Posts Tagged ‘Laurie’s garden’

Allan moved in on his birthday, January 2nd, and went into sort of a state of shock about living in such a small space and also about how COLD my house can be in winter.  (No matter how we tried, we never got it above 50 on a cold day.)  His arrival unfortunately was followed by a cold snap which did not help.
Normally I would have taken more of January off but I wanted to impress him with the gardening business so that he would not feel he had quit his other job for nought but love.  (He had spent years assembling bicycles for Fred Meyer stores, but due to the incursion of cheap Wal-mart bikes, the job had been in a disturbing decline.)  So we started back to work early in the month. Our first job, while both of us had bad colds, was to spead yards and yard of horse manure all over Laurie’s garden beds by the bay. Sophie went with us one day. Below: Allan on his first day as a professional gardener.
introduction to gardening

introduction to gardening

mulch on Laurie's winter garden

mulch on Laurie’s winter garden

Below: Laurie’s garden in winter, being well mulched by manure, and plagued by moles, with the barn in the background and to the right, Allan having a brief lunch break at the car. It was so cold that we would warm our hands up on the car engine after we arrived at work.  What an initiation!

lunch time

lunch time

Our next big project was to gather ferns in the woods at Discovery Heights for replanting in the gardens there.

fern gathering

fern gathering

dragging ferns

dragging ferns

planting ferns along the middle garden at Discovery Heights

planting ferns along the middle garden at Discovery Heights

We operated out of Allan’s small Saturn with a utility trailer hauled behind. Between working, we went back and forth to Tacoma several times in the spring moving Allan’s stuff down. One memorable late stormy night, we turned back at the Willapa curves by a tree over the road and had to go back through Naselle and along the river route. After the trauma of trying to turn to car and trailer in the dark with possible traffic coming up behind (and no cell phone signal, of course), we decided to rent a U Haul for the rest of his stuff.

Below: Another spring project: creating some garden beds along the fences at Garnette S’s Seaview garden. I mucked out the stalls from Bennie, the carriage horse, who lived right next door, to improve the soil in the new beds.

Seaview project

Seaview project

Most of the during and after photos of the project are gone but the creation of long beds along this fence, and inside and outside of the other long fence length, took about a week. This was another of those gardens that I created but don’t maintain….

Seaview project

Seaview project

Below:  Narcissi (planted very late in 2004) in the middle garden at Discovery Heights.  Before long, a big gate would go in almost at the end of the garden.  After cleaning a couple of houses in the late 70s in the gated, exclusive Broadmoor neighbourhood of Seattle, I had sworn I would never work in a gated neighbourhood again, but I could not resist this garden.  Later, the gate made sense to me because until it went in, drivers went speeding up and down the curves of this hill for fun.

Narcissi at Discovery Heights

Narcissi at Discovery Heights

At this time, I don’t think anyone lived at Discovery Heights yet, and the Coastal Ridge townhouses were just being built.

Discovery Heights lower garden with baby plants and narcissi

Discovery Heights lower garden with baby plants and narcissi

Below:  J9’s dog Sophie on one of the days that Allan and I dogsat her by taking her to work with us. I accidentally made her look like a bad dog by asking her to sit for the photos….on top of the flowers.

my good friend Sophie

my good friend Sophie

Meanwhile, in other spring gardens…

tulips at the Shelburne

tulips at the Shelburne

Joanne's garden all cleaned up for spring

Joanne’s garden all cleaned up for spring











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Very early in 2004 I was waiting for the bus near my mother’s house when Robert drove by and gave me a ride home. He told me he had been working at Jessie’s fish plant and it had given him an appreciation for how much better it had been working with me.  Having been legally divorced since November seemed to have reduced a lot of drama.  We agreed we would try working together on some projects.

Klipsan Beach Cottages

The first  was to make a new central area inside the fenced garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages.  We replaced a simple round bed with the urn in the middle with a much more formal look.  Denny had been given some big pavers; the columnar yews were Mary’s idea.  Here it is later in the early summer of 2004.

new Klipsan Beach Cottages courtyard

new Klipsan Beach Cottages courtyard

species tulip at KBC

species tulip at KBC

KBC courtyard in summer

KBC courtyard in summer

KBC's new cat, Tommy, in the catmint.

KBC’s new cat, Tommy, in the catmint.

The Boreas Inn

Robert and I also tackled a blank space on the west lawn at the Boreas B&B. Our working arrangement was good for our dog Bertie, because Robert would take him for a run on the beach at the end of the day, then leave the dog with me while he went “home” to my mom’s house, where he was still living. I was still hoping he would eventually be able to take Bertie altogether as Bertie was rather pining for him; I was not as much fun.

Boreas before

Boreas before

Boreas after

Boreas after

Above: The rock bed we made at the Boreas Inn.
The plan was that Robert soon be would working with Andy fulltime doing carpentry, so our co-gardening was to be a short-lived thing. We turned most of the rest of the garden bed creation at the Boreas over to another gardening couple, because I was going to have a hard enough time just keeping my regular gardens cared for on my own.   (I ended up taking the job back and in later years fighting with the landscape fabric that they had used under the beds!)
Roses on the Seanest trellis

Tulips on the Seanest trellis

I partnered up for part of the summer with another gardening business, The Elves Did It.  Being new to their own business, they did not have a full schedule of work, so worked with me part time, and I passed on to them some extra jobs that I did not want to keep.

Carol of the Elves watering at Seanest

Carol of the Elves watering at Seanest

the driftwood temple at Seanest

the driftwood temple at Seanest

Meanwhile, my old friend J9 (Jeannine), whom I had known since Sou’wester days, had a hankering to move to the beach, so we made a symbiotic arrangement; she arrived in May, got her business license, started looking for work as an occupational therapist, restaurant server and party helper but also did some weeding for me.  She was not a gardener, but learned four basic weeds (creeping buttercup, creeping sorrel, grass, dandelion!) and was invaluable…and drove me around!

Another helper, J9, at Seanest with a tall foxglove

J9 at Seanest with a tall foxglove

Starting Joanne’s new garden

Joanne had been a client of mine when she owned the house that was now Laurie’s  on the bay.  Joanne and Steve had moved to a big farm on the lower end of the bay and she hired me back to help make a garden there, around a big pond and waterfall that she and Steve had created.


J9 at Joanne’s

Carol of the Elves, J9 and I put in quite a day later that year making a garden in front of the pond where that mound of grassy dirt is, above.   We “caber-tossed” the log in front all the way down from a woodpile up by the house.

Joanne's new garden

Joanne’s new garden

Laurie’s Garden

At Joanne’s former garden, now Laurie’s garden, the curving flower border had all sorts of interesting plants, mostly from Joy Creek Nursery, each of which got rapt attention from Laurie.  She noticed and appreciated every detail.

Laurie's sunny border

Laurie’s sunny border

Sanguisorba canadensis

Sanguisorba canadensis

Penstemon and feverfew

Penstemon and feverfew

Cleome and feverfew

Cleome and feverfew

China Beach Retreat

I still took weekly care of The Shelburne Inn garden and their sister vacation rental, The China Beach Retreat.  I had extended around the corner with the China Beach flower garden, after RAM Landscaping had backhoed out a huge tough stand of red hot poker.  That old shake shack stands where later the Audubon Cottage would be built.

China Beach garden

China Beach garden

The Shelburne Inn

late Spring at the Shelburne

late Spring at the Shelburne

Shelburne poppy

Shelburne poppy

The Anchorage Cottages

Imagine my dismay when I showed up at The Anchorage Cottages one day and found that in cleaning the patio, some toxic substance or possibly round up had been sprayed all along the edge of the courtyard garden. It did not recover for the rest of the summer and in fact, pretty much all the plants along the edge died.

a little tragedy

a little tragedy

 Whatever it was made the new plants along the edge do rather poorly the next year, as well.  Moral:  be very careful with chemicals around a garden!
Andersen’s RV Park
'Patty's Plum'

‘Patty’s Plum’

‘Patty’s Plum’ poppy at Andersen’s RV Park…a plant that Lorna, Andersen’s owner, had purchased at Heronswood.
And more
This may be the year that I did not work at Wiegardt Gallery because Eric decided to have his sons do the job.  Long Beach will get it own entry, as it was my biggest and most photographed job.  A few private gardens where I just pruned and weeded ordinary beds filled in the time.
By now I had a regular round of clients: Shelburne, China Beach, Andersen’s RV Park, Sea Nest, Laurie’s, The Anchorage Cottages, Long Beach….which meant working 13 to 14 days in a row, taking a day off, then starting another long stretch. I was absolutely determined to get out of debt and was living a life so frugal that I didn’t even buy plants for my own garden.


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Laurie’s garden

Laurie's house on the bay

Laurie’s house on the bay

It may have been in 2001 when Laurie, the owner of this house, came up to us while we were working at the Wiegardt Gallery and asked if we would take on a new job…and I said no. She said she had a pretty nice garden that had been butchered by another gardening service, and when I asked her where, it turned out it was Joanne Oman’s old garden, which I knew was a gorgeous one designed by Dale Browse back in about ’95. I had even worked there for a couple of years, probably ’96-’97? but I have no photos to jog my memory of it.  I do remember there were goats and horses.  And that when Joanne and Steve moved, the garden sat unattended for awhile.  I remembered the garden fondly, so I changed my mind and told Laurie yes.

The gardening service that Laurie had hired in early summer of 2000 had come in with weedeaters and, instead of weeding the perennial border, weedwhacked it to the ground.  She had returned from errands halfway through the butchery and fired them, but then had been so discouraged that she had not pursued getting more help till she found us.  Her own health did not permit her to care for the garden herself.

It had gone terribly to weeds, but by the time these photos were taken in spring 2002, we had brought it back.  One of my favourite parts of the garden was the wonderful, enviable, woodsy driveway circle with paths just waiting to be enhanced.  (By the time the photo, below, was taken, we had reclaimed the paths from being hidden by weeds.)

driveway circle

driveway circle

We had redone the long curving mixed border (below) with almost all new plants; little had been left of the original plantings after having been weedchoked for several years. I know this involved a trip to joy Creek Nursery, which is why I think maybe the original re-do of the garden was in summer 2001. Here it is in spring 2002.

the curving bed

the curving bed

Laurie had two Peruvian Pasos.   I think the one pictured here was the stallion who proved to be too aggressive.  He went back to the breeder and another, gentler one, came along the following year.

Peruvian Paso

Peruvian Paso

Laurie’s garden became a big part of our work lives and she became a good friend.  Years later, in its last summer before she moved away, it was a highlight of the 2009 garden tour.

Suzanne’s garden

Suzanne Leonard up on Sahalee hired us to make her a new garden in late summer 2002. Note the deer next to the birdbath!   She wanted all flowers and paths, no lawns, and the paths should be easy for her spouse to navigate with a cane. There was one existing strip of sidewalk.

Suzanne's before

Suzanne’s before

It would have to be deer resistant!   (Eventually, it became fenced.)



We laid newspaper thickly over the lawn and dumped soil on top of it.  I did most of the wheelbarrowing because I was still terribly worried about Robert’s heart, but he was not to be stopped from doing his share.



After laying fabric for the paths, the dumping of gravel.  The garden was up a slight incline and I did move most of the gravel, but Robert was my model for the process.



Below, the garden at the end of the second day.  We made a curved gravel path, wide enough for a wheelchair, to create two routes through the garden.

end of day two

end of day two

After watching all the episodes of Ground Force on BBC America, I loved having emulated their accomplishment of making a brand new garden in just two days.  (That was my favourite gardening show ever.)

me and Robert after completing the garden

me and Robert after completing the garden

We had decorated the garden with driftwood, gleaned on the pre-garden day.  Ground Force must also have had a pre-gardening day of gathering and ordering plants and supplies.

The garden turned out beautifully.  We maintained it a couple of times a year through 2008 or so…but eventually, when Suzanne wanted it to become a low maintenance garden (something at which I do not excel), I passed the job on to a friend.











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lilyAt the request of a dear friend, the author of the Yummy Montana blog, here is the poem by Laurie, the owner of the previous entry’s garden, about how she and I together created a garden full of lilies: trumpet, oriental, species, asiatic.  The lilies themselves are from Van Engelen and B&D Lilies.  Laurie likes to publish her poem under the name L Ann Buscher.


My Lily Maker by L. Ann Buscher

I told her it would be her ownlily
this garden of mine so overgrown
that even the gardener I had before
climbed back in his truck
and slammed the door
with woods and every exotic thing
that ever once existed
then unseen.

She knew the garden and loved the spotlily
and gave her all, for all she got
and soon we had a piece of pie
sliced for the sweetest gardener’s eye
and me in my uncertainty
could not tell a weed from a wannabe
so when she asked what my favorite was
I untied my tongue, said “the purple one”
and so she knew
she had herself a doozey.
By chance she planted bulbs I liked
the size of dinner plates that
made me think of Great Aunt Lily
and how she showed me
the Empress of Japan in the
bottom of her tea cup.

lilyI was five, and magic happened.
Then, as I got ill, I found a friend
so frail and tired herself
but when we shared
she took the time to greet me,
with her heart
her name was lily too.  I think of them
lilywhen finding porcelain painted on long
stalks in the garden.

So Skyler’s garden it is called, when
horses are not trampling
and does with fawns are happening.
Although I do not know the names
of blossoms reaching, snarled, untamed
lilyI know the gardener, just the same, who
loves the land as I do.
And should her interests ever stray
I hope she find her inner fortitude
encouraging sun on a cloudy day
My Lily Maker


lily and dahlialily Notes: I think the flowers “the size of dinner plates” to which the poem refers are the dahlias given to me by my friend Sheila.  I planted them at Laurie’s as my own garden did not have enough sun.

My lack of WordPress formatting skills prevent me from laying out the poem quite as Laurie herself did; below is a photo of the framed copy she gave me after the garden tour.

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I have taken care of a certain garden on the bay for a long time.  First it was Joanne’s garden, with 2 long curving lawn beds and an enviably large driveway circle, originally designed by Dale Browse.  (Digression: any circular driveway garden would be enviable to me, but this one is big enough to have trees and paths).  The garden sat fallow for a few years when Joanne moved, and then the new owners, Laurie and Mike, hired brand X gardening company who whacked down the borders in midsummer with a weedeater  instead of weeding them.  Discouraged, Laurie let the garden sit for a year, then encountered me at work at the Wiegardt Gallery garden and asked me if I were taking on new clients.  I said absolutely not, till she told me her garden was potentially special and I realized by her description where she lived.

Laurie’s garden has given me much joy over the last few years, especially last year when it was on the 2009 “Music in the Gardens”  tour.

tour day at Laurie's

tour day at Laurie’s

water music, with horses

water music, with horses

Laurie asked that the tour program guide people to “The poetry lady’s garden” and even though a chronic illness prevented her from being in the garden that day, she had placed poetry throughout the borders and hidden in the woods.  One poem, “My Lily Maker”, brought me to tears; it was about the lilies I had planted for her over the years.

I knew I would be losing this garden as Laurie’s health would eventually require  a move to the warmth of a California hacienda.  Their house has now been sold and sometime this year they and the horses will be gone (although Laurie hopes we will come to California in the winter to help with a new garden). Will this garden be lost to me again or will the new owners want to hire us? I hear that they like gardening…which could be promising unless they want to do it all themselves. And will they like the garden’s eccentricity?


the garden in spring


the garden in midsummer

We  call it The Jurassic Garden because, like me, Laurie loved giant plants so the manure-enriched border featured monstrous Joe Pye Weed, Filipendula, Helianthius ‘Lemon Queen’ and others that towered over our heads.  (You might guess that eventually I regretted the Phormiums.)

So…last Friday we did the big spring clean up and it turned out to be a poignant day. We were shocked to learn that both the beloved and pampered dogs (a chihuaha and an elderly rescued greyhound) had died tragically over the winter, caught by critters (coyotes?) when they went just outside to do their business at night.  I am still finding it hard to fall asleep while thinking about the loss of these dear canine friends of mine. A new chihuaha has found a happy home there but did not take a shine to me at all.  And the gardening day tore at my heart a bit.  Without the scent of dogs in the garden, deer are nibbling at the edges.  I don’t know who will be there to see the lilies bloom this year…possibly Laurie and Mike, who are staying while they search for the perfect horse property in California…possibly the new owners, who will move from out of state…possibly not me.  Even though we are overbooked as usual, this would be a hard garden to say goodbye to. I would miss Laurie, Mike, the lilies, the view of the bay, and not least of all, the five horses, Pinta, Katchina, Ellie, Moonie, and the miniature horse Dewey.

Here’s the usual spring clean up story:





This time we chopped the dang phormiums (two huge plain purple ones, one medium striped one) down to the ground.  I reminisced about an early photo I have when we first came back to this garden; the Phormiums were tiny and I cannot remember if I was the culprit who planted them.

We were amused by this creature who fit well into the Jurassic garden theme…with a little imagination:



island before

island after

island after

We cut back the ferns and the fuchsias on the woodsy driveway island.  December’s hard freeze has killed the fuchsias back almost to the ground so they will be starting over.

And I have to close by saying how much I will miss these two friends of mine:





Rest in peace, you sweet beloved dogs.

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Helianthus and Cape Fuchsia

The beauty continued, post-garden tour, in Laurie’s garden on the bay.

How I love Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ in the fall:  The pale yellow little sunflowers, and the dramatic height….which of course in Laurie’s Jurassic Garden grew even a little taller than anywhere else (thanks to a sprinkler system and manure from her five horses).

Tasteful pale yellow and green makes an excellent backdrop for any other plant.  ‘Lemon Queen’ blooms for at least two weeks if not longer.  Not long enough….but worth the wait, and lingering in memory.

Phormium, Barberry ‘Rosy Glow’, Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

Hebe backed with Phormium, Barberry, Helianthus

I had great luck with Hebes in Laurie’s garden.  They came through every winter and bloomed profusely from summer on into the winter.  All Laurie’s Hebes came in small pots from Joy Creek Nursery and burgeoned into dramatic structural plants with powderpuff pink or white flowers.

Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed)

Never have I seen Joe Pye Weed get as huge as at Laurie’s.  It spoiled me; I always expect it to get this big in other gardens and it never, ever does because the magic isn’t there.  They say “the best fertilizer is the gardener’s own shadow” and I know that Laurie loved and talked to her plants.  The only problem was that eventually Joe Pye would fall right over, and he was far too monstrous to be staked.

Joe Pye taking a bow

The latest of lilies bloomed into the end of September.  Our lily source was mostly the Van Engelen catalog with a few from B&D Lilies.

towering lily, 23 September

If one ever tired of gazing upon the garden (or in winter when only tawny foliage structure and ornamental grasses remained), the view of the bay was always just beyond..

and nearby there were always horses…

Moony and Dewey

We had this job for one more summer after 2009, until Laurie and Mike moved away.  Usually when a job ends I am glad to let it go, even when I think I won’t be, because we are always overbooked.  But Laurie’s garden is the one that I will always miss, and it would not be Laurie’s garden without Laurie and Mike….and the equine cast of Dewey, Mooney, Pinta, Elé, Katchina…

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All it can take is one day to change life in a dramatic way.  Sometimes what seems like the worst change can turn out to be beneficial.  But it is hard to see any change as good when it involves being forced by financial woes, a new job, a divorce, or ill health to leave a beautiful garden behind.

On August 19th we went up to Laurie’s mid-Peninsula garden where we weeded and deadheaded.  Not a huge amount had to be done because the garden was still holding up well from having been on the garden tour.  I wafted about for a bit taking photos of the lilies, then got down to the business of light weeding.

Laurie’s health was on the upswing again and she had been able to enjoy the garden a bit more.  As soon as we had finished our light workday, we planned to spend some time visiting with her.

Lily and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Lily and orange montbretia

white lily with pink freckles

And then….my cell phone rang.  The sunshine and lilies and the view of the bay fell away as my mother told me that she could not catch her breath and the pain in her shoulder was much worse…and had been since a few hours after we’d had our usual evening phone call the night before.  How long had this been going on?  All night and into this next afternoon.  She kept hoping to feel better but did not.  She did not want us to call 911, so we flung our tools into the car, bade a quick goodbye to Laurie and took the fifteen minute drive back down the Peninsula to mom’s house in Long Beach.

Ocean Beach Hospital

There she sat on her bed, dressed and ready to go, still refusing to have us call 911.  We helped her to the car and on down to the emergency room in Ilwaco.

By the time I had finished the paperwork, she had been given some medication to relieve fluid build up and had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and a mild heart attack.

We sat with her for hours in the room, refusing her suggestion that we just leave her there and go back to work.  Finally they checked her into a nice room with a window and said they would keep her in for a few days to monitor her condition and decide what steps to take next.  We assured her we would feed her feral feline friends and finally went home, heads full of worries, unable to visualize what would happen in the immediate future.  At least we had been assured that the heart attack was not life-threatening.  Had it been, she would have been taken to Portland, Oregon, on the Life Flight helicopter.  The pilot had been at the ready but was advised that he could stand down.

The pain in mom’s shoulder, and the fact that it had been worse at night when she lay down, was a strong symptom of congestive heart failure’s fluid build up, if only we had known.

The next five days found us visiting the hospital every day, before and after work.  Mom, being such a night owl, found it difficult to shift her sleep time and usually napped during the hospital days.  In the evenings when we fed the wild cats I would take a walk through mom’s garden and wonder what would happen next.

We took a couple of breaks from work and worry and walked down to the beach from our Long Beach job to take pictures at the Kite Festival (next entry).  Planters had to be watered in Ilwaco and Long Beach, public gardens needed grooming and deadheading, but other than necessary watering, our private jobs simply fell away for awhile.

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Two gardens on tour on the same day: What a dilemma.  I wanted to experience the whole day in each of them, but on the Music in the Gardens tour day I started at my mother’s garden, made a dash with tour organizer Patti to Laurie’s at mid-day, and then returned to my mother’s.

As we entered Laurie’s driveway, we found an impromptu sign…and a cherub welcoming the guests.

by the driveway

Allan spent more time at Laurie’s to make sure that his oyster shell water wheel functioned perfectly.  Its construction and installation had preoccupied him for a couple of weeks since Laurie had requested that he build her a water wheel similar to the small one he’d built at our own garden.  Ours had a little bicycle wheel with small flowerpots scooping the water.  Laurie’s idea was considerably grander.

our flower pot water wheel…

Laurie’s oyster shell water wheel

The oyster shell water wheel had gotten bigger and bigger, made of driftwood and shells, and mounted on top of a stump along the driveway.  Originally, Allan had envisioned something more ground level and less grand.  Laurie’s spouse, had laughed kindly and told Allan that Laurie’s artistic visions always became grander as they came to fruition.

Allan made a video of the construction and workings of the wheel.  The balance was tricky because each shell was slightly different.  It worked beautifully on tour day so Allan was able to help out the other aspects of the tour.  (A year and a half later, when Laurie’s health required a move to warm California, the buyers of the house admired and kept the wheel.)

When Allan first arrived on tour day and checked on his creation, he found mounted by the water wheel a poem that expressed Laurie’s gratitude for the realization of her vision.

water wheel poem

oyster shell water wheel

Laurie liked the look of the oyster shells so much that she went up to Nahcotta and collected some herself to decorate another stump. Of course, every fern on the long driveway had been meticulously pruned in early spring.

shells and ferns

The tour program called Laurie’s “The Poetry Lady’s Garden”.  She and her personal assistant/horse wrangler Corinne had spent days printing decorative pages of Laurie’s poetry to hang throughout the garden.

poetry reading

I was so pleased to see the tour guests pausing and reading.

Laurie and Mike’s large driveway circle offered a miniature woodsy ramble through criss cross paths.  There we had placed a bench and a planted chair as rewards for guests who wandered in under maples, magnolia, and conifers.

woodsy bench

fern planted chair

In this wooded setting more poems dangled from branches.

“Well Planned Path”

Woodsy path
With uncertain wander
Needled trail, mossed hollow
shagged root,
bounded by bracken,
Berried shrub
Spent wild bloom and lichened
Stone by broken bark, perfect
Width of one
Beneath a sky of green
I follow.

Footfalls forgotten if and when
Some forest traveler on claw or hoof
Discovers this solitary way complete
Nosing through musky weight
and quiet import
Void of measured worth
Souls in damp discovery
My own boots nuzzle
The same true earth.
*L Ann Buscher

In this wooded setting, among several poems dangling from the trees, I found this one describing our very own cottage and garden.

Near the driveway circle we had placed a planted chair by a tree stump.  I wondered why the horses were not curiously hanging their heads over the pasture fence.

Where were the horses?

Perhaps, I thought, they are in the barn, and went on to walk the garden. It had not quite achieved its heavily-lily-bloomed Jurassic summer stature, but it was impressive enough.

the first section of sunny border

Following  the long sunny border’s curve across the lawn toward the view of Willapa Bay, I came upon the sight of a musician and white roses and horses.

Laurie and Allan and I and had spent so many sessions planning the decor of the garden.  All of the beautiful touches on the deck that wraps halfway around the house were hers.

on the deck: pictures of lilies

on the deck: one of Laurie’s paintings

on the deck: bonsai

on the deck: flowers and poetry

on the deck: hanging baskets and art

My vision had of this tour day had always been for Laurie to be on the deck receiving visitors or better yet, able to walk through the garden with the guests.  She had wanted to make a computer slideshow from earlier years of all her lilies that were not yet in bloom and had wanted to display more writings and art.  But her health, always delicate, had taken a bad turn days before the show and she had not been able to complete all of the poetry and art displays.  Her assistant took charge of the situation and set Laurie up in the upstairs master suite and guided anyone who wanted to chat with her up there where Laurie, seated by a window with a view of her beloved horses, was able to participate in the day after all.

Laurie’s helper Corrine (right)

the house from the garden

garden detail: Salvia viridis (painted sage) and Melianthus major ‘Antenow’s Blue’

textural foliage against the house

hanging baskets, west wall

I spent some time with Laurie, whose mood was bright with her usual dauntless attitude through spells of severe bad health. She asked me if I had seen a certain poem on the bay side of the deck.  I had not and promised to seek it out; I had to leave and return to open day at my mother’s garden.  On the deck near the cookies and lemonade I found the poem “My Lily Maker” and was overcome with emotion as it described how she had trustingly turned her garden over to me.  (You can read it here.)  The next time we came to work she gave me the framed lily maker poem and the one about our tangly cottage.  Both are on my wall now.

Later in the summer, Laurie felt better and was able to get out again and enjoy the lilies (which, of course, bloomed profusely after tour day).

the sunny border in early July

I had been right to make sure the garden was on tour in 2009, because by summer of 2010 she and Mike had sold the house. They lived there for awhile longer as the owners would not arrive till fall. By then Laurie, Mike, the horses and their new dog were on a new horse property in the California sun.

In 2010, as if knowing the garden would soon be in new hands, the deer descended and ate the lily buds for the first time.  In early 2010 I wrote about the changes and indeed, Allan and I have not been back to the garden since that autumn.

Credits:  hanging baskets by The Basket Case Greenhouse 

Cosmos and painted sage grown by The Planter Box.

very cool shrubs and perennials from Joy Creek and Cistus Nurseries.

Original garden designed by Dale Brouse in the early 90s.

Poetry by L. Ann Buscher

We miss you, Laurie!

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Back from our nursery visits and garden touring, we spent two and half weeks trying to keep up with our regular clients while getting both Mom’s and Laurie’s gardens perfect for the upcoming Peninsula Garden Tour.

During the rushed and busy time we saw…

one sunning snake

…two pretty horses…

….three good dogs…

…a snake sunning itself on top of an azalea in Jo’s garden, and two of Laurie’s horses (Pinta, a Peruvian Paso, and Dewey, a miniature), and three dogs: Annie on left, Jasmine on right, who lived in the neighbouring RV Park and took walks up our road, and Lucky, the greeter at Olde Towne Trading Post, where we did NOT have time to stop for coffee!

We checked on gardens from the southeast….

Casa Pacifica, a private garden near the Wallicut River

to the northwest…and points between.

black Bachelor Buttons at Oman Builders Supply, Ocean Park

We had three gardens to perfect for the tour…Well, actually, six.  The four gardens leading up to Discovery Heights were also on the tour, but as public gardens they would not be hosted but would be self-guided.  I had printed descriptive signs of each garden and we’d figured out how to mount them against the rock in front of each big bed.

Laurie’s and the Discovery Heights gardens had not been as challenging to perfect because they were under our regular care.  Nevertheless, each had required considerable extra time and expense for the owners.  My mother figured out that she alone had spend hundreds getting ready for tour, buying more plants and a lavish amount of delicious mulch for all the beds.  Being on a garden tour doesn’t come cheap.

Most of the final week we spent in my mother’s garden seeking perfection.   My tour standards are exacting.  There must be no weeds, perfect grooming, and lots of garden decor.  We already had a list of items we would be moving from our garden to hers for tour day:  containers, plant stands, chairs, tables, assorted garden-art-on-stakes sorts of things.

A week before tour day, all her clematis seemed to bloom at once:

Clematis blanketed the side of the front porch…

Clematis ‘Josephine’ on the north wall

Clematis ‘Blue Light’ on north wall

Clematis on west wall of sunporch, with Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’ (blue potato vine)

My Mother was chronically shy.  She had self-diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder from a questionnaire she asked me to print out for her from the internet.  (I think she passed it on to me.) Yet after initial hesitation, she had decided that she would indeed sit out in her garden for the visitors.  She found it hard to believe my opinion that her garden would be among the best.  We fretted together over whether the lilies would bloom in time, and would the clematis stay in bloom?

Friday before tour day found Allan and me dashing from Discovery Heights in Ilwaco, to Laurie’s halfway up Sandridge Road on the bay, and back to mom’s, doing the last minute deadheading and fussing.  The plant stands and containers we had taken to mom’s garden on Thursday evening.  Because she found watering increasingly exhausting, we did not want to give her early responsibility for their daily watering.  We fit into our small hauling trailer as much garden furniture as we could, and planned to get up uncharacteristically early on Saturday to take up one more load and set up all the garden sit spots.  The garden tour committee would bring refreshments and….it was almost time for a garden party.

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We carry some apples, carrots, or at the very least a container of healthy horse treats from the feed store for our equine friends at work.

Kat and Moony

Kat and Moony were the friendliest of the five horses at Laurie’s garden. (11/19/08)


Miniature horse Dewey was not so friendly, so we tossed him his treats from a safe distance.  He thought he was a big fierce stallion.  Technically he was a stallion, and he was certainly strong enough to knock someone over and kick them and had an unpredictable tendency to bite.  He did not especially want to be told in baby talk how darned cute he was.

[2012 note:  All the above horses live in California now as Laurie moved a couple of years after this.]

On December 4th at Joanne’s garden, three of the five horses came to the fence for treats.

horses three


I had been told the buckskin acted out fiercely sometimes so I gave him his treat with caution.

Here’s the new little colt…Derby. Seven months old! The big horses kept him away from the fence, but when they wandered off I snuck over and gave him his treat.


Later some of the horses took a little nap.


Horses are definitely one of the reasons I am glad to be a gardener here rather than back in the city.

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