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Posts Tagged ‘Marion Cran’

  Sunday, 7 October 2018

Rain brought another Marion Cran reading day.  I will be sharing a great deal of words and thoughts about her when staycation gets underway.  For now, I offer a few snippets as I go along.

She wrote eloquently of finger blight:

A bit later:

Monday, 8 October 2018

I took a very quick turn around the wet garden to check the rain gauges.

much rain!

hips of Rosa rubfrifolia (R. glauca)

Salvia leucantha

beautyberry

And then I was so happy to get back to reading Marion Cran.

I read The Garden Beyond (1937)  about gardens in Kenya.  She visited her daughter and son in law there.  Unfortunately, her books are marred by her belief in the imperial colonization of other countries and the superiority of white English folk.  Oh, Marion. If only we could talk about this. Because in other ways she was progressive and egalitarian, and because her racism was not hateful and vindictive, I have hope that she would have been enlightened had she lived in the modern day.  More of this when I blog about her books…

She made her living from writing.  Her fame enabled her to move in high society, and yet in many ways her heart was with the working class.  Her appreciation for small gardens and those who make them is a thread throughout her books.

later:

I am trying to read her books in order, yet I did not realize at first that ALL her gardening books, even ones that appeared to be about garden touring, continue her very personal life memoir.  Two of the late 1920s books had not arrived yet, nor had the 1939 Gardens of Character, not due to arrive till October 23rd.  (I am mostly getting them from Abe Books, thanks to Allan’s skillful online shopping, and most of them are coming from England.)

So I had to begin the last one, Hagar’s Garden, about her life when she lost her garden due to ill health.  I could not wait till the next book arrived; by then it would be Bulb Time and close to Halloween and if the weather is good, I would have no rest for reading till November.

Oh, how I wept through the first half of Hagar’s Garden; her beloved third husband. a romance that had simmered for years till they married in their 50s, had died after they had just three years together.  Her finances were dire because she had a small heart attack and because of WWII drying up all writing commissions, and she could not maintain her mortgage and so had to let her house and stay with friends.  I was only a third of the way through when my day of reading ended.

I had done the math wrong (not unusual) and thought that when she died two years after Hagar’s Garden, she was 63—my age.  This lit a fire under hypochondriacal me to want to finish the book before I followed suit.  (Then I did the math again; she died at 67.)

Meanwhile, when the rain turned to mist and then stopped, Allan had gone to work at Coho Charters at the port, shearing two escallonias.  He finished in the return of a light mist.

 

I hoped for a rainy Tuesday to finish the book.  Maddening though it is to read them out of order, it would be a comfort to have three more books left to read after the last harrowing story of one of my worst fears: losing one’s home and garden.

It was calming after that to watch a neatly solved crime in the late evening in the detective series Vera.

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I had had a sort of plan to take a break next week, because the 15th of October is the 8 year anniversary of buying our house on Lake Street.  That year, we took two weeks off to paint the dark and gloomy inside of our double wide and then to move in and begin to unpack. No one seemed to miss us at work!

However, when I learned the bulbs were due to arrive on October 12th, that idea was kiboshed, because I want to get bulb time over with.  This might therefore be our last long weekend till November (unless we get a spate of rainy days).

Friday, 5 October 2018

Glorious rain meant that I could spend a guilt free day indoors reading Marion Cran. But first, we delivered a bouquet to Don and Jenna for art night.  I was glad I had picked it just before dark the night before.

pouring torrential rain and some wind (outside the garage door)

tried to capture the way rain drops were sharply cascading off the front arbor

the bouquet (Allan’s photo)

Don and Jenna at Don Nisbett Art Gallery (Allan’s photo)

At the gallery: new Harmony Soapworks soap, with art by Don, with the scent of S’mores!

view from Don Nisbett Art Gallery

At home, the cats were in for the day.

Skooter

Frosty

I settled into my chair, with no guilt when I glanced at the window.

I then turned to Marion Cran’s 1933 book, I Know a Garden:

The descriptions of birds at Marion’s bird feeder should delight my favourite blogger, Mr. Tootlepedal.

Later, at a friend’s house:

And later:

About weeds:

Allan was busy all day printing books for his book fair table tomorrow.  At 5;30, I briefly considered going to Art Night.  I did not relish walking in the rain and wind, and my book held me fast to my comfy chair.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

We’d had more rain than the rain gauge shows; it had been full of compostable debris during the storm.

after removing the debris

Allan was gone to the book fair by the time I woke up.  A beautiful day, as predicted, thwarted my desire to read another Marion Cran book.

I planted a few of the plants that Todd had brought me.

in a “stone trough”….

I had little ‘Quaint and Queer’ years ago and am happy to have it back.

Skooter helped, and you can see that the grass has turned green again in the dry areas where it had gone all brown and crispy in August.  I may have already mentioned that we’ve had the driest summer in about 60 years.

He wore himself out helping.

After a happy afternoon of layering compost in the bins, I decided to dig up and transplant some Conca D’Or lilies (tall and pale buttery yellow) to make a better view through a part of the west bed.

before

after

I think I will remove one more clump of three or four stalks and take them up to the Shelburne, later. One well cleaned bulb will go to the fire station garden. The ones I dug today got spread around three new areas of the east and west bed.  I have to be careful because some of the thicker clumps of bulbs cannot leave the west bed; they are infested with the Saponaria ‘Flore Pleno’.

Look, my new white persicaria from Digging Dog nursery is blooming!

Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Alba’

I was suddenly inspired to slightly reduce the width of the grass path on Roxanne Loop West.

before

after

Allan returned from the book fair just in time to dump two barrows full of sod for me.

Allan’s day

He thought the signage needed some help.

After his fix:

Book fair:

Librarians; we love them!

Our friend Jan Bono, whose cozy mystery series we heartily recommend.

Allan sold 7 books…and bought four books from local writers!  His book, Southwest Washington Paddle Trips, may be available at Time Enough Books at the port by the time you read this.  It is for sure available on October 13th in the gift shop of the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, where you might be attending the Cranberrian Fair.

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Monday, 17 September 2018

We are having a few easier weeks before fall clean up kicks in.  I have started the work list for the fall:

Frosty expressed his joy that I’d be spending the day in the garden with him.

Skooter doesn’t get all that excited.

I looked at the hebe which is increasingly blocking our path to the back yard.

I had been planning to leave it till after we had garden company the following Monday.  However, I found myself wielding the loppers today.

I have mixed feelings. Now it would be nice to have a more attractive rain barrel (or at least a level one).  It amuses me to see howthe hebe broke out of a wooden pot that I had set there in autumn of 2010, never planning for the hebe to be there permanently.

(Update: Allan noticed that on rainy days, Skooter now likes to lie under this hebe to stay dry.  I don’t think he would have fit before.)

I then managed to get some ladies in waiting planted.

Epimedium ‘Starlet’

Sarcococca ‘Dragon Gate’

I think I got this one from Dan Hinkley at the Hardy Plant Study Weekend.

I had two new billardias to plant, both purchased from Dan Hinkley back in June.

I planted one in the sun, contrary to advice, and then thought better of it and moved it to part shade.  I don’t want to follow my mom’s example; she used to say she planted plants where she wanted them, regardless of what they wanted, and if they died, so be it.

In the process of replanting, I got the tags mixed up so I don’t know which is where at the moment.

next to the front gate, to the left

My original plan was to have one on each side of the gate.  But to the left, below, I had planted in full sun.

So that one went off to a shady area in the back garden.

Quite possibly ‘Wills Track’ is now planted under the big rose arbor in back garden.

With daylight waning, I returned to reading Marion Cran.

As her third memoir begins, her husband had left her for ““one less belligerent, an alien beggar maid much younger and nicer-looking than this old wife”, and when the lease ran out on the garden and home she’d written about in her first two books, she had to find a new abode and start a new garden.  Even though her new home was ancient in structure and in terrible disrepair, I think the title has a double meaning.

I do love her so.

My favourite garden writers are the ones who lift that veil and let the garden book also reveal their lives.  Monty Don does this and so does Kate Llewellyn.

I finished the book and then caught up on the daily August entries of the Tootlepedal blog.  His blog is what inspired me to write every day.

Frosty, me and Mr T.

With a big stack of books to read still on the table and 20 suspended holds at the library, and with several blogs by others to catch up on, I am longing for bulb time and fall clean up to be over and staycation to begin.  Two and a bit more months of work stand between me and two months of reading time.

 

 

 

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In the effort to catch up in book reports, I will begin with the book I recently finished.  (This means I have skipped over the two Morville books by Katherine Swift; I hope to catch up on book reporting later this autumn.)

The Prickotty Bush by Montague Don

Those who have read Monty and Sarah Don’s The Jewel Garden know that they loved and lost a garden due to financial woes, long before Monty was the famous garden show presenter that he now is.

I read The Prickotty Bush, the story of that garden, slowly over a few weeks of this exhauting, rain-free summer, just a few pages before bedtime.

Its somber cover goes along with the somber subject of a garden under siege by the bank and an obsessed man trying to make a garden as quickly as possible.

Here are some of my favourite bits:

On the imposition of order by pruning:

Also known as Something Shiny Syndrome:

The bullying wind:

On doing it all oneself:

Interestingly, in one of the next books I read, Marion Cran wrote about the same thing.

Below, I identify with Montagu’s urgency.  I felt, at age 55, when I started the Lake Street garden, that I had to get it laid out the first winter during a two month staycation, no matter what the weather.

30 December 2010, gardening in ice-crusted soil

On time in the garden (shared because I love what he says about human aging):

On how to look at your garden:

On garden design:

On plant names:

Friday, 14 September 2018

Frosty rejoiced that I had the day at home.

He was vocal about it.

Rain gauges from last night:

Even the slowest filling rain barrel was almost full:

I think I might need to remove a hebe.  I set it in the spot below, in a wooden planter, and it has rooted into the ground, broken the planter apart, and is about to block our path.  It pulls debris out of the wheelbarrow when I pass by. And yet it is so grand.

From my window I had seen an exciting glow:

Kniphofia ‘Earliest of All’

I had tried in late winter to divide it and transplant some to the center bed.  So far, this is all the transplants have done after many months:

puny

My goal today was to deal with the basket plantings brought home from Long Beach.

In bin two, I had a pile of all green debris on top of brown.  I wanted to layer them, green and brown, into bin four.

Four hours later:

I got just this much compost from bin 2, which had not had much time to decompose since the last time I turned it.

Because I feel anxious about the financial aspect of retirement, I rejoice in any compost that I can make instead of buying mulch.  It’s good practice for more frugal years. Compost turning and sifting is an activity that relaxes and pleases me ever so much.

After a couple of rains, the rest of the basket root balls will be easier to break apart.

I wish I had a before photo of where Allan helped me dig out a big orangey grass that had seeded into the front of the east bed.  I needed some room for other plants, and have many others of this grass that I originally got from Pam Fleming’s former nursery.

left, some of the many that are left; right, a new empty space (not for long)

Salvia africana-lutea and an matching spider

Saturday, 15 September 2018

At last, I had a glorious rainy reading day, all Marion Cran.

First, I went through my book marks in her first book, which I finished two nights ago,  to photograph my favourite bits to share in a later post.

When I first opened my used English edition of The Garden of Ignorance, I found these inside:

All the way from Old Blighty, perhaps; there is nothing on the back of the picture.

Today I read all of The Garden of Experience and more than half of the third book of her autobiographical series, The Story of My Ruin.  She will get more than one of a series of blog posts when I have time to write more about the summer’s reading.

Here is just one excerpt that echoes Monty Don’s words about having to make one’s garden all by oneself.  In Cran’s world of the 1920s, that meant with the help of a gardener, but the garden owner also knew where every plant was and did much of the work herself.

I hope to offer you many more shared thoughts about Marion later this year.  Meanwhile, I enjoyed the endpiece to The Garden of Ignorance:

 

 

 

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