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Posts Tagged ‘Pulmonaria’

Sunday, 29 March 2015

at home

I did indeed take the day off, although when I looked out at the weather I thought it might turn out to be a reading day.  That would have been a fine thing, as I have a daunting number of books from the library all of a sudden; I should have staggered them better.

Have too little reading time now.  Started with the Anne Tyler.

Have too little reading time now. Started with the Anne Tyler.  Allan just read the Anne Hillerman (daughter of Tony) mystery and thinks I will like it.

I am having a terrible time with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.  I know it is good, and made it to chapter 7.  Something about it does not grab me even though it is so well written and on a fascinating subject.  I had to return it and check it out again, and yet the other books are of more interest to me.  I could probably read several chapters in the time it takes me to write the daily blog, which has become an entertaining obsession and a useful work record and can’t be skipped during the work months.

I’ve managed to read one small and excellent book: The Measure of My Days by Florida Scott-Maxwell, a memoir of aging that was recommended in a book by Susan Wittig Albert.

Meanwhile, the book Allan is reading had a quotation that I liked.  Here’s the book:

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

Review:  “The author of this book is an American Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who is married to an Indian man. She has spent the last few years doing scrupulous research for this book which is a realistic portrayal of life in a Mumbai slum. All the people are real. All the incidents really happened. And the writing itself is so good that it hooked me from the very beginning and kept my eyes glued to the pages.”

And here’s the passage about the effects of agricultural labour vs. city life:

How I feel this!!

How I feel this!!

I said to Allan that the older women admiring her fairer skin sounded kind of racist, but he said it was because she was working indoors, not outdoors in the sun.

Much as I wanted to read today, I simply had to plant my sweet peas.  I thought I might do it in the garage, in plastic window box liners, to stay out of the weather.  However, when I went outside, the weather was not bad after all…only a slightly annoying wind and no showers.  So the day was lost to reading.

I had second thoughts about using the window box liners (or whatever you call long rectangular containers) when I saw the amount of snails that had collected on one.

These don't cause me the nauseated horror that I would feel about this many slugs.

These don’t cause me the nauseated horror that I would feel about this many slugs.

This might explain why my sweet peas in these containers did nothing last year.

I discovered that the containers from the same area with less rim had many fewer snails.

two different kinds

two different kinds

way fewer snails

way fewer snails

Ideally, I’d like a container with a small rolled lip and no underneath rim for snails and slugs hidey places.

Due to this problem, I decided to put the seeds right in the ground as I had done the first summer here.  Then, they had little competition from other plants and perhaps the snails had not discovered them so they did very well.  I hope that clearing a trench and fertilizing and mulching will help.

sweet peas planted

sweet peas planted

In the Egyptian Walking Onion patch in the foreground lurk many snails.

JUST SHOCKING!

JUST SHOCKING!

I am going to have to apply Sluggo every day if I want any sweet peas at all.  A more toxic product like Deadline would work better but is bad for other critters.

In the front garden, I did plant some sweet peas in the rectangular containers just inside the wooden fence.  There, I can put some Deadline between fence and container where no cat can get into it.

Allan’s project was to make a sturdier stand for my birthday birdbath; it had fallen over but fortunately had not broken.

birthday present from Allan; he bolted the stand onto a wooden base.

birthday present from Allan; he bolted the stand onto a wooden base.

While planting some more sweet peas in two long containers on the south wall of the house, I admired this:

an exquisite species tulip bud on a plant table

an exquisite species tulip bud on a plant table, Tulip batalinii, I think

I got my three new shade plants into the new spot that I’d added soil to yesterday.

two pulmonarias and a corydalis

two pulmonarias and a corydalis

I hope this Corydalis comes back for me year after year.

I hope this Corydalis comes back for me year after year.

Then I tackled an area of wild impatiens (touch me not, jewel weed) thinking it might give me room for my new azalea.

a carpet of jewelweed

a carpet of jewelweed

The croaking of a frog nearby reminded me to check on the seasonal pond (ditch) for frog spawn, as Mr. Tootlepedal had been showing some excellent photos of such.

The water was muddy and I did not see any frog spawn.

The water was muddy and I did not see any frog spawn even though this area abounds with tree frogs.

I think Mr T’s frogs, being bigger, might produce bigger spawn.

I remembered to admire my patch of scilla...outside the deer fence.

I remembered to admire my patch of scilla…outside the deer fence.

I admired a Darmera peltata blooming in the garden...

I also admired a Darmera peltata blooming in the garden…

and an established pulmonaria by the bogsy woods.

and an established pulmonaria by the bogsy woods.

Despite these diversions, 45 minutes later the patch of jewelweed looked like this:

done

It seemed too rough a spot to put my spider azalea.  Some pondering led to the realization that it could go in the newly filled area behind the fallen tree logs.

My spider azalea from Monkey Business 101 nursery in Cloverdale...and behind it, another nest of jewelweed.

My spider azalea from Monkey Business 101 nursery in Cloverdale…and behind it, another nest of jewelweed.

Even though my energy was dwindling, I decided to do one more big area of jewelweed (AKA Policeman’s Helmet).  The plant is easy to pull, and I could go back later for creeping buttercups.  Last year, I did not get it out of this area before it got four feet tall.

before

before

Frosty arrives to inspect my work.

Frosty arrives to inspect my work.

forty minutes later

forty minutes later

Meanwhile, Allan had surprised me a few hours earlier by deciding to go to work.  He had been feeling bothered by the thought that the lawn at Golden Sands Assisted Living courtyard might be getting long.  I had pointed out that next time we go there, it will be with mulch and therefore without room to carry the mower.  So off he went, on his own volition.

Golden Sands

hauling my mom's small rechargeable mower down the hallway

hauling my mom’s small rechargeable mower and a strimmer down the hallway

The lawn was not as long as he had imagined.  It is mostly moss; I’d like it to be ALL moss.  One of the workers there described it as having once been like a fairyland of moss and little flowers till someone applied mosskiller.  Our hope is that the moss takes right over.

DSC00011

before

after

after

I am thrilled that he brought back a photo showing the trees by the dining room limbed up.

Whoever did this: Great job, as it opens the view to the garden

Whoever did this: Great job, as it opens the view to the garden

some tulips and a rosemary

some tulips and a rosemary

a few more tulips

a few more tulips

Next on the work agenda is to get mulch in to this garden (a difficult job because we have to wheelbarrow down the hallway) and plant poppy seeds.

back to the hallway to exit the job

back to the hallway to exit the job

The residents are starting new plants on my mom's old plant table.

The residents are starting new plants on my mom’s old three tier plant table.

African Violet collection

African Violet collection; my mom and grandma  would have loved these.

On the way home, he even stopped at Coulter Park in Long Beach and pruned the last sword fern.

evening at home

When he returned, he found me weeding.

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

I had been on various missions all day and had done no pleasant “piddlefarting around the garden”.  That’s the term that the mother of one of the Sylvia Beach Hotel innkeepers used to use for those pleasant days when you just do a bit of this and that in the garden all day.  Those sorts of lovely days happen after spring clean up and planting season, usually between June and October.

Allan suggested a fire and sausages for an early dinner; I said as long as I didn’t have to stop weeding to do anything to make it happen.

Allan starts a fire

Allan starts a fire.

I could weed no more, even though an awful lot of shotweed is about to go to seed.

center bed with lovely returning tulips and enormous shotweeds

center bed with lovely returning tulips and enormous shotweeds mixed with good plants

another batch of tulips that has returned for five years now.

another batch of tulips that has returned for five years now.

pink flowering currant

pink flowering currant

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo, with bellows and dampish wood

fire2

Through the campfire smoke, I admire my ornamental rhubarb.

Through the campfire smoke, I admire my ornamental rhubarb.

an early dinner (as we usually dine at ten)

an early dinner (as we usually dine at ten)

Neighbour cat Onyx visited and ran all around.

Neighbour cat Onyx visited and ran all around.

Allan's photo

Allan’s photo

While sitting around the fire, I checked my email on my phone (as one does) and learned to my delight that we have been laid off a small private garden job due to the owners’ plan to redesign (I would guess to make it more dog friendly, or to make parts of it dog-proof, as the resident dogs are quite the garden diggers).  It’s a garden where we have just done maintenance and have had little creative input as the owners designed quite a nice garden on their own before we took it on (and before they got two dogs).  It will only save us perhaps four hours of work a month…but that’s four more hours I can spend in my own garden, so I was over the moon.  (For regular readers with good memories: It isn’t Casa Pacifica where my good dog friends Spook and Dusty live.)

Indoors at dusk (still light after 7 PM!), I was able to erase the sweet pea list from the work board.  I still have some seeds and am still toying with a late planting of them along the boatyard fence, if all the other plantings are successful and don’t need to be redone.

board

I would love to take tomorrow off to weed some more….but there are lilies to be planted at the boatyard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monday, 23 February 2015

After nine hours of exhausted sleep, I still found it rather hard to get going on my day-off garden projects.  Allan headed off in the early afternoon to float his boat around somewhere.

What to do?  The back patio certainly could use a good weeding:

Ruching out the weedy grass and leaving just the poppies would be a good patio project.

Ruching out the weedy grass and leaving just the poppies would be a good patio project.

In the spirit of procrastination, I was propping up the front fence telling a passing friend, landscaper Steve Clarke, how I planned to pull many the shotweed out of the front garden today, when my neighbours Jared and Jessika (of Starvation Alley Farm organic cranberry fame) appeared.  I asked them if they would mind if I made a half moon edger line down their side of my east fence and they said it would be fine.  So there was my day’s project, even though I had originally meant to spend the time removing fiddly little weeds.  Because Jared and Jessika were bundling their dogs into their vehicle, it would be a good time for me to dig the edge on their side of the fence without making the dogs feel trespassed upon.

I had a walkabout while questing for the red wheelbarrow.

crocuses in the back garden

crocuses in the back garden

a bad sight: hardy fuchsia with annoying orange montbretia popping up at the base.

a bad sight: hardy fuchsia with annoying orange montbretia popping up at the base.

Allan is lucky he went boating or I would have asked him to totally remove that fuchsia/montbretia combo for me.  I found the red wheelbarrow (just the right size so I don’t overfill it) in the bogsy woods with some river rock that Allan had been gathering for the swale.

By the gate into the neighbouring yard, I saw another project that needs doing: In several areas of the garden, I need to remove the rampant seedlings of “touch me not”, AKA jewelweed, policeman’s helmet, or wild impatiens, before it smothers good things.

a field of touch me not

a mess of touch me not

The project began at 1:30.

before, the east side of our fence

before, the east side of our fence

an hour and a half later, after removing two strips of sod

an hour and a half later, after removing two strips of sod

Jared and Jessika plan to till out a bed here for planting beans to grow on the fence.  Digging out the strip along the edge will benefit them, and it also greatly benefits me as the grass grows under the fence and makes the narrow garden bed on my side very hard to weed.  I did the same sort of edging outside the west fence (Nora’s back yard) earlier this year.  I have hope that the edging will help the maintenance with or without a bean bed.  Last summer, I edged along the fence down by the gear shed and the line has held up well since then.

This was a mess  last midsummer.

This was a mess last midsummer.

When the edging was done, my big plans for the day went awry as I went into the house, sat down, and did not manage to get up again for an hour or more.  By then, the sun’s angle was blinding for seeing little weeds.  I did remove some shotweed from the front garden, since I’d said I would, and then tried to return to the mission of weeding my side of the east fence.  By then, I’d missed the warm and balmy afternoon and the soil was cold and I was mad at myself for losing so much time to sitting (not even reading, just goofing around looking at Facebook on my iPhone!)

I was reminded of this poem:

Timothy Took His Time

by Frieda Wolfe

Timothy took his time to school and plenty of time he took

but some he lost at the tadpole pool and more at the stickleback brook

ever so much at the linnet’s nest and more at the five bar gate.

Timothy took his time to school but he lost it all and was late.

Timothy has a lot to do, how can it all be done?

He didn’t get home ’til close on 2 when he might have been home by 1.

There’s sums & writing & spelling too and an apple tree to climb.

Timothy has a lot to do, how shall he find the time?

Timothy sought it high and low, he looked in the tadpole pool

To see if they’d taken the time to grow, that he’d lost on the way to school.

He found the nest and he found the tree and he found the gate he’d crossed

But Timothy never shall find (ah me!) the time that Timothy lost!

I dawdled a bit more by walking around admiring plants.

Lonicera standishii has been blooming for weeks.

Lonicera standishii has been blooming with small ultra fragrant white flowers for weeks.

Sedum 'Xenox'

Sedum ‘Xenox’

narcissi backed with hellebore

narcissi backed with hellebore

another hellebore

another hellebore

Sorbaria sorbifolia 'Sem, given to me by Sheila.

Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem, given to me by Sheila.

It's supposed to be a runner, which is why it's back by the bogsy woods.  There it is, running, with a kazillion baby touch me nots.

It’s supposed to be a runner, which is why it’s back by the bogsy woods. There it is, running, with a kazillion baby touch me nots that need pulling.

I further procrastinated by looking for growth on the plants given us by Todd.

I further procrastinated by looking for growth on the plants given us by Todd.

I am embarrassed to say that when watering in the greenhouse, I found a dried up little Garnet Wiegela from Todd, in a little pot in which I had planted it to give it time to grow on, and which had gotten shoved behind another plant and dried up.  Sorry, Todd!  Very careless.

Hellebore 'Golden Sunrise', still a baby

Hellebore ‘Golden Sunrise’, still a baby

I pondered whether to cut the hardy fuchsia, below, all the way to the ground, or just trim the ends off since the branches are putting out new growth.  I like fuchsias to be tall. But the new basal growth looks lush. Such musings can use a lot of time.

hardy fuchsia

hardy fuchsia

The ribes (flowering currants) are starting to show some colour.

The ribes (flowering currants) are starting to show some colour.

I returned to crocus admiration, after noticing that the Corylopsis pauciflora is in bloom.

I returned to crocus admiration, after noticing that the pale yellow Corylopsis pauciflora is in bloom right above this patch.

crocus

You may note a lot of twiggy debris on the soil.  I’m influenced by two gardeners in that regard.  Ann Lovejoy recommended the “chop and drop” method of garden clean up.  And Anne Wareham’s book The Bad-Tempered Gardener firmly makes the point that it is senseless to haul debris to a compost heap, let it break down, and then haul it back into the garden.  Unfortunately, I cannot use this brilliant method of gardening at work because most of our gardens are public and people expect to see neat and tidy soil in winter.

To the obnoxious former neighbour who cried "Why PURPLE?" when we painted our house:  This is just one of many reasons.

To the obnoxious former neighbour who cried “Why PURPLE?” when we painted our house: This is just one of many reasons.

Pulmonaria in Allan's garden

Pulmonaria in Allan’s garden

Impatiens omeiana already popping up among the black mondo grass in Allan's garden

Impatiens omeiana already popping up among the black mondo grass in Allan’s garden

a handsome hellebore

a handsome hellebore

In the front garden, a potted, struggling daphne had put out some incredibly fragrant flowers.

In the front garden, a potted, lopsided, struggling daphne had put out some incredibly fragrant flowers.

It looked to me like deer have been putting their heads over the low front fence and tasting these tulips.

It looked to me like deer have been putting their heads over the low front fence and tasting these tulips.

I searched the garden for an old piece of birdcage to protect the tulips.

I searched the garden for an old piece of birdcage to protect the tulips.

a line of early species tulips coming up in the front garden

a line of early species tulips coming up in the front garden

Oh dear, one of TWO big clumps of epimidium that I have not cut back to let the flowers show.

Oh dear, one of TWO big clumps of epimidium in Allan’s garden that I have not cut back to let the flowers show.

Hamamelis mollis in front garden, smells like apricots

Hamamelis mollis in front garden, smells like apricots

haze of yellow Hamamelis mollis flowers

haze of yellow Hamamelis mollis flowers

Ribes speciosum in the front garden

Ribes speciosum in the front garden

grass path toward back garden, where I SHOULD be, weeding the east edge

grass path toward back garden, where I SHOULD be weeding the east edge

I ponder how I could get more garden space by narrowing the lawn, but there is something comfortable and expansive about the wide swathe of green.

By now, you can just imagine how much of the time that I took out into the garden today has been lost without much getting done.  At five o clock, I entered the fray of weeding the narrow east bed.

It was a mess.

It was a mess.

The first bit I tackled had that horrible grass, not couch or quack grass but another one with tiny, tightly meshed roots.  It is tightly matted around the base of an old lilac, and the soil feels tight, too.

It's a tight mess.

It’s a tight mess.

Adding some mulch would help loosen this soil so that the roots slip out easier.  Right now, it’s a misery to weed in cold, damp soil.

My beautiful Drymis winteri cheered me up.

My beautiful Drymis winteri cheered me up.

It's blooming!

It’s blooming!

Seems early for such fat buds on Clematis 'Crystal Fountain', whose tag says "blooms June through September".

Seems early for such fat buds on Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’, whose tag says “blooms June through September”.

By dusk, I had the narrow bed looking not perfect, but much better.

By dusk, I had the narrow bed looking not perfect, but much better.

Allan said last night that he wondered why gardeners back east, when reading Pacific Northwest gardening blogs, don’t all move here when they see how mild our winters are.

 Because I got so much less accomplished today than I had wished, I long for tomorrow off, as well.  It cannot be, because there are still gardens where we have not even begun spring clean up.  I swear that next year I will have more time to spend at home where I am happiest.  I swore that last year, too, and the year before.  Life is short and I simply must figure out how to make it happen.

 Next:  Allan’s day off on the water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thursday, 12 February 2015

I decided we should go back to Long Beach and do some pruning that parks manager Mike Kitzman had requested.  On the way, we chopped the ornamental grasses at

The Depot Restaurant

before

before, grasses on east side of dining deck

after

after

Allan did the grass chopping while I weeded in the other beds.

Rosemary and chives bed before tidying

Rosemary and chives bed before tidying

and after

and after

The rosemary looks so much happier since I fertilized them with Dr Earth all purpose fertilizer last year.  Will do so again in springtime.

north flower bed

north flower bed

Long Beach

First on the agenda: Long Beach city hall

west side of city hall, before

west side of city hall, before

and after cutting down Sedumn 'Autumn Joy' and variegated miscanthus

and after cutting down Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and weeding

I’d cut the tall ornamental Miscanthus variegatus late last fall to keep it from flopping forward onto the sidewalk.  That certainly made “spring” clean up easier.

north side city hall: Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant' is blooming mighty early

north side city hall: Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ is blooming mighty early

city hall pulmonaria in bloom

city hall pulmonaria (spotted dog, lungwort) in bloom

and a hellebore, which caused a sensation with some passersby.  "What is that plant?!"

and a hellebore, which caused a sensation with some passersby. “What is that plant?!”

Allan chopped the last three big Miscanthus in Fifth Street Park.

before

before

after

after

I did some weeding under the nearby street trees and had a bad moment while tackling a little-ish street tree bed that was horribly over run with creeping sorrel.  There was so much of it.  And as I pulled and pulled I suddenly thought of all the weeds waiting for us at Andersen’s RV Park and thought “Argh, I just can’t do this anymore.”  My legs hurt and at all seemed like too much work still looming in the future.  The moment passed.

We decided to not prune the big hydrangea in the Fifth Street Park yet but to instead do the ones by the Long Beach Tavern a block north.  They are more visible and look uglier right now.  Also, the crew was about to install some new benches.

Park by LBT, before pruning

Park by LBT, before pruning

and after

and after

I picked up about 30 cigarette butts that tavern patrons drop over the fence even though they have BUCKETS on THEIR side of the fence along with SIGNS saying not to litter.  Also straws, a beer bottle, and other litter.

I’d ask Allan to limb up a big rhododendron that was overhanging the lawn.  Parks manager Mike wants the rhododendrons lowered; I had asked him to let us wait till after the May 2 Peninsula Rhododendron tour and he had agreed.  Limbing up lost some flowers but will keep the crew happy as they will be able to mow.

A rhodo too wide for its spot

A rhodo too wide for its spot

Allan did an excellent job.

Allan did an excellent job.

(My solution would have been to widen the bed and let the rhodo do what it wants to do.  Less lawn is almost always a good thing, in my opinion.)

I do not WANT to lower the rhododendrons.  They WANT to be tall.

rhodos

This one is the tallest and it has not much middle layer of growth so is just going to look bad when cut:

rhodo1

These, in the corner, look just fine the way they are.

These, in the corner, look just fine the way they are.

It makes me CRABBY to have to prune them.  I think they look fine the way they are and I do not want to make them fence height.

feeling very crabby indeed about the prospect of downsizing the rhododendrons

feeling very crabby indeed about the prospect of downsizing the rhododendrons

One of the tavern regulars said he thought it would look so great to have the big rhodos cut to fence height.  Why?  Why would that be an improvement? I asked him.  It would look so neat, he said, as in tidy.

This is why when some rhodos died, I successfully campaigned to replace them with the hydrangeas, which bloom lengthily in summer (when more tourists are here) and which can be easily kept to “fence height”.

Then we were off to City Works with a second load of debris.

Then we were off to City Works with a second load of debris.

Soon we will limb of the rhododendrons on the gazebo side of the park.

Soon we will limb of the rhododendrons on the gazebo side of the park.

Later we are supposed to make those short, as well.  Agh.

Bill’s Birthday at the Cove

We just had time to go home, drop the trailer off, change clothes and head back out again for a birthday dinner at the Cove Restaurant.  This marked our return to Thursday nights at the Cove, our favourite meal of the week.  (They were closed for dinner in January.)

Bill and Susie are good friends of ours and also gardening clients; they own the Boreas Inn (whose spring garden clean up we have not yet begun).

Allan's photo of part of the gathering

Allan’s photo of part of the gathering

IMG_5135

There was much excitement and discussion when the delicious food came.  For one thing, we are all eagerly anticipating when Chi and Jim (left) open their new sandwich café in Ilwaco; they already operate the very fine Serious Pizza at Ilwaco’s Cape Disappointment State Park.

Although I usually cannot resist the seared ahi tuna, I had the Thai Beef Vegetable Coconut Red Curry Soup.

IMG_5131

my delicious soup

my delicious soup

The diner across from me had the ahi tuna....looking as delectable as always.

The diner across from me had the ahi tuna….looking as delectable as always.

Allan had the Jamaican jerk chicken sandwich.

Allan had the Jamaican jerk chicken sandwich.

We had just a taste of the tiramisu dessert as we had eaten a plentiful dinner.

IMG_5145

In fact, I took home some of my soup and had it much later while watching a Ruth Rendell mystery on DVD.

I think back to a quotation that I found in The Year of Reading Dangerously:

I sometimes feel like Nietzche in Ecce Homo, feeling it appropriate to give an account of his dietary habits…convinced that nothing that concerns him could be entirely without interest“.  Michel Houllebecq, Public Enemies.

Next: more Long Beach on Friday.

 

 

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Saturday, 29 March 2014

No, not that kind of high.

I was expecting rain all weekend and was so looking forward to reading. At 6 AM Saturday morning, thunder and a startlingly torrential downpour promised a great day. When I awoke again midmorning on Saturday, the weather still looked ideal.

south window view

south window view

north window view...bliss

north window view…bliss

indoor flowers

indoor flowers

begonia flower

begonia flower

Yes, it looked like I could have one ideal day of rain and not even leave the house. I just craved ONE more day like that before buckling down to work for the next eight months. And yet, before I had even finished my coffee, out came the sun. I would have to weed instead, preceded by taking some photos of lovely backlit flowers. First, the gardens in front of the house and the workshop:

tulips in the front garden

tulips in the front garden

pulmonaria

Pulmonaria in Allan’s garden

Arisarum proboscideum (mouseplant) in Allan's garden

Arisarum proboscideum (mouseplant) in Allan’s garden

Can you see how much the flowers look like little mice diving into the ground?

Can you see how much the flowers look like little mice diving into the ground?

"black" hellebore

“black” hellebore

Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward VII'

Ribes sanguineum ‘King Edward VII’

That barberry that I got from Cistus Nursery

That barberry that I got from Cistus Nursery

If only I could remember the name.

If only I could remember the name.

Edited to add: Not a barberry! Alison of the Bonney Lassie blog has enlightened me that it is Ribes speciosum. Googling informs me that Ribes speciosum is a gooseberry with small fruits. I will have to watch for then.

Tulips and Dicentra spectabilis

Tulips and Dicentra spectabilis

My so fragrant gift Hebe from Charlene

My so fragrant gift Daphne from Charlene

more tulips in front garden

more tulips in front garden

tulips

Then, into the back garden:

the center bed with Geranium 'Rozanne'

the center bed with Geranium ‘Rozanne’

sweet peas in containers protected from sitting cats

sweet peas in containers protected from sitting cats

the garden boat...with less sunshine!

the garden boat…with less sunshine!

south end of garden under a darkening sky!

south end of garden under a darkening sky

Oh joy, the sun had gone, the wind had kicked up, and I could go back in and read!

In my comfy chair, all ready to read High and Dry at last!

In my comfy chair, all ready to read High and Dry at last!

I had recently acquired this out of print book about gardening in Colorado. It’s by the author of one of my two favourite blogs, The Miserable Gardener. (The other is, of course, the Tootlepedal blog.) I had been waiting for over a week for a rainy day at home to read High and Dry from cover to cover. I delved with a feeling of great satisfaction into the introduction by Panayoti Kelaidis.

introduction

from the introduction

As he suggests, I was sure I would get some new ideas for planting the summer dry gardens along the Howerton Way at the Port of Ilwaco (a block south of our house). However, the biggest reason I had sought out the book was because Robert Nold’s sense of humour has often made me chortle as I read his blog.

Smokey decided that he simply must join me as I read.

slowing me down

slowing me down

After we had negotiated that he could not sit right on the book, I began the first chapter and was most pleased to read that my expectation of pleasant reading were sure to be fulfilled:

nold

dream

I was lost in pure delight….And then….I saw a horrible sight from the corner of my left eye. Sunshine outside the windows.

Noooooo!!!!

Noooooo!!!!

Thoroughly disheartened, I had to put the book down and go outside.

Three dutiful hours and several bushel baskets of weeds later, the cold south wind finally picked up and at three thirty I permitted myself to return to the house and the book day that I had planned. I’ll share with you some of my very favourite parts, and urge you to find the book for yourself. The paperback cost me $30; I wish I had known that in it, the illustrations and photos by Cindy Nold-Nelson are black and white. Bob Nold tells me that they are in colour in the hardcover version, which seems more difficult to find (and of course more expensive). She was such a good photographer and illustrator that even in black and white, the art is interesting and informative.

illo

would be more magnificent in colour

would be more magnificent in colour

front and back cover in colour

front and back cover in colour

Robert Nold’s writing was my main reason for seeking out the book, though, so I was well satisfied. Here, he says what I also feel about designing gardens.

on designing gardens

on designing gardens

 

Just the other day at the Boreas Inn, a friend of the owner asked me if I could help her design her front garden and I had to say no. I am out of ideas for gardens other than my own, and I think of ideas for my own garden almost only while I am actively working in it. As Nold says above, “I start digging and see what happens.”

This made me chortle.

This made me chortle.

I was pleased to read his thoughts about trees:

trees

I wanted only a very few favourite trees in my new garden and then succumbed to two apples (Cox’s Orange Pippen and Pink Lady) and one pear tree (in memory of my grandma’s garden, and now I may need a second pear for pollenation) and am already worried that I will lose too much light.

a book recommendation

a book recommendation

Now I must get the shade book by George Schenk, an author whose book Gardening on Pavement, Tables and Hard Surfaces gave me all sorts of good ideas.

I got two spectacularly exciting tips from High and Dry, both of which made me exclaim “Why didn’t I think of that??!” First, Nold writes about raised beds, and how they always sink:

raised beds

Brilliant!! If only I had thought to make a “spine” (as he recently described the concept in his blog) of rubble and junk under raised beds I’ve created.

I was even more excited about a new to me method of planting.

remove the soilless mix!!!

remove the soilless mix!!!

planting

Of course! We always “burble” plants in a bucket of water before planting but have always done so with the pot on. What an amazing idea to do it with the pot already removed. I tried it the very next day, in fact, and the roots sighed with relief. So many plants that we’ve planted end up looking like this after awhile:

a hebe in my garden with its "shoulders" showing above the ground

a hebe in my garden with its “shoulders” showing above the ground

I think I finally can stop this from happening, thanks to High and Dry.

The other suggestion that thrilled me was in a passage about how the latest most favoured method of planting pots is to not fill the bottoms with crocking or gravel. His simple suggestion to place a paper towel over the drainage hole flabbergasted me with its elegant simplicity.

perfection!

perfection!

(I don’t paint the wounds on pruned tree branches, though.)

His passage on botanical names was useful, succinct, and informative:

botanical

And I thought, What?? He does not recommend Agastaches, one of my favourite plants? Which brings us to the plant chapters. (Turns out Agastaches need more water than provided in his almost completely unsupplemented gardens.)

I have to admit I lightly skimmed the chapters on Cacti and Agaves and Yuccas as they would just look silly in my lush gardens. Reading about all the other plants rewarded me with the sort of drollery that is my favourite sort of humour.

helianthus

rhamnus

salvia

I don’t know about you, but the dry humour in the descriptions above made me almost want to laugh out loud.

When I read a comment on Nold’s blog that someone had read High and Dry because he could not resist a gardening book with the word “despair” in the index, I knew I simply had to own it.

despair

And here is the paragraph to which “despair” refers:

the definition of despair

the definition of despair

Even here in the Pacific Northwest, we can learn from the plant descriptions in High and Dry what plants might work well on our hell strips (parking strip garden beds). I hope I’ve inspired you to seek out this book. I can’t imagine why such a helpful resource has gone out of print.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We had agreed to have my mother’s garden on the Peninsula garden tour in 2009 at the request of tour organizer Patti Jacobsen.  Oh dear.  The garden was a wreck.  Our own garden on tour had taken precedence in 2008…and my mother had been unable, since 2007,  to do any of her own gardening work.

Not only would my mother’s garden be on the tour in June, but so would the garden of our client, Laurie.  I had a gut feeling that both of these gardens faced dire change.  My mother’s age and our dear Laurie’s delicate health and possibly impending move to a warmer climate added a sense of urgency to giving each of them the joy of being on the tour.  Gardens generally do not survive when their owner leaves them.

At my mother’s, we decided to start by clearing out the vegetable garden of three years’ worth of weeds.  This area had been my mother’s pride and joy.  It had also been the area where she had proposed we might have a little house built in order that we could all live on the same property and be there to help her out.  So the veg garden had been let slide, and nothing had happened about the little house because none of us had enough money to build it.  We plunged in, determined to make an area to plant some peas, as Mom had always loved to do.  Somewhere in there might lurk her strawberry rows which used to provide her with many berries for her late morning cereal.

Mom’s veg garden, 11 April, before and after

We returned on April 14th with the idea of digging out paths in order to make the beds slightly raised.

14 April, path idea

Only a few strawberries had been salvageable.  But we did get the peas planted.

We found in this old paint brush evidence of how long it had been since the area was cleaned up:

a garden find, 14 April

The weedy condition of the ornamental flower beds daunted us.  Could we possibly, considering how many jobs we also had to do, have this garden perfect by late June?

14 April, looking south from the veg garden

Mom was skeptical.  Patti was worried.  We knew it could be done.

We started on the area just inside the entrance to the garden.  By the southeast corner of the house one entered under the branches of a big California wax myrtle that formed a natural archway.  From the street, one could only guess from a few bright glimpses that a garden lay within.

just past the wax myrtle, 14 April

First on the agenda:  Cut back last year’s growth and reveal each plant.

looking southwest from entrance

The garden, on a double lot (100×100 with some area beyond that belonged to the city but had been colonized by us) already had lots of spring beauty to offer.

a border of primroses, 14 April

My mother had  carefully divided a few primroses into a border of many.

The garden bed by the front parking pad had been smaller when she bought the house in 1999.  Inspired by George Schenk’s idea of gardening on pavement, we had simply piled soil on part of the blacktop and used it for an expansion with hellebores.

front bed, 14 Aoril, with hellebore, backed with blooming Skimmia and Pieris

Her stunning hellebores grew in the little woods on the southeast corner of the lot as well as in the front bed.

hellebores, 14 April (left) front bed (right) in the woods

As we weeded and defined, more spring gems stood out clearly.  I could tell that Mom was beginning to believe that her garden would indeed be tour-worthy in time.

Pulmonaria, 14 April

Soon, she would order ten yard of Soil Energy for mulching.  We would return weekly, or more often, happily forgoing time off in order to give this garden its day of glory.  It is expensive in labour and materials to show off properly on a tour.  One needs mulch…only the finest, at $32 a yard…and of course, one needs a carload or two of exciting new plants.

By April 30th, we still had a ways to go….

30 April

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