Posts Tagged ‘planters’

(as one does)

As usual, our favourite job was Klipsan Beach Cottages.

Klipsan Beach Cottages

Not only are we given pretty much a free rein in terms of what plants to add, but there is a large fenced in area where we can plant roses and fuchsias and lilies and tulips and not have to worry about the deer.  Many more photos of the KBC gardens are in albums at their Facebook page.

We continued to do the Long Beach parks and Ilwaco planters.

Long Beach planter

Long Beach planter

Ilwaco planter

Ilwaco planter

(I didn’t used to be much of a fan of petunias.  In fact, I was anti-petunia.  But some of the new ones are pretty fantastic.)

Also in Ilwaco, the port manager hired us to recreate part of the old boatyard garden, a project I had done many years ago as a volunteer, back when I had more free time.  It had gone away when a new electric line and fence were installed, and now we have brought the garden partway back and are planning to expand it a little more in 2012.

Ilwaco boatyard garden

Ilwaco boatyard garden revived!

We did our usual planting of cosmos in the new, and slightly smaller than before, garden boat at Time Enough Books and felt flattered when owner Karla had our name painted on it by local iconic artist Don Nisbett.

“Plant Vessel” Skyler

Because some of the older plantings along the port street consisted of tall grasses and messy old Phormiums that blocked traffic sightlines, we redid several of the gardens with a smaller palette of hardy plants.

new port garden during Slow Drag

new port garden during Slow Drag in mid-September

Most of our jobs do seem to be about resorts and tourism.  Other than the Port, City of Ilwaco, Long Beach, and Klipsan Beach Cottages we continued to care for the Anchorage Cottages, Andersen’s RV Park, and the Wiegardt Gallery.



Andersen's...revamped planters


Wiegardt Gallery

Wiegardt Gallery…

At Golden Sands Assisted Living, we expanded into two new areas of the courtyard garden, a completely enclosed space where the residents can sit and admire the flowers.  Not a single deer can get in there.  The biggest challenge is to improve the soil on a budget, and we wheelbarrowed  many a bucket of horse manure (from another job of ours, the Red Barn Arena) carefully through the long carpeted hallway to the interior entry door to the garden.

Golden Sands

Golden Sands, one of four quadrants

I think I will have remembered all of our public garden jobs if I add this photo of the Depot Restaurant (our favourite), where owner Nancy asked us for more colour in 2011.


colour! at the Depot, mid September

Oh, and bear with me while I boast a little about how great the park in Long Beach by Marsh’s Free Museum looked this year…so much better than a couple of years ago when it had the monstrous big Phormium in the back.

LB park, 27 July

LB park, 27 July

LB Park, 5 October

LB Park, 5 October

Roundabout the autumnal season in the garden, we were gobsmacked to get recognized as Ilwaco Merchant’s Association/Pacific County Economic Development Council 2010 business of the year…not only for our gardening, but for our work on the Discover Ilwaco Facebook page.  We got to ride a bus up to South Bend for an official banquet and award presentation.  Mary Caldwell of our beloved Klipsan Beach Cottages job took the photo that the awards group requested, in front of the KBC greenhouse, with one of my favourite plants of all time, Melianthus major ‘Antenow’s Blue’.

Skyler (Flora) and Allan

Skyler (Flora) and Allan

Next, a peek into the secret world of our private garden clients!

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On a quiet weekday evening in late July, walk with me from north to south down 1st Avenue while I check on the planters and street tree pocket gardens.  As i weed and deadhead, Allan will be filling up buckets with which to water them.  We have a water pump trailer but have found it takes half an hour longer to use it, so while we have the strength, we are back to the bucket method.  I’m satisfied with the planters this week  I still have Alliums in some of them; the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ that I cut back in some has finally filled back in; the nasturtiums are trailing vigorously although not yet blooming.  A running theme is Erysimum (‘Bowle’s Mauve’ and occasionally a yellow one that was mislabeled as muave!), Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (catmint), Diascia, Cosmos ‘Sonata, Salvia viridis (painted sage), Brodiaea ‘Queen Fabiola’, a variety of annuals and nasturtiums from seed .

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It seems the only reason I have time to write here is because I am not feeling quite well so have taken the day off while Allan weeds on our gardens at Discovery Heights, an area I feel comfortable delegating because there are no precious new plantings or mysterious seedlings that no one but I would recognize.   Normally, I would work through what slightly ails me but am desperate to not get sick before next week’s Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend!

So here’s what I have been planning to write about: the many thoughts that occur while we work on the container gardens in Long Beach, Ilwaco, and other private and public gardens.  It might look like we are just deadheading or watering, but there are all sorts of worries going on in the background at this time of year!

Lisa's memorial planter

Lisa’s memorial planter

You may recall we planted this beach approach container in the rain.  Now, I was hoping and am still hoping that having a memorial plaque on a planter would protect it from vandalism, so I fervently wish it were a bird that pulled out a plant where you can see a hole.  The plant was still there, just moved to sit atop the soil several inches away, so perhaps, just perhaps, it was a gull or crow who did the damage.  Allan had gone to check this planter on his own, bless his heart, and the rain had kept the little plant moist so he was able to pop it right back in.

successful Ilwaco planter

successful Ilwaco planter

bothersome Ilwaco planter

bothersome Ilwaco planter

In Ilwaco, on one side of the street I have a lovely planter which was totally redone this spring and thus had less bulb foliage to contend with.  Right across the street, I have a planter that plagues me with discontent.  Its Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ was too big so I cut it back by half, which usually works by making it bloom with smaller but more profuse flowers.  But our late spring storms beat it up and now I find it an embarrassment.  It will perk up…surely…but for now I am dissatisfied, yet it seems too wasteful to do the container over.

kicky Ilwaco planter

kicky Ilwaco planter

reasonably good Ilwaco planter

reasonably good Ilwaco planter

sad catmint in Ilwaco planter

sad catmint in Ilwaco planter

The container to the left is okay….Not glorious but it will do.  The one to the right gives me a thrill because I planted it mostly in yellow to echo the colour of the little cafe.  It would be the only planter in town that has a yellow erisymum center except for a little problem with mislabeling….(More on this a bit later.)

Oh, and here is another problem (above); usually the Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (center photo) has profuse and lovely blue flowers at this time of year, but a freak 45 mph wind storm and constant, record breaking rain has made it look pretty pitiful.  So what to do? Cut it back and wait for a second bloom?  Pick off every yellowed leaf?  In this case, I decided to cut it halfway back and am not sure that was the correct decision. Just looking at this photo makes me want to walk downtown and cut the rest of it off.

yellow or purple

yellow or purple Erysimum

Back to the mislabeled Erysimum:  A reputable and excellent local nursery got a whole shipment of gallon sized Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’, and then some of them started to come out with bright yellow flowers.  I decided I wanted some of the yellow ones, to put by that yellow cafe, and at a McDonald’s drive through pocket garden, and a few other places.  I tried, as did the nursery owners, to sight out which ones were going to be the yellow ones, but when I planted a pair of planters at Diane’s garden next door to the Red Barn horse arena, I was horrified to see one of the two alleged ‘Bowles’ Mauve’  emerging bright garish yellow in a garden where the owner likes pastels and purples and blues!  Then I remembered the purple one I’d planted in a whiskey barrel next door at the barn, and did a quick switch.  I wonder if anyone noticed that the colours changed overnight?

An odd thing also happened with the Ilwaco street tree gardens, which are small enough to almost be called planters (at least for the purpose of fitting the story into this post!).  First of all, I was might grumpy to see my Salvia viridis (painted sage) plants just stepped on…I mean really, sometimes, what is the point of planting special little things?

goodbye little painted sage

goodbye little painted sage

Most of the Ilwaco tree gardens were doing quite well despite the wind, with solidly established perennials.  We are slowly removing some of the bricks because they are such a trial to weed between, which is why I had had room to add a few annuals salvias.

The tree gardens were looking like this...

The tree gardens were looking like this…

or, a bit boringly, like this

or, a bit boringly, like this

like this,

like this,

When the trees were originally planted, I added some free perennials starts that I garnished here and there: (left) Geranium macrrorhizum with fragrant leaves, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’; (middle) golden marjoram, the same geranium, and a dwarf Solidago (goldenrod); right; variagated bulbous oat grass and some of the geranium and a chrysanthemum.  To our surprise, we recently found one of the trees completely denuded of underplantings except for two dandelions and some chickweed which had been hiding under the perennial foliage!

"weeds" removed

“weeds” removed

I got one of the kind folks from the merchants who pay me to care for these gardens to find out what happened.  The store owner beside this tree had decided the plants underneath were weeds and removed every one.  I can’t recall what….free things like some Lady’s Mantle, a Chrysanthemum and some self seeded white feverfew.  (The oddest things was leaving behind the dandelions and chickweed…) I don’t want to be mean and say which tree it was, and I hope no one will be able to tell because it now has six new plants under it that should make it blend in with the others.  And let’s face it, Lady’s Mantle and Feverfew ARE a little boring to some gardeners who have gotten tired of their self-seeding frenzies.

Oh, and the idea of having the yellow cafe’s planter being the only one in Ilwaco that had a yellow Erysimum, and all the rest would be centred with Eryisimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’?  Well, at least three of the others are popping out bright yellow, so…so much for that.

Meanwhile, in the Long Beach Planters:

wind dameged cosmos

wind damaged cosmos

That damnable windstorm whacked my cosmos badly; even some of the ones that I thought had survived browned off and plotzed within a week. We went round and did a second planting, and have a few more to do a third planting in the areas that were hardest hit.  If I had read the Cliff Mass weather blog at ten AM on the morning when we went out to plant…I would have waited…but we were just loading the car at the time he posted his dire wind warning.

Salvia patens

Salvia patens

Two of four of the lush gallon sized Salvia patens that we had placed on either side of four of the lamp posts in Long Beach planters broke right off in the wind, but pluckily they are putting out new growth from the base.

Basket Case hanging baskets

Basket Case hanging baskets

The good news is that the gorgeous baskets from the Basket Case Greenhouse were not yet hung in Long Beach for the big wind storm, and they came through a second and lesser wind storm with no damage.  One of the city crew members waters them daily, including weekends.

And here’s a little thing that has made me really happy:  I planted this little red plumed cutie in two Ilwaco planters (and promptly lost the tag, so I can’t tell you what they are).  I have no idea how well they will do in a container that gets watered three times a week, but the best news is that two weeks later, both plants are still there!

cute plant

cute dangly plant

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This is the same planter that had all its soil and bulbs pulled out a couple of weeks ago.  We had carefully replanted it and the tulips were blooming beautifully, and today, this:

finger blight

finger blight

The thing is: We notice!  I know every single planter that we care for in Ilwaco, Long Beach, and Peninsula points north, and while I know the loss of a few tulips is trivial in the world’s woes, it plagues me that today people driving or walking along the street will have one less bright cluster of flowers to enjoy.  Somewhere, in someone’s living room or perhaps on their kitchen table, is a lovely bouquet of stolen tulips, and only the members of that household now get to enjoy them.

My friend Mary took a photo for me of a sign at the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland Washington, which reads:

READ THIS....Please.
<-- This is Eartha Riche, our head gardener. She is
very strong because she works so hard. She is also
grumpy for the same reason. The only time we see her
smile is when she catches someone breaking the rules.
We suspect she uses rule breakers to fertilize the garden,
but we're afraid to ask. She is always lurking in the
bushes hoping to catch rule breakers, so please read
and follow the rules. We just hate to lose our guests.

1. No running or climbing trees or shrubs. No playing in the flower beds.
This is not a playground.
2. Stay on the paths when you can. Eartha does not
take kindly to trampled plants.
3. No smoking or alchohol allowed. Eartha will not
tolerate either of these.
4. Do not pick leaves, flowers or branches. This
REALLY ticks Eartha off.
5. No pets, no matter how cute or well behaved. You
don't want to know what Eartha does to pets.
6. Be kind to our workers. Nearly all are unpaid volunteers.
Friends or members of the Hulda Klager Lilac Society.
7. The gardens are open daily from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. during
Lilac Days. You had better leave then. You don't
want to meet Eartha after the gates close.

Eartha says:
inspirational Tilth sign

inspirational Tilth sign

I saw the above sign at Seattle’s Tilth garden in 2007, so last year, when one particular planter near the Ilwaco boatyard kept having its center plant stolen, I made a little sign of my own:


plant protecting sign

It actually worked and the center plant (a pink Gaura) was left alone for the rest of the summer…but I can’t see putting a sign like that in every single planter because it makes the town look like a den of thieves live here!

So I will probably have to continue to live with that disappointed feeling when I see a planter that should be glorious and is instead a big nothingness. At least I know that Eartha and Tilth and I all share the same problem and I am sure many other public gardeners empathize with my plight.

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I’m thrilled with the earliest tulips (and remain thrilled by my favourites, the narcissi) even though they have been sadly beaten down by last weekend’s storm and as I write this, they have just endured over 12 hours of 50 mile an hour winds and torrents of hail.  It seems to me that some of the big tulips have been foolish enough to bloom earlier than usual; are they capable of regret? (If a photo appears as a question mark, only WordPress knows why,  usually it will appear in its own window if you click on it.)

tulips KBC

tulips at KBC

tulips KBC

tulips at KBC

These tulips that are in the ground at the Klipsan Beach Cottages garden have come back for at least 4 years; I think it was that long ago that we decided the tulips might have a sort of blight so since then we have planted them in pots at KBC.

tulip windowbox

tulips in windowbox

We have interchangeable inserts for the cottage windowboxes; the spring boxes have all sorts of early spring bulbs….not just tulips, but snowdrops to start with (and narcissi of course), and the wonderful Fritillaria meleagris, also known as “guinea hen flower” (because their foliage looks like the hens’ feathers?) and “checkered lilies.”

checkered lily

Fritillaria meleagris

rain tulip

KBC: wind broken tulip

Tulips KBC

Tulips & blue bench

Poor tulips.  The ones by the blue bench were missing two flowers whose stems had simply snapped.

Onward to the entry garden at the Ocean Park store of Oman Builder’s Supply, we were surprised to see so little damage.

lily tulip

lily flowering tulip


tulip at OBS

Next year I’ll save the bulb list so that I can caption these stunners with their proper names.  I can tell you that all but Tulip sylvestris came from Van Engelen.


Princess Irene?

species tulip

a tiny species tulip

OBS garden

OBS garden

Over ten miles south in downtown Long Beach, I fretted over the water-spotted leaves and broken blossoms of the planter tulips.  Last year they still looked excellent for the city’s first of May parade….This year I wonder if they will make it that far or if the new ones coming on will be blighted and broken by our weird fierce weather.

lb planter

Long Beach planter

LB tree

under a tree in Long Beach

Just a little further south, the tulips at McDonalds drive through looked spectacular.  Trite though it is for McDs, I must admit we do go with the hot colours for tulips there (but we do not use red and yellow in summer because Cosmos is always our summer statement).  This batch might even have remained sheltered from the wind.



yellow hoop petticoats

yellow hoop petticoats

Sheltered tulips: left

And I can’t let you get away without one shot of  Narcissi bulbicodicum ‘Golden Bells’ at the McD’s entry door.

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We have so much to do, including the dreaded pruning of the 300 hydrangeas.  It’s difficult to add in the 300 hydrangea job because the place is not an ongoing client, and fitting such a huge event in just once a year, during late winter clean up, interferes with caring for our regular clients.  So, as the hydrangeas loom, we dash about here and there trying to make things look halfway decent for when we disappear for a week into hydrangea-land.

We stopped by The Red Barn and Diane C’s place for some quick deadheading and saw an adorable flock of birds which I would normally have expected to see at the beach rather than in a pasture puddle:


a puddle of birds

We spent another afternoon in Long Beach adding violas to the planters.  I was appalled to discover that the planter by First Place Mall…just north of the go-kart track…has had its tulips chomped by deer who were quite bold (as usual) to walk onto the main drag and have a tasty foliage snack. That is now going to be one lop-sided flower display.

bulb chomping

tulips chomped by deer

I’m moved by the paint job on on a little gift shop in the middle of Long Beach, because look at what little red house it resembles:

red shop

little red shop

Gramma's house

little red house

Same colour scheme as my Grandma’s (and later my own) little red house in Seattle, including the very bright colour…when I had the house repainted, I made sure the colour was bright and clear.

From a mouse’s eye view of the garden by Marsh’s Free Museum, you can see that the crocuses are looking grand.

Long Beach park

As we were planting violas in the Ilwaco planters a couple of days later, I felt mystified by why a planter which is extremely exposed to the wind had the healthiest trailing rosemary, while a more sheltered planter had the deadest one.

good rosemary

happy rosemary

dead rosemary

dead trailing rosemary

Why is nature so capricious?

At least I can take joy in the many colourful flowers that are coming on in all of the planters.

species tulips, Ilwaco planter

At home, during two rainy days, I worked on updating Facebook albums while the ever energetic Allan installed near our pond an arbour built by my former partner, Robert Sullivan.  It’s a thing of beauty which once embellished my mother’s garden, and which I was not about to let be sold with her house…so here it is.  There was some debate about where to put it: Over a main path would perhaps block the movement of Allan’s motorcycle or perhaps make it hard to bring in a new appliance if the need arose, so now it is the grand entry way to our pond patio. Bless Allan for being so energetic even on a rainy day off.

arbour detail

spider web arbour detail

Allan also reports that there is still a school of fish which has survived the pokings about of the three raccoons!

In two days we will begin (weather permitting) the hydrangea job…and when it is done I may actually get my own garden, all of Long Beach, and every other garden of ours truly ready for spring.

spider web arbour

spider web arbour

It is a darn shame that Robert did not continue on with his ironwork.  I believe there are three wonderful arbours like this in existence: one here, one at Kathleen’s Sea Garden, and one at my friend Sharon’s garden near Portland.  A number of his gates are at Klipsan Beach Cottagesand at a friend’s house in Ridgefield.  If I had a talent like that, I would pursue it with passion.

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My love of plant tables was inspired by George Schenk’s book Gardening on Pavement, Tables and Hard Surfaces and by a particular photo of one of his tables overflowing with moss and ferns.

I include among the ideas inspired by Mr Schenk the planting up of chairs and old trunks as well.

at KBC

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Above, an old wooden table with some soil piled on top, some sedums and a cluster of species tulips, the kind with quite small bulbs.  (The lavender and yellow one is Tulip bakeri ‘Lilac Wonder’.)

Below, in a somewhat barren new garden bed, a plant table at Golden Sands Assisted Living makes a focal point till the ground level fills in.  A bench usually sits next to this, giving the residents a close view of the tiny landscape.

at Golden Sands

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

I like to place little bits of broken pottery and china in among the plantings, but if the table is anywhere where someone might pick up a piece that is sharp, be careful what you use for decoration.

That same table had started its life in the garden at my mother’s before she moved to Golden Sands, along with this one:

mom's table

It gave my mom great pleasure to sit next to this little table garden.  That very same table is now in OUR garden again planted with sedums, so these little tablescapes can travel from garden to garden and transport memories with them.

mom's old table

mom’s old table in our brand new garden

In mom’s garden we also installed a fairy chair….

fairy chair

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Just before a garden tour, we bought a small selection of shady mosses and tiny shade perennials from The Basket Case Greenhouse and had an instant charming focal point in a rather unfocused garden bed.

fairy chair detail

The chair was free, the soil scooped off a garden bed, the little china piece was just kicking around, and the whole ensemble cost about $20.  We could have done it for free with a bit of moss and a fern from the shade bed but we did want a special selection of plants for tour day.

A similar chair has moved from our old garden to my mom’s garden and now to our new (ish) garden where Allan recently photographed it by lamplight.

evening chair

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

In another client’s garden a plant table has metamorphasized from a sedum display to a soft moss-scape perhaps due to dripping from the roof.

Marilyn's table

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Marilyn's moss table

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Our friend Annie brought this old office chair out into her garden and we planted it up with some bit of sedums and so on dug up from her path.

Annie's chair

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

It took less than half an hour to create and could be embellished with whatever she might like to add.

We were given a rickety round mesh table and turned it into a plantscape by laying a round piece of landscape fabric over the wire mesh top.  My friend Mike of the Garden of Mu had given me a collection of sedum and sempervivum starts from his garden so this is the miniature garden of Mu.


in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

It made a pretty focal point for a sit spot halfway down the stairs to the pond.

round table halfway down

round table halfway down

Plant tables are not permanent.  The round mesh one disintegrated when we tried to move it to our new garden, but the plants were saved and simply went onto a new tablescape.

One of my favourite tables is a rough slatty thing that we rescued from the debris area at the Long Beach (Washington) city works shop.  The flat board parts are great for displaying rusty bits of junk and the in between parts for filling with soil and plants.  It started out in the shade under a big tree…

shade table

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

….Then I decided I liked it better against the wall of an outbuilding….

shade table

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

…but because it was under a roof overhang and I tended to forget to water it, it ended up being more of an artscape than a tablescape.   It now sits in our new garden in full sun all planted up as the new mini Garden of Mu.

Anything flat topped can be dragged out of the house and planted up as I realized with two old trunks that had gotten mildewy smelling from sitting in the damp basement.  I knew they would only last a few years but why not get some beauty out of them in the meantime?

one old trunk

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Another old trunk sat by the patio as one entered our front door and I doubt that I ever failed to notice the precious plant gems that grew on it.

entry trunk detail

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

I would think of Lily, a dear friend who died of horrible ALS, every time I saw the frog bowl tucked in the back of this miniature landscape.  The brown pottery bit was from a friend’s garden, the rebar bits from my former partner’s welding projects.

trunk detail

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Because the entryway trunk was exposed to the rain and observed daily, the plants did much better than on that table tucked under the eaves of the work shed.  The rain also meant that when we went to move to our new house, the trunks were easily smashed into soft, discardable pieces!

So find yourself an old table…scoop up some soil and some small scale plants, add a flowerpot, some crockery, a little sculpture….and make yourself a miniature landscape.

another table

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Be prepared for nature to exert her decay, then scoop all your plants and items off of the old collapsed table and install them on a new table, chair, bench, or old trunk.

planted bench at Dragonfly Farms nursery

in the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages

Enjoy decorating the tiny landscapes with the little momentos that speak to you of your memories and your loved ones, and don’t be surprised if you are not the only one who likes the beauty that you’ve created out of almost nothing.

Maddy on a planted chair

Maddy on a planted chair

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