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Posts Tagged ‘pruning’

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Our main mission of the day: to make the garden at Klipsan Beach Cottages as perfect as time allowed, for the Rhodie Tour on Saturday.  On the way, though, we had to make one brief stop.

The Red Barn Arena

Upon waking, the thought had swum to the forefront of my mind that the bulbs we’d transplanted into new containers at the Red Barn last week had probably totally gone over and looked terrible.  Since a drive up Sandridge Road is a good route to KBC, we were able to check and my thought had been correct.

It looked quite nice one the bulb foliage was cut back; I forgot to photograph the after.

It looked quite nice once the bulb foliage was cut back; I forgot to photograph the after.

I made a new friend, Isabella.

I made a new friend, Isabella.

We took a shine to each other.

We took a shine to each other.

She might have liked to go for a ride.

She might have liked to go for a ride.

Klipsan Beach Cottages

first task: Allan planted this Physocarpus. ‘Dart’s Gold’ in the A Frame garden.

 When we arrived, I left Todd, fellow CPN (Certified Plant Nut) a voicemail to tell him we were there, in case he wanted to come see the garden.  During the Rhodie Tour, he would be helping out at Steve and John’s garden and I knew he would not have much time for just touring.  Allan and I weeded and groomed for about an hour and had our heads well down into the garden when I heard Denny say something about our butts…and there was Todd!  I took him on a tour all around the gardens.  We pondered over a sad rhodo at the entrance to the next door cottage (part of the tour), returned to the main garden, and then he asked what he could do to help.  We had not expected that.  I was feeling sort of bad about having gotten Mary and Denny into opening the garden to the public on a busy weekend full of cottage guests, so Allan and I decided to go “off the clock” and, with Todd, volunteer some time to prune the sick looking rhodie next door.  It did not look good and was bringing down the tone of a long sweep of healthy rhododendrons.

It did not look good and was bringing down the tone of a long sweep of healthy rhododendrons.

Todd ready to wade in.

a tarp ready for the debris.  You can tell Todd is a cheerful (and very amusing) worker.

a tarp ready for the debris. You can tell Todd is a cheerful (and very amusing) worker.

before: a sad sack of a rhodie next to a happy one.

before: a sad sack of a rhodie next to a happy one.

Todd stuck well into the job.

Todd stuck well into the job.

pruning

after tracking the sickly branches back to the base

after tracking the sickly branches back to the base

leaves dying at the ends of the branches

leaves dying at the ends of the branches, next to healthy rhodo

The best thing to do would be to cut the whole thing down; we just did not want to leave a big hole before the tour.  Rhodies usually come back great from the base when cut back.  Once I dug out a yellow sick looking smallish one at a job and threw it behind the garage in the debris pile.  Sitting there completely out of the soil, it languished, ignored and dry, all summer.  In the fall, I noticed healthy new leaf buds at the base, cut the top off, stuck in back in the ground, and it came back all green and pretty the next year.

after

after

after; At last now it does not scream that it's dying.

after; At last now it does not scream that it’s dying.

We drug all the debris down a long drive to the burn pile and Allan chopped it into burnable lengths.

We drug all the debris down a long drive to the burn pile and Allan chopped it into burnable lengths.

With that done, I thought surely Todd would make his escape but instead he offered to help in the garden.  I showed him an area in the fenced garden that I knew we would not otherwise have time for today, roguing out some maddening Japanese anemones and Lysimachia punctata that were blurring the lines of a rose and a hardy fuchsia.  The area contained some special plants (a podophyllum, a Cardiocrinum giganteum, some good alliums) and I knew that, having been the curator of the display garden at the famous Plant Delights Nursery, Todd was the one gardener I’ve ever felt I could just say “Go for it and do whatever you want.”  Allan and I threw in some more volunteer time for KBC because getting a garden on a tour means the client has usually has to pay extra for perfection, and that does not seem quite fair when it wasn’t their idea.  One of these days we will go help Todd out with his weeding…somewhere nice and level…like our former job that he now does, the Wiegardt Gallery.  (Artist Eric Wiegardt is his brother.)

blurry area, before

blurry area, before

before

before

after

after

very nice!

superb!

We created some definition in this area, as well.

We created some definition in this area, as well.

  With Todd’s energy as impetus, we worked later than we had planned to such good results that Mary was thrilled when she came out from an afternoon of tedious paperwork to see what we had wrought.

Allan and I just had time before dusk to do one more short job.

Andersen’s RV Park

Now this is a job I would love Todd to take over so that we could cut back on our hours!  I’ve told Lorna, the owner, that if it sells we will not go on with the new owner.  We dote on her and are trying to stick it out as long as it’s for sale.  We’ve spent a lot of time there recently so today all we had to do is deadheading and some light weeding.

I took my weekly photo of the picket fence garden.

I took my weekly photo of the picket fence garden.

Something bad had happened with the mixing of some weed killer..not by us because we don’t use weedkiller and the only weeding we do of lawns is maybe a bit of dandelion removal by hand tool.

On the way home, we saw much evidence that the Rhodie Tour is in two days.  So is the double parade weekend…one in Long Beach, one in Ilwaco.  Usually we devote all week to getting the parade routes perfectly weeded; now we had just two more days to achieve as much perfection as possible in both towns.

rhodie

rhodie2

At home, all I had strength to admire was the Davidia involucrata ‘Sonoma’ planted next to our little driveway.

Davidia 'Sonoma' in flower

Davidia ‘Sonoma’ in flower, inside a deer cage

Davidia involucrata 'Sonoma'

Davidia involucrata ‘Sonoma’

a fallen flower...The tree's common name is "dove tree" or "pocket handkerchief tree".

a fallen flower…The tree’s common name is “dove tree” or “pocket handkerchief tree”.

the size of the flower compared to a couple of viola plants.

the size of the flower compared to a couple of viola plants.

I look forward to this tree getting tall enough so that the flowers are more visible to passersby.  In other tree news, this is the tree, at Nora’s next door, that inspired me to acquire four Japanese maples to my garden, especially a gold one which I feel with tie the two landscapes together.

maple

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Wednesday, 22 October, 2013

Pretty soon all the days will be this short or shorter.  (I am looking forward to that although by March I will be craving the longer days again.)  Today we had a dinner engagement “overseas” so we worked on the south end of the ‘Ninsula in order to be ready.

First, the usual compost bucket switch at Olde Towne.

Luanne's pumpkin decor

Luanne’s pumpkin decor

I poked the bigger Ilwaco city planter outside and found it disconcertingly dry.  I revised my plan of doing Long Beach and then Andersen’s RV Park.  The planters needed water today!   To get a head start, we borrowed Chester’s watering can and watered five of the planters nearest to Olde Towne.  Then,  on to Long Beach….parking would be easier in Ilwaco later in the day.

At my request, Allan tackled the montbretia removal in Fifth Street Park where it had snuck in around a daylily.   Just a clean piece of the daylily (a good maroon one) went back in.

Allan's first project, before and after

Allan’s first project, before and after

The pineapple sage is finally blooming!

The pineapple sage is finally blooming!

ornamental grass

On the south side of the park, the ornamental grasses have redeemed themselves from the day after the windstorm of a couple of weeks ago.  They looked so bent over then, I almost chopped them.

Almost cut these grasses, happened just the other day.  They were getting kinda long, could have said they were in my way.  But I didn’t…and I am so glad!

I walked around and checked each planter, fretting over how dry some of them are.  Mysteriously, some are damp and some quite dry.  The water has been turned off so there is nothing I can do but wish for a rainy day.

Asphodel about to bloom...wish I had more of these.

Asphodel about to bloom…wish I had more of these.

 I remind myself once again to remember to cut back, in mid spring, ALL of the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’.  The few that I missed look terrible now.
the bad and the good

the bad and the good

the usual self reminder to plant more dahlias next year

the usual self reminder to plant more dahlias next year

still a vibrant and rather messy mix by Home at the Beach shop!

still a vibrant and rather messy mix by Home at the Beach shop!

Several of the planters have chrysanthemums, all several years old and all but one still vigorous.

mum

across from Dennis Company

by the Elks building

by the Elks building

The one one that is peaked and disappointing is by NIVA green.

not up to much!

not up to much!

I wish my favourite shop had a better chrysanthemum show!

I wish my favourite shop had a better chrysanthemum show!

When I got back to Fifth Street, Allan had been working on and removed four wheelbarrow loads of weeds and cut back lady’s mantle from this difficult garden bed.

a tough little bed, rooty and damp

a tough little bed, rooty and damp

It had looked pretty good early this month with a show of Schizostylis.

We needed more projects in order to time our watering of Ilwaco correctly.  I had the brainstorm to cut back the so-called dwarf mugo pine at the edge of the park.  It had grown into the walk space on both directions.  Mike Kitzman, parks manager, had been amenable to cutting it down, but that had not happened and I did not want to be that bold.  I forgot to take a before photo.

during and after

during and after…all the sideways, sidewalk blocking branches gone…and it’s lower

On our last look at the park, I noticed the Jerusalem sage is having a second yellow flowering.  I find that unusual.

Phlomis fruticosa

Phlomis fruticosa

Also unusual: an Eryngium 'Jade Frost' NOT reverting to green

Also unusual: an Eryngium ‘Jade Frost’ NOT reverting to green

We still needed one more thing to do to make the time come out right, so we cut back an Escallonia up by Scoopers market; I thought it was blocking the traffic sightline.  We did not plant it; it dates back to volunter planter days.

In the late winter, I am cutting these all the way down.

In the late winter, I am cutting these all the way down.

After dumping in the Long Beach works yard, we went to the Ilwaco boatyard to fill up buckets for watering….a job we thought was over after that big rain that now seems long ago.  No rain is forecast till a week from now…

in the boatyard

in the boatyard

I picked up some trash from the boatyard garden and admired the ongoing cosmos show.

cos

south end of boatyard garden

second flowering on blue globe thistle

second flowering on blue globe thistle

Cosmos, north end

Cosmos, north end

Cosmos picotee

Cosmos picotee

looking south from Eagle Street

looking south from Eagle Street

Allan bucket watering

Allan bucket watering

I had gotten into a pruning mood, and one of the street trees particularly bothered me.  These are all columnar pears, and they sure are not very columnar in nature.  The one by the Col Pacific Motel keeps wanting to grow toward the sign.  Last year, its lopsidedness had gotten so big it blocked the view of the sign.

Better?  Hmmm.

Better? Hmmm.  Now I want to take just one branch off the other side…

Allan found some nasty sluggy things in some of the leaves, and I think they were pear slugs!  Yuck.

They are so…sideways for columnar trees.    I did not have time to tackle more of them (maybe just as well) but we did take off a couple of lower branches on the one across the street.  A six foot tall person would have had to move over on the sidewalk to pass this tree:

after a slight lifting of the under-branches

after a slight lifting of the under-branches

If it were more columnar, the Portside Café sign would show better.  I see just where to cut….

However, it was time to meet Tom and Judy for our ride across the river.  I madly chopped up tree branches into our garbage wheelie bin for the last twenty minutes of the work day, so that the pear slugs…or whatever…go away in  the trash pick up tomorrow.

After an exciting ride across the Astoria bridge in Tom’s sporty red VW Golf R, we met Larry and Robert for a happy, hilarious, and delightful dinner gathering of six at La Cabana de Raya.  The only bad thing about today’s nice cool grey weather was that we did not get much of a river view, and no sunset.

The only bad thing about today's nice cool grey weather was that we did not get much of a river view.

two out of three amazing appetizers:  Fresh guacamole and Ceviche

two out of three amazing appetizers: Fresh guacamole and Ceviche

The sixth of us didn’t solve all the world’s problems over dinner…..Just Ilwaco’s, and had much laughter in the process.

Like the ending of My Dinner with André, we talked and talked until we looked around and saw that the restaurant was empty and the staff was cleaning up.

we closed it down....

we closed it down….at our table in the back

When I got home and turned on my computer to blog, I received a message from Mary, two doors down, to come get some of the salmon her husband had caught, and in the process I got to hold their little two-and-a-bit pound Yorkie!   It is a fortunate life to be blessed with such good neighbours…two doors down, four doors down (Tom and Judy) and five doors down (Larry and Robert).  (Three doors down is empty and being worked on.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday October 9, 2013, part one

When I heard that the owners of Crank’s Roost had bought the Willapa bay view house where we used to prune 300 hydrangeas, I went through a gamut of emotions:  I thought I had said goodbye to those darned [word edited for politeness] hydrangeas forever (when the house went up for sale a couple of years ago).  I could not bear the thought of seeing them again!  Maybe Lisa would not want to hire us for the job anyway.  But…remember how excited we were when we first started the job in August of 2007?  The garden had so much potential, and we almost got it back to its original state of Japanese style perfection.  And then…remember how sad we were when we got sort-of-fired about a month later!?  And remember how even though, when we were re-hired just to prune the hydrangeas, all the beauty we saw while working there?  But…remember how hard the hydrangea job is and how long it took…and yet…remember the mossy meandering woodsy semi-formal landscape and how much it needed a loving gardener to care for it?

The builder of the house, local carpenter Bill Clearman, had kept his hand in caring for the house while it was for sale, but, with the previous owners deceased, had not been able to get us back to prune during that time.

By the time Lisa asked us to come assess the garden situation, I had gone through all the emotions from dread to delight and settled on being quite pleased to go back there again.  So today….

peaceful glade next to garage

peaceful glade next to garage

up the driveway...

on up the driveway…

wall enclosing parking courtyard

wall enclosing parking courtyard

Again we see the glorious blue tile roofs...garage, walkway, house, guesthouse

Again we see the glorious blue tile roofs…garage, walkway, house, guesthouse all topped in blue
azalea cloud gone all spiky.  Lisa said the path had disappeared before she clipped back...

azalea cloud gone all spiky. Lisa said the path had disappeared before she clipped back…

I found myself itching to clip those azaleas into a drifting cloud shape again.

Looking from the guest house back to the front door, along the blue tile walkway

Looking from the guest house back to the front door, along the blue tile walkway

I had walked all the way around the house and had only taken one photo of the hydrangeas on the bay side, perhaps because the sight of them (about 275 now, I think) was so overwhelming.

just one corner

just one corner

They have not been pruned since we last did them, and new flowers are mixed with deadheads.  After we had walked around other areas, we went back to view the hydrangeas again.

from the porch

from the porch

Interestingly, the hydrangeas gone wild are still not tall enough to block the view.  The previous owner wanted them cut too low, I thought, to get the most profuse possible bloom.  I think I might have just a tad more say in the height this time around.  The other great change will be that the previous owner wanted them pruned in the bad weather month of February.  Many times we stood under the eaves as sleet, hail, and even snow passed over.  I remember texting a friend who was coming to help us rake up debris with continued dire weather reports as Allan and I sheltered by the guest house door.  (During those years, the owners were always gone to a warmer clime during the hydrangea pruning time.)  As the weather that day got worse and worse, we aborted the whole mission and the drive up there had been for nothing.  Lisa is all for pruning in the fall, with possibly a touch up in spring.

from the covered deck

from the covered deck

Now me, I like to leave hydrangea blooms on all winter because they look pretty cool with frost or snow on them, but this particular time I will be very happy to address the pruning starting next week rather than face this much of a mess in colder weather.  Another huge improvement:  instead of dragging all the branches many rough yards to a burn pile close to the bay, we can make piles right next to the field for our friend Ed Strange, who does mowing and lots of “heavy” gardening, to haul away.

They run all the way to in front of the guest house, where the hydrangea field becomes even wider...

They run all the way to in front of the guest house, where the hydrangea field becomes even wider…

I do remember well the grim first two days of pruning when it feels like one will never get done, and then how on days three through five (!!!) one can feel that progress is being made and there is a distant hope of completion and then the joy of getting done on day six.  Perhaps not having to haul to a burn pile will make the job less daunting.  In the autumn, with longer days than February, it may take fewer than six days to complete the job.

Inside the house we marveled at the ceiling of the living room.  Bill had given us a tour of the house once before, and told us how he had raised the beams to the ceiling on his own.

living room ceiling

living room ceiling

He had bought Japanese carpentry tools in order to do the job with complete authenticity.

walkway from guesthouse, looking south to front porch

walkway from guesthouse, looking south to front porch

inside the roof of the walkway, carpenter craftsman Bill Clearman's artistry

inside the roof of the walkway, carpenter craftsman Bill Clearman’s artistry

I am thrilled that Lisa agrees with me that the ivy must eventually go.  (See noivyleague.com.)  She had already clipped it back from encroaching on the bricks and had pulled it off one pillar.   I can see a collection of hellebores where the ivy is.  Lisa asked what to have for summer….How about hellebores mixed with hardy fuchsias?  But first…the hydrangea pruning…then the azalea pruning…

Before we left, I had to take a photo of the red bridge, off to the side over a swale which fills with winter water.

enticing mossy path....

enticing mossy path….

and the red bridge

and the red bridge

I am so ready.  This time I believe that the garden is going to get to make a complete comeback.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

I overslept…again. Allan said it was raining so he did not wake me. The weather looked fine when I finally opened my eyes. Then rain returned and we thought we would take the defective lawnmower to the repair shop in Astoria, until the sun came out moments later and I assessed the sky as being light all around the edges. So we went to weed at Golden Sands.

I could not find my grub hoe (AKA vineyard hoe). For the difficult and dense strawberry removal at Golden Sands, I wanted it. The last time I could remember using it was a year ago at Nancy Allen’s garden! So I resolved to buy a new one at The Planter Box. They had a reassuringly large new pile of dairy manure and lots of interesting pumpkins and squash.

cow fiber

cow fiber

colour coordinated pumpkin and rooster

colour coordinated pumpkin and rooster

Teresa is having a contest with a prize for whoever can guess the weight of this pumpkin.

It's a whopper.

It’s a whopper.

white and orange, large and small

white and orange, large and small

pumpkins

One thing The Planter Box did not have was a grub hoe. Teresa had recently sold the last one. She suggested I could borrow her dad’s if we could find it, so we walked over to his kitchen garden.

kitchen garden with pruned raspberries in front

kitchen garden with pruned raspberries in front

Teresa let the chooks out!

Teresa let the chooks out!

chooks2

fall colour on a blueberry

fall colour on a blueberry

The grub hoe was found over by the house so Allan and I were on our way (after I bought a pair of clippers to stand in till I find my three or more lost pairs).

grub hoe is on left

grub hoe is on left

When I had bemoaned how I could misplace a tool as large as the grub hoe, Teresa had told me that her dad has lost three out on the farm somewhere. “He leans them against a tree, and then the wind blows, and the grass grows…” I felt better.

At Golden Sands, my enthusiasm for getting the beds ready for mulching turned to despair when I stepped into the courtyard and saw this:

????????

????????

I knew the eunoymous was scheduled to be cut low below the windows, but what had happened to the rhododendrons?

??!!@#*@*#!!!!

??!!@#*@*#!!!!

The rhodos in that section had looked like these on the other side of the door, and were symmetrically arranged to match them.

not YET pruned

not YET pruned

I could understand taking a little off the top, but why the butchery?

The ones that had been planted (why, landscape architect, WHY!!!???) right in front of the windows did have to be pruned low per fire department rules.

but why so stubby?

but why so stubby?

But now the whole area looks like this…and to refresh your memory, here again is the way the OTHER side looks.

the good and the bad

the good and the bad

The state of the roses near the door made me almost weep.

and the ugly

and the ugly

A plump and promising rose bud was hacked and hanging on by a thread of bark. Last time, happily recovering because of sprinkler system repair, that rose looked so good with fresh new leaves and flowers. Two other roses in the same area had been treated the same way.

I went on the warpath and found no one to kvetch to till I tracked activities director Pam down in the gym. She listened and came out to the garden with me and looked and shared my distress. I said I would quite simply quit if the rest of the courtyard was pruned so severely, as there was no good reason to hack down every single shrub!

Then I grub hoed in a grim mood. After awhile, the maintenance man came out. He’s a nice guy, and he said he had only been doing what he was told. Then we had a pruning talk, and he listened with an open and receptive mind. I showed him how a rhodo could be lowered without leaving nought but stubs and asked why? why? why? about the rose and its lovely buds. He said while he was pruning the rhodos, a resident had come out and asked him to deadhead the rose. Not being a gardener, he just cut the whole top off. Personally, I would NOT deadhead a rose at this time of year because I think letting it make hips helps harden it off for winter. I implored him to just leave the roses to me, and I think he will.

Another problem looms: He does not like having to clean leaves out of the gutters, and says the tall maples drop leaves every week, pretty much.

the maples in question

the maples in question, northeast courtyard area

You can see how high they are over the gutters. I described how they could be carefully cut into an attractive lower Japanese-garden-looking sort of foliage cloud. That’s not gonna happen. He spoke of cutting the trunks to five feet tall. I said either cut them ALL the way down and let the tree be a shrub that is chopped low, or just get rid of them. (You can see a haze of suckers all around the base that would become shrublike.) A set of five foot stumps just sounds hideous to me. Again, why do landscape designers plant this way? A smaller tree would have been wiser. In the courtyard, there is a fire alarm strobe light that needs to be visible to the residents. Of course, the designer, whoever it was, fourteen years ago, planted a maple tree right in front of it.

At least the two small maples at the south end of the courtyard will be spared as they are much better placed and not up against the building.

smaller maples at south end (repeat photo)

smaller maples at south end (repeat photo)

I showed the patient maintenance man a large California Wax myrtle that was clearly a random seedling and said it could be cut all the way to the ground, as it is in a place it should not be and is blocking a rose and a hydrangea, and I described how he can cut an enormous ceanothus so that it won’t look butchered but will be half its present size. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, Allan tackled strawberries.

during and after, northwest quadrant

during and after, northwest quadrant

He wants you to know it was solid beach strawberry all the way to the wooden box when he began (but he forgot to take a before photo at the beginning).

more "afters" of northwest quadrant

more “afters” of northwest quadrant

Gah!

last time

today!

today!

Now we are ready to bring mulch. We also worked over the southeast quadrant, removing more strawberries and some pink blah cranesbill geranium.

better, way few strawberries and fewer cranesbill geraniums

better, way few strawberries and fewer cranesbill geraniums

The garden beds suffer from Free Syndrome. The budget was so small I brought free plants (NOT cranesbill geraniums though!) including a pale pink scabiosa that has reseeded far too prolifically.

Southwest quadrant...still too much pink scabiosa

Southwest quadrant…still too much pink scabiosa

I hope that the mulching can happen next week.

The maintenance man and I fervently wish the design had included a nearby access door for the garden courtyard that does not require bringing a wheelbarrow (or, in the past, lawnmower) all down the long carpeted hallway.

Just at closing time, we got the grub hoe returned to The Planter Box. We’d dodged a few brief squalls while working; while we were in the store a deluge passed over.

rain

rain

some fall colour including two kinds of chocolate cosmos and some calendula

some fall colour including two kinds of chocolate cosmos and some calendula

Home at dusk, I thought about hauling yesterday’s debris piles from off the lawn. But didn’t.

Halloween lights

Halloween lights

front porch, with Frosty

front porch, with Frosty

The emotional ups and downs of gardening, and the defense of plants against bad pruning, can be exhausting sometimes.

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Friday, October 4, 2013

South end days have more work time because of less of a commute..  We started with Mayor Mike’s house just a few blocks to our east.

Mike's house

Mike’s house

I like it that the mayor lives in a “double wide” just like we do.

mike

Our first job would have been even closer if I had remembered that we had dropped off, the evening before, two half buckets of gravel for a tiny project at Larry and Robert’s garden less than a block to our west.  But I did not remember till dusk.

When we stopped off at home to put some of the compostable debris from Mike’s into our clippings piles, I saw the blooming Aster lateriflorus ‘Prince’ near the driveway.

a Very Good Aster

a Very Good Aster

I realized that what with the rain, I had been spending very little time in my own garden.

dahlia

A dahlia near the debris pile caught my eye…and next to it a stunning clematis that has been blooming on and off all summer.

Clematis

Clematis ‘Rooguchi’

Nearby, I found a baby artichoke.  I wonder if there will be time for it to get large enough to eat.

The plant is young, so this bodes well for next year.

The plant is young, so this bodes well for next year.

Smokey wished I would stay home (and so did I).

smokey

Smokey in his BirdsBeSafe collar.

But we had things to do in Long Beach town.

west side of Long Beach City Hall

west side of Long Beach City Hall

The west side of city hall has two escallonias (one Pink Princess, one white Iveyi) that have gotten too big (my fault).  I don’t want them scraping at the building during wind storms.

before

before

They were pushing out too far on the sidewalk side, as well.  I had already trimmed them back a bit just awhile ago.  Now, if they had been in my garden, I would just have cut them almost to the ground and let them come back.  (Not quite true:  In my garden, they are planted where they can get to full size…proof this planting was far from my wisest choice.  Live and learn.)  But I thought that would be too shocking to passersby.  So I pruned the one at the north end of the bed into a more tree like, cleaned up form, and figured that later, when light that now can get to the inside gets more foliage to break out, I would cut it down.  It came out looking all right, but unfortunately the one at the south side proved to have such an ugly trunk shape that we DID have to cut it most of the way down.

after:  Once you cut it, you can't put it back.

after: Once you cut it, you can’t put it back.

Drat.  Now my plan is to chop down the one on the north end as soon as the weather gets bleaker.  Phooey.

While we were pruning, an acquaintance from the past, the daughter of the late Don Woodcock who once lived in Seaview, stopped by to visit and said she reads my blog.  How in the world did she find it, I asked, and she said something like “I’m nosy”.  I laughed, because I have been known to Google people.  I was pleased to learn that Don’s grand old Seaview house, The Sandcastle, is now a lived in family home again.  It and the Collie House are my favourite two Seaview houses.  I promised her I would stop by and take a new photo of the house.  I had noticed on driving by that the yard is looking cared for and pruned and all spruced up lately.

Across the street, our next door neighbours from Starvation Alley Cranberry Farm have some great new signage on their new coffee/juice shop.

Akari Space signs

Akari Space signs

closer...I love "mission control"

closer…I love “mission control”

I wonder if Jared and Jessika (who live right next door to our house) would notice if I stole “mission control” for one of our Tangly Cottage signs.

While I’m writing about admiration of artistry, here is one of the many mosaic tiles by Renee O’Connor that are set into the sidewalk along Beach Boulevard Street and the Bolstadt Beach Approach.

signs

This one reminded me that it is a clam digging weekend and that we should check the condition of the planters along the beach approach roads, so we did that next.

rose hips in the beach approach garden

rose hips in the beach approach garden

the last of the rugosa rose blossoms

the last of the rugosa rose blossoms

late blooms on Rosa Rugosa

late blooms on Rosa Rugosa

We did some clean up of wind toppled Cosmos at the Boreas Inn and some impatient deadheading of Agyranthemum ‘Butterfly’ at the Long Beach welcome sign.

looking very tired now

looking very tired now

We had just one more plant (a blue oat grass) to pop into the newly cleared (formerly Pampas Grass) area in front of Marie Powell’s studio in Ilwaco.

fresh plants, fresh river rock

fresh plants, fresh river rock

When we got home, I decided I must make a twilight tour of the garden because I was behind on my plant appreciation.

a cheerful yellow...Rudbeckia? or ?? in front garden

a cheerful yellow…Rudbeckia? or ?? in front garden

monkshood and fuchsia

monkshood and fuchsia

Echinacea 'Green Envy'

Echinacea ‘Green Envy’

late blooming red Salvia something or other

late blooming red Salvia something or other

Geranium 'Rozanne' river is tired but still somewhat blue

Geranium ‘Rozanne’ river is tired but still somewhat blue

Cardoon against the sunset sky

Cardoon against the sunset sky

In the last of daylight, I picked some more tomatoes and peppers from the greenhouse and some Cox’s Orange Pippin apples from our young apple tree.  How I love that I HAVE the very British Cox’s Orange Pippin apple…  It is susceptible to disease but oh how delicious.  I read somewhere that the Pacific Northwest is the only place where it will grow as well (or almost as well) as it does in England.  We got the tree at Brim’s Farm and Garden in Astoria.  I may be picking these apples a bit too early, but I am afraid they will fall off the tree as it is heavily laden for its small size…and supposedly they will ripen more indoors.

peppers green, chocolate (not really) and hot...several kinds of tomatoes...orange pippin apples

peppers green, chocolate (not really), banana and hot…several kinds of tomatoes…orange pippin apples

I am very impressed with the bell peppers grown in the greenhouse!

We have to work on Saturday but I do hope for Sunday off to spend some time in our own garden.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

We drove off with some optimism to the post office and bank, and were met with such a rainfall that we were ready to give up on work.  A rainy day off is not nearly as nice if one does not sleep in and stay in (or go to Olde Towne Café) from the very beginning.  As we pulled back into our driveway, I saw sun behind clouds and rain.

a good sign? over the garage

a good sign? over the garage

looking west on Lake Street...blue sky calls us back to work.

looking west on Lake Street…blue sky calls us back to work.

We headed up to Andersen’s RV Park, one of our most weather exposed resort jobs.  I thought it might have been seriously wind battered as the wind had been reported as 51 mph in Ocean Park.  The only damage was one big cosmos down at Payson Hall!

Payson Hall planters

Payson Hall planters

The planters tidied up well but are showing their end of the season age…

I am tired of deadheading Agyranthemum 'Butterfly'!!

I am tired of deadheading Agyranthemum ‘Butterfly’!!

In the garden by the office back door, some Oriental Poppies want to do a second bloom.

Will they make it?

Will they make it?

autumnal:  Sedumn 'Autumn Joy' and Schizostylis.

autumnal: Sedumn ‘Autumn Joy’ and Schizostylis.

My pale pink Schizostylis are either Mrs. Haggerty or Viscountess Byng, not sure which!

The sweet peas got a slow start but are still blooming.

picket fence garden at Andersen's

picket fence garden at Andersen’s

The park was pretty full for a weekday in late September, so I was glad we had gone to tidy up the garden.

just over the dunes: the ocean

just over the dunes: the ocean

In the yearly lull between the end of tourist festivals and Bulb Hell, we have time to do all sorts of little jobs that we’ve put off.  For the rest of Monday, we worked on getting the damnable Geranium ‘A.T. Johnson’ out from under some of the Long Beach street trees.  Who was the dingbat who planted them?  Oh, that would be me, back when the budget was so small I was looking for free plants to fill in.

all cleaned up with hardy Fuchsias added

all cleaned up with hardy Fuchsias added

A quick walk around our own garden in the evening revealed a Lobelia tupa in bud!  But the poor thing is laying sideways, swamped by Geranium ‘Rozanne’.  I still love Rozanne because she does not reseed all over the place like A.T. does.

Lobelia tupa:  I will transplant this one later.

Lobelia tupa: I will transplant this one later.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I slept through loud thunder and lightning, I’m told, but did wake up to hear truly torrential rain on the roof.  Blue skies with white clouds greeted our departure for work.  We stopped at Olde Towne specifically to deadhead one fallen gladiola in a planter out front.  I did not mean to plant silly tall glads in those planters;  years ago I thought I was planting Gladiolus nanus.  The tall ones still pop up here and there and I leave them because they amuse me.

I had realized the previous week when looking for an old photo on the Olde Towne Facebook page (which I set up), that the photos in this year’s album make it look like there is a clique of my friends Judy, Patt, and Donna!  That’s because no one else is adding photos and I am usually there for coffee with those three.  Today, Cat promised to take some photos of other people; she goes there often to use the wireless so should get a good selection of folks.

Cat herself; she's an excellent photographer

Cat herself; she’s an excellent photographer

We procrastinated a bit too long, then we were off to Casa Pacifica, our job that is off the Peninsula (to the east a few miles).

stunning maple and Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

stunning maple and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

I got such a big bag of Acidanthera that I stuck them into many gardens, including the whiskey barrels at Casa Pacifica.

Acidanthera, late blooming

Acidanthera, late blooming and not very hardy

It took Dusty a little while to figure out I was there, but when he did he came out with a stogie.

My good friend.

My good friend.

The very shy Spook let me take a couple of photos….

Spook on the hot tub cover

Spook on the hot tub cover

spook

Then, despite my usual attempts to woo her, she hid under the deck.  I won the other dogs over with treats, but not Spook.

As we weeded and deadheaded, the sky kept seeming to lower itself onto the surrounding trees.

a heavy sky

a heavy sky

I got the barrels deadheaded and a Buddleia cut back and some weeding in the upper garden….

autumn hydrangea and Stipa gigantea

autumnal hydrangea and Stipa gigantea

As thunder rumbled and the sky got darker.

We almost had everything done...

We almost had everything done…

but got caught in a downpour!

but got caught in a downpour!

rain

A lot of visitors to the household meant we had to back down the driveway to a turn around place, and then there was not enough room to turn so Allan had to take the trailer off in the deluge and then hook it up again.  We almost slipped off the road and I was screaming a bit.  Just a bit.  It seemed after that that a nice break at Oldie Townie was in order.  By the time we got there, the sun was re-emerging, but we stopped for lunch anyway.  Only at this lull between work seasons do we have the luxury of slacking off from work this often.

a lunch group at Olde Towne

a lunch group at Olde Towne

We did stir ourselves back out again after a nice lunch of tortilla soup.  Mexican hot chocolate for Allan, Chai latte for me warmed us up.

We deadheaded at the Depot Restaurant…

Most of the cosmos flowers were limp and rain drenched.

Most of the cosmos flowers were limp and rain drenched.

I thought we might then go to Long Beach town and take some old, woody curry plants out of the planters.  Then I remembered that the Boreas Inn should be checked for storm damage to the garden.

It still looked pretty good once we removed some broken cosmos stems.

It still looked pretty good once we removed some broken cosmos stems.

looking west

looking west

Owner Susie was there and told me she is very much enjoying the newish garden off the back porch of the inn.  (Allan got it all nicely weeded and fluffy.)

between Boreas and Yett Cottage

between Boreas and Yett Cottage

We never made it to Long Beach, because Susie asked if we could prune a big rhodendron, just to lighten it up.  It was a job where it is helpful if one person goes inside the shrub and waves branches and the other one says what to cut.  We removed about four wheelbarrow loads full, and afterward the shrub still looked natural, which is the kind of pruning job we like.

before

before

after

after

before

before

after

after

I can’t bring it any lower because it provides some privacy from the neighboring house.

sit spot in the entry garden

sit spot in the entry garden: Boreas Inn

I scored a nice windowbox that Susie, for some reason, no longer wants!

nice!

nice!

Just as we left, an hour before dusk, the rain returned.  Shortly after we pulled up to our garage, it became another torrential downpour.

from our front porch

from our front porch

I was waiting for a rainbow because the sky to the west had some sunshine.

Allan's garden

Allan’s garden

looking north from the sunporch...behind the drying garlic

looking north from the sunporch…behind the drying garlic

And here comes the rainbow…

over the crabapple tree

over the crabapple tree

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

The rain was still heavy but we both walked out into it to try to get more rainbow photos.

rain pouring off the shed...

rain pouring off the shed…

and off the house

and off the house

Allan's photo: over the hops vine

Allan’s photo: over the hops vine

The rainbow got progressively brighter.

over the greenhouse

over the greenhouse

over the garden

over the garden

arc

back garden

front garden

front garden

gold

over Lake Street

over Lake Street

Nora's barberry

Nora’s barberry

rainbow

over School Hill

over School Hill

over our neighbours' house

over our neighbours’ house

fading away

fading away

The amazing thing was that I did not get water spots on the lens with all that dashing about in the rain!

And after that…the blogging about it.

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We can’t keep up with the requests for work, so sometimes we recommend other local gardeners to do a job, even at one of our regular places.  Today at one job we ran across two situations where the old adage applies:  If you want something done right, do it yourself.

We had recommended a tree pruner (most definitely not one of the local businesses that offers to TOP trees, a no no, as Plant Amnesty will tell you) to prune  a view blocking eucalyptus and shore pine.  Within a month, our client sadly informed us “The tree is dying.”  Of course, I felt responsible and we took a good look.  “I think it’s just dead stuff caught up in there!” I said.  Our dear client was skeptical.  Today we again looked up and still the dead twigs clung to the eucalyptus.  This time Allan went up on a ladder to test our theory that the twigs were not at all attached.

tidying the eucalyptus

tidying the eucalyptus

Sure enough, the dead twigs were not attached but needed to be pulled out.  The pruner must have run cutters over the tree and just let the dead stuff fall inside.  Client said that a mess of twigs had been falling out of both the euc. and the pine over the summer.  Allan also saw crossing branches up in there that he would have taken out except that now the talk is of totally cutting down the tree because of the ongoing expense of pruning it to keep the view.

a wheelbarrow full of twigs

Now, I just would not be comfortable leaving a mess like that.  It would be like doing a carpentry job for someone and leaving sawdust everywhere.  (Oh but wait, I’ve seen that done, as well.)  Once we got it all cleaned up, the job looked artistic again.

Except for the trail of lost tools that I tend to leave behind in gardens, I want to make sure that none of our clients ever have to clean up a mess after us.

The other other issue at the same job is an ongoing struggle with heavy duty landscape fabric under garden beds.  RIGHT under with only a couple of inches of soil on top.  Years ago, we were way too busy to make the new beds this client wanted so we passed the job on to some friends (who have since moved away).  Why in the world would they think this method would make an easily maintainable bed?  Not only that, but they had stacked, about three deep, smallish round river rock along the sides.  Stacked and placed the rocks VERY slowly.  When the client asked them why so slow they said the job was very Zen.  I don’t think our clients really want to pay for Zen moments.

At least we made the edge maintenance easier, finally, by making the edging just one rock deep so the whole little rock wall did not have to shifted and rebuilt for weeding.  But you can still see the underwear of the thinly concealed fabric…which one of these years I swear we are going to get rid of by either turning the beds into high raised berms or getting down in there with pick and shovel, removing all the plants, and pulling the darn fabric out.

fabric edge

the underwear showing!

I am sure the idea was to keep the weeds from coming through, but horsetail and beach grass puncture right through the fabric as if it were a thin sheet of paper.

horsetail spear

It would have been better to build the beds on thick layers of newspaper and ended up with lovely loose mulchy soil that weeds just slipped out of…instead of a stubborn layer of fabric in which the weed roots are now firmly enmeshed.

I do want to be able to delegate and turn down jobs and pass them on to others.  Especially when someone wants a result that we have no idea (or interest) in how to attain, like a green golf course style lawn.

And we know that if everyone firmly believed that the only way to get something done right is to do it yourself, we wouldn’t have any work at all.

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I felt pretty guilty today for not going to work…because there was no rain…and yet the desire to not work in high wind mixed with a desire to have a midmorning Olde Towne break (after sleeping late due to morning rain).

Olde Towne Café back room

The tendency to be motivated by guilt does help one be successfully self-employed.  When I got back to the house after a latté, a panini, and good company, I decided I might feel less concerned about work if I planted some of the new plants that were still lingering from early shopping trips.  The work guilt completely disappeared when I suddenly came up with a whole new project.

I had been dissatisfied for some time with the design of the eastern big bed in the back yard.  I like my neighbours to the east, but both the big house and cottage there are for sale.  (In fact, that vintage house and adorable little cottage are the ones we almost bought before deciding the manufactured home with huge lot was a better garden site.)  I don’t want to block their view but want to prepare for perhaps someday having less pleasant neighbours, so I had planted a row of baby evergreen shrubs down the east edge of the big bed.

And yet, I wanted all the big beds to be meadowy and floriferous.  Having a row of evergreens there made me feel like that side of the garden would be so heavy that it would almost be tilted off balance.

east bed

So I started to dig out a narrow bed along the property line to move the shrubs into.  Three or four kinds of Lonicera (boxleaf honeysuckle), an escallonia and a couple of Pernettya can be pruned if need be.

Three hours, some gusty wind and a rain squall later, the new bed was done and the plants moved.  I just need another yard of soil to fill in between the plants (and a few other places).  I also planted an escallonia to the west of the cottage neighbour’s window.  I want her to have a great view so will keep it pruned just below window level, but if a stranger…that sounds so xenophobic, but I picture a possible loud, creepy, staring, unpleasant stranger!…ever rents it, I can let the escallonia grow up another foot and have almost instant privacy.

new east bed

I like the view of the crab pots behind the neighouring gear shed, so unless I get that dreaded bad neighbour, I will keep the shrubs pruned low enough to maintain the view.  I’ll run some boards along the back to make it easier for Killer, the neighbour who mows, to run his weedeater along the edge. (That sounds like a scary neighbour, but he is a fisherman, thus: Fish Killer, I suppose!) I need Allan to help me run a string line so that the property line is perfect.

I guess I got too used to a completely enclosed garden at the old house.  There was some pretty rowdy neighbours nearby so I was glad of the secret garden. That kind of enclosure might never be necessary here.

[January 2013 note:  The house and cottage did change hands and we ended up with the nicest neighbours:  The owners of Starvation Alley Cranberry Farms and of Pink Poppy Bakery!  The Pink Poppies are moving but another pleasantly quiet person is moving in to the little cottage.]

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Having finally stopped feeling so poorly, I am rushing to get things done before the Hardy Plant Society Study Weekend which I will be attending with my friend Sheila.  Allan will be holding down the watering chores for our business, and my own garden will remain neglected.  It has never been so overgrown.  (Allan has a small, but not too small, area of his own and it is impeccable…but much smaller than the 9 beds which comprise my original garden.  More on this…sometime…)

I took a photo essay today of the plants which have survived two years of considerable neglect.  (Last year we had three gardens on the annual late June garden tour in our beach community; the year before, our own garden was on the tour; its decline since that pinnacle of perfection has been disconcerting.  I am starting to learn to say no, to quit boring jobs, and hope by midsummer to have more time in our own garden, and to never again let it be this bad!  (Just missed three good gardening days due to illness; normally would have puttered anyway but was determined to get better for the study weekend.)

I can’t find time right now to write about the plant treasures which have survived neglect, so I offer this instead:

Jena's garden

Allan weeding a client’s garden yesterday

Above: a secret garden in Seaview which we attend to a couple of times a month.

poppy

poppy in Jena’s garden

A poppy in the same garden; might have gotten the seeds from  Sheila.

lower gate

our lower gate quite overhung by roses

One must duck buzzing bees to enter, but I can’t bear to prune the roses during their once a year bloom time.

trouble

trouble brewing outside our upper gate

This mother tried to have her babies under the floor of our enclosed porch; she was foiled by some hastily nailed on boards.

And that’s all for now!

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Finally, we took a day to start (yes, start, how pitiful!) the spring clean up in our garden.  I am so grateful that Allan weeded out a big patch of the horrid yellow archangel weed (Lamiastrum galeobdolon: NEVER plant it).  And then, with his usual tireless energy, he helped prune and haul all afternoon and thus we got ALL the hard tasks done. Now what is left is weeding and tidying. I’m surprised when people say they hate weeding; I love it because I get up close with the plants and it helps me focus on all that is going on in the garden.  I do hate hauling the loads of weeds OUT of the garden, though.  Years of soil improvement have made most of my garden beds so fluffy that even the creeping buttercup pulls right out. I do have the triumverate of annoying northwest weeds: buttercup, horsetail, and the heartbreaking bindweed, with Himalayan blackberries lurking around the edges.

before, old Phormium and Clematis

before, old Phormium and Clematis

In an early blog post this year I inserted a photo of the above bed, and here it was this morning looking just as nasty with an autumn-blooming clematis and a once-attractive Phormium whose leaves had been a particularly nice smoky colour.  But as you know, I am done with Phormiums in the ground, so out it went, and down came the Clematis…a bit late for such a hard pruning, but too bad.

so much better

after: so much better!

Now I look forward to getting into that bed and removing horsetail and buttercup.  I hope my precious ‘Amy Doncaster’ geranium will revive; it looks pretty peaky and it is an ever so special one I got from Heronswood nursery after hearing Dan Hinkley, in a lecture, speak of how he visited Amy at a nursing home and  even though she had Alzheimers, she could remember and speak of plants, and how the geranium is as blue as her eyes.

Why, Dan, why?

Why, Dan, why?

Speaking of Dan Hinkley, I bought this shrub from Heronswood (back in its pre-Burpee days) because something about the way he described it in the old catalog made it sound wonderful. I hate the darn thing now and have no idea what it is. This is a close up of the foliage, whiteish stems and also note the mean little thorns. It seems to do very little other than grow 8 feet tall and put out suckers in every direction. Chopped it to the ground today and will start trying to get rid of the whole thing this year. Does it look familiar to anyone?  I was SO pleased when Mr. Hinkley (who does not know me except perhaps as a face who appeared in the crowd at every lecture of his that I could attend) accepted my Facebook friend request.  That didn’t last long, as of course it would be tedious to read a stranger’s status updates about scrabulous and other daily details, but if only he hadn’t defriended me, perhaps he could tell me WHY in the world this is supposed to be a good shrub?? (I really do understand the defriending…He could end up with thousands of fan/friends, and that would be exhausting.)

A large part of the afternoon was spent dealing with that nasty shrub and hauling it out to the trailer, with much poking of those thorns right through the heavy gloves.  Allan also helped by chainsawing back the wonderful old trunks of hardy fuchsias, winter-killed to the base.  I like my fuchsias to be like trees, so that’s a shame, but their basal growth is strong.

Allan pruning

Allan pruning on the island

island fuchsia, after

island fuchsia, after

We don’t really have an island in our pond, but this gravel patio does have an island feel.

You can see to the right the ONLY way I will grown phormiums now…in rustic garbage cans. They make a good strong statement raised up in the air, but after our cold December even these look iffy. (Cut back after this photo was taken.)

Fuchsia magellanica

Fuchsia magellanica

An example of the power of microclimates: All the Fuchsias on the south side of the garden were killed back to the ground (and are resprouting); the ones in the center and the north side are leafing out all the way up and even blooming, as in the above photo taken today.

mess

still a mess

I still have quite a lot of mess to deal with, like the center area of the garden which should be a lovely sitting area but is full of STUFF I should have dealt with when I brought it home from my mother’s moving sale in October.  Or I should have  dealt with it in January.  And here it still is.  But that is so much more enjoyable a task than heavy pruning and hauling. (We have more than a trailer load to go to the dump tomorrow!)

pond with Darmera Peltata flowers

Darmera peltata flowers, pond, big rock

The next day that I can steal away from work in order to garden at home can’t come soon enough…but it might be a while from now.

Also, I miss my Lumix camera.  Borrowing Allan’s Casio camera…ordered new Lumix…waiting.

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