Posts Tagged ‘Northwest Flower and Garden Show’

Friday, 19 February 2016

Northwest Flower and Garden Show report

Our Thursday evening garden gang meeting had been postponed because Todd, Dave and Melissa went to Seattle for the garden show yesterday.  (We declined the invitation because I can’t think of anything worth 8 hours of traffic in one day, for me.)  Here are some more photos from Todd:



a cat themed garden


cacti and agave display garden



The three adventurers had returned very late Thursday evening.  I would have been nervous driving back in the dark, which might have provided considerable amusement for Todd, or might have gotten  tiresome for all.

Stormy weather today made for a good day to have lunch with gardeners Darlene, Debbie, and Nancy…at Salt Pub.  I was glad of the pelting sideways rain and strong wind because I could keep Smokey inside without too much cat guilt and could have lunch without too much work guilt.

Salt Hotel Pub


clam dip and chips and a storm


We got a small tasting portion of the leek and garlic soup of the day.


I do not tire of the delicious smoked tuna melt.


In a very ladylike way, we split a Pink Poppy cupcake four ways.


Nancy, Debbie, Darlene, gardeners three

We had a couple of hours good discussion about the upcoming 2016 Peninsula garden tour (July 16th!) and related topics.  My three companions were impressed with the six different dishes that we tried and will return to Salt Pub.

Allan’s work day

When I got home, I found that Allan had gone to work at his garden at the Ilwaco Community Building.  His photos:


12:05: The birdbath in his own garden is clear, so he prepares to go to work.


12:15 considerable rain (but he went to work anyway)


1:30: home again because of rain.

Then the sun came out so back he went.  I am impressed that he persevered as it was an intensely cold and windy rain.


the rain returns at the Ilwaco Community Building



and so it went all afternoon

He did get over two hours of weeding done and brought me back some flower photos as well as the weather report:





Iris reticulata (left) and Leucojum (center)


one of the beds, before


and after, with lots of tatty kinnickkinnick cut back


the tiered garden


along the wall before


and after


by the sidewalk: some of the bulbs we planted last fall

As you can see, the garden is heavy with heather, which has some redeeming quality right now, and salal and kinnickkinnick.  The salal in my opinion has no redeeming quality in a garden setting and is why I turned the job down; Allan, being more civic minded, agreed to take it on as his own project.  We are slowly (especially when I help out) editing out the thuggish salal, which was up in everybody’s business.

my reading afternoon

I had three hours to finish the Dan Pearson book that I started yesterday evening.


Spirit: Garden Inspiration


The jacket design is attractively two layered.

From the forward by Beth Chatto:


I worship Beth Chatto as a gardener, but please, oh please, can’t we say “the relationship between humans, the natural world, and our [or their] own environment”??  I remember as a girl in grade school being saddened and made to feel less than human by the word “man” referring to all people.  This book was published in 2009.  I think it is time to be inclusive.

I agree with Beth Chatto that the best part of the book was the section on community gardens:


But MY hunger for spiritual comfort and peace would be realized if the intro spoke of “the human desire for spiritual comfort.”  Please.

I think that any gardener would love the story about how Dan Pearson’s family reclaimed an old garden:


a very Secret Garden story!

I don’t know if Pearson came up with the phrase Line of Desire to describe a path.  I do love it.


Let’s say “the human presence in the landscape is light”, shall we?  Criminy.

Despite my manly, or womanly, complaint, Pearson is a brilliant writer.  Here, he explains the purpose of narrow paths:


I had never considered the reason for a tiny, uneven path (below, in a Japanese garden):


And oh my gosh, I wish I had a rill like this one:


A thought about the always fascinating concept of Wabi Sabi and age:


Pearson is one of the best garden writers of my experience as he takes us all around the world looking at gardens, architecture, sculpture, cities and countryside.


The photos in Spirit are a bit dark, and that and a tad too much manliness are my only caveats.  I still do think that Pearson’s Home Ground: Sanctuary in the City (printed on glossier paper, thus with clearer photos) ranks with the top ten most gorgeous garden books of my lifetime.

A visit to an Oudolfian garden in Chicago pleased me (Piet Oudolf being my favourite garden designer):


The chapter on community gardens and the one on gardens in Japan…not the stylized gardens but personal gardens tucked into alleys and overflowing from rooftops and balconies…were the ones that moved me the most, even to the point of being a little bit weepy over the sheer human beauty of it all.  And the barge gardens in London:


The photo of these made me long to see them in person.

I learned something new: that there are Southern lights, viewed from New Zealand, as well as Northern Lights.  I had no idea.

Do get the book, especially to look at the barge gardens, the community gardens, and the Japanese buildings clothed in plants.  Oh, and the story of the Dan Pearson designed Torrechia garden near Rome…so romantic and inspirational.

I do hope Pearson writes another book, about his new garden (the one after Home Ground).

I finished the book just in time to go out for our weekly North Beach Garden Gang dinner.

Salt Pub again


the view from our window table



Salt Pub view


an icy Gibson


ice and cocktail onions


a full portion of leek and garlic soup this time


caesar salad with impossibly tender and tasty kale


North Beach Garden Gang: Dave and Melissa of Sea Star Gardening (Allan’s photo)

We each had a Pink Poppy Bakery cupcake of our very own, except for Allan, who chose a root beer float.

Mmm, knowing that Salt is just three blocks away makes me want to go back there right now for more of the same.

Ginger’s Garden Diaries


From my mom’s garden diaries of two decades ago:

1998 (age 73)

Feb 19:  1:00-3:00  Another good day’s work.  It was cool and grey so I worked in the shop putting the begonias from last year (and some from 1996) into pots with peat moss and vermiculite.  I used the sawhorses that Robert fixed for me and 9 of 10 trays are 7″ from shop lights.  3 or 4 bulbs showed signs of growth and only 5 or 6 were rotted.  AND I still have more to come from Dutch Gardens!

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Northwest Flower and Garden Show

Here are the usual not so great photos from the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, February 2004.  I stayed with Carol and we had a lovely time as always with a meal at the Barking Dog Alehouse which had replaced a dive bar just around the corner from her Ballard apartment.  I attended probably 18 seminars.   As I had sometimes done over the garden show years, I felt a vague envy (not too sharp) of the gardening couples that I saw sitting together during seminars.  It would be nice to have a gardening partner who took an interest in such things.   But I had profoundly enjoyed my winter of quiet solitude.



potting bench

potting bench

planting salad greens in straw bales

planting salad greens in straw bales

Peninsula touring

Alison, a funny cyberfriend whom I had met through an online gardening forum, came to visit; here we are at Klipsan Beach Cottages because of course I took the day off to take her on a garden tour.

Alison and me at KBC

Alison and me at KBC

me at Laurie's garden, photo by Alison

me at Laurie’s garden, photo by Alison

I wish I could find Alison again!   She moved, my computer crashed, etc….   She was so funny and smart and a great gardener.  She might have changed her last name due to a marital change, and that makes women so darned hard to find.

Buddliea in a Long Beach garden

Buddliea in a Long Beach garden

Joy Creek and Cistus

I went on a springtime shopping trip for clients at Cistus and Joy Creek Nursery with J9; stuffing as many plants as possible in her car, along with her wonderful dog, Sophie.

English delphiniums at Joy Creek Nursery

English delphiniums at Joy Creek Nursery



Sophie and J9 at Cistus

Sophie and J9 at Cistus


The display gardens are much fuller now!

Cistus Nursery

Below: Pineapple broom…used to be Cytisus battandieri but now is (sometimes) Argyrocytisus…at Cistus.  I long for this plant to bloom in my garden. I had one at the Spring Street garden that did nothing but put out grey foliage, and I left it behind in autumn 2010 because it was quite large.   I planted one at a garden in Seaview where the house got sold, one at KBC which the slugs ate, and one at my mom’s which was also to big to move when the house sold and I now do not have one at all!

pineapple broom

pineapple broom

The flowers really do smell strongly of sweet pineapple.

Clarke Nursery

Meanwhile, Sheila came to visit. I had been plant-sitting a whole lot of potted plants for her after she sold the Harborview Motel, while she moved around (and around!) with her peripatetic spouse trying to find the perfect house to create a new garden. Here we are at Clarke Nursery in its former bayside location, where I am sure she bought a few more plants, and then took some of the ones I was storing away with her as well.
me and Sheila at Clarke Nursery

me and Sheila at Clarke Nursery

Sheila's vehicle stuffed with plants

Sheila’s vehicle stuffed with plants

Sheila says “I believe we built layers with plywood and plastic milk crates to get them all in…the layers can be seen in the back…”.  Her fig tree was laid in sideways.  She is determine to fit in at least two more plants.

Painted Lady Lavender Farm

I took an afternoon off to go to the Painted Lady Lavender Farm with J9.   It’s between Ilwaco and Chinook, and may have been its first or second year open to the public. Its owner had been known locally for years for her decorative painting.  I had seen her work on local garden designer Dale B’s house (now owned by our friend Patti, on the Seaview Antique Mall, and on the exterior of Payson Hall at Andersen’s RV Park.

Painted Lady Lavender Farm

Painted Lady Lavender Farm

Below: View from atop a hill at Painted Lady Lavender Farm. I was quite overcome with envy and the wish that I had the money to have a number of little cottages and enough land to plant lavishly.




black scabiosas

black scabiosas

behind the main house

behind the main house

house and deck

house and deck

Oh how I longed for a little guest cottage like this!

Oh how I longed for a little guest cottage like this!

another adorable outbuilding

another adorable outbuilding

For several years after, I thought of revisiting but just felt too busy; every time we drove by the entrance, we were on a mission to go Astoria and points south.  Finally I got back there in 2012 and found it even more beautiful.

Portland Classical Chinese Garden

In the fall, Terran and I took a day trip to Portland and visited the Classical Chinese Garden. Sheila’s gift of an old digital camera which used floppy disks provided some interesting photographic results.   I loved the instant gratification of digital and when that camera wore out, I bought a new one and only occasionally returned to film because I had some rolls to use up.

Terran in the Chinese Garden

Terran in the Chinese Garden

Portland Classical Chinese Garden

Portland Classical Chinese Garden

in the Chinese garden

in the Chinese garden

Chinese garden

Chinese garden

Chinese garden

Chinese garden

Gardeners were walking through the ponds in hip waders cleaning up the lotus leaves.




I put frugality on hold for an evening when J9 and I took a trip to Manzanita to have a memorable meal at the (now sadly gone) Blue Sky Café. It was kind of a shock to eat real food, because I had been subsisting for months on frozen food after buying my first microwave earlier that same year.  I am not much for cooking but I do love restaurants.

beautiful garden bench in Manzanita

beautiful garden bench in Manzanita

But first we went to Cartm, an amazing huge recycled materials yard where I acquired a small garbage can in which to plant a phormium, the idea which I’d gotten at the Molly Ward garden/restaurant back in summer 2003.  You can find almost anything upcyclable at Cartm.  Too bad it is such a long trip from here.



Non-gardening outings

Talking Tombstones in Astoria

J9 excelled at getting me to go out and do things.  At Halloween,  we went to see the “Talking Tombstones” in Astoria, where locals act in the role of the person who is buried under each stone.

a sad tale of dying of influenza

a sad tale of dying of influenza

Talking Tombstones

Talking Tombstones

On any trip that we took across the river (or “overseas”, as old timers say around here), we stopped on the way at the excellent Chinook Coffee Company drivethrough in Chinook.

Chinook Coffee Company

Chinook Coffee Company, October 2004

Fort Clatsop

In December, J9 and I went to the old Fort Clatsop for a historical presentation about Lewis and Clark’s Christmas there.  Soon after, it would be destroyed by a fire and be reconstructed.

Fort Clatsop

Fort Clatsop

inside Fort Clatsop, the replica of Captain Meriweather Lewis’s  desk made my own tiny house look more spacious in comparison.

Lewis's desk

Lewis’s desk

boardwalk at Fort Clatsop

boardwalk at Fort Clatsop

Flavel House Museum

Always good at finding excursion, J9 took me to the Flavel House Museum for their Christmas plum pudding tea.

Flavel House on a dark December day

Flavel House on a dark December day

teatime in the Flavel House Museum

teatime in the Flavel House Museum

Looking back on this year makes me realize what a boon to my social life J9 was and I am more sorry than ever that she moved away from the Peninsula in 2012.

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I went to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in 2001 and 2002 by train from Kelso, and stayed with Carol, as always. I would attend 6 or 7 seminars a day for 3 or 4 days, usually with amazing guests like Penelope Hobhouse, Rosemary Verey, Helen Dillon, Piet Oudolf, Christopher Lloyd….and took not very good photos of my favourite display garden ideas.


2001, ghost bramble

2001, garden shed

2001, garden shed

2001, gazebo

2001, gazebo

In ’01, Carol and I went on an outing to the Bellevue Botanical Garden, as this photo reminds me:

at the BBG in winter

at the BBG in winter

2002 display garden

2002 display garden

At the garden show in 2002, Heronswood’s display garden recreated a botanizing mountain trip, including a large red purse-like bunch of seeds:

Heronswood display garden

Heronswood display garden

During the week of the show, I took a long walk through Seattle’s Capitol Hill and discovered this most interesting private garden which I would love to have seen in summer. Sign reads “Imagine all the people living life in peace.”

Capitol Hill Garden

Capitol Hill Garden



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Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle:  favourite scenes

These are not the best photos, all being pre-digital and with a disposable camera (which was the easiest way to take photos of the garden show without being weighed down).    But they do help me remember the designs that spoke to me the strongest during these years.

I had missed all but a couple of hours of the show in ’91 because I was preoccupied with the Federal Building protest, in ’92 because I was ill from a miscarriage that week, had missed ’93 and ’94 because of the Sou’wester job.  I think we had gone in ’95 and stayed at Bryan’s rented house in West Seattle.

I usually attended 18 seminars, and took notes through every one.  Some day I hope to go through all my notebooks and type up the best of what I learned.  I hope a lot of it sunk in!  Hrm, typing my notes into this blog would be a great project for next winter.


In February 1996, Bryan drove to the beach, picked me up and drove me to Seattle during a time of much flooding in Pacific County, Grays Harbor, and the Chehalis area. Just after we got through Chehalis the freeway went underwater and Robert, who did not enjoy attending seminars, was unable to drive up for three days.  This began a tradition of me going to the garden show by myself.

dripping rocks

dripping rocks

rock wall

rock wall

patio made of recycled materials

patio made of recycled materials

Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

sod table and chair (adorable!!)

sod table and chair (adorable!!)

Rapunzel's tower

Rapunzel’s tower



This moss-scape made me realize I should qui removing the moss from the huge rock by our pond and just let it be green!

This moss-scape made me realize I should qui removing the moss from the huge rock by our pond and just let it be green!



green roof.  I still do not have one....

green roof. I still do not have one….

mysterious door

mysterious door


Bryan had gotten married, so I took the train from Kelso and stayed with my old friend Carol in Ballard, an arrangement which turned into a fun yearly event for the next seven years.

I think this garden was designed by Dan Hinkley.

I think this garden was designed by Dan Hinkley.

large water feature

large water feature

garden shed

garden shed

bridge and stream

bridge and stream

fence with old tools

fence with old tools


I went to the garden show in 1999 and stayed at Carol’s, but did not take photos for this year or the next couple of years because the show for awhile provided video tours of the display gardens.

video tour of the display gardens!

video tour of the display gardens!

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garden show loot

“More of my new plants: a gold leafed and a black leafed phygelius, and a gold leafed and dark leafed Hellebore foetidus were among my haul. And at the show I finally acquired Omphalodes ‘Starry Eyes’. It was too hard to haul plants from the show on the city bus….so did not buy many there. I gather the Yard, Garden and Patio show in Portland has a nifty loading system for purchased plants.”   (The hellebores came with me to my new garden in 2010, but the Omphalodes ‘Starry Eyes’ disappeared somewhere along the way.)
Work vignettes of February through April:
Laurie’s horses Moony and Kachina (two of the herd of five) waited for their horse treats on a cold February morning when we showed up to check on the garden.

Moony and Kat

We pruned the 300 hydrangeas as always in the blue-roofed house halfway up the bay….

part of the hydrangea field before pruning

The grave there of a beloved dog had had its marker freshly and beautifully repainted, probably by the home’s builder and estate caretaker, Bill Clearman, whose skilled attention to detail shows in every task.

Annie’s grave

Through sleet, rain, and hail we pruned for a week.  Our three year pruning plan was progressing well.  Birds had found a use for the ugly candelabras left by a previous “gardener”‘s chainsaw pruning.

hydrangeas with birdnests

On March 2nd the view of our garden from Allan’s desk window in the loft showed off how splendidly the assorted boxwoods carried out winter structure.  (I have never grown boxwoods on the Peninsula as successfully as in my sheltered garden, and in most gardens where they are hit by wind they spend the winters looking orangey-brown and ugly.)  Seeing the old trailer again was a shock, though.  With the glory year of our garden tours being past, we had severely chopped Rose ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ so that Allan could work on building a roof over the trailer.

damaged hedge

Further and unplanned damage in the garden:  the snow storm of December had weighted down and snapped part of the tree hedge planted by the previous owners and I could now see much more of my neighbour’s house and yard.  The trees had originally been planted too far apart so they had never met up and yet had provided a considerable amount of privacy.

In March, we lost an occasional job that had brought me much pleasure.  Annie had decided to sell her house and we made our last visit there on March 14th to clean up the garden for a real estate showing.

Annie’s blue cottage

Established clumps of narcissi along the road made me wonder how she could bear to sell and leave (little knowing that later that same year, my mother would leave her garden and but a year after that in 2010 I would leave mine).

Annie’s narcissi

Had I been house-and-garden hunting I would have found the front garden and the wine-bottle-edged vegetable garden simply irresistable….

Annie’s garden

…as well as the kitchen corner and welcoming side porch.

Annie’s kitchen corner and kitchen door

We stopped by in late March for one peek at the Ocean Park garden we’d created in autumn of 2009.  Some narcissi bloomed; it definitely needed more plants, but was not on our regular job roster.

a project update

Again Allan managed to break our supposedly unbreakable Fiskars shovel. (Again, they sent us a new one for free with their lifetime warrantee!)

Fiskars shovel with extra wide step-upon place.

The Peninsula Quilt Guild held its annual March show at the museum in Ilwaco.  You’d think the flower quilts would always be my favourites…

but I was quite taken with one depicting houses, especially a little red house that reminded my of my Grandma’s little red house in Seattle and with one depicting blue teapots…

…but in 2009 I was most impressed with a couple of quilts of abstract pattern.

In April we twice visited Joanne’s garden for spring clean up and enjoyed seeing the foal basking in spring sunshine.

April 6th and April 23rd

On April 17th our oldest cat Maddy (then aged 9) enjoyed the garden, and I imagined what would be a cat’s eye view.

Maddy…and our garden from cat level?

On April 24th, the Ilwaco tree committee got together and again demonstrated how many of us it takes to plant a tree in honour of arbor day, in this case replacing one that had been vandalized and broken the previous year.

tree committee and helpers

Time to break the narrative flow of month to month and, in our next post, feature the year in Cheri’s garden with flowers, good sit spots, and an audience of cats.

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Here, written in February of 2012, begins a whole year of flashbacks about 2009, another important year in our lives as gardeners.  My mother’s garden and our dear client Laurie’s garden were each on the Peninsula garden tour.  While I skipped the Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend (because it took place in Canada, too time-consuming and expensive a trip), we did go on a couple of garden tours.  And for the year of 2009,  I have the thrilling idea that I can overview the whole year, garden by garden.  Not having the gift of prophecy, I can never do that when I am blogging on a weekly basis as life goes on.  This year was mostly written up in Feb-March 2012; material in quotations marks comes from Facebook photo captions that I actually wrote in 2009.


the show is about 7 blocks east of Pike Place Market

February 2009.  Little did I know it would be the last year for awhile that I would go to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.  I felt its nature had changed to being more for beginning gardeners.  And of course I can count on the Rainyside website to post excellent and artful photos of the garden, taken by a garden VIP who can go on the press junket and set up for photos without crowds of people milling about.  This may well have been the year that I heard a wonderful lecture by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd and even though I’m not an autograph collector I was inspired to get them to sign their new gardening memoir, Our Life in Gardens, the tale of their happy longtime relationship and beautiful Vermont gardens.

I can no longer identify most of the gardens in the photos I took, so here I share with you what inspired, moved, and amused me (including a visit to the Pike Place Market, one of my favourite places in all creation).

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I proceeded in 2012 to write the history of my gardening life through 2008 and 2009, the non-blogging years….Because only through photos can I remember!

Late January of 2008 saw the rare coldness that iced over our pond…

fishing float

…in which I had cast to sea a fishing float (but I have to confess that I bought it at Marsh’s Free Museum).

Its colour nicely echoes a gazing ball that Allan had given me for Christmas.

gazing ball

Not quite the traditional silver reflective gazing ball, it nestles in an old copper tub that years ago used to sit planted up with ferns in my Grandma’s garden.

In January the Mahonia outside our cottage door bloomed spectacularly.  This one is either Faith, Hope, or Charity.


On February 1st we began the job of pruning the 300 hydrangeas on the bay.  The gorgeous setting assuaged the distress of seeing the condition the hydrangeas were in from a really bad pruning the year before.  Let me just advise garden owners to not let the lawn mower guy loose with a chainsaw in the hydrangea field, not unless he also loves plants and knows how to prune.

hydrangea field

All the hydrangeas had been chainsawed off at the same level and no old wood removed.

corner of hydrangea field

Much of last year’s prunings had been dropped in large pieces making for slippery footing and the need to clean up the mess before starting the job, and each hydrangea had ugly candelabras of wood where the chainsaw had cut with no respect to buds or branching.  We started by removing a third of the old wood.  It would be a three year project to get all the old wood and those ugly candelabras removed.  I would have chopped the poor things all low and sacrificed a year of bloom but the elderly owner did not have TIME to lose a year of beautiful blue blossoms, so our slower method sufficed.

Allan going in to prune

All the poky limbs cause pain when backed into or hit with one’s arm; the cold weather made for aching hands, and I fretted that the owner’s demand that the shrubs be pruned NOW meant that their buds would be frost nipped later.  Despite some miserable times standing under the eaves waiting for seriously dire hailstorms to pass, working right along the gorgeous Willapa Bay provided considerable compensation.

board path

This picturesque boardwalk went way out into the bay where the householders in younger days had kept a small boat tied up.

rainbow over Willapa Bay

Several rainbows appeared after chilling squalls of rain and hail.

The hydrangea results did not thrill us the first year.  So much distorted older branches remained, but we knew that if we could just get to do the job for three years in a row the results would be most satisfactory.

[2012 note:  We did get our three year pruning plan completed in 2010, and the fourth time we pruned the hydrangeas in 2011 I felt that they were completely revived.  The house is now for sale.  The hydrangeas are being passed on in good form.]

We took a break from pruning to go to Seattle for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.

As usual because of my freeway phobia we took the longer route up back roads to the ferry from Bremerton.  The peaceful glide into the harbour is much more beautiful than speeding (or waiting in traffic jams) along crowded lanes of cars.

full moon over Seattle from ferry deck

I have no record of which garden designers made each of these displays at the garden show.  Here are the ones I found most inspirational.

small water feature


courtyard entryway


stone steps backed with a tall gabion (rocks caged in wire)

I love these slanted stacked rocks.

Each display garden is built in just a few days inside a cavernous, high-ceilinged room.

The cottage style is always my favourite.

interesting water…things…backed with gold twig dogwood

Oh, look! In the background, urban chickens!

Even though I don’t have the time for chickens, I love to see a coop in a garden.

…especially a coop with a clever green roof.

I’d been drawn back to the stacked rock structures…

detail of the scrumptious stacked rocks. My budget runs more to broken concrete.

Oh to have the skills AND materials to create this.

So from sleet, hail, rain, and the cold wind of the hydrangea pruning job to the luxurious surroundings, ambient (canned) bird song and lushly flowering gardens of the show, our February of 2008 was a warm up to the busy work season that would slam us as soon as we returned from Seattle to the beach.

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