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Posts Tagged ‘hydrangea job’

Thursday, 17 October, 2013

I was ever so thrilled as we were driving up Sandridge Road in the fog, heading for the hydrangea job and thinking that the fog over the bay would be a great visual drama like yesterday!

11:14 AM: fog along Sandridge Road

11:14 AM: fog along Sandridge Road

But the sun beat us to the bay and the Willapa Hills were already making an appearance as we carried our tools around the house to the field.

11:29 AM

11:29 AM

11:29 AM

11:29 AM

Returning to the van for a forgotten water bottle, I looked for that Eucalyptus on the neighbouring property (the one with the very old farmhouse) and realized I can see it from the parking area near the stone wall. It is huge, towering far overhead.

the eucalyptus next door

the eucalyptus next door

With tools gathered, we headed to the guest house area of the hydrangea field to finish the pruning. I don’t think I had ever seen the lights on in the covered walkway between garage and guesthouse. But, oh, that ivy has got to go…What a heavy weight it adds to the feeling of the walkway.

bad ivy, beautiful lights

bad ivy, beautiful lights

I picture a combination of hellebores and maybe hardy fuchsias (for summer colour) where the sheet of ivy is now between main house and garage:

ivy

ivy bed must go!

Ivy removal is the only design change I would dream of making to the garden as it is now.

11:47 AM: view from the deck

11:47 AM: view from the deck with a mountain of clippings…one of four such piles.

Noon:  Sadly, Allan's iPhone camera did not get this little frog in focus as it appeared to watch the house from atop a pruned hydrangea.

Noon: Sadly, Allan’s iPhone camera did not get this little frog in focus as it appeared to watch the house from atop a pruned hydrangea.

snake

Allan also found a garter snake sunning on the deck right next to his pile of tools!

12:33 PM:  view from below the guest house deck

12:33 PM: view from below the guest house deck

Baby Island appears but without the clear definition of yesterday.

12:33 PM Baby Island appears but without the clear definition of yesterday.

Just after 12:30, I felt I could not take the hot blazing sun anymore on the work area near the guest house.

64 degrees Farenheit!!

64 degrees Fahrenheit!!

I found four hydrangeas to prune in the shade, and then abandoned Allan an hour later, hoping that he could finish what looked like about five more from my vantage point (and rake up the debris), and I fled to the cool azalea patch on the west side of the house.

1:24 PM: azalea entry garden

1:24 PM: azalea entry garden

I had every intention of getting the azalea patch pruned immediately. However, one glance lured me in to the enclosed courtyard where, on the first day, Lisa had reminded me of a water feature that had become hidden.

1:31 PM and 2:44 PM

1:31 PM and 2:44 PM

I lightened up a leatherleaf viburnum behind the gate

I lightened up a leatherleaf viburnum behind the gate

before and after

There was a bad maple sprout coming from the trunk of the Japanese maple.

And salal was creeping under the fence and muddying the definition of the garden.

The little Japanese style cover protects the workings of the bamboo fountain and there is a tank underground to store the water that drips into the bowl. I look forward to seeing it in action.

water bowl and fountain

water bowl and fountain

Bill Clearman, who had originally designed this area, arrived when I was about to start pruning the golden weeping maple and I asked him how far back it was intended to go. I don’t think I would have had the gumption to take it as far back as I did without his input. Now the water bowl shows off better. Lisa herself arrived just as I was pouring water in the bowl; it had not shown at all before. She asked me out of curiosity how long the pruning had taken; I said half an hour. Time had moved quickly because iPhoto tells me it was a little over an hour instead!

I entered the kitchen to refill my water bottles and take some proffered chocolate treats. Bill came in his full regalia to show Lisa a design plan for the mailbox. Nothing could suit the builder of this Japanese house more…

Bill and Lisa

Bill and Lisa

I could see trouble from the kitchen window: Allan still had far too many hydrangeas to prune, and since some of them were now in shade, I returned to help him.

3:11 PM:  Oh NO, still to do!!

3:11 PM: Oh NO, still to do!!

I pruned them in a frenzy, finishing at 4:12, and had my sandwich as a reward. Earlier, Maddy had found Allan’s sandwich and consumed a third of it before I had heard Lisa shouting “No! No no no no NO!” (Lisa made Allan a very nice ham and cheese sandwich after that.) Maddy clearly was hoping for more from MY lunch…and I gave her a couple of small animal cookies because I do like her so very much.

4:15: Maddy, hoping

4:15: Maddy, hoping

view from below the guest house, 4:17 PM

view from below the guest house, 4:17 PM

And the hydrangeas are done! Allan did the last of the raking up and I returned to the azaleas. First, I had to walk around to enjoy the view of the south end of the field of 275 pruned hydrangeas.

done!

done!

Earlier this week, I got a message from Sydney Stevens, local historian, author and daily blogger at Oysterville Daybook:

“I was so glad to read that you are working on the hydrangea garden. Betty Schmidt was a good friend of my mother’s and we visited her many times during the construction *yay Bill Clearman!) of the house and later when all was said and done. She spent hours and hours among her beloved hydrangeas. Somehere I have one off her Christmas cards with the hydrangeas at their height. It warms my cockles to know that they are getting some TLC from you!”

At 4:30, I got started at last on the azalea patch and was joined shortly before 5:00 by Allan. I’ll regale you with some befores and afters:

4:30 and 6:14 PM

4:30 and 6:14 PM

before and after

before and after

before and after

The idea is to cloud prune it so that it flows in the mounded naturalistic fashion with no poky bits coming up.

5:58 PM:  While we worked, Maddy was Zen Dog in the Zen Garden.

5:58 PM: While we worked, Maddy was Zen Dog in the Zen Garden.

The azalea pruning is a persnickety job that could go on and on for hours, grabbing uppy bits and pruning them down to tight green foliage so no stub shows, but not too low because it is dark and dead looking underneath, and one has to bend at an odd angle to do it. I could just fuss over them for far longer, but what we did will do till after they bloom with a haze of bright red flowers next spring.

azalea foliage

azalea foliage

I had also done some pruning on the path running east to the hydrangea field, next to the little fenced courtyard, lightening up some rhodo and redwood and cherry tree branches that were poking into the path.

1:25 and 6:15

1:25 and 6:15

We loaded the trailer with all the azalea debris. Maddy trotted around trying to understand what was up! The four huge piles of hydrangea debris on the other side of the house will be removed by someone with a truck that can get down there.

loading

6:10 PM loading

I gathered a few tools and took a gander at the moonrise.

6:10 PM

6:10 PM

low tide

low tide

face

And then….the pruning job was done. And we went to sit with Lisa on the deck for some beer and chips.

I have worked at a number of jobs along the bay over the last twenty years, starting with a garden at the end of the Harborview Motel street just north of Nahcotta, with a view of the Port of Nahcotta to the south…and just down from that, the Schisler garden, and a few blocks north of that, a garden on a high bank over the bay. I’ve worked at two bay view gardens almost as far north as Oysterville, and one in Oysterville itself. And I spent many an hour at Laurie’s garden not terribly far north of the hydrangea field. But none of them had a view that I like as well as the view from Lisa and Buzz’s new home. What makes it for me is the frame of big trees, Long Island to the north, the hydrangeas (of course!) in the foreground, the long plank walk out to a little dock, the many and varied birds on the tideflats, and most especially that darling Baby Island right across the bay.

6:33 PM from a deck chair...

6:33 PM from a deck chair…

6:40 PM

6:40 PM

7:03 PM:  moon path on the water

7:03 PM: moon path on the water

Tomorrow: Work life gets back to normal and we will try to do a check on all of the resort gardens…and if we don’t make it to all, we will finish on Saturday.

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Sunday, 13 October, 2013

old rhododendrons by where we parked at the start of the green road

old rhododendrons by where we parked at the start of the green road

the start of the green road

11:31 AM:  the start of the green road, looking east

by the green road: an old rhododendron

by the green road: an old rhododendron

an "octopus tree"

an “octopus tree”

not your usual trees along the road...planted with collectibles

not your usual trees along the road…planted with collectibles

turning north and getting a view of the hydrangea field.

11:36 AM:  turning north and getting a view of the hydrangea field.

Right there on the green road is where I had a mishap later in the day!

11:40 AM: high tide

11:40 AM: high tide

11:40, Allan tackling his first hydrangea of the day

11:40, Allan tackling his first hydrangea of the day

He was sitting because it was a shrub with mostly dead canes that needed to be cut low.

The area where Allan was working (south end of field) is full of maple seedlings...

The area where Allan was working (south end of field) is full of maple seedlings…

...from this big maple tree just across the path to the south

…from this big maple tree just across the path to the south

When I picked up my tools left behind the night before, I noticed again the careful detailing of the house.

architecture, south side of house

architecture, south side of house

12:08, looking south from the north end of the field.

12:08, looking south from the north end of the field.

I moved to the guest house area for a change of pace.  It helps me psychologically.  After plodding along feeling very little progress is being made, suddenly the different pruned areas will meet in a moment of joyous surprise (a few days hence).

Also, it helps me physically to move around instead of standing in one place, so I will prune three adjacent hydrangeas at once just to be able to shift my feet a little more.

12:31, such a sad hydrangea

12:31, such a sad hydrangea

another sad one, chopped to the ground

another sad one, chopped to the ground; the new growth looks healthy.

12:48: too hot!!

12:38 PM:   an area festooned with spider webs.  I did another section so as not to ruin their day.

Oh, the sunny heat!  You would think it had been 80 from how I felt, but the weather service says it was 61!  I find that hard to believe.  I walked back to the van, rather a long route, to get my hat as I felt dizzy, and I always remember how my Grandma got sunstroke.  On the way back down the green road, Maddy the golden lab walked with me and I felt youthful and energetic walking with a dog like the old days when I had my black lab Bertie Woofter (although he would have run off chasing a scent and ended up on Sandridge chasing cars).  As I strode down the slope toward the field, I caught my foot on a thin whippy blackberry cane and WHOOPS! ended up facedown in the grass.  Lisa heard me scream from inside the house but probably thought I had tangled with a spider in the garden.   The green road with its long unmown grass was soft and welcoming like a foam mattress.  Maddy ran back and lay down next to me and got a good belly rub from the occasion.  I told Lisa later that Maddy was rescuing me and would have lain with me all night to keep me from freezing.  Her theory was Maddy thought I was playing.

12:55, still too hot, found a semi shady spot to work

12:55 PM, still too hot, found a semi shady spot to work

still running across the candelabra effect from the bad chainsaw pruning of 2006.

1:27 PM: still running across the candelabra effect from the bad chainsaw pruning of 2006.

Perhaps we will get the last few stubby candelabras removed this year.

Perhaps we will get the last few stubby candelabras removed this year.

They are what happens when one cuts straight across with no thought to where the dormant buds are.

1:46: colour appreciation break

1:46 PM: colour appreciation break

Because sometimes one has to shake out one’s clipping hand and stand up straight for minute.

2:39 PM:  unpruned hydrangeas between me and the house

2:39 PM: unpruned hydrangeas between me and the house

Lisa had offered us some delicious sounding sandwich makings awhile earlier.  I kept thinking maybe I could prune my way through to the house…but there was an awfully long way to go and now my mind was on good food.

2:52 PM: lower tide

2:52 PM: lower tide

I gave up on the idea of pruning my way to the house and walked around the field to access the deck.

3:05 PM....view from deck

3:05 PM….view from the deck

Why did I not think, after having a delicious sandwich and a visit with Lisa (who was cleaning the refrigerator), and making a sandwich to deliver to Allan, that I could move to that nice shady area and work out of the hot sun?  Or…the sun that felt hot but apparently was not very hot after all.  But back to the lower field I went….

3:37 PM: colour appreciation break

3:37 PM: colour appreciation break

3:37 PM

3:37 PM

3:38 PM, the guest house

3:38 PM, the guest house

I wonder if Lisa would let me move in here and just take care of the garden full time.  I am not serious as I am quite fond of my double wide in Ilwaco!  But that guest house sure is a charming place, and friends of Lisa and Buzz are going to love it.

3:38 PM, still drenching my eyes in colour

3:38 PM, still drenching my eyes in colour

3:38 PM

3:38 PM

3:39 PM: blues

3:39 PM: blues and purples

3:39 PM

3:39 PM

3:39 PM, the most elegant blue

3:39 PM, the most elegant blue

3:39 PM, fading colours

3:39 PM, fading colours

4:17 PM, so glad to see the sun go down behind the house!

4:17 PM, so glad to see the sun go down behind the house!

The sun had that golden autumnal light at just the angle that made it hard to see.

4:17 PM, last rays of sun by the guest house

4:17 PM, last rays of sun by the guest house

4:55 PM, blissful allover shade

4:55 PM, blissful allover shade

I wish all the sad hydrangeas, of which there may be 20 or more throughout the field, ones whose old canes are all dead, were as easy to clean up as one I found whose old stubs neatly pulled out of the ground…

5 PM, pile of stubs from a satisfying clean up...

5 PM, pile of stubs from a satisfying clean up…

with nice new growth coming up from the old shrub.

with nice new growth coming up from the old shrub.

I plan to try an application of Dr Earth rhododendron and evergreen fertilizer next spring on the sad ones.  They have one year to shape up or out they go.

6:14 PM:  18 minutes till sunset

6:14 PM: 18 minutes till sunset

I was getting punchy from pruning so was glad to end the day’s work.  In that time I had pruned somewhere between 15 and 20 hydrangeas and Allan told me he had done 25.  Since I did not waste much time lying down on the green road or spend a very long lunch break visiting with Lisa, I think maybe he was not cutting out as much old wood from each one.  (He agrees with this assessment, perhaps just to be tactful about his speed.)

6:17 PM, looking south from the guest house garden

6:17 PM, looking south from the guest house garden

It is very hard to get a photo of what I did because the pruning is intermingled with three big piles of debris along the edge of the green road.  Where a few hydrangeas had died and been removed, leaving gaps right at the lower edge (perhaps the sprinkler system had missed them), I was able to heap piles without hauling them further.  We are thrilled that Lisa has found a landscaping business with a truck that can get down here and haul the piles away.

We used to haul the prunings halfway out to the bay so Bill and his wife Carol could burn them.  It was a hard slog and will save us considerable time not doing so.  I think in the long run having the prunings hauled away will be more cost effective because the burning was also very time consuming.

an unconvincing before and after obscured by large piles of debris

an unconvincing before and after obscured by large piles of debris

disheartening view of approximately 200 hydrangeas to go!

disheartening views of approximately 200 hydrangeas to go!

6:21 PM: Allan worked all day at the south end of the field

6:21 PM: Allan had worked all day at the south end of the field

one of his mountains of debris

one of his mountains of debris

looking north from the south end of the field

looking north from the sotuh end of the field

6:25 PM, looking east

6:25 PM, looking east

Tomorrow might be the day when we arrive at the feeling that the job WILL get done.  Or maybe that happens on day number four.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, 12 October, 2013

We drove by the Cranberrian Fair on the way to work. Usually I would go take photos for Discover Ilwaco, but did not want to pay $5.00 for a just a quick stop before work. I probably should have a press pass! We drove by when the bog bus (the Long Beach trolley) was parked in front and four photogenically hipster young folk were standing by the cranberry truck. After we traded compost buckets at Olde Towne, I realized I very much wanted a photo, so we circled back, but the bog bus had taken off for the Cranberry Research Station, and the young folk had taken off walking away.

Cranberry Fair, noon

Cranberry Fair, noon

By the time, you’d think we had hung out for awhile at Olde Towne. No, our late start was due to my insomnia and subsequent attempt to get a little more sleep. I woke at eight to rain and worrited for awhile about the hydrangea job getting done. The fretting kept me awake for too long. By the time I got up, the sun had come out and we had a beautiful day.

12:27 PM:  Allan walks up the driveway with tools, accompanied by Lisa's dog, Maddy

12:27 PM: Allan walks up the driveway with tools, accompanied by Lisa’s dog, Maddy

I took the old green road (now overgrown) through the trees to the hydrangea field.

I took the old green road (now overgrown) through the trees to the hydrangea field.

coming around the corner of the green road:  there it is, the hydrangea field

coming around the corner of the green road: there it is, the hydrangea field

This used to be a driveable road (which we used to bring in bark for mulching the garden, way back in 2007). If I had an old beater push mower, I could hack through this, but am not going to even try with our new mower….even though I have the desire to fix it. At the beginning of this wobbly movie that I made in February of 2010 (the last time we pruned there), you can see what the green road used to look like. Or you can skip the movie and just ponder this screenshot:

February 2010

February 2010

road

the lost road

hydrangeas, 12:29 PM

hydrangeas, 12:29 PM

There used to be a clean edge around the entire field of hydrangeas.

fuzzy around the edges

fuzzy around the edges

the green road, looking north along the edge of the hydrangea field.  Willapa Bay is to the right.

the green road, looking north along the edge of the hydrangea field. Willapa Bay is to the right.

When this becomes lawn again, and it will, Lisa has the wonderful idea of setting up tables and chairs down here in the summer. You can see how the grass has grown right into the hydrangeas along the edge.

house and guest house

house and guest house

hydrangeas

A few of the hydrangeas are doing poorly. Usually even those have some good foliage at the base. I don’t know what is wrong with certain ones, as most of them are quite vigorous. It might have something to do with restriction by the old landscape fabric that is the underlayment on the whole field.

trying to show the magnitude of the job.  (excuse:  assessing the situation)

trying to show the magnitude of the job. (my excuse: “assessing the situation”)

The north of the field in front of the guest house is even wider.

The north of the field in front of the guest house is even wider.

another mysteriously sad hydrangea

another mysteriously sad hydrangea

It bothers me to prune when many of them are looking so gorgeous. There are enough flowers to provide a bazillion (approximately) bouquets.

blue

But it is either now or February, and I would certainly rather do it now. Maybe in future years, they can go back to being done in February, when they have not been let grow wild for two years. (There is nothing wrong with hydrangeas gone tall and lush, but in this case we are trying to preserve and enhance the bay view from the house.)

purple

south end of field, 12:33 PM

Willapa Bay backdrop

Willapa Bay backdrop, low tide

We started in the corner that looked like this on our visit earlier this week:

just one corner

northwest corner, last Wednesday

Lisa came out and asked how I was feeling about the job. I said “Resigned.”

1:35 PM today

same spot: 1:35 PM today

While pruning, I looked west and saw this beautiful sunlit moment.

While pruning, I looked west and saw this beautiful sunlit moment.

2:04 PM:  Allan found a birdnest

2:04 PM: Allan found a birdnest

During previous pruning sessions there we have found several nests, but this was the only one today.

Darling Lisa went to Okie’s market in Ocean Park and brought us back sandwiches, which we ate sitting on the covered deck.

2:28 PM, joining Maddy and Lisa for lunch

2:28 PM, joining Maddy and Lisa for lunch

Just before we dined, Lisa took a look at the hyrangeas we had already pruned at the south end of the field and said “Wow!” I said that sounded like a wow of shock than delight. She was indeed startled at how low we had cut them. I told her, after some thought, that this reminded me of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The previous owner, Betty, used to feel I was not pruning them short enough, and we cut them shorter than we would have liked. Lisa wants them to be pruned taller. I think they are pruned just right.

I explained that we prune the ones up closer to the house lower and gradually increase the height as we work our way down the slope so that one can see all of the flowers (most anyway) from the deck. It is always a worry that some will not bloom the next year, but so far we’ve had good results even when pruning as low as Betty liked. I have always thought if this field were mine, I would have pruned it very low just one year to refresh the plants.

If this were mine, I might prune down to the lowest batch of green leaves!

If this were mine, I might prune down to the lowest batch of green leaves!

However, our work over the years from 2007 to 2010 had corrected much of the terrible chainsaw pruning done by a previous “gardener”, pruning that had left horrible twiggy candelabras at the end of each stem. Even after being left alone in 2011 and 2012, the hydrangeas are so much better from our three year plan (removing one third of the bad pruning results each year) that they are almost easy to prune now.

3:17 PM: back at work and admiring how some leaves have turned purple

3:17 PM: back at work and admiring how some leaves have turned purple

Lisa brought us some brownies and donut holes and Allan set them on his chainsaw bag. Fortunately, I saw Maddy approaching…

drama at 3:42 PM...Who will get the donut holes first, Maddy or Allan?

drama at 3:42 PM…Who will get the donut holes first, Maddy or Allan?

Allan won that race because Maddy had not yet realized the treats were there. Then she licked the chainsaw bag.

The reason I had my camera out of my pocket to capture that amusing moment was that I saw the perfect photo to demonstrate why the 275 (once 300) hydrangeas are planted here. Some friends (you know who you are) have said they would not have the hydrangeas. I would be tempted, if the place were mine, to turn the whole field into an elaborate collection of low growing shrubs and perennials. And yet, compared to the hydrangeas, I don’t think that would be as pleasing to the eye, because just look at how the flowers echo the blue tile roof.

3:42 PM: hydrangeas and the house

3:42 PM: hydrangeas and the house

After almost two hours of complete focus on pruning (I credit the brownies and donut holes which were consumed shortly after Maddy almost found them), I got an even better example of why the hydrangeas are there.

the hydrangeas and the house...

5:27 PM: the hydrangeas and the house…a perfect combination

By then, we had worked our way down the north side of the field to the green road. Around and through the hydrangeas by the grass, we found twinings and tangles of birds foot trefoil, a native weed that is planted on purpose in wildflower mixes in the UK (so I have read). I remembered how in summer of 2009 or 2010, we were actually called in by the previous owners of the estate to pull “that yellow flowered thing” off of the hydrangeas, and it had popped up in many places and was waving about atop the blue flowers.

an ominous nest of birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

an ominous nest of birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

Googling for the Latin name gave me many results of it being considered a valuable forage and erosion control plant. It is so beautiful in flower that when I first moved here and gardened in Seaview, I brought it in from the dunes to plant in gardens. However, I do not want it in the hydrangea field.

5:45 PM, about to prune another hydrangea (looking southeast)

5:45 PM, about to prune another hydrangea (looking southeast)

Allan dragging debris

Allan dragging debris

colour appreciation

colour appreciation

before and after

before and after from the southwest corner: 6:17 PM

6:18 PM, the pile of debris from 30 hydrangeas

6:18 PM, the pile of debris from 30 hydrangeas

30 down….245 to go! The usual first day of the hydrangea job despair set in, but Lisa pointed out that we were ten percent done. It used to take six days. I had been chipper when realizing that those were February days, thus shorter. But today I remembered that a friend had come and helped haul debris, saving us some time, and she is not around anymore. (I also remembered how that “gardener” who had chainsawed the hydrangeas in 2006 had simply dropped a lot of the debris so that our feet were tangled up in it the first time we weeded the hydrangea field in September of 2007).

There is no solid plan yet for getting rid of the debris. I suggested a chipper shredder rental…and someone other than us to do it. Thank goodness we are not in the hauling business.

At 6:30 PM, with eight minutes to go till sunset, I walked around the field.

south end

south end

pruned and unpruned

pruned and unpruned

the middle of the field from the green road

the middle of the field from the green road

house

north end of the field from the green road

north end of the field from the green road

Looking east toward the bay: Bill Clearman (builder of the house, as well) constructed this plank walk all the way out to a dock in the bay. I don’t know how he did it, but it is made to rise and fall with the tide, which comes all the way up in the winter. As I stood here, I could hear a sound…what was it?…It was the lapping of the waves way out on the edge as the Willapa Bay tide rolled in.

the plank walk

the plank walk

from the end of the plank walk, looking west

from the end of the plank walk, looking west

looking south from the north end of the field

looking south from the north end of the field

By the guest house, an enormous...guestshroom?

By the guest house, an enormous…guestshroom?

looking southeast from in front of the guest house

looking southeast from in front of the guest house

between house and guest house

between house and guest house

I forgot I was going to have to walk across the river rocks….knee twisting now that I am so decrepit.

river rocks

river rocks

On our first walk through, I said to Lisa that paving stones here (just a meandering path through the river rock) seem essential to me. I am amazed two old folks lived here for years without thinking of it…I can only think they did not walk through here much. Bill’s many skills include cement (concrete?) work and he can make pavers with Japanese characters imprinted on them.

This zen garden by the front door used to be raked in patterns.

This zen garden by the front door used to be raked in patterns.

I think the Zen garden MUST get raked, and soon, and that that will bring peace and good fortune to the house! (Wondering if I have a small rake to take tomorrow!)

Bill made these stone columns that look so ancient...

ancient looking stone pillars.

I have never seen another home where each detail, even a utility cover, is so perfectly attuned to the spirit of place.

I have never seen another home where each detail, even a utility cover, is so perfectly attuned to the spirit of place.

I came full circle to help Allan carry things back to the vehicle. The sun on the trees had gone, but you can see how variegated euonymous lights up the shade garden at the south side of the house.

6:30 PM, just before sunset

6:30 PM, just before sunset

While walking down the driveway to where we had parked, I was struck as I had been last Wednesday by the deliciously strong scent of pine in the air. In no other place on the Peninsula have I been surrounded such a quintessentially woodsy fragrance.

Back tomorrow….We are putting other projects on hold for a few days.

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Wednesday October 9, 2013, part one

When I heard that the owners of Crank’s Roost had bought the Willapa bay view house where we used to prune 300 hydrangeas, I went through a gamut of emotions:  I thought I had said goodbye to those darned [word edited for politeness] hydrangeas forever (when the house went up for sale a couple of years ago).  I could not bear the thought of seeing them again!  Maybe Lisa would not want to hire us for the job anyway.  But…remember how excited we were when we first started the job in August of 2007?  The garden had so much potential, and we almost got it back to its original state of Japanese style perfection.  And then…remember how sad we were when we got sort-of-fired about a month later!?  And remember how even though, when we were re-hired just to prune the hydrangeas, all the beauty we saw while working there?  But…remember how hard the hydrangea job is and how long it took…and yet…remember the mossy meandering woodsy semi-formal landscape and how much it needed a loving gardener to care for it?

The builder of the house, local carpenter Bill Clearman, had kept his hand in caring for the house while it was for sale, but, with the previous owners deceased, had not been able to get us back to prune during that time.

By the time Lisa asked us to come assess the garden situation, I had gone through all the emotions from dread to delight and settled on being quite pleased to go back there again.  So today….

peaceful glade next to garage

peaceful glade next to garage

up the driveway...

on up the driveway…

wall enclosing parking courtyard

wall enclosing parking courtyard

Again we see the glorious blue tile roofs...garage, walkway, house, guesthouse

Again we see the glorious blue tile roofs…garage, walkway, house, guesthouse all topped in blue
azalea cloud gone all spiky.  Lisa said the path had disappeared before she clipped back...

azalea cloud gone all spiky. Lisa said the path had disappeared before she clipped back…

I found myself itching to clip those azaleas into a drifting cloud shape again.

Looking from the guest house back to the front door, along the blue tile walkway

Looking from the guest house back to the front door, along the blue tile walkway

I had walked all the way around the house and had only taken one photo of the hydrangeas on the bay side, perhaps because the sight of them (about 275 now, I think) was so overwhelming.

just one corner

just one corner

They have not been pruned since we last did them, and new flowers are mixed with deadheads.  After we had walked around other areas, we went back to view the hydrangeas again.

from the porch

from the porch

Interestingly, the hydrangeas gone wild are still not tall enough to block the view.  The previous owner wanted them cut too low, I thought, to get the most profuse possible bloom.  I think I might have just a tad more say in the height this time around.  The other great change will be that the previous owner wanted them pruned in the bad weather month of February.  Many times we stood under the eaves as sleet, hail, and even snow passed over.  I remember texting a friend who was coming to help us rake up debris with continued dire weather reports as Allan and I sheltered by the guest house door.  (During those years, the owners were always gone to a warmer clime during the hydrangea pruning time.)  As the weather that day got worse and worse, we aborted the whole mission and the drive up there had been for nothing.  Lisa is all for pruning in the fall, with possibly a touch up in spring.

from the covered deck

from the covered deck

Now me, I like to leave hydrangea blooms on all winter because they look pretty cool with frost or snow on them, but this particular time I will be very happy to address the pruning starting next week rather than face this much of a mess in colder weather.  Another huge improvement:  instead of dragging all the branches many rough yards to a burn pile close to the bay, we can make piles right next to the field for our friend Ed Strange, who does mowing and lots of “heavy” gardening, to haul away.

They run all the way to in front of the guest house, where the hydrangea field becomes even wider...

They run all the way to in front of the guest house, where the hydrangea field becomes even wider…

I do remember well the grim first two days of pruning when it feels like one will never get done, and then how on days three through five (!!!) one can feel that progress is being made and there is a distant hope of completion and then the joy of getting done on day six.  Perhaps not having to haul to a burn pile will make the job less daunting.  In the autumn, with longer days than February, it may take fewer than six days to complete the job.

Inside the house we marveled at the ceiling of the living room.  Bill had given us a tour of the house once before, and told us how he had raised the beams to the ceiling on his own.

living room ceiling

living room ceiling

He had bought Japanese carpentry tools in order to do the job with complete authenticity.

walkway from guesthouse, looking south to front porch

walkway from guesthouse, looking south to front porch

inside the roof of the walkway, carpenter craftsman Bill Clearman's artistry

inside the roof of the walkway, carpenter craftsman Bill Clearman’s artistry

I am thrilled that Lisa agrees with me that the ivy must eventually go.  (See noivyleague.com.)  She had already clipped it back from encroaching on the bricks and had pulled it off one pillar.   I can see a collection of hellebores where the ivy is.  Lisa asked what to have for summer….How about hellebores mixed with hardy fuchsias?  But first…the hydrangea pruning…then the azalea pruning…

Before we left, I had to take a photo of the red bridge, off to the side over a swale which fills with winter water.

enticing mossy path....

enticing mossy path….

and the red bridge

and the red bridge

I am so ready.  This time I believe that the garden is going to get to make a complete comeback.

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