Posts Tagged ‘Sea Nest’

Annuals planting hell continued today.  We had to be somewhere at 11:30 so made a rushed stop at the Planter Box to pick up more Cosmos and Salvia viridis (painted sage) for three north end jobs.

At the Planter Box:  Primula vialii for sale

At the Planter Box: Primula vialii for sale

Rush, rush, stress…..  Hard to think in a slightly warm greenhouse.

We then went to our now former job, Seanest, and met with the person who we think will be able to take over the garden care.  He is new to gardening, but it is a simple landscape these days.  We walked through, and I took lots of photos which I am emailing him with details about what the plants are, which are weeds, what to do to each area at each time of year.

arbor rebuilding

The driftwood temple, which had partially collapsed last time we were there, is being rebuilt with plain wood which will be dressed up with driftwood.

I do not feel particularly poignant about leaving the job even though it is a garden Robert and I created years ago; Allan and I are so overbooked that cannot get any of our gardens to the state I want them in right now.  So, goodbye to Seanest.

farewell, dear garden

farewell, dear garden

Oh dear.  Now I am feeling sentimental after all.   I would have hung onto the job if the house had still been owned by artist Phyllis Ray, who liked a more lushly planted garden than the low maintenance preference of the current owner.  (That doesn’t make much sense because a more complex garden takes more time, but also inspires more love on my part.)

Next we did our minimal bit of planting at Golden Sands Assisted Living.  The budget is small, but what is a garden (of ours) without four six packs of Cosmos and 12 plants of painted sage?  I was disheartened to learn that not only have the sprinklers not been installed in the courtyard garden but there is no plan to have them set up any time soon because of another very important maintenance job that is taking priority.  I responded that it is hard for me to do a job when the plants are not watered.  I was understood, and there is talk of staff volunteering to keep it watered.  We shall see.  We do this garden at a low “grandma rate” in honour of my mother having lived here and because I feel for anyone who can no longer have a garden of their own.  I want great beauty here, but it is hard going.

Below:  Allan got this nasty area weeded;  I was fretting to myself about the watering so did not think to take a before photo.



This is outside our four flower beds, but to have it infested with grass and horsetail brings down the tone of the whole garden.  The daylilies are the boring Stella D’Oro and are here because they were free!

There are still many weeds in the four flower quadrants, so even though we had intended to only stay long enough to get the plants in the ground, we were there for over two hours.

The four quadrants:


southeast quadrant

southwest quadrant

southwest quadrant

northwest; here is the one where I ran out of Cow Fiber mulch.

northwest; here is the one where I ran out of Cow Fiber mulch.
close up of plant table

close up of plant table in northwest quadrant

The best quadrant is the one that is outside the window where my mom lived for a year.  She invested money into buying plants for it so it has more interesting variety…even though like all the quadrants it suffers from the free plant syndrome:  Plants that are given away tend to be too free to multiply and end up being too much of one thing.  For example, all these quadrants are heavy with a pink scabiosa that I brought from many reseedlings at Klipsan Beach Cottages.

northeast quadrant

northeast quadrant, mom’s former garden area

I wonder if the resident of my mom’s old room would like to have the Euonymus in front of her window cut low enough so she could see out.  If only we had time.

another weedy bed in terribly poor soil

another weedy bed in terribly poor soil

I find this job disheartening at present.   There are areas to weed outside the four quadrants, but no time or budget to do so as often as they need.

I pondered whether there might be a way to have a fundraiser for buying some good, exciting, appropriate (drought tolerant!!) plants for the garden, or more mulch, or help getting the mulch down the long hallway.  There is no easy access to bring soil into the garden.

Allan said the secret to getting fundraisers is schmoozing, which we do not have time to do.

more weed blurred free Stella D'Oro

more weed blurred free Stella D’Oro and vinca

It was a relief to leave (even though I wanted more time to weed there, and more mulch, and a guarantee of good watering), and move on to the beautiful gardens at Klipsan Beach Cottages.

KBC fenced garden

KBC fenced garden

There, I removed a wheelbarrow full of weeds from the fenced garden (mostly the bad aster, which wants to be a good plant but is not).

out, bad aster

out, bad aster

I also pulled a fair amount of elephant garlic, vindicating owner Denny who has never liked it.  Its tall glaucous stems and Allium flowers have amused me greatly but suddenly there is far too much of it.

uh oh, too much!

uh oh, too much!

Why can’t the the gorgeous and expensive Alliums albopilosum and schubertii spread madly like this?  (And would I still love them if they did?)

by the greenhouse

a well behaved white Allium by the greenhouse

plants to go in

plants to go in

While I weeded and planted Cosmos (barely finding room to squeeze in three six packs), painted sage, a chocolate cosmos, and a petunia ‘Pretty Much Picasso’, Allan deadheaded the many spent narcissi around the property and did some weeding outside the fence.

by the pond

by the pond

trimmed ferns looking lovely now

trimmed ferns looking lovely now

one left out of three

one left out of three

We stopped next at Oman Builders Supply where I found several Alliums had been swiped.  Two were completely gone and the stems looked as if they had been cut, not broken.  Two were broken off and lying in the garden next to a footprint.  Whose shoe fits it?

I am sure that every public gardener makes a plan for what a garden will look like, and probably most of those plans are thwarted by finger blight.

With the larger Alliums, the frustration comes partly because the bulbs are rather expensive.

what a shame

what a shame

My favourite, Allium schubertii, is still there.

My favourite, Allium schubertii, is still there.

The first year, I went to the effort to plant Cosmos at the back of this small garden. I gave it up because it resulted in too much fretting about them getting enough water, and the perennials have filled in enough to make an attractive show on their own.  I contented myself with adding six painted sage in an empty space at one end of the garden.

OBS garden

OBS garden with Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’

We finished our north end gardens of the day with the Wiegardt Gallery.  The many alliums there were undisturbed.

Wiegardt Gallery

Wiegardt Gallery


Working in to the evening does provide a beautiful light in the garden.

Miscanthus, Aquilegia, Rhododendron

Miscanthus, Aquilegia, Rhododendron




Wiegardt Gallery

lilac and the north facing studio windows

lilac and the north facing studio windows

While of course it would have been satisfying to get all the weeding and edging done, we had to head back down to Long Beach at 7 PM.  A few Salvia patens had been riding with us since yesterday and really needed to get their feet in the ground at the Veterans Field stage and Police Station planters.  I had wanted to add two to the Lewis and Clark square planter but realized it will fill in without them (unless I remove the architectural centerpiece of elephant garlic).  Downtown was jumping with exuberant people.   I felt so tired I was glad to get out of there.

We just had time to go to the Port of Ilwaco and plant some painted sage in the new garden on the south side of the office.  A few of the Saturday Market tents had already gone up.


We did not stay for the sunset.  I had plants to sort out at home for tomorrow.

the view from the port office garden, 8:09 PM

the view from the port office garden, 8:09 PM

By dark I had tomorrow’s plants ready and a quick walk round the garden applying sluggo. That’s what they get for letting me see a couple slime their way across the dusky lawn.

Much as I long for, as I am sure Allan does too, a day OFF (for my own garden), tomorrow we will at least get the Ilwaco street planters planted up with some diascia I have here, and make a list of what else they need.  But first, Saturday is Market Day at the Port and then the local Coast Guard station is having an open house at Cape Disappointment.  There is an interesting view of Ilwaco from there that I have not seen for years, so we want to take time out to go.

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Andersen’s RV Park

Halfway up the Peninsula, we continue to do a longtime gardening job at Andersen’s RV Park.  The huge success there in 2012 was the sweet peas along the picket fence.  I have never seen them so huge and wonderful.  I think it might be because the picket fence got replaced in March, and all the soil got ruched up and refreshed as a result.

sweet peas

sweet peas

sweet peas in August

sweet peas in August

They lasted into early October.

They lasted into early October.

Lorna of Andersen’s bought hundreds of Narcissi and Alliums after seeing a vast Narcissi display on a Martha Stewart show.  Here Allan plants some in the Payson Hall (Rv Park clubhouse) planters.

November, planting many the bulb

November, planting many the bulb

Sea Nest

Sea Nest, another longterm job, is represented this year by just this one photo of the ‘Zepherine Drouhin’ rose on the driftwood arbour by the door.

Zepherine Drouhin

Zepherine Drouhin

This especially nice rose is almost thornless and blooms reasonably well in slight shade.

three north end gardens

I had a whole series of photos of the entry garden at Oman Builders Supply, but they are no great loss as it was from the same angle and almost the same as 2009!

The same is true for Marilyn’s garden, here shown its its progress from spring to fall in 20o9.  Next year, I am going to do a series of photos from the deck of the house, or maybe looking from south to north.

Our 2012 garden at Golden Sands Assisted Living disappointed me.  It just did not get enough water, and I did not figure out the problem til well into our summer drought.  Then we took over by hose watering thoroughly once a week instead of relying on sprinklers, but the garden never got wonderful enough to inspire a photograph.  It has so much potential, being in an enclosed courtyard with no deer, and I want it to be glorious in memory of my mother.  I need to focus more on this in 2013, even though it is not a high paid job and has limited hours.  I think I must devote some volunteer hours if I want to garden to fulfill my (and my mother’s) dream.

The Wiegardt Gallery

In Ocean Park, the Stipa gigantea (my favourite ornamental grass) looked stunning at the Wiegardt Gallery in late spring 2012.

Stipa gigantea

Stipa gigantea

I tried planting more chartreuse flowers to tone with the pale green building.

such as Nicotiana langsdorfii

such as Nicotiana langsdorfii

Maybe I just need to go with contrast.  That colour baffles me and I have not been able to figure out what looks good against it.

28 May, back of Wiegardt Gallery

28 May, back of Wiegardt Gallery

9 November after rain

9 November after rain

next: the gardens at Klipsan Beach Cottages…still my favourite job.







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A typical day (and it isn’t even spring yet!)..

Left home, not particularly early as neither of us are morning people…

Stopped at The Basket Case Greenhouse to buy some violas for assorted jobs (Diane’s garden, Long Beach, McDonald’s…the latter bright yellow, of course). About a twenty minute drive from home.

Basket Case violas

Then off to Peninsula Landscape Supply for some Soil Energy mulch.

acquiring Soil Energy

Then to a garden called Sea Nest to do spring clean up and apply soil energy; for example:



The lovely weather turned to rain and hail, but once we are stuck into a soil unloading job, we have to finish.  I stood on the deck for awhile while Allan worked in his fluorescent rain gear.

wimping out vantage point

The squall left, then another came, and I saw him standing under the eaves wimping out while I mulched!

Seanest is on the dunes with path to the beach right out the back gate:

Seanest west side garden

Seanest gate to beach path

The squalls passed one after another and the sky became blue again.  Off we went to Long Beach (about 10 minutes south) with high hopes of finishing the mulching of one of the parks.  I realized to my sorrow that the bed which needed the mulch was infested with beach strawberry (sometimes wonderful, here not so much).  As I weeded prior to mulching, gloomy darkness fell and a torrent of rain began…Too much rain to even get out the camera to prove how miserable we were as we finished the job!

Dripping and muddy, we called an end to the workday and, after dumping our weeds at Long Beach city works, headed down to my favourite hangout, Olde Towne Trading Post Café.  I was hoping the usual Thursday afternoon crowd would be there, and indeed they were.

Allan joins Olde Towne Thursday crowd

Fortified with soup, cheesy bread sticks, Mexican hot chocolate and a brownie, and inspired by another break in the weather, we went back into the field and weeded and cut back Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ under the Ilwaco street trees.

With only an hour of daylight left, there was little point in heading back to work up north.  I dropped a gardening bill off at Time Enough Books at the Port…greeted by shop dog, Harper:

door to Time Enough Books

We got home in time to get a little project done before dark: Figuring out where to put two wooden boxes that we had gotten from behind the Long Beach city shop; they had been used for shipping glass and will make a kitchen garden raised bed area for a couple of years till they rot away.  I’ll paint them on some nice day.

instant kitchen garden; just add soil and seeds

Oh…the cutest thing I saw all day was this little round moss in one of the garden beds at Sea Nest.  Adorable!

tiny bun

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The tension has been high with family crises happening during peak planting season, and I’ve been in a state of worry over my plants which await in greenhouses to be planted.  To keep the business moving, I’ve worked, I think, 28 of the last thirty days, so today is a day of recovery and should be a day of removing detestable sweet woodruff from at least one of my own garden beds.  Instead, here I sit blogging.  Blogging and thinking of the huge amount of planting that must be done, should be done, should be being done now.

cosmos, waiting

Cosmos, waiting and waiting

In a greenhouse, Cosmos wait for me…and this only shows part of the batch.  On my patio, flats and flats of Salvia viridis and gallons and gallons of Salvia patens wait to go to Long Beach and many other gardens.  I suppose you might as well all know now that I have a driving phobia so I don’t have the option of renting a truck, while Allan is gone, and getting right onto the planting!  So…what brings joy to this stressed out gardener?

crazy cat

crazy cat

Cats bring joy, like this crazy cat who pestered me incessantly but charmingly last time we worked at Steve’s garden.  Note, on right, the dead mouse and the satisfied feline look.  Also, yesterday when I got home from puttering with the Ilwaco planters, I found my own sweet cat, Dumbles, asleep on my pillow.  Adorable.  And our peculiar cat, Maddy, has less stinky ears now because the ear drops are working.  Thus: joy.


flicker on our roof

While Allan was gone to Seattle for 5 days, I discovered that the source of hammering on the roof was my favourite local bird, the Northern or Common Flicker.  I stood and laughed while it hammered and made its nutty woody pecker call.


big horse


While planting annuals at the Red Barn, I am always filled with happiness at the sight of the horses.  Left is, I think, Diane Carter’s horse, and to the right, a new baby named Justin.  Testament to how busy we are: I did not even have time to wait for Justin to take a more photogenic pose!

bird nest

bird nest

(Above) This wasn’t much joy for the would-be mother bird, but we were interested when we found this nest while buying annuals at the Planter Box greenhouse.  Bird nests are just so cunning.  If eggs had been laid, the nursery owners would have not sold this flat of plants till the babies hatched, but we did not even see the nest till we had pulled the plants away from it.

fringed tulip

fringed tulip

fringed tulip

viola face

viola face

Flowers bring joy with the amazing crystalline edges of Tulip ‘Cummins’ in a Long Beach planter, and the particularly precious face on a viola.

miraculous Allium

miraculous Allium albopilosum

I was thrilled to see this Allium blooming at Andersen’s RV Park,  because I had written in an earlier post about how this particular one had come up terribly early, while its neighbours had the sense to keep their heads down, and I thought its bud had completely frozen, but here it was last week looking lovely.

plant haul

plant haul

A day trip to meet with my dear friend and sister horthead Sheila at Joy Creek and Cistus  nurseries brought us a great haul of collectible plants for our various clients, and nothing is more satisfying than that.  [Two years later I wrote two flashbacks about that that buying trip.].

A couple of working moments brought the kind of gratification that makes one realize how many people do appreciate one’s efforts.  While we were gardening at Sea Nest, halfway up the Peninsula, a neighbour gave me a bag of freshly made chocolate chip cookies over the fence and told me it was in appreciation of our work on the Long Beach planters….and while we were working on those very planters, we were told by a passing couple that they had spoken to us while we gardened on the beach approach the previous year and that they had since bought a house and moved to Long Beach and had told one of the city councillors that it was “because of two things: the nice clean public bathrooms in town and the beautiful planters downtown!” What a great compliment for both us and the hard-working Long Beach city crew.

There’s not very much of my life that is not about gardening, but one thing lately that has brought me enormous pleasure is adding photo content to the Discover Ilwaco Facebook page….

Ilwaco Saturday Market

Ilwaco Saturday Market

….and of course, some of those photos get right back to garden appreciation:

Dianthus and columbine on Lake Street

flowers on Lake Street

lupines, Discovery Garden, Ilwaco

lupines, Discovery Garden, Ilwaco 

(I’m still hoping Ilwacoans will contribute photos of their gardens for use in the garden album on the Discover Ilwaco page.)

meanwhile, at home

a sea of sweet woodruff

Meanwhile, at home, I actually got two wheelbarrows of the annoying sweet woodruff out of one garden bed yesterday evening, and am about to go work on that some more. (I would like to go back in time and tell myself not to plant it!)  If I get a burst of late afternoon energy, I can put in two to three hours of weeding, but today I decided that what would give me the utmost satisfaction would be catching up on this blog, memorializing Ruth’s garden, and then getting out at least three more wheelbarrows of weeds. (Okay, after doing the Facebook nursery tour album, I now have less gardening time yet.  Which leads to the question: when seeking joy, is it more fun to garden or to write about gardening?)

P.S.  I’ll admit to a another relaxing interlude yesterday, when perhaps I should have gone to weed a client’s Ilwaco garden, I went to the Olde Towne Coffee Cafe and had me a little sit-down and social time….something I usually don’t take time for during gardening season…and enjoyed the quiet pleasure of a leisurely half an hour with a breve, coffee cake, and the local paper’s letters to the editor.

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Today I was determined to cross at least 3 spring wake-up jobs off my list.  (As far as I am concerned, it is spring as soon as I get out to work.  Winter is November, December and January.)  I’m getting anxious to get enough other jobs done so we can start the dreaded pruning of the 300 hydrangeas.

First, we headed to the nearby Time Enough books at the Ilwaco Harbour Village for a quick clean up of their ornamental grasses. The store IS named after the chilling Twilight Zone episode, the upsetting one where a man finally has time enough to read after some sort of apocalypse, and then his glasses break! I used to run through the scenario in my mind, as a child: If such a horrid thing happened to me, I would go to one optician shop after another till I found a pair of specs that worked.

Time Enough Books

Time Enough Books

tulip boat

signs of life in the Time Enough boat

Iris reticulata

There were signs of life in the landscape boat which is thickly planted with tulips

and (right) a particularly lovely Iris reticulata in the parking strip garden.

Harper greeted us with her happy face.

Harper at Time Enough Books

Then we were off to chop down more ornamental grasses at the Depot Restaurant (our favourite dining establishment) and Seanest, a vacation cottage.  Might I say I have TOTALLY GONE OFF PHORMIUMS.  They look terrible after our early December freeze, they are too big and poky, and I will never plant one again unless it be in a 3/4 size metal garbage can, where I still think they can look rather striking.

a battered Phormium

sad Hebe

a sad Hebe

Not only Phormiums, but Hebes, certain Lavenders, and even Escallonia look dreadful after that bad cold spell we had in December.

This will be my excuse to remove some Phormiums. The Hebes, I grieve for.

Basket Case

Basket Case: one of three houses

We stopped at the Basket Case Greenhouse on Sandridge Road to buy 3 flats of violas for the Long Beach planters. I felt a thrill at the very first plant purchase of the year, and added 4 bright and gaudy primroses to my selection.

Sophie playing Noble Hound


Sophie enjoying the sun

Our dog-niece, the lovely Sophie, was with us for part of the afternoon, basking in the very spring like and not in the least but wintery sunshine.

The afternoon light at Sea Nest set off her coat to perfection.

At the end of the workday (after making two runs to the dump with yard waste, where we are not allowed to put the dreaded Phormium blades with the rest of the yard debris as it snarls up even their huge heavy duty chipper), we went to the Planter Box garden centre for the year’s first purchase of soil amendments: 5 bales of Gardener and Bloom Soil Building Compost for the Anchorage Cottages.  As we dropped the bales off on the way home, I gave the stink eye to two huge Phormiums that are dessicated, hideous, and in the wrong spot: Tomorrow, I have plans for them to meet a dastardly fate.

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The only reason these two gardens are sharing a post is that I took few pictures of them in 2009.  Sea Nest, a wonderful place to stay on the Long Beach Peninsula, had changed owners and we were changing the garden to be more low maintenance.

Sea Nest, 30 June

For some reason the deer don’t bother this garden, partly because it is planted with deer resistant plants.  But there are two roses that remained untouched till one was discovered by deer in 2011 and slightly browsed.

Eryngium ‘Sapphire Blue’ at Sea Nest, 30 June

Corokia cotoneaster and Allium albopilosum, 30 June

Seanest, 10 August, blue potato vine, Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, Escallonia

Seanest, 10 August, Agapanthus and Lavender

In early summer, we took on a new project, having been recommended by a local architect to new residents, in a home just east of the peninsula, who had moved here from Texas. They had christened their new home Casa Pacifica.  I keep promising myself to not add to the overbooked and stressful side of our business by taking new jobs.  I called back with every intention of saying no, but the new owner told us it was quite a gorgeous garden and perhaps we could just come have a look.  We did, and couldn’t resist.

The main garden bed is built on top of a rock wall with good structure of flowering shrubs because the previous owner had a sideline of doing cut flowers for weddings.  It’s like an amphitheatre backed by big trees, with the house as its audience.

14 July

Above, the main garden bed after extensive weeding and an application of Gardener and Bloome Soil Building Compost.  It was easier to mulch with bagged amendments than to wheelbarrow bulk compost across the lawn, down the the end of the rock wall, and up.

Rough stone steps in the middle of the amphitheatre bed lead up to a fire circle.

steps to fire circle, 14 July

An island bed in the lawn to the side of the house had become overgrown with grass and blackberries.

island bed, 14 July

On July 28th, we cleaned up the island bed…

island bed, 28 July

…and the entry garden by the walkway to the front porch.  I want to make garden beds on both sides of the entry walk, but the house will be remodeled eventually and that project must therefore wait.

sidewalk to front door, 28 July

Rose, possibly ‘Fourth of July’, by front deck, 18 July

The deer do not pester this garden (even though it has several established rose bushes) because of….

….Guera and Spook.   It took a several sessions of luring with bits of cheese to get Guera to like me.  Spook remained spooky all through 2011 and hides under the deck whenever we arrive.  But both are ace at keeping deer away.  Or could it be this warrior who stands by the shady side of the amphitheater garden?

shady side of amphitheatre garden, 28 July

We continued to weed and add plants to the garden beds, hampered by a lack of well water in the summer.  In 2011, I finally decided that problem means the gardens will always be at their best in spring, peak by July and in the dryness of August the shrubs and ornamental grasses can carry it through.  Unless the water situation improves, I won’t be adding lots of Cosmos…

19 November

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One time jobs….One-off jobs….Occasionally we take them on although I much prefer gardens in which we’re involved in the ongoing process.

In mid October we took on a big weeding job just as one drives into Ilwaco from the east.  Health reasons had caused the owner to let her garden go dormant and she needed one clean sweep so that she could get back into it again.

before, with Allan weeding; after, weeded and mulched

If I were the ongoing gardener here, I would eventually have a bed running all along those trees and shrubs…

corner bed, before and after

We do pride ourselves in really getting the weeds out, not skimming them off like we’ve seen some jobbing gardeners do.

In the back yard, the owner had a big vegetable garden with some flowers and in it a spectacular dahlia.  I think she said its name is ‘Black Cat’ (but I might be mixing it up now with Scabiosa).  She gave me a bouquet after I admired it.


Then at Barbara’s home in Ocean Park we created a one day front garden a la Ground Force.  (They took two days but usually added a water feature and some decking.)

before…what to do?

We had carte blanche to do whatever we wanted.  We had to think of the deer problem as they would probably enter the garden.  At first, I thought of a bed all the way around the outside, then realized it would be hard to plant right up against the escallonia hedge and decided that would be an excellent spot for the bench to sit on gravel.  I rarely draw out a design so we just plunged in to see where the future garden led us.

The sweet dog kept us company most of the day.

The darling resident dog, Delilah, obsessed all day about getting us to play ball with her…which we did as time allowed.

end of day one

End day one: Lawn removed and hauled off, washed dairy manure applied to future beds. Tools: Ho-mi (Korean hand plow), half-moon edger, grub hoe, wheelbarrow. We got the gravel laid and rolled and the decorative touches made on the first day, with pots and rocks that were already there.  Finally it got too dark to take the final “after” at the end of day one.
The next morning we stopped by to get the after photos.


We had used some of the plants from her containers and also planted assorted spring bulbs.

This is the sort of garden I would have loved to follow through on….but by the time she wanted some veg. beds in her back yard we had become swamped with increasing hours from our regular jobs so had to recommend someone else (probably our capable friend Ed Strange) to take it on.

Meanwhile, autumnal beauty abounded at our regular jobs.

Hydrangea ‘Izu No Hana’ at Klipsan Beach Cottages, 1 October. This is my favourite hydrangea of all time.

Ornamental grasses and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ carried the show at Sea Nest.

Sea Nest, 5 December

Gazanias from The Basket Case Greenhouse bloomed tirelessly into December in the Payson Hall planters at Andersen’s Rv Park (backed with Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’).

at Andersen’s RV Park, 5 December

P.S.  In adding the link to Ground Force (my favourite gardening show ever), I ran across this, about the music.  The fact that the final song title is “Lament of the Dandelion” made me laugh out loud.

The theme music for the series was performed by the Black Dyke Band and included the following pieces:

  • Ground Force Theme—played during the show’s opening and closing.
  • The Titchmarsh Warbler—a fast tempo piece usually played during the rush to complete the garden.
  • Lament of the Dandelion—played near the end of the show as Titchmarsh surveyed the completed garden.  (Wikipedia)

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Finally the storm came, and all the skeptics must have been sorry that they did not stock up ahead of time.  It lasted three long days of winds up to 140 up in the hills and 85 mph whipping through the towns. Downtown Astoria’s businesses lost windows, sucked out by the vacuum of the wind, and all over Northwest Oregon and our Peninsula groves of trees splintered and toppled, roofs and siding blew off, and power went out for four to seven days.  In our case, four was bad enough.  I especially pined for the internet.  Until the storm finally ceased and the tiresome roaring winds died down, it was too dangerous to go out and check on the damage.  We were in a land of mystery, cut off from the outside world with neither landline nor cell telephone service and all the roads in and out blocked by fallen trees.  KMUN radio station in Astoria kept broadcasting with a generator but had no news of our side of the river because no one could cross the bridge.  I read the new Dick Francis by a good lantern flashlight and grimly waited it out, expecting one of the tall trees that lean over our house to fall on us at any moment.

When finally we emerged, the damage was impressive.   I felt kind of vulture-like taking photos of people’s woeful upended fences and trees.  Our friend J9 and Jill had lived in New Orleans and told us they had found it worse than southern hurricanes, as it lasted for such a long time.

trees down at Seaview Solstice house

At Solstice House, three large trees came down perfectly lined up to miss the house and the fence.

At Sea Nest, the driftwood temple which my former partner, Robert, built some years ago had imploded inward, and at the Tinker House near Jo’s garden, the glass of the patio shelter shattered.  (Allan repaired the temple but was not able to re-incorporate all the pieces because of breakage and splintering.)

by Jo’s garden

Jo’s fence and garden took a beating, and broken styrofoam bits had been swirled out a neighbour’s storage shed and scattered everywhere like snowdrifts.  Other neighbours will have some sawing to do because of a tree down over their stairway.

Along Sandridge Road on the Willapa Bay side of the Peninsula, entire groves of trees were mangled and splintered into heaps.  Along all the roads we saw this, but nowhere as dramatically as around 220th and Sandridge.

trees down along Sandridge Road

We visited all of our gardens, and other than the temple at Seanest found little heartbreaking damage.  Two clients and friends had chain link fences yanked high into the air by massive fallen tree rootballs.  Laurie’s house was deserted, the battery backup sadly bleating while the she and her dogs and horses were all gone to more friendly climes, perhaps.  [Later she told me they had loaded the horses up and driven to somewhere safer …I seem to recall she might have taken the horses to The Red Barn …when she saw that the sky was a strange colour, almost orange, and truly believed the storm would be serious.]  Denny at KBC was forlorn and lonely because Mary was stranded up in Silverdale and could not drive back for three days.,,nor could he get any word to her that the cabins had not blown away.  We found him   (he who had been skeptical) ruefully burning downed timber.  The fish he had caught in Alaska in early summer had thawed in the power outage.   Later we learned Seattle news had had very little coverage of the storm, so Mary was unable to get much news.  Our friend J9 had a tree down on a power line, and she and Jill were without power for days longer than we were.  Allan, having cleverly filled the gas tank the day before, had enough fuel to motor all over the Pensinsula till the pumps were working again, so rather than begin our staycation as planned we spent the next week picking up debris and propping the plants back upright again. I am grateful for Allan’s childhood camping skills which enabled us to have hot coffee and warm meals! I would have been chewing raw coffee beans. Which reminds me, you cannot grind coffee beans without electricity, so remember to grind them the night before the storm.  Fortunately, when the local store opened with a generator we were able to get some ground beans (and more chocolate).  By the second day, the store was well picked over and had one loaf of bread on the shelf and was giving away free melted ice cream.  Allan took three quarts and, I believe, managed to eat two of them!

Update, 2015: For more photos of storm damage, Google “Great Coastal Gale”.  A particularly dramatic story is about the Uppertown Net Loft art studio in Astoria.  Another good article covering the storm is in the local paper, the Chinook Observer. A few days after the storm, we drove through the Surf Pines beach-side neighbourhood near Gearhart, Oregon.  Locals were now calling it Surf Pine because of all the trees down.  The skyline of Astoria changed as groves of trees on the ridge over town had been felled by the storm.


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A new plan for writing:

If one wrote a brief bit every night, one might still just have vignettes but at least not a week’s worth piled into one day.  When the days are light till after nine, the dedicated gardener is lured into working until dusk, leaving piles of The Oregonian and The Astorian newspaper still unread and many insights unrecorded. [2012 note: A-ha-ha-ha-ha.  I was saying that then? I am still saying that now and still waiting till I have a loooong entry planned out.]

Friday was a sweep around the north end, from the watering of Sea Nest halfway up the Peninsula, on to planting a few things at Klipsan Beach Cottages: a striking WHITE Phygelius, as this is the Year of the Phygelius in the KBC garden, and one of those BLUE diascias.

At KBC: Mary has a blowsy pink rose by the greenhouse, a pinky peachy foxglove by the basement door, and Siberian iris of blue and white and purple.

The swale, recently mulched with dairy manure, is lovely with more Siberian iris and the yellow flag iris  (a noxious weed in wetlands), and the overview from the deck shows a glimpse of a Mediterranean deep blue ocean….a colour soon to be blown away by today’s rain and wind. (You’ll have to trust me that the sea was a deep deep blue.)  You, dear reader, would enjoy a night in one of these cottages, and you could see the sea for yourself.

Onward we went to Marilyn’s to plant a few special plants: The Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’, a Dianthus ‘Neon’ for her growing collection of pinks.  No worries about watering there because sprinklers have been set up and used regularly.  On to Oysterville to look at a new weeding job: the garden is charming, the owners are plant nuts, and there is a bay view, so we will add it to the busy roster.  Back down to water the refurbished bay garden; while the sprinkler turned, we weeded beds on the north side of the house. Further on down to Laurie’s, on the bay side about equal to the ocean side location of Sea Nest, where we weeded and admired, and where I fretted about one area which should have a very tall plant, but somehow something died and the fill-ins have attained no height as yet.

Vignettes of Laurie’s garden: Verbascum and Euphorbia, and the  stunning bay view

Finally, back down through Long Beach and Willows Road to Discovery Heights to check on the watering….hoping we’d be saved from worries by rain the next day (and we were).

Discovery Heights middle garden

The evening sun was amazing through the Stipa gigantea (my favourite ornamental grass) in Middle Garden and the Dianthus, Armeria, and other tiny gems rewarded a walking tour of the edge of the garden.

Discovery Heights middle garden

From Ilwaco to Oysterville and back again, just ahead of the storm, and ready for today’s plant buying excursion.  We are about to take over, with drought tolerant and tough but striking plants, six of the orphaned “Adopt-a-Planters” in Long Beach….but the weather is too cold and wet to plant them this evening and thus we have caught up on a week’s worth of journal.

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The planting of annuals is almost done! Today we weeded and mulched Carol’s garden and got her cosmos in: Seashells, Sensation, and Double Click.  Her garden looked lovely and was filling in in a most satisfactory way. Then on to meet a new client, who gave us carte blanche to fix up his entry garden in any way we like.  A perfect client, with perhaps one exception: the house is going to be sold so we will not see the garden come to complete growth.  That might be a good thing, though, as we are overbooked for permament gardening jobs. I am eager to begin this new job next week, by which time I expect to have all the cosmos planted, as only Joanne’s garden and the remainder of Discovery Heights remain.  The cosmos grown for me by the Planter Box is ready, although Cassius the cat slept on the flats, bending some of the plants sideways.  I thought he was my good feline friend!

Carol’s garden

At Carol’s garden, I am fond of the dry pond with daylilies, which segues to this long dry creek bed, and ends up in a large dry river rock pond on the bay side.

On to Marilyn’s, where we were thrilled to find hoses and sprinklers set up, so we will no longer have to fret about the watering.  (Saturday night after a long day we drove all the way up there just to water….a half hour drive each way, I think.) We’ll still check on it for weeding once a week, for the sheer joy of seeing it grow.

On to Seanest and more watering.  The Zepherine Drouhin rose looks fine…a thornless rose which will bloom in part shade…and Stipa gigantea shines in the evening sun.

Finally, Andersen’s, and more of the principle of stuffage in the whiskey barrels; Lorna wants to them to “punch” arrivees with colour!  She loves the petunia; I do not love the petunia, but this year, petunias she shall have (but with one yellow agyranthemum in the center of each barrel for height).

And home by seven! …with a sensation of joy from getting almost caught up at last!

Sparaxis tricolor by where we park our car at home

I have never grown Sparaxis before; I did not get these from my usual bulb order, but instead from a late autumn sale at Fred Meyer.  I adore them!  Their tidy, vibrant colour pattern and their late-spring bloom.  Will plant many more next year.

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