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Sunday, 29 March 2015

at home

I did indeed take the day off, although when I looked out at the weather I thought it might turn out to be a reading day.  That would have been a fine thing, as I have a daunting number of books from the library all of a sudden; I should have staggered them better.

Have too little reading time now.  Started with the Anne Tyler.

Have too little reading time now. Started with the Anne Tyler.  Allan just read the Anne Hillerman (daughter of Tony) mystery and thinks I will like it.

I am having a terrible time with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.  I know it is good, and made it to chapter 7.  Something about it does not grab me even though it is so well written and on a fascinating subject.  I had to return it and check it out again, and yet the other books are of more interest to me.  I could probably read several chapters in the time it takes me to write the daily blog, which has become an entertaining obsession and a useful work record and can’t be skipped during the work months.

I’ve managed to read one small and excellent book: The Measure of My Days by Florida Scott-Maxwell, a memoir of aging that was recommended in a book by Susan Wittig Albert.

Meanwhile, the book Allan is reading had a quotation that I liked.  Here’s the book:

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

Review:  “The author of this book is an American Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who is married to an Indian man. She has spent the last few years doing scrupulous research for this book which is a realistic portrayal of life in a Mumbai slum. All the people are real. All the incidents really happened. And the writing itself is so good that it hooked me from the very beginning and kept my eyes glued to the pages.”

And here’s the passage about the effects of agricultural labour vs. city life:

How I feel this!!

How I feel this!!

I said to Allan that the older women admiring her fairer skin sounded kind of racist, but he said it was because she was working indoors, not outdoors in the sun.

Much as I wanted to read today, I simply had to plant my sweet peas.  I thought I might do it in the garage, in plastic window box liners, to stay out of the weather.  However, when I went outside, the weather was not bad after all…only a slightly annoying wind and no showers.  So the day was lost to reading.

I had second thoughts about using the window box liners (or whatever you call long rectangular containers) when I saw the amount of snails that had collected on one.

These don't cause me the nauseated horror that I would feel about this many slugs.

These don’t cause me the nauseated horror that I would feel about this many slugs.

This might explain why my sweet peas in these containers did nothing last year.

I discovered that the containers from the same area with less rim had many fewer snails.

two different kinds

two different kinds

way fewer snails

way fewer snails

Ideally, I’d like a container with a small rolled lip and no underneath rim for snails and slugs hidey places.

Due to this problem, I decided to put the seeds right in the ground as I had done the first summer here.  Then, they had little competition from other plants and perhaps the snails had not discovered them so they did very well.  I hope that clearing a trench and fertilizing and mulching will help.

sweet peas planted

sweet peas planted

In the Egyptian Walking Onion patch in the foreground lurk many snails.

JUST SHOCKING!

JUST SHOCKING!

I am going to have to apply Sluggo every day if I want any sweet peas at all.  A more toxic product like Deadline would work better but is bad for other critters.

In the front garden, I did plant some sweet peas in the rectangular containers just inside the wooden fence.  There, I can put some Deadline between fence and container where no cat can get into it.

Allan’s project was to make a sturdier stand for my birthday birdbath; it had fallen over but fortunately had not broken.

birthday present from Allan; he bolted the stand onto a wooden base.

birthday present from Allan; he bolted the stand onto a wooden base.

While planting some more sweet peas in two long containers on the south wall of the house, I admired this:

an exquisite species tulip bud on a plant table

an exquisite species tulip bud on a plant table, Tulip batalinii, I think

I got my three new shade plants into the new spot that I’d added soil to yesterday.

two pulmonarias and a corydalis

two pulmonarias and a corydalis

I hope this Corydalis comes back for me year after year.

I hope this Corydalis comes back for me year after year.

Then I tackled an area of wild impatiens (touch me not, jewel weed) thinking it might give me room for my new azalea.

a carpet of jewelweed

a carpet of jewelweed

The croaking of a frog nearby reminded me to check on the seasonal pond (ditch) for frog spawn, as Mr. Tootlepedal had been showing some excellent photos of such.

The water was muddy and I did not see any frog spawn.

The water was muddy and I did not see any frog spawn even though this area abounds with tree frogs.

I think Mr T’s frogs, being bigger, might produce bigger spawn.

I remembered to admire my patch of scilla...outside the deer fence.

I remembered to admire my patch of scilla…outside the deer fence.

I admired a Darmera peltata blooming in the garden...

I also admired a Darmera peltata blooming in the garden…

and an established pulmonaria by the bogsy woods.

and an established pulmonaria by the bogsy woods.

Despite these diversions, 45 minutes later the patch of jewelweed looked like this:

done

It seemed too rough a spot to put my spider azalea.  Some pondering led to the realization that it could go in the newly filled area behind the fallen tree logs.

My spider azalea from Monkey Business 101 nursery in Cloverdale...and behind it, another nest of jewelweed.

My spider azalea from Monkey Business 101 nursery in Cloverdale…and behind it, another nest of jewelweed.

Even though my energy was dwindling, I decided to do one more big area of jewelweed (AKA Policeman’s Helmet).  The plant is easy to pull, and I could go back later for creeping buttercups.  Last year, I did not get it out of this area before it got four feet tall.

before

before

Frosty arrives to inspect my work.

Frosty arrives to inspect my work.

forty minutes later

forty minutes later

Meanwhile, Allan had surprised me a few hours earlier by deciding to go to work.  He had been feeling bothered by the thought that the lawn at Golden Sands Assisted Living courtyard might be getting long.  I had pointed out that next time we go there, it will be with mulch and therefore without room to carry the mower.  So off he went, on his own volition.

Golden Sands

hauling my mom's small rechargeable mower down the hallway

hauling my mom’s small rechargeable mower and a strimmer down the hallway

The lawn was not as long as he had imagined.  It is mostly moss; I’d like it to be ALL moss.  One of the workers there described it as having once been like a fairyland of moss and little flowers till someone applied mosskiller.  Our hope is that the moss takes right over.

DSC00011

before

after

after

I am thrilled that he brought back a photo showing the trees by the dining room limbed up.

Whoever did this: Great job, as it opens the view to the garden

Whoever did this: Great job, as it opens the view to the garden

some tulips and a rosemary

some tulips and a rosemary

a few more tulips

a few more tulips

Next on the work agenda is to get mulch in to this garden (a difficult job because we have to wheelbarrow down the hallway) and plant poppy seeds.

back to the hallway to exit the job

back to the hallway to exit the job

The residents are starting new plants on my mom's old plant table.

The residents are starting new plants on my mom’s old three tier plant table.

African Violet collection

African Violet collection; my mom and grandma  would have loved these.

On the way home, he even stopped at Coulter Park in Long Beach and pruned the last sword fern.

evening at home

When he returned, he found me weeding.

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

I had been on various missions all day and had done no pleasant “piddlefarting around the garden”.  That’s the term that the mother of one of the Sylvia Beach Hotel innkeepers used to use for those pleasant days when you just do a bit of this and that in the garden all day.  Those sorts of lovely days happen after spring clean up and planting season, usually between June and October.

Allan suggested a fire and sausages for an early dinner; I said as long as I didn’t have to stop weeding to do anything to make it happen.

Allan starts a fire

Allan starts a fire.

I could weed no more, even though an awful lot of shotweed is about to go to seed.

center bed with lovely returning tulips and enormous shotweeds

center bed with lovely returning tulips and enormous shotweeds mixed with good plants

another batch of tulips that has returned for five years now.

another batch of tulips that has returned for five years now.

pink flowering currant

pink flowering currant

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo, with bellows and dampish wood

fire2

Through the campfire smoke, I admire my ornamental rhubarb.

Through the campfire smoke, I admire my ornamental rhubarb.

an early dinner (as we usually dine at ten)

an early dinner (as we usually dine at ten)

Neighbour cat Onyx visited and ran all around.

Neighbour cat Onyx visited and ran all around.

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

While sitting around the fire, I checked my email on my phone (as one does) and learned to my delight that we have been laid off a small private garden job due to the owners’ plan to redesign (I would guess to make it more dog friendly, or to make parts of it dog-proof, as the resident dogs are quite the garden diggers).  It’s a garden where we have just done maintenance and have had little creative input as the owners designed quite a nice garden on their own before we took it on (and before they got two dogs).  It will only save us perhaps four hours of work a month…but that’s four more hours I can spend in my own garden, so I was over the moon.  (For regular readers with good memories: It isn’t Casa Pacifica where my good dog friends Spook and Dusty live.)

Indoors at dusk (still light after 7 PM!), I was able to erase the sweet pea list from the work board.  I still have some seeds and am still toying with a late planting of them along the boatyard fence, if all the other plantings are successful and don’t need to be redone.

board

I would love to take tomorrow off to weed some more….but there are lilies to be planted at the boatyard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I had every intention of helping to pack antiques for the move of Olde Towne coffee shop to its new location at 108 First Ave (just two blocks further from our house).

Olde Towne on the move

Olde Towne on the move

But the weather was simply too good to not work in my garden.  Fortunately, Allan was gung ho about helping wrap antiques, and he stayed all afternoon.  Since I had only offered originally to help for one hour, I think it all worked out.

Allan wrapping glass

Allan wrapping glass

On the way home, I planted sweet peas at the post office garden and I hope they do better than last year…when they were a complete bust in that location.

Then I admired a few things in our garden.  This is the first recent day that has felt at all springlike and warmish.

Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward VII'

Ribes sanguineum ‘King Edward VII’

Ribes sanguineum 'Apple Blossom'

Ribes sanguineum ‘Apple Blossom’

Rhubarb leafing out

Rhubarb leafing out; one of the few plants that was here when we bought the place (in a whisky barrel).

lily buds

lily buds

I pondered for awhile about why my Rosa pteracantha has no sign of life, not even at the base.  I looked hard to acquire it, finally finding one on a trip to Cistus nursery, and it has done fine til now.  I hope it is just much later to start than other roses, because it is not one that I can replace here.

Rosa pteracantha

Rosa pteracantha

The thorns are so large and close together than I am not about to scratch the stem and see if there is green life underneath.  On new growth, they would be bright red and glow when backlit by sun, and I am not seeing anything on this rose that looks lively.

Rose pteracantha thorns

Rose pteracantha thorns

on my latest plant table

on my latest plant table

Enough wandering about admiring; I had tasks to do, notably, pulling out the reseeded wild impatiens from the front garden.  All OVER the front garden.  No wonder it is a class B noxious weed.  It amuses people greatly when the seed pods burst, but I was not much amused today.  It was in my old garden when I bought the place in ’94 and migrated with me to my new garden to sprout up again the next spring.  It is a beautiful and fun plant and I got soft on it and let a few grow near the house.  Now I am doing penance.  (It never jumped out of my old garden, but in the shadier conditions there it also did not reseed this madly.   I have seen it in gardens all over the Peninsula, and used to see it when I walked through Carkeek Park in Seattle.)

thick patch of seedlings

thick patch of seedlings

I am not the only one regrettably enamored with this plant;  Dave’s garden has a forum where it is much admired.   I ran across a British article in defense of some so called invasives which particularly defended this one, pointing out that it is easy to remove.  Which it is, given time.  Its juicy sap is well known to be soothing for poison ivy and other itches.

I need befores and afters to compare my progress.  One thing about pulling this rascal:  It needs to be done only once a year.  It won’t come back this year like horsetail, bindweed, creeping buttercup, my triumvirate of most hated weeds.

front garden with lots of baby jewelweed

front garden with lots of baby jewelweed

an hour later

an hour later

I’ve almost got a handle on it in this front garden bed as well, where I just tossed it to the back as green compost.

front bed, mostly weeded

front bed, mostly weeded

In the area of my first photo of it, I only got a spot dug out for the sweet pea planting.

One more weeding session needed here...

One more weeding session needed here…

I had plenty of company in the garden.   Calvin is getting more confident outside.

Calvin

Calvin

a sleek, handsome boy

a sleek, handsome boy

Frosty, Mary, Smokey

Frosty, Mary, Smokey

During the “after” photo session, I also focused on some plant beauties in Allan’s garden:

Pulmonaria

Pulmonaria

Allan brought home three heathers from Seattle, all the same cultivar, which I must admit has pretty foliage:  Calluna vulgaris ‘Wickwar Flame’, lower right.

another pulmonaria

Below, two more areas in the front garden where I must rogue out a lot of jewelweed:

by this charming vignette

by this charming vignette

and atop the low brick wall

and atop the low brick wall

and right around here

and right around here

Meanwhile, before the pre-sunset hour got too chilly, I got all the remaining sweet pea seeds planted around the fences areas where I grew them last year.  This sounds like a big long day but it was in truth just four hours starting in mid afternoon because I frittered away the first part of the day with the struggle to sleep after an insomniac night.

The sweet peas that I planted this year at various gardens:

Watermelon, Royal Wedding, Streamers, Incense Peach Shades, Saltwater Taffy Swirls, Mary Lou Heard, Zinfandel, Lipstick, Regal Robe, Captain of the Blues, Miss Willmott, Cupani, Lord Nelson, King Edward VII, North Shore, Blue Celeste, Velvet Elegance, Scented Pastel Mix (including Jilly, Chatsworth, Sylvia More).

I would still love to acquire some ‘Alan Titchmarsh” sweet peas in honour of Ground Force.  If I got organized enough to search in mid winter, I could probably find a US source for them.  Next year, I hope I will.  A quick search now tells me it will might not be easy.  It seems I might have to buy them on E Bay UK unless Thompson and Morgan seeds sells them in their US catalog.

I am not at all one to make a so called “bucket list” but if I did, to grow Alan Titchmarsh sweet peas would be high on the list.

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