Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Monday, 16 September 2019

The rocks from Seaview Sarah found a place in the new pond edge. All sorts of fun decorating can be done here.



Allan’s photo

I reorganized the area where my Panicum ‘Northwind’ had suffered, removing some old Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and a sanguisorba and rearranging the relationship between ‘Northwind’ and Geranium ‘Orion’.

Here is a Sedum AJ that escaped the Chelsea Chop, followed by another one that got the chop and is so much more compact and better looking.


I bagged up three huge sedums and a sanguisorba for Lezlie and potted up many starts of others (and lots of ‘Orion’) for my 2020 plant sale.

When Allan and I visited Mary, two doors down, I realized I had left my property.  Mary agreed it did not count because I had walked through the Nora House back yard and not on the sidewalk.

Allan was building a pallet compost bin for Marlene.  We both worked on our projects through a couple of intense rain squalls.



between squalls

Allan took the bin over to Marlene’s garden to assemble it. (His work at home had been repairing pallets so that they did not have broken slats.)  One of her dogs helped.

I see in Allan’s photos that she does have a lot of leaves!


Just as Allan left, some Mormon missionary helpers came to do more raking.

We had an especially delicious dinner of salmon caught by Mary’s husband, Jeff, from his boat The Salmonator.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

We had planned to work.  A wind and rain storm changed our minds.


this much rain

By the time the storm had passed by noon, my work momentum was gone.  Marlene had brought six more bags of leaves and the mowing of them proved irresistible.


This time, I put them in a larger area so that turning the mower around would be easier.  It would have helped if I had turned the gas switch on and had remembered that one must hold down the safety bar to start the mower.


Ten bags, chopped:


I moved an empty black composter into place in readiness for more leaves.

It does seem not very ecologically correct to burn gas to make leaf mold, even if Monty does it.  When we retire and have less compostable debris, I may stop the chopping and use one of the four big pallet bins for unchopped leaves.

Where I mowed, the lawn is red.  I hope the leaf leavings do it some good.


Allan did a fence repair by the front sidewalk.



Lezlie came to get the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and sanguisorba I had set aside for her.  I remembered to give her a book that MaryBeth had given me, from a book sale, an excellent book that I already have: Ann Lovejoy’s Organic Garden Design School.

Lezlie says, “Thanks, MaryBeth!”


Speaking of books….

a book: The Sensuous Garden by Montagu Don


I had time to finish it this evening.  Some takeaways:

From a chapter about tools:


From one of the colour chapters, about green:


I was reminded of when a retired garden designer recently walked through my garden and was pleased with the feeling of rest provided by the large green area of the fire circle lawn.

This passage in the blue chapter helped me realize that my achusa is this one, not the one on the noxious weed list.  Whew!


On sound (I especially like the first line):


On gardening:



Great gardening book with gorgeous photos, available from Timberland Regional Library!

We almost had peace upon the reading lap, almost, because it always ends with Jazmin hissing.


After five days off, we had better go to work tomorrow.

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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

The promised rain and 25 mph wind materialized, giving us a day almost off.

Skooter did not want to give up my chair.

Allan managed to stuff the landscape fabric strangled stump from Mike’s garden into the wheelie bin.

Only Allan did any work today, applying some mulch to make the shrubless areas at Mike’s look good till we get some plants to fill in.


I have a small start of Lonicera ‘Baggeson’s Gold’ which I hope will grow to match the other one (one photo later).

after; you can barely see the Lonicera at the back of the mulch

The mature L. Baggeson’s Gold clipped into a ball

Meanwhile, I caught up with the Tootlepedal blog and the Miserable Gardener blog. This post on the Miserable Gardener was especially good.  If you aren’t reading his blog, might I suggest that you should be.  It is unfailingly wonderful. He is my inspiration for sometimes writing about personal matters. I have never had a loss as deep as his, and I never could because I have never had a bond of over twenty years like the one he shared with his late wife. So any revelations I make in my own gardening blog are not as deep.

I finally finished the book that I have been reading just a bit of, for weeks, every night at bedtime.

I had given The Happy Isles of Oceania to Allan for his birthday.  While not as much about boating as I had thought it would be, it was fascinating.  Theroux is a curmudgeon of sorts and can come across as judgmental of the people of some of the islands (and some entire nations, especially France).  Sometimes I wondered if he saw himself as superior to assorted islanders.  I’d still recommend it because of passages like the following.

He likes to camp on beaches.

(Unfortunately and so often tragically, that is not the way of the world for women traveling alone.)

He loves the stars.

In Hawaii, he chose the rare luxury of staying in a $2500 a night (in 1991) bungalow resort, complete with personal butlers.

I’m happy to report that he then camped on a beach and achieved a goal of living on less than $2.50 a day instead of $2.500.

I also recommend his book Deep South.

New cat Jazmin is still in hiding.  Last night she slept at my feet for awhile before managing to open the closet door and find a secret spot inside.

Tomorrow our friends from Steveston, Canada, will visit, and we will tour the Bayside Garden, rain or shine.  Then we will all head to Ocean Shores for the north county garden tour.  Allan and I have the good fortune of being invited to stay in a guest house near Markham Farm, my very favourite garden, saving us a stressfully long one day trip and giving us time there to socialize with friends.  I am hoping it works out to have Kilyn and Peter tour Markham Farm, as well.  So there should be quite a garden tour sequence for the next week of blogging.

I am anxious about traveling, especially possible traffic accidents, being absolutely nothing like world traveler Paul Theroux.  Only garden tours get me willingly off the peninsula.


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Monday, 15 July 2019

We had rain overnight, not enough to make me regret running the sprinklers, but enough to delay watering Long Beach and Ilwaco till Wednesday, with other jobs to do tomorrow.

I finished a book that I’ve been reading this week.

Gardenlust by Christopher Woods

Here are my takeaways (probably impossible to decipher if you are reading this on a phone, for which I apologize).

A poetic dedication

Each chapter is about a garden made in this century, mostly public gardens.

I loved that The Garden of Flowing Fragrance, in the Huntington Botanical Garden, has a “Pavilion for Washing Away Thoughts”.

Kevin Scales, who designed Quinta da Granga in Portugal. made me happy by not being formally trained:

It struck me as unusual and daring that the author would criticize a garden, in this case the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London:

I’d love to tour the gardens of Carrie Preston, a Dutch garden designer:

She likes fading tulips: “That is the prettiest moment for a tulip, just as they start to fall over in a sigh.”

I like this:

Landschaftspark, a garden built around the ruins of a former iron plant, is one I’d like to see.

Look, Gasworks Park gets a mention.  Although it is mostly lawn around the old Seattle gasworks, as I recall.

The photos show that Landschaftspark has much more of a garden feel.

About a public garden in Australia, and public gardens in general:

In a chapter showing high rise vertical gardens:

About her Fisherman’s Bay garden in New Zealand, Jill Simpson says:

Out of all the gardens, hers and Carrie Preston’s are the one I would most like to see.

Gardenlust has a combination of large and glorious photos and thoughtful, critical prose.  It is a heavy book, one that you will want to read in a comfy chair.  You can get it from Timber Press or, if you are lucky like me and have access to the Timberland Library system, they have a copy.

I got my blog caught up just now and, within minutes, Devery will be here to bring us her cat, Jazmin.  We are adopting Jazmin because Devery is going to visit family for awhile.  We hope she will return to the peninsula that she loves so much.

Meanwhile, the back bathroom will be Jazmin’s haven, with the tray of fresh green cat grass from Lezlie, lots of comfy sleeping spots, and her own litter box and her bed that will remind her of her home with Devery.  She once lived right next door to us in the Nora house.  Within a couple of weeks, we hope to have Jazmin incorporated into the entire household and, eventually, the garden.


We had a farewell visit with Devery.

One More very blurry photo of Jazmin in her new haven. She is an affectionate cat and was happy to be petted.

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Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Scroll way down to skip all the verbiage and get to some photos from a garden visitor.

We took the day off to recuperate from the Shingrix jab, and a good thing, too, because we both felt puny, although not as puny as after the first jab three months ago.

I was especially looking forward to a book that had been mentioned in Alys Fowler’s Hidden Nature.  I had loved T.H. White’s Once and Future King so had high expectations.

As it turned out, I only liked small snippets.  Most of the book was about fishing and airplane flying (in the 30s) and hunting and killing birds.  I have to admit I skimmed those parts, especially the hunting.

Pretty much everything I liked:

It started so well.

He dissed Beverley Nichols in the preface.  I love Mr. Nichols’ books.

Some useful advice:

On identifying birds:

More about birdsong:

It is too bad he then spent chapter after chapter shooting birds.

I do like it when people talk about their fears.

I like this even though I am not entirely sure what it means; it reminds me of how I feel getting unasked for advice:

I also liked his chapter about snakes.

I liked what he wrote about the writing of personal topics:

And this; even though I do not live in or frequent the country, I am ruled by weather:

On identifying trees (something I am not good at):

And this, about lack of time:

Later, after skimming through a lot of bird killing, I found one more paragraph that I loved.

This fit in well with something else that was going on with my day. which I will get to in a bit.

Out of about 300 pages, that is all that I liked of England Have My Bones, other than two more passages which will appear below.  Fortunately, it had gone quickly because of skimming, leaving me time to read an excellent novel by a favourite author.  I have somehow missed her last two books.  (I had tried to go outside between books and do some gardening, but the flu-like feeling brought on by Shingrix barely gave me the oomph to water my container plants.)

On grief, after a loved one dies:

On being old:

Now that was a great book.  I have also missed her other recent novel, Vinegar Girl, and have ordered it.

Both books had passages that spoke to me of a recent event.  I had been informed by a voice from the distant past that someone who “tried to read” my blog had found it “self-serving, inane, and juvenal ” (referring, apparently, to a recent personal revelation)Because I am never ever at home to Mr. or Ms. Rude, I stopped reading at that point and spared myself several more paragraphs that will forever remain a mystery to me.

So I spent some time thinking about blogging itself (and about why someone would waste time reading something they felt was inane).

Any personal blog is self-serving and self-centered by nature, isn’t it?  Especially if it is mostly about one’s business.  I do try to promote other people’s gardens and businesses, and yet that is self-serving, too, because I want the places I love to be successful so they are there for me, especially if they are the places or gardens of people I love.  As for books, my reactions to anything I read are affected by, well, me, my experiences and my interpretations.

“Juvenal”??   Someone more well read than I told me that that could be a compliment.

As for juvenile, here is what Ann Tyler had to say in Clock Dance on the subject:

I felt that way as a child and feel that way as an adult so….okay.

But inane? No, I think not.  “silly, foolish, stupid, fatuous, idiotic, absurd, ridiculous, ludicrous, laughable, risible, imbecilic, moronic, cretinous, unintelligent, witless, asinine, pointless, senseless, frivolousnonsensical, brainless, mindless, thoughtless, vacuous, vapid, empty-headed”

Pointless, maybe.

Going back to England Have My Bones, TH White had this to say about writing personal things:

(Of course, blogging is not being a successful writer unless one monetizes it…unless being successful is bringing joy or interest to a few other people.)

One of my favourite blogs, The Miserable Gardener, goes deep into personal revelation.  Memoirs are my favourite genre of books and couldn’t exist without personal revelation.  But when I write personal things, I usually delete them so that they only exist hidden in the original blog draft.  Occasionally I let something stand, and then I feel anxious…like TH White.

I so appreciate Monty Don being open about his struggles with depression and seasonal affective disorder and Alys Fowler’s revelations in Hidden Nature, and the deep disclosures in memoirs by May Sarton, Nella Last, Doris Grumbach, Beverley Nichols, and my most beloved Marion Cran, and many more.

I found that my next three posts (published prior to this one) were stilted by the crawling feeling that someone might be reading them with hostility.  But…I’ve had a lovely blog comment not long ago about someone looking forward to when we semi -retire so that I can write more personal thoughts.  So….I will write them, be well aware that they may be annoying, immature, and egocentric, hide them, sometimes dare to publish them, and take what comes as a result.

After all that inane and self-centred navel-gazing, let’s have some refreshing photos from our dear friend Tony Hofer, who toured our garden with guests yesterday while we were at work.

Tony and friends visit our garden

Paul’s Himalayan Musk


Rosa glauca

I love that Tony noticed my new signs.


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Monday, 22 April 2019

We were out the door to go to work, not relishing the cold air, when the rain began.  I happily retreated to my comfy chair and a book that Allan had checked out for me from the library.  It had been recommended to him by a book site while he ordered other British books. “If you like that, you’ll also like this.”

watching the weather

 A paragraph in the introduction, by Nigel Slater, had me thinking about how timid I am about what I choose to share in this blog.  I write an awful lot that I then delete, although WordPress preserves it all in the various drafts of each post (along with all the typos and mistakes that get corrected):

I am aware my writing has taken on a melancholic turn,” the author writes much later into the book, “so perhaps it is time to share a sunnier story.”  So even he pulled back from revelation for a moment.

And even later:

This was the perfect time to read a book by someone brave enough to dig deep, even though he is a well known writer in the UK and now people will know his secrets and pain.  How does he feel about that, and how can he stand the exposure? I ask that of almost every memoir I read, while at the same time being grateful for the writer’s transparency. (It is ironic that I just deleted two lines from this very paragraph.)

It had taken me a long time today to settle down and actually set all other materials aside and apply myself to reading.  Then the first page mentioned snails eating baby beans.

I had to get up again, go outside, and apply Sluggo to my baby sweet peas.

The table I painted yesterday looked wonderful in the rain.

Allan’s photos

Plot 29 goes back and forth between the present day and the author’s childhood and his search for answers about his parentage.

Well, now, this is just how I felt about several gardens I have gone in to rescue over the past 25 years…

I was excited to see a mention, all in one paragraph, of Monty Don AND one of my favourite gardening books, the book that inspired me most about seaside gardening, Derek Jarman’s Garden.

On the appearance of a gardener:

Jenkens and his allotment companions use the principles of “Biodynamic gardening” and stir up various potions.

At bedtime, I am reading chapters of Linda Chalker-Scott’s The Informed Gardener books, one chapter thoroughly debunking Biodynamics.  Oh dear.  Sometimes I am not sure what to think of all the debunking, since further scientific studies often contradict the first studies, etc.

I can tell biodynamics is just not something I would have the energy or belief to try.

Oh!  The author writes about driving: “I have only once been behind the wheel.” I am thrilled.

On his three gardens, one at a small summer cabin in Denmark, one a rooftop garden outside his London flat, and the allotment patch:

As regular readers know, once I began to read Plot 29 I could not stop to do anything until I had finished.  I so appreciate Allan finding it for me.  Locals can order it from the Timberland Regional Library.

Mr Tootlepedal had asked if I had seen any of a gardening show called The Beechgrove Garden.  I had not.  It is a Scottish gardening show, rather like Gardeners’ World, and I I was delighted to find some episodes online.  I watched one episode and will watch as many as I can find.  Down the rabbit hole!  It has been on telly since the 1970s.  Fortunately for my getting things done, all the shows are not online.

I also found in the past few days a Gardeners. World Road Show from 2005 in which the hosts go on tour to a city, visit many gardens, and have a plant swap.

They may be too big of celebrities now to do that anymore.  Perhaps a viewer over there can tell me if they still have a roadshow special each year.





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A year ago, I read two books by which have been sitting by my desk with markers in the pages.  I ran out of time then to recommend them here…and now have miraculously found the time,

I discovered these books when Mirabel Osler, in her memoirs, mentioned Katharine Swift as a good friend.

Some takeways from both books:

Morville is the name of Swift’s home and garden.  Based on the structure of a Medieval Book of Hours, The Morville Hours goes deep into the history of the place, making for a slow and thoughtful read. I don’t have many saved takeaways from The Morville Hours because the whole books is complete perfection, making it difficult to separate out any parts to inspire you to read it.

My cats and I liked this poem by an Irish monk:

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

On tramps and homelessness:

On my favourite flower:


I agree with her that mole soil is “the best potting compost in the world.” It is a gift from the world below.

Next, The Morville Year, which is more of a straightforward memoir.

I have, since reading this, made the start of a willow cave or gazebo or some such thing:

My other inspiration was Ann Amato’s willow arbor.

It is time to find the time to be in my own garden:

On sweet peas:


On memories:

One of my favourite passages brought back memories of my two trips to the UK and looking into back gardens from trains and buses:

…and seguing into allotments, another favourite topic of mine…

In The Morville Year, I found the most moving poem I have ever read, Adlestrop, by Edward Thomas, “a vision of lost England recalled from the trenches” of World War I, where he was killed in 1917..

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name
And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
I learned from The Morville Year about how “the humble petunia” might hold a cure for cancer.  You can read about it here, from 2002—I hope something came of it.
On the power of a public garden:
On bulb planting:
So, gardening friends who are readers, you see why I think you must read these books.  A third, A Rose for Morville, is due to be released in December 2020, and it is promised that it will go deeper into the story of her beloved husband who left her—a man who surely made the wrong choice, in my opinion.  The release of the third memoir is something to live for.  I hope I make it that far because I long to read it.

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from the weekend (I think I forgot to post these)

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

I was ever so pleased to see rain so that I could finish the book I had started at bedtime the night before,

The Deckchair Gardener by Anne Wareham.

I recommend it.  I had enjoyed her book The Bad Tempered Gardener so much that I decided, correctly, that it would be worth ordering this newer book from England.

Here are some of my favourite bits, and sometimes what they made me think about….which is appropriate, because the author’s website is thinkinGardens.

Her book will try to help you take it easy in the garden.


I laughed out loud about Monty and his two dogs.  Geoff Hamilton was one of the earlier hosts of Gardeners’ World, another affable and soothing fellow. (I have found some old videos of his shows online.)

In two different chapters, she advises …”give up all magazines, newspaper columns, and television programmes on gardening.”


But I cannot give up my British gardening shows! However, last year, once the days were longer, I slowly eased out of watching and did not start again until January 2019 (and now have ever so much catching up to do, which reminds me, the new show of Gardeners’ World has appeared on BritBox TV this afternoon and I have not yet watched it).

Anne lays out advice for each season of the year about what you can get away with NOT doing in the garden.

Among many suggestions for making gardening life easier is not growing seeds for the veg garden (which I am terrible at, anyway) and instead supporting “the kind people who make a living growing seeds for you, so you can assist them making their living, while they assist you in not becoming exhausted making your living.”   Thanks to this revelation, I might even have more of a veg garden by purchasing plants from The Basket Case and Planter Box nurseries….except that I already bought seeds this year, unfortunately.

Now, true this may be about compost…

…but I have no desire to give up my bins.  I love them so!  In fact, I had begun to realize that I do very much enjoy all the busy work of gardening from which Anne is offering to rescue me.  Nevertheless, her book continued to amuse and educate me.  I am glad that I own it, because as I get older I might have no choice but to refresh my memory about her labour saving methods.

One of the most interesting aspects of her garden called Veddw, as I learned in The Bad Tempered Gardener, is the extent to which she leaves debris on the soil, an elaboration on the chop and drop method that I learned from Ann Lovejoy.

I tried the Ann Wareham version of chop and drop a couple of years ago, and by spring I could not stand it….I just had to haul the debris to the compost pile and then, after much turning and sifting, bring it back from whence it came.

I wish I could visit Veddw at different stages during the year and see her method in action.

That doesn’t mean I don’t chop and drop debris; I often do, in very small pieces…and I also (so much work!) chop it up smaller when I put it into my precious compost bins.

There were two things I fervently disagreed with in both The Bad Tempered and Deckchair Gardener.

One is her praise for …”ground…

I find it such a dreadful plant.  The variegated form runs like crazy through the Shelburne Hotel garden, popping up in completely different garden sections from the original patch.  I do think maybe one of the past gardeners (someone who worked there after me, and before I took the garden back on) deliberately spread it around.  The dreadful PLAIN form, which has nothing to offer, is into every shrub and perennials in the north end of the Shelburne garden.  I could weep over it sometimes (and not with joy at its pretty white flowers).  In fact, I recently stood over a patch of the green stuff with despair in my heart.

the Shelburne Horror

My other disagreement is about Anne’s dislike of lawn edges.

I LOVE my nice crisp lawn edges, cut with my half moon edger (I have three of them, so I can easily lay my hands on one). And I have banned Alchemilla mollis from my own garden for years (although now that I have The Toy and can give it a quick trim, I am thinking of relenting because it is awfully nice when in chartreusy, greenery-yallery bloom).

The advice to put the garden aside in winter is good advice that I sort of take…in that it has been several years since I have managed to mulch the garden with yards and yards of purchased mulch during staycation.

(Note: I should try again to read The Wind in the Willows.)

But look what happened this past winter….I spent hours preparing plants for a late spring sale AND we made a pond.  This is mainly because we don’t have time for big projects during work season.

Even though I have a fairly large collection of specifically winter-flowering shrubs, mostly because I used to have so little time to enjoy my own garden in summer, I still feel this…”Winter-flowering shrubs will irrititate you by making you think you should go out to admire and smell them...”…..which I do, even when I would much rather keep my nose in a book.

Here’s something about which I completely agree with Anne:

Everyone in the acknowledgments gets to share a little piece about their own gardens.  This was my favourite:

I love The Jabberwocky poem and often recite parts of it to myself.  It was Allan’s vorpal blade that recently went snicker-snack on a rather rare plant.

If you are local and a friend, I would lend you The Deckchair Gardener for three weeks (same as a library loan).

Speaking of loans, I rarely borrow books because I always have such a big stack to read, often from the library with due date pressure.  As the rain continued all day, I finally read two of the three books that Judy S. lent us (I am embarrassed to say) last summer.  There is a third one that I cannot find at the moment (it is small), another reason I get anxious about borrowing books.  I must find it, and have spent at least an hour looking in my stacks of unread books.

Two books about Japanese gardens

Judy thought Allan might like these because his garden does have a Japanese touch, due to some lanterns inherited from his mother.  His family lived in Japan for a couple of years when he was quite small.

This gorgeous photo, below, shows why, when Bill of the Boreas Inn recently asked me what he could do about his mossy lawn, I replied “Revel in it!”


The Boreas Inn “garden suite” garden could be enclosed a little more, inspired by this:

The second book:

Here, in Reflections of the Spirit, Maggie Oster puts her finger on why I like all my home gardening chores:

I appreciate the author’s frequent reminder to be respectful of Japanese culture and traditions…

Even unto…

…and I thought, Uh oh, I have seen such gates in gardens, always with the best of and surely respectful and admiring intentions.


Do you think this could apply to my new water-filled garden boat?


Finally, I must remember that when (if?) the wisteria blooms at the Shelburne, it would like to be toasted with sake.

Both books are rich in large and beautifully inspiring photos (especially inspiring for my mossy Bogsy Wood) and made for a lovely afternoon. (Thank you, Judy, and I will find the third book; I know it is here somewhere!)

I was inspired to go out and have look at my pieris…

….and one of my Japanese maples.

It is definitely bringing down the tone to have a plastic bag-mended water barrel in the picture.  Must get a new one and relegate that one to holding potting soil or some such.

In the rainy front garden, cardoon and tulips…

While I read and read, Allan did a fence repair of a stretch with two rotten posts.  It was not easy because they were set in concrete. He had knocked into one backing out of the driveway not long ago…  His photos:

This would have been a great time to weed.  There was a moment when I emerged from the garage with garden tools, and went right back indoors because of the cold.

Before this procedure, I got all excited with the idea we should have a white picket fence instead.  Three other gardens on the block have picket fences.  I could grow sweet peas on it.  And then….after reading the books about Japanese gardens…I realized that the plain wood probably looks much better with the somewhat exotic plants I try to grow in the front garden (Melianthus major, Tetrapanax, Callistemon, etc).

Allan also captured this ironic sight on an old sign that used to belong to my mother:

Tomorrow is likely to be another rainy and windy day.  I wish it could be a reading day but we must interrupt it with a visit to our accountant.


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Friday, 5 April 2019

Titchmarsh, that is.

Rain and wind meant that I could finish Tales from Titchmarsh, consisting of his columns from Gardeners’ World magazine..

Here are some excerpts that may inspire you to read it.  It is available from the Timberland Regional Library.

In another essay:

More rhapsodizing about English hedgerows:

Before Monty Don’s dogs, Alan’s cat entertained the viewers of Gardeners’ World.

I have politely and without really saying why quit jobs over pruning like this:

To arrive at a job and find the shrubs hacked down any old way, for no good reason, is not a joy to me.  Ok, for no good reason that I can see.  Clearly, it is Norman’s garden and if he wants his trees and shrubs to be short, that is his right.

I share Alan T’s feelings about wind: “There are some kinds of weather that really get my back up.  Wind, for instance.  It makes me irritable. But then…

On having a garden open:

I love that his favourite place to be is at home:

Sadly, I noticed that the weather had improved, meaning I had to accomplish something before finishing the book.

We’d had this much rain:

I had acquired a rose, Zepherine Drouhin, for the J’s back garden.  Allan (not Titchmarsh) and I accomplished planting it (me) and moving a trellis (Allan).  His photos:

I had waited too long to put down my book and get to work. The rain caught us (especially Allan).

The moved trellis matches the one at the other end of the garage.

So even on a rainy day, I got to erase one job from the work board.

At home, after the rain, Allan did a bit of fence repair and found an interesting bit of fungus of some sort on an old piece of wood.

In our garage, I potted up the agastaches that arrived yesterday.

I had also ordered two cannas from the same catalog, one being Stuttgart which I saw last summer and very much want.

Canna ‘Stuttgart’, must have! (in Manzanita)

I was not best pleased that all I got from my mail order was one tuber of Stuttgart.  Even worse was the other striped canna that I had decided to add….The tuber was so small that I could not even figure out which way was up.

I had expected better from that particular catalog, which has two Bs in its name.

I was glad to return to Tales from Titchmarsh.

This is EXACTLY the description of John of the Bayside Garden:

John in his garden last fall, with notebook:

I wish I had read this book before I wrote my post two days ago about gardening partners.  I will put this excerpt in that post as well as in this one:

….planted and where.

His discourse on the pleasures of cozy winter reading appealed to me; I, too, love the Blandings Castle books.

With the book done—and reading it had made me ever so happy—I was thrilled to find that BritBox TV now is showing the current Gardeners’ World episode in real time with the British broadcast.  That was followed by another episode of the A to Zed of TV Gardening, R, featuring roses for one thing.

And look who popped up talking about miniature roses for window boxes…an amazingly young Alan Titchmarsh.

I wonder what the show will find to share in the next episode, Q?

You can find the whole series on the DailyMotion site, posted by a user named Braggle.

I could use a few more rainy days like this one to get further into my stack of gardening books…and to finish watching Q-Z.




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Sunday, 31 March 2019

Allan had gone boating.

My mission was to get enough compost to mulch the battered soil around the new water feature….which has leaked another half an inch or so.

I need to make some driftwood or other access points for frogs to get in there.

My hope for mulch lay in compost bin one.

compost critter

I got four red wheelbarrows of coarsely sifted compost.

Bin one empty:

Center bed is better now, but I still need more mulch.

When I have time, I can surely get more from bins two through four, especially the lower half of bin four, which has been sitting the longest.

While gardening today and yesterday, I thought at times about gardening partners, with some envy about couples I perceive as working hard together on their entire gardens.  The only couples who come to mind who I imagine doing this compatibly are the owners of The Bayside Garden and Mirabel Osler and her late husband, based on her book A Gentle Plea for Chaos.  (Even those two had a somewhat traditional division of labor, with him doing the mowing.)

In our garden, Allan now does the mowing (although at first I did, before the garden got big enough to needs lots of work).  He has his garden, on the east side of the house, small enough to be kept perfect, and I have the rest…not a half and half arrangement like Ciscoe and Mary Morris’ evenly divided and competitive garden.  Unlike that equally garden-obsessed pair, Allan does have other interests.  However, I can count on him to help whenever asked and to build cool things like my greenhouse lean to.  Longtime readers have seen much photo proof of his efforts.

In two previous relationships of mine, Bryan had no interest in gardening…until years after we broke up, when he developed a passion for collecting bamboo.  And he was a pot farmer, which I suppose counts as gardening but was not something I was involved in at all.

I was not obsessed with gardening during the five years when Bryan and I were together, although I did try to care for my garden that had once been my grandmother’s. Bryan and his friend Owen planted a parking strip tree for meyeads before I turned the parking strip into a garden.

Chris had no interest in the garden, to the point where I one day gave him an ultimatum, that I would no longer read any of his writing until he started to appreciate my art, the garden itself.  He did listen.  His next spouse was also a gardener.  Now, many years later, he has an allotment patch.  If he had been such a gardener in 1990, we would probably still be together!

(I must also point out the irony that both Bryan and Chris were completely opposed to having children while in their 20s and 30s, and both changed their minds in their mid 40s, very much to my disgruntlement at the time.)

After I became an obsessed gardener, Bryan built a wonderful fence for me at the back of my Seattle garden, just because he was a great friend.

And Bryan and his mum Louise helped prune my pear tree and pick the fruit each year.

Robert was my co-gardener both at work and in the garden.  Even though I did the plant collecting, I remember us gardening together at home and even have photos to prove it.

From our Seattle garden:

Robert watering
Robert building a twig arbour
Robert pruning the pear tree, early spring
Making our Ilwaco garden, 1995

However, I am content to garden large expanses of my current garden mostly on my own.  I get to make the decisions without a lot of argy bargy, have help to call for if something is to big for me to handle alone, and I am well aware that not all gardening partnerships are idyllic—especially with someone like Walter.

This evening, I finished reading We Made a Garden by Margery Fish, whose spouse was the worst example I have ever read of the kind of gardening partner that you do not want to have.

I did remove the label, and I put it back on.

I found a perfect essay about Margery and Walter right here on Slate, titled A Gardener’s Revenge, which is just what I was thinking while reading the book.

I remembered what Ann Lamott wrote: “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

All about Walter:


When she wanted to plant in amongst paving, “Walter would not have [that] at any price. I was allowed a few very small holes…. Time has improved things and a lot of the …cement has become loosened…helped…by a crowbar.”

He insisted on blue clematis and ridiculed the red ones she liked. “I was warned I was wasting my time.” He referred to them as “your red clematis” until they began to do well, and then they were “ours”.

He would not let her have a wisteria….  “Since Walter died, I have cut down the ampelopsis.  He could never be persuaded to have a wisteria because he said they would take too long to flower.  Now I have two, and they flowered two years after I planted them.”

He hovered and criticized.

I am reminded of how my mother, after my father died, even though she missed him dreadfully, soon confessed to me that “it’s kind of a relief to not get made fun of” for her gardening efforts.

Margery’s stonework “did not meet with approval.”  Walter liked to “gaze with horror” at what she had done the day before and make snide remarks.

He insisted on planting pole roses and gaudy dahlias in the area she had planned out, so that she had to work her planting around them.

“He never worried about treading on my plants, or smothering them with the great piles of earth that were thrown up, so I had to be careful not to plant anything” near the dahlias.

Margery wanted a year round garden but was “not allowed to plant many out of season plants” because all Walter wanted was a summer garden.

I found this the most telling paragraph of all:

(She was frightened of harming her little plants so dotted the manure around carefully.)

Oh, but wait, there’s more:

You might say that there must be another side to the story. I say what a horrible, dreadful man. After he died, and the pole roses and big showy dahlias went away, and cracks were made in the paving for Margery to plant as she liked, she became a famous garden writer and a great inspiration to cottage style gardeners of today.  It was in watching Carol Klein’s wonderful Life in a Cottage Garden series that I learned of Margery’s books.  I now intend to read all of them.

We Made a Garden is invaluable for its plant lists and descriptions and I must get myself a copy of my very own, maybe with this lovely cover:

Postscript: Two days later, in Tales from Titchmarsh, I found Alan T. expounding on the same topic:

…planted and where….








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Friday, 22 March 2019

I resisted the lure of watching Gardeners’ World on Inside Outside TV in order to have the joy of reading Christine Walkden’s memoir in one sitting.

I had become smitten with her when I saw her on The Great British Garden Revival and then watched as many episodes as I could find (less than half, I am sorry to say) of Christine’s Garden.

I loved her memoir even more than I thought I would.

“I eat, dream, and breathe gardening.  I would not want to do anything else.  I am incredibly lucky.”

I appreciated her honesty and emotion about the making of her garden programme:

Later….she writes of “losing interest and getting irritated…”

When asked to stay in her pyjamas and dressing gown for her first look around the garden she “…was not at all happy with the thought that viewers were going to see me.”

When the crew filmed the rooms inside her house and photographs on her wall, it upset her terribly.  She wanted to do a proper gardening show, and they wanted insight into her feeling and emotions, her “very soul!”

She told them, in tears, that she was a private person.  I cannot even imagine being in such a pickle!  Finally, the camera crew won her trust and she writes that she knows she is “not the easiest person.”  How I loved her for all of this!

After the show broadcast, a friend said, “I thought you were going to talk about potatoes and you talked about the soul.”

This is what makes the tracking down of the episodes of the show or ordering this book from the UK well worth while.

I had wondered if she had gotten picked on for her looks, looks which I adore, of course.

Later, she was asked to wear make up and have a hair stylist for a cover of the book.  She did not.

Christine is also a teacher with a solid education behind her and years of experience.  I wish I could have learned from her; I wouldn’t be an amateur with imposter syndrome.

The memoir is sprinkled with gardening advice.  I was especially inspired by the parts about compost (of course).  She has four assorted bins…

I concluded that I am still not mixing my compost together well enough.

I worry about how I will find enough compost material after we partially retire.  I will be scavenger like Christine (as I used to be for my small Seattle garden):

It was a treat to read about her various gardening jobs.

In the course of work and garden visits to friends, she mentions some shrubs that I often do not see mentioned in print (Stachyurus praecox and Escallonia iveyi!).

A running theme is her gardening neighbours (an enviable situation), especially Reg.

Another theme that deeply affected me was her thoughts about her 14 year old dog.

I know that Tara is gone by now.  I do hope Christine found another dog as fine.

Another of Christine’s traits with which I strongly identify:

And she loves books and has hundreds (or was it thousands?) in her house.

This is so very British:

She lecture-tours all over the country.  Her discourse on hotels is the way I feel and is one of the reasons I am not going to Hardy Plant study weekend this year.

(One of the other two main reasons is the expense.)

I wish to make an alpine trough that uses exactly the same plants as Christine’s.  Then I would feel a connection to her every time I admired it.

Christine’s appreciation of other gardeners:

Sometimes, rarely, I find a book that I want to carry around in a hug after I have read it.  Christine’s memoir made me feel that way.  I want to be her friend.  If I could afford to buy a house on her block, I would be wistfully lurking around her vicinity hoping that she would take me in to her circle of gardening neighbours.

Christine Walkden is, I think, obscure on this side of the pond.  Her shows and her books will repay your for the effort of finding them.  Even though I cannot find an official source for videos of her show, you can find some of Christine’s Garden on YouTube and a complete set of her Glorious Gardens from Above garden tour show can also be found on Tubi.

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