought “I will deal with this water problem some other time.”  Other than that moment of annoyance, the work was happy work…..

Eryngium 'Sapphire Blue'

Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’

All was well till I encountered a merchant (the second one this month) protesting the use of five minutes of hose water from zer building.  (I am deliberately using “ze/zer” pronouns to avoid pointing a specific finger.)  I said to zer that surely the garden enhances the business, that the plants were drought tolerant and did not need much water but in this dry weather they do need water once a week.  I was informed that, in zer opinion, the plantings do nothing to enhance zer business.  I gently (really!) informed the protestor that I was a regular promotor of local businesses on the official Facebook voice of town and port, Discover Ilwaco.  Zer had no interest whatsoever in hearing about that.  I understood the problem, especially that I had dared to splash some water on some dying plants on the garden NEXT DOOR to that business, one with no water, and why should one business owner pay to water another’s plants, and why indeed should someone who does not like a garden pay for a garden to be watered? And is it fair that some businesses don’t have curbside gardens at all?  No, it is not fair.  And yet the gardens must have water, and we don’t have time to haul water from elsewhere (and I could have added I can’t water it with my tears!)   I understood that Discover Ilwaco perhaps does not make an iota of difference in the success of a business and has possibly been a huge waste of my volunteer time for the last five years.  (It does have over 2,700 followers.) As a last resort, I tried jollying the complaining person along with a smiling “Hey, I’m 60, I’m too old to haul 40 pound buckets of water.”  The response was a hostile “So the port pays you, and now you want me to subsidize you for being old?” Um, wow.  Now I felt like my work was worth nothing, my volunteering for the Discover Ilwaco page was worth nothing, and I was old and worth nothing because I can’t haul buckets of water.   By now, Allan was with me at the garden.  He had no more success than I did in conversation with the water withholder. My moment of revelation was strong:  I will no longer be a water beggar: I’m a gardener, not a diplomat, and someone else is going to have to sort out this mess. I resolved to turn to the Powers that Be and went home and wrote a long email to them explaining the situation and to say that I will no longer be in the front line of dealing with the rare situation of someone having no fondness for the gardens.  With 98% support, I can’t see letting 2% of the gardens dry up because of water stinginess.  It is no longer my problem, however, as I did turn the problem over to the PTB, whom I hold in high esteem (and I believe the opposite is also true) and am awaiting results (which should come soon).

Mightily depressed at home, I finally realized the main problem in working for a stretch of public gardens:  Merchants come and go (unfortunately for the ones who go out of business) and we can have one who LOVES the garden, followed by one who holds it in disdain, but the plants are still thirsty, and everyone has to be on board so that the whole port looks beautiful,…especially with the exciting new Salt Hotel about to open (and by the way they do let us water). Years ago, some merchants paid us to do the curbside gardens and some didn’t.  So the gardens of the ones that did not pay were dried up weeds.  I thought it was huge progress when the port took over that paycheck and let us make the whole stretch beautiful; I never thought this watering situation would arise (and in fact, both places we are having trouble let us water last year, so the change of heart mystifies me and is not related to some huge hike in water prices.)  Even during the always fascinating Deadliest Catch telly show, which usually puts any gardening difficulties into perspective when compared to hard, dangerous crab fishing in freezing cold weather, my sadness persisted. In the wee hours, I finally fell asleep to get a miserable stressed out nightmarish six hours.

I’ll add a PS here, I hope, before this publishes, that the situation has been resolved.

Three days later:  The second merchant is now letting us water.  Turns out the main issue was a lot of people use zer hose illicitly.  The wonderful Salt Hotel is going to let us use their water to keep the garden of an empty (waterless) building alive.  I intend to reward them with bouquets.  We are down to just one merchant who won’t let us use the hose, and it will be a shame if the plants die.  However, our backs and our already long hours will not let us add the time and physical effort to haul water from elsewhere, so….poor plants.  It will bother me.  The merchant’s attitude toward the garden (and us) deeply hurts my feelings.

 It is tremendously important to me to have my town look beautiful, going way back to the mid 90s when I created the boatyard garden as what was then a volunteer project.  I want all citizens to be civic minded and work together to make the town a jewel.

 

 

 

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Sunday, 12 October 2014

With Allan off on a boating excursion, I took a walk three and a half blocks east to the Cranberrian Fair at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum. On my way there, I saw signs of Halloween already emerging in Ilwaco.

The J's house across the street from us

The J’s house across the street from us

autumnal porch at Lake and Myrtle

autumnal porch at Lake and Myrtle

On the same block as the museum: Seems we are going to have a zombie band.

On the same block as the museum: Seems we are going to have a zombie band.

Here’s a photo from 2010 when the Long Beach Trolley was serving as the Bog Bus between Ilwaco’s museum and the Cranberry Museum north of Long Beach. This year, it is in the repair shop.

Cranberrian Fair 2010

Cranberrian Fair 2010

The other traditional elements of the annual fair were still the same.

this year's logo

this year’s logo

bake sale

bake sale

craft booths

craft booths

Cranberry Peach Pie

Cranberry Peach Pie

pies

Karen Brownlee at her pottery wheel

Karen Brownlee at her pottery wheel

Peninsula Quilt Guild Raffle

Peninsula Quilt Guild raffle

Clatsop Weavers and Spinners

Clatsop Weavers and Spinners

Of particular interest to me was the display by Starvation Alley Cranberry Farms.

sacf

sacf

admirable values

admirable values

I appreciate seeing a list of values that does not include the trite “family” as one of them, even though this is a family operation. The cranberry juice tasting was hosted by Debbie, the mother of Jared, our cranberry farming neighbour.

handing out samples, first straight juice, then mixed with lemonade.

handing out samples, first straight juice, then mixed with lemonade.

She offered me a bottle of the juice in exchange for a clump of Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ that I am going to dig for her as another pollinator for the cranberry farm; every night since then, I’ve been having tonic water with cranberry juice…delicious.

I always take the opportunity to tour the old Nahcotta train car from the Clamshell Railway.

train

train

I have a feeling the old bathroom did not include any sort of waste tank.

I have a feeling the old bathroom did not include any sort of waste tank. I hope I am wrong.

traincar

The blacksmith had set up his tent in the museum courtyard.

smith

smith

smith

I strolled through the museum exhibits before leaving and thought of Allan off on his boating excursion up the Naselle River.

boat

boat

 

canoe

old Coast Guard rescue boat

old Coast Guard rescue boat

My favourite part of the museum is the street of replica buildings and interiors. While photos in the museum are discouraged, I have permission because I help promote the museum on the Discover Ilwaco Facebook page.

the street of shops

the street of shops

kitchen

kitchen

dentist

dentist

grocer

grocer

tailor

tailor

church

church

livingroom

Whoever assembled those displays did a fine job.

As I left the museum, I could hear the distinctive metallic ringing of the blacksmith’s hammer on his forge.

I detoured to get a few more Halloween decoration photos.

under one of the street trees, some late corn poppies

under one of the street trees, some late corn poppies

I'm happy that the owner of a vacant lot on First Avenue is slacking on her Round-Up spraying; some beach wildflowers are taking hold again in the sand.

I’m happy that the owner of a vacant lot on First Avenue is slacking on her Round-Up spraying; some beach wildflowers are taking hold again in the sand.

One of our planters still looking lush.  Thankful to report that watering season is finally over for sure.

One of our planters still looking lush. Thankful to report that watering season is finally over for sure.

Heidi's Inn has erected a display called "Ghostyard of the Pacific", a play on the "Graveyard of the Pacific", the Columbia bar.

Heidi’s Inn has erected a display called “Ghostyard of the Pacific”, a play on the “Graveyard of the Pacific”, the Columbia bar.

Nelly and Don's grand old house on Spruce Street

Nelly and Don’s grand old house on Spruce Street (where we weeded recently)

This house on Spruce is one of the two most extravagant Halloween display houses for trick or treating each year.

This house on Spruce is one of the two most extravagant Halloween display houses for trick or treating each year.

Shell Cottage is one of my favourites in town.   Its owner told me she rather regrets the way the rugosa roses take over.  I know the feeling.

Shell Cottage is one of my favourites in town. Its owner told me she rather regrets the way the rugosa roses take over. I know the feeling.

Shell Cottage on Spruce Street

Shell Cottage on Spruce Street

Home again, I decided a walk through my own garden was in order.

Looking out from the front door.

Looking out from the front door.

a poignant hardy fuchsia

a poignant hardy fuchsia

I felt a bit sad when I saw a few stray fuchsias that I had planned to transplant into a private garden of a client. Seems that garden has probably fallen out of our clutches as its owners may no longer choose to afford our services. I had looked forward to adding some tall hardy fuchsias to the back garden there but you know what? They can go to Golden Sands instead. I won’t name the garden; astute and regular readers can notice which one no longer appears. As regular readers know, we are trying to have more free time, so there will be no mourning over lost gardens, if that project does indeed come to an end for us. Hint: It’s not a garden where I have good dog buddies while I work.

I decided I simply must do some sort of gardening at home, so I sorted out some buckets in the garage. Two, I was delighted to find, had some mulch in them which filled in a low spot in the front garden, and I was thrilled to discover a couple of buckets of narcissi bulbs that I had saved and forgotten about (in soil, so they were still healthy). I planted them in two new garden areas back by the bogsy woods:

here...

here…

and here.

and here.

The two old firewood-holding chairs showed that no campfire would be had unless more branches fall.

The two old firewood-holding chairs showed that no campfire would be had until more branches fall.

Mary was my gardening companion of the afternoon.

Mary was my gardening companion of the afternoon.

I did one more productive thing: clipped off some tatty hellebore leaves here...

I did one more productive thing: clipped off some tatty hellebore leaves here…

...and here.

…and here.

If Allan had been home, he would have wondered why I was messing about in his garden area.

The rest of the day was spent in blogging and reading till Allan got home at dusk. I had had every intention that we would go to hear a band at the Sou’wester Lodge at 8 PM (in my attempt to go out to more music events) but as the time approached, I realized that I could not bear to leave the quiet of home to hear a modern punk band in the Sou’wester living room. Allan seemed rather relieved to not go, as I think he was tired from his boating day, which will be tomorrow’s blog entry.

 

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first would-be guests

first would-be guests

The day before our tour day, rain and wind had me quite worried.  Of course we spent all day working on our garden despite the weather.

I had told the tour organizer that I wanted to be on the tour either this year or in ten years.  Because it is impressive to say “This garden is only one and a half years old” and demonstrate how quickly a garden can be created.  It would not be so impressive as a NEW garden after two and a half years.

Tour day dawned hot and lovely and two guests were already outside the gate by 8 AM.

refreshments

refreshments

One of the most fun things this year had been that my friends and ALMOST gardening neighbours down the street (sadly not RIGHT next door) were also on tour.  Judy and I had many discussions regarding what food to serve, as neither of us wanted to COOK anything, but we did want the guests to feel welcome.  It is not required to put out food, but we had heard another garden was offering sushi, and felt we, on the flatlands, had to make an effort.  (In a later post, you will get to tour her garden as well.)   We had juice in a jug and bottled of water in a wheelbarrow full of ice.

Allan and I served several kinds of cookies, including some made by our dear next door neighbour, Nora, and his favourite, red licorice. A friend commented that the declassé red licorice was perfect for the working class Ilwaco flatlands.  Above left,  you can see the first group of tour goers goggling over Allan’s lovely fern garden. All told, we had about 500 guests.

view from my screened window

view from my screened window as the tour begins

Randy Brown

Randy Brown

Because the tour is a benefit for Water Music Festival, each garden gets a musician. We were fortunate to be assigned Randy Brown, a man with a delightful sense of humour and winning personality.  Most of the time he used the patio as his stage but he did a bit of musical wandering in the garden.  Allan made a video of him improvising a garden song…You can watch it here.

Guests began to pour in on the dot of ten a.m. and kept a steady flow all day.

patio stage

patio stage

I did not take many photos because the plant questions kept me hopping all day long.  In fact, I did so much talking in the hot sun that my lips got sunburned.  I realized later that most of the time when I am outside I am looking down at plants, not up at people.

Having so many appreciative gardeners walking through gave us much joy, and I was thrilled when many who had worked their way from north on the Peninsula to south, our being their last garden, said that ours was their favourite.

garden photographer

garden photographer

In fact, we heard several times, as did our friends Judy and Tom down the street in their tour garden, that Ilwaco ruled the tour and that Lake Street was the best.  It was especially gratifying because every other garden except for mine and Allan’s and Judy and Tom’s had a staff, or at least a paid gardener or friends helping out.  Ours were the only two that were solely and completely created and cared for by the owners.  And to further toot our own horns, Tom was going through chemo every other week while preparing for the tour (he’s fine now!) and Allan and I were also working full time.

I would love to see the many photos that I observed being taken.  I did get a few photos from friends…and would like more.

One particular thrill was having a guest introduce herself as garden celebrity Jolly Butler, someone who actually knows my ultimate gardening mentor-from-afar, Ann Lovejoy, whose lectures originally inspired my fulltime devotion to horticulture.  It had become clear to me after some pondering that the only right name for my garden boat was the “Ann Lovejoy”.

"Plant Vessel" Ann Lovejoy

l will make another post following this one with more details of the garden.  I like to go all out for a garden tour with every inch of the garden weeded (which is why I am always amazed when I tour a garden that has weedy patches).  Naturally, one of the first guests pointed out to me a three foot tall dwarf fireweed that I had missed, and as I walked around I did see other flaws.  I put out a photo of my mom in her garden, and one of my grandmother, and a pile of my favourite gardening books.  A friend got a photo showing the photo of my mother and, in the background on the right, a guest leafing through one of my favourite gardening book inspirations, Shocking Beauty by Thomas Hobbs.

photo by Kathleen Sayce

photo by Kathleen Sayce

All day long, I talked plants, and talked and talked…

tour day

guests

more talking

more talking

and talked…and talked…and talked…  My face blindness hampered me from recognizing people out of context, so between that and the large number of people, by the end of the day I had only a vague idea of which local people had actually visited.  I know that some good friends came through and (while I would have recognized them), I was so busy I did not even see them.

People checked out the entire garden from front to back, so all that weeding had been quite worthwhile.  In my next entries, I’ll take you on a tour  throughout the whole garden as it looked its absolute best.

from my window

from my window

and again a window view

and again a window view

south end of sunny borders

south end of sunny borders

center path

center path

up the west side path

up the west side path

exploring the bogsy wood

exploring the bogsy wood

Join me in my next blog entries for a walk through of the garden in its moment of perfection.  We gardeners all know that perfection in a garden is fleeting but oh so satisfactory.  Following that, I will share the other featured gardens which I visited on a pre- and post-tour day.

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